July 2005

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
July 2005
Copyright by Ami Simms

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It’s July, and 2005 is technically half-way through. That’s a disappointing thought because that means I should have at least made a dent in my UFOs. The plan in January was to finish at least some of the sewing projects I started! Yeah right.

Mind you, I’m not complaining. That could require action, like a rededication to my goals, or at least a list of projects I wanted to tackle in some kind of priority ranking that I could check off. I’m just whining. Whining, as I have taught my husband, is another way of sharing. It may sound like I want him to do something about whatever it is that I’m whining about but, after 28 years of training, he knows he is only supposed to commiserate with me and not try to suggest ways to fix whatever I’m whining about.

Fixing should occur only after suggesting, which is sometimes confused with nagging (but isn’t) as in, “Gee, I noticed the drain in the bathtub is really slow.” That means I want him to pour some of that glop down the drain to melt the clog. I could just say “Honey, please fix the drain in the tub,” but that smacks of a DEMAND which is like a NAG, but altogether different. I certainly don’t want to be demanding, so it up to him to note the subtle difference, and/or read my mind, which apparently he has not done, since the drain has been really slow since May. But I digress…

I decided at the beginning of this year to actually finish something. Anything. Preferably something that has already been in progress for some time, but I was going to settle for finally weaving the ending tails of three knitted scarves that were supposed to be Christmas presents but have been living on my ironing board because the intended recipients didn’t attend the party. I’ve been moving the scarves from the ironing board to the cutting table and back again since mid-December. Apparently I don’t mind, because they are still not finished.

I did finish two pair of pants for my mother, but the pieces for pair #3 rotate around the room with the scarves. Madison got a home-made tuxedo (see: ) but Steve’s shirt and slacks, requiring a button and hem respectively, have lived in my ironing bin for at least six years. Out of sight; out of mind. Or, maybe in my case just, OUT OF MY MIND.

I cornered the market last Halloween on collapsible fabric trick-or-treat pumpkins. I bought six of them at the dollar store because I thought for sure they would make great fabric bowls. I took one apart for the pattern, and used fish fabric to make a…wait for it….FISH BOWL. Another 12 minutes with a needle and thread and I could be done with it. I’m waiting for it to morph into something worthy of 12 minutes of my time, so it sits on the edge of my sewing machine table and periodically gets knocked off into the garbage bucket below. I fish it out and put it back on the table. I think it’s trying tell me something. If I let it stay in the trash, perhaps I won’t have to finish it.

Jennie received two quilts when she graduated from high school. The first was a photo-transfer quilt which lives on her bed at school (see: ). The second quilt she had to give back because it needed about 20 hours of machine quilting for completion. And it still does. She graduates from COLLEGE in April of 2006, so I figure I’m OK. If not, she’s planning on graduate school. With any luck she’ll go for her Ph.D.

The Big Green Monster Quilt (see ) needs about 30 hours of quilting and she too will be done. I was appliquéing the pieces for that before the turn of the century. I finally started quilting in 2001 and haven’t taken a stitch since. It lives in a plastic laundry basket that gets kicked from the sewing room to the living room and back again. I refold it from time to time, but that’s all the action it gets.

I’ve got another giant quilt made of some of Mom’s hand dye stamped fabrics puzzled together. It’s basted and ready to go. I can’t even remember what that looks like it’s been so long. Stacked neatly nearby are no less than nine tops ranging in age from “Pieced-Before-We-Moved” (pre-1989) to Just-Completed. I’m waiting for them to decide how they want to be quilted and to mark themselves.

At least 24 containers hold projects that have blocks assembled, along with matching fabric, and in some cases a pattern to follow. Another half a dozen containers hold designs, sketches, for quilts whose parts haven’t yet materialized. I also have three pizza boxes filled with 2-inch orange, green, and purple squares that were going to be something very important, I just can’t remember what. Under them are about 4,000 half-square triangles leftover from an Ocean Waves frenzy that spawned one finished quilt () one top, and plans for several more, the pieces for which have been curing for over a decade.

