July 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 Information may be outdated, irrelevant, misleading or incorrect.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 July 2004
(by Ami Simms)

Madison has turned into a big sissy. While he's made great strides dealing with his thunderstorm "issues" (mostly because he's been invited to share my chair so often he thinks he's an 85-pound LAP dog) he was totally freaked out by an air cleaner. Go figure. Steve got one of those fancy shmancy no noise, electronic air cleaners deemed safe for children and pets of all ages. Within two seconds of plugging it in Madison took off in the other direction. He wouldn't go within 50 feet of it, which was a serious pain in the neck as the air cleaner was by the door. This is the very same door Mr. Madison dashes through on his way to chase squirrels, roll in the grass, lollygag around in the sunshine, and leave presents in the backyard. We're talking serious avoidance, the use of another much less convenient door, and a dearth of dog greetings at our usual portal of entry. No fun at all. I don't know if it was the sound, the odor, or the lack of odor. Whatever it was, it's gone. We returned the air cleaner. All I can say is thank goodness we don't let Madison run our lives. Just a minute baby, Momma's coming…

I got to tweak the final pattern cover yesterday and I must say I love it to pieces. Lee Kirchner (who has done the artwork for my Photos-To-Fabric transfer paper and Twisted Sisters, and a bunch of other stuff) has really outdone himself this time. It's so cool. You can see for yourself on my Home Page. (That gorgeous young thing standing next to me is my daughter, Jennie, by the way.) See:

The tissue paper pattern itself is shipping from the printing plant at McCall's and should be here any day now. The pattern cover, as of right now, is in production and should be winging its way back home by mid-July. The instruction pages are, well, still being written. I wanted the pictures to look as realistic as possible, so on many of them I'm drawing in virtual "rag fur" strip by strip. Talk about time consuming! I spent over 5 hours on two pictures yesterday until I thought my eyes would cross! BUT, it really looks cool. There are just about 8 pages of instructions, but don't let that frighten you. I wanted to include LOTS of pictures so if you've never sewn a garment before, you won't be lost.

My pattern testers have already received pages 1-5 and have started slicing and dicing. Everything's going according to plan for a July 23 ship date. The pre-publication price is still on the web page, but it will be taken down shortly, so don't wait too much longer.

I hope you all tune in to see the Rag Fur Jackets in person (on MY person) on Quilter's Toolbox. Check your cable provider for FAMILY NET and pull up a chair on Friday, July 23 at 1pm and watch together. I'll be the one watching with a paper sack over my head. (I still don't like seeing me on TV.)

I have a limited supply of Hoffman fabrics for your rag fur jacket-ing pleasure. Please see

I have a new favorite local restaurant. If you consider a 50-minute drive on three different freeways local. It's called BIBIMBAB. Pronounced just like it's written. (Go for it. I can't hear you.) And if you're anywhere near Novi, Michigan it's worth trying to find. (43155 Main St/Suite 300, sharing the same parking lot as the Mongolian Bar-B-Q. Phone: 248-348-6800) It's outstanding. You'd swear you were in Korea. I'm no expert on Korean food. In fact, I'm pretty pathetic when it comes to even identifying what I'm eating, but all of what I've tried there is delicious. (When we were in Seoul we had to stare at people at the next table to try and figure out how/what to eat just about everything we were served. Fingerbowl or soup? Tasty morsel or garnish? Finger food or hold on, people are starting to stare back.) The waitstaff speaks English and are MOST helpful.

Bibimbab (sometimes translated to the English alphabet as "bibimbop" which I happen to think is even more fun sounding) is a meat (or sometimes not) and a dozen different vegetables over rice, baked and then served with a fired egg on top, in a stone bowl. Or some other kind of bowl. It comes with a tiny dish of red sauce. This should give you a hint that a little goes a long way. Add some, stir everything up, and see how it goes.

The oddest thing is eating something out of a stone bowl. Whatever's inside just doesn't cool off. Ever. Here I am, spastically chop-sticking away, and after a good 30 minutes and my bibimbop is still as hot as when it came out of the oven. An hour later, as I'm trying to flick off the last baked-on crusted rice from the bottom off the still-hot stone bowl with the end of my chopstick, I'm still burning my mouth. It's the perfect dish for slow eaters. Try it; you'll like it.

