A Husband’s Thoughts on Quilters and Quilting

I’m not sure whether, some time ago, I posted this here or on another of my blogs. Even if it happens to be a repeat, it is well worth reading again – and laughing! Lots of laughing!

This is a speech given at a conference on quilting (Quilt Canada 2010) by Allan Fradsham, a criminal court judge in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where the conference was held. All quilters will enjoy this, smile, laugh, and nod their heads all the way through! Enjoy!

When, some years ago, Gloria told me that she was going to build upon her years of sewing experience, and take up “quilting”, I thought she was telling me that she was going to take up a new hobby or a new craft. I was completely oblivious to the fact that what she was really announcing was that she was taking up membership in a tightly knit (if you’ll pardon the expression) group of individuals whose loyalty to one another makes motorcycle gang members seem uncommitted, and whose passion for quilting activities makes members of cults look positively disinterested. As is the case with many spouses, I was completely unaware that there existed this parallel universe called quilting.

However, to be completely unaware of a world-wide sub-culture operating right under our noses and in our homes is a bit obtuse even for husbands. But there it is, and here you are. And, most oddly, here I am. You might wonder how all this came to pass; I know I certainly do.

I cannot now identify what was the first clue I detected indicating that Gloria had entered the fabric world equivalent of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. It might have been the appearance of the fabric. Bundles of fabric, mounds of fabric, piles of fabric, towering stacks of fabric. Fabric on bolts, and stacks of small squares of fabric tied up in pretty ribbons (I later learned these were “fat quarters” which to this day sounds to me like a term out of Robin Hood). The stuff just kept coming into the house as thought it were endless waves crashing onto a beach. And then, just like the waves, the most amazing thing happened: it would simply disappear. It was as though the walls of the house simply absorbed it. Metres and metres (or as men of my generation would say, yards and yards) of fabric would come into the house. It would arrive in Gloria’s arms when she returned from a shopping excursion. It would arrive in the post stuffed in postal packs so full that they were only kept together by packing tape (these overstuffed Priority Packs are the equivalent of me trying to fit into pants I wore in law school). These packages would arrive having been shipped from unheard of towns and villages in far away provinces or states or overseas countries (I am convinced the internet’s primary activity is not to be found in pornography; that is just a ruse, the internet’s real function is to facilitate the trafficking and distribution of fabric). Wherever we went, be it in Canada, the U.S., Europe, wherever there was a collection of more than three houses, Gloria would find a quilt shop from which she would pluck some prize from some bin with the enthusiasm and unerring eye of an archaeologist finding a new species of dinosaur.

And of course, the reason that there are quilt shops everywhere is because there are quilters everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. A few years ago, Gloria had been visiting her sister-in-law in Kelowna. While there, she found and purchased a Featherweight sewing machine. I understand that making such a find is a matter of such joy that it may eventually attract government taxation. When it came time to fly back to Calgary, Gloria worried about what the people at airport security would have to say when she tried to take the machine onto the plane. She need not have been concerned. Now, airport security takes pride in preventing me from carrying onto a plane a small squirt of toothpaste left in a rolled up toothpaste tube if the tube in which it is lodged did at some point in the distant past, contain a prohibited amount of toothpaste. My spot of toothpaste is a national security threat. However, when it came time for Gloria to go through security with the Featherweight, which is made of metal and has needles in secret compartments, airport security came to a standstill. Why? Were they about to confiscate the machine, and detain the person who dared to try to board with it? Of course not. They gathered around it in awe and admiration, asking Gloria questions about where she had found it, and expressing admiration for her good fortune in finding it. And why did Gloria get such warm treatment when I am shunned for trying to maintain some degree of oral hygiene? Well, the answer is obvious; the assembled airport security staff were all quilters, complete with the secret handshake.

Maybe I should have twigged to what was happening when the washing of all this fabric led to having to replace our washing machine, which was clearly not designed for such industrial use. Now, let me pause here. I understand that there is an intense debate within your world about whether or not fabrics should be washed upon purchase. I do not wish to be caught in any cross-fire between the two camps, for all I know, as an outsider, I may not be authorized to even know of the controversy. I do suspect that if men were making the decision, quilting would involve lot less fabric washing and a lot more beer drinking.

I did eventually discover where all the fabric went. It went into drawers, cupboards, shelves, and, eventually it completely filled up a closet, which took up one full wall in Gloria’s newly built “sewing room”. What we now call Gloria’s “sewing room”, we used to call “the basement”.

