Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Quilting Goals

I've been writing out annual quilting goals since 2011 -- that first year, it was simple -- reduce my fabric stash by 100 yards.  I had tough rules -- any fabric purchased set me back a few yards.  By the end of the year, I had managed to pull it off right at the wire -- 163.5 yards used (but 63 yards purchased which left me with a net reduction of 100.5 yards.

In 2012, I used my  2011 success as a springboard and set the goal of using 212 yards of fabric in the course of the year.  I eased up on myself and ditched the "purchase-debit" rule.  Once again, I made it just under the wire with 212 5/8 yards used!!  It also resulted in one of my most popular guild lectures -- How to Use 212 Yards of Fabric in One Year.  My best strategy was making lots of quilt backings to go with my stacks of finished tops -- oops, there goes another 7 yards!!  Best part?  It led to a life-style change as the stacks of fabric continue to shrink -- shelves that vomit fabric are a thing of the past!! 
Those goals of using my stash first really taught me to enjoy "shopping" there -- it's a great challenge to use what I have and it has pushed me to a more confident creative point of view.  Now I actually am excited to run out of fabric because some of the quilts I finished were so much better than if I had gone out shopping for "more-of" . . . . . !!  This gem is one of my stash-only accomplishments and there is another one just as big!!  Exciting!!
In 2013, I was loosey-goosey and had no specific goals -- I lost my mother that winter and I think I was unable to think ahead.  I stitched relentlessly to carry me through those emotional days.  There are always plenty of UFQ's in my studio -- so when I felt restless or unable to settle on a project, I would just pull out another old one and focus on it.  My stitching journal records 26 quilt finishes!

2014 found me starting the year with a detailed survey of UFQ's -- there were 44 finished quilt tops (down from 72 in 2005) and 14 sets of quilt blocks.  I had two goals for the year -- to continue to whittle away at the UFQ's and to transform myself into a quilt maker who proceeds through a project from start to finish in one smooth process more often.  That was huge!!  I made good progress on both fronts though I realized I'll always have three or four projects going at the same time.  One being planned, one being pieced (or maybe two), one being machine quilted, and one being hand quilted.  By the end of the year, I'd finished 23 quilts and reduced the UFQ list of finished tops to 30!!  I can remember when these two shelves were packed to the top -- now they look a bit empty, don't they?
My favorite finishes for 2014 were the three string star quilts I made for my children -- the star blocks were from my husband's grandmother's estate though I think her mother-in-law pieced them in the early 1900's.  It took a century to put them into the hands of Huey's but Mary Emma is smiling now!!
 At the beginning of 2015, I found the APQ's UFO Challenge chart and filled it with some of my oldest UFQ's.  If you aren't familiar with the APQ Challenge, they draw a number each month and that's the project you tackle.  You can see my notations for what month each project drew.  There were just three complete finishes but up until the fall, I made significant progress on most of the projects and they've been added to my "ready-to-quilt" shelves!! 
In addition, I intended to make a scrappy twin size donation quilt every month as I worked through the color shelves in my studio to tidy them up.  I made it through 3 months -- pink, white and beige neutrals, and green (seen below).  There is a blue one underway as well, but I just ran out of steam -- probably because I realized what a challenge it was to piece and quilt a top with everything else I was doing -- or perhaps it was the challenge of finding a pattern to use with the orange and yellow shelf?
  There is just a few more hours of 2015 left and I've been spending quiet time in my studio -- tidying up and reviewing what I accomplished over the past year, so I feel ready to set some (realistic) goals for 2016.
First, I'll try to finish a UFQ each month!  I haven't decided if I'll carry over the balance from 2015 -- I learned just how important a purpose and a deadline are for me to get an old project finished so my plan is to chose 12 that have a destiny in 2016!!
Second, I'm going to try to generate four new twin size scrappy charity quilts -- one every three months -- I came so close to doing this in 2015 I feel certain that I can accomplish this one!!
Third, I want to get the last half dozen sets of quilt blocks malingering in boxes and baskets pieced into quilt tops so they don't go astray when they clear out my studio in the distant future!!
And finally, I want to continue to explore piecing designs and offer workshops where quilters can apply the Set-In Piecing Simplified technique featured in my DVD.  That will actually be the easiest goal to accomplish because I'm very easily distracted from everything by an interesting quilt block with y-seams!!
So how about you?  Are you setting stitching goals?  You should!!
The most exciting discoveries I've made as a quilt maker over the past few years are almost all the results of goals I've set -- achieved and unachieved.
If you want some more inspiration for goal setting -- head on over to the 2016 Planning Linky Party at Quilt Jetgirl by clicking HERE!!
Happy New Year!!
Mary Huey


Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Fab Five for 2015

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a delightful one and for those who don't, thanks for allowing us the freedom to celebrate!
Today is the beginning of my transition to a New Year, 2016 -- time to look back over the year and marvel at all I was able to accomplish as a quilt maker.  I'm enjoying participating in the blogging quilt scene -- so many new friends made and so many ideas shared!
These are five of my favorite posts from 2015 -- I had fun creating them and I appreciated all the responses from you, my readers!!
I participated in the Tree Bird Blog Hop in March and wrote about the wall hanging I created just for it on March 19, A BIRDER'S DREAM.  I had so many wonderful compliments about it and it's had a very successful tour of quilt guilds during the fall.  If you haven't already read the post, it includes instructions on how I make wonky, scrappy 9-patch blocks.
In May, I shared a new strategy for CUTTING ANTIQUE ROSE STAR blocks with Marti Michell's **Kite and Crown Templates.  One of the challenges of teaching is to create a fulfilling experience for my students.  Choosing fabric and cutting this block can be exhausting which made my students' workshop experience less fun than I wanted it to be.  This set of blocks still isn't finished but it has grown to almost enough for a twin size quilt that will be on my 2016 "to-finish" list!!
The third one was written in June, PILLOW MAKING IS TIME CONSUMING, as I set up my front porch summer living area!  I shared my Pieced Alphabet Pattern** and my love for fruit and veggie inspired fabrics.  The large letters are the first letter of the featured veggie on each pillow -- only when a reader commented she thought it was a "fall" arrangment did I realize I had set the pillows up to say OCT (the abbreviation for October).
I took my grade school age grandchildren camping at the end of the summer and in August I shared the special backpacks I made for them in JUST FOR MY GRANDS.  I'm happy to report that these have become the "go-to" accessory for our adventures together!  And I've made several more of them using the highlighted tutorial.
My final pick for my fab five was written in early December as I returned to one of my older patterns, **FAT QUARTER PLACEMATS.  I created these two sets of placemats with a special person in mind and I'm happy to report that she is soon to become more special as she and my son became engaged for Christmas!!  We are so excited that she and her two lovely children will be joining our family in 2016!!  This set of placemats looks great with her Fiesta Ware!!
I'm looking forward to 2016 and all the creative stimulation waiting for us as quilt makers!!
Thank you for visiting my blog today.  If you aren't already following me, I'd be delighted to have you join the group!!  It's such a joy to share my ideas and knowledge with so many. 
The blogosphere is a great place to hang out!!
To see more bloggers "fab five" click HERE to visit the linky party at Meadow Mist Design with 110 other bloggers sharing the "best of 2015"!!
Happy New Year!!
Mary Huey
You can read any of the highlighted posts by clicking on the title of it and the link will open it up for you in a new window.
** indicates that I have those items for sale.  Since I don't have a sales compatible website at this point (simplifying my life), you can e-mail me at to inquire about any of the products.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Last Minute Gift with "gathering" tips!

Are you a last minute gift maker? 
I am!! 
There are still hand knit socks in production and someone may get a box of yarn but yesterday I was able to call my usually dormant clothing construction background into service and produce a cute (easy) little dress for my potential granddaughter.
My serger has been on-line all week as my housemate daughter is making mermaid and shark snuggle sacks for her nieces and nephews.   
I made a change of thread colors and set to work clean finishing and roll hemming a set of ruffles to jazz up a cute t-shirt.  Violet is 4 and the t-shirt dress will be a cute addition to her playschool wardrobe as she can use it over tights and a long-sleeve shirt or alone when the weather warms up.
I learned to make ruffles back in grade school by stitching parallel rows of machine basting and then pulling them up.  There were frustrations with this method, the most annoying being when the thread broke during the pulling up process. 
But I learned an easier and less frustrating technique when I was a Bernina sewing machine dealer.
This stash of saved string (from pet food bags) is just right!!
Presser foot #6 has a small hole in the front of it that is meant for a cord to be run through it.  By setting up a simple zigzag stitch (length 2.5 and width 5), you can zigzag over the string without catching it in the stitching.  I've learned not to use a longer stitch which seems faster but the ruffles aren't as tight and even.
I break the strings at the seams and begin a new piece -- it's easier to manage the gathering by doing this.  I mark four equal divisions on the bottom of the t-shirt and the edges of the ruffles to help distribute the fullness evening. 
After matching the four quadrants of the ruffle to the four quadrants of the t-shirt, it's time to pull on the strings from each end and gather up the fabric!
To keep the gathers in place while you adjust them, simply do a figure 8 wrap around a pin and now you can slide the gathers back and forth without losing them so the gathering is consistent.
I added two ruffles -- the deeper one is cut 6 1/2" and the shallower one is cut 3".  Once they were pinned to the lower edge of the t-shirt, I was ready to stitch everything together.  Getting them pinned in place takes the most time on this project.
Here they are, stitched on with my sewing machine.  To control all the ravels, I overcast all these layers together using the wider stitch on my serger.
Last step was a topstitch in contrasting yellow thread from the front to keep the ruffle from flipping up and a quick shake out. 
Here it is -- ready to wrap!!
Back to my knitting needles!!
Merry Christmas!!
Mary Huey

