A year ago next week I published my first ever blog post. Next week will be number 52. Fifty-two, folks! Whoo-hoo! That was the goal—a post a week, every Saturday, every week. And it’s been a fantastic ride.

A couple months ago I realized that this anniversary would fall on the weekend I would be in Houston for the premier of my special exhibit, “Specimens,” at the International Quilt Festival. How appropriate is that? What a way to celebrate. There’s even a special evening of food, music, and dance that Saturday night at the Festival! I doubt it was arranged to celebrate my blog anniversary, but I’ll pretend it was. Got my tickets already.

I’ve been anticipating (correctly) that I wouldn’t have much time to write a post while preparing for my trip to Houston nor during the Festival itself, so I wondered what I could set-up ahead of time and have ready to post for those weeks.

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This catalog of all twelve “Specimens” quilts (the eleven in the show plus “Polka Dodo” who is traveling in another show) will be available at my exhibit table in Houston. Later this month, it will also be for sale on my new (and improved) website.

So, while I’m at the Festival, on November 5, look for a special post for those of you who can’t attend in person, or as a reminder for those who can. I have gathered the “Specimens” quilts all into one blog post for a special virtual tour of the exhibit. I plan to add a few bits about the experience of the show as a whole and links to any Facebookposts I make during those days. Exciting stuff!

Meanwhile, for this week’s blog post of reflection and celebration, my husband suggested I take the television comedy strategy. You know what I mean. Back when “Family Ties” or “Mork and Mindy” or “Happy Days” hit the summer hiatus, they’d do an episode that was made up of flashbacks.

Well, I prefer to think of it as a “Greatest Hits” compilation. Call it what you will.

What follows are the top ten blogs from the last year, arranged in order–first to last–of their popularity based on number of views. This is a very unscientific way of choosing the “best posts,” I realize, as the older the post the more chance it has of being read, but nonetheless, the list does make a certain amount of sense, to me at least.

Shortly after starting this blog, I was contacted by an extremely well-intentioned quilter who expressed concern that the length and depth of my blogs would cause me to burn out. After all, blogging is a marathon not a sprint. The number one goal is to turn out quality information at a consistent rate. Once you have a reader’s attention you don’t want to disappoint them by missing a posting. Her advice, which I have heard elsewhere as well, was to make the entries shorter and perhaps break the information into multiple posts. I didn’t so much ignore that advice as I was simply unable to envision the topics in any other way. In my mind they are whole and don’t lend themselves to simplification or serialization.

Of course, I have a secret weapon as well. My husband, Tom, does much of the heavy lifting by helping to write and collect and edit images. Usually, he interviews me, writes that first draft, and we go from there. Very collaborative.

But another thing that helps keep me (and Tom) from burning out is you, the readers. Your comments and questions tell me that what I’m doing is valuable and appreciated. With that sort of support I believe the next year of blog posts (the next goal) can be as good or even better.

So, thank you. See you next week—either here or in Houston!


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1. Making a Pattern for a Fabric Collage Quilt

Quilters by definition are a do-it-yourself bunch. They want to know how something is done. They are used to working with patterns, so I think this post fit right into the comfort zone of many. This is one of several posts that I now assign as “homework” before I teach a class. I have found that students seem better prepared and struggle less at the beginning.


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2.Why Color Is Irrelevant

This post on value is one of the most theoretical I wrote, though I tried to back it up with lots of examples. The intentionally provocative title caught a lot of attention, I think. This is another post that I assign my students to study before coming to class. Training students to identify dark and light areas is one of my biggest challenges. Making them familiar with the topic helps me in class.


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3. Why Glue?

For years I have been fielding questions about why and how I use glue in my fabric collage quilts. This blog attempts to answer them all. How much glue? Doesn’t it make the quilt stiff? Why not use fusible instead? These are all valid and important inquiries. Assigning this as homework, especially for first-timers is a must.


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4. An Eye for an Eye

Sometimes the most obvious approach to a technique is not the best. My approach to creating features such as eyes is counter-intuitive. Based on a in-class demo I do, this technique makes best use of the pattern students have spent so much time and energy creating.


5. Quilt Stories: “Dixie Dingo Dreaming

The post of making the quilt of our dear departed dog Pippin is the most popular in my series “Quilt Stories.” I think it was particularly successful because of the combination of how-to and narrative. I took a lot of photos during the creation of the quilt, giving me lots of good examples to show. The story of Pippin and her place in our family, and how the quilt reflects that time in our lives, is woven into the post as well.


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6. Making a 20-Foot Crocodile Quilt: Part 1 of 3

My first blog post has of course the advantage of being the oldest and thus has had the longest to accumulate views from readers. However, this will always be an extra special post as it introduced “Crocodylus Smylus” to the world. It’s not every day that I create a life-size 20-foot long quilted crocodile. The second part in this series of 3 contains a time lapse of the collage piecing of the quilt.


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7. “Bird by Bird”: How I Use a Book on Writing to Teach Fabric Collage

Inspiration is a precious resource, yet that’s part of what I try to provide my students. When my own tanks are running low, I sometimes enlist the aid of Ann Lamott, whose book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, contain some of the best advice any artist could hope to find.


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8. In Progress: Marabou Stork 2

Readers seem very interested in watching how a quilt progresses, the challenges and discoveries. This post especially lays out how I sometimes make major changes midway through the creation of a quilt. It’s comforting, I think, to watch someone go through that process and to realize that it’s a natural part of making art.


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9. Sort It Out: Organizing Fabric

Quilters tend to collect fabric even if they have no use for it yet. While I don’t own a huge volume of fabric, I do own a wide variety of small pieces of fabric. I think the favorite trick that I have for storing scraps of fabrics is using those clear plastic containers that baby lettuce comes in at the grocery store. Lots of readers wrote in with their own strategies, so be sure to check out the comments section.


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10. The Finish Line: Completed Student Work 1

I have a series of blogs based on my teaching travels called “On the Road.” There I post lots of classroom photos that feature the in-progress projects of my students. So I must have built up some demand to see the completed versions. This first installment inspired me to make “The Finish Line” a regular series.

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