Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Brains Behind the Singer Fortune

The real brains and energy behind the wild success of the Singer Sewing Machine Company was Edward C. Clark (December 19, 1811 – October 14, 1882).

Clark was the LAWYER who suggested the various inventors pool their patents instead of spending decades fighting it out in court. At the time Clark came up with this ingenious never-been-done-before-plan, Isaac Singer was broke.  Singer lived an elaborate lifestyle, and was mired in court cases to defend his patent.  Because Singer couldn't pay Clark for all the legal work -- Clark accepted stock in the Singer company.

Isaac Singer lived a publicly scandalous life, with his various wives and numerous children.  Edward Clark was a well respected lawyer who lived a quiet life, and his wife would not allow Singer to visit their home.  Clark soon became the face of the Singer Company. 

The Singer Sewing Machine Company was an unbelievable success by any standard. Edward Clark had a vision of putting a sewing machine in every home -- and he made that happen when he created the hire-purchase plan, which was the first American installment plan. Housewives in Iowa and Kansas could order a Singer sewing machine, and make $2 monthly payments with their egg money.

The Singer Company was headquartered in New York City, and the Edward Clark family enjoyed the same prominence as the Astor's or the Vanderbilt's. When Edward Clark died in 1882, he was worth $25 million dollars. ($600 million in today's money)

From the New York Times:

Edward Clark had a phenomenal grasp of power. He recognized the possession of patents as a key to triumph in commerce; and he had rare acuity about the needs and desires of ordinary citizens. With nerves of steel, and his finger on the pulse of the average American housewife, this well-situated business lawyer in New York City had at a young age burst beyond the confines of his milieu. On the surface he appeared to be an ordinary civic leader of correct bearing. When he died after thirty years of growing his money into the stratosphere, one of his business associates interviewed for his obituary simply called him "quiet and undemonstrative." A manager in one of his businesses credited him with a bit more aplomb as "a delightful companion, genial, entertaining and witty," but no one seemed to know what a fighter he was. The realities of Edward's professional life, however, were grounded in the rough-and-tumble: nasty litigation, and an affiliation with one of the most uncouth people who ever lived.

Edward Clark invested in real estate, and he developed a family compound in Cooperstown, New York, where the family's fortune and influence continues to this day. Residences, business, and properties related to the Clark family are all over Cooperstown. From the original family seat of "Fernleigh" to the 1928 Georgian manor of "West Hill", the properties are exceptionally well cared for.  The original garden at Fernleigh, located to the south of the mansion, included a servants' house and Turkish bath.

And, yes, it was the Singer fortune, via the Clark family, that funded the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York....

Also -- sidebar -- Edward Clark also built The Dakota, a visionary apartment house at 72nd Street and Central Park West in New York City. This building was completed in 1884 and was the place where John Lennon was shot in 1980.

By the time Edward Clark's son, Alfred Corning Clark,  inherited the Singer fortune, it was simply wealth beyond any expectation.

And, the question becomes -- if you didn't have to work a day in your life -- what would you do??

The story of the incredible Singer Sewing Machine Fortune is far from over...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Isaac Singer, Part #2

Isaac Singer was a free spirited man who marched to his own drummer. Lucky for us, he was a creative thinker...but there is no question he was one of the most uncouth men in the history of business.

In some accounts of his life, Isaac Singer leaves home at the tender age of 11, and maybe even joins a circus. I wonder. At some point, he worked as an apprentice at his brother's machine shop, which is where he learned the trade that would eventually make him rich and famous. (But it's very confusing -- did he do that apprenticeship before he was 11 years old?).

He became such a rich and famous man, his early life has been written about so many times, it has taken on a mythical quality. Like Buffalo Bill or Davy Crockett, it's hard to know what's true and what has been fictionalized.

In 1830, Isaac Singer married Catharine Maria Haley. The couple moved to New York City and lived with her parents. By 1833, Isaac was in Otsego County, NY, working at a machine shop.

But being a machinist was not his first choice. His real dream was to become a star. He wanted to be an actor.

