Check This Out

My sister, Emma Virjan, has updated her website. She has a new ready-to-read, Pre-Level 1 book that can be preordered now. Emma is the author and illustrator of this book about the adventurous Captain Cat. There is also a link to a book of poems written by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, and illustrated by my sister. Read Emma’s bio, and you will get a glimpse of my younger sister’s humor. There are also links to Emma’s books about Pig in a Wig. My son, Sean Cunningham, created the book trailers about Pig in a Wig. These books are perfect gifts for beginning readers, and for read-alouds to young children.


In summer, the song sings itself.
William Carlos William

As mentioned in another post, I. Love. Summer! Last summer was a bit dismal because of Covid, but this summer has lifted my spirits. I realize that Covid numbers do not look good, but I have ventured out to quilt shops and fun places. Last week was one of the best weeks of the summer, since I was able to spend time with my sons, all my grandchildren, and my grandpets. This visit was definitely good for the soul.

Now that I am back home, I have resumed working on the Boho Heart Quilt by Jen Kingwell. Piecing this quilt has been such a fun experience. I may have gone over board in choosing colors and prints, and I am hoping it will all work out. Since I am enjoying this project, I decided to revisit the blocks that I had previously made in my first attempt with a Kingwell pattern. I had gotten so frustrated with the Wandering Quilt (formerly entitled Gypsy Quilt ) that I just threw the blocks into a bin with other extra and test blocks. I sewed a few of the blocks together and through them all on the design wall. No rhyme or reason, no design. When I sent a photo to my friends, they told me that the layout resembled what my brain must look like, all scrambled and rambling.😂 They encouraged me to finish it and name the quilt, “Chela’s Brain.”
I have pieced all of the 10″, 8″, and 6″ blocks for the Boho Heart. I am in the midst of making the 4″, and will start the 2″ blocks soon. So far, I have only a couple of fabrics that I can use for the background strips. In the pattern, 62 different fabrics were used for the background. I don’t know what I will use for the background…maybe I should have started there…but, oh, well. I know I will not be using 62 different fabrics. The original plan was for me to make this quilt at a private retreat with two friends. It seems like this retreat is no longer a good idea since the Covid numbers are soaring again. I will probably just let the quilt blocks sit in a bin until I think a bit more on what is needed for the background.

In the meantime, I am once again building up bins of great scraps and remnants. I purchased a book that Tierney posted on her blog. I have been interested in making the HST quilt that Tierney made. The pattern is in the book, No Scrap Left Behind, by Amand Jean Nyberg. I had sort of sketched out a plan of my own for making a HST quilt, but I wanted to check out other possibilities in the book. Nyberg gives good tips on sorting and storing scraps.
I have also spent some time trying to design a Halloween quilt for one of my DIL’s. The first design plan is needing some tweaking, but it is almost ready.

One of my DIL’s has started an Etsy shop. She has a sewing room which I covet, and now she has a set up in her garage for designing thermal cups. We had a great time discussing what I wanted made for my Meemaw friends, and I cannot wait to see them. I will have more information about her shop and pictures of the cups as soon as they are completed.

It is hard to believe that July is almost over. So far, the weather has been very pleasant for July. I am still working on my Temperature Quilt, and I am liking how it is looking so far.
Enjoy the remaining weeks of July.
Stay Safe.

July, 2021

July has always been a special month, filled with the celebrations of the birthdays of all three sons, my only niece, and my granddaughter. This July is even more special, since there is a bit more freedom to have outings and be with friends and family.
During the last weeks of June, I made a real effort to once again organize and assess my stash bins. After completing the 2.5″ stamp quilt, and working on the 1.5″ stamp quilt, I was able to sort and package the remaining stash. Some of the fabric pieces were from some of my very first quilts. I cut strips and blocks and donated these to Spare Parts. This is the mission statement for this fabulous shop:

We advance reuse and sustainability through creativity and the arts.

Of course, when I went to donate, I returned home with a bag of goodies for other projects. All for a good cause!
Since the bins were whittled down to practically nothing, I started visiting fabric shops in person with the plan to rebuild my stash. After over a year of only online fabric shopping, I went a bit overboard. There was no rhyme or reason for the fabrics I chose, other than that I liked them. I found myself thinking of Freddy Moran whose mottos include “red is neutral” and “excess is never enough”.

