September 2005

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
September 2005
Copyright by Ami Simms

I'm sure you've seen the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina on television and read about it in the newspapers. Please keep Katrina's victims, and those whose lives have been turned upside-down, in your prayers. In addition to the more well-known agencies collecting funds to help those who have lost so much, the American Quilter's Society is requesting completed bed and crib quilts for the disaster victims. Details should be on their website shortly. The Humane Society of the United States is also collecting money to fund their disaster relief fund which supports animal rescue. See: and

Thanks for pointing out that I was chronologically challenged last month. I sent out the August newsletter with a subject line that said JULY and inside it was dated APRIL! With that in mind I'd like to wish everyone a Happy St. Swithin's Day and move on! To learn more about St. Swithin's Day (there really IS one) see: St. Swithin's Day.

And I missed it again! Not that I particularly want to watch myself on TV, but it could be SO amusing. One of these days I'm going to remember to check the schedule and go to a big appliance store that has an entire wall of televisions on display. I’ll dress in the same outfit and stand there in front of all the TVs when the show airs and see if anybody notices.

The segment, called "The Eye of the Beholder," was all about using conversational and other sometimes "difficult" fabrics. I shared a quilt from my Picture Play Quilts book. For your very own autographed copy (and a chunk of free fabric) click here.

We are including a free pattern by Susan Fuquay called "Snowbelle" with every order placed on my website this month. With it you can make a really cute snowman wall quilt. It measures must 17" x 17" so you can whip it up in no time. Winter winds will be blowing soon… Go to Ami's web page.

I just got back from a really fun time in Nashville at the AQS show. Had some great classes, and even though I was totally lost all the time (that place is BIG) there were always geographically adept quilters to lead me wherever I wanted to go.

I'll be close to home for the next two months with workshops and a lecture in Kalamazoo, Michigan for the Log Cabin quilters in September, and a lecture in Ortonville, Michigan for the Town Hall Quilt Guild in October. Since that last one is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from home, Madison will be joining me. He'll be the one in the tuxedo. Seee the dog with three tails.

In November I'll be in Naples, FL at the Naples Quilt Guild. And to finish up the year, I'll be spending part of my December with the North Coast Needlers in Ohio. Click here for dates in 2006, and the rest of my teaching schedule.

There are two new letters from my Amy and Jack Simms. They've officially been sworn in as Peace Corps volunteers and have relocated from their training host family to their final assignment.

Your old fabric, sewing notions, and sewing machines (in working order) can find a new home at St Luke's. Joan Shay, Sally Signore, and Marianne Scott all thinned their herd of sewing paraphernalia earning themselves that warm, fuzzy feeling AND a tax write-off. Way to go, gals! Details are at "How Quilters Can Help".

As many of you know, my husband and I take care of my mother who has Alzheimer's disease. For the last four years she's been able to amuse herself most of the time by sewing quilt tops which I have palmed off on unsuspecting quilters at my lectures and workshops so that they can fix, finish, and donate them to their favorite charities. It was a win-win situation. Mom had something meaningful to do, and several hundred charity quilts were donated by kind-hearted quilters who didn't mind Mom's odd color combinations or a few off seams.

When Mom's patchwork got stranger (more pleats, less seams that actually caught both pieces of fabric, etc) a steam roller was about the only thing that would get them to lie flat, and I ran out of takers. I continued to make a BIG FUSS over her "quilts." We both did the Happy Dance every time she finished one, and I tucked them away to finish "later." (The 20 gallon tote is now full to the top!)

About a month ago Mom began to have difficulty puzzling her strange quilt tops together. I suggested we go to 6" squares which she could sew in rows, and then join the rows. In the transition, I became custodian of her rotary cutter and cutter of the squares. Learning to patch this "new" way was an excruciatingly difficult concept for her to grasp. (Previously she had been "setting in" each patch!) It took hours and hours to teach her to sew pairs, then to join the pairs to make the rows. She kept forgetting how to count to eight. Diagrams didn't help, nor did the sample rows we sewed together. She could look at a row with 6 blocks and a row with 8 blocks and think they were the same length.

Still, she was determined. She has to hang on to every thought with both hands, yet she wanted so much to help by making charity quilts. How do you say "no" to that? So, she sewed and I cut 6" patches. Thousands of patches. None of what she sewed was usable. Too many puckers, pleats, and partial seams, but she was on a mission and I was going nuts!

