WINNER of the Random Drawing in the IMPROV Blog Hop
Nov 3rd, 2017 by Wendy

Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell







On October 22, I participated in the Blog Hop with C&T Publishing and Maria Shell to celebrate her new book, IMPROV.

In my “true random” drawing, the winner is: Stina Blomgren in Sweden!!! Congratulations Stina!

“Life is a Patchwork of Friends” is the first thing you’ll see on her website,

It’s well worth the time to poke around her posts. There are plenty of quotes and sayings sprinkled through the posts and I found myself smiling at each one. Then there are the beautiful photographs and writings. I’m going back in time on her website, with a little bit each day.

Fabric Collecting, Socks, Cute Dirty Dog, and a Contest
Nov 3rd, 2017 by Wendy

I’m working – a bit secretively- on a quilt with the tentative title “The Incredible Flying Circus Geese”. I’ve constructed the geese bits and other fillers. I have my layout. Now I’m putting it all together, tediously, because there is no grid and it’s slow, but it’s exciting too.

I have an almost life-long habit of collecting fabric snips as I shop for fabrics for a project. I cut little squares and glue them to a sheet of paper- fast & cheap. As the collection grows, so do the little squares on paper. I’ll list the benefits below, meanwhile, here are the sheets for my current project:














• The snips on paper help me sort through the abundance of fabric in any given shop or the leftovers in my closet. At first, the snips help me shape the vision I have in my head; later the snips act as a filter to sift out fabrics that don’t belong.

• Actually cutting the little swatches and gluing them gives my mind time to wander. Wandering is good for creativity! (Check out the book Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zamorodi, 2017).

• And I like having the visual record after the quilt is finished: no apologies for my Wendy-isms.


Made in America Wool Socks

I’ve turned to 1/4 crew and lightweight half crew socks because I now wear compression socks. See the beautiful orchid legs in the sock photo? Yes, compression socks come in colors and styles! The compression is the squeeziest at the ankle, with reduced compression up the sock- who knew? Socks that squeeze some more are not comfortable.

So back to the socks:

Farm to Feet ( brags that their ingredients and manufacturing are 100% USA. Socks for men, socks for women, socks of all sorts. Check them out. Meanwhile, I love the quality and comfort. And I’m going to buy more— lots of colors and styles to choose from.








Goodhew is a sock company with the promise “crafted in the USA” (but no word on the materials). I decided to give them a chance because socks in my size (big foot) are hard to find.









Dog Break- this is Korben (my grandpuppy) ready to come out of the bath.

Korben bath dayLR







And now, the Random Drawing. I enjoyed the random drawing last week, so when I saw these at a grocery store, I knew another drawing could be in the works. So leave a comment- about the photo and anything else in this post, and you might win a small prize (if you live in North America). Does anyone else collect fabric snips as they collect fabric? Fave socks? Cute Dog or Cat photos? What the heck is in the photo? Comment by November 15th to be eligible…

PS: Guess before reading any of the comments, and if you know for sure what it is, you might want to make something up just for fun of it (in addition to the answer). All comments are entered into the drawing, right, wrong or fantastical.





A Bowling Ball, Broken Glass, Collage Class & Looking Up, then Down – Plus Cats
Oct 27th, 2017 by Wendy

bowling ballLR






This is the New Improved View outside the kitchen window. A friend found bowling balls at Scrap in Portland, and I had to have the red one. My husband found the perfect location while I was out of town. I love it!!! And he loves that it is out of the garage.








….. and then SNAP! Just like that, one piece turned into two pieces of glass. We should have skipped going to the chain store that does framing (and sells craft supplies) and headed straight to the local Affordable Frame Shop, with two locations in Salem, for better customer service and better prices.











These are the collage art of four residents at a memory care facility. We supplied a large bowl of big scraps and a small bowl of buttons and sequins and other three dimensional things. We genuinely had a fun time. The activities directer said she was going to do more activities with collage (only not with white glue on a white plate to brush onto white paper).


Salem trees #1LR

Salem trees #3LR

Salem trees #4LR

Salem trees #2LR

Salem trees #5






What’s more dangerous than texting & walking? Looking up & photographing trees while walking! Worth it!!!


Salem leaves LR






Then I looked down- a carpet of leaves, in all sorts of colors.