I have discovered that one of the art forms mastered by quilters is the ability to purchase container loads of fabric, conceal it in the house, and camouflage the purchase so that it slips right under the nose of the unsuspecting spouse. As a loving and obedient spouse, I have on many occasions found myself in quilt stores where I serve two useful functions: I can reach bolts of fabric stored on top shelves; and I can carry numerous bolts of fabric to a cutting table. However, I have also started to listen to what is said in quilting stores, and one day, in a little quilting shop in the heart of Alberta farming country, I heard something that made it clear to me that quilters are so clever and, dare I say, devious, that there is really no sport for them in fooling we naive husbands. Gloria had decided to buy some fabric (which is similar to saying that Gloria had decided to breathe), and had gone to the till to pay for it. Upon running through Gloria’s charge card, the clerk quietly said, “Now, when you get your credit card statement, don’t be alarmed when you see an entry for our local feed store. We run our charges under that name so that if a husband looks at the credit card statements, he will think that the entry is just something he bought at the feed store for the farm”. That sort of financial shell game would make Goldman Sachs proud. I knew at that moment that there had been a major and probably irrevocable shift in the world’s power structure. I concede it is basically over for the non-quilting husband.

As you have been told, I sit as a criminal law judge, and as such I often find myself sitting on drug trials, or issuing search warrants in relation to drug investigations. I must say that the more I learned about the quilting world, the more I started to see similarities between that world and the drug world. It has caused me some concern.

We all interpret events from our own perspectives using the lessons we have learned through life. When I saw the extent to which Gloria’s collection of fabric was growing, I began to worry. In the law relating to drugs, the amount of a drug one has in one’s possession is an important factor in determining the purpose for which the person has the drug. For example, if a person is in possession of crack cocaine (to use a drug with an addictive power equivalent to fabric), one look at the amount of crack the person possessed. If the amount exceeds the amount one would realistically possess for personal use, then one may reasonably draw the inference that the purpose of the possession is not personal use, but, rather, it is for the purpose of trafficking the drug. So, you can imagine what I thought when I saw Gloria’s collection of fabric grow to a point where she readily admitted that she could never use all that fabric in several lifetimes. I reluctantly concluded that I was married to a very high-level fabric trafficker. Mind you, in order to qualify as a trafficker, one does have to part with fabric, and I see very little evidence of that happening.

In fact, the more I thought about the parallels between the quilting culture and the drug culture, the clearer the similarities became. Consider the jargon. I have learned that this vast collection of fabric, which is stored in our house, is a “stash”. Well, drug dealers speak of their “stash” of drugs. Gloria speaks of doing “piece” work. In the drug world there are often people who bring together the crack cocaine dealer and the buyer; think of a real estate agent, but not as well dressed, through perhaps somewhat less annoying. Those people speak of breaking off a “piece” of crack as payment for bringing the parties together. Sounds to me like a type of “piece work”. Those who transport drugs are often called “mules”; I have frequently heard Gloria refer to me as her mule when I am in a quilt store carrying stacks of fabric bolts (or did she says I was stubborn as a mule?). Well, it was something about mules. And I should think that this whole conference is a testimony to the addictive qualities of quilting.

In my role as a Sherpa, I have accompanied Gloria on various quilting expeditions, and I have been impressed by many things. One is, as I have mentioned, that no matter where one goes, there will be a quilt store. The proliferation of quilt shops makes Starbucks outlets seem scarce. One day Gloria led me into a hardware store, which seemed odd to me, that is until I discovered that, as I walked towards the back of the store, the store had become a quilt shop. The metamorphosis was extraordinary, and very crafty (if you will pardon the pun). At that moment, I knew how Alice felt as she followed that rabbit down the rabbit hole. Suddenly, one was in a different universe.

Another thing I have learned is that the operators of quilt shops have great business acumen. In one of Gloria’s favourite shops, upon entry I am greeted by name and offered a cup of coffee. If the grandson is with us, he is allowed to choose a book to take home. It is all so friendly that I don’t even notice that I cannot see over the growing pile of fabric bolts which fill my arms. I wish that my doctor did such a good job of distracting me when it is time to do a prostate exam.

I have learned that quilting is both international in scope and generous in spirit. I have learned that quilters are quick to assist those in need, and that they have always been prepared to stand up for what is right. For example, I think of Civil War quilts, which often conveyed messages about the Underground railway for slaves escaping to Canada. I think of the One Million Pillowcase Challenge, and the Quilts of Valour project. At one point, I thought of suggesting the creation of an organization akin to “Doctors Without Borders”, but decided that an organization called “Quilts Without Borders” would indeed be illogical.