Friday, December 18, 2015

Little Gifts -- sometimes they are the best!!

This past week, my quilting gang met for our annual Christmas luncheon to celebrate another year of making quilts to donate to others!!  Since I'm the matriarch of the group (that just means I store all the stuff and set the schedule), I always give them a small token of appreciation. 
As I was pondering what I could make that was sweet and simple, I noticed my little thread catcher (given to me after a speaking engagement by a local quilt guild).  I wondered if I could find a tutorial for it and sure enough, a quick google led me straight to the source!
The best part of making something is digging through my fabric!!  And then I discovered that my Marti Michell 60 Degree Triangle Ruler (the large one) was just the right size!!
(If you can't find one of these locally, I have some in stock! Just e-mail me at
It didn't take long to get a stack of ten cut and ready to stitch up!
And I kept my chain-piecing going by stitching together another Glitter block!!
If you don't already know this trick -- it makes managing the opening so much easier.  See how I stitched in from the edge to the 1/4" seam, then around the triangle and off when it was time to end.
Those few extra stitches make it easier to turn the seam allowance into the opening so you can press it straight across without much effort!
Here's another tip -- after turning right sides out, I pull the seam to one side and crease it with my finger nail for most of it's length (can't get into the corners).
A wooden press from my paper-piecing supplies works well, too.  Now it's easier to press the seam right on the edge instead of fiddling your way into frustration trying to "roll" everything into place!
Once they were all turned and press and the final stitching done to sculpt the shape, they were ready for their buttons!!  Since I use my buttons for embellishment most of the time, I keep all of them sorted by color in cute jars on a shelf in the studio!
And here they are -- ready to party!!  I filled them with Hershey kisses and off we went!!
We've had a good year.  Together we've made 31 quilts to share.
Now we'll take a break until mid-January and start up again!
I'll wish you a Merry Christmas today -- I'm taking a break for the coming week to catch up with sock knitting for my crew!!  I hope we all get our gift stitching finished!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Epic Finish!!

This is what winter looks like in Northeast Ohio -- not much color -- thank goodness for Cardinals!! 
After many years of lying about on my UFQ shelves, the Baltimore Album applique quilt which I started in 199? is finished and ready to pass onto my younger daughter!
It was mild here today (64 degrees - about 30 degrees above average) so I was able to grab a couple photos of it on the front porch.
I used Elly Sienkiewicz's first book, Baltimore Album Applique published in 1990 for the block patterns.  It was to be one of three completely hand pieced or appliqued quilts for my three children. 
 There were a group of us that worked on these blocks together and the only other one that I know was finished was my mother's.  I crashed and burned before getting all the blocks stitched for the original plan but after helping a family liquidate their mother's estate which included the most amazing set of Baltimore-style blocks, I was determined to finish these quilts!!
And I'm done!!  I've been hand quilting on this one off and on all year!  I used Quilter's Dream Wool batting which is easy to hand quilt and holds a nice loft.  I've kept the quilting simple so that I would get finished -- lots of straight lines and echo quilting.  A couple of the original blocks were eliminated -- either not finished or the color scheme didn't fit.  I balanced the layout by keeping the placement of the color and design styles symmetrical.
Now it's ready for a gentle washing (must do that since it's been in process for so long) and then it's off to it's permanent home at the end of December.
It's my only complete finish from my fourth quarter list of goals for the 2015 Finish Along over at On the Windy Side with Adrienne though progress was made on several others!  Maybe next quarter will be a bigger one for complete finishes!!
So good to have this goal completely achieved!!
Mary Huey

