The $6.00 Sunbonnet Sue Project

Oh eBay! You can find the most interesting things on eBay… This twin Summer Weight Bed Coverlet was listed at $6.00 and I was the only bidder. When it arrived I was pleased to find it was relatively in good condition, a few stains here and there and only 2 fabric areas that were worn/torn.

The hand applique stitch around each of the girls and the pink flowers is dark grey and as such, I was careful not to soak the coverlet too long for fear of the floss fading.

 The light pink outer border was terribly faded on one of the long sides but this was an easy fix by just replacing the entire border.


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If you’re not familiar with Summer Weight Bed Coverlets, they essentially are quilt tops with all the seams “finished” as to not unravel. They are only one layer, no batting and backing and no quilting. They are intended to be the top most covering of a bed during the warm summer months. This coverlet maker used French Seams and I had a dilemma… do I hand-pick out all the stitching so I can iron everything out flat or do I chance quilting over what is essentially 5 layers of fabric? Let me also mention the sewing machine stitches were around 12-14 to the inch. I left the French Seams intact.

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My backing fabric is natural medium weight double wide muslin that had been laundered. The batting is white Hobbs Heirloom 80/20. Now…do not quilt when you’re sleep deprived: 1. I cut the first batting too narrow and had to cut a second and… 2. as I worked my way down the quilt doing all the Stitch in the Ditch work I discovered that I’d loaded the backing fabric sideways. I was 8″ shy of having enough fabric. There’s a pretty easy method of adding backing fabric so after that task was completed I finished the ditch work and was ready to do the quilting. I used WonderFil Invisafil color #105 in the needle and their Deco Bob color #112 in the bobbin. I used, for the first time ever, WonderFil Deco Bob pre-wound bobbins, loved them!


I loaded the quilt on the longarm with the intentions of not doing feathers. I looked at the quilt for a few hours and changed my mind.

The 3 circles drawn below dictated the parameters of the feather wreath to come, the 2nd of the 3 is the guide for the vein of the wreath.


But how did I get the large circles consistent throughout the quilt top? Below you’ll see the 4 tools necessary: an 18″ ruler, a modified draftsman’s compass, a blue fine line marking pen and a modified Dasco Pro 1405 Beam Compass. The Dasco Pro used to be available at Home Depot, but friends tell me now they go online and order them on Amazon. They are remarkably affordable at under $20.00.


The first step in circle placement is to find the center of the block and I did so by drawing a line connecting opposing corners.

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I then established the size of the largest/outside circle by using the Dasco tool. Once this outside circle size was determined, I made no more adjustments to the Dasco. This set things up to have each feather wreath throughout the quilt the same size.


The additional 2 circles were small enough I could use the modified draftsman compass.


In order to keep everything consistent, once I drew the 3 circles on a block I made a gauge or template from a sheet of typing paper as an easy reference. This way I did not have to stop and measure each time I had to re-adjust the smaller draftsman’s compass.


Circles drawn, quilting underway. You can see that the large outside circle set my parameters for how big to quilt the feathers, the middle circle is the guideline for the feathering “vein” and the inner circle sets the edge for quilting the inside feathers.



Once each Sue had its Feather Wreath, I went back and marked a single circle-to represent the feather wreath vein-on each of the large pink appliqué flowers.


With the Sues and the pink flowers quilted I had another issue… The green arrows below show large open spaces I was uncomfortable leaving un-quilted. There was quilting in the block ditch but I didn’t feel this was enough.


Using a plastic 3 ring binder found at one of the “Dollar” stores, I cut off the front and back to use the plastic as templates. I’ve shown the blue plastic binder below so if you go shopping you’ll know what to look for, they come in many colors.


I laid the orange plastic over the pink flower, traced around it with a medium point Sharpie. What I’m not showing you is that when I actually used the Sharpie I laid a large piece of clear vinyl down first to protect against an accidental hick-up with the Sharpie marking pen!


I cut out the orange plastic and now had a correct sized template.


At each open area, I strategically placed the orange template where needed and traced  around it with a fine line blue marking pen.


