Thursday, January 21, 2016


I feel like I've been waiting months to write a blog post about making a tuffet, and it's probably because I have! Tuffet-making took much longer than I thought it would. It's another of those projects, like making a Weekender Travel Bag (which I have yet to do, but is on my 2016 to-do list) that isn't for the faint-hearted.

What I learned is that making a tuffet can be expensive! If you visit the TuffetSource website, you'll quickly find out how easy it is to spend more than $100 on supplies.

My tuffet ended up costing less than $60 - a bargain!

The pattern was $15. I also bought:

  • muslin - the foundation for string-piecing the eight sections
  • two, 18" squares of 3"-thick foam
  • upholstery batting
  • decorative tacks
  • upholstery thread
  • a covered button
Those items totaled $57.64

It's what I received for free that made my tuffet possible... shared by a friend in Boerne, Texas. We arranged to visit these friends twice last year, and it was fun to see where Greg spends his retirement time - in a huge, wonderful shop, adjacent to their home. Greg's shop is as important to him as my sewing room is to me.

Greg cut an 18" diameter round board from a used piece of wood he already had.

He used a jigsaw to make cutting the circle look easy.

After cutting the round board, he sanded the edges, and also sanded the bottom to remove some old paint.

On another trip to Texas in December, he shaped four bun feet, and routed holes for the screws that attach the feet to the 18" base. 

He also provided four tee nuts and hangar bolts to attach the feet to the board, and drilled two holes in the board center through which to thread the button. I doubt I would have made a tuffet if it hadn't been for Greg's supplies, tools, and expertise.

The rest of the work was up to me. In comparison to Greg's efforts, the sewing I did seemed simple!

I cut two 18" foam circles using a Cutco bread knife. The knife worked well, though it's a good thing the edges are hidden under the cover. It's sort of a hack job.

At this point, I painted the bottom of the board and the bun feet with three coats of Behr, "Candlelight White," a paint color I had on hand when I painted a rocker, bench, and wooden stand.

After gluing the foam to the wooden board, I used a staple gun to cover the foam, twice, with thick upholstery batting. 

Then came attaching the outside cover, turning under the edges, and nailing decorative tacks to hold everything in place.

Lastly, the hubs had to help push in on the tuffet center so I could add the button.

The pattern calls for using a long upholstery needle to sew the button on. The needle has to be punched through the foam layers and holes in the wood base, twice, to secure it with thread at the bottom. I wasn't about to spend $8 for a needle I'd use on this one occasion! When I mentioned this to Greg, he fashioned a 17"-long "needle" for me out of some thick wire he had on hand. It worked beautifully! 

I'm indebted to Greg for making my tuffet a reality. He can be sure I won't ever bother him about making a second one!

Now I understand why quilters are getting together to make tuffets at a quilt shop. They can share supplies that they'd otherwise have to invest in to put the whole thing together. And it's always more fun to share a project with a friend.

Just like I did. Linda

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leaders and Enders

As of yesterday (Monday) I've taught two lessons of another five-lesson First Time Quiltmaking classes through the Lifelong Learning College here in The Villages. I'm happy to say that I have 21 enthusiastic quilters! After teaching this series of lessons 34 times now (Oh my gosh!) if there's one thing I've learned, it's that each class is different. No matter if my "game" is on or not, it's the students who determine the class environment by their attitudes, enthusiasm, and even the questions they ask. I'm happy to say that this group is excited and enthused about learning, so they're making my life easy. It doesn't hurt either that when I say something funny, they giggle in the right places!

In classes, I always share as much as possible from my 30-plus years of quiltmaking knowledge. In this class I've mentioned "leaders and enders" a couple times. If you aren't familiar with the term, leaders and enders are simply a way - while you're working on a project - to, in-between sewing together project pieces, you feed pre-cut scraps into your sewing machine to reduce or completely eliminate the need to clip threads. All credit for this term and method is given to quilter Bonnie Hunter

For several years now, I've been using leaders and enters as I sew other items. That means that no matter what project I'm working on, when I've completed a seam, I feed a pair of 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" fabric scraps (right sides together) into the machine... to "hold" the thread until I'm ready to sew again.

For me, 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" squares are the optimum size - small and manageable. But I admire and respect those quilters who choose to make their leaders and enders 2-1/2" X 2-1/2" or some other small size. Perhaps I can blame my preference for these small squares on my German heritage and upbringing. I'm being frugal, you know. 