Izzy -Oct 2017LR

Cooper Oct. 2017LR






Izzy the Cat loves to sneak into the kitchen after we’ve finished cleaning up and left the room. Curled up on the still-warm stove, Izzy is not happy about being disturbed. Cooper the Cat has various favorite sleeping spots, such as laundry right out of the dryer or this cat window seat in the sewing room. I know, we are bad, indulgent cat parents.


I’ve been out of town, but I’m home, and will be sewing soon- stay tuned for another sneak peek of the latest Mystery Quilt. (Mystery to you, the viewer. I am in charge of this project, yet, it’s still a bit of a mystery to me.)

“Improv Patchwork” by Maria Shell, The Blog Tour!
Oct 21st, 2017 by Wendy

Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell







It’s Here!!!  Improv Patchwork, Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape by Maria Shell.

This is the C&T Blog Tour, Day 7, with me, Wendy Hill. But first, some housekeeping:

• You may purchase the book at C&T Publishing <>, or at your local quilt shop or bookstore, or Amazon.

• Post a comment at the end of my blog post, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book (hard copy for USA, digital for all other countries).  The winner will be selected by midnight Alaska time on October 26, with notification to follow soon after.


October 16—C&T Publishing <>

October 18—Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting JetGirl <>

October 19—Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side <>

October 20—Deborah Boschert at Deborah’s Journal <>

October 21—Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession <>

October 21 Terri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine <>

October 22— Wendy Hill at Wendy Hill’s Blog—Fun Quilts Stuff & More <>

October 23—Cindy Grisdela at Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts <>

October 24—Heather Pregger at Heather <Heather’s Blog <>

October 25—Maria Shell at Tales of a Stitcher <>


Maria Shell describes her new book, Improv, Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape, as a reference & technique book that the reader can use to create original patchwork designs, and, if we aren’t already, become fearless.

If intuitive or improv designing feels intimidating or if you’ve ever asked how does the magic happen, then this is a good book for you.

Here is my Top 5 List of things I love about Maria Shell’s book, plus One Final Thought.

1. Maria describes herself as a maker with a compulsion to make things with stitch and thread. I relate to this and I bet you do too.

2. “Start Where You Are, Creativity Is Good For You”: This chapter is a must read if you’ve ever thought about how the head, heart and hands join forces in your own or others’ creative process.

3. The Tips: Each chapter has a diagonal column of advice given in carefully edited bullet points. In addition to the specific advice in each chapter, Maria emphasizes these points: 1) we need to practice-practice-practice; 2) pay attention to detail; 3) learn from all of our experiences (successes and failures); and 4) let one quilt lead to the next.

4. “Color, Pattern and Repetition, The Quiltmaker’s Building Blocks”: This chapter is not the usual parade of color and design theories. Maria shows & tells these underlying concepts with real compositions and quilts that you can start applying immediately, as in right now!

5. Six technique chapters- stuffed with step-by-step photography and clear text- show how to make prints out of solids. Although each chapter builds on the previous ones, Maria says you can go through them in order or jump around. The final chapter, “Putting It All Together” ties the whole book together with pages and pages of layout and composition examples.

One Final Thought: I repeat, this is a reference and technique book, not a “make one like mine” project book, and for me, this is a Very Good Thing. Creating a pleasing composition with stitch and cloth is not magic, but it IS magical. Find your own magical creative process with the support and encouragement found in the images and words of Maria Shell.

Please leave a comment and get entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Improv for yourself!

Big Rad PlaidLR

Neon Zig ZagLR




It’s a Mystery
Oct 11th, 2017 by Wendy







It’s a mystery: I won Art Fair bucks, then this wonderful Kate Spade acrylic ampersand, but not the lottery. Okay, not so much of a mystery- I forgot to buy any lottery tickets. But you know what I mean.



IMG_2658 LR






It’s a mystery: In the same month, the sky is blue with giant sunflowers in the garden over In The Valley, but here at home, on the eastern side of the mountains, the bird bath is frozen every morning.








