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

A Mansard Roof Chocolate Cake & More
Apr 13th, 2017 by Wendy







For a family dinner, I made the family recipe for a chocolate cake. I used Seco cocoa, per my son’s tweeking of the recipe. It was delicious! However, I didn’t realize the oven rack was tilted- so the cake baked tilted- somewhat like a Mansard Roof, or perhaps, a Half Mansard Roof.


E Quilt in SalemLR

EQ in SalemLR






While in Salem, the E Quilt (E-Taupia or E-Some! or ???) went to live with Ericka. I’m really thankful I got to be a part of this collaboration with 3 women (mother, aunt and niece).









A trip to IKEA led to this purchase of three fabrics, a soap dispenser, and one more folded little purse. Back home, the dispenser fits right in!




back deck 2LR







We woke up to snow this morning! It felt a little like an alien world, with snow-frosting glopped on the bitter brush and trees. Can’t resist showing the “before” snow pile with the “current” snow pile left today. Oh yeah, so sad to see that pile go (not). We haven’t inspected closely, but it looks like our deck survived!

April Fool’s Day
Apr 1st, 2017 by Wendy

Let’s catch up a little bit:

Evelyn & SK doll, early 2017LR






Evelyn, the granddaughter of my friend and coauthor Pat Pease, loves her quilt by Pat and her Skinny Kitty by me!








David and I made a mess of the kitchen last weekend. We served chicken in simmer sauce, lentil dahl, naan, brown rice pilaf with caramelized onions, carrot coins (picked carrot slices), and cherry pie to our guests- our nephew and girlfriend. You should have seen the sink! P.S. The vulnerable part of our food processor broke again! One new “pusher assembly” is on the way, but not under warranty this time. And it’s back ordered- probably because this part breaks all the time!


Marching MorningLR

March Morning 2LR






This is a view out the back door. We’ve been getting light snow falls that melt off during the day. In the first photo, there are so many hints and tints of colors. Because of daylight savings time I was actually up for the sunrise. The other picture captures a rare sight- for me anyway- of the light coming through the trees, shining on the light layer of snow. Beautiful!


The cats have spent a lot of snoozing and window watching in the sewing room. I caught Izzy dozing next to a 20 year old stuffed kitty (that’s another story).

Izzy & KittyLR







Announcement: The E Quilt is Finished!!!! This began- 1 or more years ago- with a shopping trip with my niece. Ericka asked for an E quilt for her queen size bed. She itemized the Want List: 1) interlocked E’s; 2) lots of drape over the sides of the bed; 3) all taupes as Ericka defines it; 4) repeat blocks. Then the collaboration continued with Ericka’s mother, Barbara. Today, April 1st, the dream quilt became a finished reality!!!!









I designed two versions of the interlocked E block- my trial blocks. Barbara made most of the E blocks and assembled most of the quilt top. I added a narrow border on all sides and a wide border on 3 sides. I volunteered to do the quilting, with narrow, vertical, parallel straight lines (about 1/2″ apart). It’s a good thing I have a big lap (I’m tall) and a large worktable to support the weight of the 104″ by 104″ basted quilt.


You can see the water soluble stitching, forming a grid, on the fabric. I use a spray baste product first, to seal the layers together. I use Sulky KK 2000 or 505 Spray Baste in the blue and orange can. Both are good products. After allowing the basted quilt to stay flat and dry out for 2 hours or overnight, I stitch a grid through the quilt with Superior brand Vanish Lite, a water soluble thread. Now I (or you) can handle the quilt like a maniac and the layers stay connected.

E-Quilt- Quilting processLR

E_Quilt_Quilting process 2LR







When I talked to Barbara about the quilting process, I sounded like such a geek about the way the texture and feel of the quilt changes as the layers are stitched (quilted) together. Anyone who has made a few quilts probably can relate. It feels great but it looks like a mess before going into the wash- with the quilting lines & the water soluble thread grid fighting each other.

after quiltng, not washed 1LRafter quilting, not washed 2LR







I put the quilt in the dryer for short 10-20 minute time periods (the larger & heavier the quilt, the longer the time), so I can pull it out when it is still a bit damp. I block the quilt on carpet and tape down the edges. I’ve never blocked a hand knit sweater, but I think the concept is the same. I make sure the corners are at right angles and the seam lines are as straight as possible (when there are rows and columns). It dries the rest of the way like this.


