Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts


quilting, sewing

A Jewish Ark Curtain

I have a creative tip for you. If you are going to make something, or create a personal gift for a person or organization that includes lettering, do yourself a favor and do it in your own language. Why do I say this? Simple; it’s too easy to make a mistake in another language and not grasp you did it or realize the ramifications of having done so. What am I talking about?

I offered to make a new curtain to cover the Ark in a Jewish Temple. The Ark is where the Torahs are kept and it’s a holy receptacle that plays an important part in the Jewish faith. I looked on-line for ideas, combined a couple of them and happily went to work with shiny gold and dark brown fabrics on white velvet. Of course there was Hebrew lettering involved which I traced, cut and appliquéd onto the curtain. Continue reading “A Jewish Ark Curtain”

Picking Fabrics – Flash Fiction

The famous quilt designer greeted me, “Good morning. I’ll let you know if I need help.”

She perused the solid section then moved to the Batiks and inspected the color options. She pulled out bolt after bolt visualizing the array, then brought the pile of multiple shades of very drab greens, browns, and greys to the counter. She ran her fingers up and down the stack. “A half yard each please.”

I wasn’t surprised when I saw an award-winning quilt entitled “Camouflage Crazy Quilt” in a magazine the following year that had multiple kinds of black floss embroidery stitches.


In response to Charli Mills  March 29, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways we use our fingers and what happens when we add speed. Go where the prompt leads.

March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge

Quilting is a huge part of my life. When I am not writing, I am quilting in one form or another. That means I might be shopping for fabric, or cutting the pieces for a new quilt, or sewing those pieces together (actually called piecing), or sewing the top-batting-backing layers together which is the quilting process. There is a quilt in every room of my home, yes, one even hangs in the kitchen. Continue reading

My Favorite Pastime

Brooke's finished

Once again the National Day of Calendar gave me the opportunity to talk about what I want. I finished this t-shirt quilt yesterday. It is my great-niece’s high school graduation gift. It fits nicely into this blog post because I had to thread and rethread the needle on my new mid-arm quilting machine (still free-motion) because it was skipping stitches and the thread kept breaking.  Continue reading “My Favorite Pastime”

What Size It?

It’s National Tape Measure Day. As I look at the above picture I realize almost everything we touch, use, or like, has something to do with size. The tape measure, according to whether it is made of flexible metal, plastic or cloth, can tell us the of size a whole lot of things.

People need to know their measurements in order to buy clothing, especially out of a catalog. Men want to know ladies measurements to see if they “measure-up” to their ideal dream lady. Now that’s a sexist comment, but the truth. Ladies want to know how men “measure-up” in all sorts of situations. I’m not sure you can measure those situations with a tape measure, it has more to do with manners and sensitivities.

Builders have to know All the measurements in any building they build, whether it be the size of the doors to be used or the square footage of a closet. Everything has a measurement in the basic planning stages to figure out how much the planned building will cost to build. I know that because that is what my husband does at work. It’s detailed and exact.

I live in potato growing country and machines with varying size screens on conveyor belts are utilized to sort the potatoes. They don’t measure the potatoes individually, but the screens have specific measurements so the smallest fall through first, and then the next size, etc. Different sizes are used for different things.

Being a quilter, I measure the repeat of the design on a fabric. Some patterns call for a specific number of repeats to cut pieces to make a new pictorial. I also have to figure out exact measurements when I put a t-shirt quilt together because all the logos on the shirts are different sizes. In order to make an eye-pleasing mosaic it takes knowledge of the formulas of triangles and patience to get it right. I like the challenge.

brooke's quilt

This is my great-niece’s high school graduation gift. It’s not yet quilted. You can see the pieces are not all the same size or shape. Rulers help me with all the math, and a tape measure tells me how big the finished quilt is. Yes, I use all that “useless” math I learned in high school. In my life, a tape measure is a must.


How Many Are Too Many?

It’s National Sewing Machine Day. Since there are six working sewing machines in my studio, you can guess this day is important to me. Is six too many? Not at all! My grandson asked me one day about the number of them. I explained each one does one or two things better than the other one does, so yes, I do use them all, at different times of course..

If you asked me, I thought Singer invented the sewing machine. I would have been wrong. The National Day of Calendar tells us skilled cabinet-maker and English inventor, Thomas Saint, received the first patent for a design of a sewing machine in 1790.  It was intended for leather and canvas, was never advertised and no evidence of it, other than his drawings, could be found.  In 1874, William Newton Wilson found Saint’s drawings in the London Patent Office, made adjustments and built a working model. The London Science Museum currently owns Wilson’s model.

  • Walter Hunt invented the first American lockstitch sewing machine in 1832.
  • John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in the United States in 1842.

Growing up, I used a Singer sewing machine that was in a cabinet which sat in front of our dining room window. We pinned patterns to fabric that was laid out on the dining room table. We cut each of the pieces with scissors and pieced our garment together, using lots of pins and maybe tracing paper to mark darts. My older sisters taught me to sew. In high school, I made my first quilt. It was just some squares sewn together.

There are many brands of sewing machines today. They all have a complete line, from rudimentary to computerized ones with many stiches and lots of extra features. Pfaff, Babylock, Elna, Janome, Viking, Husqvarna, Brother, Bernina, and Singer are the ones that come to mind. Then you get into quilting machines; Gammel, Nolting, Innova, Grace, Bernina, and the list goes on. So many to choose from. If you want to buy a machine, talk to your friends for personal recommendations and by all means, go from dealer to dealer to try them out. One fact about sewing machine bobbins. Each one is designed to only work with it’s own brand, and sometimes style,of sewing machine. They are like car parts and not interchangeable. Be sure to buy them from your dealer. Another thought. I suggest you buy your machine from a dealer, not a big box store. A dealer is a constant supply of help and usually classes. Once you walk out of a big box store, you are on your own.