It’s a Mystery: I went to this restaurant, BibIM BAP House twice, before I realized my other fave spot, Ike’s Box Cafe, was across the street. In my defense, across and DOWN the street. Both are on Chemeketa Street in Salem, downtown. The Korean restaurant has Korean, Japanese, and other food options, and they close Monday nights to feed homeless people under the Marion Street Bridge.  Ike’s Box is in a beautiful old building, with large and small rooms, where you can almost always find a quiet spot.


This is 66- 1LR

This is 66- 2LR






It’s a Mystery: When did 66 happen? I’m wearing my Pendleton Wool coat, made in 1986, with old fashioned tailoring and complete with underlining, lining, and horse hair interfacing. I had some Mad Sewing Skills back in the day! Then there is my Eileen Fisher outlet store purchases from last year (cashmere sweater, very lightweight merino wool t-neck), and black stretch pants that I did not get to wear in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Studio Art Quilt Associates National Conference because I was in bed with Influenza B coughing my guts out. And my black lace up Born Boots.


Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell






It’s a Mystery: But not for long- Maria Shell’s new book, Improv Patchwork, with C&T Publishing, can be preordered now. Beginning on October 16, at, you can follow the Improv Blog Tour. Get the full schedule at, or on any of the blog tour websites along the way. Return right here October 22, for my contribution.


making units #4LR

making units #2LR







It’s a Mystery: Even though I’m busy cutting & sewing, and this is my original idea, I don’t know what will become of the hundreds of units. I’m hoping that by showing snippet photographs, you’ll experience the mystery with me. Like anything else, there is always a balance between having a plan and being flexible. Or between letting things happen and evaluating the choices. It’s not magic, but with effort, the result can be magical. I must sign off and start laying the pieces…..



Gravenstein Applepaloosa & Being Fearless
Sep 3rd, 2017 by Wendy

It all began in the summer of 1973. I heard about Gravenstein apples making the best apple pie. With a short growing season, I decided- on the spot- to make 50 apple pies! With the Julia Child recipe for pie crust, and the Joy of Cooking recipe for apple pie, and the help of April (later became my mother-in-law), I dove right in. (In true 1970’s ‘back to the land’ style, when we were all Martha Stuart and didn’t know it yet, I used the peels & cores to make apple jelly, and the leftover apples became apple sauce.)

I should have been afraid to take on this challenge. I had little experience making any kind of pie, and when I did make pie, I used that (awful) stuff in a box to make crust.  And it was a big investment in butter, apples, and other ingredients. Yet I was confident I could do it.

In the same way, I might have been afraid to tackle a king size, floor-to-the-floor quilt like the floor of the Taj Majal, when I’d only made a baby quilt up to that moment in 1971. But a Stanford University student wanted to hire me to make a quilt for his girlfriend….and I thought ‘how hard can it be?’

Taj Mahal







I can’t claim to be fearless because I’m afraid of many things, mostly things that never happen (and that’s another topic for another day). But when it comes to creative leaps and ideas, I’ve enjoyed a mostly life-long trust in my ability to bring it to life (there have been a few dark moments, but again, another story for another day).

In the last two days, I made 19 pies, pie crust roll ups (thanks, Mom, for this treat), and applesauce. The pies and most of the roll ups went into the freezer raw. Sometime over the next year, the time will be right for fresh apple pie or crust pastries. (Thanks, David, for wrapping the pies and getting them safely into the freezer.)

Here are the photos showing the sequence. Oh yes, the cats are always in the middle of everything. There is still time for you to make your own Gravenstein apple pies- but don’t hesitate- the season is almost over. OR, dive into your next maker project undaunted and unafraid.


Crust, dry ingredeintsLR

dividing crustsLR

prep applesLR







ready for top crustLR


ready for freezerLR

in the freezerLR






cats helpLR

pie crust rollsLR

apple sauce 1LR

apple sauce doneLR






No apple jelly this year—

peels, coresLR


Hello Eclipse, Good-bye August
Aug 29th, 2017 by Wendy









Since it was crazy where I live near the path of “totality”, I decided to go over to Salem and experience TOTALITY not just a partial eclipse. WOW! We nearly didn’t see the crescent shadows on the ground from the second story deck. Our heads were spinning around trying to take it all in: the corona, the deep indigo sky, stars, bats, the blue light (turned our white sheet and white chair blue).