I also took some time to review the 69 quilts I have made since I began quilting in 2014. This exercise helped me see the development of my quilt design and assembly. Most of my quilts are not made from patterns. When I do use a pattern, I tend to make small changes, either by accident or by intent. What I realized after studying the quilts, is that my use of color has changed, and that I enjoy trying new techniques. This is why I am so interested in quilts by Freddy Moran and Jen Kingwell. My first attempt at making a Jen Kingwell quilt is nicely tucked away in a bin. I made a few blocks and got frustrated with the many different styles and sizes. Now I find that I really enjoy scrappy quilts and different styles, colors, and sizes of blocks in one quilt. I am ready to try again.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my friend, Marti, and I are each working on a Jen Kingwell quilt pattern. I lent the Wanderer’s Wife pattern to Marti, and I started on the Boho Heart pattern. Before I started making the blocks, I viewed different Jen Kingwell videos. In one video, she is showing people how she chooses fabric. Kingwell paraphrases Freddy Moran comment about colors… if 10 colors don’t work, try 110. Kingwell also mentions that she (Kingwell) is “not all about matching the colors”. Some of the blocks are repeated in this pattern, and I usually don’t like to repeat. But one of Kingwell’s hints in her pattern is to try to change the fabric sequence in making more than one of the same block. So far, I have made all of the 10″ blocks. I am in the process of making the fourteen 8″ blocks. To begin this project, I chose yardage of one fabric that had many colors. Then I purchased fourths of different colors and patterns. Right now, some of the block colors and patterns fit and some don’t. So, some may need to be set aside and new ones made to replaced. But that will be part of the fun. After this Boho Heart quilt is completed, no telling what direction my quilt piecing will take. All I know is that my way of doing things is changing, and that is the exciting part.

In the video, I have included my 2.5 ” scrappy quilt that is now quilted and bound. Marti introduced me to Ann Barnett, who does great work on the long arm. I visited her home and I covet her sewing/work place! She has a small two room studio in back of her house that is dedicated solely to her sewing and quilting. We spent a couple of hours just sharing ideas, choosing threads and designs, and just having fun. I learned so much just from talking with her.

Also included in the video is a jewelry bag that I made for my granddaughter. I polished up a ring that my dad had given me when I was my granddaughter’s age. The ring is tucked inside an owl box for now, and she can use the jewelry bag for her other jewelry. The easy pattern for this cute bag is from Melanie Ham.

Then of course, I had to add a bird story in the video. When my granddaughter was younger, she loved to look at all the bird figurines that my mom had set up in her house. So, my mother made my granddaughter two wreaths. One was a Christmas wreath with cardinals. The other was a spring wreath that had different types of birds. My granddaughter kept both hanging in her room all year. This year, she decided to hang the spring wreath on their front door. Her neighborhood is a bird lover’s dream, with so many types of birds coming from the near-by creek and neighborhood lake. She was all excited when a bird made a nest in the wreath. No one is allowed to use the front porch. Last week, I was sent a photo of the birds that had hatched. The birds continue to grow and rule over the front porch.

Happy July 4th!

Fabric Books

Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn. ~O. Fred Donaldson

During this pandemic, I have often thought of the children who have had limited contact with people other than their family. The lack of socialization has depressed me, so I can only imagine how the children are feeling. My friends and I plan to volunteer at schools as soon as it is possible. There are many children who will need help.

My one year old grandson started Montessori pre-school. This has brought on great excitement, along with some of the initial stress of separation and a totally different routine. Last week, I bought him two shirts for school. My son said that my grandson loves his new shirts, and he sets out his school clothes at night. I thought it might help to get him some more shirts. Then, I thought about how much my grandson loves the ABC fabric book I made for him a few months ago. He takes it everywhere. So, I made him a new book about going to school. I printed photos of the new shirts on fabric printing paper. Then I wrote some lines having the animals featured on the shirts talking to my grandson about how fun it is to go to school. Hopefully, this will add to the excitement and routine of going to school. He is ready to to play and learn how to learn.