Isaac and Catharine had two children: William Singer, born in 1834, and Lillian Singer, born in 1837.
By 1836, Isaac Singer had been bitten by the acting bug, and he joined a troupe of traveling players.
When the troupe performed in Baltimore, Singer, now 25, met 18-year-old Mary Ann Sponsler, and the same year his daughter Lillian was born to Catharine, he fathered a son, Isaac, by Mary Ann Sponsler.

The marriage of Isaac and Catharine was effectively over after that point, although the couple did not divorce until 23 years later...

In 1839, Singer received his first patent. It was for a rock-drilling machine, and it earned him $2,000. Singer used this money to found his own acting troupe, the "Merritt Players", with himself and Mary Ann Sponsler as the "stars". Singer performed under the name Isaac Merritt, and Sponsler performed under the name "Mrs Merritt". Basically, they entered into a common-law marriage -- Sponsler went on to bear him 10 children. The Merritt Players toured the country until the money ran out.

They happened to be in Ohio when the troupe disbanded. Singer took a job in a local print shop, where he conceived the idea of a machine to cut wood blocks for printing images. After a short stint there, he also worked in Pittsburgh and then in New York City. In New York City, the prototype of Singer's cutting machine was at the machine shop of A. B. Taylor, but when the boiler blew up, Singer's prototype was destroyed.

However, Orson C. Phelps, who had a machine shop in Boston, heard about Singer's cutting machine and invited Singer to recreate it in his shop, where, coincidentally, Phelps also had some Lerow Blodgett sewing machines.
Sewing machines were far from new. It is generally recognized that US inventor Walter HUNT invented the first American sewing machine in about 1833, but because he failed to patent it at the time, he had trouble staking his claim. US inventor Elias Howe (1819-1867) patented his sewing machine on 10 September 1846.

Isaac Singer's cutting machine was not a success, but while he was in Boston, Singer conceived a way to improve the Lerow/Blodgett sewing machines and make them much more practical. Isaac Singer received his sewing-machine patent on 12 August 1851. With financing from George B. Zieber, Singer went into partnership with Zieber and Phelps to found the "Jenny Lind Sewing Machine Company", named after Stockholm-born soprano Jennie Lind (1820-1887), known as the "Swedish Nightingale", who had a highly successful tour of the US in 1850-1852. The company was soon renamed I. M. Singer Co, and became embroiled in the patent battles with Elias Howe.

Eventually, Singer drove Zieber out of the company, and he swindled  Phelps out of his stock. (on his deathbed).

After the patent pool settlement, the Singer Co became a huge financial success, and it made Isaac Singer a very wealthy man.

Singer took up residence in a New York City Fifth Avenue mansion with his "wife" Mary Ann Sponsler and their children.  In the early 1860s, they lived a very lavish, ostentatious life. For example, Singer liked to drive about in a grandiose vehicle of his own design. A 30 ft. long carriage, painted canary yellow and black, drawn by six or sometimes nine horses, with a small band playing on board. It had seats for thirty-one people, beds for the children and a water-closet.
Isaac Singer (his pose for

Catharine finally divorced him in 1860. But, at that time, Isaac Singer was leading a double - in fact, triple - life. Singer had a "third" family with Mary Eastwood Walters, who bore him a daughter, Alice Eastwood.

Singer also had a "fourth" family with Mary McGonigail, an employee at his company's factory. She had borne Singer five children and set up a household with him as the Matthews family.  One day Mary Ann Sponsler saw her husband driving in the carriage with Mary McGonigail openly. This embarrassment was too much for her, and Sponsler had Singer arrested for bigamy. (you've got to love the irony of her indignation, eh?)

He was released on bail, but his reputation was ruined.  (seriously?).  In 1862, Singer and Mary McGonigal sailed for Europe, where Singer would remain for the rest of his life. But soon,  Singer went to Paris, where he met Isobelle Eugenie Boyce Summerville.

He married Isobelle on 13 June 1865, and this marriage endured for the rest of his life (ten more years). They had six children and settled in England. They bought an estate there and built a 115-room palace known as Oldway Mansion.

