“A Symphony of Color”

"A Symphony of Color" for Miranda

“A Symphony of Color”
for Miranda

Here’s a picture of the quilt that I quilted on Julie Brandon’s Nolting Longarm Machine.  It was so big, the only way to get a full photo of the whole quilt was to stand on a staircase and have someone help me hold it up.

A couple years ago, I bought 2 packs of identical Kaffe Fassett fabrics with the goal of making a quilt for each of my boyfriend’s daughters.  I brought the fabrics to retreat in 2015 and started on them.  First, I had to cut the strips into squares.  Some of the squares were sewn together to make 4-pathes, while others were left whole.


The free pattern that I was using called for borders to be sewn onto each 4-patch and each whole square.  You were supposed to have 2 different color borders or a light and a dark border.  You would then alternate the placement of the blocks so you had contrasting borders next to each other.  Before I started sewing the borders onto the blocks, I wanted to see how it would look.  One of our members had taped batting to the wall to use as a desing wall and was kind enough to let anyone use it.

Since I wanted to do one quilt in a purple color way and one in a teal color way, I put 15 block centers on the wall then added the borders to see the whole thing done in purple, then in teal.  Then I decided to take this photo to see both colorways next to each other.

(In case you’re wondering, the blue strips on the outside are not part of the design.  They are the blue tape that was used to hold the batting on the wall.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric for the borders because the pattern had an error in the fabric requirements listed.  So, off to the Quilter’s Daughter quilt shop in Perry, NY I went. Of course, I couldn’t find more of the fabric that I bought somewhere else over a year before.  I bought other fabric to try to add, but ultimately, out of frustration, I put the whole thing away and moved on to something else at reatreat.

A year later, I decided it was time to get these fabrics out and just make one quilt out of them.  My boyfriend’s oldest daughter was going to be graduating high school and I knew she would love the colors.  Since I still didn’t have enough fabric to make it big enough for the Twin XL dorm bed, Plan B became an adaptation of the orginal pattern.

I didn’t have a design wall, so I created one by hanging a flannel backed tablecloth from the top of the stack of plastic drawers that hold all our fabric.  A lot of the pieces just stuck to the flannel backing.  I did use pins when I needed to, especially on the outer borders.  I was surprised by how great it worked!





















It still needed to be a little larger, so I added a Piano Keys border.  Not only does this border look great, but Jim’s daughter is going to study music in college, so it really is the perfect choice!






You can see by how valuable a design wall is when you compare it to laying a quilt out on a bed or the floor.  Having a straight on view of really makes a difference.



I really encourgage you to try playing with blocks on a design wall.  It doesn’t have to be big.  And it doesn’t have to be permanent.

Things that make me smile:

  • Fresh picked Sweet Hundreds Tomatoes
  • An all day class with Annie Unrein hosted by Patchwork Garden Quilt Shop
  • Having my mom in the same Annie Unrein class!

Let’s go spread some sunshine!


Nolting Longarm Quilting Machines – Made in the USA

Nolting Longarm Quilting Machines - Made in the USA

Nolting Longarm Quilting Machines – Made in the USA

Happy Labor Day to the Quilting Community!

My very first blog post was on Labor Day a few years ago.  I wrote about APQS Longarm Machines which are made in the USA.  Recently I got to use another longarm machine which was also made in the USA – a Nolting Longarm.


I made a quilt for my boyfriend’s daughter to take to her dorm at college, so I had a deadline.  I had less than a week to quilt and bind it.  And this was no small quilt.  The beds in the freshman dorm are Twin XL.  I found a great chart online to help me figure out what size I should make the quilt.  It ended up being approximately 82″ by 106″.

Julie Brandon, a friend that I met through our quilt guild, was kind enough to let me use her Nolting Longarm Machine.  I’ve quilted large quilts on my regular domestic sewing maching, but I never would have been able to do this one without her.

When we loaded the backing on the rack, Julie said it was the largest quilt that had been on her machine since she got it.  Normally I would lay a large quilt out on the living room floor to pin it so I could quilt it on my domestic machine, but this one was just too big.  I could have easily spent a couple hours on just pinning it.

Things that make me smile:

  • Finding more and more products Made in the USA!
  • Trying something new – in this case, using a digital design to quilt a quilt on a longarm. Check back next week to see my thoughts on computerized quitling on a longarm.
  • A wonderful visit with my sister and her husband from Texas!

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

– Melanie



Museum Quilt Guild Retreat 2016


A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend 4 days on a quilting retreat at Asbury Camp and Retreat Center with my quilt guild.

The first project I worked on was this bag using the One Piece Bag pattern from Fig Tree & Company. It was actually not a difficult pattern to follow, but as usual, I made it more difficult…

I chose a fabric with a directional print to make the bag. If I followed the pattern as it was written, the material on the back of the bag would be upside down. So I made some adjustments by guesstimating where to cut the fabric and sew it back together to have the print on the fabric right side up on both the front and the back of the bag.

IMG_3945I also added a pocket inside so I wouldn’t have to dig into the bottom of the bag for small items.

The directions called for a piece of foam core to give the bag some stabilty and structure by providing a stiff bag bottom. I decided to recycle a hard piece of cardboard from huge box of candy that I won at Christmas. I left the glove in picture on the right side to show just how huge the box was. Of course, there was more packing material than chocolate. The box was probably 3 inches tall and yet there was only 1 layer of chocolates. It was only a 2 lb. 4 oz. box of candy. It truly is a shame that companies feel the need to use so much packaging material for marketing purposes. Most of it will end up in landfills. We can try to reduce the waste by choosing to buy things with less packaging, or we can find a way to re-use the packaging materials.

