Sunday, September 23, 2012

Phew.....! We're back after some kinda summer...

Oh, my heavens ~ what a summer!  HOT,  hot, hot described it best.  How about your summer?  Today it's a beautiful crisp 50F outside, the leaves are beginning to change, and it just feels SO good compared to the incredible heat and steam of our 4 month long summer.
Well, let's catch up!  My heart has continued to give me grief.  The medication I was taking to control the atrial fibrillation  ceased to control it.  I was in and out of A Fib continually and combined with the diastolic dysfunction meant I didn't get enough oxygen, and that meant I was exhausted all the time for the past 4 months.  Exhausted as in I had to stop three times while going up the stairs to catch my breath, having to rest for an hour after taking a shower, only able to walk incredibly s l o w l y, being dizzy all the time, passing out (in my recliner!!).  I've always had great compassion for those suffering, but this has deepened my understanding of how frustrating it is to not be able to live anything close to a normal life.  I've had two sleep studies now, and learned I had Central Sleep Apnea.  With normal sleep apnea, your throat inelegantly collapses while you sleep and you use a CPap machine to deliver a steady flow of air to keep your throat open and you breathing.  Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn't tell your body to breathe while you're sleeping..... dandy, eh?  So now I use a bothersome machine called a Bipap which sends increasingly larger bursts of air into my lungs until I start breathing.  Breath - necessary for life.  I'm so happy I live during a time when we can learn all these new
A month ago I had a cardiac procedure called cardiac ablation done to hopefully correct the AFib.  It was a 7 hour procedure, an over night stay in ICU and then home.  I thought I was doing much better, but my cardiologist told me he "was not happy" when I saw him last Thursday.  Although I don't have AFib as severe, my heart beat is still irregular.  We've scheduled a cardioversion   in a couple of weeks and then maybe Dr. DelC, or as the nurses call him, Dr. Freddie, will be happy.  Maybe I'll be happier.  I'd just like to be able to take walks with my dogs, Tillie, Oliver and B.D. (Beautiful Dog). 
And get back to making quilts, going to quilt retreats, cooking, doing the laundry, running the vacuum....  I'll tell you, when you can't do even the routine things in life, they begin to look good!

Even in the midst of trials, there can be extraordinary events that bring the deepest job to your life.  My very favorite part of this summer was this:
My darling daughter and her long time beau, Cameron, got married on Saturday, July 14 at beautiful Phelps Park in Decorah, Iowa.  Cam and Amy did a marvelous job of putting together what was a simply lovely, personal wedding event in just over three months (once they made the decision to wed, they wanted to get married asap).
Amy being escorted to her groom by her two fathers.
The wedding rings.
The official kiss, with Lily watching  (Cam's daughter - she and Amy are crazy about each other!).
My husband, George, and me - not looking a bit like my avatar.
My very favorite photo of Amy and Cameron.  I wonder what he was whispering to her?

Being eternally optimistic, I hope the best for you and your family!  I haven't forgotten about any one of you and at some point some of you will open your mailbox to a nice little package from me.  Be patient.  I'm going as fast as I can.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Valerie, Gerrimom, Taryn, Lulu - YOU WON!!!

Hey girls, I've been gone for months due to natural catastrophes, but I'm back and sincerely desiring to give some Sue Sparo pin keeps away (Valerie and Gerrimom) and two mystery packets of embellishments ala Sue Spargo (Taryn and Lulu).  I'll wait a week to hear from you gals, and then redraw.  I think and hope that will be fair... I want to fulfill my promise and I DO love to give things away!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Glad to Be Back!

Hello my friends ~ I'm so sorry for the long absence.  It's been a difficult four months, but I've always been a "the glass is half full" person, and always pretty sure someone is going to be right over to top off my glass!

We're in the midst of construction to build a new studio for my husband, and a garage to replace the carriage house lost in the fire.   Ulysses has made a marvelous recovery from his burns.  I'm still working on the inventory for everything we lost in the fire - much to my husband's consternation!  Memories of items stored in the carriage house pop into my mind at the oddest moments - "oh....., the pet carriers!"  I get a lot of questions from friends about how I'm going to prove that we really did have those items stored in the carriage house....  Fortunately, we live in a small community, 30+ years now, and our insurance agent knows us well, so there is a huge trust factor at work.  I do research on line and come up with a mid-priced item as close as possible to what we lost.  Everything is recorded on a thumb drive.  I do have 6 friends who will sign a deposition stating that indeed there were 8 large tubs of  yarn, and 6 large tubs of vintage Japanese kimonos, etc., etc., if required.  Having helped me pack and move it all, they are superb witnesses if we need them.  Two weeks ago I had a truly exciting moment when a box that had been stored elsewhere revealed the three antique Navajo rugs I inherited from my great-aunt Verna.  I was positive they had been in the carriage house and lost.  What a wonderful surprise!