What’s an Eclipse Party without Eclipse Shortbread Cookies? Less calories! We saw these on the Internet and just had to make our own version, with only the best butter, flour, sugar and chocolate.


high desert bloomLR

over in The ValleyLR






I can’t emphasize enough the differences between living at high altitude in the high desert VS living over in The Valley where yes, it does rain a lot, but jeez, the flowers, the colors, the lush life!!!



Deanies WeeniesLR


really good creme brulee Wild Pear SalemLR






While in Salem, I found this wonderful manhole cover on the sidewalk, in downtown. I attended a fundraiser and had to try “Deanie’s Weenies”. They use a bun from a local bakery, made just for them, buttered, toasted and filled with deliciousness. YUM. A lunch at Wild Pear Restaurant ended with creme brulee. I meant to photograph it BEFORE I ate it, but it was too good!


sillydogartglasscomLRart in high desert 2017LR

James Nemnich 2017LR






Back home, I browsed the Art in the High Desert on opening day. I bought a small “reverse painted fused glass” magnet by Silly Dog Art Glass (Cheryl Chapman, That night a phone call revealed I’d won $100 in “Art Bucks”. Back the next day, I had to decide how to spend my moola: a sweatshirt? more fused glass? a ceramic salad bowl? jewelry? something practical? I decided to go with whimsical at the booth of James Nemnich. Check out his website to see his larger pieces: I selected this small original piece of art because it reminded me of a much larger piece in his booth. And because it made me smile.

One Thing Leads to- well- Napkins
Aug 14th, 2017 by Wendy

Although I made cloth napkins for my son while he was still in college (he’s now 30 and still has them), we have been steadily using paper napkins. Recently, he asked me why. That question led to- napkins.

Lots of napkins. I decided to raid my collection of mostly Japanese contemporary home decorative weight fabrics, some cotton, some linen, some a blend. I heard the voice of my high school sewing teacher telling me to “pull the threads, don’t cut”. So I did- I pulled threads to outline the 17 3/4″ squares that would become napkins.

Why 17 3/4″ Because most of the pieces were 1/2 yard cuts, and they frayed in the washer/dryer, and this number was the largest I could get. The result: 16″ square napkins, with mitered corners and machine topstitching.

I started with 3 napkins from one of the fabrics. I figured I’d use this fabric experimentally, working out the kinks and errors as I went:








Then I started on the set of ten new napkins for my son and girlfriend, to go with their Fiestaware table settings. The place settings and accessories are all different (solid) colors, so I thought prints would be delightful. They are!










I’m going to say it: it’s not that hard to do! The truth is, the second five went a LOT faster than the first five. Around napkin 7 or 8, I thought, this is a breeze! By napkin number 10, I thought: no more napkins… ever!!! But I am still making napkins for us, so one of these days…. Meanwhile, here are the steps I took.

I did not document one napkin from start to finish because- honestly– I kept forgetting to take step-by-step photos. However, by the time I finished all ten napkins, I had snapped a photo of all the steps:

1) pulling threadsLR

2) mark line 3:4LR

3) fold to the lineLR

4) 1st fold- 3:8LR

5) 2nd fold- marked line 1 from outside edgeLR










ONE: Pull a thread across the fabric- it will bunch and gather up, which is okay. Flattening it out will make it stand out from the other threads. If the thread breaks- either use a pin to pull up that thread again OR cut along the line you can see, then pull out the next thread to pull. Repeat for all four sides. Don’t iron at this stage- you don’t want to stretch it. 

TWO: Mark the first “hem” line with chalk. My first fold is 3/8″, so I marked the hem line at double that- 3/4″. Repeat for all four sides. (Adjust for your hem allowances. Keep in mind, the hem is folded twice.)

THREE: Fold to the chalk line and pin along each of the four sides. Press. I used a pressing cloth and placed the iron right over the pins, with my wooden clapper to trap the steam, of course.

FOUR: Work in batches. I made 5 napkins at a time, repeating each step with all five. It’s Assemby Line Time!

FIVE: Draw the next chalk line for the second fold. I drew the next line at 1″ from the outside edge. I folded over each side, pinning as I went, then pressing (with a press cloth). The corners get mitered, so they don’t have to fold neatly or prettily at this point.


