We’re Almost Ready To Pull A Winner!


The 12 blocks of the Sew, O'Susannah's Big Block Giveaway!

The 12 blocks of the Sew, O’Susannah’s Big Block Giveaway!


Don’t forget to enter to win the 12 blocks we are giving away on May 1st! Every block has a story – don’t they all?

One randomly-drawn lucky winner will receive all 12 handmade blocks made by friends of O’Susannah’s.

There’s still time to enter! When you do, enter a comment about a block, O’Susannah’s or anything related. We are listening…

Here’s the link: …–Betsy

The O’Susannah’s Rafflecopter giveaway – enter here & good luck!


Blog Block Week #12

Sue'sI’m the last post in our Blog Block giveaway.  I hope you enjoyed seeing the blocks of the book, “Memories of Christmas Past”.  And now a little bit about me – I love almost all types of needlearts and have done quite a few.  My love began with simple embroidery and moved on to counted cross stitch,needlepoint, crewel,  hardanger, blackwork, redwork, drawn thread, canvas work and just about anything that took a needle with an eye.  If it was handwork, I gave it a try.  Quilting was one of the last things I learned to do and that was back in the late 1970’s.  I enjoyed it and experimented with different techniques.  Two of my favorites are hand applique and paper piecing, very different techniques.  It makes total sense I would love hand applique because of my love of hand work.  And I love paper piecing because I love any of the quilt blocks with sharp points such as Mariner’s Compass, New York Beauty or Pickle Dish.  They are my favorites and I love paper piecing because its the only time I am absolutely accurate!  I opened my shop in 2004 and I love everything about owning a quilt shop well…..except maybe book work !  Boredom never happens here because there is always something new to try and I love experimenting with new techniques and new fabrics.  What better place to be !  And of course, I love seeing my customers and hearing about their projects and meeting new people from all over !


Earth Day is Upon Us

Earth Day, 1970 style

Earth Day, 1970 style. Pictured here are Judy Moody and Denis Hayes on April 22, 1970 at an environmental teach-in. Photo courtesy of AP and found at the National Geographic web site here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/photogalleries/first-earth-day-1970-pictures/#/teach-in-office_4471_600x450.jpg

April 22.Earth Day was established in 1970 to recognize the impact humans were having on the environment. By 1990 the Earth Day initiative had spread worldwide and activities are now held in over 140 countries.

I am not what you would call a staunch “environmentalist” though I do care about the environment. I do try to think where my products come from and I try to buy smartly while balancing that with my budget – never easy.

As a quilter and a lover of all things textile, especially fabric, I will never give up my fabric. I’m sure my quilting sisters and brothers would agree. But are there times I can buy smarter? Can I, even in a very tiny way, lessen the impact I have on my environment? What can I do?

I have considered, on occasion, buying organic cotton for a particular project. What I believed was that organic cotton would be the best cotton to buy if I was concerned on how the cotton was grown and how the fabric was made. I thought if it said it was organic then I was assured the cotton was organically made – sustainable growing practices, no synthetic pesticides, etc. What I have come to find out is that a cotton fabric or textile could be labeled as organic but really only have a minimum of 5% organic cotton fibers in it. To know you are truly getting all organic cotton fabric, it needs to state that it is “Certified” 100% organic cotton. I was very surprised by that a fabric could be labeled as organic and have such a low organic cotton content. Consider it the next time you look for organic cottons. To learn more about organic cotton, take a look at the Organic Cotton Initiative at http://www.cottonedon.org/. Their FAQ is quite informative.

I also didn’t realize that even though a fabric could be 100% organic cotton, it may have been dyed with completely toxic dyes. Another consideration, I suppose…

Look for this logo for your organic cottons.

    Global Organic Textile Standard logo

Global Organic Textile Standard logo

The other part of buying organic, in my opinion anyway, is whether the cotton (or any other product) was produced as a Fair Trade product. What does Fair Trade mean? Here’s a description of what it means to be a Fair Trade certified product:

“Fair Trade Certified products are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. We’re a nonprofit, but we don’t do charity. Instead, we teach disadvantaged communities how to use the free market to their advantage. With Fair Trade USA, the money you spend on day-to-day goods can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.” – from Fair Trade Certified’s Facebook page.

Sue, as owner of O’Susannah’s, is very aware of the existence of organic cottons and how they might fit into the shop. Currently, Sue carries Organic Sherpa Fleece but she will also be investigating a line of organic cottons at Quilt Market, in May in Pittsburgh. That line of fabric is also American made. Perhaps she can blog about it when she returns from Market to let us all know what she learns.

