Author Archives: Jo

Ask Jo: How I get so much done

The question I get the very most often is how I get so much done.  Seriously..the answer is I try.   There’s more to it than that but that’s the main response.  I try to get a lot done.

I’ll show you a typical day around here.  This was a week day.  My alarm went off at 5:35am like it always does but this day I hit the snooze.  I don’t often do that.  In fact, I hit it twice.  I wasn’t out of bed until 5:55am.  I am not big on makeup.  I took a shower the night before so getting my clothes on and fixing my hair took under 15 minutes so I was in the sewing room by 6:10am.  That left me about 45 minutes to sew…Hmm.  What could I tackle in that time?

Ah…I’ll finish sewing the rows together on the food quilt that I’m gifting.  but wait.  Oops.  I did something wrong.  I set that aside.  I’ll figure that out later.

Hmm.  I had one more row to sew together and add to this…

so I did.  That needs to be ironed and borders and binding need to be cut but I can do that downstairs.  I grabbed a tote, put the things in and set that by the door.

I had an idea for a baby quilt for Buck’s baby.  I don’t think it will take long so I started pulling strings in the color family I wanted.

There…that’s all set up and ready once I get time to work on that.

I do need get neutrals to go with this project.  I want to use white based neutrals with black print as this is going to Mickey Mouse themed so I have none of them.  My fabric is organized but color so I grabbed a bunch for it.
That went into a tote and I set that by the door.

I looked around the sewing room….I looked at the clock.  Shucks.  That’s all I got done before work today.

I “commuted to work”.  For me, that’s a walk down the stairs.  I’m an in home childcare provider so no real commuting for me.  Remember that when you wonder how much I get done in a day.  I have no commute.  Around here a typical one way commute is 20-30 minutes.  So I can sew in time that regular are commuting to work.

I was downstairs about 30 minutes before the kiddos start coming.  A load of wash goes in…the dishes get put away….I prep for the day.  Breakfast, lunch and even supper get planned.  If I can start something for either meal I do that.

The kids start arriving at around 7:15am.  They come in gradually and I work to everyone situated as they arrive.  The bus comes at 7:45am and by 8:30am all the kids are here.

I’ve been doing childcare for years.  Taking care of seven kids is likely easier for me than it is for a grandma to have two kids on a Saturday.  My entire house is set up so the kids can take care of themselves as much as possible.  Once kids are 20 months or so old, they sit at the table to eat themselves.  They help pass out plates and silverware.  They scrap their own plates.

So many of the things we do, I incorporate learning.  The kids helped me bake brownies on this day.  The kids will help me fold their laundry.  I like kids to learn tasks and get the experience of working together.  I use wash clothes for the kids to dry their hands.  The kids help me do that.  So many of the things other in home childcare providers might do outside of work, I do during work as part of learning.

Once we’re done eating, the kids go into routine.  They scrape their plates.  They go to the bathroom, go potty and wash up.  They make their own napping spots and lay down.  All of the toys are already picked up.  Aside from washing down the counters and a little other work, I typically have some time to do my things.

This day I ironed that baby quilt…

I cut the borders and binding.

A blog reader sent this box of bonus triangles.  I’ve kept it in the laundry room to grab if I get more time one day.  Today I had a little time so I started sorting.
The gray triangles in the black tray got sorted.
Then I pulled the 30’s print bonus triangles and ironed them.
I noticed that there are two different sizes so I put them in a tote and will cut and size them up another day over naptime.

I scanned the box quilt and saw there was one grouping of triangle that needed to be sewn.  I put them in the box to take upstairs.  They will sit by my sewing machine and I’ll run them through one day when I have 10 minutes and don’t know what to work on.

I put the bonus triangles box back in the laundry room.

I let the kiddos lay down and watch an episode of television.  Some fall asleep…others don’t.  After about 35 minutes I noticed Carvers wasn’t asleep so I grabbed this.

The lighting is terrible.  The geese are actually orange.  These were left over flying geese that a blog reader sent in a box of scraps.  I pulled them out and sewed them together.    After seeing how it looked, I wished I would have put the middle row of geese pointing the opposite direction.

I had brought it downstairs and put it in the sewing room a week ago.  I was going to grab it and rip out the stitches while I sat by Carver to get him to go sleep.  It would only take 5-10 minutes to rip it apart…about the same amount of time it would take to get Carver to sleep.