In this photo you can see my sewing progression. I begin with a 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" square. I then sew two of them together to make a pair, or "twosie." Next I sew twosies together to make a "foursie," then two foursies are sewn together to make an "eightsie." Lastly, I sew together two pairs of eightsies to make a 16-patch block. Each completed block measures 4-1/2" X 4-1/2".

I began sewing these leaders and enders on October 24, 2011. I know this because I wrote the date on a small piece of paper and dropped it into my scrap basket. 

I swear that since I began sewing these, the basket has never reduced in fullness! No doubt because I am always cutting my smallest leftover scraps as I go along... continually adding to this basket.

These are the 16-patch blocks I've made, and I have 151 of them sewn right now. The big question is what to do with them! 

I've thought about numerous layouts - sashed, or on point with sashing. But those designs are too traditional and expected. I'm looking for a modern layout... something that's unexpected. Though I haven't hit on it yet, I'm in no hurry. 

I hope that if nothing else, this post serves to point out that even the smallest bits of fabric have value. Make a habit of dicing all your leftover bits from project-cutting, and sew them together as leaders and enders. As my friend Carla says, "It's like making a free quilt!" Linda

Sunday, January 17, 2016


A busy three days are behind me now, and I can honestly say they were a very tiring, but a much-need distraction from the sad news we received last Wednesday.

Thursday evening saw Lora, me, and several other quilter-helper-friends setting up for Quilting Guild of The Villages' biannual MarketPlace event. More than 45 vendors set up in one of the large regional rec centers to sell quilting and sewing-related products. I think I can safely say that it was a well-attended event, even with $10 ($9 with a coupon) admission.

Friday morning found Lora ready to go in her 13' X 16' Dragonfly Quiltworks booth. Her business is normally an Etsy shop. This was the first time Lora had an event booth.

She sold wide-backs, the 108"-wide fabrics designed for backing a quilt without needing to piece seams.

Several of these bolts are from the new "Drawn" collection by quilter-extraordinaire Angela Walters. These fabrics were designed to be quilted, following the "drawn" curves that are printed on it. Great stuff, especially for newer domestic machine quilters. I brought some home to quilt a few samples.

Another fabric that caught my eye was "Abacus" by Alison Glass. The fabric is mean to be colored with fabric markers. Guess what I'm going to be doing... and then sewing a skirt from it.

Jelly Clips, for making small clutch bags, were pretty popular.

As was Blueberry Park fabric - by the bolt or in layer cakes.

Emma Jean Jansen's "60s Scrapbag" was popular too.

Along with Lotta Jansdotter's "Glimma," and Carolyn Friedlander's "Doe."

 Day two found us ready to work, though I think Lora looked more wide-awake than I do!

By the way, that's my "Snowflake Medallion" quilt on the back wall (left), and my "Triangle Tango" quilt on the back right.

When nine of us who are members of the Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild managed to accidentally show up all at once, it called for a meeting! Or, at least an impromptu photo!

It was a good event, and fun for me because I had a chance to reconnect with many local quilters who have been in my classes, or who are some of the 22 students currently in First Time Quiltmaking. It was quite timely that the students had their first class last Monday, and are supposed to return to tomorrow's (second) class with their fabrics and rotary-cutting supplies.

Oh! And what a shock to have an Iowa quilter-friend surprise me at the booth! I'm just sorry I didn't think to take a photo. I was so stunned! After more than four years, it was great to see you, Lola Z!

And a Hogan update for you...

Early last week, Hogan looked like this, content to just be outdoors for a while.

Since his surgery follow-up visit to the vet on Friday, he's looking even more like his old self, no longer needing to wear t-shirts to protect his surgery site. He has the okay to gradually lengthen his walks, jump to get on his favorite bench in my sewing room... 

... and go for a golf cart ride. We're happy to again see his tail wagging vigorously. It makes us realize how sick he was with that skin infection and bronchial issues.

Now, it's difficult to imagine cancer growing inside his healthy-looking body. I am praying it's v-e-r-y slow-growing. Linda

Thursday, January 14, 2016

News - No Pictures

It is with a heavy heart I am sharing that our vet phoned last evening, shortly after 7 pm. The news is what we expected, but not what we hoped for.