I just received a letter from the US Ambassador to Senegal who not only likes my web page, but promises to send a photo of he and his wife in front of my quilt to add to it. Not only that, Ambassador Roth wrote that he also shared my email, describing my Washington Experience, with General Williams! I met General Williams in the receiving line right after Secretary of State and Mrs. Powell at the Department of State. General Williams may also remember ME as the dumb bunny who didn't realize that when one goes through a receiving line it's better to tell the person you're meeting what your name is, rather than just stand there with your mouth hanging open and a "deer in the headlights" expression on your face. I'll do it better next time. Ambassador Roth also sent a booklet showcasing the art currently on exhibit at the residence. I'm on page 13. What a kick! If by some slim chance you missed me blowing my own horn, please take a peek at:

Larina Harris has a super idea if you're in the mood to leave secret messages in your quilts. I can't wait to try this. She bastes fabric words on the inside of her backing fabric prior to sandwiching the 3 layers together. Hold her quilt up to the light and the message is revealed. Way cool! See:

Here's a great idea. Nine buttons and a white T-shirt and you've got wearable art. See it at:

It's not just for dying underwear. See Paula's quilt at:

This one is a gem. Special thanks to Dave Wiley for allowing me to reprint his article. He writes:

"We were hoofing it through the Cleveland metro parks with about two miles left on our ten mile hike, and we came up to a picnic pavilion area. Off to the left of us were several port o' lets, and one was being used in a very unusual fashion. There was some sort of cart parked next to the port o' let. I assumed it was some sort of sled training cart when there is no snow, but that was pure speculation on my part. The cart was not the unusual part. The unusual part was there were four Siberian husky/malamute looking dogs in harnesses, all hooked to one gang line (I think that is what it is called). The line was probably 20 feet long, and went directly into the door of the port o' let. The dogs were not hooked to the training cart at all, so it appeared they were out on a port o' let sled riding mission. I can only assume there was no way to anchor the cart and the dogs while the operator was taking care of business, so she got the brilliant idea to just take the gang line into the port o' let and hold on to the dogs while she accomplished her goal.

You are probably thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw this little set up: Recipe for disaster. And, of course this story wouldn't really be worth typing if it ended with the woman coming out and driving off with her dogs into the sunset. I am fishing for my digital camera so I can take a picture of the port o' let pulling team when my dogs yank their leashes, almost toppling me over. I look to see what in blazes set my dogs off, and notice that a squirrel has decided to stop in the middle of this wide open space, pick up a nut and chow it while my three dogs and four port o' let anchored sled dogs hang out in that very same field. So far the potty chain gang hasn't seen the squirrel, but it is only a matter of time… (See the whole story at:

The Value Viewer is a great tool from Karen Combs that helps quilters see fabric value regardless of color and/or texture. It makes fabric selection so much easier, even for beginners. It's a VALUABLE tool! (Get it? Just a little quilting humor.) Check out Karen's free website lesson at

Real Women Wear Thongs. I'll give that statement a non-committal 'maybe.' But what a great name for a quilt! By the way, it's not what you think, but don't take my word for it. Check out "Real Women Wear Thongs," "Sushi," and "Fried Chicken" all patterns by Kathy (a.k.a. the "Teacher's Pet") See:

SOS stands for Save Our Stories, and the nice folks at the Alliance for American Quilts sponsor these oral histories. I had my history taken last year at Quilt Festival with my St. Basil's Cathedral quilt and it's now been transcribed and is online. I found it both amusing, and slightly horrifying, to read exactly word-for-word what came out of my mouth that day. Note to self: YES is preferable to YEAH. I had no idea… I was verbally slouching. (I promise to sit up nice and straight next time.) It was also interesting to note that my interviewers wrote down EVERYTHING, including stray giggles and background noises. "Listening" in between the lines sounds as if the whole place was falling down around us. See my interview at:

I'll be in New Braunfels, TX for a lecture and workshops June 18 and 19, 2005. Any LOCAL guilds wanting to join in the fun should have their program chairs email me. We might be able to work something out, either before or after. Following is an ingenious tip from a fellow teacher on the circuit. Just when you think living out of a suitcase is old hat…

Here'a a tip from Barb Vlack, EQ Queen and freelance educator. She writes: When I was traveling in Japan 5 years ago, I had a silk blouse that needed a wrinkle touch up. No iron in the room. But there was a tea pot. I heated it up with some water in it and used it for an iron.

Creativity comes in so many forms.

At Ft Wayne's Three Rivers Quilt Festival in June I heard about a group of quilters who designed quilted collars using….(not making this up)… toilet seat covers as a template. The hole for, well, you know, is where it goes on over one's head, and the part that hangs down in to the toilet to catch the flush is where they embroider their names and add their lapel pin collections. This is all in the realm of "I gotta see this to believe it!" Who is part of this group? C'mon. It's time to confess! And I want pictures!

