September 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 Information may be outdated, irrelevant, misleading or incorrect.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 September 2004

Thanks for letting me out of your mailbox; it was getting a little stuffy in there. Welcome to the 89th edition of the newsletter. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's not correct. I just can't remember when I started writing these things, but it's at least that many! And they all, remarkably, land in your mailbox on the first of every month. (I am easily impressed.)

If you remember when I started writing my newsletters (originally called The AfterChat from my chatroom days at AOL), or if you have copies of any pre-May 1997 editions, let me know. It could be worth absolutely nothing to you, but it would make my day.

OK, Laura Bush is in the picture too. What a kick! Check out page 11 in the October 2004 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. Upper right. I'm the tall one next to the First Lady. And to think my local newspaper couldn't be bothered… For the full details see

The 2004 Memory Walk to raise money to fight Alzheimer's is now history. And we have pictures! See

I've always been more than a little disgusted with my feet. They get me where I want to go, but they're way too big. They're always, well…. underfoot, usually under someone else's foot. I get stepped on all the time. And it's not their fault. I have even been known to step on my own feet. It's just that they're just so dang big. When I was younger I was willing to put up with them because I thought I'd get boobs to match, but so far that hasn't happened and I'm stuck with an Olive Oyl physique.

The best I ever felt about my feet was when I found out that Princess Diana wore a size 10 shoe. Finally, a sole mate.

At home, I live in Reeboks. I've been wearing them since 1977. (Not the same pair.) First it was the "Princess" style, a cruel twist of fate. When one pair would go, I'd buy another just like it. Always white. In 1989 I bought my first black pair "tennies." I still wear them. In 2001, I couldn't find anymore Princesses and I switched to "Reebok Elegance" instead. Talk about stress. I've been wearing that style ever since. At the end of last year, when I found out that particular kind of Reeboks were no longer being made, I went online and bought every pair of Elegance I could find. My motto? Comfort. The less I thought about my feet, the better. I tried never to look down.

In addition to my white and black sneakers, I had two or three pair of frumpy black pumps for teaching, and a pair of brown suede Easy Spirits that Steve said look like bowling shoes. In the back of my closet I also had a pair of neutral (boring) stack heels from when I taught second graders (vintage 1981), the sandals I bought when my 21-year-old was six, and the water shoes I bought when I went to Panama four years ago. And that's it. That was the extent of my shoe collection. How pathetic.

You'll notice I said, "had." I now confess that I have purchased FIVE pair of shoes in the last month, all of them astonishingly stylish. It started in May when I had a pedicure so that I could wear my 15-year-old sandals to teach in Hawaii without my students becoming nauseated at the sight of my tootsies. The procedure was quite lengthy as I had two bionic toenails affixed to my dilapidated big toes and bright red lacquer slathered over all 10 of them. My feet were de-fuzzed, exfoliated, sanded, and smoothed. I thought it was an expensive and colossal waste of time, but perhaps I was wrong.

For the first time in memory, I found myself steeling glances at my feet, and not just when I went up and down stairs to keep from falling down. I admired them as I slipped on my sandals. I wiggled my toes to make sure they were really mine. My feet were hanging out in broad daylight longer than any time in my history, and I was loving it. I practically lived in those sandals that trip, and aside from my orthodics hanging out the back end, my feet looked mighty nice. When I visited the White House I bought brand new toe-pinchers. Although they felt like they were designed by a descendant of the Marquis de Sade, my feet looked grand.

This summer I discovered PayLess. What a concept! And some of those shoes they sell for size "herring boxes without topses" aren't totally hideous. I bought pink shoes, and orange shoes, and green shoes (OK, and two black pairs of shoes) but every single pair makes me look down and smile. My feet are still big, but now they're beautiful.

My daughter talked me into buying a pair of capris pants this summer. Ever living on the edge, I complied with her demand to remove my white knee socks while wearing them. With all that air circulating around my bare ankles, I felt half-naked. The dumb things are hip huggers, too so I felt like I was falling out of both ends. But, they do draw attention to one's shoes. I may have to learn how to tap dance next.

