August 2004

Warning: this is an OLD newsletter. Time marches on; things change. Information may be outdated, irrelevant, misleading or incorrect. (That means links, which are down at the bottom, may not work either. Unless it sends you to a porno site I won't fix it so don't tell me.) To get on the list to receive the next current newsletter, hit the BACK arrow on your browser and enter your e-mail address in the box on the previous page. You'll get the next issue. If you absolutely can't figure it out then e-mail me. It's free! What are you waiting for?

The Ami Simms Newsletter
Copyright August 2004

I'm computer shopping again. There's nothing wrong with the computer I have, aside from the fact that it crashes several times a day, the right hand SHIFT key sticks, I can actually leave the room and get something to eat if I print documents longer than 10 pages, and I can't upgrade two kind-of-important-programs because I'm still running Windows 98. Everyone all together, please "POOR AMI." (Thanks, I feel much better.)

My brother-in-law showed me his new double-monitor setup. This just blows my mind. He's got TWO 17" monitors on his desk and he can move documents around from one to the other seamlessly. Click and drag. First the spreadsheet is over on the left. Then, WOOSH, it's over on the right. He can have e-mails going on one screen and word-processing going on over on the other. It's all mouse. Unless there's a foot pedal or something I didn't notice. I love things like that. I don't know how I'd use two monitors, besides my desk is too puny to have two monitors unless I put the phone and the adding machine on the floor, but hey, it is SO COOL!

So, I went to Best Buy to search out more fun toys I don't need, have no room for, and can't afford. Since Jen and I were already running errands, she accompanied me. Let me tell you I've never had such good service in my life. I don't know if it was a slow day, my unbridled enthusiasm for nearly everything in the store, or the presence of a very attractive 20-year-old female at my side, but at one point I counted FIVE blue-shirted young men gathered around us. They couldn't possibly have been more helpful and we didn't even buy anything! I'm never going shopping with Steve again!

Some of you (if you're old enough) may recall that I've been working on patterning my Bikini Quilt (a.k.a. "Boobs & Bellybuttons") for some time now. I'm delighted to report that I'm finally finished. The pattern is born.

This one was a really long time coming. I wrote book #4 (Classic Quilts: Patchwork Designs From Ancient Rome) back in 1991 after a trip to Ostia Antica, the ancient port city of Rome. (The one in Italy.) I tromped around the archaeological excavation one summer, photographing really old (4th century) marble floor tiles because they are incredibly quilty.

Two years after the book was published, I got to write an article on triangular patchwork for Threads Magazine. One of my favorite floor designs was the "Hourglass" pattern. When it came time to illustrate the pattern they naturally wanted a quilt. Well, I noticed that if you look at the Hourglass pattern sideways, the rounded triangle appliqués began to look like bikini tops. (The Romans, by the way, were the first to invent the bikinis. I'm serious.

I thought it would be perfect to illustrate the pattern. I'd take the same block design from the book, turn it sideways, and entertain myself no end. Threads Magazine wasn't impressed. I wrote back and told them it would be totally tasteful, very cool, and the only cleavage would be quilted. No soap. I sent fabric swatches, a sketch, and they said absolutely not. So, naturally, I made the quilt anyway. I think it was one of my best designs, mostly because I was told not to do it. Plus, I was procrastinating. I was hip-deep writing the next book, Creating Scrapbooks Quilts, and really should have been doing photo-quilts.

Anyway, the hourglass theme came up again. Around that time I was diagnosed with skin cancer on my face. (The "good" kind.) My dermatologist removed it easily and I learned about cumulative damage to skin from the sun. It all adds up. Every minute unprotected is like another sand through the---wait for it---HOURGLASS. It just all came together: the hourglass pattern morphing into the bikini shape, and then the hourglass as a measure of how we use our time. So I put a fabric hourglass at the bottom of the quilt and used this really cheesy novelty print of a couple sunbathing on the back. (Hum theme music from "The Twilight Zone" now.)

But wait. It gets better. Once Threads saw the quilt they decided to run it with the article after all!