And of course, there are the resultant quilts. We have quilts throughout the house. They adorn beds, chesterfields, the backs of chairs. They are stacked on shelves, they are stored in drawers, they are shoved under beds, they are hung on walls. There is even one on the ceiling of the sunroom. They compete for any space not taken up with the fabric, which will eventually result in more quilts. I live in a cornucopia, which disgorges quilts instead of produce. I have decided that quilts are the zucchini of crafts. But who can complain? Quilt seriously, each one is a work of art, and an instant family treasure. While family members and friends are delighted to receive them, I churlishly begrudge seeing them go out the door.

Though I tease Gloria about the all-consuming nature of her obsession, I am constantly amazed at the skill necessary to create those works of art. I stand in awe as I watch her do the mathematics necessary to give effect to (or correct) a pattern. When she quilts, she combines the skill of an engineer, a draughtsman, a seamstress, and an artist. Her sewing machines require her to have, as she does, advanced computer and mechanical skills. She knows her sewing machines as well as any Hell’s Angel knows his Harley. She uses measuring and cutting tools and grids, which would challenge the talents of the best land surveyors.

In short, I am very proud of what Gloria does, as each of you should be proud of your own skills and creations. They are impressive and very evident at this Conference. On behalf of those of us who wouldn’t know a binding from a batting, I simply ask that when you finally and formally announce that you have already taken over the world that you find some simple tasks for us to do to justify our existence. You might call those tasks… the QUILT PRO QUO.

Gloria and I very much appreciate your warm hospitality this evening.

In closing, the hotel management has asked me to remind you that those found cutting up the table cloths for quilting fabric will have their rotary cutters confiscated and forfeited to the Crown.

Bountiful Harvest – Island Batik

September’s Island Batik theme was Bountiful Harvest and our quilts were to be table toppers. Unfortunately, I missed it because of a problem with my leg that didn’t allow the use of my sewing machine for too long a while. I have finally caught up with that assignment!

I used Island Batik’s Precut Strips to create this Harvest scene. Unusual, I know, but I chose leaves for my Harvest because they are so important and useful.

  • They are like gold to organic gardeners because they provide so many nutrients.
  • Mow over them several times and the results make a good mulch.
  • Use them as a weed barrier when planting.
  • They are fun for children to play with.
  • They make a lovely crunching sound when you walk on them.
  • They are beautiful.
  • They can be added to compost piles.
  • Children can have fun collecting, pressing them (by placing them between the pages of a heavy book for a few days), identifying them, and save them in notebooks – and/or place the leaves between 2sheets of waxed paper and press them briefly with an iron for a few seconds. Allow to cool, then cut them out.

Can you think of more uses and reasons for appreciation? Leave a comment with your suggestions, please.

Starting from the top of my runner, the first strip, to my mind, was just perfect for a wonderful evening sky. The next provided the forest that dropped all those leaves into the meadow below. Island Batik’s Precut Strips are not only beautiful, they are very hand to work with. The leaves were raw-edge appliqued and I used a variety of fabrics from a variety of Island Batik fabric lines. I had fun creating it!

Bountiful Harvest



New Beginnings! – An Island Batik Blog Hop!

Island Batik‘s New Beginnings Blog Hop started yesterday. New Beginnings – a perfect theme for the first month of a New Year! We Ambassadors were given the theme and the direction to interpret it in any way we wished. It’s going to be an amazing month of gorgeous fabrics and quilt projects!

Don’t miss the first day of the Hop! Barbara Douglas of Stone Cottage Designs started us off with a great project yesterday! Be sure to click on that link to visit her.

Several quilters participated in today’s Hop. Be sure to check the schedule below and visit them, too! Check our schedule on a daily basis. You won’t want to miss a single one! You won’t want to miss the chance to win some wonderful prizes, either! I will see you here on January 23rd which will be my turn.

Hop Schedule & Fabric Lines

January 9  – Coastal Mist
Stone Cottage Quilts 

January 10 – Dotalicious

Vicki’s Crafts and Quilting


Inchworm Fabrics

January 11 – Drizzle
Webster Quilt

January 12 – Fifi and Fido plus Happy Hounds
Mary Mack Made Mine
Quilting Affection

January 13 – Fresh Catch
Bejeweled Quilts by Barb

January 16 – Glowing Embers
Purrfect Spots Designs

January 17 – Lake Life
Freemotion by the River

January 18 – River’s Edge
Ark Angel Creations
Jennifer Sewing

January 20 – Blushing Blooms
Desert Bloom Quilting

January 23 – Gone Fishin’
Maria Michaels Designs (That’s me!)

