Start With Strips

This is the book I’m talking about – Start With Strips, 13 Colorful Quilts from 2-1/2″ Strips by Susan Ache and published by Martingale.

We both bought this book without talking to one another – great minds, etc. Connie returned from Florida with this quilt top.

It’s one of those quilts that has to be put up on a design wall to make the connecting blocks the same color. Kind of pain but the results are worth it. Here it is in the book called Double Date.

I was at the grocery store today and happened to see the new issue of American Patchwork and Quilting and the cover quilt really caught my eye. Here it is:

I turned to the page where the quilt was called Summertime.

And guess who the designer is – Susan Ache!

I guess I like her style, huh? Here’s another from her book, called Train Tracks that I just love! Since I have no time to sew, I make these in my mind.

I also love to set up and take photos – today I picked some peonies and moved them around for pictures. I think I’ll get some prints and make a few cards.

I love peonies but they’re so short lived.

If you made Connie’s Rhubarb Muffins, did you like them?

Is anyone out there going to participate in Moda’s Blockheads II this year? I printed out the first block in hopes I’d find time to make one.

There was a comment awhile back that said something like “everybody in Iowa works that hard” and it’s true. I’m not the only person who mows all the time. Everybody who lives in the country does. It’s the easiest way to control weeds. It’s impossible to pull all the weeds but I can sit on a mower and cut them off. If you could look at the farm places around me, you’d see that each one is nicely mowed. Don’t think I’m working above and beyond what’s normal when it comes to mowing – we all do it!

And now the grass has dried off enough to hit the mower so I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

48 thoughts on “Start With Strips

  1. Lisa

    All of us that live in the country and have acreage MOW, not just in Iowa! In the spring and early summer, until it gets hot and dry, It’s a constant job.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Lisa – Amen to that! I started this afternoon again and will finish tomorrow.

  2. marie

    My husband likes to mow, we only have 3/4 acre, but he also mows the neighbor lady who has 1/2 acre. Since we haven’t had much rain, the mowing has slowed down. Yes, I’m doing Block Heads, in fact, don’t know how far I’ll get but I got the 1st block done in 2 different colorways and can’t wait for the new block tomorrow.

  3. Debbie

    We have four acres in SC and my husband spends his weekends mowing but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way! He doesn’t want to live in a development.
    I love Connie’s quilt! I have been collecting Kona cotton solids and they would be perfect. Now I have to buy another book-you’re such a bad influence-HAHA! I am a book-aholic.
    Love the peony pictures-especially the one with the flags. I can’t grow anything that blooms-only all green plants except my hosta does eventually bloom.

  4. Susan Ache

    Thank you sooooo much for talking about my book!! How incredibly kind for you to take the time! I was over the moon with the American Patchwork & Quilting cover also….did a happy dance At the grocery store checkout!!

    Thanks for your kindness!! Susan

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Susan – OMG! You’re a blog reader? I love so many of the quilts in your book – thank you for your comment – I had no idea you’d be reading!

  5. Marcella

    Thanks for sharing all your country news. It is great receiving all your post . I enjoy quilting and am close to your age. I am also a blockhead! I did the first blockhead quilt over the past winter. I am doing this next quilt too. I followed your quilt along and the gypsy wife. The quilts were fun to follow and I have several nice quilts made. Thanks again for giving others the joy of seeing your Iowa life. I enjoy all the comments too. Oh I am clicking on the advertisements. Right above I see one for Village Home Stores Amana.

  6. Janice

    I’d like to do the mowing – at least some of the time but my husband doesn’t like the “patterns” I make, ha! So, he does 98% of it. We have seven acres now but half of that is hay that our neighbor cuts and bales and takes for his dairy goats. It’s a win-win for us. We get the field mowed and cleaned up and he gets hay for the goats. As for the rest of the yard I have tried to plant gardens along the stone walls over the years but without irrigation they have started to get too dry to for the hostas and other shade plants that I planted. Very sad. The walls are lined with large hickory trees and a really old oak that make it nice and shady but they really need more water than I can provide them. I just said to my husband this afternoon that our “next house” should have just lawn and very little garden – maybe just some raised beds for vegetables and some fruit plants. I love the quilts and the books by Susan Ache! She is an awesome designer! The colors she uses are just beautiful. And I am trying the muffins this week, I’ll let you know how we like them.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Janice – sounds like you’ve got your hands full with seven acres! Love hearing about other people’s work and home life.