La Sandia

“Las sandías son las sonrisas del verano”.

“Watermelons are the smiles of summer.”


One of my DIL’s gave me some fabric for my birthday. She chose a watermelon (sandía) design as the focal fabric and chose others to create a bundle. The watermelon fabric brought back memories of my childhood summers. My dad would always pick up the juiciest, sweetest watermelons at the downtown market or at trucks on the side of the road. My favorite were the black diamond watermelons. There was no better way to spend a summer day than eating watermelon with my cousins and neighborhood friends.
My first thoughts were to make a picnic blanket with this beautiful bundle of summer fabrics. There were a couple of tutorials that suggested using outdoor fabric, or flannel-backed table cloths for the backing. I had no real plan or design in mind, but I started out by making one of my favorite blocks, the Sawtooth Star. I wanted to try out my new Ultimate Flying Geese Tool by Creative Grids. I had been using an 8″ square ruler to finish off my flying geese and this worked well. But when I saw the Creative Grid tool, I thought I would give it a try. What I like about this new tool is that the measurements for 8 different sized flying geese are already marked on the ruler. This makes it so much easier and more accurate. I used the watermelon fabric for the focal point of the star, and for the outside border. I consulted with my DIL concerning the cornerstones on the outside border. She helped me decide to use the striped fabric instead of the pink polka dot. After piecing the top, I decided that I would not be using any outdoor or weather proof fabric for the backing. Instead, I pieced the remaining fabric remnants. I wanted to use as much of the fabric bundle as possible. All that is left is about half a yard of the white fabric, and this will be used for other projects.
It took one afternoon to piece this 48″ X 48″ quilt top, and another morning to piece the backing.
Nothing says summer like La Sandia!🍉
Another fun summer project I am enjoying was inspired by Claudia McGill. I was so taken by her metal sculptures, that I just had to try to make some of my own. These were so much fun to make. Now, I find myself looking for scrap metal every time I am out.
I just love summer!

In summer, the song sings itself.– WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS, AMERICANPOET

Summer Fun

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.

L. M. Montgomery

When I was a child, I looked forward to June because it jump started my summer with birthday celebrations, pool parties, and watermelon picnics. Thanks to the vaccines, this summer holds the promise of being just as much fun. This summer, June has started out to be much better than last June. My calendar is filling up once again with fun visits to family, Grammy time, and Meemaw outings. We are all still taking precautions and wearing masks, but we are venturing out a bit more. I even went in-store shopping at two of my favorite fabric shops. I chose to go to these shops since they still require customers to wear masks. It was such a blast walking around the shops and buying fabric. I had no particular quilt or project in mind. I just bought fabric that caught my eye.
Luckily, the first two weeks of June have been rainy. We definitely needed the rain. Now, we are slipping into our typical summer pattern of heat and humidity. My walks have to take place early in the morning, when the temperatures are not so high. Because of the rain, everything is so green and beautiful. This will change soon.
The Meemaws are out and about again. We are starting off slowly, just meeting for lunch. This gave me the opportunity to show them the Meemaw quilt. They suggested that the quilt become a visiting quilt, so that each can have it hanging in their homes on a temporary basis.
As for the Magnificent Meemaw Musicians Kazoo band, well, we are not quite ready for prime time. It has been fun just making noise. It brings out the inner five year old.
I knew exactly how to spend my birthday gift cards. I had been eyeing a Panasonic cordless iron for some time, so I ordered one. It is just perfect for pressing seams. I love the 360 rotation.
The Temperature quilt is half way completed. Even though I am beginning to like the results, it might just become a UFO.
The 2.5 inch scrappy block quilt top and back are completed. This quilt was enjoyable to piece. I just loved the memories that came with each of the scrap fabrics that were used. My friend, Marti, has a special way of piecing the backings of her quilts. She makes a vertical strip that is off center, and it always looks so pretty. I asked if I could borrow her signature backing idea and she helped me with it. I used some of the 2.5 inch squares to make a 6.5 inch wide strip. The photo in the video does not show that there are two panels of blue fabric, one on each side of the scrappy strip. I will be taking this quilt to the quilter this week. Marti suggested I have her friend long-arm this one for me. I have seen her quilting, and I think she will do a good job. She lives closer to me, so this is a plus.
The 1.5 inch scrappy block I am making is still in progress. I need about 6 more 12.5 inch blocks. Since all of the 1.5 inch blocks are already cut, I bagged up the rest of the fabric scraps, cut squares of different sizes, and remnants, to clear my bins and start all over. There is a reuse shop, Spare Parts, that is located near my house. They take donated fabric and art supplies. I have not been there yet, but Marti has, and she says it is a great place. My old scraps will find a good home. 😉
Last year, I made a quilt that was made by piecing different lengths of 2.5 inch strip. I still had a leftover roll of these strips in my bin, and I have used what was remaining to bind a quilt, and to border the center panel of the Meemaw quilt. A little over 3 yards of this roll was still left over. I folded the long strip in half and sewed up one side. Then I cut the fold, and repeated this process about three more times. This resulted in new yardage of pieced fabric. I cut the fabric into different sized squares. One square was used to be the center of a Sawtooth Star block. The remaining squares may or may not be used for some other type of block. After cutting the blocks, I had some odd shaped strips left over. I think these strips could be used in making some improv blocks.
About a year ago, I started making the Gypsy Wife quilt by Jen Kingwell. I made so many mistakes in making the first few blocks, and I just stopped. Then, I saw the Boho Heart quilt pattern by Kingwell and Bair. Marti and I thought it might be fun to schedule a quilt retreat for the two of us and another quilting friend. If the Covid numbers continue to decrease or stabilize, we are thinking of booking a B& B and setting up a fun three day retreat. Marti will be making the Gypsy quilt, and I will try the heart quilt. In the meantime, I am studying the pattern. Maybe this time, I will not mess it up with mistakes.
June has been great so far.
I hope you are having a fun start to summer.


Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.

Greta Thunburg

It’s been awhile since my last post. It was getting more difficult for me to stay hopeful about things getting back to normal. It was time to stop looking for hope and get into action.
I started by getting outdoors a bit more. Our library is at the base of Comanche Lookout Park. They had a StoryWalk for the children that I thought was a great idea. I love going up to the park to just sit and listen to the birds. I purchased a monocular and I get great views of the birds. It made me happy to see that some of the cacti that was frozen during our February storm are now growing back.
My DIY gave me some cute fat quarters with bees and flowers. It is not pictured in the video, but I used the FQ to make a skinny quilt. I used one of the patterns from Skinny Quilts by Kim Schaefer. This quilt is the perfect size to use on my recliner. With the leftover FQ, I made a tote bag. It is featured in the video.
My sewing rooms were in disarray, so I purged and reorganized. I now have bins with different sized blocks that I cut from the remnants. After getting things in order, I tried to get back to making things. Focusing on one project was not happening. I flitted around from one project to another.
The Meemaw rug has been quilted and the binding is complete. I was supposed to meet with my friends to share the quilt with them today, but we are having thunderstorms. I used some of the same fabric I used in the quilt to make mug rugs for my friends. Hopefully, we can get together next week.
Lately, I have developed an interest in using beads. I made some fabric birds and strung them up with beads and a bell. When I showed my sister the box of beads that I have, she mentioned the idea of making wine charms. So, I did.
An ongoing project is the temperature quilt. There have been times that I think of just chunking this quilt, but I am glad I am sticking with it.
My friend and I have gotten interested in making sampler blocks. Marti had given me the book Sister Sampler Quilts. We are each working on the Sister’s Ten Sampler. Making these samplers has helped me to improve on my accuracy in cutting and sewing. I am using Art Theory fabric by Alison Glass for this project. The gold background fabric I chose is usually not one of my colors. At first, I was not happy with my choice. But as I completed more of the blocks, the color began to grow on me. Right now, it is on the design wall for me to study for placement.
At the same time, I have been working on sampler blocks using Quotation Fabric by Zen Chic. I love the sherbet colors.
While reorganizing my bins, I started cutting 2.5 inch blocks of fabric. Soon, I had a bin full, so I started piecing a scrappy quilt. I am totally enjoying the scrappiness. I believe that no fabric should be left behind. As I am piecing this scrappy quilt, I get to see pieces of quilts I made for my grandchildren, family and friends. It brings back special memories of making and gifting the quilts and projects made with these fabrics. I still have the 1.5 inch blocks that I am piecing for another quilt. For now, I am just cutting more of the 1.5 inch squares.
Last year, I started a Gypsy Wives quilt, pattern by Jen Kingwell. I did not get too far into making this one, and just set it aside. My friend and I have now decided we want to make Jen Kingwell’s Boho Heart quilt. I purchased the pattern to start studying it. I do not want to make the mistakes I made when I tried the Gypsy quilt.
My Meemaw friends always tell me that I come up with “different” and crazy ideas. Well, I came up with another one, and they do not yet know about it. The idea came about as I was cleaning my rooms. I found a bin that had the remaining books from my teacher collection. I found the book, The Duck Who Played the Kazoo, by Amy E. Sklansky. I remembered how much fun my students and I had playing the kazoo, and thought it was about time I did it again.
My plan is to start a Magnificent Meemaw Musician Kazoo band. I ordered some kazoos and made some storage drawstring bags. I have been practicing, All You Need is Love, by the Beatles. I was so surprised to see all the YouTube videos of people having fun with kazoos. All I have told my friends is that they are in for a big, fun surprise. They are all very nervous about my surprise. 😁
This past weekend I was finally able to spend time with all three of my sons and their families. I was in heaven! This is exactly what I needed to reenergize. Hopefully, there will me more days of family time ahead. In the meantime, I will get busy again.
I hope you are doing well.
Stay safe.