They moved into this mansion as soon as it was habitable, and Singer's daughter Alice was married there. Several of Singer's children by earlier liaisons came to live with him at Oldway.

Singer couldn't return to the United States because of the pending bigamy charges, but he remained an active force in the company.  Edward Clark was in charge back at the New York headquarters -- but Singer established a sewing-machine factory in Scotland in 1867. He also set up factories in France, near Paris, and in Brazil, at Rio de Janeiro, making the Singer company one of the first American multinationals.

Singer died on 23 July 1875, age 63 years. He was buried in Torquay. After his death, his many children fought over his estate. By his five "wives", Singer fathered 24 children, of whom two died young. In his will, Singer acknowledged and set up luxurious trust funds for 22 children.

His wealth was so vast, it took five generations to finally trickle his fortune away...

My friend Marion and I always marvel at this -- WHY WOULD ANYBODY WRITE FICTION?  I mean, the truth is so bizarre, it NEVER LETS YOU DOWN...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Isaac Singer, Part #1

I got several emails asking about the Featherweight Workshop.  Although it took place at the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, Missouri -- it was put on by Carmon Henry and his family, who make their living fixing, selling and teaching about the Singer Featherweight.   They own -- and here is a link to their website: 

But it's just possible Carmon and April don't know what a character Isaac Singer was...and I could not believe I didn't learn about him WAY SOONER THAN THIS...I find this story fascinating.


Isaac Singer perfected a facsimile of Howe's lockstitch machine and began selling it.  Elias Howe was forced to defend his sewing machine patent in court cases that lasted from 1849 to 1854.

Isaac Singer

Isaac Singer wasn't the only patent pirate. In 1856, five sewing machine manufacturers (Grover, Baker, Singer, Wheeler and Wilson) all accused each other of patent infringement. They met in Albany, New York to duke it out. One of the lawyers proposed that, rather than squander their profits on litigation, they pool their patents. (a lawyer advising against litigation? What did I tell you? Like science fiction, eh?...more about that guy later...)

They created the first patent pool, a process which enabled the production of complicated machines without legal battles over patent rights. They agreed to form the Sewing Machine Combination, but for this to work, they had to secure the cooperation of Elias Howe, who had successfully defended his patents. Terms were arranged whereby Howe would receive a royalty on every sewing machine manufactured by the various companies.

As sewing machines began to be mass-produced, Howe earned considerable royalties ($2 million) for his invention. Howe contributed much of the money he earned to providing equipment for the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army during the Civil War, in which Howe served during the Civil War as a private in Company D and regimental postmaster from August 14, 1862, to July 19, 1865.

Singer built a massive plant near Elizabeth, New Jersey. Up to then, sewing machines had been industrial machines, made for garments, shoes, bridles and for tailors, but in 1856, smaller machines began to be marketed for home use. However, at the then enormous price of over $100, few sold.

Singer invested heavily in mass producing interchangeable parts (a concept developed by Samuel Colt and Eli Whitney for their firearms). He was able to cut the price of his sewing machine in half, while at the same time increasing his profit margin 530%.

Singer was the first to put a home sewing machine on the market. Thanks to his mass production, the price of "the turtle back" came down to $10. BUT THE BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT in the home sewing machine industry came when Singer's partner, Edward Clark (remember that lawyer?), pioneered installment purchasing plans and accepted trade-ins, causing sales to soar.

Of course, you know I'm setting you up for the really INTERESTING part of this story...which is -- hummm...technically, how many wives did Isaac Singer have??

Monday, June 27, 2016

Invention of the Sewing Machine

Last week,  my sister Ronda and I attended a Singer Featherweight Workshop at Missouri Star Quilting Company.  OMG...OMG...OMG...We had the best time, we learned so much...I will be blogging about that experience for A VERY LONG TIME.
April and Carmon Henry, with their children Ruthie and Christian.  David and Sharon McCallum also helped service our very large group of 30 Featherweight lovers...