  7. Anita Fetzer

    Got the new GH patchwork mag yesterday too. Several quilts In this issue I’d like to make. But train tracks looks like a winner too. CONNIE must sew no light and day. Does so much but so do you, quilting ,gardening, animals etc etc etc. Where do you 2 get your energy.?. Love your stories anita

  8. Kathy

    I did not do last year’s blockhead but did print out this first one as it’s a large block and I might like it. Have not made it yet as much charity sewing lately is more important. Mary- I was given some of your fabric from a collector of fabrics and the selvages read “wear warm clothes” and “ barn dance”. Did you design the wear warm clothes fabric to go with the adorable quilt you have shown on your blog ? Is that pattern still available that I can purchase from you?

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kathy – yes, we designed that fabric. The BOM pattern is gone forever but there might still be a book upstairs with that pattern.

      1. Kathy

        If you locate a book with the pattern in it I can purchase I would be thrilled as I have always admired that quilt when you show it. I feel so special to just have a piece of your fabric!

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          Kathy – send me an email with your request so I don’t misplace you!

  9. Mary Hawk

    I read a post about cutting peonies on Instagram. It said to cut the buds when they are puffy like a roasted marshmallow. Put a tiny bit of bleach in the water. They keep. I just had some inside for 2 weeks and some that tried it had them last a month!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mary Hawk – wow – so interesting! If there are more blooms this year I’m gong to try it!

  10. Norma Gebhardt

    Loved the muffins. I even used powdered buttermilk and they were delicious. I don’t always have buttermilk on hand so I recently learned about the powder. You add 2 T. with the dry ingredients and then add 1/2 cup water with the wet ingredients. I don’t think everyone knows about the buttermilk powder. Thanks for all you share. Your blog is better than many magazines I subscribe to.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Norma – powdered buttermilk! That’s exactly the reason I have not made the muffins – no buttermilk!


    Love the peonies! So pretty.
    And I think my favorite quilt is the last one, Train Tracks…
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Peggy

    Love seeing the quilts, Mary. You girls are “machines” when it comes to putting quilts together!!
    Love the stories about the animals. . . I live in a regular ol’ housing neighborhood, but have several critters to watch. . . & feed, Bunnies, chipmunks, many, many kinds of birds, including several crows, to whom I feed cut up hot dogs!! They actually sit outside & yell at me when they see my car in the driveway!
    Connie’s muffins are wonderful!! Made my first batch today!! Will make more to use up the buttermilk!!

  13. Jan Frank-de Ois

    I love peonies, but here in SW Iowa they burned up in the heat one day after opening (unsual!). Mom & I had enough to decorate graves on Memorial Day. My peony plants are at least 43 years old. Another reason I love them!

  14. Jeanie

    Great pictures, Mary! I loved Susan Ache’s Train Tracks pattern. I will have to look for her book. Thanks.

  15. Diana Stanfill

    I love your pictures. You have quite an eye. I miss coming to Country Threads. I also love the book by Susan Ache. It is definitely going on my gotta have lost. Take Care,


  16. Sharon Geiger

    I love your pictures. I really like your peonies. You are so right about their blooming time being so short. That is Indiana’s state flower. I love Connie’s quilt top. I signed up to do the Moda Blockheads 2 challenge but I haven’t started it yet. I’m currently doing the NQC block challenge. I did the first one but haven’t completed the quilt yet. The blocks are finished, though. I have the first 3 blocks made in the current challenge.

  17. Donna Sproston

    I am making the muffins as soon as I get some buttermilk. Living in the country is fine until you need just one item from the store! I just finished block 1 for this year’s Blockheads. It took me longer to choose fabrics from my stash than to put this one together. I saved every little piece because I know that some of last year’s blocks used itty bitty pieces. Everything I know about piecing and quilting I learned from you and Connie with your charm school books. Some of the fabrics were purchased during my two visits to the shop. Colton was a playful kitten then so my husband did not mind how long I browsed and shopped. I always share the animal photos with him and he is partial to the cats.

