Who am I now.

I accidentally added a period at the end on the title of this post.  I meant to use a question mark.  It’s seems so finite and I don’t feel that way.  I’m referring to my quilting journey, but it could also refer to my life in general.  Let’s discuss quilting.

Last year I took (one) in-person workshop with Sherri Lynn Wood then multiple virtual workshops.  They were almost all improvisational quilting classes.  I’m now working on the 100 Day project and all these classes have impacted how I now work.  I can’t decide which approach to take.  Sherri Lynn’s approach emphasizes a “go with the flow” and the process appeals to me. I recently finished the quilting the top I made that weekend, called Doodles and Curves:

Doodles and Curves

Since I took a workshop with Irene Roderick, I felt more inclined to plan out the final design.  In her workshop we made units of pieced sections then assembled them in a composition.  The goal was to sew the units together after figuring out how we wanted the final piece to look.  The putting together to get that final look was frustrating. I also experimented with free motion quilting. I became annoyed with the tension on the stitching and had to take out large sections of quilting. In some places I used thread which was darker than the fabric color and I’m not sure I will take that path again. It’s distracting to me and highlights the mistakes. It does surprise me how exuberant the quilt is since I made during the height of the pandemic and felt very depressed. Here is the final quilt, titled A Thousand Yellow Rabbits Dancing with Balloons.

A Thousand Yellow Rabbits Dancing with Balloons

I also took a virtual class with Maria Shell.  Her approach is more controlled with precise components and much more symmetry in the final composition.  Her approach also pushed for more repetition in the components.  Her approach is more like following a recipe. Here, a quilt I made after taking her class, titled Pit Stop:

Pit Stop

A friend recently called my approach to quilt design as “meandering”.  That is a good description.  For the 100 Day Project, that’s what I’m doing.  I started making units like Irene, then I kept adding them as I felt like it, more akin to Sherri Lynn.  I’ve made a few “short row” units from Maria’s class.  It’s Wanda’s Meandering Approach. This is the top, almost finished:

I also took a class with Sheila Frampton-Cooper where I learned a new improvisational technique. She calls it applique plus piecing. She was very helpful with color choices and I’m very excited about where I can take my new skills. Here’s the top I created. It is titled Back of the Dragon. The idea came after I made a small sketch which looked like a mountain. Where I grew up, there is a mountain road called Back of the Dragon. It winds in and out with sharp curves. That is why this work looks very topographical.

I have lots of quilting to do to finish these new works. I hope to find my voice after learning from so many talented artists/makers/teachers this past year.

Charm Pack Appliqué Quilt and Tutorial

This summer I received a 100 piece Charm Pack of Free Spirit Fabrics’ Denyse Schmidt Modern Solids as a gift from the Central Virginia Modern Quilt Guild. I wanted to use them as a hand project. I wanted simple shapes. I began cutting small straight strips of the next color in the pack and pinned them to an uncut 5” charm. That meant green with green, then green with yellow and green with fuchsia. Sometimes I chose something with more contrast as the mood struck me.

I created a tutorial and a quilt pattern, Hand-Stitched Charm. You can download by clicking here. Also the tutorial can be found at the end of this post.

The photo above shows dark green strips appliquéd on a lighter green charm. Denyse has a list of the colors on her website. There are 75 different colors. She has a visual color reference of the color choices on her website as well.

I made 9 patch block as I went along. Sometimes if the strip was large I would cut out the strip from the backside and use it as a strip on the next charm. Without doing that I would not have had enough appliqued charms for the entire 81-block quilt top.

When 9 blocks were finished I would sew them together. To make 81 blocks for a 3 by 3 rows quilt, I knew I would need to use charms without any appliqué strips. It looks like I used 25 of those charms. I made the first row on the top left, then added the one on left below it. That made a row of three 9-patch blocks. Then I followed that with by the row in the middle then the top right row.

I used 80 weight Aurifil thread for the appliqué. I did not trim the charms. That made them harder to sew on the machine and many were not the same size. I trimmed them as close to 5” as possible.