I had a right & left heart catheterization (  6 weeks ago ~ arg!  While it wasn't screaming painful, I kept thinking of movies where aliens do strange things to humans.  Why do aliens always want to torture humans???  I've been out of breath doing the simplest things around the house, dizzy, and very tired over the past year.  I learned I have diastolic dysfunction (, which combined with the atrial fibrillation I have makes quite the combination.  Those two are not good travel companions!  I'm still trying to process the information - seems sort of unreal.  There's no treatment for diastolic dysfunction, so the best I can do is to be diligent with a prescribed exercise program and learn to live with it.  And of course, slapping on some lipstick helps almost anything!

I'm slowly getting back to my normal routine and my plans are to follow up later this week with some photos.  It was disappointing, to say the least, to be off to such a grand start with this blog and then have such a crash and burn experience
Stay well, count your blessings, and don't lose your lip gloss!

Blessings  ~   Angela!

P.S. I haven't forgotten about things that need to be mailed out!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fire, Sorrow, Death

There's no photos for this post.  It's taken me this past week to get to the point where I thought I'd be able to write this.  We had a fire in our carriage house Thursday night last week.  My husband had restored the building with the intent of using the downstairs as his pottery studio and the upstairs as his gallery.  Since we are still working on the interior of our home, we've used the carriage house as a storage area for lots of our belongings and a work area for carpentry, etc.  My two cats - Petey and Ulysses, also lived there.  We had so many workmen (and women) coming and going in the house that I didn't want to subject the kitty boys to more stress.  They loved their large "cat house".  We don't know how the fire started.  We do know there were a series of explosions, two small and one large, and that the building was engulfed in flames within minutes.  It was a fierce fire - damaging nearby buildings.  Everything in the carriage house was destroyed.  Electric lines came down, communication lines came down, and many people were in harms way containing the blaze.  My three dogs and I spent a sleepless night (well, the dogs slept) at my good friends' home.  My agony was my two wonderful cats - I was sure there was no way they could have escaped.

In the morning I wandered over to look at the charred ruins... shock does funny things to you.  To my absolute amazement and wonderment I heard meows that could only be produced by Ulysses coming out of the summer kitchen (yes, there really is one), which is next to where the carriage house was.  He sort of staggered out - singed fur, melted plastic-like material all over his fur and paws, burned ears and nose, fur burned off around his eyes, burned off whiskers...  We rushed him to a superb vet clinic in La Crescent, Mn and then to an emergency 24 hr vet clinic in Rochester, Mn.  He is going to be all right.  The damage to his lungs, from smoke inhalation, and burns to the eye corneas were a huge concern, but it appears that his eyes have healed and his lungs are ok.  As my husband said, Ulysses is the only bright spot in this.  He is a bright orange star in the darkness of the situation.  He will now become the most spoiled cat in the universe.  I found Petey's body in the ashes last Saturday (I wish someone else had found him) as Amy and I tried to salvage some family photos.  I had to walk away.  Today we are driving out to our land to bury Petey where he was born and lived most of his life.

We lost:
Most importantly, Petey the cat.
My grandmother's silver
Navajo rugs I inherited from my great aunt
Our potter's wheel
My loom and everything connected with weaving
Spinning wheel
My beloved Viking sewing machine
Embellisher machine (new and in the box)
My high speed straight stitch machine (new and in the box)
The Presencia embroidery thread store display with all the threads, from the quilt shop
All my wool and cotton embroidery threads
All my Sue Spargo kits and BOM kits & embellishments
Hand dyed wool, silk and cotton fabrics and silk ribbons
Wool dyes and dye tools; my Procion dyes & auxiliaries
PFD cotton and silk, and wool for dying
Velvet, silk, batik, oriental, & reproduction fabrics - literally hundreds & hundreds of yards
The quilt I designed for Quilt Sampler Magazine in 2007 (for Yellow Bird Art)
At least 7 full size quilts and at least 10 smaller lap or wall quilts
A minimum of 50 Japanese kimonos
Kitchen supplies
Antique cabinets and other antiques
Tools of all kinds
Our family photos including the kids growing up and my wedding....

That's not all of it ~ just all my mind can handle right now.  I'm profoundly grateful the fire didn't destroy the summer kitchen (the front of the building is a bit charred) or spread to our house, and of course I'm so relieved that no human was injured or killed.  It was a very dangerous fire.  

We've had a couple of people say that we were lucky that "only" a cat died or that "only" a cat was injured.  I'm not angry ~ they just don't understand.  Love is Love, whether a friend, spouse, child, family or pet. And grief and loss is grief and loss.  There is a huge difference between losing a spouse and a pet, but you still go through the grieving process.

Somehow, a television news crew heard about Ulysses when we went to the vet.  Here's the link if you're interested... Cat Survives Fire

I'll be back next week (probably later in the week) with the rest of the tutorial.  Can you believe it?  What a way to get your blog going - eh??  I'll be spending time getting lists together for the insurance company and all the paperwork that comes with this sort of incident.  I will very happy to get back to doing "normal" things, and talking with all of you!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hey kids!  Angela's daughter, Amy,  here.  Just wanted to let you know that Angela will be back soon with the rest of the tote tutorial and lots of other good stuff.  Her computer was sick this week, and there was a bit of a family emergency in the last couple days.  No worries though- everyone is fine, and we're getting the computer all fixed up and feeling better.  She'll be back before you know it! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sue Spargo Kit Winners! Hooray & Congratulations!

