New beginnings

I approached this retirement lifestyle with great anticipation.  It is everything I wanted and more.  Freedom to do what I want WHEN I want is a pleasure until this point in my life unexplored.  I have taken this first month away from the job as sort of a catch my breath time.  As the time for school began for everyone else, I drank coffee on my deck and relaxed, something I had never really been able to relax and do before.

I have a few quilts in queue and hope to be done with them before we leave for our trip.  It’s nice to be able to do that during the day instead of always at night and weekends.  I am also working on a new quilt with a new learning curve.  I had not done paper pieced patterns before and took a Judy Niemeyer class in June.  I am using fabrics from completely within my stash. I decided that just in case I hated the paper piecing I could, without guilt, decide to pitch it after attempting this new to me technique.  There are a few color changes I would make had I purposed to do this with newly purchased fabrics, and it will likely not be show worthy, but I am enjoying the learning process.  I think this will probably take me a long time to finish as I am in no hurry.  It’s a little bit at a time and there are 24 blocks to do.

Judy Niemeyer class
paper piecing – in the beginning

I will continue to play the organ for church and private instrumental instruction, as I find true joy in that aspect of my long years as a band/music teacher and director of church music.  I have played the organ for church 2-3 times a month now for 51 years straight.  Doing this holds many fond memories of playing for joyous occasions such as weddings, also LWML conventions, teaching organ, training organists, funerals, dedication recitals, worship services on Sundays, and nursing home singing.  I have needed to recharge my batteries for quite a long time now and I’m looking forward to the participation in choirs and instrumental ensembles rather than directing them.

I am loving the change and look forward to reviving the joy in my music and the creating in my quilting.  We are now getting ready to do a bit of travel.  My husband, who also gave up teaching, is working part-time about 20-30 hours a week in retail.  We had been teaching since 1976, 43 years now.  We will travel soon to see family out East and take in the colors of leaves in New England shortly.  We are looking forward to soaking in the cooler climate as well.  It’s been 100º – 110º here for over 20 days in a row.  Last evening we sat on the deck chatting and it was in the 90º+ range and actually felt cool!!!!  I guess cool and heat are relative to what you normally experience.  Just saying.  Then in early March,  I will go on a quilting cruise to Honduras and Mexico with another equally dedicated quilter.  This should be fun!

Music memories
Joy in playing the organ

Life change

As some of you know, I will be retiring from teaching music (kids, that is) soon.  I know there will be days I’ll miss it, but I began the journey 43 years ago.  That is a long time and now it’s time for a change.

Many have asked what I’ll do with all my time.  Quilting for myself and for clients will remain a priority.  I can’t seem to get enough of it!  I don’t think I’ll be bored.  I think I will be very busy doing what I love, and I will continue to play music.  It’s an integral part of my makeup.  My sweet husband has decided to take up quilting as well and is learning to enjoy it, too.  I’m helping him to learn, and it will be a good common interest!

His first quilt was a gift to me! Score!!!
My honey and me with those GRANDchildren!            (2 of 5, anyway…….)

I am looking forward to doing things on my own schedule and perhaps a bit of volunteering and traveling as well.  Perhaps I’ll get up north during the fall when the leaves are turning and not have to worry about missing school!  I will also get a chance to spend more time with our grandchildren when I want, something I’m really looking forward to.

Easter silliness!



Chicago show experiences

The International Quilt Festival Chicago did not disappoint!  What a fun experience this was.  It is a much smaller show than the annual International Houston show, but still has wonderful work displayed.  I saw quilts there that really inspired and challenged me to give new techniques a try.  Having my own quilt there on display was truly exciting.  As I stood nearby and answered questions about it, it was also fun listening to passersby [that did not know I was standing there] who were trying to figure out techniques used to create it and talking with them when they had questions or comments.  If you enjoy art do not miss a chance to attend one of these shows.  It will change your view of quilt making, I guarantee you won’t be sorry!  When I looked at the art displayed here, somebody pinch me……… did my work get here?!?!?!

"On Wings of Song"
“On Wings of Song” by Leann McClain, La Grange, Texas

The workmanship in each quilt was amazing!

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Some of the other quilts with which I was most impressed were the animal quilts. Many were thought provoking and others were just so whimsical!

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International Quilt Festival Chicago

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I’m so excited!  I get to go to the 2019 International Quilt Festival in Chicago this year!  My music quilt will be hanging there and those days away from my normal routine will be very refreshing.  I have some very good friends who will be letting me stay with them and I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with them once again.  It has been what seems like forever since I was able to see them.

This quilt has had a lovely ride.  It was on exhibit last fall in the 2018 International Quilt Festival in Houston and is part of the traveling exhibit called “In the American Tradition-Classic”.

If you live in the Chicago area and get a chance to get to this festival March 28-30, it will be well worth your while.  Maybe I’ll see you there?

“Winter Flurries” is done.

For those of you who live up north in the cold part of the world, I apologize, for the  Winter of 2019 has been a pretty cold, snowy one.  Winter, however,  is one of the things I miss living in central Texas.  Yes, we have cold snaps that don’t usually last too long, but we seem to have only a couple of seasons a year.  This quilt seems to radiate winter, thus what I named it.  My brother tells me they have had over 156″ of snow this winter, so I’m glad not to be shoveling the fluffy white stuff here!