And that’s not counting the basement. Or the non-recreational projects I want to develop into books, patterns, and workshops.

It’s not like I’ve quit sewing. When I do have time, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, and when I can pry myself away from the computer at home and sit with my family and veg out in front of TV, I reach for my invisibly appliquéd Midget Double Wedding Ring pieces. I’ve made enough “melons” to take it from wall-hanging to couch potato cover. It may hit bed size any time now. Because I keep buying more fabric for it, I can’t sew the melons together yet unless I want a visual timeline of my fabric purchases, so I’m waiting until the new get fully integrated with the old. I have purchased enough fat quarters and skinny minis for a king size quilt. I’m just hoping it won’t come to that.

So why don’t I finish more things? To be sure, I lose interest in some projects, like the 14th Twisted Sisters quilt. Great pattern, but I’ve already moved on. Some projects had little merit to begin with and got farther along than they had a right to. “Amish Center Pizza” is probably a case in point. I’ll probably never get to that one. Technical difficulties pose a problem with some projects. AFTER I stitched 24 folded pineapple blocks, I realized that all the extra fabric in the folds will require me to steam roller the seams if they are ever to lay flat. Self doubt and faltering inspiration is to blame for tops waiting to be quilted. How shall I quilt them? What motif will transport the work to a higher level? Indecision rears its ugly head more often than I care to admit. Let’s say I’ve got 30 minutes. What do I want to sew on? I just can’t make up my mind! With so many choices (even if I can’t remember all the projects I could pick from) I give up and fold laundry instead.

Finally, I’m my own worst enemy. I have never been able to accurately estimate the amount of time anything will take. Optimism takes hold and I jump in with both feet, regardless. Like last week’s new project of making little memory quilts from my mother-in-laws shirts for all six of her children. In nine days. I just realized today I’m not going to make it! They’ll have to wait for Christmas— 2005, if they’re lucky.

So does it all matter in the end? No. I don’t really care if my UFOs sit for another year. I live for thrills. I love the way my brain tingles when I get a new idea, collect the fabric, and solve the puzzle of how to create it. THAT’S where the buzz is! I’ve decided to let it be irrelevant if the project is ever completed. Who needs the guilt? Thanks for letting me whine. I feel better already.

If you’re into graph paper, here’s some you print yourself. (Thanks Sandy K.) See:

Elsewhere on this site are some rather strange essays. I enjoyed this one which compares the two phrases “I could care less” and “I couldn’t care less.” To decide if you could or you couldn’t, see:

“Fool Around Fun” designed by Susan Fuquay is FREE with every order placed during the month of July. What might you want to order? My favorites, of course! Keep reading…

Buy one Zipper-D-Do-Dah necklace and get one FREE. Offer good for the entire month of July, while supplies last. See

Buy three of the Really Cool Pencil Sharpeners, and save over 15%. Limited time offer. See:

Save almost 45% when you purchase a copy of How Not To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt and laugh out loud this summer. Great for car trips, sitting under the beach umbrella, and reading in bed. See:

The special continues… Get a free .32 oz trial size of lemon scented Surgeon’s Skin Secret when you purchase the new One Step Manicure. See:

“Power Cutting, Too” is Debbie Caffrey’s sequel to her popular book, “Power Cutting.” It’s brand new and packed with color photographs of 9 beautiful quilts and step-by-steps. Learn how to cut half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and trapezoids quickly and accurately depending on the fabric you have on hand (yardage or scraps) and the project you’re working on (large units or small units). A handy chapter guides you to the best technique and charts at the end of the book help you create units in any size you might happen to need. For both books and her line of Classy Patterns, visit Debbie at:

Della Gardner made a Twisted Sisters quilt:

Special thanks to Eileen and Lansing Catholic Central High School for giving St. Luke's SIX sewing machines and cabinets, plus 36 feet of Formica counter tops from the old Home Economics room! Not only did she arrange the “adoption” of the old Singers, she helped us unscrew the cabinets and load them into the trailer for the trip to their new home.