6) folded, pressedLR

7) open up, crease miterLR

8) trace crease with pencilLR

9) sew seam, marked lineLR

10) trim seamLR










ONE: Now that the sides have been folded, pinned and pressed, you are ready to “miter” the corners.

TWO: Open up the corner t0 the first folded edge, then fold the point over to make a “half square triangle”. It’s easy to line up the point with the intersection of the chalk lines. Finger press the crease of the fold. (I tried pressing the crease- didn’t work for me.)

THREE: Open up the corner again. I lightly drew a pencil line on the fold so I could see it better.

FOUR: Fold the corner of the napkin right-sides-together, lining up the pencil/fold lines. If you pin the sides together first, it makes the pencil lines match up better. Sew a seam along the pencil/fold lines. (If you’ve read about my Pin Poke method- use it here to match up the fold/pencil lines.)

FIVE: Trim the seam allowance. I also cut off the tip of the seam allowance (NOT shown in this photo) but be careful- it would be easy to cut through the seam line.


11) turn RS outLR

12) poke out corner, finger press, pinLR

13) basting on foldLR

14) m. topstitching from frontLR

15) M_topstiching, looks on backLR










ONE: Finger press the seam open and turn the edge right-sides-out.

TWO: Gently poke out the corner. I use semi-pointy scissors. If needed, I’ll use a pin to pull out the final fabric in the point. Pin on either side.

THREE: Using a long running stitch and basting thread, baste (by hand) along the very edge of the fold. Consistency is important.

FOIR: Turn over the napkin: It’s magic! The thread basted stitching lines give you x-ray vision! Okay, not quite. But the stitched line shows you where the fold/edge is on the wrong side of the napkin. By sewing just to the right of the basting stitches, you’ll also be sewing right next to the fold/edge on the wrong side.

FIVE: Check to make sure the stitching catches the edge on the wrong side. Remove the basting thread. Press the napkin, fold as desired, and announce “Ta Da” to the cat sleeping near the sewing machine. Now you know what I did as I finished each napkin!!!

Pathway Ends….
Aug 3rd, 2017 by Wendy








I have a variety of round trip loops for my morning walks, depending how far or which direction I want to go. One way to get home is the path that announces “Pathway Ends”.

The path ends, but there are trails through the woods leading back to my house. Or I could turn around and circle back on another path to home.

It reminded me of developing an idea for a quilt. Sometimes we do hit a dead end. We can give up, turn around, or find another way.

I’ve been playing around for over a year now with what I call the “interlocked braid” pattern. I’ve seen it called “fence rail” and “herringbone”. This old pattern (over 100 years) got revamped in the last 30 years or so with the French braid version, eliminating the “interlock” feature & the partial seam construction.

I’ve been exploring the idea, looking for variations that make me smile. I’ve hit some dead ends, circled back around, looked for other options- all to find the path that is right for me and my inner vision.

Here are the variations since June 2016–

• I didn’t like the chunky size of the first rectangle. • I made the rectangle skinnier and added a black/white print edging. This helps tame the chaos of the prints and creates a continuous colored zigzag line. • I tried adding areas of the same color rectangle- oh, that idea went nowhere! • Most recently I added the same fabric in one continuous zigzag. I like the way it looks! Judith in Portland (@judithquinngarnett on Instagram and worked her photoshop magic to show me a larger sample. I really like it!

What will happen next? I hope it doesn’t take a year to find out!!!

old-size-2-unitslrnew-size-2-unitslrtrial 2LRI. Braid variation trialLRWendy_interlocking_2LR

2017 SAQA* Benefit Auction
Aug 2nd, 2017 by Wendy

The 2017 Benefit Auction for the Studio Art Quilt Associates* international organization will take place from September 15 through October 8. The Auction will kick-off at 2pm ET on September 15 with Diamond Day bidding – an early bird opportunity to purchase ANY quilt for $1000.  Last year, the auction raised almost $80,000 to support our exhibition and outreach programs.

Check out SAQA at and seriously consider joining. You will be part of an international organization that supports a creative life style in a variety of interests, pursuits and styles.

SAQA invites members to put together their own “Dream Collection” of six quilts based on a theme. On a lark, I browsed the donations and quickly put together a short list of quilts.

Was it hard to limit myself to six? Oh yes it was!

In no particular order, here are my six quilts on the theme of “Abstractions”.







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