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wrapping up 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, I'm already thinking about my quilting goals for 2016 but first I need to review what I've accomplished this year!
The winter group of donation quilts are finished, washed, and bagged up ready to deliver to the City Mission's Laura's Home here in Cleveland.  There are 18 in this pile, each with it's own carry bag ready for the day that the children and their mothers move into a new home.
This is our second donation this year and when all is said and done, we will have made 35 quilts for 35 folks!!
As I shared  on Tuesday, I haven't had as many finishes with my 2015 APQ Challenge list but I've certainly made progress!!  And that's always good.  The information for the 2016 Challenge is already posted on their website (find it HERE) -- I've printed it out and am contemplating which projects will "make the list"!!  Probably need to start with the leftovers from 2015?!?
Some of my finishing goals for the 4th quarter of the 2015 Finish-Along over at On the Windy Side have been neglected.  I will for sure get this one done -- just have two or three more evenings of sappy Christmas movies to go on Hallmark Channel (are you watching those?) and it will be ready to bind -- yeaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!  And there is another one layered and waiting patiently on the table next to George.  I thought I knew how I wanted to quilt it, but I'm hesitating . . . . . again????
At the beginning of 2015, I said (out loud) that I intended to make a twin size quilt top to donate every month and clean out some of my stash -- that lasted for three or four months before I lost my steam.  But it did result in a couple finishes for the year and both quilts are now comforting some one some where!!  I might give that idea a try again in 2016 -- maybe set a goal of six and give myself two months for each one.
Blog reading and writing has added a new dimension and energy to my quilt making in 2015.  With a lot of help from quilters far and near this past year, I have two exciting (unfinished) projects which will need to be at the top of 2016 "to-finish" list.   The Bug Hut is my next hand quilting project!
And all my wonky birds have the next shift on the work wall -- one more teaching sample to finish organizing for the new year!  I just received a happy surprise box from Moda -- won a scrap giveaway on Instagram!! -- and one of the bags of scraps (all polka dots) might be destined to become part of this quilt.
As I look forward to another year of quilting and blogging and teaching, I'm working towards participating in Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs BEST OF 2015 Linky Party which begins on December 26!  It will be open for a week and I think it will provide a perfect opportunity for me to review this year's posts and help me determine my direction for 2016!!
It's so much fun to share my work with all of you and to see what you are doing as well.
Thanks for your interest and compliments!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cute Alert!!

When I made this cheerful sampler of six-pointed stars three years ago, I started the process by pulling lots of prints out of my stash that were suggested by the colors of the border print.  It was quite a big pile so I cut a 3 1/4" strip off each piece to keep the cutting table tidier and make it simpler to be spontaneous about fabric selection for each star.
Of course, I cut way more strips than I used so when I started working on a drunkard's path workshop sample a year later, I was delighted to discover they were just the right size for cutting the "pie" shapes.
I wish I could remember the rest of the "inspiration" story -- why I chose the panel I did off the "sacred shelf", how I arrived at this layout?   But I don't and I didn't finish the top, just did enough of it to illustrate an idea in the workshop.
At the beginning of 2015, I decided to participate in the 2015 APQ challenge to finish twelve UFQ's and I put the barely started but really cute drunkard's path on the list!  When it's number came up in October, I was so far behind on September, August, and July that I didn't expect to make much progress.  I pulled it out of the crate anyway and started making the drunkard's path units as stitch-offs as I chain pieced through other (easier) projects. 
Slowly the units piled up and by mid-November, the end of those intimidating curves was in sight. Once I realized how close I was to being able to assemble the quilt top, I pushed the project to the front of the queue and started putting the finished units on the work wall.
The panels were part of the project from the beginning and I had organized a layout in EQ5 (I really need to update my program).
I made all the "L" pieces of the units from assorted white-on-white prints.  The five whimsical panels are centered and equal to two drunkard's path units in size. 
There is a quite a stack of pie shaped cut-outs left from the background fabric -- I'm saving them in hopes that they will work for another project in the future. 
Soon the top was together and ready for borders -- this stripe was perfect both in color and style and I used all of it -- there are only the eight triangles left from trimming the mitered corners.
Here's the finished top!!
I've made the backing and now it's going back into the crate for the 2016 APQ Challenge along with the others that didn't get finished (though I did make good progress on four of them and completely finished three of them).
I used Marti Michell's Drunkard's Path Templates for cutting and her instructions (very helpful) for piecing.  If you'd like to have a copy of the layout with some rudimentary information (how many units to make, adjusting sizes, and yardage needed), you can send me an e-mail at and I'll send you back a PDF file.  I also have the templates ($15 plus shipping) if you don't have a local source.
Now I need to get back to the Christmas stitching!!
Have a pieceful week!!
Mary Huey