An English Paper Piecing (EPP) Method

One reason I have hated this EPP project is that the curved rings are so very hard to attach. I finally saw Tara Faughnan, in one of The Color Collective classes, hosted by Sewtopia, use artist tape, installed on the front of the block, to hold pieces in place while they are being stitched. With the tape, I can keep the rings lined up without losing how they should fit properly into the bigger block. Basically, one runs into the same problems with these curves that one has with sewing any curves together–seemingly excess fabric that falls into place if both sides are laid flat.

To remind, here’s how I start a set of rings so I don’t wind up with colors butted up to each other that don’t work in one way or another.

When I have the outer rings sewn, I can overlay them on the center piece and use the tape to hold everything firm. (The tape can be reused–and when I’m done for the moment, I put pieces back on the tape ring so they don’t dry out.) When sewing the rings, I also use a small piece of the tape to hold the inner curved top pieces firmly while I sew them. The pieces in the middle are easy to sew with the standard method of putting right sides together and whip stitching them.

One uses what is called a “flat back” stitch to sew a block that is laid out flat. Note that I’ve written how the block will fit into the larger block on the back pieces. And remember that I also take a picture of the block so I don’t get mixed up with what color goes where and how the finished ring piece fits on the final block. When sewing rings to the mother row, I can just ruthlessly fold the mother row so I can get hold of what I am trying to sew. One needs purchase as sewing into the flat piece on a surface is too hard to manage.

Here’s an example of folding over part of the quilt, templates and all, so you can sew it more easily. Note that the center block on the left is folded in half. I am right handed, so it is easier for me to fold left and sew with my right hand.

Here’s a finished ring block.

And here it is attached to a center block with the tape so I can attach it from the back.

Now both rings are attached and the block is ready to go into the “mother ship.”


I am so not looking forward to attaching, when completed, these rows to the other three rows.

It will be…painful.

But let’s not borrow that trouble this morning as progress is happening steadily!

Tennis Weekend

Saturday and Sunday involved watching tennis matches as granddaughter Talula played in a local tournament.

It was so fun to see her play after following her matches from Maine.

Both days were ‘murky” in the morning, and the gnats were bad. I didn’t bring my Young Living peppermint essential oil with me, but I have it with me permanently now, along with lavender. I’m sure the cooler, cloudy weather was a mannerly boon for the tennis players, but on both days the sun came out in the afternoon.

Look at these pretty palm trees. And that’s Tami’s back with a leash holding her mother’s little puppy. I have not seen Mimi in…decades…so it was very fun to see her again. She came down from Spartanburg for a family birthday party. Mike and Tami had a family dinner with both grandmothers Sunday night. It was delicious and very fun and a nice way to wrap up the week.

Mike and Tami traveled Friday to attend son Kelly’s wrestling matches for the state winners. So, I slept over with the granddaughters and cooked dinner Friday night. I went over Friday morning to let dogs out and took part of the hand sewing EPP project with me and had a peaceful hand-sewing day, though I had to go home once in the afternoon to retrieve a delivered package from the front porch–a wooden table for the back porch.

I finished another block and will attach it to the mother ship row.

Two more blocks to go for this row–and I finished the next center but need to lay out its rings.

The pine pollen is TERRIBLE here. Of course, there are so many pines that heavy pollen should not have been such a surprise. Maine had pine pollen too, and it could be heavy. Here, though, the pine pollen is over the top. Everyone is happy when there is a bit of rain to wash off the cars and walkways. The porches have to be cleaned though. And my dark floors show it tracking inside so easily.

I put together the little wooden table this morning–it’s the last piece of furniture for the porch. Now only the porch blinds remain to be installed for my outdoor room to be complete.

The refinished dining room table comes back TOMORROW! I can hardly wait to see it.

I spent some time this morning observing gutters being installed at my neighbor’s house behind me. Oh my! I had not thought about the need for gutters, though we installed them in Maine. And, yes, many houses here in my neighborhood have had gutters installed already I realized as I stopped to check.

I’ll have to get a quote. For sure.