See my beautiful big feet in Spokane, Washington on September 23, 24, and 25 at the Washington State Quilter's Guild. Contact Roberta Schroeder at for more information. In October I'll be at Houston Quilt Market.

See my teaching schedule at

If you have a shop, stop by our booth. This year's theme? SEWING ON THE LUNATIC FRINGE. Just about my entire booth will be devoted to the Rag Fur Jacket pattern.

What's a Rag Fur Jacket? See

Joan L. is the very first person to complete her Rag Fur Jacket! (At least the very first to share a picture with ME!) Way to go, Joan!! You look MAH-velous! See

Have you finished yours yet? If so, send me a picture for the webpage.

Kathy Dennis and Susan Pain came up with a great tool for marking the lines on the Rag Fur Jacket base: June Tailor's SHAPE CUT rotary rulers. Stick your marking tool in the narrow slot where other people are sticking their rotary cutters. DO, mark the guide lines first and line up the Shape Cut with those to mark whole sections of the jacket base. See

Kathie Johnson made a photo-quilt using her father's neckties. Way cool. See

Marilyn Altenbach took a blue ribbon at the Sanoma County Fair with her Twisted Sisters quilt. See

Carol Johnson learned a lot making her Twisted Sisters quilt. Way to jump in there, Carol. See

Leah Paley made two very special memory quilts. Take a hanky and visit


She also made a wonderful Picture Play Quilt. See

Sakiko Otsu from Hamamatsu, Japan made a "banana muffin" with my "Pie a la Mode" fabric! Is that ever cute, or what!? See

Joy Cramer made a Twisted Sisters quilt she calls "Psychedelic Sister." See

Kathy Larrieu made an awesome Fruit Bag with my "Pie a la Mode" fabric. See

OK, remember the diving competitions. The athletes get out of the pool and go stand over by a button on the wall. They hit the button and take a little mini-shower, then dry off. Why do they do that? Is the chlorine in the pool so strong their suits will dissolve between dives? I'm just so curious I can't stand it.

Brenda Zangre wonders about an outhouse… See

Kathy Larrieu inspects the facilities. See

Thanks to Pat Finn for alerting me to this rather unusual quilting project recently undertaken by Nasa to protect the Messenger spacecraft as it orbits Mercury. See

Even though some quilters pick up a needle and make the rest of us think they were BORN quilters, truth is, we all have to learn how to do it from another quilter. We learned our skills from friends, fellow guild members, shop owners, authors of books and magazine articles, and sometimes from itinerant quilt teachers. You probably remember the first time you picked up a needle and had your first quilting lesson. Janet does. She met her first quilter in 1988 in Cape Coral, FL, on a boat. The boat was named "Puff" and it hailed from Alabama. Janet saw the woman's quilt hanging out to dry. It had logos of marinas the quilter had visited on her journey, and Janet was fascinated!

Janet says, "I HAD to make my own memory quilt! I remember taking the bus to town for fabrics and any other supplies that I might need. I was obsessed! "Mrs. Puff" started it all! I did nine blocks. They were a lighthouse, manatee, anchor, intracoastal marker, palm tree on a sand-and-shell island, sailboat, pelican, dolphin, and the center was our boat name, "Whispurr" with the information about our trip.

After her short introduction to quilting, Janet says she wasn't particularly skillful. For one thing, she says, "I appliqued with a running stitch! I have been hooked all these years thanks to the quilter aboard the "Puff."

Janet would like to find "Mrs. Puff." Maybe someone reading this newsletter knows about a boat named "Puff." Perhaps someone can suggest a way to search the internet for ships' registries. Let's help Janet meet her mentor again. (I've already tried the Coast Guard Documentation Name Query…no luck.)

