How I Made My Design Wall

I have moved into my new sewing space, and although it isn’t finished, it HAD to get a design wall ASAP. I had making to do! After poking around the interwebz, I cobbled together bits of what I learned and made a design wall that works for me and my space. It is large at 96″ wide x 83″ high. It holds fabric nicely and I can stick pins in it.

This thing makes me feel like I’m Winning at Quilt Life.

How I made my design wall

Here’s the basic rundown on supplies:

  • 1 queen-size flannel flat sheet
    (a soft gray is an excellent backdrop for auditioning colorful fabric)
  • duct tape (a lot!)
  • 2 packages of insulation foam panels
    (I got mine at Home Depot. Each package came with 6 panels that were 14-1/2″ x 48″ each)
  • basting spray
  • 2-3 value packs of jumbo Command strips
  • a level (if needed, for hanging)
  • a razor blade/super sharp knife
    (scissors are not sharp enough to get a clean cut on this foam material)
  • a long, straight-edge ruler
  • enough floor space to lay everything out
  • a helper (not shown)

I laid out the flannel sheet with the front side down. I did not cut this sheet, because I might want to use it as a sheet someday. Could happen. Once it was laid down, I made it mostly smooth and taped it to the floor at the edges.

Each of the two packages of foam panels contained six panels. I trimmed 4 inches off the bottom long sides of two panels so the design wall didn’t cover a vent and electrical outlets.

Spray the adhesive on a panel, lay it on the sheet and press. Continue with all the panels, taping the seams with duct tape as you butt the edge of each to the last. I failed to get a picture of the initial layout of the panels, so here’s a graphic.

Fold the sheet over at the top and bottom first. Tape down where you’ve brought the fabric over. Next, fold the sheet over at the sides, making a slight taper with the fold to make it nice and tidy on the edge. Tape all around.

Now, tape the snot out of the back. Criss-cross the tape in long strips to create some stability to the horizontal and vertical seams.

Apply the command strips generously to the back, spacing them around to get good hold coverage. Follow the instructions on the package about the tape and loop and paper backing.

Get that helper to help you hang and position this beautiful beast to the wall. Use a level if you need to. I butted mine up to the ceiling. Voila!

Happy Quilting!


P.S. My biggest inspiration was this tutorial from The Quilting Edge. She made hers modular!

Spread the love

Improv Workshop with Gee’s Bend Quilters

We do not remember days, we remember moments.

~ Cesare Pavese

Yesterday’s Gee’s Bend workshop at Heritage Hall in Talladega, Alabama was filled with beautiful moments.

China caught me picking apart some fabric strips (which I thought was going rather well), took them from me and just started pulling them apart. Just grab and pull. I would have thought that would warp the fabric or something, but nope. They came apart as if she’d already pulled the stitches out. My table mate and I got a huge laugh at me over that. I really wish I had it on video because it was hilarious.

Of course, China and Mary Ann sang as we worked.

What I admire most about the women of Gee’s Bend is their spirit. These women and their families have known true hardships, and yet they arrive with joy in their hearts and love to share.

They give more than they take.

A lesson for all of us. I have running water, insulated walls, and food in my belly. I’ll bet you do, too.

The Ladies Pettway brought in a bin of fabric odds and ends and we tossed in a few bits of our own. In the bin I found a hand-painted panel depicting pastoral birds, which sent me off in one direction because I had some silly notion that it was meant to be that I work with this thing. Well, I guess it was meant to be in that it taught me that I shouldn’t always listen to silly notions.

Have mercy, y’all… this thing is ug-ly. (Except for the birds. The birds are really pretty.)

But it was terrific fun and felt liberating to sew on something that had no plan, no destination, no pattern, no rules, no deadline. It was freeing. I think I’ll use improv in the future as a way to clear my mind between (or during) more structured projects.

~~ Tara

Spread the love

Movin’ On Up…

Today I start painting the room that will soon be my sewing studio (doesn’t that sound fancy?).

This was my eldest stepdaughter’s room until she went to college, then it was my stepson’s room until he went to college four years later. Now, it’s going to be MY room. HA!

Here’s a portion of what my “studio” is like now. It’s my kitchen table. The cutting table is the kitchen island (not shown). My fabric is stowed away in cabinets, dressers, and under a bed in another room.

Kitchen "Sewing Studio"
Kitchen “Sewing Studio”

I am soooo looking forward to my kitchen being neat and tidy again without all the sewing cluttering it up. And when we have guests, I will no longer have to put everything (except the design wall) away and get it all back out again. That really puts a hitch in my sewjo when I have to do that.