It is a quiet kind of a day. I’ll probably run over to the beach in a bit for a walk.

Some Ways to Hang Your Quilts

I had a request to blog about how I hang my quilts.

I can do that.

Note that one can always hang a curtain rod with its own supports that is long and just switch out whatever quilt one wants from time to time. I think Bonnie Hunter hangs quilts this way in her Inn. If you don’t know Bonnie Hunter, check out her blog.

Note, too, that for really heavy, bigger quilts, I use curtain rods with decorative ends. Note that the middle quilt below, as it is not as wide or heavy, uses an invisible dowel wooden rod which can be bought at most hardware stores and cut to size. You want the SMALLEST dowel/curtain rod that can support the weight of the quilt without bending as you don’t want a bulge at the top of your quilt. And you want the quilt to sit at the top on the rod so that the rod is at the top and not down into the quilt–where the bulge of it can detract.

Thus, the most important thing with hanging quilts is installing a hanging sleeve that is level with the top of the quilt AND that allows space on the outer sides for the dowel/rod to show.

I double a wide band of fabric (for a big quilt about 4 inches, which means a piece about 9 inches wide. I cut and turn in the sides twice (neat finish on the sides) so that the sleeve leaves space on either side for the dowel to peek through. A curtain rod’s ends are always going to show–but you have to figure out where to position nails so they don’t show–they can hide just inside the edge of the quilt if you leave proper space between the binding edge and the sleeve edge. Dowels should not be cut wider than the binding on the quilt as you want to hide the dowel in the gap between the edge of the sleeve and the binding outer edge. I double the 9-inch strip and press it before sewing the sleeve’s two raw edges to the quilt top when I install the binding.

For a big quilt I might machine baste the sleeve into the seam allowance first. And some quilters recommend splitting the sleeve into two parts for a wide, heavy quilt. Next, after binding, you have only to sew down the bottom of the sleeve.

BUT, and this is important, there is a method for sewing down that bottom edge as you have to place it a bit above where it would go without allowing for some excess hanging room. But not high enough from the bottom so that the top of the sleeve starts to show over the top edge of the quilt. Mostly I bring that bottom edge up about 1/2 inch, but I always test with a rod to make sure I haven’t gone too high. Pin and sew down the bottom edge of the sleeve.

You can see the excess fabric on the outer sleeve side in the picture below. The bigger the dowel/rod, the bigger amount of excess fabric you want. And here, I should have gone higher at the bottom of the sleeve so the dowel would locate higher near the binding.

See the bulge at the top?

I use nails that have a head big enough to hold the dowel so it won’t slide off the nail. For a bigger, heavier quilt you will need bigger nails. But always get ones that have bigger heads.

Lay your dowel where you want it on the wall and mark where you want the nails to go. Remember to put the nails at least 1/4 inch or a bit more from the edge of the dowel. The position of the nails will be a bit different for a curtain rod depending on the decorative end of the rod. The nails have to be inside those ends and very close or inside each side of the quilt edge. Then use a leveler to make darn sure the dowel/rod is level. I have a long leveler and a short one. After I put in the nails, I use the leveler again to make sure all is level at that stage. And I check again after I hang the quilt as it is fairly easy at that point to remove a nail and replace it if needed.

Remember we do the best we can all along the way to make sure a quilt is square and the top level. But quilts are rarely perfect. Fabric stretches, things shift. Just do the best you can. Remember the nails have to fall below the top binding on the quilt.

I measured from the ceiling down to line up the quilts below. And for the 4-season trees, I used matching white rods–and when the top two were hung on their rod, I used my long leveler (about 3 feet) to place the vertical placement of the lower rod so it was in line with the top rod and its nails.

If you want to remove or change a hanging quilt, you pull out the nails, patch the hole with sparkle, sand it totally smooth, and repaint the patch with matching paint.

And, there you have it.

The Design Wall is DONE!

Isn’t it wonderful? Bryan came back yesterday with the white duck tape and two girlies in tow. After they left, I installed the white flannel. I couldn’t be happier about the completion of this project.