We were with a GREAT group of women, and made some new friends -- all of us in love with our Singer Featherweights.  Because many of them will be reading this blog for the first time -- I'm going to revisit one of my favorite topics -- the invention of the sewing machine...


Last winter,  I caught a 1997 episode of Modern Marvels. At the very moment I tuned in, they were talking about the invention of the home sewing machine.

Elias Howe is credited with patenting the lockstitch sewing machine, the three unique elements to his patent were:
  • a needle with the eye at the point,
  • a shuttle operating beneath the cloth to form the lock stitch,
  • and an automatic feed.
I thought my friends at Schmetz Needles would enjoy this story (from Wikipedia):

A possibly apocryphal account of how he came up with the idea for placing the eye of the needle at the point is recorded in a family history of his mother's family:

"He almost beggared himself before he discovered where the eye of the needle of the sewing machine should be located. It is probable that there are very few people who know how it came about. His original idea was to follow the model of the ordinary needle, and have the eye at the heel. It never occurred to him that it should be placed near the point, and he might have failed altogether if he had not dreamed he was building a sewing machine for a savage king in a strange country. Just as in his actual working experience, he was perplexed about the needle’s eye. He thought the king gave him twenty-four hours in which to complete the machine and make it sew. If not finished in that time death was to be the punishment. Howe worked and worked, and puzzled, and finally gave it up. Then he thought he was taken out to be executed. He noticed that the warriors carried spears that were pierced near the head. Instantly came the solution of the difficulty, and while the inventor was begging for time, he awoke. It was 4 o’clock in the morning. He jumped out of bed, ran to his workshop, and by 9, a needle with an eye at the point had been rudely modeled. After that it was easy. That is the true story of an important incident in the invention of the sewing machine."

Despite securing his patent, Howe had considerable difficulty finding investors in the United States to produce his invention. He traveled to England in October 1846 to seek financing, but a disreputable girdle manufacturer squeezed him of his last dollar (pun intended). Howe returned to the United States nearly penniless .

Meanwhile, other entrepreneurs began manufacturing sewing machines.


Hey -- You ain't heard nothing yet...wait until you hear about that rascal, Isaac Singer!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Girlfriend Travel

One of the things I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE TO DO is Girlfriend Travel.  If my life is working right, I have at least a day trip once a month. Sometimes longer...

For example -- right this minute -- I'm on a week long trip with my sister Ronda.

In July, I'll be enjoying our First Annual Sister Sewing Getaway Weekend.

Well -- you get the idea!!

So -- I'm reposting my BEST TIP about girlfriend travel:  (originally written in 2011)


HAVE A "MONEY kitty". Of course, like so many good things in my life -- this wisdom came from my friend Mary Mulari. My most frequent girlfriend-to-travel-with. Mary and I have SEEN THE WORLD, people!! A "money kitty" makes soooo much sense....Here we are -- enjoying a lovely lunch.

My sisters and I used the "kitty" when we went to Ireland -- and it saved so much time and aggravation. There were four of us, and we paid for the rental car and the gas out of the kitty -- the tolls, admissions, etc. Every time it got low -- we'd all just chuck in another $20 (or whatever)...

These feet belong to my sister Deborah and her "girls". When we went to New York City the kitty saved us hours of figuring things out... For example, if we wanted to have a picnic in the park -- we'd just go into Whole Foods, pick up some of that great NYC take-out food and pay for it out of the "kitty"....cabs came out of the for luggage came out of the kitty...

They kitty does not apply if you're traveling with Gail Brown -- because she insists on paying for everything...

But MOST OF THE TIME -- especially when you're traveling with girlfriends -- a "money kitty" makes great sense. Hey -- if you're a BIG GROUP -- the restaurants you eat in will be very relieved they don't have to deal with "separate checks"....and maybe all you want to eat is two big orders of nachos and 3 pieces of cheesecake!!
SO -- the next time you plan a "girlfriend trip" -- make a special little zipper bag for the "kitty". It'll be a nice souvenir, too. Mary's flat zipper technique is PERFECT...