Fast forward to 2002. David and Peter Mancuso asked if I had any quilts that would fit an exhibit of quilts with a seashore theme for their Quilt & Sewing Fest at Myrtle Beach in the spring of that year. I sent The Bikini Quilt. One thing led to another and my Bikini Quilt wound up in Cyndy Rymer's Shoreline Quilts (C & T Publishing, 2003) Down at the bottom of page 75 it says the pattern is available on my website. And, believe me it is NOW! See:

Let me warn you. There is a reason it took me so long. This pattern is a real "beach," if you get my drift. I usually can't remember what I had for breakfast; let a lone how I constructed a quilt a dozen years before. Besides, that was back in the Dark Ages when I was still making patchwork with ratty old cardboard templates and a dull chalk pencil. The entire pattern had to be updated for modern rotary cutting techniques. Never mind the fact that my original sketches, measurements, and notes on the project had disappeared. I just had the block out of the book and some feint memory of making up the waves on the left side and bottom of the quilt as I went.

Long story getting shorter. I dumped it all in Nanette Zeller's lap. She's been proofing patterns for me and is much smarter than I am. I shipped her the quilt, we coordinated drafting programs, I sent her a copy of the Threads article and a couple pages of notes, and we began a many-month long collaboration during which time she had ample cause to stick yet another pin into her bikini-clad Ami Voodoo Doll. Job had nothing on Nanette. Thanks to several gracious and talented volunteers who pattern-tested for me. It's a done deal. Did I mention you could see the pattern at: <>?

I also have a Bikini Starter Kit of 11 different Fat Quarters. See:

We're finally caught up on orders and in mid-July we broke the all time Mallery Press record for shipping out the most orders in one day: 113. Thank you for the part you played. After all, without you, we would have had nothing to ship!

But most of all, thank you for the wonderful, enthusiastic comments about my "Michigan Mink." You have no idea what a kick it is to hear that you like what I did. Your enthusiasm is contagious and empowering.

As soon as you finish your Rag Fur Jacket, please send me a picture of yourself wearing it. It's so cool to see all the different fabrics and colors. I'll put them on the web page and throw your name into a hat for a special prize drawn every month from now until the end of the year. The sooner you send that picture, the more chances you'll have of winning. Don't put it off. To make one, see:

"Oh-Yo's" is the name of the free pillow pattern we're sending out with each order for the month of August. It's brought to you by the talented and kind Susan Fuquay, author of the pattern and editor of American Quilt Retailer.

JOIN ME FOR A CHAT will be hosting a chat with me on Friday August 6th at 9pm, eastern time zone. Don't wait until then, jump in any time of the day or night, and see who is in the room. Bring any questions you might have. Now's your chance to ask me anything you want. (If I don't know the answer, I'll make it up.) Visit:

Sorry, but there wasn't a picture on Kathy's website when I sent you there last newsletter. If you're interested in ordering her really cute quilt pattern, please e-mail Kathy at

I saw an adorable tote bag called "Tripster" designed by Debbie Bowles made up in my Pizza Party fabrics. Check out Debbie's pattern in OTHER fabric at

Quilt Design & Archive Folders: Here's a new and interesting product from Cathy Corcella, For the Type "A" among us. (Notice my name STARTS with an A!) These file folders are specially printed with all sorts of grids and boxes and blank lines for you to fill out (in?) with numbers, notes, and swatches. Get organized from the "get-go" and then keep it all together while you work. When you're done, your record is complete. If you can't find them at your local quilt shop, visit

We ate at the Mexican restaurant chain last night for dinner. I've decided I don't ever want to have my birthday celebrated at a restaurant. I know you probably get a free birthday burrito, but you have to wear the silly sombrero. It's embarrassing. The wait staff pretends to care. They don't. Their paycheck is probably docked if they don't join the waiter conga line and belt out that horribly syncopated Restaurant Version of "Happy Birthday." Besides, I think it's bad for business. I mean who wants to eat at a restaurant where it takes so long to get your food people are celebrating birthdays?