On April 9, 2020, the San Antonio Food Bank held a food distribution for those in need of food due to this pandemic.
The response was more than expected. There were 10,000 cars representing 50,000 people. We have a great Food Bank in our city, and they continue to service those in need, thanks to our community donors. The event of this day was described as a “mammoth, multicolored quilt from the air”. Here is a link to the article and photo of this distribution.
The color palette of all these vehicles was a surprising to me. I guess I am remembering that in my childhood, there was more of a range of colors in vehicles. Turquoise, yellow, green, brown, and lots of blue.
Here is are some questions for quilters:
If you were making a quilt to represent the story of this event, what would you do to keep this from looking like just another strip quilt?
How would you keep this abstract and still add the differentiation between the trucks, SUVS, and cars?
Any ideas and input would be appreciated.
My friends and I are thinking we might want to make a quilt wall hanging.
We have a few ideas, but are not satisfied with what we have so far.
Thank you.

Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’

Robin Williams

Well, I guess the party is already over. We had a few sweet, spring days, and now we are preparing to end the week by hitting 100. Spring was nice, while it lasted.

I purchased a monocular that has kept me busy and happy. I used to use binoculars when I went bird watching, but often times this made me dizzy. The view with the binoculars was good, but the monocular has more distance. It is easier to hold, and it doesn’t make me dizzy. The monocular came with an attachment for the phone, and I thought it would be great to take pictures. However, I have not figured out how to use it correctly. The attachment is more for setting it on a tripod. Usually, when I bird watch, I am moving around. The directions state that one should not walk while viewing through the monocular. I guess they were talking to me. 😁 With this monocular, I am able to scan the area where I hear birds, then I can spot them and get a great view. The red-tailed hawk is still residing in a neighbor’s tree. It seems the hawk, and the neighbor, are used to people stopping to gawk and admire.

These past few days, I have been focusing on making fabric books. The first one I made was a fabric pocket journal. As a teacher, I had my students make all types of books. One of the favorites was an accordion book, so I decided to try to make one out of fabric. I had a Marcia Derse fabric remnant and used it for the backing of the accordion book. The top was made from a grunge fabric remnant. Fabric and fusible were cut into 8.5″ x 26.5″ strips. I used the smaller pieces of fabric to make pockets. One of the panels has an envelope that I made from fabric. The back of the envelope is not sewn, so it forms a pocket on the panel. Figuring out how to clasp the book closed was a bit tricky. I rummaged in my button bins and found a loop/buckle type thingy that I used to thread a Moda selvage through. It wraps around and then it can be tied.