“Winter Flurries” was a year in the making, I learned some new things about piecing and enjoyed the whole process.  Looking back there certainly was some frustration getting some of those blocks just right, but oh the journey!  One of the joys of this was the sleigh block and the feathered star.  I’d never done a feathered star previous to this.  I’ve added my own touches, certainly, as I cannot seem to just make the pattern as it is.  I do enjoy appliqué and this one had lots of it.  As it generally goes, the longarming of it was my favorite part!

web related edit DSC_4151-FSP-FB

This very traditional quilt has many of my favorite things but most especially my favorite blues.  The designer is Edyta Sitar and if you purchase her “Patches of Blue” book, you can make this, too.  She took a block from twelve of the seventeen quilts in her book and put them together for this lovely result.

Can’t wait to curl up in its coziness…………… to you later!

The moment of truth has arrived.  Now I get to quilt this year long project.  I am so delighted to finally finish piecing and get to my favorite part – the quilting!  You have traveled with my on my monthly journey to the end result.  I do have a deadline to finish this in January so I can submit the entry form February 18.  Wish me luck as I see about 40 hours of quilting to do before I can bind and add a sleeve.

Almost there, it’s up on the design wall:img_3490

356 half square triangles!!!!!!!img_3493

Border one attached and a sneak peak before adding that zigzag border.  I ditched the idea this border needed to be white as I love gradation in fabrics.  It seems to pull it all together, don’t you think?img_3504

Zigzag border #2 – whew!  I am glad that is done!  The complete quilt top before adding the quilting:img_3511(edited)

Stay tuned for the after…………………..have a Happy New Year!

Creativity – a Developed Skill

My journey as a quilter since 2011 has certainly been a surprise to me.   I always thought it was something old women did.

Having been a garment seamstress since the age of 10 I sort of landed in this creative process because I wanted to make a special little something for a new grandbaby and then I was hooked!  From that very first quilt 7 years ago to now nearly 40 done and many more longarmed for clients I have learned that today’s quilters span ages of 5-105!!!  I was dead wrong about the old woman idea.

Attending quilt shows has broadened my perspective more than a little.  I aspire to make more beautiful creations the more I learn.  That creativity is a thirst unquenchable for me. I believe every person can be creative, but it isn’t something that happens the first try necessarily.  The more you learn, the more creative freedom you have, the more satisfying it becomes.  Being creative does take work and clearly expressing yourself in any particular medium takes practice and more practice.  I often hear “You’re SO creative!” from people who seem to think it just happens automatically.  They are so wrong because they forget it takes time to develop skills to express that creativity.

My own successes in this journey speak to how practice makes creativity grow.  Enjoy your journey!

"Goosed" exhibited at the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival
“Goosed” exhibited at the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival
“Goosed” exhibited at the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival
“Goosed” exhibited at the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival
“Penny and Me”
“The Gift”
On Wings Of Song - musical celebration of 40 years in music ministry
“On Wings of Song” exhibited at the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival
“On Wings of Song” exhibited at the 2018 Houston International Quilt Festival
“Fandango Transformation” exhibited at the 2017 Houston International Quilt Festival and the 2018 Chicago International Quilt Festival
Fandango Transformation
My quilt at the 2017 Houston International Quilt Festival
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Design wall challenge


#9 – Hanging on to the vision

Sometimes in the midst of things we can frustrate ourselves by not hanging on to the prize ahead.  Perhaps the goal is far reaching, or close and seems like it will take forever to reach.  In the scheme of things, a year is not terribly long, but trying to squeeze in time to do the things you love is hard.  Such it is with this quilt-along.  I have to keep in mind the end result to stay focused.  I had a hard time deciding what fabrics to use with this block.  I even conducted a short survey on what others would do.  Eventually I came back to my first idea but it helped to see what others thought.  I gave 9 choices.  Here are 3 of the 9:


Here is the result of my decision:


Keeping my eye on the prize ahead……..Block #10 has now been given to us. (Whew!!!! I finished #9 the same day Laundry Basket Quilts came out with #10)

So far this has been a fun experience and ever so challenging in some months, easy in others.  I think I see an end to this!!!!!!  Stay tuned!


Just do it!

Sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet, close your eyes, don’t think about it too much, then DO it!  I agonized about how to quilt this for months, and then spent about 40 hours quilting it.

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I think my favorite part of quilting is the free motion aspect of it, not the piecing, although it is very gratifying to piece a challenge.  I still love to make flying geese blocks even after this one with 80 batik geese!

This will go on our bed in the winter months after I enter it in a quilt show or two.

Inspiring creativity


One of the things I enjoy doing is passing along my love of fabric, needle, and thread to those who want to learn.  Sewing / quilting has benefits beyond just putting a project together. It allows me to bond with my granddaughter through an attainable goal.  This girl has learned a few things about the joy of giving (she gave this doll quilt to her sister), about patience to accomplish a goal, about color choices, about having fun while learning.  I hope she will continue to enjoy this creative activity.  It trains her right brain to be imaginative and gives a sense of accomplishment.  Go Sydney!!!!!