Some sewing machines rarely get used and don’t have a cabinet or spot of their own. My machines each have their own table and I can easily move them around to use the one I want at the time. That’s true of all but my travel machine. That one sits by the back door waiting for the next sew day at my friends, or a new class at one of the local quilt shops. You got it, my sewing machines are more important to me than the television.

So Many Kinds

It’s National Textile Day. Wait, don’t click off because you aren’t interested in sewing. Take a second and look around you. What are you wearing? What is the seat made out of you are sitting on? Is there a rug under your feet, or near-by? Is there a painting on your wall? What kind of window coverings are blocking that bright sunshine, or another day of rain? Is there a wonderful, comfy quilt on your bed that your grandmother made? Do you like going camping in a tent?

Now you have the picture. Each item I mentioned is made out of a different type of textile. Now think about your summer wardrobe compared to your winter one. In the summer we like breathable cotton, rayon and the new wicking athletic wear. In the winter we get out the wool, fleece, and fur. All textiles.

Long story short; you are surrounded by textiles and probably take it for granted. That’s all right, I do too. I didn’t realize just how many there were until I looked at the National Day of Calendar to see what subject/ thing gets special recognition on this day.

Spring is trying to arrive in western New York, and wedding season is upon us. If you get to attend such an event in the near future, take a minute to see how many different textiles you can see during the event. I’m sure it will be beautiful, and don’t forget to count the table cloths.


Literary Themed Quilt

The king size quilt pictured above is up for grabs in an on-line auction to benefit Writers and Books where I take a lot of my writing classes.  The web site is   The site is a little clunky, but manageable. The quilt is item #116 and the starting bid is only $240.00  (what it cost to make it.)  It is 100% cotton, washable, measures 96 x 96 (or thereabouts) and was made by yours truly.  The auction continues for three weeks. Please help my “home away from home” by bidding on this beauty.  Shipping will be extra if you can’t go pick it up.

Quilting is what I do when I’m not in front of the computer. It’s easy for me and I get a finished product that doesn’t need multiple revisions!

A CleanBeginning

It’s National Clean Off Your Desk Day. The calendar says it is so you can start the new year with a clean slate and a sense of serenity. Huh? I’m one of those messy desk people that if I clean everything off and put it away, I can’t find the safe place I put everything. I’m also one that doesn’t remember what I have if I can’t see it. And, I’ve read that a messy desk is a sing of a higher IQ. (I like that concept. I’ll hold on to that one!)

My sewing room tends to be really messy too. The scraps of the last two quilting projects will be pushed to one side, so I can get on with the next. Why clean when you can be creating. My husband surprised me the day after Christmas by taking me shopping at a long established sewing machine store. We came home with a  desk-style, 20 inch bed, free motion quilting machine.


Only one problem; I had to clean my studio in order for it to have a permanent home. Guess what. I love my clean space. I am looking forward to having my sewing buddies over to see my new toy. And yes; I have that feeling of serenity the calendar post for today mentioned.

I guess I have to admit and old lady can learn new tricks. Now my sewing studio has been cleaned, maybe I’ll attack my desk, it’s much smaller and wouldn’t take so long. But then would I be able to find my list of ideas that I plan to share with you. On second thought, I’ll go play with fabric, and leave the desk for another day. Fabric is my first love and I’m itching to try my new machine.


National Day of Threading the Needle

This day represents one of my top interests.  I grew up in a 4-H household learning to bake, do household chores easily, including folding fitted sheets, and sew.  We started our sewing lessons by making our own sewing box to hold our scissors, threads, seam ripper, hand needles, tape measure and straight pins.  Our first sewing project was an apron.  I still wear one when I get serious in the kitchen.

My projects advanced to skirts, blouses, dresses, and other clothing.  At that time,  girls still wore dresses to school every day.  I proudly wore “homemade” gowns to high school formal dances.  Happy they were different than anyone else’s.   I got an easy A in history by making a replica of the flag Betsy Ross made.  I wish the rest of the class had been that easy for me.

Soon it was time to make baby clothes.  I was a U.S.A.F. wife, lucky to be able to stay home with my children.  Making their clothes filled hours, the clothes fit, and were less expensive than buying pre-made.  My son was born first.  His Aunt Georgia made him a baby quilt.  When my daughter was born in England, there was no big sister handy to make her a quilt, so I made one myself.  It was just squares of flannel sewn together on a sewing machine.  I’ve been making quilts ever since.

A typical comment quilt makers hear is, “Are you really going to cut up all that good fabric, then sew it back together?”  Absolutely!  Choosing the colors and fabric designs for the quilt pattern you want to make is part of the fun for me.  The days of using old clothes, flour sacks, or fabric scraps to make a quilt are generally gone.  Building a fabric stash in your cupboard, drawers, closets, and storage tubs in now the norm.  Quilters will drive long distances to check out a new quilt shop.  There are even events called Shop-Hops.  If you visit all the shops that are involved in that hop, you are eligible for nice prizes.  The local one near where I live lasts four days and covers 400 miles if you go the full circle all at once.  It is no longer and inexpensive hobby.

A quilter needs homes for her quilts.  In other blogs I have mentioned my husband’s large family.  They are the recipients of quilts I just have to make because there is a new technique or pattern that has caught my attention.  I give them for 5oth anniversary’s, weddings, and in some cases just because the fabric told me who it should go to.  Oh, my children and sisters have a bunch too.

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my hand, but I must have had a needle because my sewing studio is larger than our family room.  The colors and creativity make my soul sing.

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