Liebster Award

I’ve Been Nominated

This past week my fellow Island Batik Ambassador, Laura Piland, Slice of Pi Quilts, nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Naturally, I just had to ask … what is this and what does it mean  (grin) and I’m sure you are curious too –

According to The Global Aussie, where the Official Rules reside:

The Liebster Award 2017 is an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The award is a way to be discovered but also to connect and support the blogging community.

A Little About My Nominator – Slice of Pi

Owner/Designer of Slice of Pi Quilts

One thing that I have enjoyed about being an Island Batik Ambassador is rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with a multi-talented group of quilters! Many of the ambassadors have been with the program for several years, and are quite well known and established in their field – some pattern writers, some fabric designers, some moms, some grandmoms, some – like me – are new ambassadors. I am learning so much from this group.

But I want to tell you a little bit about Laura. I think she first perked my interest when I saw her pattern for Sliced. I love watermelon. Nuff said.

As cute as this is, I got really interested in following her blog when I discovered she was going to her first Spring Market 2017. I’ve been to Fall Market since 2004 and I was eager to see Spring Market through her eyes, but more so through the fresh eyes of a first timer. She didn’t disappoint! Not only did I enjoy her market recap on the blog but it was fun to follow her on Instagram to see all the “celebrities” she was meeting within the quilt industry. I hope you will give Laura a follow on her blog and other social media. Slice of Pi Quilts.

Laura certainly marketed herself well by giving out pies as she engaged with people in the industry to market her quilt patterns

Getting To Know You Questions:

As a part of introducing myself to new followers as well as introducing my followers to new bloggers, we’ve been requested to answer a few “getting to know you” questions about ourselves and hope that our nominees will respond and do likewise.  Here are a few things you may or may not know about me!

Who Inspired You To Sew?

My mother made almost all of my clothing when I was growing up, as did her mother, my Ma-Ma. Ma-ma had a sister Effie, whom I called “aunt” even though she was my great aunt. All three of these women had an impact on my wanting to play with needle and thread.  Mom – clothing, curtains, recovering chairs, etc. Ma-ma was the quilter even though I didn’t begin quilting until later in her life she lived to be 97 and was so proud of my quilting and my longarm. Aunt Effie was a skilled seamstress and did fabulous crafty things for the woman’s group at church. I will always remember the sock monkeys, fabric “paper” dolls and soft sided books.

If You Could Meet One Quilt Personality, Who Would It Be?

I have been blessed to meet many quilt personalities, mainly longarm quilters, due to my association with A1 Quilting Machines from 2008-2014, but I have never had the privilege of meeting Judi Madsen, The Green Fairy Quilter. I do have an autographed copy of her first book – I pre-ordered direct from her (grin).

What Do you Like to Do While Quilting?

Talk. Or Listen.   I truly work best when I’m talking. If I’m at a sew in I have lots of friends to talk to, if I’m in the studio I will use my Bluetooth and talk to my best friend Pam, who lives a thousand miles away and is also a longarm quilter. When not talking I listen to Audibles.

Do You Have A Favorite Snack While Quilting?

Dark chocolate – to be specific, Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao – but I will be gracious enough to accept any dark chocolate you’d like to share with me!

Do You Look For Quilts When Watching Movies?

Yes, and my husband is quick to point them out too!

What Comes First, Fabric or Pattern?

Whatever catches my eye first. I buy fabric knowing that I can later find a pattern, and I buy patterns knowing that somewhere there is a perfect fabric. Who thought of this question anyway <grin>

What Is Your Favorite Finish?

That’s a hard one. I have several favorites, but generally, it’s the one I just finished. I think currently it would be my “This Is The Way, Walk In It” as it was a challenge to piece and quilt, stepping away from my traditional roots to try something modern. (Thank you Island Batik for the challenge!). You can read more about it here.

Modern Quilt by Karen Overton "This is the way, walk in it"
“This IsThe Way, Walk In It” original design pieced and quilted by Karen Overton

Quilt By Hand or Machine?

Domestic sewing machine to piece, A1 Quilting Machine (longarm) to quilt. Still hand-guided since 2004.

Favorite Notion?

island batik five inch squares sewn together

Hands down – my “By Annie” Stilleto and Pressing Tool.

Do You Work On One Quilt At A Time or Many?

One step into my studio and you’d know that answer! I refuse to disclose how many UFO’s I have (grin). I work on several at a time, both mine and customers.

Do You Have A Blog That You Can’t Miss A Post?

In my other life, I’m a bag lady. I love By Annie’s patterns and can’t wait to see the newest patterns so I carefully watch Blogs By Annie.

And The Nominees Are:

In an effort to get to know my fellow Island Batik Ambassadors better I am hoping several will “play along” with the Liebster Award.