Hogan, our much-loved 12 year-old beagle-chow rescue dog, has soft tissue sarcoma, a type of cancer that grows as a ball-like mass and can originate in muscle, which is where his is located. Dr. Vernon explained that the cancer is deep, so she was unable to obtain clear margins. The cancer will return. She explained options that might possibly work to remove the cancer, but it would entail more extensive surgery and radiation treatment in Gainesville at the University of Florida, or at an oncology center in Orlando. We have decided to forego treatment and focus on making Hogan as comfortable and as spoiled as possible for whatever number of weeks or months remain. As Dan said to our children, "We're going to love and pamper him until discomfort dictates that we set him free.

I admit that I cried all last evening, then thought I was cried out, but have cried more today. We're both feeling heavy-hearted. It will take time to adjust to this new knowledge, but rest assured, Dan and I will make sure Hogan knows he's loved, and that he is as content as possible.

As well, I received expected, but not-what-I-wanted-to-hear information from my cardio-vascular physician. Indeed, last Monday's ultrasounds of both legs reveals that I have arterial plaque blockages again (PAD). Apparently, being on Lipitor, Plavix, and Pletal, and exercising regularly isn't enough to prevent plaque from collecting.

Sometime next month, I will have another angiogram of my left leg - the procedure in which the doc goes into my right groin, and inserts a device through the artery of my left leg to balloon out plaque. He suspects that plaque is collecting at the bottom end of the eight inch-long stent in my femoral artery, a condition he calls the "candy wrapper" effect. While he's "in," he said he will peep down my right leg too because the ultrasound indicates a 60 percent blockage below my right knee. If that's the case, at a later date I'll have another angiogram to have the right leg ballooned open.

My left leg angiogram will be the fourth time Dr. Qamar has needed to enter that leg. Though, on the positive side, it's been 15 months since the last time. Perhaps the drugs are working to make the need for this procedure less frequent. In total, this will be my seventh angiogram at his catheterization lab. It's looking like I'm slowly working my way closer to getting the toaster they promised after ten visits!

Yesterday's news finds me needing to apply to my life my 2016 word for the year, "lighten." Over the next weeks and months, I will make a concerted effort to give these concerns and burdens to God.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. - Psalm 68:19
If you live in the Central Florida area, I hope to see you Friday or Saturday at the Quilting Guild of The Villages' MarketPlace, the biannual event where more than 45 vendors will sell quilting, sewing, and knitting/crocheting supplies. Admission is $10, or $9 with a coupon.

You'll find Lora and me there, at La Hacienda Rec Center from 9-3, working in her Dragonfly Quiltworks booth. She's selling modern fabrics, and will have more than 100 bolts, and heaps of fat quarter bundles! Linda

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

No News

For those who have been concerned about our Hogan... we haven't yet heard anything about his pathology report, though the surgery was six days ago. Yesterday the vet phoned to inquire about the condition of his skin infection which appears to be gone, as he is no longer scratching, and the sores have scabbed over. That's good. We're keeping him on doxycycline for one more week. But we don't know anything more about the cancer in the tumor the vet removed.

Hogan is still wearing two of my t-shirts as that's the only thing protecting his sutures.

If he looks a little "dull" here, it's because he's still on pain meds, six days post surgery. We've cut back to one a day. Though he walks a little stiffly, he doesn't seem to be favoring his right side, even laying on it as he is in this picture. His five-inch long incision is on his chest, through the muscle of his right front leg. You can see where the vet shaved his leg, presumably to insert an IV.  
So, we wait.

In other news, my hubs made the local He's now the official vice president of The Villages chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). He got into this organization after we moved to Florida. A neighbor who's into genealogy, did most of the work to trace Dan's roots. After finding Jehiel, who was Dan's link to the American Revolution, our neighbor helped Dan put together the paperwork to officially induct Dan last year. The same neighbor then took it upon himself to start this SAR chapter in The Villages which was dedicated last Saturday.

Dan's the one on the far left, looking especially trim in his navy blazer. Iowa friends: He's lost weight since we moved here.

I've completed quilting the baby quilt. The design is curvy veins that flow between the white and print rectangles, and off the veins are individual and clusters of hearts. The same pattern is in the print fabric, so it was an easy design to mimic. My friends know how much I dislike hearts/the shape of a heart - have never liked them - so it was a stretch for me to quilt this. But, I'm not keeping the quilt, so it's okay.

The backing is pieced rows of different prints.