I love giving things away and sharing the blessings!  Sharing the bounty God gives us is a wonderful to begin this day.  Here are all the wonderful women who entered the drawing.  If I missed you, or didn't enter you the correct number of times, please, oh please, let me know asap?

 And the names go into the bowl:
Valerie, gerrimom and jeanne have each won a Sue Spargo "Yellow Bird Pin Cushion & Pinkeep"  kit.  Being a softie ~ looking at that bowl full of names ~ I just had to pull three more.  Pip, Taryn, and Lulu are each going to receive a little mystery package of sewing/quilting goodies from me.  Please e-mail me your address, etc!

I so deeply appreciate your visits to my blog and all the encouraging and uplifting comments!  I think I'm on my way to figuring out my photo posting problems (please, Lord), so please hang with me as I work this out.  I'll have the remainder of Part 2 of the ToteBag tutorial posted today ~ hopefully very soon! 

SIGN UP FOR THE TOTEBAG GIVEAWAY.  I'm giving a complete kit in the same fabrics I'm using for the tutorial to one lucky winner, and I'm also giving away the completed bag I demonstrate in the tutorial!

Here's how to sign up  for the giveaway - on this post or Part 1 (Fri. Jan. 20) or Part 2 (Mon. Jan. 23).  You can have three, yes, three huge chances to win!  BE SURE TO LET ME KNOW HOW MANY ENTRIES TO GIVE YOU!  You cuties you.
  1. Leave me a comment on a post.  I'd really like to know what styles of fabric you purchase and like the best.
  2. Post about the giveaway on your Facebook page with a link back to Summer Kitchen Quilts.  If you don't Facebook, it's a great way to keep in touch with friend and family, or become completely obsessed by it (don't do that, ok?)
  3. If you have a blog, write a short blurb about this fabulous giveaway with a link back to, yes, this will probably be a huge surprise, Summer Kitchen Quilts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Part 2: Let's Design ~ Totebag Tutorial and Giveaway!

Win a finished "To Market, To Market" Tote Bag or a complete kit.  Find out how to register to win by reading Friday's Post!

Question:   Our readers are just casually wondering, Summer, are you always late?
Answer:  Well, one of my life goals is to be a punctual and trustworthy woman.  Unfortunately, despite frequent commitment to getting projects completed in a timely manner and desperately desiring to be on time to appointments, I frequently fall so short of the goal as to make one weep.
Question:  So, Summer, what is your plan?
Answer:  That's puzzling...  I just find myself side tracked all the time, and it's not unusual for me to find myself in a room (after rushing there) with no idea why I'm there or what my mission there was.  All I can do is to continue to commit to do better, and plead for grace from those who are waiting for me!

Preparing to sew:  It's generally a good idea to begin a project with a new sewing machine needles.  Did you know that machine needles are only designed to last for about 8 hours of sewing?  It's true, and you'd be surprised that lots and lots of sewers don't know that.  When our customers had issues with stitch quality on their sewing machines one of the first things we did was to change the needle!  If you hear a punching sound when sewing you probably need a new needle.  Stock up on needles, especially size 10, 12 and 14 when you find them on sale.  Please don't use no name cheapo brand needles - Schmetz is what I normally use.  A size 12 to begin our project is good, and we may switch to a size 14 when we have to sew through the 6 layers of fabric!  

Buy a good quality thread ~ please.  Cheap thread is cheap thread.  It can produce lots of dust and lint which is B A D for your sewing machine.  It can split and break and make weak seams.  If you're on a budget, stock up on good quality thread when you find it on sale!  Wind several bobbins of your thread.  I hate having to stop in a project and wind more bobbins.  Thread can get old and brittle, so if you have breakage or other thread issues, try switching out the spool of thread.  There are occasionally just bad batches of thread and it can happen with any company.  We got one lot of thread from a high quality thread company that was simply terrible - balling up in the bobbin, tangling, breaking, etc.  We contacted the company and they swiftly replaced the bad thread with new thread which performed perfectly .  Our customers got a new spool of thread if they called or came in, but how often do you think that the sewing problems might just be that new spool of thread you just bought?  I felt so badly about the folks who were at home pulling out chunks of their cute hair because of crummy thread who never contacted us!
Sohere we go!  Get your fabric, rotary cutter, rotary ruler, trims and cotton belting out.  I'm going to publish as I write, so please excuse typos ~ I'll go back and edit later.  Press your fabrics!

Cutting Directions:  1/4 " seam allowances unless noted otherwise.
  • 1 - 2 yard piece of 1" wide cotton belting  (you will cut this in half later in the tutorial directions)
  • 1 - 2 yard piece (a correction from 4 yards!) of  1/4" to 5/8" wide ribbon to trim the cotton belting (I used velvet)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 yard piece of 1 1/2" wide ribbon to trim the top of the bag and both pockets. (This is exact, so you may want to purchase a bit more for oophs...not that I ever have any!)  Cut the ribbon as follows:  2 pieces @ 10 1/2" long ribbon to trim pockets, and remainder of ribbon for the top of the bag.
  • 2 complimentary fat quarters for the exterior fabrics.  Cut two pieces of fabric #1 into - 15" long x 10 1/4" wide pieces.  Cut two pieces of fabric #2 into - 15" long x 6 1/4" wide pieces.  You will sew these two pieces of fabric together on the 15" long sides to make a finished piece that is 15"L x 16"W.  Make two.  These are the front and back exteriors of the bag.  Do pay close attention to the placement of directional prints!       The front and back are referred to as "A" in the printed pattern.