The directions suggested wrapping the core with batting then making a cover for it. I used a fusible batting and fused it to the fabric, instead, before sewing it into a sleeve for the cardboard.

I did make a couple of mistakes on this project. The worst/ funniest one happend when I put the magnetic snap closure on the bag. I initially put both halves of the clasp on the flap, instead of one half on the flap and the other half on the bag. It was an easy fix to take it out. I was going to cover the 2 small slits in the fabric with a button or some other embellishment, but I decided that it was barely noticeable, so I’m just leaving it as is.

Things that make me smile:

  • Seeing my boyfriend’s daughter on stage. Jim’s oldest daughter was in her high school’s performance of Shrek last weekend. She was fantastic! (As was the rest of the cast, but I do admit a little bias.)
  • 4 days of quilt camp!
  • Re-purposing. Not only do you keep something out of a landfill, but you also save money! No need to buy a piece of foam when you have something else you can use.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!



Union Station, Lockport, NY

Museum Quilt Guilt – Architectural Challenge Revealed

Union Station Lockport, NY

Union Station
Lockport, NY

It has been a busy few months, but I’m back in the blogging world. Rather than try to get you caught up with a play by play on everything I’ve done in the last 3 months, I’ll start with the most recent project. It is once again the season for the  The Museum Quilt Guild’s annual challenge. This year’s challenge theme was “Architecture”. My entry was an applique of the old Union Station in Lockport, NY.


There are a couple of things I would like to share about my process on this project.

The first is to not settle for fabric that isn’t quite the right color. I wanted to make the inside of the archway a darker shade that the part of the archway that’s seen from the front. So I auditioned some fabrics.

The first fabric I tried was too dark. I couldn’t find any that were the shade I was looking for, so I took the fabric that I used for the front of the arch and colored it with a pencil, nothing fancy, just a regular pencil. I then rinsed it and smudged it as much as I could to get rid of the lines.

I don’t recommend this technique for use on regular quilts that will get washed. And certainly not for baby quilts, but it turned out to be just what I was looking for for this project.




This photo shows a lesson in perspective. I think I achieved the look of a curve in the architecture of the round turret on the top part. The bottom, however, is another story.

The problem is that when I stitched the mortar lines between the white stones on the bottom I should have stitched at a slight angle coming down from left to right and then straight across from right to left, meeting in the center between the 2 windows. I debated ripping the stitches out, but the time crunch I was working with did not allow for it. Ultimately, I look at it as a lesson well learned for next time. It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad and more importantly, it’s finished.



All the entries are on display at the Richmond Library in Batavia, NY through the month of February. I encourage you to check them out in person. Pictures, truly, do not do justice to these works of art.

Things that make me smile:

  • Re-arranging my desks at work! It’s amazing how much better my days go since I’ve re-organized my workspace.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’ve never had a really good memory, but I still recall going to see the original Star Wars at the drive-in in the 1970’s. I’m not even sure that I stayed awake for the whole movie. I just remember my brother and I getting to wear pajamas to the movies as we watched it from the back of the old green station wagon. I think they did a great job with the latest movie.

And last but not least……

  • My friend, co-worker, and fellow quilter Kathi has retired. I am so happy for her! Not only has she been a pleasure to work with over the last 15+ years, she is the one who introduced the Museum Quilt Guild to me. I had been taking quilting classes and teaching myself what I could when Kathi invited me to check out her guild. I am so grateful to her. The friendship and comraderie. The classes and challenges.The inspiration of other quilters’ work. Those are the priceless benefits of being in a guild. I’m sure that I would still be quilting even if I had never met Kathi, but I’m equally sure that I am a better and happier quilter because I did.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!




Giant Hexie Table Topper


Giant Hexie Table Topper by Melanie Watson

I just finished a project made with hexies that measure 7″ across. I found the fabric in the scrap fabric “pool” at our guild’s quilt show. If I remember correctly, anyone at the show could pay $1 and fill a small bag with scraps. These pre-cut hexies were in the pool along with the cardboard templates that went with them. There are a bunch more that I think I will make into another round table topper and perhaps a long skinny runner, as well.


What drew me to the hexies in the pool was the multi-color swirl fabric that I used as the center hexie. I challenged myself to learn a new quilting motif for this project. Inspired by these colorful swirls, I searched the internet for a continuous line design that was similar.


I came20151004_213458 across a beautiful design by Angela Walters called “Swirl Hook”. Angela has a great tutorial video on You-Tube that you can find by clicking the above link.


swirl hook quilt design

When I’m learning a new design by video, I watch the video a couple times through, then I try doodling it. I keep doodling it until the design comes naturally. Since it doesn’t require a lot of thought once you get the gist of it, you can doodle it while watching t.v., talking on the phone, and even waiting in a doctor’s office. You don’t need a large piece of paper, either. I’ll doodle on junk mail envelopes, or any scrap of paper I have.

When I go to the machine, I try the design on a scrap of fabric with some batting in it. I don’t expect it to be perfect the first time I use it in a quilt, but I do want it to be familiar. If I waited or perfection, I’d never get a quilt done! Even after I stitch a design across a whole quilt, I keep doodling the design as practice while I’m on the phone or watching t.v.


Tonight, I’m basting a community service quilt that I hope to have time to quilt before the next guild meeting. Check back in a week to see how it turns out,

Things that make me smile:

  • Learning a new quilting design
  • Sappy seasonal movies on Hallmark Channel
  • Spaghetti squash. I love spaghetti squash! I think it is an under-appreciated squash that many people have not had or don’t know how to serve. I like to bake the squash the same way that you cook other squash (face down on a baking sheet) then I make a chunky “sauce” that I cook in a skillet on the stovetop. Some people put regular spaghetti sauce on it.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!