  18. Kathy Schwartz

    Connie’s quilt is beautiful. So are the flower pictures, such a great color of pink. Thanks for sharing about the book. I must put it on my list also. Train Tracks fascinated me. Oh yes, mowing. The big job of summer! Every time I mow, I think how nice it would be to be doing some sewing rather than sitting on that mower for five hours. Then, it is time for weed eat for another hour. It does look nice when it is all done. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Linda Huyser

    Your peonies are gorgeous! And great job with your pictures! Love Connie’s quilt too! I love all those patterns…going on my gotta have list as well. I too am a book/pattern-a-holic!! But it’s so fun!

  20. Pat

    You mentioned making cards with your photos. Could you explain a bit about how you do that? Thanks.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Pat – I buy blank card stock and simply use double stick tape to affix the photo. I make all my sympathy cards with white lily photos and sometimes other flowers – like the peony photos. Very easy!

  21. Dixie

    I love Susan Ache’s Instagram posts, so had to get her book when it come out. She makes such happy quilts! We just went on a road trip from California to Arkansas and saw lots of mowing going on! It’s lovely around the homes with huge swaths of grass.

  22. Carol

    I lived in the country for years and I also used powdered buttermilk. Honestly, there will be no difference in how your baked goods turn out when using the powdered buttermilk and it keeps forever. It is a great thing to have in your pantry, especially when you live in the country and don’t get to a grocery store every day.

  23. Wendy

    That magazine cover caught my eye in the grocery store too. Hope the issue comes in the mail soon! I must comment on your beautiful photographs – what a great idea to make cards with them. Connie’s quilt is looking good – very inspirational. I find I have a difficult time making quilts with “white” in them but I really like hers.

  24. Janine

    Mary, thanks for recommending Susan Ache’s book – Karen and I both love it – we were texting each other about it while reading your blog – great minds, indeed. Train Tracks will be my first project. Even though you don’t have time to sew right now, you put your creative touches on everything you do – the peony photos are just gorgeous!

    1. Karen Gaither

      I received my Start with Strips book and I am ready to make half the quilts in the book! I think the book is beautiful and love the colors in Susan’s quilts. I texted to see if she ordered the book yet. I texted her pictures of the 6-8 quilts I know she would like, so she is ordering her book now!

      Tell Connie, thanks for introducing us to this great book! Miss you both!

      Karen G

      1. CountryThreads Post author

        Karen – I couldn’t agree more! I love this book and did you see that Susan, the author, commented here after that post? Susan – if you’re reading this, could we know a little more about you and your quilting?

  25. Ann Barlament

    Love the colors in Connie’s quilt.

    I too, have a quilt that requires a layout, to know what comes next. Pattern is Storm-at-Sea, which I call Rainbow after the Storm and it’s the most colorful quilt I make. I love the layout so much, that I’ve made it more than once!

    Mowing frequently, for me, was more for the exercise (as I had a push mower) and the scent! Love fresh cut grass!!!

  26. Paula

    Love the flower and flower/flag pic.Would make beautiful cards. Just for the record we mow 6 acres about every 4 days. It helps keep a tan!! lol Paula in KY

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Paula – that’s a lot of mowing! Bet your tan is lovely – do you have a belly mower or rider?

      1. Paula

        What a belly mover? I ride a John Deere and my husband rides a small tractor to mow. lol. I love a tan, makes you look healthier.

  27. Mary R.

    I’ve downloaded the first and second blocks of Moda’s Blockheads II. I’m hoping to sew these blocks soon, but with a sick husband and dealing with the termites that have eaten the back wall of one room, and one wall of the living room, I think it will be a while before I have time to deal with any sewing!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mary R – tell me about the termites – where do you live? Are termites normal in your area? How did you know you had termites in the wall and how do you get rid of them? And I’m sorry you have to deal with it on your own with a sick husband. I know how hard that is.

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