  •  1/2 yard fabric for the lining.  Cut two pieces 18"L x 16" W.       The lining fabrics are referred to as "B" in the printed pattern.

  •  1/2 yard fusible fleece.  Cut two pieces 17 3/4" x 15 3/4".   Fuse the fleece to the back side of "B" fabrics, the lining according to manufacturer's directions.  The fusible fleece is not in the original printed pattern.  We are adding it to create more body.

  • 1 fat quarter for the pockets.  Cut two pockets 16" x 9 1/2".  The pocket is referred to as "C" in the printed pattern.  The size and placement are different from the printed pattern.  Follow the tutorial directions.

  • 1 fat eighth for the pocket top border.  Cut two borders 4 1/2" x 9 1/2".  This is not in the printed pattern, follow the tutorial.

Handles:  Get your 2 yard piece of cotton belting and 2 yard piece of ribbon to trim the belting.

It's not a bad idea to pre-wash the cotton belting in HOT water with a bit of soap (did you know soap makes water wetter?) to preshrink the belting.  Cotton belting can shrink quite a bit, and since we are applying ribbon which is probably made of synthetic threads - which doesn't shrink much (in my experience), the first time you launder your totebag, the handles can get a bit puckered.  I have had some success with stretching the belting and then pressing it from the backside.  Don't use a hot iron on that ribbon! Use a press cloth or you may have melted ribbon on your iron!  If you just want to get sewing, it won't be the end of the world if you choose not to pre-wash the belting.  (I'm lazy and usually don't.)
Sew the ribbon you've selected to the cotton belting.  I don't cut the belting in half until I sew on the ribbon.  I eyeball the placement unless I'm working with slippery trim.  Just sew slowly and stay as close to the edge of ribbon you're attaching as possible for a nice neat look.
I finish both ends of the belting with a narrow zig-zag stitch.  Then mark the center of the 2 yd piece of belting, sew a narrow zig-zag stitch on each side of the center mark, and then cut the belting into 2 one yard pieces.  Your handles are prepared!

Pockets:  You need a fat quarter for the pocket body and a fat eighth for the top border.

I mean, really, how clever of me was it to get out my little spiral notebook and write down measurements!  So if your eyesight is anything like mine, here's the big print!  For the main body of the pocket, cut two pieces of fabric 16" x 9 1/2" from the fat quarter.  There will be a pocket for the front and the back of the tote.  Cut two pieces of contrasting fabric from the fat eighth.  They measure 4 1/2" x 9 1/2".  Ta-Dah!

Put the top contrast border and the pocket body right sides together, aligning at top edge (9 1/2" width) and sew a 1/4" seam.
 Now, align the other two 9 1/2" raw edges of the border and pocked and sew another 1/4" seam as pictured below.  You'll be making a fabric tube.
With right sides still together, fold the "tube" in half, with the seams matching each other as in the photo below.  I do turn the seam allowances in opposite directions to reduce bulk.
Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the pocket, carefully trim the corners with a small diagonal cut to reduce bulk.  This will help create a sharp corner when the pocket is reversed.  Leave an approximately 2" opening on one side of the pocket to allow for reversing.  Back stitch a few stitches at the beginning and end of each seam to lock the stitches.
Turn the pocket right side out through the opening.
Press flat.  Don't be concerned about the opening.  It will be stitched closed when we sew the pocket onto the bag body.
Prepare the second in the same manner.  Cut 2 pieces of the wider ribbon about 11".  Pin it to the top of the pocket with the top edge of the ribbon just covering the seam.  You'll take the pins out just prior to sewing over them.  Never, ever, sew over a pin ~ if your sewing machine needle hits a pin and pushes broken parts of needle and pin down into your sewing machine it can damage your machine and cost $$$$$ to repair!
Wrap the excess ribbon (it's 11" long so you'll have about 1" excess on each side) to the back of the pocket.  Notice the vertical straight pin in the above photo - it's holding the ribbon that is folded to the back.
GRRR.... computer issues.  Well, we're going to push on.  The photo below should be rotated clockwise, but despite saving it 4 different times this is what we get.  So, you're going to sew the ribbon to the pocket just along the edge of the ribbon.  I changed my top thread to match the ribbon color. 

Sew the length of the ribbon, stop, drop the needle, turn, sew along the end of the ribbon, stop, drop needle, turn, sew the length of the ribbon, stop, drop needle, turn, sew the end and back stitch.

Okay kids.... more later.  I've got to figure this non-compliant save issue out.  Boo-Hiss
To be continued.  Don't give up on me.  I think I've almost got my computer issues solved.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Part 1: Let's Design ~ Tote Bag Tutorial & Giveaway!