For the binding, I'm thinking of trying flanged binding. My friend Karen presented a demo of this method to our Central Florida MQG. It looks pretty neat, and is completely machine sewn. Now that's something new for me! I'll let you know how it goes...

From a life-long, binding hand-stitcher, Linda

Friday, January 8, 2016


It's amazing that we're already eight days into 2016. I'd like to say that I've been in my sewing room, whipping out quilts and projects right and left, but in fact, I don't have much to show for the past eight days.

It's this little guy who's captured all our attention and time. Hogan is wearing two of my t-shirts - one of them says, "I'm all about quilting!" - because wearing them prevents him from scratching the site of his surgery. He went through that on Wednesday.

Hogan is our 12 year-old rescued beagle-chow, who belonged to our daughter for five years before he became ours. He has health problems. They began in December with a very noticeable, golf ball-sized lump on his chest, just below his right front leg. I mentioned in a previous post that a test showed abnormal cells. Pre-surgery, his lump was quite noticeable.

While in Austin visiting family, Hogan went to the vet because of scratching that resulted in open, bleeding sores. Diagnosis: skin infection.

After more than two weeks of two different antibiotics, and two different types of medicated baths, the skin infection wasn't improving. But on Wednesday he needed surgery for that fast-growing tumor. The morning of surgery, we mentioned a dry cough he had been experiencing, and an X-ray showed bronchitis! So the poor boy went into surgery with bronchitis, a skin infection, and cancer.

Thanks to doxycycline, prednisone, and pain killers, post-surgery, it's apparent he's feeling a little better. The sores are drying up and scabbing over. He's no longer scratching or coughing. But the cancer... The vet had to go through three layers of muscle to remove cancer, and even at the third layer expressed her concern that she wasn't able to get all of the cancer. We're waiting for a pathology report and phone call from the vet to let us know Hogan's prognosis. Of course, we're hoping for the best while our hearts are slowly breaking. We love this sweet face.

Distraction over Hogan has kept me from engaging with my projects. Still, while with Big Cypress Quilters on Tuesday afternoon, I sewed another Dress a Girl Around the World pillowcase dress. It warms my heart to sew girly clothes, so this was just the feel-good thing I needed. The hem trim, pocket, and bias ties are sewn from one of the 75 beautiful Blueberry Park prints. Love.

Between December car time, and weekly time with Happy Stitchers, I've gotten a nice start on the hand embroidery of my Iowa Sampler. I'm using three strands of Cosmos embroidery thread.

I've half-heartedly begun quilting My Small World. Those are puffy clouds across the sky. I'm definitely not customizing my quilting as my Aussie friend, Di did... but gosh, hers is lovely! Take a look!

I've also made and prepped for quilting a 42" X 42" baby quilt. It's a simple design, sewn with a lovely 60s Scrapbag print by Emma Jean Jansen. This is one of the five patterns students can choose from when I begin teaching First Time Quiltmaking next Monday. Nineteen people are registered!

With lost time spent contemplating and praying, I've also been considering my 2016 word for the year. I settled on "lighten," because the word applies to three areas of my life.

First, I intend to intentionally "lighten" my fabric stash by sewing, as much as possible, from the fabrics I already own. It's not about having too much fabric, but simply focusing on what's at hand.

Second, I will "lighten" my person. This sounds like a goal to lose weight, and it is. But it's more about controlling the quality of the foods I eat - though we both, daily, continue to drink 16 ounces of fresh-squeezed vegetable and fruit juice - and again fitting into a pile of lovely clothes that have been stored away. I can and will place blame for my weight gain on my breast cancer drug (Arimidex). The oncologist told me weight gain is a side effect. I just don't intend to let this get the better of me.

Third, I will "lighten" my burdens. The fact is, I can't control what burdens befall me, but I can choose to give my problems to God. He knows I'm probably looking at some difficult times this year - Hogan and my own continuing PAD problems (plaque blockages in both legs). Giving my burdens to God, to lighten my load, is the best medicine for spiritual and emotional good health.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11:28.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:30 
Not to leave you with too-serious thoughts, here's something that made me smile today. This was in the parking lot of the rec center where I'd just finished my weekly Bible study class. My heart did a lurch to see such a pretty-colored Bug. And it's a convertible, no less!

I'll always miss mine. Linda
Me on college graduation day, May 2000, with my present from Dan.


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