I should be back in the blogging-saddle-with some new, original thoughts on Monday. I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY FEATHERWEIGHT RETREAT. Did I mention the fact that we're going to be hanging out with Jenny Doan?? YES -- WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES!!!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Washing Wool Blankets

I'm still in Missouri. YIPPEE KAYEE...

But I'm posting this rerun blog post....because my friend Bonnie recently emailed me asking how to do this -- and I just sent her this blog post.

Hey -- these summer days are PERFECT for washing your wool blankets.


I'm going to tell you how I WASH MY WOOL BLANKETS. Keep in mind this information is strictly from my own personal experience. AND -- I HAVE RUINED THINGS. Over the years -- MANY things....But -- it is my hope that you can learn from my mistakes.

Because of Ritaluck, I have purchased many beautiful wool blankets at auctions or estate sales. Finding a vintage Hudson Bay blanket, or a beautiful Fabrico blanket (in it's original box, wrapped in tissue) is a HUGE THRILL for me.

This is just one stack of wool blankets -- I have another trunk FULL of ém....
I am a big lover of wool blankets because they provide warmth, yet they also breathe -- even on the coldest nights. I am not a fan of down-filled comforters. After an hour, my own body heat gets trapped and I wake up sweaty and clammy.

Wool blankets will last for generations.  But , if they are stored improperly or mishandled during laundering, they can be ruined -- with no chance for a comeback.

In the good old days,blankets were hung out on the clothesline once a month or so to air out. I love to do this, because it is a complete refresh! Just hang your blanket out, over the line, and shake-shake-shake. The dust will fly, and if you get a breezy day, your blanket will smell amazing when you put it back on the bed.

When I was a kid, we'd hang the blankets out our bedroom windows, closing the window to pinch the blanket so it would hold. Many homes did this on Monday -- as the bed sheets were being laundered and hung out on the line -- the windows were wide open, as the blankets and bedspreads were given a good shake, then left flapping in the breeze until it was time to remake the beds in the late afternoon...

But, today's blog is about how to actually WASH YOUR BLANKETS. In order to get pictures, I am washing this gorgeous Hudson Bay striped wool blanket I bought at an estate sale for $5. Chances are it's at least 40 years old. It is in excellent condition, and I'm pretty sure it has NEVER been laundered.

Because I think it's valuable, washing it does scare me.  More than a little.  After this initial welcome-to-my-home-laundering -- it might not be washed again for five years.
CAUTION: The two things that will felt the wool and shrink your blanket are HOT WATER and AGITATION. So always keep that in gentle....

PREPARATION: Watch the weather channel. Even if you start early in the morning -- the days are getting shorter -- and you need the cooperation of the Sun Godess and the Wind Prince for a blanket to get completely, totally dry in one day.

If you put a very dusty/dirty blanket into your washing machine, you could be making mud.

So -- the first step is to SHAKE IT OUT. It's best if you have two people for this job. Go outside -- and SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE. If you don't have a helper, hang the blanket over the clothesline and SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE or, beat with a rug beater... Let the dust settle -- and DO IT AGAIN.

If this is not an option -- lay the blanket flat on your floor and VACUUM IT.  Flip it over and vacuum both sides.

Size of the load: My washing machine can accommodate one blanket with two bath towels. The towels help balance the machine, and they add some extra bumping during the wash cycle.

Settings:Warm wash, cold rinse, extra large load.
DON'T BE IN A HURRY. I start my washing machine, dissolve the detergent in the warm water, let the tub fill totally, then put the blanket (and two towels) into the water. THEN, I let it sit for at least 30 minutes. The nature of wool is that it's nearly water repellant -- so it's best to let the wool fibers relax into the warm soapy water...give it some time. After I run the whole cycle, I finish off with a second complete cycle of cold water wash/cold water rinse. I don't add soap or detergent for this last cycle -- but I add 1 cup of white vinegar -- to make sure I kill all the suds action and remove any lingering stale odors.