Carver was sleeping before I finished.

I put this on the stairs and I’ll sew it together sometime in the near future.  I’ve been contemplating borders…I want it to be a little table topper.  If it was just a little bigger but I don’t have any of the background fabric so I need to think that through.

I went back out to the kitchen.  Everyone was sleeping now.

I could work on this.  A blog reader sent these scraps.  I’m thinking leftover from a jelly roll.  Last week one day I grabbed a bunch of white on white fabrics I had and decided that I’ll cut more half square triangles and make the rest of the fabric into pinwheel blocks.  I’m thinking I might get enough to make a baby quilt.  We’ll see.  That day over naptime I was able to cut the strips and I put the remaining white on white fabric away that night.  I left this on the island with the intention of cutting it out one day at naptime.  I haven’t gotten to it yet.

I could crack this open.  I bought it years ago thinking if Kayla ever had a baby, I’d make this for a car seat blanket.  Well Kayla’s due in January.  I need to get at it.  I brought it down hoping one day over naptime I could read the directions and maybe get the first step planned.

This was here….it’s my bonus triangle project.  UGH.  I have to come up with a border.  I’ve left it here hoping for inspiration.

I also have the white based neutrals with black prints that need to be cut for the baby quilt for Buck’s baby.

Well looking at the time I could see that I might have time for a blog post…or at least start one, so I left all of the projects and started writing the post.

WOW..I never expected to get this far.  Everyone is still sleeping!  WOW!!!  Well I’m off.  I’m going to go finish out my day and I’ll tell you all about in this evening’s post.  This one already has over 15 pictures and for people who are still on dial up (yes many rural people still are) loading this many pictures is going to be a lot.  So stop back tonight and see how I finish out my day…and see how I get so much sewing in.

ROAD TRIP…Karl Style

Karl and I ran away on Sunday.  His birthday was the 5th.  Mine is the 14th so we took off and decided to hang out for the day and live up our common birthdays.  I told Karl I was up for anything.  He could plan the day…and he did.  When Karl plans anything a coffee shop or brewery is always involved.  I knew that but I didn’t know it would involve so many stops….

It’s okay it was a super fun day.

The morning started with a stop in Fayette at the Sweets Cafe.  I told you Karl is into coffee shops and breweries.  Well if the coffee shop is also a bakery, well, bonus points.

I am not a coffee drinker at all.  I can’t do straight up coffee and I never could.  I can do an ice coffee and actually like them and I find I can do a latte.  So I got a latte and Karl got coffee then we picked out five sweet treats and got a sixth one for free.

They were all yummy looking and hard to choose from.

We were back on the road again but not without a selfie first.  Here we are…. Continue reading

Ask Jo: Those White Based Neutrals

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days.

Sharon said, “I love your version of this quilt – it sparkles! I was wondering which ruler you ended up using for this”.

I used the companion angle ruler.

Cindy asked, “What a wonderful one! What size is your unfinished hour glass unit, thank you?”

The blocks finished at 3 1/2″.

Myra wrote, “Still loving the hourglass quilt.  Question…how much thought do give to color placement?  Do you randomly pick two greens, oranges, etc. or do you audition before sewing?”

When I pick that fabric for the quilt, I’m fairly careful.  I don’t pick any green.  Greens can be so picky.  There is lime green, olive green and forest green to name a few.  For this quilt…I used from lime green to primary green.  If it was olivey or foresty green, I didn’t use it.  Pinks went from light to raspberry but I tried to avoid peachy pinks.  I always test that out by laying a piece of white based neutral next to the fabric and a cream based neutral next to the fabric.  I wanted the color to compliment the white based fabric most.

For the Hourglass quilt, being it was bright colors, I didn’t use white based neutrals that have a lot of black coloring in them.  (You know…the kind of black and white neutrals that are in the black and white section of the quilt shop)  I used white that had print colors similar to the print colors in the quilt.

Once the blocks are all made, I do not put them up on a design wall or floor layout.  I try to shuffle the stacks a bit but I just grab and sew them together.  If two fabric fall together so be it.  It bothers me not one ounce.  I know others would be bothered…I’m just not.  I’m sewing for fun not perfection.  If I can avoid them touching I do but if they end up touching I’m okay with that too.