Read to the end to learn how to win a finished bag or kit!
Part 2 of the Tutorial posted on Mon. Jan. 23! 

The tote bag we're going to make is my "To Market, To Market" bag.  This is the first pattern I designed ~ about 8 years ago!  I've had plenty of time to think about different ways to use and improve this basic pattern, so we're going to take this little plain Jane and glam it up!  You have access to the original pattern in this post, and you're welcome to make as many of the bags as you want for yourself, for gifts or for craft sales or fund raisers.  I do appreciate receiving credit for the design. 

About Designing:  Ideas for designs can come from all sorts of places.  Personally, I think they're floating around invisibly in the air we breathe, and if we have a mind like a fresh damp sponge, some of them will get stuck in our brains.  Highly scientific, I know.  I keep a small spiral notebook in my handbag for ideas that come to mind when I'm out shopping or running errands ~ jotting down a thought or a very rough sketch will let me recall it later.  I have notebooks in most of the rooms in my house just because I need to record ideas promptly since it appears I now have the memory span of a fruit fly!  The notebooks all get returned to my studio, so I can always find them ~ eventually.  One of my designing friends makes sketches on receipts and stores them in a folder, which would spell catastrophe for me!  Your own method of capturing ideas will evolve, but do keep notes of some sort.  Even the most brilliant ideas ~ the ones that you know will completely transform western civilization ~ will go AWOL without documentation!  I've discovered Pinterest (a virtual bulletin board), and find it to be an invaluable aid for gathering design inspiration from the far reaches of the web.  Hop on over there if you haven't met yet.  You have to ask to be invited to join, but I think it only took a couple of days for me.

The Idea:  I was still teaching when I designed this bag, and I needed something that was sturdy and could be laundered (germ laden fifth graders, you know) for carrying items back and forth to school.  I also wanted a totebag I could use for grocery shopping which would hold a good number of items, but not so large that I wouldn't be able to lift or carry it.  It needed to be sturdy ~ no seams pulling apart or handles tearing the fabric.  The last thing you need is a loaded bag of whatever falling apart and scattering your eggs, books, tampons, etc all over the filthy wet sidewalk!  I hate lots of waste, so I spent quite a bit of time doodling a variety of lay-outs to use the fabric efficiently.  Now that fabric prices are higher, that's even a better reason!

Honestly, the design of my pattern cover leaves a lot, and I mean a lot, to be desired and I have no idea what I was thinking!  The pattern market is flooded with fantastically creative designers who hire fantastically creative graphic artists to design their fantastically creative pattern covers.  Designing an awesome pattern is just the beginning.  You've got to find a way to make your pattern cover stand out from the thousands of other patterns to get noticed.  Look at these covers.

You'll notice that even though the products range from traditional to mod, the pattern covers all are bright, clean looking and not cluttered.  The photos of the items are focused, detailed, and interesting.  Note that the products are all shot at an angle which is more eye catching than straight on. I love the Melly & Me photo of the dolphin at the beach!  I'd never attempt to market a pattern that was just black & white ~ again what was I thinking?  Some pattern designers (although I do love their designs!) try to stand out by making the physical size of the pattern larger or a different shape from the usual 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" fold of the majority of patterns.  As an ex-quilt shop owner, I've got to tell you, I hated, despised, loathed, the unusual sizes because they wasted my precious display space.  Like I said, I hate waste ~ well except that stuff in the fridge.

What Can We Do with This Pattern?:  I've had loads of feedback on this bag from customers who purchased a finished bag from me or bought the pattern and made bags - lots of bags.  After all the customer response and my own daily use of the bag, I know it's a really functional little work horse.  (I have all my patterns field tested prior to publication.  I ask for brutally honest feedback on clarity of instruction, graphics etc.  If something doesn't work I'd like to fix it prior to publication rather than have 100's or 1000's of nice ladies ripping their hair out and cursing me to kingdom come.  If you're interested in testing patterns for me, let me know.  I send everything you need, you get to keep the finished product.  All I want back is that brutally honest feedback.)  So how can we update this bag a bit?
  • Fuse batting to the lining to give the bag a bit more body.
  • Use two fabrics for the front and back exterior instead of one.
  • Move the pocket up and add a contrasting fabric trim and ribbon to the top.
  • Since there is a thicker body, end the handles under the pocket (you'd never be able to sew through all those layers if you attached the handles as per the pattern.
  • Add more trims!  Embellishment, embellishment, embellishment.  I love being a girl!
  • Ok, I've got some sort of font problem but I can't fix it so I'm going to ignore it.  You ignore it too, and we'll just get on with this!
 The Pattern:  You can print it off by right clicking on the pictures, "save as", name it & save it in a folder you can actually find again.  I know, I know, my photos aren't the best, but hey, it's free, right?  If you'd like a real paper pattern, send me $1.00 and a stamped ($.64), self-addressed 6 1/2" x 9 1/2" manilla envelope and I'll get it in the mail to you pronto! (Angela Blair, P.O. Box 168, New Albin, IA 52160
Page 1
Page 2
Don't panic - I'll scan the pattern asap so you'll be able to have a good copy!




