Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Becoming a Bonniac

I learned to quilt from a woman named Rachel.  Rachel was the owner and operator of the Amish quilt shop, Rose Valley Quilts (now closed) in Dover, Delaware.  My hubby was stationed at Dover AFB and I happened to visit the shop with a friend on a lark.  My friend and I admired the pile of quilts on the bed Rachel had in the middle of her shop and as Rachel and another woman began the traditional "bed-turning" I fell in love with quilting.  I immediately went to the local Jo-Ann fabrics and signed up for the beginner quilt class which was taught by a Mennonite woman whose name escapes me.  It was a good class and I learned some basics but I had so many difficulties and questions. A little two-hour class once a week just didn't cut it.  So, I would take my block and my questions to Rachel.  Rachel was patient and kind and oh so helpful.  She taught me so many things and really nurtured my love of quilting and so it is Rachel who truly taught me how to quilt in a gas-lamp lit room on a treadle machine.  That was 24 years ago.

In the last 24 years, I have fed my passion for quilting with the cool tools, fabulous patterns and books and marvelous fabrics and, occasionally, I actually finished a quilt or two.  But the truth is that its been just the last few years that I have really made a leap in my quilting, extracting maximum pleasure from not just the completed quilt but from the process of making the quilts.

I just finished Celtic Solstice- Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Mystery from November 2013.  (Well, I still have to do the hand-stitching on the binding but I'm calling it done.)   It's the second quilt finish for the month of August.  I'm not talking wall-hangings or table runners.  I'm talking big quilts and as you can see, Celtic Solstice has a ton of pieces in each block.   My husband was a little surprised that I had a second finish so quickly after May Flowers and commented about it.  He said, "You really seem to have a rhythm going in getting these done." The truth is that it's not so much a change in rhythm as it is in the way I quilt.  

My Celtic Solstice top measured EXACTLY 113" square...yes, exactly.  After quilting it, it ended up at 111" square, exactly. And it went together beautifully.   I didn't struggle to get units to fit, or points to match.  My borders lay flat and every bit of it came from my stash including the backing.  It's not perfect- After all I am human but it is beautiful and, just as important, it's done. So, what changed? This was possible because I am a BONNIAC.

A Bonniac is someone who follows Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.com and is one step away from stalker status.  (It's a small step but a very important one).  I have followed Bonnie for years via her blog and met her in person a few years ago in one of her classes.  Since then I have taken a dozen or so of her classes, cruised with her to the Caribbean (and will again in October) and in the process gained a friend.  I told her at dinner one evening that even with all the classes I've taken and numerous times I have heard her speak I learn something new every time, without fail.  Everything I have learned has made a huge impact on how my quilts go together and how I am finally seeing finished quilts...not just started.   And all of this is because of Bonnie. So, in honor of the joy and pleasure I had putting together Celtic Solstice and seeing it finished and in the hope of passing on the wisdom, I give you: 


(You can find the details of each of these tips and tricks on Bonnie's Blog 
via the tips and techniques tab or through her YouTube videos and blog posts.)

    10.  Scrap USER System.  Make the change from Saver to User.   You won't regret it.

      9.  Leaders and Enders- because thread is expensive and two quilts are better than                one.

      8.  HST production or Sew and Flips: It's not the SEW line, it's the FOLD line.

      7.  Go with a Vintage Sewing Machine instead of new computerized one...                              you won't regret it. Vintage machines for the most part are designed to be serviced            by the owner.  They are cheaper and although not necessarily lightweight, you can            move them place to place without worrying about crashing the computer                          components. 

      6.  Neutral is anything is with a neutral background and lighter than a brown paper                bag.

      5.  Bonus triangles are da bomb!  Make them out of that 'flipped' corner from other                projects as you go and you'll be ready for the next project that requires 347,248                HST's

      4.  You paid $9, $10, $11, or $12 (or more) a yard for the scraps you're thinking                    about throwing away. String blocks and stash user system will put those scraps to              good use. 

      3.  Focus your energies and you'll see progress!  Pick a project and go, go go! Don't                dilute your progress by working on a dozen projects at once.  Better to use 10                  hours on one project, than one hour each on 10 projects.  Finishing one quilt is                  always a great motivator to finish others.

      2.  30% - 60 %:  At 30% you'll be tempted to put away a project, but if you power                through and get to 60% you'll be so excited to see it come together that you'll                  actually finish.  

  And the number 1 thing I've learned from Bonnie Hunter:

      1. Unit Size Matters...Seam Allowance size doesn't.  The truth is is that you can             have a one-inch seam allowance if you want.  The quarter-inch seam allowance is             to eliminate bulk because of all the seams and joints.  But when it comes to putting           the blocks together the UNITS have to be the right size or they won't fit together.             If the units fit together the blocks will be the right size and eliminate the dreaded               sliver trimming, missing points, floating points, and a ton of other common                       problems you have when you put those blocks together.  Take the time to get a                 seam allowance that gives you the right UNIT size and you will make your quilting             life so much easier and really enjoy the process of putting your blocks together.

So, to help you on the path to better quilting, I am having a give-away!  I am giving away Bonnie Hunter's More Adventures with Leaders and Enders autographed by the author.  All you have to do is leave your comment here on the blog with your email address.  I'll pick a lucky winner on Monday, Sept 7th.  Good luck!

Piece and Joy!



  1. Excited. Thank you for doing this. Bgranny77@gmail.com

  2. I already have this awesome book, but a friend of mine does not so if i win it will go her way. Thanks for the chance fellow stalker, i mean bonniac/#1fan!

  3. Thank you don't have any of her books yet. Hope I win.

  4. I am a follower of Bonnie too, and don't have that book, so I hope I win!