This week, I plan to go walking with my Meemaw friends. It has been a very long time since we have met. We will mask up and social distance, but at least we can be “together” for a bit. The Meemaw quilt I designed and pieced is with my quilter. My friends have not seen it, but we have talked about it. Since I am not planning on making three more Meemaw quilts, I thought it might be nice to make a fabric Meemaw book for each one. Each corner of the quilt has a bird that represents each one of us. There is the Bossy Boots, the Wise One, the Idea Bird, and the Sweet One. I used the same technique that was used for the larger pocket journal, but I cut the fabric and fusible into 2.5″ by 12.5″ strips and thread sketched each one of the birds on the panels. Ribbon was sewn on one end and on one fold, in order to wrap around and tie. I will be giving the mini-books to my friends tomorrow, as we meet at the Botanical Gardens.

The other day, I was thinking of my childhood home that was located just south of downtown San Antonio. It was formerly a duplex that had been turned into a 2 bedroom, 1 functioning bathroom, and 1128 sq. feet house. My parents moved there in 1952 and paid monthly for this house that cost $9,000. Sharing one bath room with two adults and three siblings wasn’t easy. Both my parents worked, but this was still a monthly expense that hit the budget. The house had a big front porch, where my parents and my aunt, who lived next door, would sit each night. All the kids played in the street until we could no longer see the lit cigarettes moving along with the conversation from the porch. Much of my time was spent day-dreaming as I sat on the porch pillar throughout the day and in the evenings. This week, on the news, there was an article about this neighborhood. The neighborhood is now considered a historic area, and my old house is now worth close to $400,000. My parents moved from here in 1973, and I can still hear my dad saying it was a mistake to sell this old house. 😊
I was hit with memories of living in this house, so, I made a thread sketch. I did not like the results of the first thread sketch, so I decided to cut the house and make it into an applique. I collaged some fabric, and embroidered the windows, and the bricks in the pillars. I also thread sketched my dad’s 1952 Chevy. I loved that car. We used to have a dilapidated garage in the backyard. I used to wonder when it would just collapse. Apparently, the original garage structure has been updated and renovated. The mini quilt square was hand quilted. This was a very fun project to make.
It will be nice to “Party” with my friends in the gardens tomorrow.
I hope you are enjoying a fresh, delightful spring.

End of March

Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.
Gustav Mahler

The four walls were beginning to close in, and I knew that a walk around the neighborhood would not be enough. I ventured out to breathe the air at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. I went early in the morning, so there were not too many people around. It was good to see how the gardens are recovering from the winter storm. The cacti did not seem to make it through, and there were some other sections that looked bare, but workers were busy getting things back to normal. The bluebonnets and wildflowers were abundant and healthy. Throughout my walk, I would take time to sit, breathe, and enjoy the birds.
Upon my return home, I received a text that my sister also sent to my siblings. Emma was notifying us that today is National Pencil Day. My siblings and I are a bit nerdy about pencils. We just love pencils…all kinds of pencils. We texted each other our memories of the big first grade pencils we used, learning cursive writing, drawing, and fun pencil sharpeners that never really worked. This fun communication with my siblings made me want to do something special for National Pencil Day. I sharpened all of my pencils, cut and folded some paper, and made a mini-foldable book. I drew animals on parade and titled the book, Animales en Desfile.
Making just one mini-book was not enough. I remembered seeing a YouTube on making a mini-book in a tin and I thought it would be fun to try this out. I found an old Altoids tin in one of my purses. Just curious, but does anyone else have purses and bags that still have junk in them as they are stored away? I no longer really use purses, so maybe this is a good time to donate. Anyway, back to the Altoids. The remaining Altoids were a bit gross, so I wiped out the tin and let it dry. As it was drying, I was thinking of all the birds I saw and heard at the botanical gardens, and thought it would be nice to make a mini-bird book. I used a black fine tip pen to draw different birds on a 1.5″ x 2.5 ” strip of muslin. Then, I thread sketched the drawings. I quilted the book cover, add a strip of flower lace, and included a button latch. Washi tape was used for the sides of the tin. The inside of the tin top and bottom were lined with felt.
I need to buy some more Altoids or order some tin boxes, because this was a fun project.
It is not yet time to venture out where there are crowds, but this small outing was just what I needed.
I hope you are doing well and enjoying this Spring.