Goodbye Trusty Singer

March 21st, 2016

I started this letter to my daughter and it became one for you too. Sometimes Kristin (my e-letter editor) asks me for titles for the letters. I believe this one would be “Good-Bye Trusty Singer”.
My parents got me a very special Singer Sewing Machine in 1957 when I was a freshman in high school.
We always followed the stock truck when Dad sold cattle from our Iowa farm. I remember, very distinctly, following the truck to the Omaha Stockyards. We would want to be there to see Dad’s cattle unloaded and herded into an individual pen for our livestock. First they would be weighed. The quality of the beef cattle mattered and he would be paid accordingly. We always hoped none would be docked as that would be less in the payment. In the center of the stock yard was a tall building. I think it was round, but I’m not sure. It was exciting to go to the office in that building. The check would be issued immediately. It seemed as though it was a huge amount. These selling trips happened several times a year.
After the adventure at the Omaha Stockyards my mother and I would go shopping. I really don’t know what my Dad did while we shopping. One thing he may have been doing was buying Wonder Bread and oleo! He could get a dozen loaves of bread for $1. Iowa had oleo (no colorant), but Nebraska had different laws concerning it. It was cheaper and came with a little packet of yellow coloring to make the oleo (margarine)  look more like butter. It was brand new on the market and everyone thought it was so amazing. I didn’t like the oleo or Wonder bread.


Mom and I would go shopping at a wonderful department store---Brandeis. It had a lovely tea room and Mom and I would go there. Mom had a great wardrobe. She would buy hats. She was tiny and the sample shoes fit her. They came with matching hand bags. And we always went to an amazing fabric store. It was not arranged like quilt shops of today. The fabrics were piled in tall, unstable stacks. If you wanted a particular bolt at the bottom of the pile you undid everything to get it from the bottom of the stack. It seemed like such a mess.

Clothes made by my Aunt Florence.

Aunt Florence is wearing glasses, the other woman is my mother. 

My mother hated to sew but encouraged me. She would buy whatever I wanted if I promised to use the yardage.  My Aunt Florence, who taught me to sew loved making clothing and pillows and Utility quilts.  I still have some of the darling clothes she made for me and a matching outfit for my cousin, Nancy. She made dozens of rugged Utility quilts. I don’t think she ever made fancy quilts or bought fabric specifically quilts. Several years ago I did use my collection of the quilts Aunt Florence had made for a retreat theme. If you would like a pattern which includes a number of the quilts you can order by following this link.

I distinctly remember one of the trips to the fabric store.  Dad was along that time and after lots of discussion in the store Mom and Dad bought me the best sewing machine on the market—a Singer Slant-O-Matic in a blonde cabinet. It was top of the line in those early zig zag models. For a long time I kept the receipt. I believe it was $435, which was a huge amount of money at that time!
That machine was the best! Years later when I started teaching, students would see my old machine and comment about using such an old thing. I didn’t want a new machine. It worried me that someone would suggest to Bill that he should get me a new machine. I cautioned him that I liked what I had and didn’t want a new machine.   

That changed when our granddaughter Quinn was expected. There were two features my old Singer didn’t have—one was the ability to program her name so that I could quilt the baby quilts using that feature and the buttonhole stitch was in the opposite direction for machine applique. Before Quinn’s arrival I bought myself a new Bernina and the Singer was moved upstairs to a guest room. Since then the blonde cabinet has served as a bedside table. In all these years since I think I may have used it once to put in a zipper. It was time for it to move on.
When my friend Jean called and asked if there was anything I would like to send to Denver since she was driving there,  I immediately thought of my trusty old Singer. We had given our daughter Anne, a cheap model that was used while taking classes at Quilt Market. When I used that inferior machine at Anne’s home,  it was such poor quality it drove me nuts and Anne struggled with it too.

So my 59 year old Singer is at Anne’s house in Denver now. Thinking about the Singer 401 I thought maybe some of you would have a similar story.

When did you get your first sewing machine? Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of it before it left for Denver.  I’m counting on my e-letter guru Kristin to come up with one.

It was a thrill to see the quilt design I worked on for RJR in the latest Keepsake Quilting Magazine. My name, as a contributor to the design was mentioned. Of course I would like you to order from Quilting in the Country. I’ll offer you a 20% off discount!  Order by following this link.


Here is the write up from the Keepsake Quilting catalog:

KQ Exclusive!
Each block of this pieced and fusible-appliques quilt is inspired by a barn quilt. Kit has directions by Jane Quinn and Christine Stainbrook of Project house 360, and fabrics for the top and binding from Patrick Lose’s Basically Patrick line for RJR. Twin 73” x 73”
Unfortunately Keepsake did not mention the great Barn Quilt Book by Suzy Parron that inspired the quilt. You should have it! We can send it to you if you follow this link.



Many of you know that I serve on the Board of Directors of Gallatin History Museum. This is my latest brain storm. During the past week I’ve been visiting the nine historic home owners who have consented to show off their dining rooms. If you live nearby I think you would truly love to get into one of the homes which you drive by but probably won’t ever have the opportunity to see inside. It’s quite the project! Visiting the historic homes is definitely the payoff for the committee work.


I still have two of these sweet little thimbles left.  Maybe you have a very special tiny little girl who you are teaching some special stitches. I love giving and receiving engraved gifts. Why not get the thimble engraved? Most certainly it will become a keepsake! Consider ordering one for a special “wee” person. They will arrive in a black velvet draw-string bag. They are size 3 ½. Offered at 50% off, they are a treasure. Order by following this link.
Quilting books for sale. Some at even greater reductions and a new offering!
Baskets and More is from my friends at Country Threads in Garner, IA. I absolutely love the basket motif and this book. The main reason I want someone else to own this book is that I don’t want to be influenced by the great designs. I’m hoping to publish another book myself and I don’t want to be accidentally influenced by another person's work.  The original price was $15.50, now 35% off. Follow this link to order.

Welcome to a fabulous quilted journey through history with these 50 stunning quilt blocks. This remarkable book features fifty quilt blocks to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Although many of these blocks weren't designed until the 1930s, renowned quilt historian Barbara Brackman selected each one for the unique symbolism its name lends to recounting stories of the war during the mid-1800s. Choose from a variety of pieced or appliqued blocks, each shown in two colorways with instructions for assembling two sizes - 8" and 12".

 Regularly $29.95, now 30% OFF! Follow this link to order. 

We still have a couple of these bunny ornament kits. Kristin and I had fun going through our boxes of wool and finding a combination we think you'll really like. Order the kit or pattern only by following this link.



You may remember or be familiar with Crabapple Hill's Gardner's Alphabet. It was originally sold as a block of the month but we have found that we still have a complete floss kit available. We can order the pattern set for you too. Don't miss out on the opportunity to make this stunning piece. Order by following this link. Both are now 20% off and we have great up close pictures on the website.



2016 Retreat Dates at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch have been set!   June 12-14 and September 15-18. Prices for the retreat are $399 for two nights and $525 for three nights. Call or email to reserve your spot. 406-587-8213.

Project details to follow. Join us in this beautiful setting in Gallatin Canyon for a three days of delicious food, quilting and wonderful comaraderie.