Dare to be Different: Just a Thought…

Are you a follower? Do you follow and copy trends that you see so you fit in with the crowd? I think many (or most) of us have done that at one stage or the other in our lives. Think back to when you were a young teenager. Did you dress like everyone else out of fear that you would be made fun of if you didn’t? Did you follow the crowd and cheer for the most popular team “just because?”

I’ll be honest, here… as a teen, my ability to “fit in” was based on what my family could afford, not on what the current style was. And that teenage girl did the best she could to follow trends but never seemed to be able to catch up.

A day or two ago, I posted a photo of our front door on my Facebook page. When we first built our home back about 20 years ago, we wanted it to look different. We were the first home to be built in our neighborhood, and in driving through our community, we noticed that most houses that were being built had brick on the outside. Nobody had flagstone. NOBODY. We wanted to be unique, so that is what we requested from our builder. We absolutely adored it! Our white siding looked fantastic with maroon-colored shutters and a maroon-colored front door. Along with our flagstones, it made a great combination. Sad to say, when the house across the street was built, it had white siding, flagstone and maroon door and shutters. HEAVY SIGH.

My husband counted red and maroon front doors on our street recently. There are approximately 16 of them on our street alone. So our front door has now changed to dark gray to match our newly-painted shutters and porch bench. We enjoy being unique.

Do you enjoy being different? Or are you a follower? I recently bought a new car. Tired of seeing all the silver, white, black and tan cars in my area, I went with a shiney copper just so I would be slightly different. It’s a little thing, I know, but it makes me smile.

As a Realtor, I look at houses on a daily basis, both inside and out. Pinterest seems to dictate how people decorate their homes these days. I see a lot of houses with the same color pallet inside. I see lots of signs with writing on them hanging on walls. Lots of painted pictures created by women who took classes where everyone painted the same exact picture. I just don’t get that, but whatever. Pets are even becoming “the thing” around here. New puppies are springing up everywhere, and even they are ruled by trends. Our dog “Noodle” was a rescue dog, not a trendy dog… but we wouldn’t trade her for the world.

As a quilter, I cringe everytime I see someone post that they really like another quilter’s finished quilt and then turn around and ask them if they can have the pattern… followed by, “Where did you get the fabric and what is it called?” I LOVE IT when people take a risk and do their own thing rather than create a copy-cat version of someone else’s talent.

When was the last time that you designed your OWN quilt? Did you know that it’s entirely acceptable to mix and blend fabrics from different designers? You don’t have to stick with the same designer’s fabric all through one quilt. Mixing it up can give you a delightful look that other people might not have thought to do. Give it a try, and DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!

Conservative Quilters? Seriously?

I started college as a fine arts major. I was in choir and numerous plays. I attended the Interlochen Fine Arts Camp in Northern Michigan, attended college locally as a fine arts student while I was in my senior year of high school. I sang in the Flint Festival Chorus and had the honor of singing with them at Charles Stewart Mott’s funeral. I was in Gilbert and Sullivan Players, and the list goes on. I had many friends who were gay; it never bothered me. And why should it?

A number of years ago, my husband and I and our two sons attended a different church than we do now. The priest at that church said to the congregation (during a Sunday service), that he would not serve communion to any individual that he knew to be homosexual. That made me extremely angry, and I went home in tears.

You see, my close friend Chris was active in his own church in high school. He spent a lot of time helping the youth in his church, assisting the regular Sunday School teachers as needed. He spoke freely about his faith in and out of school, and you couldn’t find a more devoted Christian. And yet, if he were to attend my church, he would not have been allowed to receive communion. In my eyes, that was just plain WRONG.