The late afternoon sun comes through the windows, so I’ll have to remember to either close the shutters or set them in a way to deflect the light so it does not fade anything pinned to the wall.

Of course I couldn’t resist pinning SOMETHING to it, so I dragged out the last batch of Churn Dash blocks I made in Maine–with the last (ok, almost the last) of the Cotton+Steel fabrics. They just went on the wall mostly willy nilly–I’ll be moving them around a lot I’m sure. As I sew, I’ll notice what isn’t working, and that’s what I love about having a design wall. I can’t “see” this way when I try to lay out blocks on a rug or a bed.

Two of these blocks had piecing errors, so they are now on my sewing machine table–along with some pieces ready to be made into blocks and neatly pinned together back in Maine. And, I will need more blocks to get 8 by 9 rows. I will use some sashing between the blocks.

I took these pictures this morning–it is kind of a murky day, so the colors are not showing up as vibrant as they are. But these “random” blocks–with just interesting colors combined–are so darn cute. Some of the centers have cute images, but that is just because I had some of those blocks on hand already cut.

Putting up these blocks on the wall is tricky as I do not want them to distract from finishing the quilt from hell.

Here is the next block center in the quilt from hell–it’s the 3rd in the 5th row (of 6 rows). I’ll sew it together today.

Here’s how I lay out the rings, and I can see that I will want to move the bright yellow piece at the bottom to another spot. Taking pictures of work is always…revealing. In the big scheme of things though, in the whole of a finished quilt made from so many tiny pieces, it will mostly all just work out. Mostly.

Everything is very quiet here this morning. A lot of the dog walkers are not out. People must be enjoying Sunday morning breakfasts and for many, a day off tomorrow.

The Design Wall Panels Are UP!

Bryan met me at Loew’s yesterday, where I purchased the needed screws and the panels for the design wall he is making for me.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the car (Corinne’s) loaded with the panels. His car is wide enough to allow transport of the 2 inch by 4 by 8 feet panels, with all the back seats laid flat. Loading the panels was a production in order to get them in “just right” and involved removing their last-needed car seat and stowing tennis gear into the back hold.

These panels are a form of styrofoam (ugh) and are used mostly to insulate roofs. They are 2 inches thick, so pins don’t hit wallboard. They are installed with screws that go into the wall joists, so the screws have to be long enough to go through the 2-inch panels and firmly into the joists . And for this product, there is a plastic disk that distributes weight and keeps the screw head from going right through the panel. I found the disks some weeks ago on Amazon, with Bryan’s help.

Here’s how these disks and screws look installed.

And here’s the design wall at this point. The screws and plastic washers will always be there–they were back in Maine–but it is easy enough to avoid them with pins–and the overlaid flannel mostly hides them.

Bryan is coming back today sometime with a roll of wide WHITE duct tape–which he’ll use around the electrical outlet–after peeling back the dark silver duct tape from the panel as it will show beneath the white flannel covering I will install. He is thinking to use the white tape to finish the bottom edge he had to trim as well–and maybe along the seams.

I ordered white flannel weeks ago from JoAnn’s–and they sent me TWO separate pieces of 108 wide flannel, from two different stores, rather than one 4-yard piece–so I spent some time yesterday piecing the two pieces. They are ready to pin to the wall’s edges when Bryan deems his work done.

We’re almost there…

And Bryan is such a love to make this wall for me.

My fingers are itching to pin completed blocks to the wall.

This morning there is a tennis match, with two of my grand girls paired against another team. So I’m off to enjoy being there for them. And, for me.

The Isle of Palms Beach

Corinne and I had a gorgeous walk on the Isle of Palms beach yesterday–after I picked up and delivered the raw milk for our three family households. I had a nice visit with Michael and Tami when I dropped off the milk to their house before meeting Corinne.

I met Corinne at home and admired the white gardenia that was blooming at the front stairs. It was full of buds back in December when we had 17-degree cold nights that froze outdoor water pipes for many people. (The Rinnai water heaters are hung on outside walls.) And I was so hoping the buds had not been killed.