And here’s the room I’m moving into! Upstairs. Away from the kitchen and common areas of the house.

Primer goes on today and I’m auditioning paint colors, but will go with a taupe-y gray that doesn’t compete with the fabrics I’m working with on projects. I want the color in the room to come from fabric.

Studio Before
Studio Before

I’ll be moving some things in before there is proper flooring, because our friends from England are visiting in a couple of weeks and we need the kitchen dining table, but I still need to be able to sew. Baby steps, y’all. Sometimes life is a series of baby steps. As long as it’s onward and upward, that’s fine by me.

~~ Tara

Spread the love

Can’t Stop This Music

I got word this week that I didn’t make the cut as one of the 2018 52Quilters (strike #5 off my 2018 Plan). The Universe is telling me to reserve that energy for another area that needs my attention.

To be honest, I’m slightly relieved to have one less thing on my “to do” list. There is joy in simplification.

I’m still gonna dance in my kitchen, y’all. Ain’t no party like a Quilt District party.

French Dancer


Spread the love

Comin’ Around the Bend

I had been quilting a year before I saw in person what other quilters were making. I didn’t grow up around quilters. I didn’t belong to a guild. I hadn’t had any in-person classes.

I learned the art of quilt making through watching YouTube. Relentlessly. One video led to another led to another. I’d watch them all, regardless of whether they were traditional or modern, art quilts or lap quilts, improv or well-planned. English or Spanish or Portuguese. (My Spanish is very limited and my Portuguese relies on any similarities I can find in my Spanish, but a flying goose is a flying goose, folks.)

Then I heard about QuiltCon. (cue: the song of angels)

I cobbled together some funds and got myself out to Austin, Texas. It was February 2015. I kept to myself mostly and studied the quilts in the show. I walked around as if in a dream. I attended a few lectures.

Among my transformative experiences that weekend was this:

The quilters of Gee’s Bend delivered the keynote. I had read about them and knew. I knew this was big. They sang gospel. I grew up with gospel. It felt like home to me.

L to R: Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins. The Quilters of Gee's Bend, QuiltCon 2015
L to R: Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins. The Quilters of Gee’s Bend, QuiltCon 2015

L to R: Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins. The Quilters of Gee's Bend, QuiltCon 2015

This is the song they sang:

I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

The flowers that you give me
I can’t see their beuty
The flowers that you give me
I can’t see their beauty
The flowers that you give me
I can’t see their beauty

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

The flowers that you give me
I can’t tell nobody
The flowers that you give me
I can’t tell nobody
The flowers that you give me
I can’t tell nobody

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

So a few days ago when I heard Mary Ann Pettway and China Pettway of the Gee’s Bend Quilting Collective were soon teaching a workshop only a few hours’ drive away from my home, I sent my registration request off in a flash.

In fewer than three weeks, I’ll get to spend a few hours with Mary Ann and China. I’ll get to learn from them. Hear their stories. Let their histories inform me. I feel remarkably blessed to have that opportunity. I hope they’ll hug me if I cry a little.


Spread the love

Freckled Turtle Party

So far, even though some things in my 2018 plan are underway, 2018 has been teaching me a lesson in slowwwing dowwwn — while adding things to my life (like this blog!). I’m definitely not 25 with the energy of three people anymore!

Because a lot of what I’ve been up to the past month has been behind the scenes or related to my “day job,” I’m super happy to be able to show you some of the things others have made with my Churned Up pattern, and to give you links to check out what else these three ladies are doing! If there’s one thing social media does right, it’s connecting quilters near and far! If you’ve been following me over on Instagram, you may have seen these.

Meet Velda of Freckled Fox Quiltery

(Formerly known as Granny Can Quilt) I enjoy her wit & sass. I feel like I’m chatting with her over our machines at a quilt retreat when I read her blog. You can also find her on Instagram as @freckledfoxquiltery. She went scrap-o-licious with these Churned Up quillows:

Scrappy Quillows by Velda at Freckled Fox Quiltery
Scrappy Churned Up Quillows by Velda at Freckled Fox Quiltery

Meet Stephanie over at Quilt ‘n Party

Stephanie made the full version of Churned Up with a lovely, soft 30s print. Check out her blog for some great mini quilt and block tutorials! You can also catch her over on Instagram as @quiltnparty. (Tip: Check out her Gypsy Wife! *swoon*)

Churned Up 30s Style by Stephanie at Quilt 'n Party
Churned Up 30s Style by Stephanie at Quilt ‘n Party

Meet Joanne (aka Turtle Quilter Jo)

The above link goes to Joanne’s Instagram page, and you can also catch her over on her Quilts by Joanne blog. Joanne is one of the angels among us. She quilts a lot for charity, and I couldn’t be happier that her groovy dark and bright Churned Up (which she made lap size!) is going to a worthy cause. Her version keeps making me want to say, “far out, man!”