Stay in the vicinity of your laundry room when washing blankets. The machine could go out of balance -- and the spin cycles are when your blanket is in danger of getting tangled around the agitator -- so I check often to make sure that's not happening. TOO MUCH AGITATION WILL FELT YOUR WOOL. So,watch very carefully, but let the machine do it's job...
I frequently checked on the blanket, making sure the water isn't too warm, and the blanket doesn't get tangled during the agitation process...

The final step in this process is to take your blanket OUTSIDE to dry. The combination of the sun and the breeze is your blanket's best friend.


If you have a sunny, fenced yard (with no pets) -- you could simply lay a sheet on the grass, then your blanket, with a second sheet on top. Weigh down the edges to keep things from blowing or folding...

If you have clotheslines (my preferred method), pin a sheet between two lines to create a blanket hammock. Lay the blanket on top. Pin a second sheet on top of the blanket (for bird poop protection). If the weather cooperates, the blanket will easily dry in one day. You do not want the wet blanket to carry it's own weight via the clothespins....that would create pokey stretch marks....
Sheet #1 is a hammock...
The wet blanket lays on top...
The second (top) sheet is a bird poop protector

If you get caught by the weather -- and your blanket doesn't dry -- leave it hang overnight. A full second day will surely do the trick.  AND IT WILL SMELL AMAZING.  Or -- you could help things along. Lay the damp blanket flat on your floor -- and strategically place a fan to move the air over it. Flip the blanket frequently...

***!!@@@CAUTION: NEVER, EVER fold or store a damp blanket. Mildew will form in just a matter of hours -- and you will NEVER win that battle.

When your blanket is COMPLETELY, TOTALLY, 100% DRY -- lay it on your bed, and brush the fibers in the direction they want to go. (usually, from the top down to the bottom). This final step is important, as the wool fibers may stiffen during the washing process.The brushing relaxes those fibers, removes LOTS AND LOTS OF fuzz balls, and your wool blanket will be fresh and soft...
About the brush...I never actually had a clothing brush (like Downton Abby). But I'm happy with the brush that came with our pool table. Its 12" x 2" -- and the bristles are sturdy, but not harsh. I also think this bristle hair brush is way better for blankets than it ever was for hair...
The newly laundered blanket got so soft after brushing...
You will be amazed at how much of the wool pills off onto the brush...especially if the blanket has never been washed before.
I think you will be very pleased with your freshly laundered wool blanket.  My machine-washing-method isn't fool proof. But, for me, it was easy to be brave, because the blanket only cost me $5. I didn't want to pay $20 to have it dry-cleaned, and I hate that chemical smell. I suspect there was some shrinkage with my beautiful Hudson Bay blanket -- but that was my own fault. I could have measured it before I started, then blocked it when it was still wet -- to make sure it dried to it's original size.
Although I'm pretty sure it's completely dry -- I decided it should spend the night on the porch...just to be sure...
Even though I thought sandwiching the blanket between two sheets would prevent pin marks -- you can see exactly where it was draped over the clothesline.  That was my fault -- because I didn't make sure the hammock sheet was fully carrying the full weight of the blanket...

I was very pleased with my freshly laundered, brushed blanket.  It got so soft...and it smells AMAZING!!  The one thing I know about Iowa -- FOR SURE -- is that one day (soon) -- I'll be very happy to have this wonderful, warm blanket to put on my winter bed...

GOOD LUCK!! And be sure to let me know how your blankets turn out!!


P.S. You can go to L.L. Bean and buy a new wool blanket just like mine. The full/queen size is only $499.00. And you can probably use it for a couple of years before you feel the need to wash it...

P.S.S. Next week, I will have a guest-blogger for the Monday Laundry post...exciting, eh??

Thursday, June 23, 2016


My sister Ronda and I are in Hamilton, Missouri. YES -- WE ARE AT MISSOURI STAR QUILT COMPANY -- for a Featherweight Retreat.
Ronda (in red) is with me this week -- and Deena will be at our upcoming Summer-Sister-Sewing-Retreat.
Ronda has many skills -- she and Dean do the Farmer's Market every week...
But, mostly, she is famous for her RAGGED EDGE FLANNEL BLANKETS...which she produces like she was a factory!!
Holy Cow!! COULD I BE IN A HAPPIER PLACE??   Carmon and April Henry are on their world tour -- doing Featherweight Retreats all over the USA!!