This glossy-leafed plant–a gift from Mike and Tami’s family many years ago when Bryan and Corinne bought and moved into this house–has many buds opening up now.

On that note, I’ll also say that the dormant Centipede grass in my neighborhood now has a green glow happening. I’ll have to think about mowing issues soon.

Corinne and I walked to the beach from the house. The Isle of Palms beach has numerous officially sanctioned pathways between houses to get to the beach. Here’s one:

Turtles hatch regularly on this beach. The mother turtles form nests from May through mid-August. Each nest can have about 120 eggs. The eggs incubate for 55 to 60 days and babies can emerge from July through October. Signs go up in early spring that seek to protect the beach nests.

I can’t wait to see a baby turtle “walk to the water” event. Here’s a picture from September 2021 of grandchildren holding baby turtles.

We both went barefoot once we got to the beach–leaving our shoes just above the tide line!

The roaring surf was beautiful with the incoming tide. Here’s a little video.

We walked and talked about an hour–and it was good to catch up with this sweet and very busy DIL.

Later in the afternoon, I sewed. Here’s the first block of the 5th row (of six). The first and last blocks in each row requires three rings. This block took me several days to make, and I’d already made the center. (All the centers are Cotton+Steel fabrics.)

It is important to lay out the ring fabrics for each block so the colors don’t repeat. I’ll show you how I do that next time. But here are the rings for the next block in this row, for which I am now sewing its center. All these ring pieces are already glued and are in sacks sorted by type–all of which was very time consuming along the way. And all the centers are glued, but not yet sewn together. I’ve done nothing with the outer border yet.

No whining this morning. I promise.

I got so engrossed in my current Juliete Marillier audible book (DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST), that I sewed until well past 8 pm. Marillier was born in New Zealand, but now lives in Western Australia. She writes historical fantasy–most of what I have read is laced with Celtic stories/myths and music. (She has a strong background in music.) Her most recent series is the Warrior Bards–but one should really start with the Blackthorn and Grim series, which is the story of the parents of the characters in Warrior Bards.

However, DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST may be my most favorite book, and it is the start of a 6-book series. How fun is that?

Marillier is a wonderful story-teller. Her stories provide a wonderful escape from the despairs of our current world while one is inside one of them. She has won many awards and has written many books and many complex series that contain twists and turns in the plots and where truth and beauty win out in the end. She holds a very strong place for the mysteries of the natural world. She also has a blog–and I just copied down all of her recent book recommendations for future reading.

She loves dogs!

The New Hearing Aids, Family Birthdays, and the Traverse Quilt Progress

AND, today there is an early morning haircut with a recommended person who cuts CURLY hair.

But, I’ll backtrack to Sunday night–where there was a family celebration for three birthdays in close proximity in my oldest son’s family. There were happy people, lovely presents, a lovely meal, and I spent the night. We stumbled on to the Super Bowl after dinner and presents and cake as there were two of the birthday folks who follow football–and we watched the whole thing to the sad end for the Eagles supporters.

That halftime show…didn’t hit my amusement or delight range. Strange, to say the least. Maybe it is a generational thing? And I have no idea what the words to the song were. They all looked like desert people who had lost their tents and were adrift in the sand. With a killer storm coming. And high ground wasn’t going to help. And they knew it.

I realized when I went to bed that I had forgotten my new hearing aid charger. These days new hearing aids don’t use batteries unless one demands them. When I got up Monday, both aids were totally dead, so there was nothing to do but go home and charge them up as I am profoundly deaf without them. So no nice early coffee morning interlude with my DIL and son.

I had the old hearing aids for the 3 hours it took to charge the new ones. It’s always good to have back-ups. These new aids are beyond awesome–the bluetooth technology now is so amazing. I can talk on the phone (once I answer it) or listen to an audio book with the phone even in another room. And the sound quality is so, so good. I can control the volume on my phone, too, rather than trying to push the tiny volume buttons on the back of the aids. I feel so lucky.

