A Crafter's Life

Quilts for the Quilter (and Crafts for the Crafter)

If you are a quilter (or any type of crafter), likely you make handmade gifts for others. How often does someone make a handmade gift for you?

I know many quilters who make quilts for others but have not had a quilt made for them. A couple of years ago my annual quilt retreat buddies decided we would remedy this, and I decided we would draw names and make a quilt for a secret quilt sister to be unveiled at the next annual retreat.

It was so exciting to receive a quilt from another quilter as a gift. Here is the quilt I received from my secret quilt sister, Kathy. I keep this quilt (you can tell it has been laundered a couple times) on my reading chair:


This is not the first quilt made for me by another quilter, I was lucky enough years ago to have a quilt made for me by my friend Judy (who originally got me into quilting). I keep this quilt up in my studio and the colors make me feel happy and inspire my creativity:


Another sweet item that my quilter friend Judy made me, that I keep in my studio, is a little quilted wallhanging meant to represent us hanging out together shopping for fabric (not that we would ever engage in such costly activities!):


When our beloved miniature schnauzer Fritz passed away, my friend Betty Anne made this lovely recycled silk wallhanging in honor of Fritz’s memory called Zebra Moon, which is now part of our joint The Wardrobe Meets the Wall Collection.zebra_moon-e1399179353531.jpgIn addition to quilter friends who have made me quilts, I am fortunate to have a crafter friend (paper crafts), Michele, who made me this lovely wall art many years before I ever received a handmade quilt! It has been on display in my home for many, many, years:


I love to give handmade gifts and I also love to receive them. I appreciate the time, love, and workmanship goes into making something by hand!


Finnish Fabric Fever!

I love Marimekko Fabric.

Thanks to my dear friend in NYC whose partner is Finnish and travels to Finland at least once a year, I am starting to amass a nice collection of Marimekko Fabric. This Finnish fabric is boldly colored and has large scale and unique modern and Scandinavian designs. I find it so visually pleasing!

I am so completely in love with this fabric that if I were to visit Finland, I would have to bring a large empty suitcase just for my Marimekko Fabric purchases at the outlet in Helsinki!

My friend only is only able to send me a little at a time (she bring back from Finland only what she can transport in her suitcase with her other items). However,  I recently discovered that in NYC there is a Marimekko Flagship store! Next time I visit my friend in NYC, I will have to insist her take me there! I am not sure she will be able to get me out of the store (no, no, no I will remember my commitment to buying less stuff and living with less…maybe…the Marimekko store may need to be an exception).

Below is a photo of my collection to date:


Confession: This fabric is so “precious” I have to admit I have only made one thing with the fabric so far: a small zippered bag for my friend who sends me the fabric.

Studio, tierneycreates


One of the things I enjoy about blogging is it gives me an imaginary sense of accountability: that I need to follow through on my projects so I can post about them!

Here are some recent updates in case you wondered what became of the projects I discussed (hopefully worrying about whether I completed them did not keep you up at night…smile):


In my 11/12/15 post, Terry the *Not” Quilting Husband, I shared that I was going to take a break from quilting and work on handmade holiday cards. I did and finished about 20+ handmade holiday cards using recycled images from “dog of the day” calendars and scavenged items and images from other handmade or professionally manufactured cards. I am not posting photos as I want to respect the copyright on the images which belong to other photographers.

I used heavy cardstock for the cards in red or green and inserted (if I remembered) folded plain white paper to make writing the holiday greeting easier. Some of the cards I decorated with a ribbon tied through the center.

Lesson Learned: do not wait until Thanksgiving weekend to start making handmade cards!


In my 12/6/15 post, What’s on the Design Wall: Backlog, I shared that  I discovered 120+ 6.5 inch log jam blocks (scrappy pieced log cabin style blocks) that I had pieced earlier this year. I added in a couple extra blocks recycled from a friend’s discarded blocks and pieced a king size quilt! I will send it off to the long-arm quilter once I figure out what color to use for the backing. I want to do a solid color back, not a pieced back. I am going to buy some 108″ wide backing fabric for it.

I set the log jam squares to float in khaki-colored Peppered Cottons fabric, which I had listed on my tierneycreates Etsy shop. I decided to pull it from the shop and use nearly the entire remaining bolt of fabric to do the float blocks and wide border. I have a little left of the fabric but not enough to list on the shop any longer.

IMG_3004 (1)


This is a follow up to my post on 11/9/15 – A New Way to Offer my Handmade Items? 

After applying to be considered as an “Artisan” on Handmade at Amazon and having my portfolio reviewed by their selection committee, I was accepted to be an Artisan on Amazon.com’s Handmade at Amazon.