Page 3

Pg 3 Detail

Pg 2 Detail

  • 1/2 yd fabric for lining
  • 2 fat quarters for exterior
  • 1 fat quarter for pocket
  • Fat eighth for pocket trim
  • 2 yds of 1" wide cotton belting (preshrink in HOT water)  Cheep Trims is a good resource for trims of all kind - good prices, decent quality, although all are sold on rolls.  Share with a friend!
  • 4 yds  Correction.. 2 yards of 1/4" to 5/8" wide ribbon (I used velvet) to trim the belting. 1 1/2yds  of 1 1/2" wide jacquard ribbon for top band trim and pocket, but this is your bag, so do what you like!
  • 1/2 yd fusible fleece.  I like HTC fusible fleece.  I find it less problematic than many fusibles although there may be some new product out there I don't know about that works better.  Fusible fleece and interfacing are used extensively in my handbag designs and I grew weary of standing for hours upon long boring hours fusing with an iron.  I now use a Simplicity Press for all my fusing and find it to be efficient, fast and I have much, much fewer issues with applying fusibles - no bubbling fabric!!  I'd begin a begging campaign now, if I were you ~ birthday, anniversary, Christmas (too far away, really), or just go buy one for yourself because if anyone ever deserved such a cool tool, you do!
  • YOU WILL GET REVISED DIRECTIONS FOR THE BAG ON MONDAY, SO DON'T CUT ANYTHING OUT, unless you're making the original bag and not the revised bag!

Simplicity Press
 Fabric Selection:  I always begin a project with a fabric I absolutely love.  I have sincerely attempted to use fabrics that don't sing to me, but there's always been a sad outcome.  If you're not in love, you're just not in love.  Some things we just don't mess with.
Round 1

Round 1.  The fabrics on the far left and far right are pieces I purchased from Contemporary Cloth and I've been waiting for something special to use them in.  I'm loving grey this year ~ well I was feeling very affectionate toward grey last year, but now it's love.  I pulled a variety of other fabrics I thought might work.  I generally don't stick to one particular collection of fabrics, although occasionally there's a collection that is just smashing and resistance is futile.  My personal opinion is that mixing patterns from different designers up creates a richer visual pallet.  Oh my, such art speak!
Round 2

Round 2.  I eliminated fabrics, but loved those balls on a string - they have a great vertical line sort of quality in contrast to the overall patterns of the other fabrics.  I wanted to pick up the blue in the center of the lotus flower, and found these three blue/green fabrics to play with!  I like all three, but that blue Lonni Rossi on the right has some metallic highlights that sure sparked things up a bit.  It is also a "calmer" pattern, and gives your eye a place to "rest".  Wouldn't Amelia Bedelia have fun with this?

The blue with the yellow scrolls in round 3 and the lime green with blue in round 4 seem to get lost.

Round 3
Round 4


Round 5
This is IT!  Notice how the blue metallic pattern brings out the blue in the Amy Butler lotus pattern.  I really like the intensity of the blue and the metallic lines.  Paying attention to the types of patterns is a huge "make it or break it" factor in putting together fabrics that "sing" (Ameila, where are you?) when combined.  From the top we have a very regular, evenly spaced repeat floral, then a monochromatic blue subtle geometric, random, bold line pattern, then a very large random floral, then an implied vertical line, geometric ball pattern.  Variety is an important concept in design, but tricky because you can't just throw a bunch of things together randomly and expect it to work.  You want variety, but you also need some repetition.  The repetition occurs with the blue in the lotus flowers playing with the blue geometric.  The color of the blue fabric is intense, but the pattern is subtle so it doesn't compete with the other 3 patterns.  The large floral below the blue has the blue and grey of the lotus pattern.  The bottom pattern contains the same grey that is in the large floral and the lotus blossom, and a similar gold that's in the lotus.  When I taught fabric selection at our quilt shop, students just "played" with selecting fabrics that worked together following these same concepts.  Once you grasp some of these basic design "rules" (flexible) you can start to apply them to your own work.  Give yourself time to just play with your fabrics and forget about making a finished product.  Pull a fabric you love, and then bring in 5 more fabrics that work with it, then 10 more, etc.  Invite a quilting friend or friends over and do this together - most importantly talk about what works, what doesn't work and why it works or not!  The more you experiment, the better you'll get at it.  I promise this will happen!  You can always e-mail me if you have questions.

Final Fabric Selections... (I think):
Doubt Creeps In ~ Vintage Buttons?

I think this may be it.....
If you're wondering where on earth that light grey on the left side of the bag came from, it screamed from my fabric stash to please be included!  Sometimes these things happen...

Should I use the blue on the top band too?  How about using the same fabric on the right side as the lining?

Add a Vintage Button?  Seems too plain without the ribbon on the pocket trim...
Well, this is the bottom line about designing - there's no absolute perfect answer.  You just pull it together as best you can ~ until you love it!  Well, it needs to be functional too!

Monday is Part 2 of This Tutorial!  You have the weekend to gather your fabrics together.  Don't cut yet - exact measurements will be given Monday - unless you want to make the original "to Market to Market" tote following the pattern directions exactly.  I'll walk you step by step through the construction of the bag on Monday!