And then I quilted the area as though it were a pink applique flower:


In the picture below, all the quilting is finished, wish I had a spot in the house where the lighting was better. How did it go quilting over the French Seams? Piece of Cake! I have an Innova!


Here’s a nice close-up showing the undulating feather borders:


And of course no quilting blog is complete without a couple of pictures of the back:



This was such a fun project! Every other Sue holds a small bouquet of flowers, each one has bonnet streamers and a bow and most have their dresses quilted with a bit of decorative stitching.

Sunbonnet Sue is ready to be trimmed and bound! The total quilting time on this project was 27 hours, 25 minutes.



So what happened to my Vintage Pink and Green Lawn embroidered project shown below? (It was the subject of my blog post in November.) During the final soak a portion of the old black satin embroidery floss literally disintegrated! I repaired the piece and may very well get it loaded onto the longarm by weeks end.



***House update: Floor tile tomorrow! This is a major step and we are thrilled! We’re looking at mid February to have all the work finished.

Until my next post, happy quilting!





A new project in the works!

I’m shifting gears while my vintage linens quilt is still on the longarm. The quilting is finished, my dilemma is that I do not have a large enough area to take it off the machine, lay it out and trim to bind. I have a plan: using my channel locks I’m going to put a light pink thread in the needle and baste top/down one side/across the bottom/up the remaining side, remove from the longarm and lay out on the king bed. I’ll lay a medium size cutting mat underneath the quilt and trim to size via scissors. If anyone sees the folly in this let me know asap!

In the mean time I’ve started a new project to keep me busy when I’m not binge-learning EQ8.

Meet vintage summer weight bed coverlet:


Are you familiar with the garment fabric called Lawn? For a very good short article on this fabric: click here. Lawn is remarkably thin/light weight. I’m showing it here laying atop a white bedspread.


Purchased on Ebay sometime earlier this year, I was very pleased when it was delivered to my home. Now, let me say “my-oh-my was this item dirty”! So dirty in fact that I could hardly wait to wash my hands each time I worked on the unfinished embroidery. Not particularly stained dirty, just full of the dust and grime from the passage of time. That rhymed! Be warned, I will be addressing poetry again further down in this post…


This arrived from the Ebay seller with about 90% of the hand embroidery completed. A quick trip to ABC Stitchery in Spring, Tx allowed me to purchase the right Satin DMC colors to finish the project. Oh goodness! After doing the embroidery work for the first time with the satin floss I believe the original creator of this work most likely died of frustration. Satin embroidery floss is horrible to work with! Sure, it looks great but she did THE ENTIRE PROJECT with this crazy stuff!



The sides of the piece were cut so the green Lawn fabric salvage was the edge. The top and bottom were beginning to fray so I serged an edge using care so as not to serge/cut the fabric, only the threads that had come loose.




The overall condition of the piece (minus the dust and grime) was excellent. There are maybe 5 or 6 of these little less than 1/4″ spots on the piece. I am thrilled that they are not rust!


Remember earlier I said there was more poetry to come? There are tiny, and I do mean tiny little holes in 4 or 5 places. I’m assuming they are areas where tiny little creatures (silverfish?) munched. So, think back to your childhood…what internationally famous poem about munching insects comes to mind?

The Termite 
by Ogden Nash
Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.


With the hand embroidery finished and the raw edges serged, it was time to think about how to clean this beauty. As the piece has a lot of black satin embroidery floss, I was concerned about the floss fading onto the pink and/or green Lawn. Blue Dawn dishwashing detergent to the rescue! You might know that Dawn (the blue original Dawn) acts in the same manner as Synthropol in that it binds errant dyes in the soak water, hampering them from re-attaching to the fibers/fabric.


The picture below is the water after the piece had been submerged only about 20 seconds!


Here’s how horrible the soak water looks after 2 minutes! Yikes! Like I said, this piece was dirty!


I let the piece soak in the first tub of water about 10 minutes, drained, lightly rinsed in warm tap water and put it into a second tub of Dawn soak water. Once again, the water is just horrible. I will continue this process all morning until the soak water is clear and clean.

I just realized that I have no place to lay this piece out to dry. Hm….. I’ll have to think on that for the rest of the morning. It very well may have to be draped over a shower curtain rod.