January 25 – Surf and Sand
Linda Pearl


January 26 – Twilight Blush
KISSed Quilts

January 27 – Happy Harvest
For Quilts Sake

Monday, January 30 – Jolly Holly
Connie Kauffman

January 31 – Frost
MooseStash Quilting

February 1 – Merry and Bright
Patchwork Breeze

Sally’s Quilting Corner

The Winners!

The Winners of our Island Batik, ‘Tis the Season Blog Post are:

Barbara Winkler and Vicki in MN!

Congratulations to you both! Please visit my Craftsy Pattern Store where you can each choose the pattern you would like. Leave a comment here indicating your choice and I’ll email them to you.

Thank you for taking part in the contest!

The Winners!

The Winners of our Island Batik‘Tis the Season Blog Post are:

Barbara Winkler and Vicki in MN!

Congratulations to you both! Please visit my Craftsy Pattern Page where you can each choose the pattern you would like. Leave a comment here indicating you choice and I’ll email them to you.

Thank you for taking part in the contest!

The Winners

The Winners of our Island Batik, ‘Tis the Season Blog Post are:

Barbara Winkler and Vicki in MN!

Congratulations to you both! Please visit my Craftsy Pattern Page where you can each choose the pattern you would like. Leave a comment here indicating you choice and I’ll email them to you.

Thank you for taking part in the contest!

‘Tis the Season – with Island Batik

We Island Batik Ambassadors are very privileged! We have the joy of working with their beautiful fabrics and also the pleasure of getting to know and keep in touch with all the wonderful and talented Ambassadors.

This year, as you Dear Readers have realized, we’ve been given a new assignment every month. This month’s is truly appropriate for this special time of year. It’s about the spirit of giving and it truly ‘Tis the Season!

In the past, I have mostly quilted for family and friends and knitted warm winter hats for Street Kids. However, thanks to The Quilt Pattern Magazine’s Kennel Quilt Program, I have also made and donated some Kennel Quilts and have a few dozen tops ready to layer, pin baste, quilt, and finish in the New  Year.

At this time of  year, many quilt groups make placemats for Meals on Wheels to distribute at Christmas time. Having a friend who is a volunteer for Meals on Wheels serving the Jewish community, I was happy to make and donate some Chanukah placemats for the past 2 years.

Thanks to Island Batiks December assignment, I began searching for a cause with the plan of continuing with it throughout the coming yeear. There are so many worthy places and people in need that it can be a difficult decision. After looking through them all, I chose the Canadian branch of Project Linus. (For those of you in the U.S. there is, of course, a Project Linus for you, too.) For those in the Oakville and surrounding area of Southern Ontario, contact Margaret Martingano for more information. Phone: 905-829-2819  Email: mmartingano@cl-na.com

There are many reasons why I like Project Linus, just a few of which are:

  1. It is run entirely by volunteers.
  2. Volunteers are known as blanketeers. They donate new, handmade, washable blankets which are given as gifts to seriously ill and traumatized children from newborns and preemies through the age of 17.
  3. Not only quilters can create and donate. Those who knit and crochet can, too.
  4. Quilters can make quilts for them in a variety of sizes. Examples are:
  • 15 to 20 inch squares for newborns and preemies.
  • 20 to 24 inch squares for babies from newborn to 6 months.
  • 24 inch and up to 35 inch squares for babies from 6 months to 1 year.
  • 35 x 45 inches or approximate sizes like 40 x 50 inches for toddlers
  • 40 x 50 inches or approximate sizes for ages 5 to 9.
  • 40 x 60 inches for Tweens or approximate sizes.
  • 40 x 65 to 70 inches for teens in the 14 to 17 year-old category, or approximate sizes.

The smaller sizes are quickly and easily done. The larger ones are very easily doable sizes as well, so be sure to click on the links above to learn more about Project Linus, to find your closest chaper, and to start quilting and giving (or knitting and crocheting – or if, like me, you also knit and crochet, why not do all three!)

Because December is such a busy month, I started small by making a quilt for a baby boy and another for a baby girl in the 20-inch-square sizes for preemies and newborns. Before working with Island Batik fabrics, I had never used a precut. It was great fun to start using them now!
I chose some for each quilt and finally got to use a pattern I’d seen and long wanted to try.
Here they are.

I also made the toddler size in another pattern I’ve seen, liked, and have wanted to try. It’s not finished. It is spread over an armchair because you see, I wasn’t fast enough. My husband started Christmas decorating right after I took the first two photos, so now there is no place to hang the quilts for photos. He has “dibs” on all the walls! – This next quilt and the one below it are just quilt tops at the moment. I’ll finish them as quickly as possible, then donate, them.
Aren’t the Island Batik Charm Packs delightful? The ones I used are all 42 pieces from the Seashore Collection. Finished, it will be the 35 x 35 inch size for babies from 6 months to 1 year of age.