If you would like additional information on fair trade in the United States, visit here: http://fairtradeusa.org/

Fair Trade USA logo

Fair Trade USA logo

If you have any comments about this post, please share! Speaking of share – share this post, too. Do you have any memories or pictures of past Earth Days that you would be willing to send us for possible inclusion on the blog? If so, please send them. -Betsy

Blog Block Week #11

Jeanne'sI’m Jeanne Knapp and I’m Sue’s sister-in-law.  I started quilting, as we quilt today in 2002.  I learned to make quilt blocks with templates, scissors and hand stitches in the 70’s.  That quilt is a UFO ! I loved the handwork so I took a class from Betty Alderman and learned to needle point, embroider and cross stitch.  Then my mother-in-law, Shirley who was quilting up a storm, invited me to a workshop taught by Georgia Bonesteel.  I do not remember what we made that day but I knew I wanted to learn to cut fabric with a rotary cutter and make a quilt.  Shirley said she would teach me.  I will always think of that day as my first day of quilting.  I learned to cut border strips, apply them and use my sewing machine to quilt a cross-hatch pattern on a redwork piece by Betty Alderman that I had embroidered.  That small wall quilt has hung every Christmas since that day.  I have learned many quilting techniques and made many quilts.  My husband, Tom, Sue’s brother says he’s not sure I can be called ä quilter”because all he ever sees are tops!  That is true.  I love fabric and piecing.  I cut and sew yards of fabric but I usually leave the quilting to the long armers.  I owe my love for quilting to my family, Shirley, Sue, Margaret and Jane.  Thank you for all you have taught me and the many opportunities I have had to enjoy the quilting world.

After Grant Wood (American Gothic) 3, 2010

Sometimes you just need to get out of your chair and go do something to spark your creativity and get you completely inspired. I did that today.

A friend of mine who has been a long-time volunteer at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) in Rochester, NY, invited me to a lecture on “Matisse as Printmaker,” and then to view the show of Henri Matisse’s prints. It was a fantastic lecture and exciting show as was the companion show of Alexander Matisse’s ceramics. (Alexander is Henri’s great grandson.) Perhaps I will give you more info on those shows later. Just know that I came home inspired and refreshed and have 3 quilt designs in mind based on what I saw today. I also bought a couple of books and I’ll share those with you another time.

Back to Grant Wood. Many (most?) of you know the iconic painting called “American Gothic” by Grant Wood. You know – the farm couple standing with the pitchfork in front of the gothic-looking farmhouse? Here’s a picture if you’re not sure.

Grant Wood's American Gothic

Grant Wood’s American Gothic

In 2010, the MAG commissioned Devorah Sperberg to create a work of art. And aren’t you surprised at the medium that was chosen? Spools of thread. Yes. 4,392 spools of thread. The piece is 107” x 90”. It’s crazy. But it gets even crazier because it is completely upside down. Yes, that’s right. If you are standing before it you might not recognize it for what it is – “American Gothic” re-imagined, upside down and created from spools of thread.

After Grant Wood (American Gothic) 3, 2010  by Devorah SperbergImage

After Grant Wood (American Gothic) 3, 2010 by Devorah Sperberg shown at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY

To view this intriguing piece of work, you must stand back from it – much like you would for an impressionist painting. When you stand back you do notice it better but still – it’s upside down. The second part of this visual experience is when you pick up a wand with an acrylic ball attached to it. Next, hold the ball up to the work and viola! American Gothic appears right-side up in the ball – as it should be viewed. Magic.

Sperber is interested in how the mind processes what it sees. In 2005 she stated, “I am interested in the link between art and technology, how the eyes prioritize, and reality as a subjective experience vs. an absolute truth. As a visual artist, I cannot think of a topic more stimulating and yet so basic, than the act of seeing–how the human brain makes sense of the visual world.”


For more information on this work, visit Sperber’s web site at http://www.devorahsperber.com. Her web site says that the work was partially funded by Coats & Clark so I’m guessing that’s who supplied the spools.

To visit the MAG – http://mag.rochester.edu/aroundmag/collection-news/. Or, if you’re in the Rochester area, visit in person.

I would love to hear your response to this piece of art. -Betsy


Blog Block Week #10



Hi! I’m Margaret Leuwen! Many of you know me, I’m one of Sue’s sisters, I’m actually the baby girl in the family but much to our sister Jane’s delight everyone thinks she’s the youngest. I come from a family of very crafty people. I was taught hand embroidery by our next door neighbor and my mother taught me how to make clothes. I started quilting 30 years ago when I was expecting our twins.

