Category Archives: Octagon

I’m a published quilter!!

Check out my quilter Margaret’s blog post:

I don’t have my physical paper magazine yet so I downloaded the digital version as soon as it was published. I don’t think it is legal to include a photo of the entire page so I will just let you read about it on Margaret’s blog.

It’s the November/December issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited if you’d like to look for it on the news stands. It’s a really nice magazine if you do your own quilting – whether longarm or domestic machine.

Between Sunrise and Sunset


This is not a very good picture – in spite of trying to correct it in Photoshop  – but it shows the blue ribbons and that’s all that matters. I bought a new camera a few days before I left and didn’t really practice very much – other than to figure out how to turn it on and off, zoom and scroll through the pictures. I must have done something terribly wrong because a brand new 14 megapixel camera cannot possibly take pictures that are unacceptable unless they have been Photoshopped!

Many people at the show asked about the two ribbons – the category was Large Pieced Duet which means that one person pieced the top and another person quilted it. My amazing quilter Margaret Solomon Gunn  brought this top to life with her stunning quilting – it was a team effort!

Entering my quilts in the Jax show gives me a deadline to work towards – a goal and a sense of purpose. I look forward to the once a year trip – being in the same room with lots of pretty quilts and mobs of other quilters is thrilling. I work in isolation here in Panama. We have no large active quilt guilds (just our little group of 3 or 4 people), no quilt shops, no quilt shows or quilt classes.

I spent a lot of time hanging around near my quilts – because I love talking to other quilters and it is just easier and more natural to strike up a conversation in front of my quilt instead of going up to somebody and saying please talk to me about quilts and quilting :-) I talk so much I am hoarse by the end of the day!

I have friends and family in Jax so it is always a fun-filled mini family reunion when relatives from other states fly down to join us. Looking forward to next year when I will be entering 4 quilts – all quilted by Margaret.

Margaret’s recent blog post titled Jax Quiltfest & other quilt show musings is very interesting – I will let you read it for yourself.

If you’d like to see the winners in all the categories the 2013 Show Winners Gallery is at SmugMug

I also entered my Besos Y Abrazos in the Intermediate Duet category – the Japanese x &+ done in 386 different Kaffe & Co. fabrics. It didn’t win anything. Which was surprising – because the show attendees LOVED it!

Besos Y Abrazos

It looks a bit tired and floppy – it’s been to Germany and back – to the quilt show that never was. God only knows what happened to it while it was there for several months! I made it for an Homage to Kaffe Challenge in Merzig Germany in the Spring – months passed and the show that was supposed to be judged by Kaffe himself never happened. I was lucky to get it back in time for the Jax show.

I am glad to have both well-travelled quilts safely back home. Speaking of well-travelled –  I must share the saga of the Between Sunrise And Sunset quilt with you. This quilt has quite a back story.

Some background:

I send all of my quilts to the US for quilting, then the quilter sends them back to Panama and I block and bind them and return them to Jacksonville to my friend Carol to wait for Quiltfest.

This quilt had a special detour to Massachusetts where it was  professionally photographed by Jeffrey Lomicka for an article Margaret has written in the November/December 2013 issue of the Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine.

After blocking and binding I sent it via DHL to Jeffrey for the photo shoot – then he was going to mail it to Carol in Jacksonville.

But… when Jeffrey was setting up the photo shoot he noticed a slit/rip/hole on the back of the quilt and he emailed me to ask  “if this was a known issue.”

No – it definitely was NOT!

This is from a letter I sent Jeffrey and Margaret:

This is what I know for sure:

Preparing the quilt for shipment I cleaned every single thread and piece of fluff off both sides with the tape lint roller. While doing that I was able to inspect every square inch of the quilt – front and back. There was no hole in the quilt. I would have noticed.

I folded it in half with the backing side out. Then I folded it in half again and in half  once more. Then I folded that in thirds to make a nice compact bundle. I placed it in the bag I had made especially for it and I fastened the top with a piece of white elastic. Then I placed it in a clear plastic garbage bag in case it got wet en route.

My husband David took the package to the DHL office. He did not just drop it off, fill out the forms, pay and leave – he wanted to see how they were going to prepare it for shipment. When he saw that they were wrapping yellow tape around the package and were preparing to stuff it into an envelope he said STOP –  that was unacceptable – he even told them that my wife will kill me if this doesn’t arrive safely. So he left – taking the quilt with him –  went to our warehouse and got a sturdy box. Came back to DHL with the quilt in the box which he taped closed himself. Only then did he leave.