Sally Johnson of Sally’ s Quilting Corner. Sally was one of the first ambassadors to welcome me into the fold. We found that we had a mutual friend, longarm quilter Jamie Wallen – and the rest is history. Sally is an encourager and almost always the first one to like a post or photo.

Kathy Bruckman of Kathy’s Kwilts And More. Kathy is a newbie like I am and what I like about her is she’s not afraid to ask other’s thoughts and opinions on her projects.  Kathy is  faithful to engage through social media – she’s even playing #flatOLFA with me on Instagram .

Pamela Boatright of Pamela Quilts. Pamela likes to write and quilt, so I’m drawn to her because of both talents. I think she’s a little like me – I noticed on a recent blog that she was “catching up” on putting labels on quilts…hum…sounds familiar.

Maryellen McAuliffe of Mary Mack Made Mine. Maryellen has been an Island Batik Ambassador for quite some time. I’m hoping she will share more with us. I’m drawn to her as she just met Jenny from Missouri Star Quilt Co., she’s playing #flatOLFA on Instagram, and her latest Island Batik Challenge was a purple double wedding ring table runner. Have I mentioned that I like purple?

Stephanie Bertics of Quilt ‘N Party. Stephanie is new to the Ambassador program (I think). I don’t know a lot about her but I like the quilts she has blogged about and am hopeful she will play along.

Liebster Award Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a few of my new blogging friends. I’d nominate the whole group if I could….nominations or not, be sure and click here to find a list of all of this year’s Island Batik Ambassadors. I know you will enjoy getting to know them and see their beautiful creations – many have patterns available too!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, eager to meet new bloggers!

Now it’s your turn…..what blogs have inspired you? Are you a blogger? Share your thoughts and links below.











Hello March – Fun Challenges Ahead

Hello March, In Like a Lamb, weather is perfect to kick back in the hammock

Hello March

Hello March, In Like a Lamb, weather is perfect to kick back in the hammock
March 2017 In Like A Lamb

Just a quick hello to say that March entered like a lamb in the Houston/Galveston area today. It was a little overcast but still the high was around 80 degrees with 100% humidity. Gotta love it!

Instagram Challenges

Instagram challenge for quilters to post daily in March
A fun challenge to post daily on Instagram during the Month of March

So, while taking a quick break in my hammock under the tiki hut after lunch I was scrolling through Instagram and found two fun challenges that started today.  First #IGQuiltFest by Amy Ellis .  This one is going to be fun to see what other quilters will have to share. Here’s the schedule for posting each day.

Instagram challenge for small business owners to post daily
Another fun Instagram challenge to post daily


The second one I discovered is #marchmeetthemakers by Joanne Hawker. The purpose of this is for small businesses to tell the story behind their brand…this one is going to be more of a challenge because I don’t have an Etsy shop as I think most participants will.  Who knows, maybe later I will!


Challenging to wear so many hats, longarm quilter, island batik ambassador, quilt teacher, bike rider
According to the challenges we were to introduce ourselves on the March 1st post

I introduced myself on Instagram as a longarm quilter, quilter, quilting teacher, the maker of t-shirt and memory quilts, Island Batik Ambassador  as well as mentioning my love of riding my bike near the Galveston Bay.

Anyone can join in – whether following or participating! You can find me on Instagram as The Quilt Rambler.

Island Batik Ambassador Challenge

This is the real exciting news!

colorful island batik fabrics at the sewing machine waiting to be turned into a quilt project for the March challenge
Coming up in March – another Island Batik Ambassador Project

The March challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors is “March Mini Madness” and it involves “Foundation or English Paper Piecing, 24 x 24 or smaller.”

Tall order for this traditional piecer who loves rulers and such…. I’ve been working on my project off and on for a few weeks and can’t wait to show you – hopefully by the weekend.

March Challenges

Do you have challenges ahead for yourself in March? Maybe fun quilt related things, maybe family adventures – will you share with me in the comment section below?

Or perhaps you are facing true challenges of the difficult sort? Just wanted to share a word of encouragement – I believe in prayer and if I can pray for you please leave a comment or feel free to email me.

March In Like a Lamb…. I hope not out like a Lion!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, rambling on, Telling Your Story One Quilt at a Time!

What’s Up in The Quilt Rambler Studio – Weekly Review

Two palm trees at waters edge of Galveston Bay in Bacliff TX on a warm sunny February day

Sometimes a rambler just has to ramble….and what better way than a weekly review of what’s been happening professionally and personally…put your feet up with me and relax a bit as I share this week’s happenings in and around the studio.