When the kids left home and I actually got an entire room to sew in Jeanne would stop by and be amazed at how neat and tidy my sewing room was. Well I have to confess that was back when I was still of the mind set that I would not start another quilt until I had finished the last! I have now developed the mind set of ‘I have to buy the kit, join the class and buy all of the fat quarters for every line I love because I want to make it and when I have the time to do it the fabric line will be gone’!



“Vintage Quilt Revival” – Book Review

Okay – I loved this book and I hope to make a quilt from it or at least let the patterns be inspiration for my own design.

April’s Book Review

Vintage Quilt Revival by Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones

Vintage Quilt Revival by Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones

Book Name:Vintage Quilt Revival: 22 modern designs from classic blocks
Author: Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones
Publisher & Date: Interweave, 2013
Pages: 159 plus CD of printable templates for paper piecing projects.

I’m a sucker for vintage – I’ll admit it. I have been buying and selling vintage since 2005. That’s another story but part of the reason why I took a closer look at this book.

I also was attracted to the colors on the cover, especially the teal. A book has got to look good to get your attention, right? This one was truly successful for me.

But then I opened the book……drool…drool…drool. I absolutely loved the designs and the “modern” way these traditional designs were assembled (settings) and the exciting color choices. If you’re not quite into making a full-size quilt there are also patterns for smaller projects such as a pouch, a bag, a table runner, a mini quilt and a pillow to whet your appetite without committing to a larger quilt. If you just can’t decide which blocks are your favorites, directions are included for two sampler quilts.

You get a lot of bang for your buck. With 22 different projects and a CD that includes all the templates for the paper-pieced projects (there are 12 of them), the book is worth its price which retails for about $28. It’s also available in a Kindle version. Sue’s shop carries the book so stop in the shop or give her a call if you need a copy.

The book starts out with an assumption that you have a basic knowledge of quilting but it still reviews tools and techniques including foundation piecing and a guide to partial seams. They are brief but worth reading. Full color pictures abound.

The layout of the book is excellent and very easy to read. For each project there is:
– A full color picture of the finished project
– A full color picture of the block
– Full color piecing diagrams
– Full color layout diagram
– Easy-to-see “Finished Size,” “Technique Used,” and “Skill Level”

For example, The project, “Spiced Chai Quilt,” states it is made from a “Tea Leaf” block, lists its size , and says the technique used is “simple piecing” and the skill level is for beginners. All of this in an easy-to-read layout.

Another part of the book that I especially like is that for each project there is a “Design Note.” The designer briefly talks about the pattern and the design she has chosen and also touches on the inspiration for that design. It’s such a nice addition that makes the book so much more personable. Kind of like sharing a pattern between friends.

I would not hesitate to purchase this book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My favorite patterns from the book are noted here. I would love to hear which ones are your favorites. And, if you make any of the patterns, send us a picture! Maybe I can get Sue to teach me paper piecing because I really, really, really like the Spin it Again Quilt. What do you think, Sue?

Betsy’s Favorites from Vintage Quilt Revival
Sugar Snow Quilt (p. 63) – The colors are exquisite as is the quilting.
Spin it Again Quilt (p. 87) – Colorful, a pattern with movement.

Lovin’ It or Likin’ It?
Lovin’ It:
– Great photography that always shows the pieces really well
– Clear directions with lots of diagrams in color
– Big variety of patterns for all skill levels
– Patterns that are clear
– Design notes
– CD with templates for the paper-pieced blocks.

Likin’ It:
– The CD has the templates for the paper-pieced blocks (there are 12) – I don’t think everyone does paper piecing so if you want to make one of those 12 projects and you don’t paper piece, the patterns may have to be modified.

I close this post with author Lee Heinrich’s inspiration for the Sugar Snow Quilt (found in this pattern’s Design Note):

“Around the time I was designing this quilt, I spent an afternoon at my daughter’s preschool, which is also a nature center and a working maple-sugar farm. I went with the class to tap a maple tree. While there, a teacher scooped up a handful of the icy, crystalline flakes called ‘sugar snow,’ which indicate that it’s time to tap the trees. As the light caught the snow, it hit me: I wanted to make a quilt that ‘sparkled’ like that snow.” (63)

Yes, we quilters get inspired by some very beautiful things. This book is one of those things.

Comment and let us know what you think! –Betsy
And don’t forget to enter the Blog Block Giveaway!