Mandy Applebee and Leah Day


After Spring International Quilt Market I was approached to write about a quilter whom I have been admiring and following for years. She is a domestic quilter but her work has inspired me in many of my longarm quilting adventures. During Market this spring I got the pleasure of meeting both her and her husband since they were staying on the same floor of our hotel.

I found Leah Day more than 3 yrs ago and have been subscribing to her emails since then. You might as well follow the link and sign up now you wont regret it!! Each email is PACKED full of amazing information and free links to online video tutorials on over 400 designs…… yes you read that correctly, FREE and over 400 designs.

Now a bit about Leah and her 365 freemotion fillers project. Leah is a mostly self taught absolutely delightful down to earth creature with a heart of gold!! Her creation of the 365 project was born from frustration with a lack of fill designs available to her. She began searching and the frustration led to a decision to challenge herself to create a new design each day for the next year. That is how the 365 project began. On August 14th 2009 she launched the project with a short blog post about the rules she had set for herself and the first design. WOW did it snowball from there! Follow this link to hear more of Leah’s story in her own words.

The 365 project eventually led to a quilt consisting of small blocks made during the design process. The blocks were joined together and sandwiched just like a quilt, those sandwiches eventually became a quilt which was FINALLY completed in May of 2014 just a few short years after it started (she discovered it takes a LONG time to hand bind over all those seams on the back from joining the blocks).

the 365 quilt at market




i was able to admire it in person

it was SUPER cool!!
Each of the blocks in the quilt were photographed and a video was created of Leah stitching out the designs. These videos can all be accessed on their site. Many changes in the video techniques occurred thru the process and improvements have been made along the way compared to the beginning but one thing that has not changed is Leah’s view on providing her inspiration to others. Her designs are FREE, you do not have to join a group or pay a fee to access her site. You will not find a cost associated with her designs or videos. She believes that inspiration lies within sharing knowledge and helping others to learn not in the profit which can be made. This philosophy has served her well as her designs and inspiration has reached over 5million people since she began in 2009.

This year Leah’s husband Josh decided to learn to quilt and you will now find videos of his progress as he learns to freemotion quilt Leah’s designs in her latest project. 2014 began a new adventure called the buildingblocks quilt along You can join the quilt along at any time and learn new designs each week to boost your freemotion design library. This project along with the help from Josh and his bobbles and trips has been a fun adventure for them both.

I was delighted to find out Leah’s original 365 freemotion fillers book (which I use CONSTANTLY) has a new design and will be available exclusively at quilt shops. The new design includes a spiral binding which is completely awesome!! I cannot wait to get my hands on it!! Keep your eyes out at our local quilt shop and ask if they can get the new book for you if you don’t see it!!

During Market I talked with both Leah and Josh a great deal and they did not disappoint me, they were just as I pictured they would be. Sweet, honest and willing to inspire at every turn. Take a bit of time to explore all they have to offer and sign up for the news letter it is amazing!! Here I am with Leah in front of the 365 quilt at spring quilt market when she signed my little book 50 feather to flames designs ( Josh is in the purple on the left of the quilt).

Leah helps take the scary out of domestic machine quilting and proves that it can be done on a domestic machine, it just takes a bit of practice. Come on, join us and start finishing your UFO’s and quilt tops with beautiful designs to accent your work.


Mandy joined us at Quilt Market and teaches machine quilting classes at O’Susannah’s.  Check out our website for her next classes.  She will also be introducing a new technique in the Fall so continue to check out our website.  Leah’s book has shipped and will be in any day now.  Give us a call to reserve a copy!





That Red-checked Bikini…

Have you ever had one? A red-checked bikini? ‘Tis the season, you know.

I had one. It’s the only time in my life I wore a bikini. I was 5. It was 1963 and that bikini was the most special article of clothing I had ever owned in my short life. It is also the first article of clothing I ever remember my mother (Betty Alderman) making, though I know she sewed for me regularly. Here’s a picture of my mom and dad from around that time in the 1960s. Mom sewed a LOT.

ImageAt 5 years old, I was in kindergarten, having started at 4. One day, probably toward the end of the school year, I got off the school bus and walked into my house where my mother promptly said, “Go look upstairs on your bed. I made you something.” Yes, I remember her words. And there it was, this little bikini in red and white checked. Because of the view of it that I remember, I believe I was only about a head taller than the side of my bed. I was that small. I couldn’t wait to put the bathing suit on and I did immediately. I remember nothing after that. Except for the fact I love red and white checks to this day.


While I don’t have a picture of that bikini, I do have a picture of me on, what I think, was my fourth birthday. (See above) And yes, I remember that dress, too, and can remember how I felt in it and I remember my socks and shoes. I always seem to remember my socks and shoes. Weird? Probably.

I guess what I’m getting at is do you remember a favorite outfit from you were just a little one? Please share!