So what will I do with this beautiful piece when it’s clean? I will lay it atop a solid very light pink cotton quilting fabric, double batt, Hobbs white 80/20 and also their Poly Down and use the same light pink solid fabric as backing. Get everything loaded on the longarm (Innova) and quilt! What thread will I use? WonderFil of course! At this point I’m not sure if I’ll use Deco Bob which is 80 weight or go with Invisafil at 100 weight. I’ll keep you posted!

***house update: I’m pulling out my hair trying to find a stacked stone for the fireplace wall:


Until next time, blessings to all and happy quilting,



The quilting is finished!

Oh happy day! I finished the quilting early yesterday afternoon, later I added up the quilting hours in this project: 49 hours, 50 minutes! I think it’s been worth every single minute!

Here are the particulars: double batting using Hobbs white 80/20 on the bottom and Hobbs Poly Down on top. You may know I’m a WonderFil thread crazed quilter! For this entire project, no matter what color I was quilting over I’ve used WonderFil Deco Bob color 104 in the needle. I have a prewashed bleached muslin as my back fabric.  And for anyone keeping track, this project took 14 size M longarm bobbins. When finished (trimmed and bound) this quilt will measure about 85×92″.


One of my sweet friends remarked that I’d go through withdrawal when finished, I chuckled, but now that it’s happened I find she is spot on!

The block below has a small white-on-white hand embroidery doily as the centerpiece.


In the block below I used the entire doily, laying it atop the block and stitching it in place with the sewing machine. This way I could keep the beautiful machine produced edging.


Again, I’ve used the entire oval-shaped doily:


This yellow tulip with a blue bow is one end of a dresser scarf.




One of two vintage quilt blocks I used in this piece:


A lovely hand embroidered basket doily with a hand crocheted edging.


The second of the two vintage blocks used in this quilt.



Initially I had trouble with this block as it appears to be sideways. I’m glad I used it in it’s original orientation:


The block below is made up of two vintage doilies from a matching set of 3, two small and one large. I layered one of the “smalls” on top of the “large” and stitched them to the quilt block:


I’ve included the picture below to show how the border swags tie in nicely with the vintage linen blocks:


One of my favorite blocks is the “lady with watering can”. If I could quilt it differently I would make the feather arches on each side a little more arching/curved:


Well, this block gave me headaches! While quilting the small ovals inside the cross stitch grids, it was my intention to have the ovals on the left side tilt in the opposite direction as those on the right. Oops! I wasn’t upset enough to un-quilt…


Still one of my favorite blocks below!


I’m looking forward to taking this quilt off the longarm, trimming to size and binding. Hopefully I can utilize a few classroom tables at a local quilt shop to trim as right now there’s nowhere in the house to accomplish this simple task. 😦

***house update: nothing new to report. We were hopeful to have all repairs finished by Thanksgiving but remember, there were in excess of 40,000 homes damaged in the Hurricane Harvey flooding and there are not 40,000 construction teams to handle the tremendous amount of work to be done. Patience here is key! Let’s just say I don’t think we will be putting up a Christmas Tree in the great room this year.

Next project: I shopped the International Quilt Festival vendors looking for just the right fabrics to begin another Vintage Linens quilt project. I want to use the predominately dark ivory/beige doilies and trims in my collection. Most of the 1930’s reproduction fabrics have white rather than ivories. I found a fantastic grouping of various manufacturers fabrics that I think will be just the ticket! I wish I had taken the time to properly learn EQ7, it would be so helpful in developing these original patterns! Maybe in a week or two I’ll make myself sit down with the manual and go through the program step by step! My sweet friend Veronica makes it look so easy! Veronica, do you hire out?

Let me remind you, if you ever have questions about anything I talk about in my blog, you’ll find my email address below, just send me an email!

Until my next post, happy quilting, keep praying for the flood victims and blessings to all,





Blocks finished-on to the borders!