Want to Win a Finished "to Market, to Market" Totebag or a Kit?
Being the generous and warm hearted woman I am (ask anyone...) I want to give one of you the totebag I make in the tutorial, and another lucky duck will get a kit featuring the exact same fabrics.  I'm so nice I'm even including the fusible fleece, trims, buttons, why the entire shebang.  How oh, how to win?
There is a catch!  You have to tell me (e-mail me, include it in your comment, send a telepathic message - nope that one doesn't work) how many of these things you are doing because you can have up THREE chances to win one of these awesome prizes!  Each thing you do earns you one chance in the drawing!  The big bonus is that they're super easy things to do!
  1. Leave me a comment on THIS post.  I'd really like to know what styles of fabric you purchase and like the best.
  2. Post about the giveaway on your Facebook page with a link back to Summer Kitchen Quilts.  If you don't Facebook, it's a great way to keep in touch with friend and family, or become completely obsessed by it (don't do that, ok?)
  3. If you have a blog, write a short blurb about this fabulous giveaway with a link back to, yes, this will probably be a huge surprise, Summer Kitchen Quilts. 
I love to share the blessings!  If you don't know about the Sue Spargo Pincushion and Needle Keep Giveaway, scroll down.  I'm giving away three kits.  You can still enter to win until midnight on Monday!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tutorial, Totebag & Free Pattern Giveaway on Friday!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow.  I'm doing a tutorial on my first bag design and giving away #1 the finished totebag I demonstrate,  #2 a complete kit for another totebag, and #3 you can use my pattern for free!  We're going to explore design variations and fabric selections.


Be sure to sign up for the Yellow Bird Pincushion Giveaway!   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Little Giveaway

I'm so excited to have so many visitors.  I feel like the song "if I knew you were comin', I'da baked a cake".  Well, no cakes, but how about a kit for the pattern Sue made for Yellow Bird Art?  In fact, three kits, including Sue's pattern "Yellow Bird Needle and Pin Keeper", the cotton and hand-dyed wool fabrics (I dye wool from time to time), the lining and batting, and the embellishments.  While I don't have the wonderful heshi beads that Sue does, I've substituted some glam vintage sequins I got from Tinsel Trading.  If you'd like the heshi beads, you can purchase them from Sue.

Here's how you can enter to win one of the three kits ~ each of these will count as one entry - so the more you do, the more entries you will have.  BE SURE to let me know how many of these you're doing in your comment so that I can enter you in the drawing the correct number of times!  *Include your blog addy in your comment so we can all come visit you!

  • Leave a blog comment about what you want to find in a quilting blog.  I want this blog to be a place you want to visit!
  • Make a Facebook comment with a link to Summer Kitchen Quilts.
  • Post about the giveaway on your blog with a link back to Summer Kitchen Quilts.
Enter until midnight on Monday, January 23, 2012!  I'll use a random number generator (any suggestions as to which to use?) to select the 3 winners and will announce them on Tuesday morning. 

Be sure to stop back this week!  On Friday, I'll be introducing my first pattern ~ a quick and easy little tote bag.  It's simple enough for a young seamstress (I had an 11yr old in a class) to successfully sew, and fast enough for you to whip the totes out for gifts in about an hour.  I'll have a short tutorial and a kit to give away!

If you're looking for the post I wrote about Sue, it's a post down!  Please consider following Summer Kitchen Quilts.  You'll learn about the design process from finding inspiration to drafting patterns to marketing!   A little bit of daily life will get thrown in and hopefully you'll learn a bit, have a laugh or two, and meet other interesting women.

Blessings ~ Angela

P.S.  I'll ship overseas!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Thanks for dropping by ~ I very much appreciate your visit.  I'd love to have you follow.  We're gonna have some fun here, uh-huh, uh-huh!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Women Who Inspire Me ~ Sue Spargo

Pin Wheel Pin Keeper

I really can't remember if I first spoke with Sue in 2005 or 2006 after we opened Yellow Bird Art.  I owned a couple of her patterns prior to opening our shop, and found them utterly charming.  I loved the reference to traditional quilts, but there was something new going on with the pieced backgrounds and whimsical compositions, as well as the fabrics she selected.  Her work was a perfect fit for the style of our shop.  One of our goals with opening Yellow Bird Art was to provide inspirational teaching for our patrons, and Amy and I both thought Sue's work was the best way we could think of to begin the mission.  I was so surprised when Sue answered her phone (being sort of a star in our eyes).  She has a very soft, calm voice, and after a bit of discussion we decided on Crimson Clove for the class project.
Crimson Clove
 I was incredibly nervous when I drove to the airport to pick Sue up for that first workshop.  She had graciously agreed to stay at our home (after I assured her that we weren't weird people who'd put her on a cot in a damp basement) to save some money since we were a new shop.  The woman I picked up at the airport was quiet and unassuming.  I thought she was probably shy, but I discovered that she isn't. She's a quiet person and always seemed so calm to me.  I can hardly tell you how delightful it was to get to know Sue - she's very interested in things going on around her and in the world.  She has a keen sense of observation - she notices the small stuff and it shows up in her work.   She's one of those people who really listens when you have a conversation.
Urban Sac
Flower Bed