I met Carmon and April when I interviewed them for Inspired To Sew magazine last year.  But this will be the first time I get to MEET THEM IN PERSON!!  Ronda and I are SO EXCITED!!
We are going to learn EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW about our Featherweights.
If we have spare time, Ronda will no doubt make YET ANOTHER RAGGED EDGE QUILT...
Ronda's Featherweight is a 1952 in perfect condition.
Memphis had her first sewing lesson on Ronda's Featherweight
Lilly is getting more comfortable with it every time we make something.
Life just doesn't get any better than this, people!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Splendid Sampler™

The Splendid Sampler™ Wednesday
(...skip this part if you're not new here...)

The Splendid Sampler™ is an internet sew-a-long created by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. It is an EPIC sew along...
  • 83 fabric designers have created specific blocks that feature different quilting techniques. (paper piecing, fused applique, etc.).
  • The blocks will be released each week, and are FREE to participants until March 2017. (at that time, they'll use the designs to publish a book).
  • You can use whatever fabric you like.
  • There will be pictures on their Facebook page, etc.
The new block designs come out twice a week....on Sunday morning and Thursday morning. I'm doing this with my TMBC...and, therefore, it is my pleasure to BLOG ABOUT IT every Wednesday.


It was shocking that after I got home from Salt Lake City, I was SO INSPIRED to work on some quilt blocks -- I did this...
Yes -- that's right -- ELEVEN BLOCKS IN ONE WEEK. Nobody was more surprised than me!!
Although it's not a competition -- I BEAT LP!!! Count ém...she did TEN. Wow. That's an amazing number. BUT IT IS NOT THE WEEKLY RECORD, IS IT, BABE??
But the winner for "best selvedge edges" was definitely SANDY...!!
Sandy did four blocks this week. WE WERE ALL IN THE MOOD TO QUILT, eh?
Here's the thing about the Splendid Sampler. You are free to do WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO.

My friend Mark Lipinski always says THERE ARE NO QUILT POLICE!!

The reason I did so many blocks this week is because I decided to go back and redo some of my favorites.  And why not?  The new blocks are SO MUCH better than my first efforts.  And, as we've been learning our new skills, I wanted to practice some of those half-square triangles and flying geese. 

Yep.  It's like everything else in life.  Practice makes perfect...and I was very pleased with my progress.  But, unlike my over-achieving sewing sisters, I haven't done any of the embroidery blocks.

Because -- remember?  There are no quilt police...!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sewing, Me and Lilly

Sewing brings so many benefits to my life, it would be impossible to list them all. Of course, there are the obvious things -- like being able to make my own clothes. That has ALWAYS brought me great pleasure (not to mention saved me a fortune).
Sewing inspired me to open a business. I opened my store, wrote the newsletter, which led to writing several books. Sewing made me realize I was a writer.

AND I have sewing to thank for some of my best friends -- and for A TON OF WORLD TRAVEL.

But, mostly, sewing brings a spirit of giving to my daily life. In the last month (which is typical) -- I have hemmed pants for my son Elliott, helped Lilly make a horse pillow for a friend, measured and started to make curtains for my friend Sue's potting shed, and Lilly and I made a gift for her cousin Myla...who was turning FIVE.

Lilly picked out a towel - and then a t-shirt she thought Myla would like.  We were making a simple swim cover up.

I think the pictures tell the story....
Lilly was SO EXCITED to give Myla this gift. I don't know which one of them was happier...
Sewing has been a real gift in my life. And it is with the greatest pleasure that I am passing that gift on to Lilly...

Monday, June 20, 2016

THIS was on the Quilt Market show floor

Of course, because of Mary Mulari -- I have a soft spot in my heart for the Riley Blake area on the Quilt Market show floor. And then I happened upon this...
Designer Carina Gardner brought her Glamper...

If you want to read more about Carina's Glamper -- go to her blog to see pictures of the BEFORE and AFTER. You won't believe it!!