I’ve quilted the 26 blocks and now it’s on to the sashings and border. My goal is to have wandering/vining feathers throughout the sashings and connect them to each other where I can. But first, let me show you a few of my favorite blocks:


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The picture below appears to be redundant but notice, I’ve begun the sashing/negative space quilting below the block:


I’m a slow learner about certain things… I have been in awe over certain quilting pictures where the lighting is just low enough to really make the quilting pop. Had no idea how to achieve this effect until the other day I walked into the sewing room to discover I’d left the longarm on for about an hour with the overhead lights turned off. Wow! Just the effect I’d been trying to achieve! Who knew!

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The next picture demonstrates the transition from blocks to sashings to the border. Inside each swag I marked and quilted two separate feather sets.

Rhonda Dort 2017

I liked the look just “ok” and mulled over the situation for an hour or two.


Decided to quilt the 1/4″ parallel lines beneath the swag to see if that would solve my dilemma.  I liked the look of the lines but still was not happy with the feathers.





Giving it some time, I decided to go ahead and decide how to handle the 4 corner appliques.


And then in a flash it came to me! The feathers above the swags needed veining to give them depth and character:


The picture below shows what my “already quilted feathers” look like after I added the veining:


So, here’s a short tutorial on how I accomplished the border feathering: 1. Divide the space between the applique circles and mark.  2. Using an oval acrylic template, mark a gentle curve from the appliqued circle to the top most point of the area center line. 3. Begin quilting the feathers at an outer edge, quilting towards the center as shown below. I always quilt the feathers and then add the vein. If you want to do the veining as you work your way up the spine, of course do so!


After finishing the lower feathering, I’ve begun quilting one side of the upper feathers:


One side of the feathering completed and the other side needing the veining:



Ta-Da! Feathering complete!


When you’re intimidated by the quilting area remember: you want to “Divide and Conquer” the space! The big spaces become much smaller and much more manageable!

I’m mulling over the idea of quilting the top and bottom border parallel lines, taking the quilt off the machine, rotating 90 degrees and reloading. It is so much easier to stitch the lines vertically than horizontally. My biggest concern is getting the quilt loaded perfectly… More on my final decision in a later post…

About my quilting, I’ve had my Innova Longarm for 3 years and 2 months. Without fail, every single time I quilt something I learn something. Every single time! This quilt project is no exception: I’ve been teaching myself to not see the hopping foot but rather to stay focused in the needle meeting the fabric. In all honesty the most perfect hopping foot would be an invisable one! I’ve also been trying to learn to slow down a bit. Feathering is basically the same motion over and over and over again and I can tend to quilt very quickly when I know exactaly what I want to do. By slowing down I always increase accuracy and I have more time to “think ahead” about feather placement.  And finally, I’ve been concentrating on muscle memory to achieve accuracy in “bump back feathering” and veining.

*** House update: not too much to report. The flooring tile, all 9242 lbs. of it got manually moved today so we no longer have to park on the “wrong” side of the gate across the driveway. With homes in our immediate area in much worse shape than ours, we have elected to wait a few more weeks while our contractor addresses many emergency concerns of our friends and neighbors. This will allow me more time to search out the perfect Stacked Stone for the fireplace wall. If you’ve never looked for stone, wow, it’s amazing how much is available! Too many choices!

Happy Quilting! Let me know if you have any questions about anything in the 25 picture above.



Two More Vintage Linen Quilt Blocks

Progress! As of yesterday I have 2 more blocks to quilt and then it’s on to all the sashings and the borders. This blog post is full of pictures showing, as best I could, the process of quilting each block.

Here’s the crazy thing about the block below – I do not remember making it… Every other single block in this quilt I remember distinctly. Not this one! Anyway, I really like it and am happy about how it looks quilted.


I used an oval acrylic template to draw the curve above the embroidered floral swag. The top feathers were all supposed to stop at the edge of the top but in the picture below I can see one or two particular feathers got a bit ambitious… The bottom feathers used the flowers to determine their individual lengths. You may remember I draw on the feather vein rather than stitching it with the longarm.


So, with the top feathers finished it’s on to marking the bottom mint green fabric. I’ve divided the green into 2 separate areas as part of my “divide and conquer” method of quilting. I used a curved longarm template to mark the gentle curves with my blue water soluble marking pen.  I use EZ International marking pens, mostly because I can purchase them in bulk which is great because I go through them quickly.