Thanks are also due Libby Lehman for a big box of quilting supplies for the new quilters at St. Luke’s.

Your old fabrics, rotary cutters, thread, scissors, rulers, and mats can find a new home helping at risk women learn life skills. Send them to me at: Ami Simms/Mallery Press, Inc./4206 Sheraton Drive/Flint, MI 48532 and include a note inside with your email address (so I can let you know it has arrived) and a note as to the value of the articles you’ve sent so the sisters can send you a statement for tax purposes.

It seems there is need everywhere. If you have a little time on your hands, or would like to do a little extra shopping, help this group provide baby gifts and necessities to babies born to deployed military personnel. For more information, visit:

Thanks to Sandi K. for this eye-opening website. See:

Kathi D. sent me this important news:

“Warning! New scam! This is not a joke! I hate it when people forward bogus warnings...but this one is real, and it’s important. So please send this warning to everyone on your e-mail list:

If someone comes to your front door saying they are conducting a survey on deer ticks and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT! IT IS A SCAM; they only want to see you naked.” There. Glad that’s cleared up.

Donate G., Frank P., and I were wondering “What Were They Thinking!?” See the six most recent additions at:

Fraser Smith is a wood carver like no other. He carves QUILTS! See his newest work and get free downloadable wallpaper of his work at:

Fraser also has a line of note cards. To order them, visit:

Terry Chilko used the Puppus Doggus pattern and has sent her donation to Leader Dogs for the Blind and Paws with a Cause. Thank you!!

Raise your hand if I’ll be seeing you at the AQS show in Nashville next month? In September I’ll be visiting the Log Cabin Quilters in Kalamazoo, Michigan. For more information about my teaching schedule see:

Jodie Davis, shares this joke: Several nursery school students were on their way home in the car when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties. "They use him to keep crowds back," said one youngster. "No," said another, "he's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close... "They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrant.”

Debbie Bowles (Maple Island Quilts) has a new book out you’ll want to get your hands on right now if you’ve got a kid off to college in the fall. Just think: you could have it finished months ahead of time without having to pull an All-Nighter the day before they leave. Believing that every life adventure needs a quilt; Debbie has designed four quilts (each with a smaller “study” size for quicker giving) that are fast and easy. They’re all shown with various color combinations, and are very suited for both genders. (My favorite is called “In Tuition.”) Pictures of real college kids are sprinkled throughout which means that you can have your kid leaf through the book to pick the quilt they want without “doing you a huge favor.” Seeing members of their own species smiling amidst the quilts tells them it’s going to be OK. Make them a wonderful gift they can use at school, one that will remind them of you each and every time they see it. Then make their old bedroom at home into a sewing studio. To order, visit:

Please DO! Forward the ENTIRE thing to all your friends and even some of your enemies. Everybody enjoys a laugh or two. Please do NOT forward just part of it. Somehow my name gets dropped off when these things float through cyberspace and since I’m writing them for free, I should at least get credit for writing them. If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first. Here’s how:

Be good to each other and have a great quilting day! (Or several!) Ami Simms

PS: Madison asked me to tell you to see him holding the flag at

Madison’s Tuxedo

Jen’s Graduation Quilt
Big Green Monster Quilt

Ocean Waves

Print Your Own Graph Paper

Caring LESS

Zipper-D-Do-Dah Necklaces

Save on Really Cool Pencil Sharpeners

How NOT To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt

One Step Manicure

Power Cutting, Too

Della’s Twisted Sisters

Operation Topknot

How Rich Are You?

What Were They Thinking?!

Fraser Smith, Quilt Carver

Fraser’s Note Cards

Ami’s Teaching Schedule

Quilts For The Dorm

Permission To Reprint

Madison With Flag

To change your email address, send an email with your OLD and your NEW email address to Debbie at MalleryPress@aol.com.

If you want your email address to be removed from this newsletter list, send an email to Debbie at MalleryPress@aol.com. Do not waste electrons by copying and sending the whole newsletter. She knows which one you mean. Just type "REMOVE" in the body or subject of the email. Be kind. Debbie is a real person.