Stained glass showoff.

Dear friends,

I have a dear friend who makes beautiful stained glass windows. Her home is a showcase of her work and I’ve long thought I should a commission a panel for my home. The supplies are expensive and her time is valuable so I’ve just never quite pulled the trigger, but I’ve always admired her talent and wished I could do the same.

For the record, my friend, Alisa, is multi-talented. She also cooks and gardens and sews and paints (fine art) and builds (cabins) and pretty much does anything she sets her mind to. She’s been a creative inspiration to me as long as I’ve known her, which is pushing 30 years.

Anyway, I spent Saturday fabricating my own stained glass window of sorts on — you guessed it — my sewing machine.


The colored panels are a fabric called “Squared Elements” and, up close, they remind me of little windows. Take a look:


The gray strips around the panels reminds me of the soldered lines in stained glass, which might be as close as I ever get to using an electric hand tool.

I got the idea for this quilt from a photo I saw on Pinterest, which I replicated. I know there’s a whole sub-culture of Pinterest haters, but I’m not one of them. I’ve gotten several good ideas from my favorite pinners. (And not all the recipes are worthless. I know several really good food bloggers whose recipes are regularly pinned so, as always, consider the source.)

Before Saturday, I had never made a quilt with sashing (strips of fabric surrounding a block or fabric panel) so I wasn’t quite sure how to do it without instructions. But I figured it out and only had to pull out my seam ripper once. These kinds of challenges are, for me, the “puzzle” of quilting and why I keep resisting patterns and going my own way.

By the way, another one of my longtime friends received this quilt in the mail last week and called to say she was thrilled. I was so happy to hear she liked it — and even happier to hear it had arrived on her doorstop at the conclusion of a very bad day, which turned around when she opened my box. Aren’t surprise greetings and packages the best?

Speaking of surprises, I was astonished to hear my friend say that her mother saw the quilt and exclaimed “Is there anything Joan can’t do?” It’s something I’ve said about my friend Alisa many times, and a description I never expected to hear about myself . . . which just goes to show: talent is in the eye of the beholder, so looking upon yourself with kinder (outside) eyes is a gift to be relished.

With gratitude {for unexpected gifts that go both ways},

Joan, who has decided instead of Crazy Quilt Lady, she shall be known as the Unaquilter and her manifesto shall be Fabric Happiness for Everyone!


Dear friends,


It’s been two steps forward, one step backward on the quilting front.

I spent part of yesterday trying to muster a head of steam on quilt-blocking and . . . whew! It took me much of the day to construct what you see in the photo above.

The problem is that the last time I worked on this project — when I finally, mercifully made a proper quilt block that looked like my inspiration photo — it was more than two weeks ago. And for reasons I can’t explain, I didn’t make a pattern. After spending an entire day getting the block just right, I thought I had it in my head.

Yeah . . . not so much. Today, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the angle I had cut my blocks on. So I had to do what every seamstress hates to do: deconstruct a block and start all over. It should probably go without saying, but this time I wrote down every dimension. (Eureka!)

There’s one thing I know for sure: I will never again attempt to make a quilt based solely on a photo. No pattern, no instructions? No quilt.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll get this done by the time Kate leaves for college in August.  She’s moving from a twin-sized bed to a full-sized bed and that’s been the impetus for this project. In the mean time, I watched a video tutorial for a super-simple and lovely quilt pattern called the disappearing 9-block and I can’t wait to get started on that one.

Right after I conquer the quilt that Joan conjured from thin air, where air equals Pinterest, which ought to be banned before it kills innocent, amateur crafters.

With gratitude {for pen and paper, on which I have written down the instructions for this quilt block, lest my feeble mind fails me again},

Joan, whose best advise for aspiring quilters is “Be thou not so stupid.”