Above, the picture shows how I marked the feather veins with blue pen and below you can see the finished block. There was a time when I didn’t like to quilt big/long arching feathers but as I continue to practice and practice, I’m becoming quite happy with them.IMG_0986

The Flower Basket block is next. Isn’t this a sweet vintage doily! After stitching around all the hand embroidery I was left with the large open area at the top half of the doily.


Again, using an acrylic template I marked 6 arches above the yellow basket ribbon and topped it off with a hand drawn heart.


Each of the 6 arches serve as the center vein of a curved feather swag.


I had a bit of a hic-cup quilting the heart and the outside feathers but I can live with the outcome. Have you noticed that when the blue lines are gone, the mistakes decrease in number.  🙂

The arches have itty-bitty feathers and if you’ve not quilted itty-bitty feathers, they are actually much harder to do than the big ones.


The finished block! Seriously love this one!


Just as a reminder, I did a double batt on this project. Hobbs Heirloom white 80/20 with Hobbs Poly Down on top. It’s a super combination, not too bulky and it’s makes the quilting pop! What’s my thread that matches all the different colors of fabrics I’m quilting? Why WonderFil Deco Bob #104 of course! It’s my go to thread!


***House update: nothing to report other than the flooring tile has been gathered from several different cities, shipped to Houston and is scheduled to arrive at our home on Tuesday. Here are a few pictures of what some of the rooms on the 1st floor of our home look like today:

We’re still living in 2 rooms on our second floor. What’s in all the other 2nd floor rooms? Boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff we had to pack that was not ruined by the flood waters, clothing from the upper rods in all the downstairs closets, pictures from all the first floor walls, stacks of books and papers from the built-in cabinetry just to name a bit. My sewing room, aka Hub’s Home Office has had garment racks, clothes baskets, bits of furniture to say nothing of all the usual fabulous quilting stuff that actually belongs there! All this mess will come to an end and we will be thrilled with the renovations! Until such time, I’ll keep praying, keep trying hard to be optimistic and keep looking for that “silver lining” to all this craziness!

Happy Quilting and Blessings to all,



Let the feathering begin!

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know I’m in the process of quilting my Vintage Linens quilt top:


Most of the feathering has been completed in the strips of reproduction fabrics so it’s time to start on the actual vintage linens.

I’ve drawn in the undulating feather vein with a water soluble blue marking pen. I use EZ International pens mostly because I can buy them in bulk. I also use a small plastic applicator filled with distilled vinegar to remove the blue lines. Why vinegar? If you’ve used blue pen much you will know that when using water on the pen marks it can sometimes cause the blue to “wick out” as it dries. I’m finding the distilled vinegar lessens the wicking. The vineger aroma hangs around for maybe a day and then it’s gone.

Below you’ll see the right side of the linen has been marked and quilted:


After the right side was quilted I marked once again the left side to be a mirror image of the right, best as I could. Don’t stress about perfection, it’s all about the finished quilting.

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Both right and left sides are finished:



If you look closely you can easily see the two sides do not match perfectly. When they are freeform feathers, it would be difficult for them to mirror image each other. You can make yourself crazy trying or you can be happy with however they turn out.


The center feather wreath below was created by first stitching around an acrylic circle template and then adding both the inside and outside feathers. For me, unless I mark, the inside feathers can be difficult to line up. Look below and you’ll see there’s a “funny looking” feather at about 2:00 on the wreath. I’m not bothered by this, it’s all about the “big picture”. If you are crazy about perfection, heavily mark or use a feather wreath template.

This block is very special to me because my maternal grandmother embroidered this dresser scarf. The other half is part of my mom’s Old Linens Quilt shown in my previous blog post, or maybe the one before that…


The block below is made up of two doilies. The smaller piece is laying atop the larger.

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Again, I marked blue registration lines to remind me where the center of my feathers should fall as well as a dot to show the center of the block.

