Cutest little pattern!

This past weekend, I took a break to attend a local quilt show in Belvidere, NJ put on by the Evening Star Quilt Guild.  The show was not big, but it was very nicely put together.  My mother, friend, Linda, and my 6 year old son had a very nice and welcoming time. 

While we were there, I picked up a pattern by The Quilt Company ( It’s called “The Wine Butler.”  There was a sample on display and I just couldn’t resist.  I’m not usually one to make small items, but I was craving some relatively quick satisfaction form a project.  While at the show, I also happened to pick up a 1/2 yard of fabric with the cutest little turkeys.  (There’s always lots of Halloween fabric to be found, but rarely something for Thanksgiving. )

I went home and realized that I had the makings of a very special addition to the Thanksgiving table!  But before I cut into those turkeys, I tried one with some other fabric first.  They go together in a snap!  The pattern even comes with enough “button” beads for 2 vests and 1/8″ ribbon for one.  I highly recommend visiting their website and ordering the pattern if your local quilt store doesn’t carry it.  Perfect for holiday gift giving!  My husband said, “Honey, why don’t you just make a bunch so we’re ready for whenever we are giving someone a bottle of wine!”  Of course, dear!


Happy sewing!


P.S.  Don’t forget to stop by!  The pattern for Driftwood is in stock!

Driftwood is at the printer!


Driftwood ©2009 Helle-May Designs

Seems like ages since I’ve written.  October is always such a busy month for our family with birthdays, anniversaries, Halloween, and fall traditions.  Somehow I managed to squeeze in pattern writing this month, too. 

I tried my hand at Adobe Illustrator this time to make the diagrams and what a difference it made!  Even my husband was amazed that there was relatively no grumbling this time!  Although many people have commented that the diagrams in the previous patterns were very good, they did not happen without a lot of hair pulling and teeth grinding.   What a breeze it was this time to make them with Illustrator!  I downloaded a 30 day free trial to use for this pattern – but now I just gotta have it!

I would not recommend the pattern to a beginner quilter, but anyone with a reasonable handle on quilting and paper-piecing basics should have no difficulty following the step by step written instructions along with a diagram for practically each step.  I truly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words and I’m sure that there are quilters out there who depend purely on the pattern diagrams and read very little of the text.  All the more reason to include as many diagrams as I can!

All of my patterns are reviewed and edited by two of my most persnickety quilting friends, Connie (in suburban Chicago) and Leslie ( who moved to NJ from Texas about the same time we moved here.)  After they are done with their red pencils, I even give it to my husband.  A mechanical engineer by degree and a quilter by proximity,  he has learned enough about quilting techniques that he can intelligently read through a pattern and pick out errors and parts that need further clarification.    Of course, we’re all still human, so if there still is a mistake or question in there, I’m more than happy to get an e-mail or phone call to offer clarification!

Having just written that last paragraph, I realized something I really hadn’t thought about before.  All four of us have degrees in science!  Connie, in chemistry, Leslie, in geology, and Greg and I, in engineering.  At a minimum, we all approach things from a very analytical and methodical way!  I gotta believe that’s worth something when you’re writing instructions for other people to follow!

The Free Shipping Sale is still on, so visit the website and place your order!


A bit of catching up to do!

I wrote this early last week and didn’t realize I hadn’t actually published it!   So now I’m even farther behind! 

I’ve had at least one complaint that the blog has been dry for too long.  September was a very busy month!  Between getting the boys back into their school and after school activity routines (yet they haven’t had a full week yet due to school holidays and one stomach virus) and finishing Driftwood, there was very little spare time.  So where to begin?

I’ll start with Driftwood.  The top came together nearly perfectly and I was very pleased.  The colors are outside of my normal comfort range (I’m not a blue person) and of course I was worried.  The block looks far more complicated than it is to make.    I think it would make for a good class.  Anyone interested?  But I have to admit I like it and may even have a good spot to hang it when it comes home. 

The quilting was another story.  I quilt all of my quilts on my Janome 6600.  Its only advantage over a regular domestic machine is that it has a slightly longer arm and therefore a little more space under the machine.  Unlike with the piecing, which is usually completely planned out before I start, I can never quite plan out all of the quilting.  This almost always adds more time, since I often have to gave into an area more than once.  I came closer than ever before with a quilting plan for this quilt, partly due to the time constraints I was under. 

My preferred method of marking my quilt designs is usually to draw on Golden Threads paper, sew on the lines and then rip off the paper.  Due to the planned repetitive design and just not wanting to pull out more paper, I decided to mark directly onto the quilt.  This is always scary for me, since I’ve heard so many horror stories of marks not coming off.  Fortunately I found something that worked really well – a Bohn Extra Fine Linemechanical chalk pencil with white “lead.”  It’s not lead and it’s not powdery chalk.  Maybe compressed chalk combined with something?  Anyway, the markings sit on top of the fabric and easily erase away with a soft eraser.  It also probably helps that Batiks are very tightly woven cotton and I had pre-starched them all.  The leads also come in different colors.  Get one at your local quilt shop and give it a try.

Ask my husband about the roller coaster of emotions I went through during the week and a half of quilting this baby!  He’s decided that I’m really a temperamental artist and not a frustrated engineer – but I think it’s probably more of a combination.  Let’s just say that it doesn’t make for good times!  I was very happy when it was all done, both because I think the quilting came out well, and more importantly because I was done!  I probably spent about 60 hours marking and quilting.  It is the most heavily quilted quilt I have made. 

The biggest challenge, however, was the batting!  Never again will I use that brand!  I will not bad mouth it here, but if you’re curious drop me a note and I’ll tell you!  hm@hellemaydesigns.comMy favorite brand, Hobb’s Heirloom 80/20, was out of stock and so I chose another national brand that said it was 80/20 with a very soft hand.  Since I knew I was going to be quilting heavily, I thought a soft hand would be a good feature.  It has a soft hand alright, but let’s just say the bearding and the pilling was enough to drive me crazy!  The brown was coated with a fine white film, and the thread was also coated with it.  Rarely broke my thread, so the tension was good, but I can just imagine what the inside of the machine looks like! I am also sure that it was moving between my layers, since I really had to struggle in parts. 

The only thing that kept me sane during the quilting process was that I discovered I could listen to Estonian radio on the internet!  I found a station from Tallinn that played everything from Classical symphonies to various jazz artists to Broadway showtunes to some modern rock.  All with commentary, interviews, and news in Estonian, of course.  It was fun to listen to and keft me focussed!

Anyway, it’s done and was shipped on Monday to California to the owner of Island Batik for display in their Fall Market booth.  I wish I could see it hanging in person, but I am saving my pennies and have decided that I will be better prepared to go to Spring Market next May.  Now, I’m trying to get the pattern done.  It will probably ready in about 2 weeks – just a little later than I had hoped.  I’m only human – please be patient with me!

I will admit to taking a day off in the midst of quilting to attend the Mancuso show in Pennsylvania.  (I really needed a break and a bit of inspiration – it worked!)  It is a new show.  Evidently they used to have one in Harrisburg.  This is its replacement I guess.  It was a great show.  Lots of quilts and lots of vendors.  (No sign of a recession there!)  I suspect they’ll have that one again.  It was located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, so it’s within a reasonable driving distance for a lot of people.

Looking ahead, after I pattern Driftwood, I have a quilt that’s already made (imagine that!) that I also hope to pattern before the end of the year.  I also have to paint the family room and make those valences that my husband said I should quilt!  With any luck I’ll get it all done before the holidays.


P.S.  See the website for a picture of Driftwood.