I have several e-mails from Amazon to review and figure out how to set up my Amazon.com shop. I still plan to keep my tierneycreates Etsy shop and I am trying to figure out what to sell through Amazon and what to sell through Etsy. I need to sit down and do some product planning.

Of course, the full-time-healthcare-industry-pay-the-bills gig I have tends to interfere with my handmade item production time!

A Crafter's Life, Thrift Shop Adventures

Granny Square Rescue!

It all began 6 years ago when I attended a neighborhood garage sale and spotted a granny square afghan for $2. I picked it up and studied the amount of work, effort and love that went into making that crocheted blanket. Before I could stop myself, I exclaimed to the seller “Wow, someone put a lot of work into this and you are selling it for only $2? I hope someone does not sell a quilt I made for them for $2!”

The seller/home owner looked at me like I had lost my mind and replied “Well you can pay me more for it if it makes you feel better!”  I gave her the $2 and quickly left the garage sale (before my foot reentered my mouth), but this began my obsession with “rescuing” granny square afghans.

I only daydream someday of making a granny square afghan. I have several craft books about making them (does that count?) but I have yet to make one. I so appreciate the work and craft that goes into making one.

The ones in the photo below are from garage sales and thrift stores. My most recent one (in the upper right hand corner) was a gift from a friend that got it for $1 at a thrift store.

Rescued Granny Square Afghans - all safe and loved in my home
Rescued Granny Square Afghans – all safe and loved in my home
I shudder at the thought that maybe one day one of my quilts that I spent months making (as I am sure these granny square afghans took to make) will be on sale for $1 – $2 at a thrift store or garage sale. Of course all crafters have to remember: Once you give someone a handmade item as a gift, you have to let it release it emotionally – you have no control over what happens to it next.  (It took me awhile to learn this lesson).

As long as they do not become clutter in my home (just how many granny square afghans would be considered “clutter”?), I will keep “rescuing” beautiful granny square afghans and giving them the love and appreciation they deserve!

A Crafter's Life

Happy “Schnolidays”

Every year our Miniature Schnauzers begrudgingly endure an annual holiday photo in front of the Schnauzer (and Dog) Themed Christmas Tree.

This year I want to share this photo (usually taken in poor light while trying to keep the dogs still by bribing them with biscuits) with my readers and wish you all HAPPY SCHNOLIDAYS and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Best Wishes,

Tierney of tierneycreates, Terry (aka “Terry the Quilting Husband”), Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer (Schnauzer Snips) and Mike



Mike: “Seriously, do they do this to us every year?!?!”

Sassy: “Yes and just wait till I write my Schnauzer Snips blog entry about it! Call PETA!”



Studio, What's on the Design Wall

What’s On the Design Wall: Playing with Solids

Interested in experimenting with solids, I made these 6.5 – 8.5 inch pieced blocks a couple of months ago. I recently put them up on the design wall to decide what I wanted to do with them.



I am thinking of making them a series of little decorative modern art pillows to sell on my tierneycreates Etsy shop.

(In addition to the oranges, greens, yellows and purples blocks I did, I also made one with blues and one with reds but I did not like the combination of shades of the blues or reds so they got recycled.)

Books, Music, Podcasts, Studio

Quilter True Confessions


Sloppily sewn down binding.

There, I have confessed.


In my early days of quilting, I was rather impatient with the last stage of completing a quilt – “sewing down binding”. In my mind I was quickly sewing down the binding to the back of the quilt. In reality I was sloppily sewing down the binding to the back of the quilt.

Recently I went to wash an old (my early days of quilting) quilt, and discovered the binding was loose and missing in some areas.

I took a good and honest look at the stitches in the back of this old quilt, and I was APPALLED. Yes that is appalled in all caps because that is how I felt.

As you can see in the image below – on the left side of the rectangle is where the thread left the binding; and on the right side is an example of my sloppy stitching. (Yes, it looks like I was under “some chemical influences” with one eye closed, while I was sewing).


I am going to remove the old binding and redo the entire binding. This time I will carefully sew it down.

I did not realize I had an issue with being sloppy with sewing down binding until a couple of years ago when a friend asked me to help her sew down binding on her quilt. We were at a quilt retreat and in the process of taking a break from sewing and doing the local “quilt shop hop” near the retreat center.

I was sitting in the backseat with a couple other quilters (two were up front and one of the them was driving of course, as we have yet to afford the special QUILTER AUTOMATED VEHICLE that drives you around on its own to quilt shops while you visit with your friends and sew). My friend had a lovely quilt for her son that she was trying to finish and brought along to work on in the car, as it only needed its binding sewn down. So she gave me one end of the quilt to work on while she worked on the other.