Our first class was small, but the second year the group was larger.  Those who came the first year came the second year and brought others along and that continued each year until we had to set limits on how many could take the workshops.  Sue and I would always spend time discussing the project she'd share with our quilters.  We wanted to provide a platform to allow Sue to expand her ideas with our very enthusiastic quilters and provide challenging but not overwhelming learning opportunities. Quilters admired Sue's teaching style - laid back, attentive, informative - time spent with her just feels comfortable.  Sue is one of those teachers who really connects with her students.  She'd always bring along a selection of her quilts, including whatever new project she had going to inspire students.  Although some of her techniques could look daunting at first view, she would thoroughly explain and demonstrate so that even our least confident quilter felt like she could master the work by the end of the workshop.  That takes a lot of teaching talent.  Although some quilters are most comfortable duplicating work (and there is nothing wrong with that - you're still going to make it your own) Sue always encourages those who want to follow their own muse.  Sue's belief in the students' inherent creativity gave them a new view of their own creativity, and we witnessed amazingly original designs unfold as quilters learned new techniques.

The Last Sue Spargo Class at Yellow Bird Art

Altered Textures

When you take a class with Sue it always looks like these photos with  Sue bent over a project with a group of students clustering around her.  We found Sue to be incredibly kind, generous and patient.  As her own style and method of working developed she encouraged others to expand their own creative "vocabulary".

We were always so thrilled to see Sue's work starting to appear in magazines like American Patchwork & Quilting, Australian Homespun Magazine, and Quiltmania.  Electric quilt produced a stand alone CD of Sue's quilt designs.  She appeared on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.
Pat Sloan interviewed her on Creative Talk Show.  She traveled to Vietnam with DellaQ to teach Vietnam quilters at Vietnam Quilts embellishment techniques.  She leads travel/quilt groups to Italy, she's working on a book that will be published by Quiltmania.  Renaissance Ribbons is producing delicious ribbons Sue and her sister have designed.  These are just highlights!
Sue is experiencing great success with her art!  Now, here's the thing.....some people are changed (negatively) by this sort of attention and success.  Yet Sue remains the same grounded, kind, sincere person she was when we first met her.

But, wait there's more.....  and it's the most important part.

Sue was married - a stay at home mom with four children who had a hobby she loved - quilting.  One day, out of the blue, Sue became a single parent - divorced.  She suddenly became THE financial support of her family.  She had been trained as a nurse in South Africa, but not licensed in the US, so that wasn't an option.

Silk Road
Crimson Tweed

I can't image the emotional upheaval and sorrow that must have enveloped this family.  What do you do to provide for your children?  How do you take care of your own needs?  This situation could create a bitter heart in the most resolute of us.  Yet, Sue and her four children have risen above all of it and what a fantastic story it is.  Sue's family - her parents, her sister, Wendy , and her four children all bonded together to tap into Sue's natural artistic talents and began a business called Sue Spargo Folk Art Quilts. Sue designed quilt patterns, self published books with her father's assistance, Wendy dyes the wool, velvet and silk fabrics and designs jewelry, together Sue and Wendy designed a line of fabric for P & B and they collaborate designing color lines, and all her children have worked in the business whether helping design items with Sue, or assisting with the packing and mailing of purchases to customers.  Together they overcame what could have been a huge catastrophe and created success on many levels.
Hand Dyed Wools & Velvets
Unique Embellishments

Sue has inspired me in so many ways ~
  • She trusted her own talent (passion) to bring success - with loads of hard work!
  • She didn't give up when it would have been easy to do so.
  • She remained a kind-hearted, generous person.
  • I've never heard her say an unkind thing about anyone.
  • She remains positive about all the good things this life can hold for us.
  • She stayed steady as a mom.  Her children's success in life is a testimony to a loving family.
  • She is receptive to new experiences in life - she's a woman who rises to the challenge.
  • She's not afraid to take risks.
  • She perseveres.
  • Her faith is steady.
  • She continually pushes her artistic boundaries and is always exploring new avenues of creativity.

Amelia Pillow
Circle of Friends Pillow

Yellow Bird Pincushion & Needle Keep Sue designed for our shop!
I'd bet that most of us can easily identify with that fear that accompanies change in our lives.  What should you do?  Is what you want to do good enough?  Will people like your work and respond favorably?  Then there's the really big question - do I really have any original talent or creativity?  Amy and I often referred to our "talentless boob" moments of doubt.  Finding admirable qualities in someone else can - at least I believe this - help us to find our own bearings.  They become a sort of reality touchstone.  When you witness someone face a dramatic challenge and not only overcome it, but use it as a springboard to something more meaningful in life it gives hope.  Of course we have to find our own authentic voice and that takes dedication, a willingness to take chances (some of which may fail), the determination to persevere when things don't come out right and plain old roll up your sleeves hard work.

Thanks Sue, for the inspiration!  You've touched my life (and I bet many others') with your gentle and optimistic approach to life.
Oh, she has a sense of humor too!

You're the best!