Fast forward to the late 1970’s and early 80’s. I was a young mother and just starting to learn how to quilt. I was self-taught and could not find a quilting class, but had the pleasure of working at Quilts, Kits and Caboodles, a quilt store in downtown Flint, Michigan. There, I picked up some tips and suggestions, and I was off and running. Within a year or so, I started teaching quilting in the Flushing School District, one night each week, in their community education programs. In my first class was a young man about my age who really wanted to learn how to quilt. I thought that it was unique for a man to want to learn how to quilt, but why shouldn’t he? I didn’t blink an eye, though looking back, I’m sure there were a few women in the group who might have had questions about why James was there. Fortunately, they never brought up the subject.

A couple of years ago, I joined a quilt guild in our area. It was interesting to meet with others who loved quilting, though I am a hand quilter and most everyone else was not. Several older women chastised me for not using a machine, but beyond that, everyone was fine (most of the time.) I spent a year as president of the guild, and helping to bring in speakers and to plan programs. I did a trunk show with my own quilts, showing the group quilts from the two quilt books I had written early on. There was a man who attended that trunk show, the only man in the group. I was thrilled to see him there, as James was the young man in my first quilting class years ago (mentioned above.) What surprised me was the reaction of the others in the audience who wondered just why he was there. After all, wasn’t this a WOMEN’s guild?
No, it was a QUILT GUILD. Gender was never a deciding factor for attendance, and I made that clear.

From that time on, the atmosphere within the group changed. I brought in a fantastic male speaker Several other men started visiting the guild on a regular basis to learn how to quilt, but they were treated differently. And because I was friends with several of them, I noticed that I, too, was being treated differently. One person in particular became very nasty with me, and I was never sure just what brought that on, but I looked at it as her problem and not mine.

Within the past few weeks, a change has taken place in the world of quilting. There is a group, the “Conservative Quilting Group,” that is making life difficult for many quilters who don’t meet their guidelines. Not just QUILTING guidelines, but political and religious beliefs as well. Not only are they attacking people’s beliefs, but they are out to ruin the livelihood of quilters who earn their living by writing books, teaching classes, selling their quilts, etc. Basically, what they are doing is an adult form of bullying to the nth degree. And it is wrong. Just plain wrong. The paragraph above mentions one person who became very nasty with me. It turns out that she is one of those individuals who is in the so-called “Conservative Quilting Group.”

The group is a small, SECRET group on Facebook. You can’t find them by doing a search, you have to know how to access the group. I don’t care to know how that is done, as I want no part of it. So why am I writing this blog post? Because quilters need to know what is going on. We thought that quilting was a safe, fun, relaxing hobby, something pleasurable to do in your free time. It COULD be that, but now our world is a lot more complex than it was before. When I first saw the name “Conservative Quilters,” I thought that meant quilters who are careful in planning their quilts, rationing out fabric, using up scraps, etc. Nope, not that at all.

I am seeing several of my friends being attacked. And, this past week when I mentioned it in a Facebook group that I started several years ago, the nastiness ran rampant in ways I would never have imagined. And it is just SO wrong! I have been deep in thought the past couple of days. I decided that I am not going to do anything different, but I AM going to be supportive to my quilting friends who are being attacked. I’m not going to name any names. I’m not going to add fuel to the fire. But I do know this: I hope these so called “Conservative Quilters” who hold themselves up as being devout Christians will come to the realization someday that Christians DO NOT ACT LIKE THAT. THEY DO NOT BULLY OTHERS. THEY DO NOT CALL PEOPLE NAMES AND RUIN THEIR BUSINESSES. That is not why God Sent His Only Son. Pick up a bible some day and stick your nose in it. Do some reading. I will be praying for you.

Why do you want to learn how to hand quilt? OR, Why do you want to learn how to hand quilt BETTER?

Why do you want to learn?  What drives you to quilting?  What is your passion? Who do you know personally that is a hand quilter?  (By that I mean knowing someone OUTSIDE the Internet world… someone you see in person and talk to on a regular basis).

I read the following phrase recently: “Clarity trumps perfection.”  When you combine that phrase with the process of learning to hand quilt, what do you think of?