Something had to change. It was then that I remembered I had several spools of YLI Wash-A-Way water soluble basting thread. We added borders to three of her quilt tops, and then I wound all her bobbins with Wash-A-Way thread. After she goes to bed at night I soak her patchwork in the washing machine. With a quick spin and a few minutes in the dryer, I can pick out the regular thread pretty easily. I iron the squares and give them back to her the next day to sew, mixed in with freshly cut patches. Every other day I show one of the three "finished" quilt tops which she thinks she just completed. Now all we have to contend with is re-threading the sewing machine about every 30 minutes when it "breaks." Thanks to YLI, I get to make lemonade out lemons.

Aczompo shares another use for water soluble thread: The tale has been told that a Bernina dealer whose swimsuit display had been repeatedly stolen made the next model with water soluble thread! Who says there is no justice?

Jennifer shares a rather strange rental sign.

Mary Ann finished a Twisted Sisters quilt.

Gail Stobart has a new Rag Fur Jacket.

Valerie Hearder has the perfect solution if you bead or have to keep track of little itty bitty things for other sewing or craft projects. Her 6 and 1/2 inch by 5 inch light weight aluminum boxes have 20 little 1 and 1/4 inch containers with clear tops to see the goodies inside. The tin closes snugly (with a quilt design on the lid), so the containers won't shift. At this price you'll want more than one and, lucky for you, Valerie gives a discount for quantity orders on her web site! See:

Click on SUPPLIES and scroll down to the end for shipping and payment options.

I usually wear a Rag Fur jacket when I teach. They're the perfect garment for travel because you can wad them up in a suitcase and they still come out looking wonderful. It is also impossible to iron them. I need more clothes like that.

The last evening in Nashville I ate dinner with some of the other teachers. It was a wonderful meal. When the chef happened to come over to our table (we were definitely one of the livelier groups) we had a lovely conversation with him, during which, he happened to noticed the "Michigan Mink" I was wearing. Apparently he's a hunter. He wanted to know if I'd make him one in camouflage fabric! Although I demurred, I have a feeling he's going to talk his wife into it. Stay tuned.

Several summers ago, while wearing a green Rag Fur jacket, I was asked if it would change colors in the fall. Everybody's a comedian!

I will mention that while they don't change colors with the seasons, at least not by themselves, I wear my Rag Fur jackets year round. They are light-weight enough to go over short sleeve blouses and T-shirts for summer temperatures (especially in overly air conditioned buildings) and the loft acts as a good insulator when I layer over turtlenecks and under my winter coat when the weather turns nasty. You can make one in any color you like, even camouflage, for spring, summer, fall, or winter. See: Ami's Rag Fur Jacket Pattern.

AND, I know how you can get 10% off! (See below.)

Very special thanks to those who have visited the Beebe's Buddies website and made a donation to the Alzheimer's Association in my Mom's name. If you want to join them, click the Memory Walk logo on the top of my Home Page.

When Mom and I walk on the 17th of this month, I'm going to wear a shirt with the name of everyone who helped me raise money for Alzheimer's research. I'd like your name to be on it. All it takes is a buck, just $1, and that's even tax deductible if you write a check. (You've got that much in dimes and nickels behind the cushions in the sofa!) If you've enjoyed reading my newsletter for the last year, that's less than a dime an issue.

So, throw a buck in an envelope when you're done reading this and mail it to: Alzheimer's Association
Memory Walk: "Beebe's Buddies"
G-3287 Beecher Road
Flint, MI 48532

One dollar isn't much, but there are over 16,000 quilters who read this newsletter every single month. Together we can do great things. I'd like so many letters to be delivered to the Alzheimer's Association that they have to bring them in a bunch of big sacks and haul them in with a cart. I want them to get so many letters the mail comes up to their ankles! I want so many letters that they can call the local news to come in and see them all. On walk day I want my shirt so covered with names of quilters who care that there won't be anything showing but ink! I'd like them to find a cure for Alzheimer's…

No good deed should go un-rewarded. So, if you donate on-line or send something in an envelope, please type this coupon code on any orders you care to make on my website during the month of September: BEEBE. For helping my mom, Beebe, and the other 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer's you'll automatically get a 10% discount off your entire order.

Thanks for your help!

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. Click here.

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

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