That bathing suit was not the only article of clothing I remember. I remember two corduroy dresses. They were long-sleeved with patch pockets, smocking and a matching kerchief. This was the early 60s, you know. One was a peachy color and the other was a deep red wine color. I loved those dresses. But I had one more I remember and that was my tulip dress. At least that’s what I called it. It had big bright tulips all over it. It was straight and was sleeveless. I tried one time to where a large petticoat under it and my mother had me march right back upstairs to remove it. My first lesson in the fine art of dressing appropriately, I guess. Hee, hee. I still remember those dresses hanging in my closet – up high.

To this day, tulips are my favorite flower. Do you think I loved tulips first and then loved the dress? Or loved the dress first and because of that loved tulips?

As sewists, we have an opportunity to sew for our little children, grandchildren and friends. And who knows, perhaps your wee one will have a favorite memory of the dress you made for her that will last a lifetime.

Check out the Olive Ann patterns in Sue’s shop, O’Susannah’s Quilts. They are adorable. Or find another darling pattern, there are several.

Don’t forget to post your comments, share, Pin, Tweet or post to Facebook, etc. If you have a picture you want me to post, email it to me and I’ll get it up.

Thanks for reading and have a splendid day…Betsy



Porch Sitting…

My front porch two years ago when we first did a little landscaping. Those plans are now coming in fine.

My front porch two years ago when we first did a little landscaping. Those plants are now coming in fine.

Sue and I grew up in a small village called, Palmyra, NY. It is a village that saw its heyday in the Victorian era and early 20th century. The architecture of the village is noted for its Victorian charm. Along with that charm there are the inevitable front porches that encourage porch sitting, gabbing, waving hello, having a cool drink, reading a good book or just rocking the time away. Sue and I both grew up in houses with front porches and they were used – a lot.

Looking south from my front porch this morning.

Looking south from my front porch this morning.

Today, Sue and I are both fortunate enough to have front porches. Sue’s is in great shape and still in a village, mine has some condition problems but eventually it will be fixed up pretty, I hope. I no longer live in a village but in a country setting. But our porch’s use, regardless of their condition, remains the same.

This morning I sat on mine and did a little embroidery. I wish you could have heard the birdsong. It was lovely.

Doing a little embroidery on my front porch this morning.

Doing a little embroidery on my front porch this morning.

If you can, find a porch this summer and do a little porch sitting. It’s good for the soul. –Betsy

It’s That Time of Year…


Dollars for Scholars presentation at the Palmyra-Macedon High School, Palmyra, NY, 2014

Dollars for Scholars presentation at the Palmyra-Macedon High School, Palmyra, NY, 2014

About a week and a half ago, I attended and presented at a Dollars for Scholar’s award ceremony. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, scholarships are set up, typically by community members, organizations and businesses, which are then awarded to deserving high school seniors in that community. The school both Sue and I graduated from is the Palmyra-Macedon High School in Palmyra, NY. The Dollars for Scholars program there is one of the most successful there is. Our school is not large. The graduating class typically has between 175-200 students. This year, well over $100,000 was awarded. Since inception at our school, $1,528,000 has been awarded to 1,770 students. I think that’s pretty awesome. I was there for two reasons: one, my class (the very fun class of 1976) gives a scholarship for spirit and two, my family awards an art scholarship (The Alderman Art Scholarship) given in memory of my mom, Betty Alderman.

Graduation quilt with sentiments and signatures made by Betty Alderman for her granddaughter, Jessica Fox, 1999, Palmyra, NY

Graduation quilt with sentiments and signatures made by Betty Alderman for her granddaughter, Jessica Fox, 1999, Palmyra, NY

Graduation is a time of quilt giving, don’t you think? My sister-in-law, Nancy Alderman, living in Texas, made a graduation quilt for her nephew in blues and oranges as he heads off to college, a college whose colors are – you guessed it – blue and orange. And where did the fabrics come from? O’Susannah’s! And that got me thinking again and I remembered the quilt my mom made for my daughter, Jessica, when she graduated high school in 1999. I am showing you a couple of pictures here, of that quilt. I think the great thing about these quilts is that they say something. My mom gave Jess several muslin pieces and suggested she give them out to friends to have them sign, then return them to mom to work into a quilt for her to take off to college.

Detail from graduation quilt with sentiments and signatures made by Betty Alderman for her granddaughter, Jessica Fox, 1999, Palmyra, NY

Detail from graduation quilt with sentiments and signatures made by Betty Alderman for her granddaughter, Jessica Fox, 1999, Palmyra, NY

Detail from graduation quilt with sentiments and signatures made by Betty Alderman for her granddaughter, Jessica Fox, 1999, Palmyra, NY. Drawing and sentiment made by close family friend, Joan Denniston Herendeenmage

Detail from graduation quilt with sentiments and signatures made by Betty Alderman for her granddaughter, Jessica Fox, 1999, Palmyra, NY. Drawing and sentiment made by close family friend, Joan Denniston Herendeen

So all this got me thinking (again) about signature quilts, in general. I have a couple of blocks or sets of blocks that have names on them. Since they’re blocks they’re not a quilt but don’t you just want to know more? Who are these women and what was the purpose of these blocks? Who was the quilt going to be made for? What was the occasion?