There's a swell advertisement for the four food groups, thanks to Pat French. And, Robin Kasper found the ultimate in stupid speed limit signs. See them both at:

It's time to sign up for Louise Young's trip to the San Blas Islands and Pamama to hunt for molas. These reverse appliqué panels are a quilter's dream. You may not ever want to make one, but as a fellow needle-worker you'll share at least a little with the Kuna Indians you meet. I went several years ago and had a trip of a lifetime. Louise is the perfect guide. She's knows a ton about the area and the people, and is brimming with enthusiasm. This is not a trip for everyone. Some of the conditions are a little rustic, but if I survived, so can you! Please contact louiseyoung00@hotmail.com. For pictures of my adventure, see:

Those who have taken workshops with me that require rotary cutting know that I always demonstrate using the little pizza cutter with BOTH hands. You make the first cut with your "stupid" hand to even off the fabric, and then make the rest of the cuts with your "smart" hand. I find it a huge time saver, not having to use two rulers, flip fabric, or run around to the other side of the cutting table. One day of practice will usually get you to the point where you don't have to stick out your tongue to cut with your non-dominant hand, but only the most daring of my students actually jump in with both hands. Mickie S. shares these thought in a recent email:

"The greatest tip I learned from you had to do with training my stupid hand to use the rotary cutter. I've used every trimming opportunity since then to hone that skill....Tuesday I had carpal tunnel surgery on my smart right hand and although it is still very difficult to do most things single-handed (left single-handed) I credit you for my excellence in southpaw task execution. Had I not taken your wonderful advice that snowy day, doing simple things would certainly be a lot more difficult."

I am delighted to be the purveyor of "wonderful advice." But, let me remind you that you need to be very careful when using a rotary cutter, especially in your Stupid Hand. (If this wasn't immediately obvioius to you, you should not be using your Stupid Hand. Maybe not your Smart Hand either.) In the interest of covering my own backside, I will point out now that what works for me may not work for you. If you cut yourself you can't blalme me. You are the one holding the sharp object!

Naturally, Mickie's encouragement just created a "stupid hand" monster. Here's a little known fact: if you're right handed, the teeth on the left side of your mouth get a more vigorous brushing than those on the right side of your mouth. And vice versa. No fooling! Would I make this up? (See what great things you learn in this silly newsletter?) If, like most people around a certain unspecified age that might be approaching a half-century, your dentist has pointed out annoying bare spaces above your teeth where there used to be gums, check and see if they're occurring on your non-dominant side. They are? Hmmm… Here's something you can do: start brushing your teeth with your "stupid" hand. It will slow you right down and make every stroke deliberate. If you don't slow down, you'll wind up sticking that Oral B in your ear. Trust me. While you're in the slow-mo speed you can actually THINK about what you're doing. (When was the last time you did THAT while brushing your teeth?) You can control the speed and pressure of your brush, and you should because if you've got a receding gum line to match your receding hairline, you're brushing way too hard.

I'm not done yet. Using your "stupid" hand is great exercise for your brain. Actually, learning anything new is good for your brain. Next month I'll tell you all about learning to use my new XBox.

Debra Mason used some really cute fabric for her Twisted Sisters in my June workshop. Check it out at

Paula Benjaminson shares a terrific Puppus Doggus quilt. See

Chris De Tomasi decorates the table with "Hold The Anchovies" quilts. I wanna go eat at HER house! See

Kim Eskelund finished her String Quilt. What a super job! I love the setting! See:

I've lost some emails this month, so if you sent me something to share on the web page or just haven't heard back and you should have, please try again: AmiSimms@aol.com.

I hope you have a great 4th of July celebration and get some quilting time in, too. Thanks for reading, and as always, if you enjoyed the newsletter, please tell your friends about it.

See you next month,
Ami Simms

Rag Fur Jacket Pattern
Hoffman Batiks
Washington D.C. Again
Hidden Treasures
Button T-Shirt
SetaColor Quilt
The Porta-Potty Story
Value Viewer
Teacher's Pet Quilt Patterns
Ami's Interview
What Were They Thinking?!
Ami's Mola Adventure
Debra Munson's Twisted Sisters Centers
Paula Benjaminson's Puppus Doggus quilt
Chris De Tomasi's pizza quilts
Kim Eskelund's String Quilt

TO BE REMOVED: Please email MalleryPress@aol.com. ADDRESS CHANGES: MalleryPress@aol.com with OLD and NEW address