This is what I think happened:

Look at the tracking info below. On July 11 at 2:25 am it was processed for clearance at Cincinnati, Ohio – then there is a clearance delay of almost two hours. Clearance is customs. I know only too well that anything or anybody coming from Panama is always given extra special attention from US customs. Panama is a well-known route for drugs from Colombia (our neighbor) to the US.

So…. I imagine the conversation among the US customs officers in Cincinnati went something like this:

“Here’s a box from Panama – what’s in it?  A bedspread. Hey – look at this Joe – somebody paid $235 to ship a stupid bedspread to Chelmsford MA! Don’t they sell bedspreads in MA? This is weird – something’s up here – let’s have a look. Yeah it’s a bedspread alright but what’s inside? Let’s take a look.”

Either they made that hole on purpose or they damaged it accidentally as they were inspecting it. I can just imagine it being handled, poked, prodded, sniffed by people with dirty hands. Draped on a dirty table in a warehouse – maybe even dragged on the floor.

Have you seen the reality TV show “To Catch a Smuggler” on the National Geographic channel. It is about customs at JFK.  Believe me they don’t treat your stuff that they suspect may be hiding drugs with respect. A well know way for small time smugglers is to soak clothes in liquid cocaine. Just google soaking clothes in cocaine.

That is the only scenario that makes any sense. It was never opened until it went through customs in Ohio.

If that is indeed what happened at least I am thankful that they went through the backing and not a more visible spot on the front. And that they didn’t cut through any quilting stitches.

I am eagerly awaiting your opinions on what to do about the hole.”

After the photo shoot Jeffery sent it to Margaret in Maine and she got a piece of the backing fabric from Jackie Kunkel at Canton Village Quiltworks – thanks again Jackie.  Margaret patched the hole and sent it on to Carol in Jacksonville. The next time I saw it was at the show sporting it’s two blue ribbons. I wasn’t able to see the patch until I got the quilt back to the hotel room on the last day of the show. Margaret did a great job – you wouldn’t be able to see it unless you knew where to look.

Just wanted to let you know my blogging will be slowing down as I try to finish the Alabama Beauty to get it to Margaret ASAP. I must have it back in time for Quiltfest 2014!

Please stay tuned…

Between Sunrise And Sunset

DONE!! This picture shows the bias binding,  all four corners, the backing and the hanging sleeve and the label. The hanging sleeve looks a little wrinkly because it  has a 1″ give in it. This is the first time I have made a sleeve like that – but from what I read the give will allow the quilt to hang better. Click on the picture to see my beautiful mitered corners up close. I am very proud of them :-)

Finished #2

The octagons are blocked

The hardest part was making the “blocking boards.” We had to use plywood since we don’t have  24″x 8′ – 1″ thick – interlocking styrofoam in Panama – which is what my quilter Margaret Gunn uses in her blocking tutorial. My husband David deemed the 1/4″ plywood to “floppy” so we used 3/4″ – which is heavy as hell!

We had some carpet remnants left over from redecorating our office building – so we used them – it would have been much easier, quicker and neater with two pieces of 4′ x 8′ carpet.

1 two pieces of plywood

We moved all the studio furniture to the back – and thank goodness there was enough room on the floor for an 8′ x 8′ table. We had to move the beading workbench outside on the patio because there wasn’t enough room to comfortably walk around the table.

2 tools to make the blocking boards

Here are some of the items we used to make the table – we ended up using two gallons of the contact cement. Well… not quite two – we knocked over the can and spilled quite a bit. What a mess that was! A real Laurel and Hardy moment as we tried to keep the puddle from spreading and getting all over the front of the carpet.

4 David gluing the back of carpet

Here is David applying the contact cement to the back of one of the pieces of the carpet.

3 sticking carpet to plywood

I walked up and down on the freshly glued carpet until I thought my legs would drop off. It just didn’t want to stick – it kept bubbling up. It could have had something to do with not waiting the 20 minutes until the contact cement dried on the wood and the carpet before joining them. When all else fails read the directions. We learned our lesson and waited on the other pieces.

5 joining two plywood pieces

This is how David joined the two pieces of plywood and he used 4 bigger ones underneath because it was bowing in the center. The plywood is on two large banquet tables. That is Laura in the corner.

6 covered rug with sheet

I didn’t want the quilt to touch the carpet so I pinned an old Indian sheet down as a barrier.

I filled the washing machine up to the top – added the quilt and 6 color catchers – no soap – just tepid water. I swirled it around in the water with my hands – I didn’t turn on the machine to agitate it. I let it soak for a few minutes then emptied the machine and let the spinner run for a bit – I wanted it damp – but not too dry. The color catchers came out with purple stains – but I don’t see any stains or running on the quilt.