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My quilting friend Blue Painters Tape comes to the rescue again, holding back the lace trim to keep it out of the stitching area:

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Almost finished:

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And done! Well, almost done. I will probably eventually add quilting to each of the white 4 corner areas.

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So it’s 2 down and about 24 more to go and then there’s all the white negative space created as I set the blocks together. In other words, there’s lots more to be done! Sometimes a large space can be intimidating when deciding what to quilt.  I’m all about the concept of “divide and conquer” when it comes to quilting.

Hope you’ve enjoyed all the detailed pictures and of course, leave a comment if you have questions!

*** House update: I received an email from the floor tile company advising they have shipped our order! All 8000lbs!

Blessings for a wonderful day and of course “Happy Quilting”!


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Do you SID? How about SID-ESS?

Do you SID? Stitch In the Ditch? Does just the very thought give you hives? Learn from the master, and by master I’m talking about Cindy Needham. If you’ve ever taken a class from her (in person or on Craftsy) then you’ll remember her mantra: ESS…every stink’in seam! I have learned at least 10,000 things from Cindy but honestly, the ESS has changed the way I longarm. 

My rational for ESS: I spend hours upon hours developing and then creating my “one of a kind” quilts. So why hurry through the actual longarm quilting process? It makes perfect sense to be just as meticulous while quilting as it does while piecing. ESS takes a lot of time but then again so did the planning, the cutting, the stitching and the pressing. Enough about that.  Now on to my Vintage Linens quilt project.

Here’s the pic from my last blog post, the finished quilt top.


The backing fabric is 100% cotton bleached medium weight muslin. I over-size cut, serged, laundered and loaded onto the longarm. Did you notice I did not press? I learned a longarm secret a few months ago… Whip that backing fabric out of the clothes dryer and quickly load it onto the longarm. Once loaded, roll the fabric onto the bar furthest from the front of the machine. With a spray bottle in hand, lightly spray the width of the fabric lightly with water. Rolling as needed through the entire length of the fabric, lightly spraying with water at each advancement until all the fabric has been spritzed and rolled. No ironing needed! Love it!

Here’s me hard at work stitching in the ditch in every seam. Almost every seam. Stitching in the seams that count! It has made a world of differenct in my finished quilts. It keeps the blocks true, it cleans up the look of things and it makes such a huge differenct with not having to deal with shifting quilt tops. Besides ESS I machine base along each side. For the first time ever in the history (my history) of longarming I floated this quilt top. Why? I’m not terribly sure. I’ve heard a lot about floating quilt tops and decided to give it a try. Will I do it again? I’m not sure. I was VERY NERVOUS throughout the entire SID-ESS process. Did it turn out ok? Yes. Sometimes I find that I have the backing/batting/quilt top pulled too taut. Not this time!


I did something else different this time. In order to keep my floating quilt top true, I used my channel locks as I SID-ESS’ed on about 80% of the block outside edges. That way I knew the top was not getting skewed in any given direction. Once again, it proved to me the importance of Mary Poppins Piecing (you know, when Mary Poppins uses the tape measure to determine the heights of the children Jane and Michael? Well, remember the tape measure results when she measured herself: Practically Perfect In Every Way!”)


The above and below pictures show how crisp and clean the SID blocks look. It is worth your time! This vintage pieced basket block really stepped up to the plate with the stitch in the ditch.


This last picture shows the versatility of our trusty blue friend; Painter’s Tape! It is remarkably handy when you need 3 hands. Use it to hold things out of the way that you’d really rather not be caught up in what ever you’re stitching. Below the tape is wrangling the white round doily edges so they are not lasting friends with SID-ESS 🙂


Have I convinced you of the importance of SID-ESS? Thank you Cindy Needham! Try it the next time you load a project on the longarm, a mid-arm or even your domestic machine. You put a lot of time and effort into what you’re about the quilt, take your time with the quilting!

Now it’s time to contemplate how I’m going to do all the pretty and fancy quilting. The nice thing is that each block is stabilized and almost no matter how much I quilt it, it will not distort 🙂

***house update: The contractor is working daily to make the necessary repairs to our first floor. Hopefully most of the major things will be completed by Thanksgiving!

Blessings to everyone and of course, Happy Quilting!