This quilt top is in the teen size. I used a variety of strips from Island Batik’s Strip Sets.
One of them was the French Roasted line. The large squares with sea and fish are from the Island Batik Gone Fishin’ Line. Be sure to click on the link above and view all of the luscious precuts! If your local quilt shop doesn’t have them, ask them to order for you. Of course,  you can also shop for them at your favourite online shops, too.

Do you quilt, knit, or crochet for charitable purposes? Tell us about what you do and for whom, along with your stories about them. Provide links if you can. I’ll choose 3 winners. After the winners are announced, they can tell me whichever of my patterns in my Craftsy Pattern Store they would like, after which I’ll email the patterns to them. Winners will be chosen on December 30th, so be sure to tune in then!

Christmas in July (in December)


Christmas in July? I can hear you saying, “But it’s December!”

You must be wondering what I am thinking!

Those who read, subscribe to, and follow my blog may remember the reason. For those who don’t know, both my sewing machines failed me that month (tension gone so I couldn’t complete my Island Batik Ambassador projects for July). By the time my machines were back and in working order, it was difficult to find the time to complete the projects missed. This is my first “catch-up” session.

I had worked on 2 projects for Christmas in July. One was a Kennel Quilt for which only the top had been done. Here it is again completely finished. It’s hard to tell the difference between that earlier photo and this one. I assure you though, it is finished and quilted. (I decided to quilt-in-the-ditch for this one.) Those beautiful batiks you see are part of the Holiday Happenings line from Island Batik.  –  Be sure to click on the links provided to learn more about The Quilt Pattern Magazine’s Kennel Quilt Program. You will enjoy participating!


The second project, seen back in July, was just the center of my Merry Christmas wall hanging. Here it is all done.

merrychristmasIn finishing it, I appliquéd a cluster of holly leaves and berries to the bottom right corner. My quilting is outlines of holly in green thread, as you can see.

I’ll catch up with my Bountiful Table Topper – August’s project – after Christmas.
Right now, I’m busy finishing up this month’s project, which I hope to blog about later this week. Stay tuned!

Quilts for Sales’ Last Few Hours of Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales!

There are only a few hours left on our fantastic sales with quilts up to 50% off!

Don’t lose the chance for these tremendous bargains!

Click here to view our extended Black Friday Sales.

Click here to view our extended Cyber Monday Sales.

The quilts on sale for Cyber Monday and Black Friday are different from one another, so be sure to look through both!


Island Batik’s Winter Wonderland

Welcome to Island Batik‘s Winter Wonderland!

This month, we Island Batik Ambassadors were given it as our theme. Of course, Winter Wonderland conjures up many images. First, for me, is one of snow covering the ground and tree branches laced with the fluffy flakes and evergreens dressed in their beautiful best. Snowmen too, of course! However, winter and Christmas always go together for me, so although we already had Christmas in July, Christmas is what came immediately to mind for me.

Island Batik Ambassador, Nan Baker of Purrfect Spots, and I were talking about, and looking at, Christmas decorations when I spotted one I’ve wanted to make for  years, but just never did get around to doing – Folded Fabric Ornaments.  Perfect, I thought, for my Winter Wonderland assignment! I have finished 5 of them and have 4 more partially made. Here are the finished ones. I must say that I love them. They quickly become addictive! They are very pretty in Island Batik‘s Winter Collections. I used the option of sewing some special buttons to their centers – a snowflake, a heart, an evergreen, etc. Here are some photos and if you scroll all the way down, you will find a video instruction on how to make them.


Here are some closeups.



Here is another ornament – a lovely Cathedral Window Ornament by Jane Lay.
I added a button to it, too. As you can see, it’s a little evergreen tree.
You will find the pattern in the December 2012 issue of
The Quilt Pattern Magazine (TQPM) where you can purchase it as a back copy.




Be sure to visit all our other Island Batik Ambassador’s pages! Scroll through their blog entries for this month to see their special designs for Winter Wonderland. You’ll be inspired by everything elsee on their blogs, too!


Bejeweled Quilts

For Quilts Sake

Freemotion by the River

Fun Threads Designs

Happy Cottage Quilter

Kauffman Designs

KISSed Quilts

Lemon Tree Snippets

Made In Scraps

Mary Mack Made Mine

Moose Stash Quilting

One Quilting Circle

Pamela Quilts

Patchwork Breeze

Purrfect Spots Designs


The Fit Quilter