Pam Stahl has created a website I think you'll enjoy. See

The makers of M&M candies has teamed up with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to raise funds through the sale of their new "pink & white" M&M candies. For each 8-ounce bag of the special candies sold, (up to 1.3 million bags worth) the makers of M&M (Masterfoods) will donate $.50 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. They'll cap their donation at $650,000, which is nothing to sneeze at, and incidentally a repeat of their 2003 donation. I'm impressed. Here's a company who puts their money where your mouth is. Visit

Thanks to all who shared that news item with me and to my favorite site on the Internet for checking out what's real and what isn't: SNOPES.COM. Before you forward, check it out at

I started carrying a new brand of Magic Needles this month. They're very high quality and offered at a new lower price. See:

I've been watching the Olympics and discovered I'm just a real sap. I know virtually nothing about sports, and yet I've been glued to the TV every evening for the last two weeks. What's the attraction? Winners! Whenever somebody sticks a dismount, clears the high bar, or crosses the finish line first, I catch myself smiling. Broadly. It's just so cool to watch success. The athletes break their "game face" and allow the raw emotion out. They're so happy! Sometimes they're shocked, or surprised, or "validated," or just totally overwhelmed. The hard work has paid off, somehow their dreams are fulfilled. You can see it on their faces and in their body language: it's pride. It's glorious. The crowd goes wild and they celebrate. And there I sit, smiling. Doesn't matter the event, or the country, I grin for all of them.

Did you see the guys from Argentina win? That was so cool. They hugged and kissed and then they jumped. All of them bounced up and down for as long as they were shown on TV. Players, coaches, Argentineans in the stands, even some guy with a video camera down on the court filming the victors heard the same psychic drumbeat and responded to it. They jumped up and down on the risers after the awards ceremony, too.

Quilters need to be more like Olympians, at least in part. We don't need the actual competition part, we just need to work on the celebration part. Getting ready to finish a quilt? Terrific! Bring it to your next guild meeting and there will be a time set aside for you to finish it, in public, with your peers cheering you on. You take the last stitch, knot it, bite off the thread, and jump up with your arms raised overhead, your thimble glistening in the spotlight. You high-five the quilters around you, then take a victory lap around the room.

As you return to your seat, the guild president escorts you up onto stage and places a small crown on your head. A specially appointed helper carefully places your quilt on a table covered with a white cloth. You are presented to the guild, the name of your quilt, its dimensions, and your name as the maker are recorded into the Book of Quilts in fancy script. You and the quilt are photographed. A gold medal (with patchwork ribbon) is placed around your neck. Then, everyone in the room stands, places their hands over their hearts, and sings the guild anthem. (OK, so you'll have to write one.)

This is followed by thunderous applause and a short interview by the guild newsletter editor. Your responses acknowledge your huge commitment and achievement. You say things like, "The points on this appliqué were the most difficult I've ever done, but I stuck with it." At no time do you say anything that resembles, "Yeah, but, there's mistake over there on the inner border." When the editor concludes with "What an impressive quilt!" you reply "Thank-you! I'm so proud of it!" And then everybody smiles.

I have a weirdo idea and need help. Does anybody know anything about making buttons. Actually BADGES. You know, they have pithy sayings on them and you pin them to your clothing. I think there is a machine called Badge-A-Minute or something like that. Does anybody know about it? Ever used one? Do you have one you want to sell me? Email me at

Thanks for reading this month. I hope you have a terrific September. I'll be back again next month. Please forward this to anyone you know who might be interested. Just forward the WHOLE thing, not bits and pieces. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, get your own every month at

Have a terrific day,
Ami Simms

White House Details
2004 Memory Walk
On The Road Again
Rag Fur Jacket
Joan's Rag Fur Jacket
Shape Cut by June Tailor
Kathie Johnson's Photo-quilt
Marilyn Altenbach's Twisted Sisters
Carol Johnson's Twisted Sisters
Leah Paley's Memory Quilt
Leah's Second Memory Quilt
Leah's PPQ
Sakiko's Banana Muffin
Joy's Psychedelic Sister
Kathy Larrieu's Fruity Bag
Brenda's outhouse musings
Kathy inspects the facilities
Nasa Quilt
Real Women Quilt
M&Ms Fight Breast Cancer
Urban Legends or Truth?
Magic Needles
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