Would you take a few moments to think deeply about the questions presented above and share them with me via email?  I’d like to take all your thoughts and put them together into a list and share them, not through a usual Facebook discussion, but just as a simple list of your thoughts.  So please respond to me by dropping me an email  and include your first name.  I am excited to find out what thoughts you have, and once I have gathered your thoughts, I will share them on this blog.

Stay tuned, and keep stitching!

There is a right way, a wrong way, a purpose and a reason behind everything

Almost everything in life has a purpose – a reason; Knowing the right steps to take can make all the difference.  Here are some simple things that you probably know make sense, and a few that might be new to you:

  • Using a cooking spray on the pan before frying an egg will help prevent the egg from sticking to the pan.
  • When you plant a seed in the spring, it will stand a better chance of growing if you apply water.
  • A piano teacher will show a student finger exercises and scales to repeat on a daily basis to strengthen fingers for more advanced musicianship.
  • Sharpening a knife will enable the knife to make a cleaner cut.
  • If you are sailing a small sailboat and it tips over, stand on the keel to right the boat.
  • Putting sunscreen on before you go out on a hot summer day will help prevent sunburn.
  • When washing clothes, adding soap to the water will help ensure better cleanliness.
  • Practicing on the guitar daily will help your fingertips develop calluses which facilitates easier and more comfortable playing.
  • After you dye your hair, it is a good idea to wash and rinse it to prevent the dye from ruining your clothes or irritating your scalp.
  • Terrycloth bath towels will dry better outside if you hang them on a clothesline or spread them out flat. The same towels will probably not dry quickly or evenly if you leave them bunched up in a ball.
  • If you haven’t ridden your bicycle in several years, it is a good idea to check the tires for pressure before hopping on.
  • If you plan to surf the Internet, it is a good idea to turn your computer, tablet or iPad on.

Did some of these seem silly?  You’re probably shaking your head YES… some of these probably seemed quite dumb.  But they are all good points and DO make sense.

It surprises me when brand new quilters ask a question online (normally on Facebook) about things  they sincerely do NOT know about, and when they are given good, accurate and time-tested responses to their questions, they poo-poo the response and say they’re not going to do that.

Question #1:  I’m a new quilter.  Is it necessary that I prewash my fabric before I sew it into a quilt?

Answer:  Yes, absolutely!  Prewashing your fabric is the SMART thing to do, because it releases any extra dye that is in the fabric, thus preventing it from bleeding onto lighter fabrics… AND if you are going to hand quilt, prewashing your fabric will make the hand quilting process go smoother, as the fabric will be softer to the touch.

Question#1 Responder:  I don’t want to waste my time washing fabric ahead of time.  I will wash it all when I’m done with the quilt.  Who wants to spend their time at the washing machine anyway?!?!  My friend doesn’t prewash her fabric, and hers usually turn out okay.  (USUALLY?)

Question #2: I was told that I should baste the layers together before I hand quilt.  I’m planning on using pearle  cotton because it is stiffer and stronger.  Do you agree?

Answer:  No.  Pearle cotton may be stronger, but it also requires a larger needle, and during the basting process can create holes in your fabric that you might not want there.

Question#2  Responder:  I think I will use the Pearle cotton.  I want the thread to be stronger in case I don’t finish the quilting for several years.  It will hold it together better. (It might, but it also might give you more permanent holes in the fabric.  If you are okay with that, then go right ahead and do whatever you wish.

Question #3:  Do I have to use a hoop to hand quilt? It seems so awkward.IMG_6735

Answer:  You will get the nicest look on your quilt if you have a hoop or frame holding the layers in place while you stitch.  Holding the layers in place keeps everything consistent.  It prevents the layers from shifting. It allows your two hands to work together to develop that beautiful quilting stitch that everyone longs for.  It helps prevent puckering.  Yes, it will take you a little time to get used to it, and YES, at first you might be frustrated, but if you stick with it, you will soon wonder how anybody can quilt without a hoop or frame.

Question#3 Responder:  I don’t think I need a hoop.  I know lots of quilters who don’t use a hoop  and they get by just fine.