8 laser

This is the laser level we used to square up the quilt. I ordered it from Amazon – I decided on this model when I read one of the customer comments from a quilter. The flash on the camera is so bright you can’t see the red laser line in the photo.

It sure beats using rulers and set squares. A bright – very visible red line shoots out in both directions and all you have to do is pull and tug and massage the seam of the quilt into place.

9 laser on center blocks

We made sure that the blocks in the center of the quilt were also in line  – not just the borders. We really didn’t have to pull and push very much – the quilt was amazingly square straight out of the washing machine. Nothing was really wonky – just a few minor adjustments to get everything squared up.


Here it is – blocked.  I left the air conditioner running at its coldest last night. The surface was dry to the touch this morning – but I am not going to move it until tomorrow morning. I have the AC on now and I will leave it on again tonight. It is freezing in here now!

12 is that straight or what!


Is that straight or what!! We measured across the diagonals with a metal measuring tape – and they turned out exactly the same – 89 and 7/8 ths inches. The quilt is supposed to be square but it is off by 15/16 ths of an inch. We certainly weren’t going to pull out all the carefully placed pins and start over for such a small difference.

Tomorrow, before removing the pins I am going to mark the cutting line on the border. Then I will sew one or two lines (with very small stitches) just inside the cutting line. This stitching will make sure the quilting stitches will not unravel when I trim the border to 5 inches. They will be hidden in the binding. I would not have thought to do this step – but my quilter Margaret said it was very important since I would be cutting into the quilting lines.



I can’t wait to get this plywood out of the studio – the smell of the contact cement is overpowering. I don’t know what I am going to do if the quilt smells like contact cement. I guess I will have to spray it with Fabreeze and air it outside – if it will ever stop raining.


Bias ironed

bias ironed

Still haven’t blocked the quilt.  I wanted to do it yesterday but Fathers’s Day festivities lasted longer than I expected. I could do it myself – but my husband wants to help – so I have to wait till the weekend.

Meanwhile the bias is made – the label is printed, the comment card text has been written and the quilt show registration form has been filled out. Today I am going to make the hanging sleeve and the storage bag that the show requires.

Continuous bias binding for the octagons

bias binding

I followed the directions on this McCalls Quilting video.  I used a 41″ square and I got a whopping 16 yards of 2 3/4″ bias binding. I don’t need that much to bind my octagons – I will keep the leftover for binding charity quilts.

I practiced on a smaller piece of ugly fabric I didn’t mind wasting if things went wrong. They did.  The second time I got it right.

Just be sure that when you start drawing the lines across the fabric – that the seam is slanting to your left – or to the right – NOT vertical.

Whether the seam is facing right or left  – don’t draw the lines on either of the #2  sides. The #2 sides are the ones you are going to sew together to make the tube.

Here is a little paper mockup of the fabric square cut in half on the bias. This is the way you should position it on your table if you have chosen to have the seam facing left.

bias binding drawing

NOT like this.


That is is a lot of blah blah blah to tell you DON’T DRAW THE LINES ON THE #2 SIDES. Easy really – I hope I didn’t confuse you.

It’s baaaaack!

Between Sunrise And Sunset

And Margaret Gunn did a fabulous job on the quilting – no – beyond fabulous! I could not be more thrilled with how it turned out.

It was a very challenging top to quilt – because there are so many different prints – and 144 of the same shape block. Margaret rose to the challenge and quilted a masterpiece!

But…  it is very difficult to photograph – even in person the light must fall on it just right to see all the detail. Click on all of the pictures to see an enlargement.

detail #4

This picture shows the on point square frame with the rays coming out of it – this is in the very center of the quilt.

The small center on point square is followed by another square frame – but this one is intertwined with feathers

Then yet another  square – this one is very subtle because it is only indicated by straight lines on the little center and joiner squares. At first glance it seems like a random motif – but then you see it goes around the corner and – surprise – it’s also a square!

And on it goes with several more frames – everything radiating out from the central small on point square. Ending with a frame that just appears on the corners – the rest of it goes off the quilt into infinity – very cool!

It is far more complex than I can describe in words. I have studied it for hours and I am just about to begin wrapping my head around the design. I had to refer to the stitching on the back many times to see the pattern more clearly. The prints on the blocks distract your eye and you lose the lines – then find them again further on. I like that – there are so many little surprises that I am still discovering.

detail #1

detail #2

detail #3

detail #5

detail #6

detail #7

The title is: Between Sunrise And Sunset