Butterfly signature quilt block

Butterfly signature quilt block

Star Bouquet signature quilt block

Star Bouquet signature quilt block

This last quilt is what I would call a broken fan crazy quilt and each fan has a signature on it. I wish it was mine. But it’s not. Last week I attempted to win it at an online auction but my bid failed miserably.

ImagePerhaps it’s the amateur historian in me, but I want to know about the people in these signature quilts.

So tell me, have you ever made a graduation quilt or a signature quilt? Do you have pictures and/or comments you can share? If you send me pictures, I’ll post them here with your comments. We would all love to see what you’ve done. Or, if you have a signature quilt in your collection and are willing to share, send pictures of those, too.

Anxiously waiting for your pictures and comments…..Betsy

Happy Flag Day From Sew, O’Susannah’s!

June 14 – here in the United States, we call that, Flag Day.

Seriously, don’t you wonder what it’s all about? I can tell you…

The Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777 was when the United States adopted the design of their new flag to be red, white and blue, and consist of 13 stripes and 13 stars. And supposedly, Betsy Ross was hired to construct it. I’ve always felt such a kinship to her. Sigh…

Since 1777, many celebrations of our flag’s birthday took place on June 14th, but it wasn’t until, “August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.” (

The United States flag means many things to many people. It was and is made from cloth and the early flags were hand-stitched, of course.

ImageI thought you might enjoy the above picture. I located it on the Kings Academy web site ( That author, Miles H. Hodges, sources the picture to the National Archives and gives the following caption, “Women immigrants to America from 5 different countries sewing an American flag.” I have done a search, briefly, at the National Archives and have not located the actual photo so I will have to trust Mr. Hodges attribution.

The Connecticut Historical Society has a couple of beautiful examples of flags in quilts. Here is one of them and found on this site: ($0040/39/title-asc?t:state:flow=ec6f321b-835f-4002-9314-e97cc0ba2fe0). Please first read their legal information if you are considering reposting this anywhere. The Connecticut Historical Society also has a ton of quilts. Visit them! The above quilt was made in the 1860s and is pieced. Isn’t it fabulous?

ImageI  know I’m all over the place in this post but try to bear with me. I leave you with this quote within a quote. I find it amusing, touching, and a summary of the meaning of Flag Day here in the United States. Quoted from, Enjoy and raise your flag! – Betsy

“Interviews in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940 contain entertaining examples of Flag Day in the American vernacular. For example, a search on Flag Day retrieves the following conversation between Mr. Richmond and Mr. Davis:

‘Why ain’t you got your flag out?’ says Mr. Richmond, entering the gas station in which he spends much of his time these days. ‘You know today is flag day, don’t you?’

‘I guess the boss forgot to buy a flag, George,’ says Mr. Davis, the station attendant. ‘And even if we had one, we ain’t got no place to put it.’

Mr. Richmond: ‘That’s a fine state of affairs, that is. Here they are tryin’ to bring home to you people the fact that you’re livin’ in one of the few countries where you can draw a free breath and you don’t even know it. You’re supposed to have flags out all this week. Don’t you know that? This is flag day and this is flag week. Where’s your patriotism?’

Mr. Davis: ‘What the hell are you hollerin’ about, George? You’re always runnin’ the country down. They can’t do anything to suit you. You’re worryin’ about taxes and future generations and all like that. Where’s your patriotism?’

Mr. Richmond: ‘Well, that’s different. A man got a right to criticize. That’s free speech. Don’t mean I ain’t patriotic.’

Richmond,” circa 1936-40.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940


Meet Edyta Sitar and Laundry Basket Quilts


when Sue and I were at Spring Market in Pittsburgh last month we stopped to chat with Edyta Sitar. While she and Sue were deep in conversation about new products, I was able to snap a few pictures which you can see here.

What’s not to love about Edyta and her quilts? Have you taken a look at what she offers?

I find that Edyta is friendly, lively and absolutely an artist who is passionate about her designs and her business. She has SO much energy and her patterns and designs are truly lovely. There is just something about the way she uses color that is at once traditional yet new. I don’t know how else to describe it.

At one point I saw some vintage quilts in her booth (of which I am a bit passionate about, myself) and I asked her if she found inspiration in vintage quilts for her designs. Yes, she does. In fact, she pulled out an antique quilt of great beauty but I was not allowed to photograph it. Sorry. Yes, I was disappointed too, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Check with Sue at O’Susannah’s if you’re interested in patterns from Laundry Basket Quilts. I believe Sue did a little ordering while she was at Market. Oh yeah. Of course she did.