Joanne's "far out" Churned Up, Lap Size
Joanne’s “far out” Churned Up, Lap Size

A huge THANK YOU to each of these women for volunteering to make the pattern and write up such lovely reviews. I’m thrilled and humbled that they each enjoyed it so much and made these beautiful things that will go out and live in the world. That’s a new experience for me, and I like it! A lot!


Spread the love

The Epic Fabric Trip

For two Christmases now, I’ve asked for fabric money to spend at Thread Bear Fabrics at their end-of-year sale. Between my gift money and the great sale prices, I come home with more than I typically would find reasonable.

Hence, this!

Oh. Heavenly Fabric. Several of these are for projects in the 2018 lineup. I feel justified. Perfectly justified, right?

Eight yards of each of these happened (and if Anna ever re-releases the teal, I’m getting the whole bolt and eating ramen for six months):

Anna Maria Horner, Social Climber, Floral Retrospective
Social Climber by Anna Maria Horner in Ice and Perfume

And five yards of each of these. DE-LISH. Hello, Backings! 

The pink: Hot Couturier by Robert Kaufman. The blue: Brooklyn Heights by Kitty Yoshida for Benartex

I found more of that 30s Playtime black squares print! (Actually, my partner in crime, Jennifer, found it. And we both bought some.)

30's Playtime, Chloe's Closet, Moda
30s Playtime by Chloe’s Closet for Moda

I have some sneak peeks at current projects coming soon (lots and LOTS of half square triangles!)… And in other news, I’m jumping in on the 2018 New Quilt  Bloggers Blog Hop. Registration opens February 1, and I’m excited to exercise my New Blogger Muscles for it! Big thanks to the hosts: Jennifer of Dizzy Quilter, Beth of Cooking Up Quilts, Tish of Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Sandra of MMM! Quilts.

There’s still time to sign up for the Kaffe Fassett Mystery quilt! Registration is open through January 15th. I hope you’ll join me!

Here’s a shot my aforementioned partner in crime, Jennifer. She also tests for me and is my best sewing buddy. Everyone, say Hi to Jennifer!

Quilt Your Hearts Out,
~~ Tara
P.S. I’ve decided to call these Friday fabric posts FABric Friday instead of Full Fabric Friday. A bit more to the point, don’t you think?

Spread the love

Kaffe 2018 Mystery Quilt

Happy New Year, Quiltabulous Friends!

It’s almost time for the Kaffe Fassett Mystery Quilt! Kaffe Fassett is the king of color. I had the pleasure of attending one of his lectures on color a couple of years back and I have several of his books. His prints are SO full of color and deliciousness that I am at times intimidated by them. ALL THE COLOR! ALL THE PATTERN! I’m hoping this mystery quilt experience gets me past all of that. I’m hoping that it teaches me more about color and how better to use it with passion and zeal. I am putting on my student hat for this one!

Want to join me? My friends at Thread Bear Fabrics are hosting it, and you can register with them through January 15th. The mystery kicks off in March.

These links are not affiliate links. I do not get paid anything for sending you Thread Bear. I just really like these folks, and I know they are good people to work with.

There is a Dark colorway option and a Light colorway option.

These are the fabrics in the dark colorway:

These are the fabrics in the light colorway:

Some deets from Janet and Randy at Thread Bear Fabrics:

This is a 10 month program that starts in March 2018 and ends in December 2018.

The final quilt size will be 82-1/2″ x 82-1/2″ and you choose a “light” or “dark” color option. There is a total of 12 yards for all 10 months/quilt.

Backing is not included. 2-5/8th yards of 108″ fabric is needed for the quilt back.

Cost of the program is $18.95 per month (plus shipping $7.00 for U.S. destinations).

There is a $4.99 registration fee to sign up for the program.

The first month you will receive block instructions on a 5×7 color card and fabrics in a clamshell packaging that is just the right size to store your project in as you receive your new fabric each month. And as a thank you for playing in the Mystery Quilt program, you will receive a freebie – a 10 piece Mystery Kaffe Fat Quarter.