Photos of the backside:

You can see where on the right I trimmed away a cream charm. I used that strip on another charm.


First, pick two charms. Note: these are not DS Modern Solids.

Cut one of the charms into strips.

Attach strips onto other charm with pins. Put aside the other strips to use on another charm.

To begin, mark the strips one-quarter inch from the edge. Chalk or a pencil works.

Thread your needle. About 12-14” long. And add your favorite knot at the end. I use John James Gold ‘n Glide appliqué size 11. You are now ready to needle turn the strips.

Since these are straight, you can turn the quarter inch in with your fingers to start.

Stitch the edges down about every one-eighth of an inch, catching the edge of the strip.

Continue until the end and knot at the end on that strip. Then start on the other side.

Again, here’s the free pattern of Hand-Stitched Charm.

It’s a long story, but #What the Fuck! Wanda

On August 3, 2019, a 21-year-old man killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas. He used a semi-automatic weapon. He had spewed hate in posts online against the targets of his rampage. His disgusting language mirrored that of our president who regularly uses racist attacks as his preferred method of speaking to us.

Two days later a reporter asked Beto O’Rourke if the president could do anything. O’Rourke said, “He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Members of the press, what the fuck?” He concluded, “He’s inciting racism and violence in this country.”

On August 6, the Central Virginia Modern Quilt Guild hosted a Block Printing Workshop. I was feeling angry, just like Beto O’Rourke; therefore, I made three separate blocks for “What,” “The,” and “Fuck,” plus an exclamation point. It was tedious and therapeutic.

By the end of the workshop, I had made one print of What the Fuck! (See below). I stored it away, hoping to print some more fuck on another day. Another guild member made the blood splatter block that I used on the bottom.

On September 5, our guild hosted its annual retreat. The blocking-making supplies would be available if we wanted to use them. I took my project bag with my fuck fabric and the print blocks for making more. Also at the retreat we were making Noodlehead’s Cargo Duffle Pattern. I cut out the fabric at home. I was using indigo-dyed fabrics from several previous events, one at the Slow Stitching Retreat in Maine, one with my daughter, and one here with guild members in the barn at my home.

On Friday evening at the retreat I began making the bag and discovered I was missing the exterior bottom accent of the duffle bag. I endeavored to finish as much as possible, then finish at home, where I hoped that missing piece was. On Saturday morning, I was starting to assemble the pieces I had when I thought about What the Fuck! fabric. Idea: I could use that on the duffle bag. My fellow attendees insisted I add a hashtag to the fabric and sign my name. Anyway, #What the fuck, Wanda, is another long story that evolved at the retreat and involved my husband and I texting each other.

My husband, Dave, is a high school football coach. About a month ago, the team had a scrimmage at another school. When the scrimmage was over, they returned to the school field house. At 2:53 p.m., David sent me at text, saying “We just pulled into the field house I’ll be about 30 to 40 minutes and then I’ll be on my way home see you soon love you.” I responded, “Love ya 🥕🥗” At 4:56 p.m., I sent a text with a big starburst I created with Digital Touch plus these words, “Two hours later what the fuck”.

Dave tells me later that he was driving and just saw the word, Fuck, and the starburst. He asked Coach K, who is in the passenger seat, to control the wheel while he checks out this text. He reads it and says, “she wants me”. We have a good laugh because we really need to up our sexting game. By the way, he had to take a player home and he lives at the other end of the county, adding more than an hour to his trip home. Coach K lives in the same city as us and they carpool.

Now back to the retreat. I tell this story to my fellow guild members. The comradery of the attendees is what makes a retreat more enjoyable. Sewing and making together brings people closer, and we sorely need that right now.

Now that my bag is done, I reflect about the humor of life and the tragedies of it as well. We use humor to get through it. We need our friends to accept us as we try to make sense of it. Some days you have to say “What the Fuck! Wanda”, and you will feel a little bit better.