NOTE TO Responders:  Look in old quilt books for photos of groups of women and men quilting together on a frame.  Why do you think they do that?  How do you think they learned how to quilt on a frame?  Through PRACTICE.  They know a frame or hoop holds the quilt sandwich together.  They learned how to quilt like that from their mother, grandmother or aunt, who learned from THEIR mother, grandmother or aunt, who learned from THEIR mother, grandmother or aunt who learned from THEIR mother, grandmother or aunt who learned from THEIR mother, grandmother or aunt, and on and on and on.

Please note that the quilting questions and answers above are intended to provide you with examples.  They do not indicate any input by the so-called “Quilt Police,” who actually do not exist.  The questions and responses are there to cause you to think.  If you have questions about how to do something when hand quilting, take the time to find someone who has hand quilted for ages.  Sit by their side, show them what you are doing, and ask for help.  Nobody knows everything.  Even me.  (Especially me!)        NOTE:  many quilt stores do not have hand quilting instructors.  If you can’t find someone to teach you,  go online and do a search of quilting videos, well-known hand quilters, or places where you can take a good hand quilting class.

If you are looking for a hand quilting instructor, please contact me – Caron Mosey.  I’ll see what I can do to find you a good instructor in your area. If you want to learn how to hand quilt and you live in Michigan, I can help you!!!

Anita Shreve’s “The Stars Are Fire”

When was the last time you read a good book?  I finished a great book last night, written by Anita Shreve.  It’s called, “The Stars Are Fire,” and it was difficult to put down.  WrapThe Stars Are Fire.jpgped up in a cozy blanket on the couch, Anita’s book made me think about a number of things that have been on my mind lately.

Firstly, I miss writing.  I have written two books, but that was a lifetime ago; or at least it just feels that way.  I did start another book several years ago.  While the first two books were quilting books, the third is a combination of fiction and fact, based on my mother’s life and relatives.  I want to finish that book in the near future.

In Anita’s book, the main character, Grace, has set her eyes and heart on a goal.  It’s time I do that as well.  No, it won’t be the same goal, but I want her determination and drive within me to push me along in a steady, good direction.

Get thee to a bookstore or library.  Read Anita’s book.  Think about your goals, and move towards them at your own pace.  Whatever your goals may be… reading, sewing, exercise, travel… push forward to do what YOU strive for.  Keep your eye on the prize, and you will make it.


Quilting definitions

Here are some basic explanations for quilting; some go back in time for centuries”

Quilt Sandwich (or “sandwiching the quilt”):  Refers to placing the three layers of the quilt, one- on- top of the other  in preparation for sewing.  The bottom layer, batting and quilt top are either put into a quilting frame or hoop or are laid on a table for stitching the three layers together.

Comforter:  A comforter is bulkier than a quilt, generally with a heavier (puffier) layer in the middle.  Normally, this means a thicker batting, though sometimes layers of flannel are used instead. Flannel makes the quilt heavier and more difficult to hold together.  Due to the thickness of a comforter, the layers of the sandwich are TIED together rather than sewn together.  See photo below from https://www.connectingthreads.com/tutorials/How_to_Tie_a_Quilt_Tutorial__D7.htm


Hand Piecing:  Hand piecing (or hand stitching) means that the blocks or pieces that make up the quilt top are sewn together by hand, NOT by sewing machine.  Many quilters choose to hand piece a quilt top, as it gives them a sense of relaxation.  Many quilters choose to hand piece their quilt tops, as hand piecing is portable; you can take your sewing with you in a bag or box and sew wherever you are.  There is no need to carry a heavy sewing machine with you to sew!  You can hand piece a quilt top while you are at you son’s baseball practice, while you are sitting at the airport, or while you are recovering at home following surgery, etc.

Hand Quilting:  Hand quilting means that the three layers of the quilt sandwich are stitched together BY HAND using a “continuous running stitch.” The photo below shows what hand quilting stitches look like.