Each following month you will receive the 5×7 color instruction card and the fabrics required to complete the block. Then in December, you will receive the fabric needed to complete the Mystery Quilt, plus binding and a 5×7 color card with final instructions for completing that month as well as putting together the entire quilt and solving the Mystery!

Every Mystery Quilt monthly puzzle adventure package includes a fun “ask” for the chance to win goodies from FreeSpirit!

Here’s me and Janet of Thread Bear in front of some of the Kaffe she and Randy carry in their shop:

With Janet at Thread Bear Fabrics
Me and Janet at Thread Bear Fabrics

~~ Tara

Spread the love

Polka Dots and Geese with Hats

Welcome to another installment of Full Fabric Friday! … where I chat a bit about a fabric line, a shop, or offer some other such fabric musings.

Mr. District is originally from South Bend, Indiana, and we go up to visit with his Mom and extended family for the holidays about once a year. When we’re up there, I like to stop into Erica’s Craft and Sewing Center. Funny enough, I found their online shop when I was on the hunt for a particular fabric a few years ago, and I ordered from them before I noticed they were in South Bend! Small world.

And now, some geese with hats! And shawls! Gah!

reproduction fabric
Toy Box Miniatures by Sara Morgan for Washington Street Studio

I mean, for real. How stinkin’ cute is that?!

Erica’s has a sweet section of 30s repros, and I also picked up every last bit they had of this sharp squares print. Hello, snazzy future binding!

30s Playtime by Chloe’s Closet for Moda

On every visit, I hit the rummage bin for deals on fat eights and fat quarters because I like to have a stash with lots of variety.

On this visit last Saturday, I went in looking particularly for polka dots for a pattern I’m working up to submit to a magazine, and I found EXACTLY what I was looking for!

Spoiler alert: think grape, orange, apple, and strawberry!

polka dot fabric
Kimberbell Basics by Kim Christopherson for Maywood Studio

Erica’s is family run and has been in business for over 40 years! They have a solid selection of quilt fabrics, wools, and yarn. They also deal Handi Quilter, Baby Lock, and Husqvarna Viking machines!

Nice folks to do business with. Be sure to check out the virtual tour of their shop on their website!

Until next time,
~ Tara

Spread the love

The 2018 Plan

I’m not one for New Years’ resolutions, but I do like a good plan. Even if it usually gets all tossed about and headed in unexpected directions when all is said and done. 2017 is wrapping up on a note I couldn’t have expected, and I hear the best way to get God to laugh is to have a plan…. So, with that, I join Yvonne (aka Quilting Jet Girl) for the #2018PlanningParty!

2018 Planning Party

Here’s my high-level list—with the caveat that it’s only a starting point. A launchpad for rockets or slow boats. Life has a funny way of making up its own mind about how it wants to go. I will work diligently toward these goals, but I promise to be willing and able to adjust my sails to meet the challenge when the situation requires it.


  1. Move into the sewing room.
    > Now that my step kids are grown and out, I need to get my sewing “studio” out of the kitchen! This involves tearing out old carpet, prepping and painting walls and trim, and spending time setting up.
  2. Learn to meditate.
    > I really need to practice this. I’m fairly terrible at it, but I’m certain that is because I lack the practice.
  3. Work out twice a week instead of once.
  4. Blog. Do it regularly-ish.
    > The only rule I’m putting around this is to make it more of a habit and at least 3 times a month. I won’t say every week, because I’m not keen to force it. I want to do it when it needs to be done. Maybe that’s 3 times a week sometimes. We’ll see.
  5. Be one of the 2018 52Quilters. (*waves across the pond to Chris*)
  6. Projects (here is where things get pretty unreasonable spectacularly nuts):
    > Publish 1 pattern in a magazine. (I know the pattern and I know the mag I want it in.)
    > Complete and deliver the Liberty quilt. This is a commission that I can’t share with you yet.
    > 1-3 gift quilts. Recipients already chosen. Bonus: these can also be new patterns!
    > 1-2 other commissions. One is already promised. The other has only been a passing discussion so far.
    > Get permission from the owner of a particular antique quilt to publish the pattern I have begun for a replica of that quilt. Publish that pattern. Oh, I hope, I hope! This one is SO delicious.

Through it all, I want to remember this:


I invite and welcome you, 2018. Let’s see what you and I can make of things, shall we?


Spread the love