I had defrosted lamb chops for my main meal, which I eat in the middle of the day. (Costco has reasonably priced lamb, which is harder to get here than in Maine.) I had half of a small cabbage in the refrigerator, and I do like to slice cabbage thin, add salt and olive oil and some herbs (fresh dill this time), and eat it like a salad. The cabbage gets soft in a bit and exudes juices–this would be the begining step of fermenting cabbage to make a sauerkraut actually. But I can’t eat fermented foods with my Histamine Intolerance. The next thing I knew, I was adding other fresh veggies to the cabbage while the chops cooked and was putting some water on the stove to cook some buckwheat noodles.


Here’s are the quilt rows I have completed now–laid out on the upstairs rug. I’m stuck until more fabric arrives. I love this project, which has color changes within each row, some more subtle than others. The Windham Artisan cottons (shot cottons) just…glow.

The longarm is not arriving on Thursday. Both Judy and Rob are down with bad colds–so Judy is projecting arrival for next week. Hopefully.

Already I have two quilts backed up to quilt, and the Traverse project will need to be quilted. And I have a whole stack of super cute Churn Dash blocks that will make a quilt. So what to work on while I wait for the longarm?

The EPP project (English Paper Piecing) from hell is the sad answer–it’s the unfinished 36 Ring Circus quilt. It has 6 rows: three are done and attached and one is finished and waiting for the remaining two unfinished rows. There is also an outer border that could be added–I have all the paper pieces for it.

So, yesterday, I sat quietly upstairs in my new chair, with my view to the street from the window available. I was surrounded by light and with the iron close at hand. And, I hand sewed. I have all the middle parts of the remaining 12 blocks glued (all Cotton+Steel fabrics) and ready to go. And all the outer ring parts are glued as well.

Here are the three completed rows and part of the fourth row–a picture I took way back in March 2022. I don’t even want to think how long I’ve been working on this quilt. The rings are boring to sew, and the piecing of the rings and rows is difficult going with all the curves.

OK, I’ll stop whining now. But this quilt won’t be a big one in the end. It’s way to much work for a baby quilt, and I don’t know about it for a wall hanging either. BUT, I have NEVER abandoned a quilt project this far along, and I’m not going to stop now.

So many hours already… The glueing alone…

Yesterday I put the adorable little office chair out on the curb late afternoon as Tuesday is trash pickup day. It was gone by nightfall when I put out the big trash bin.

Happy travels, little chair.

A Sunny Friday

But rain is coming later in the morning. I don’t mind–it means I don’t have to worry about watering any of the dormant grass–assuming I can even manage to undo the tight hose bolts the movers closed on BOTH ends of two hoses by linking them into a big circle so there would be no loose ends.

I have to say I like solving problems like this hose problem though. Maybe two sets of pliers? Maybe a son or grandson…

Here’s a problem I could not solve though. My DIL was replacing this chair, and I asked her for it. Isn’t it the cutest, sweetest little chair–one just meant for my sewing room?

My DIL warned me that the chair was not holding its height and would gradually slide down to its lowest level.

Maybe that low level would be ok?


Maybe I could fix it?

I went online and discovered that chairs with hydraulics gradually lose their air over time and will slide down to their lowest level. Who knew? The first, easier, fix involved tape for traction and a hose clamp to prevent the chair from sliding down.

Nope. The whole shaft would have to be taped with a hose clamp at either end maybe.

The next fix involved taking off the wheel apparatus and placing a metal or PCP pipe over the shaft–centered on the pipe with washers if the overlaid pipe had too much play on the chair shaft. The chair would then hold in a permanent height–set by the overlaid pipe. That would have worked–but I had no way to cut a metal or PCP. So…


I ordered a new chair from Amazon as I could not find one locally for a price I would consider. Sewing chairs at JoAnne’s were $300 plus!!! And office chairs at Staples were also expensive and so…”officey.” This chair was $138 with tax!!!! Lovely. But it had to be put together. So I spent a quite lovely hour doing that task while sitting on the upstairs rug under a good light.

And now I’m very happy! The chair is very comfortable, the arms can be slid up and out of the way, there is lumbar support for a lower back, AND I had fun putting the chair together.