Judith said, “You are seriously into white neutrals Jo. It’s a great looking store. I want to see a close up of the gnome material. What great fun to find what you need”.

I am seriously into neutrals.  I didn’t used to be but that’s changed in the last few years every since I made our “Thanks to You!” quilt.

I made it first in this version…which was done with quite a lot of Civil War scraps.

I later went on and made this version in brights.  I learned that I loved loud and busy background prints.  I’d like to say no white on white fabrics for me but that’s not true either.  I’ll used them and use them often but only if they are mixed with something loud.

I loved the star quilt and later went on to make our Plus Fun quilt that was published in McCalls Quilting Magazine.  Read more about that HERE.

It’s a super easy quilt…just alternate blocks of a plus block and and neutral nine patch block.  It was so fun to make though.

Ruby even liked it….

Carla a blog reader wrote:  “Seeing this quilt (the Hourglass quilt) has made me realize I need to rethink my thoughts on low-value prints. You use a lot of so-called neutrals that actually do contain a lot of color. That whole side of quilting always trips me up.”

It was about when I made the Plus Fun quilt that I realized I needed to rethink what I used for neutrals.  I realized I love loud and busy backgrounds.  Look close at the picture above with Ruby.  Imagine that quilt made with white on white fabric.  It would lose the fun and zest.  I love it busy.

Anyway….I used so much of my fabric stash of white based neutrals up on these two quilts that I started buying white based neutrals whenever I went to fabric stores.  I am a cheapskate without a huge fabric budget and I love lots of variety so I typically only buy quarter yards or fat quarters.  Oh my though, it sure can make a fun quilt!!

This year I have made several quilts with white based neutrals and it’s really took a big hit on my stash.

I made the pink Geese on a String….

I made the purple Geese on a String….

I made the Crooked Courthouse Steps….

I made the Hourglass quilt.

…and I made the Wild Child quilt.

Even that had some fun white based neutrals.

..and I made the Jewel Box quilt.

This one has lots of fun neutrals!!
All of these are have neutrals that SING.  I love it.  Long ago if I went to the quilt store, I could come out with a pretty little stack of Civil War fat quarters.  There wouldn’t have been a neutral in the bunch.  Not anymore…I go to a fabric store and all I buy are neutrals.

I believe that these make the quilt fun and zippy, especially in scrap quilts which is really all I make.  I love pretty much all types and styles of quilts.  I appreciate the work and love that goes into all of them.  But if it’s a quilt I’m making, it’s going to be scrappy and the background prints are going to be a scrappy and busy and loud and a mixture of fun.  So if you find me at the quilt store, I’ll be looking for neutrals…that is if my pocket book can handle it.

Ask Jo: Longarm Quilt Machine Follow Up

I had a ton of responses after last week’s post on my longarm quilting machine.  I have an APQS Millenium that I purchased after having lots of problems with my Pfaff Grand Quilter and Next Generation Frame.   Read the previous post HERE  to get all the details.

Here are some of the follow up comments.

Janet made a comment, “You also have to be physically able to do it (longarming). There is a lot of bending involved.”

This is a very good point.  I had shoulder issues for some time.  Running the quilting machine was really hard on my injured shoulder.  For the most part my shoulder is better now and I’m not having trouble but your physical health is something one should consider when buying a machine.

Many people commented that you should try a machine out before you buy.  Then would be a great time to test how it might be for you physically.  Does it bother a bum shoulder?


Doris G asked, “Where do you buy your longarm quilting patterns? I have a Juki QVP and I love it but I would like to buy more patterns to download on it. ”

ALL of the machine quilting I do is free motion.  I do some custom and some edge to edge.  I do not have a computerized machine.  I do not use pantos so, I have no experience with buying patterns (motifs).
As you can see, I’m no pro but I’m content with the work I do for my own quilts.  This is my custom work.

Because I only do free motion, I don’t buy patterns to download.   However, in the comments Becky said, “Urban Elementz is my source of Pantos and I usually buy thread from Superior Threads and Aurifil. I buy at the Houston Quilt Show for better deals.”

I personally have heard that Urban Elementz is a popular place.


Joanne wrote:  Continue reading