blocking detailLR







Finally it’s time to do the binding. I square up the quilt first. I wanted an extra wide binding for this extra big quilt, so I cut strips on the bias, at 3 1/2″ wide. Bias binding is better for functional quilts, because the folded edge wears better over time. I sewed the binding right sides together to the quilt top, mitering the corners. I iron the binding away from the quilt top, careful not to stretch the edge. Then I used my machine topstitch method to finish the binding- the secret is in the basting thread, hand stitched with big stitches along the edge of the binding. From the front, the basting line shows where the edge of the binding is on the other side, so you can machine topstitch just inside the basting line (and right along the folded edge on the back). You can find earlier posts on this method or find it in my latest book, Creative Quilt Challenges c.2016, with Pat Pease, C&T Publishing.

binding detailLR







Looks nice on our queen size bed- maybe Ericka won’t like it? Ha! She will love it. I’ve enjoyed the collaboration with my sister-in-law and niece. First Ericka and I chose the initial fabrics, then I designed the interlocked E block. Of course, we needed more fabrics! The E’s, finished size 10″ by 12″, took a lot of fabric per block. (We shopped before I drafted the block.) Barbara made extra E’s so Ericka could pick and choose her favorites. Ericka really liked the Essex Yarn Dyed fabric in the “espresso” colorway, so Barbara found a deal at Fabric Depot in Portland on a whole bolt of 14 yards (for the border, backing, and pillowcases).


our bed 1LR

our bed 2LR







Post Script: I keep measurements of my quilts in progress. The quilt top measured 104″ square before we basted the layers. After quilting, the quilt top measured 99″!!! My theory is that the Yarn Dyed Essex fabric, which  is a coarse weave & very soft, got sucked up with the 1/2″ spaced parallel lines. I think if we’d used a high thread count backing fabric, it wouldn’t have shrunk this much with just the quilting.

After washing and drying, the quilt top measured 95″. I expected it to shrink in the washer/dryer about 3-4 inches. I did not expect it to shrink 5″ with the quilting. It shrunk a total of about 9″ total! Good thing we started extra large for the queen sized bed- there is still at least 15″ of drape on the three sides.

All the fabrics were prewashed. We used Quilter’s Dream Request Loft cotton batting. In my experience, it’s a combination of the quilting and the dryer that does the shrinking. The more dense the quilting or the more the stitching lines cross in the quilting, the more shrinkage. I don’t think the water temperature (ranging from cold to lukewarm) is a factor, but next time, I will measure the quilt before it goes in the dryer to find out.

In 1995, with my first book,  I did experiments with small quilt tops (8″ square, as I recall), to back up my claims about shrinkage. I did identical sets of small quilt sandwiches to compare fabrics prewashed or not, types of batting and density of quilting and washing & drying and thread fiber types. I had a LOT of samples. My samples showed proof that it’s the density and criss crossing of quilting lines that result in the most shrinkage. (Note: I did not compare water temperatures, so maybe that should be next.)




Ready to Quilt
Sep 26th, 2010 by Wendy

This is the Big Happy Two (a.k.a. “Sew As If You Have Vaseline On Your Glasses”) scrap quilt. I started with a $3 scrap bag from the Stitching Post, in Sisters, Oregon and my Tub ‘O Strips- a storage container full of leftovers. (Since I buy for projects, calculated to within a few inches, I just about only have leftover strips, but that’s another story.)

I use 505 Spray and Fix (in the blue and orange can) with plenty of ventilation to baste the quilt layers together. Then I stitch a grid with Vanish water-soluble thread (by Superior). Treated this way, the quilt top can be handled without a care during the quilting process. It’s worth it to me.

After practicing a bit, I’m going to dive in and start quilting on my little Bernina 155. If the idea is a success, I’ll use it on the next quilt. Keep your fingers crossed and check out my progress over the next few days. I don’t promise not to whine, but I’ll keep it to a minimum!

Cascade of Color
Sep 17th, 2010 by Wendy

Nineteen women, twenty colors, thirty feet of continuous color: “Color Cascade”, a special exhibit at the upcoming Pacific International Quilt Festival, October 14-17, 2010 in Santa Clara California. Click on the photo to see it in full size!

