Young Sewers Class – Big Success!

The Barnstable Recreation’s Beginner’s Sewing class just finished last week and these adorable young ladies are obviously proud of their accomplishments.

With assistance from members of the Crazy Quilters Guild and a few other volunteers, the girls honed their skills over a 5-week period and created their own pincushion, Christmas stocking, potholder, table runner and these colorful drawstring backpack bags.

Each time, the girls were allowed to pick their own fabrics. In spite of having a variety of used and/or donated sewing machines that at times didn’t cooperate, everyone worked their way through each project with determination and it was great to see their confidence build each week.

Thank you to Kellie Crawley, Program Coordinator for the Barnstable Recreation Program and her mom, Lori Crawley, Crazy Quilters President for putting this program together and keeping sewing alive in our young people. Many of the students have moved on to the Advanced class where they will complete a small lap quilt.

Reduce Your Fabric Backing

A couple of weeks ago one of our members forwarded a video she saw on the Calico Mermaid Quilt Shop’s Facebook page. I then shared it with our membership. It was a fascinating video showing how you can reduce the amount of backing fabric you need to purchase by cutting your fabric diagonally. Here’s the link on YouTube.

One of our members asked, “That’s great but how do you determine the amount of fabric you actually need to purchased based on the size of the quilt you are making?” Good question! I did a little research on the Calico Mermaid Facebook page and found the formula provided by John Flynn of

I challenge all the math wizards out there to give it a go! Happy Quilting!

A Beautiful Day in the Dresden Neighborhood

Michelle Banton,, was the guest speaker at our October meeting. Michelle is an authorized teacher for the Dresden Neighborhood pattern designed by Kim Lapacek, and has been teaching the design since it was first released in 2015. Michelle also instructed a class for interested Guild members on the Dresden Neighborhood the following day. Unfortunately, since this writer was in the class . . . I forgot to take pictures. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a reveal at one of our future meetings and I can capture everyone’s projects at that time.

Michelle started off her presentation with some of the history of the Dresden plate pattern. The name Dresden originates from the city that lies in the northeast area of Germany. Nearby Meissen was know for it’s porcelain and it is thought that the beautiful painted porcelain plates that were created there became the inspiration for the quilt pattern we know today.

A pattern can be considered a Dresden if the designed is created in a circle, half circle, or even a quarter circle. They can have rounded ends, pointed ends, or pretty much anything in between, as in the Dresden Neighborhood designs.

She explained that the Dresden has also been referred to as Grandmother’s Sunburst, Friendship Ring, Aster, Dahlia and Sunflower but Dresden is the most recognizable and used name. The pattern really started to become popular at the end of WWI and gained speed around the time of the Great Depression in late 1929. Since money was very tight, industrious farming wives began to make clothing and quilts utilizing the fabric sacks, which feed, flour, and sugar came in. Michelle relayed a story that her grandmother passed down to her. She would send her grandfather to the store with directions on what pattern/color sacks to buy, since one sack wouldn’t be enough to make a dress or quilt. In the 1930s Sears and Montgomery Ward companies began selling “cheater panels” printed with Dresdens.

Into the 1930s, younger women considered the Dresden a “fad pattern” and began creating them in bright colors. Women began home machine quilting businesses to supplement income. By 1934, over 400 newspapers were including quilt patterns into their publications but unfortunately, the patterns were created by writers and not quilters so very often they didn’t work.

As part of the Century of Progress theme for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, Sears, Roebuck. & Co. decided to sponsor a national quilt contest and put up $7,500 in prize money. That’s nearly $140,000 today. Margaret Caden was announced the winner but it wasn’t without controversy. Read what happened HERE.

Below are some of the samples Michelle brought along. You can see how varied the Dresden Neighborhood can be; from color wheels to themes of all types, even sizes of the spokes. The pattern calls for using an 18 degree template, which makes 20 spokes. However, by changing the degree of the template you can increase or decrease the number of spokes while also changing their width. The only limit is your imagination.

We want to thank Michelle for her time and patience and would welcome her back to our neighborhood any day!

July is Watercolor Month

You know how pretty much every day and every month has a special holiday, theme, or idea attached to it? Well, recently I learned that July is watercolor month and how appropriate that we had watercolor and pastel artist Carolyn Emerson come and talk to us and share a small sampling of her beautiful works of art!

With her sweet and gentile personality Carolyn explained how her interest in art was sparked by a 6th grade teacher. Although we could see that Carolyn would have succeeded with her natural artistic ability she went on and took art classes in college. At one point in her life she lived in a small rural Virginia community and finding herself a bit bored, went to the local school system and asked if there was anywhere she could volunteer – library, cafeteria, anywhere – she just wanted to be busy.

As it turned out, they didn’t have an art program in their schools and not even knowing Carolyn’s background asked “Would you like to teach art?”. Hence started a new journey and what may be called a career of teaching and exploring her own art interests starting with oils, then moving to watercolors, and now honing her skills in pastels.

Carolyn is encouraging to anyone who would like to try their hand at drawing or painting. She says anyone can do it and recommends the book by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The book has had updates since Carol first used it but feels Ms Edwards’ method can provide even those born without the natural artistic gene can develop the ability to see and create.

There is an exercise in the book that Carol mentioned called Vases/Faces. You can try it yourself on Betty Edwards’ website right HERE. Thank you Carol for visiting us!

Measure Twice, Cut Once

What a great meeting this month! We’re slowly starting to get back to normal. Ten members were present in-person and ten members were watching via Zoom.

Guild members Susan Berteaux and Holly Santangelo provided demonstrations on using specialty rulers and ways to cut flying geese. Both presentations were well received and were found to be helpful in cutting and sewing more complicated pieces. For details and links to products and instructions, go to our EVENTS page.

In addition, the row quilts that members have been working on over the past 8 months were revealed. To view the beautiful and amazing end results, go to our EVENTS page.

Choosing the Right Thread & Needle

One of our members shared an interesting and informative article from the Aurifil blog Auribuzz about selecting the correct thread and needle combination to achieve the results you want. The article features Yvonne Fuchs who describes herself as a “former aerospace engineer turned modern quilter, designer, and technical editor.”  Yvonne has her own blog QuiltingJetGirl.

You may find this article very helpful when taking on your next project, whether it be machine quilting or taking on your first thread painting project.