I am really enjoying having my machine facing this outside window. It is easy to open the shutters, which swing open into the room, to open a window to let a breeze inside. And in the late afternoon, a time when I mostly sew, I can see families out walking with children and dogs and visiting with others they see along the way. There are a lot of dogs and children here, too.

The Traverse quilt is coming along–here are two sections on what was my temporary design wall.

Now these sections are on the rug out in the big room as I will soon have other sections to joint these two.

The final 4 rows and batches of fabric for Traverse will arrive from Sewtopia in a few weeks now. And while I wait, the longarm will come next week, and I’ll quilt the two quilts that are waiting for it–and trim and bind them.

I so looking forward to diving into all the saved projects I have acquired.

My New Sewing Area

Yesterday I SEWED in my organized and (mostly) ready-to-use upstairs sewing area. I say mostly as the design wall is “in progress” and the longarm arrives February 16th.

I love having my sewing machine right in front of these windows which look out to the neighborhood. (The Plantation Shutters were installed yesterday morning, and I love them. They control light so easily, with just a touch on one slat in each panel, and are so modern and uncluttered.) It is dusk outside, but I have plenty of light for sewing with all my portable lights.

My second machine is set up on the short wall behind me, with my bulletin board above it. This machine is set up with the walking foot for installing bindings or sewing a grid onto a smaller quilt. The hallway to the big room is to the right, and a closet is further to the right on the other short wall–so more storage for the bins I have with cut strips and blocks.

To the left is the wall that will become a design wall.

I began my new sewing adventure yesterday by making the 5th row on the Traverse BOM project designed by Tara Faughnan and hosted by Sewtopia. I have the fabric for three more rows and will catch up with those first thing. Sewtopia is shipping the rest of the rows in a few weeks in one package. Getting hold of the fabrics has been hard for Sewtopia this winter.

Here are a few finished blocks in a wide row that will use two rows to make its design. I am testing to see if my blocks are perfect as the row has to measure exactly to all the other rows.

***First, before giving you more pics of the upstairs, a blog reader asked me about the quilt on the downstairs couch. It is a “Sunday Morning Quilt” finished in March 2019. The blog post is as follows:

There is a search feature on the right sidebar of my blog.

The stairs to the upstairs areas stop at a landing where I hung this quilt on the right side. This area is filled with light.

This picture is too dark, probably from the top bar of the shutters, but there is a lot of light in this space. This picture shows the truer colors in this quilt–which I designed some years back in a class taught by Amy Friend.

There is a long wall flanking the right side of the walkway into the larger “game room” area where the longarm will live when it arrives on the 16th. There are blog posts on all of these quilts. The quilt on the far left is made from a block and fabric palette created by Latifah Saafir as guest designer for The Color Collective. The quilt on the right in an improv method designed by Tara Faughnan for The Color Collective. The “four season” quilts in the middle were inspired by Sarah Fielke in the book by Sarah and Kathy Doughty, MATERIAL OBSESSIONS 2.

The “game room,” which is dark, is next. The longarm will go here. To the left is a closet and beyond it the utility room that houses the ac/heating systems. All three quilts represent work done in The Color Collective seasons.

On the opposite wall I set up the serger, and there is a bookcase flanked by storage units that store items that will be needed in this room. The longarm is coming with an overhead light bar that will help with light in this room. The New York Beauty quilt is my design, and the diamond quilt is a smaller version of a quilt designed by Tara Faughnan in The Color Collective. The larger version is hanging in the downstairs hallway.

The hallway door on the left is a closet that houses my fabric stash and beyond is my sewing room.

I’ve been working hard in the last few years to whittle down my stash, and it all fits easily into this closet. The top right shelf on the right is filled with projects I need to make but have not started.

There is a very nice bathroom opposite this closet.

I brought the very comfortable queen blow-up bed with me, and it will be easy to set it up in the sewing room if I have overflow guests. There is the downstairs guest room, and the grey couch in the tv/sitting room is a queen sofa bed, but more privacy would be available for a guest upstairs.

So, there you have it–a tour of the sewing digs.