Photograph credits: The Color Cascade Rainbow quilt is by me, created for the exhibit, as part of our “signage”.

“Yellow Fever” is my color quilt for the exhibit. Photo by Craig Howell of Bend, Oregon.

“Number 14” by Pat Pease with photo by Craig Howell of Bend, Oregon

“Celestial Navigation” by Kathy Shaker, photo by Kathy.

We followed a few simple rules to make quilts, 18″ wide by 40″ long, that would “read” as our color from 10 feet away. One quilt is fun to see, three is more fun, but seeing all 20 is just about more fun than one person should have. Read our guest blog at for more information.

Go to PIQF in October to see all 20 quilts- it’s a wonderful quilt show with plenty of quilts and vendors and classes and lectures.

More Antics in Ashland, Medford, & Grants Pass
Jun 16th, 2010 by Wendy

I returned to the Medford area with Pat so we could go to the reception for the “Art and Science” mixed media art show at Southern Oregon University in which she has a quilt. On Day 1, we went to Grants Pass with April Hill (mother-in-law). First stop, the Grants Pass Museum of Art to see “‘Transformations ’09, an exhibit by members of the Studio Art Quilt Association. Next door we browsed the Grants Pass Arts and Fair Trade shop, where we all found something to buy. Before leaving Grants Pass, we stopped at the Textile Connection, which had the most beautiful fabrics from around the world. Pat had to buy a few chunks of the hand-dyed hand-woven hemp, which looks a bit like burlap but is beautifully soft and wonderful.

Pat did all the driving, thank you Pat. We had to go to Fabric of Vision in Ashland, again. And again. Then we learned about the Big Sale, a warehouse garage sale at half-price because it was the last day. Pat found a brand new dish towel for 50 cents- look for a tote bag in the future. I found something too, but will save it for later. Dinner at Bambu (southeast Asian food), in Medford, with Pat, April and Bob Hill (in-laws).

But all good things must come to an end, and finally it was time to go home. We couldn’t stop talking about the pieces in the Art and Science exhibit: paintings, drawings, sculptures, digital prints, 3D printed objects, and a quilt!

Saturday Circles
May 29th, 2010 by Wendy

I’m turning squares into circles. It’s a Saturday thing. Next comes the bias tape, for bias covered curves (instead of piecing the curve)!

May 29: Straw Into Gold

More Sewing in the No Planning Zone
May 25th, 2010 by Wendy

I originally thought I’d play around in the No Planning Zone for a few days, but of course, it always takes longer than we think. If we knew how much time and trouble was in front of us, would we embark on new adventures?

I tried dark blue sashing strips, but I didn’t like it. The blue is too dark and looks like the bars of a jail cell. My beautiful blocks look like they are serving time behind bars!

I had two fabrics leftover from the $3 scrap bag, so I tried them. I love the way my Circling the Square blocks have been set free. I’m estimating the quilt will measure 45″ by 65″ with these blocks- I think I should call it quits here. Besides, the $3 scrap bag is just about empty.

Saturday Circles
May 22nd, 2010 by Wendy

The traditional version of this block is called “Bright Hopes” (Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman, AQS, 1993). The first strip starts with a “half-seam”, and then continues around the center square, with all squares and strips cut accurately.

I also start with a half-seam, but I used rough-cut centers with irregular leftover strips pulled from my Tub ‘O Strips. This is a really fun block to make: it’s spontaneous, quick, and easy. It’s addictive, so beware.

A few years ago I named my version of this block “Circling the Square”, for the way the block keeps growing as more strips get added. I love these blocks!

May 22: Circling the Square

Apr 29th, 2010 by Wendy

The Zipper Obsession began in 2008. I have more ideas than time, but so far I’ve completed 3 quilts and 1 necklace using zippers and zipper parts.

I put out a call for zippers in our electric coop magazine, called the Ruralite, in the summer of 2008.

I’ve received over 90 packages of zippers since then, from all over the western United States.

The smallest package held one zipper, folded up and mailed in a legal size envelope.

The largest package came from Chugiak, Alaska, with two big boxes of over 300 zippers, all still in their original wrappers, but not new.

I bet you’ll see zippers everywhere now…

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