And another thing. (And another restaurant.) What's with the 3-foot pepper grinders? I think they look absurd. Besides, I don't want to eat any food the waiter carries around wedged in his armpit.

Last restaurant. We went to McDonald's in Windsor, Ontario, for a Coke on the long drive home and doggone it; I left my camera at home. There in the parking lot was a trashcan. It was the kind with the flap. Usually is says PUSH or THANK YOU on the flap. But there in plain daylight this one said: "24-HOUR DRIVE THRU" like you could drive through the garbage can. OK, guess you had to be there. And that's probably why I insist on photographic entries.

(Yes, I know that's grammatically incorrect.)

Sue shares what appears at first glance to be an unusual name for a business. See:

And I saw something that was semi-frightening. See

And don't ride your bike here, OK?

I hope this restaurant was just stating the obvious.

Thanks to Patricia O. for sharing a news item about a Swiss public toilet made of one-way mirrors. Evidently, there's one in London outside the Tate Museum also. I now challenge you to get a picture with your very own camera of one of these things for the web page. For inspiration or immediate constipation, see

Some of you may know that my mom lives with us and she has Alzheimer's. Were it not for the fact that I can work out of my home, we wouldn't be able to provide the care she needs, and she would have to live in an assisted living facility. I am grateful to be able to take care of her.

When you're a caregiver, it's important to take time out for yourself. You need a break. My monthly teaching trips re-energize me, as do my daily walks with Madison. Usually I sneak out early in the morning and we walk by ourselves, but on August 28th I'll be walking in the Memory Walk at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. If you live in the Detroit area, I'd love to have some company. Come walk with me in Royal Oak by joining my team (Ami's Angels) by following the link on my Home Page. (It should be set up on Tuesday.)

If you live too far away but would like to walk, Memory Walks are being organized all over the country. To find one near you, go to

If walking isn't your thing, but you'd like to lend your support, e-mail me a few words of encouragement at Or follow the link on my home page to help sponsor my efforts to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. (Again, not until Tuesday.)

Over 4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. We need a cure. Yesterday.

Berta Waldmeier made a Breast Cancer survivors quilt. See it at:

Lori Malloy made a Sweat Dreams PPQ:

See Bronwyn Joachim Ferrier's Twisted Sisters quilt at:

If you're looking to make a difference in someone's life with a quilt, these two organizations would be grateful for your help.

To make a quilt for every soldier who has been wounded in Iraq see

Operation Kid Comfort at Ft. Bragg, NC provides a quilt to every child under the age of 5 when their parent is deployed. For more information, see

It's all in the presentation. Grab a pizza on your way home from work. Trash the cardboard box and hide the pizza in the oven. (At our house nobody every looks there unless they want batting.) Take a break and pop open one of my Pizza Apron Kits and spend 45 minutes at your sewing machine (the same amount of time you would have spent making a pizza from scratch). Clip off the last threads, warm up the pizza, don your fashionable apron, and serve your pizza for dinner. It's not like anyone was helping you in the kitchen getting dinner ready anyway….like they're going to NOTICE? Don't bet on it. They will however be impressed that you're wearing a pizza on your chest. As long as they don't grab at it for seconds, you're all set. See the Pizza Apron Kits at:

It's time for our annual back to school special. Get a free Staple Free Stapler when you purchase… see:

Have a great August and enjoy the rest of the summer. I'll see you in September. Ami Simms

Ancient Roman Bikinis
English text version
The Bikini Quilt
Bikini Quilt Fabric Starter Kit
The Rag Jacket Pattern
The Tripster bag
Quilt Design & Archive Folders
Something Semi-Frightening
Unusual Business Name
Just Stating The Obvious
No Bikes Allowed
Mirrored Glass Outhouse
Berta Waldmeier's Qiult
Lori Malloy's Sweat Dreams Quilt
Bronwyn Joachim Ferrier's Twisted Sisters Quilt
Quilts For Soldiers
Operation Kid Comfort
Apron Pizza Kit
Back To School Special

ADDRESS CHANGES: with OLD and NEW address