She tried to be polite, but she had to remove and redo all the stitches I had done. This is when I realized (as the truth was now starring me in the face): that I need to take sewing down binding more seriously. Binding a quilt deserve the same level of care and patience that goes into piecing a quilt.

I committed to becoming a better “quilt binder” and my quilts over the last couple of years and had high quality binding stitching.

Interesting: once you get into the habit of doing something correct, sometimes you forget what you used to do in the past. I was in shock when I saw what I had done on the old quilt!


Originally when writing this post I was going to title it: “Quilter’s Hall of Shame: Binding”. However ever since listening to the audiobook of Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly (2015) I have no time for the concept or feelings of “shame”. I figure life is a learning and growing experience (for a summary of key insights I gained from reading this book, see my post Life is Nonfiction Part II) and I am not going to fill it with any feelings of shame.


Handmade Ornament Exchange

My Quilting Group had a “Secret Santa” style handmade ornament exchange.

I am not into the traditional Christmas colors of red and green, so I used a non traditional palette of bright green, blue, orange and red.

Inspired by the free form log cabin blocks I like to piece, I made a miniature “log cabin” style block as the ornament.

The recipient has received her surprise, so I can now post these photos!


Panel Quilt

Check out Sassy the Highly Miniature Schnauzer’s latest musing on her Schnauzer Snips page.

My sister loves wolves and I wanted to make her a quick quilt for the holidays. She and her family have been the recipient of many quilts from me over the years. These quilts were more complicated and elaborate quilts that a “panel quilts”.

She loves wolves and I came across this wolf panel a couple months ago and knew it would be an easy quilt to make that would give her a big smile! I finally realized that not every quilt made as a gift needs to be a major project, it is okay to do something quick but thoughtful!

The photo is not the best as I took it in a rush before packaging it up to send it across the country.

She already opened up her gift and loves it, so I can share.


Studio, What's on the Design Wall

What’s on the Design Wall: Backlog

Not all quilters are like me: saddled with a backlog of projects. I know quilters who (they are freaks!) work on ONE project at time, seeing it through completion, and not starting another project until their current project is complete.

My mind does not work that way. I am basically that golden retriever in the movie Up, who says “Squirrel!“when I see a new project to start. I am easily distracted and I tell myself I will get back to the current/previous project eventually.

I was having a bit of creative block on designing a new art quilt and I realize I need to work through my project backlog. So here it is sitting up the cutting table, festering:



In this pile under the cutting table, I discovered 120+ 6.5 inch log jam blocks (scrappy pieced log cabin style blocks) that I had pieced earlier this year. With the assistance of Terry the Quilting Husband, I got them sewn together and now they are on the Design Wall awaiting assembly of the rows.


I have a total of 10 rows with 12 blocks in each row. I am hoping that by floating the pieced blocks in a solid color border, I can make it a twin, full or queen size quilt top. I will post a photo when the top is complete (before it journeys to the long-arm quilter).

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” – Mark Twain

Creative Inspiration

Creative Inspiration: Someone Else’s Photos

This brief post continues my series on Sources of Creative Inspiration.

I do not have the best photography skills, however occasionally take a really good photo, capturing a special moment, and I am really pleased.

I admire people who have a good photographic eye and take photos with strong composition. Sometimes I am creatively inspired by someone else’s photos.

An old friend of mine in New York took this photo and included it in a recent e-mail. I am drawn to this photo and would like to create a future art quilt inspired by this photo!

Autumn Beads November Light by Stephen Mead (2015)

I would love to hear about your sources of creative inspiration!

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton

A Crafter's Life

Featured in National SAQA Ad

I am a member of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Quilt Associates), and in the most recent edition of the SAQA Journal there was a separate insert/form included in the mailing, inviting SAQA members to fill out (what I thought was a survey) a form related to their “Wild About SAQA” campaign and e-mail a photo of yourself, your completed form, and a photo of your artwork.

I thought it was part of a SAQA member registry where other SAQA members could see your survey responses, your photos and a sample of your quilt art. I e-mailed the completed and scanned form; the Tierney photo I use on my blog; and a recent piece Archaeological Dig: The Vessel.

A couple weeks after e-mailing the form and photos, I received an e-mail from a SAQA media representative informing me that my photo, responses and quilt would be featured in the December 2015 issues of Fiber Art Now magazine as an ad for SAQA. She included the pdf mock up of the ad already sent to the magazine for publication.

I am surprised and excited to be featured in an ad in Fiber Art Now. 

(Fiber Art Now is a quarterly magazine for contemporary fiber arts and textiles. The ad is on page 30 of the Winter 2015, Vol. 5., Issue 2 edition of Fiber Art Now)

SAQA ad, Winter 2015 Edition Fiber Art Now
SAQA ad, Winter 2015 Edition Fiber Art Now