Current Worldview:

Viewpoint of author looking at her feet while laying in a hammock
My favorite current world view – kicking back in my hammock enjoying the unseasonably warm February day

I don’t do winters well, and have been more than thankful that our area has been shattering all sorts of weather records for February.  Apologies to those of you with snow, but I say “yes please” to sunny days in the high 70’s and 80’s!

So what does the weather have to do with quilting you say? Probably nothing, except I find I’m more inspired when the weather is nice. Something about relaxing for just a few minutes in my hammock helps the creativity flow….


Quilts in the Studio This Past Week

Starburst quilt pattern with three coordinating colors for a baby quilt
Lindsey pieced her first quilt for her sister’s baby shower

I love it when someone in the younger generation starts quilting. This is Lindsey’s very first quilt! She pieced it for her sister’s baby shower this weekend. I heard it was a big hit, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s gorgeous!

Quilters are so generous – Lindsey’s first quilt was certainly stitched with love and will always have a story to tell!

Not only is a new baby coming soon, but “hello world – there’s a new quilter born!”  Welcome to the quilting family Lindsey! Can’t wait to see what you create next!

Wilderness applique quilt being quilted on the longarm
On the frame in The Quilt Rambler Studio – beautiful McKenna Ryan Out & About Quilt

On the opposite end of the quilting family is my 90-year-old friend Lila. She is simply amazing. I have known her a dozen years and her quilting never ceases to astound me from complex piecing to beautiful applique – we all agree that Lila is a master quilter! She is very well respected and loved in our Island Quilters Guild in Galveston…she will be our featured quilter in this summer’s quilt show so stay tuned for that!


Nothing Like a Good Quilting Challenge

Jake is sketching out a quilting design with fabric swatches next to him
Planning day for mother/son quilt challenge

A few weeks ago, my son Jake challenged me to a mother/son quilt off. Seems it’s been 10 years since we last made a quilt together. Challenge accepted.

We have set aside Monday’s to work together in the studio. Jake’s favorite number is 13 and we both thought it very fitting that Monday, Feb 13th was our first meeting of the minds.

We agreed to work with the same fabric line, Pressed Petals from Island Batik which is shipping now to a quilt shop near you! Jake is an artist and pulled his fabric choices and had a sketch done in no time.

Quilt block with high and low points to make a wonky star block
Working with scrap fabric from the studio Jake pieced a “wonky star” block

This past Monday, Feb 20 we set up the extra sewing machine for his refresher course on the basics of sewing. Kinda like riding a bike, in no time he had his practice block completed.

I look forward to working with him in the studio each week.



Cuteness Alert

playful kitten on top of hanging chair playing with Karen sitting below
Oscar loves to play atop my hanging chair under the backyard tiki hut

Jake lives next door and his kitten Oscar has in and out privileges when the studio screen door is left open so he can use the “doggie door.” Without too much detail here, Oscar was a stray that showed up a few months before our precious Pixxie passed. For those who have followed me for years on my former blog location, you know that Pixxie was my constant companion and known as my “professional quilt model”.  Click here to see my Pinterest tribute or here to read about her passing.

Anyway….We are all so thankful that God sent Oscar to us. I’m not really a cat person but this little fellow has certainly warmed my heart. Here’s some photos from this past week.

Cute kitten asleep on colorful quilt
Oscar enjoys napping on the studio couch
cute kitten asleep on colorful quilts covering a couch
Oscar is at home in The Quilt Rambler studio








cute kitten in a basket on outdoor furniture
Oscar enjoys the warm spring day under the backyard tiki hut



Cute kitten covered up with a quilt
Oscar enjoys watching TV in the evenings waiting for Jake to come home from work.









What’s Up for March in The Quilt Rambler Studio?

A pile of baby clothes waiting to be made into a childhood memory quilt by The Quilt Rambler
A collection of clothing from two sisters to be made into a childhood memory quilt

Glad you asked! I am in the beginning stage of a childhood memory quilt. Seems two precious little girls were born close to each other and shared a lot of the same clothing.

Mom has saved her favorite outfits from the girls  to have made into a quilt!. What a fabulous way to hold on to those precious infant year memories!

bright fabrics chosen for a new quilt project
Fabrics chosen for a special Island Batik Ambassador Project

In addition, I will be working on my Island Batik Ambassador project for March.

I’m going to wait a few days to share just what the project theme is, but I can tell you that I chose to use my 5″ squares from the Sweet Nectar collection, which is also a current fabric now shipping to your local quilt shop.

With colors like these, every day is a sunny spring day in the studio!

colorful island batik fabrics at the sewing machine waiting to be turned into a quilt project
Coming up in March – another Island Batik Ambassador Project

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling Your Story One Quilt At A Time

Please take time to leave a comment and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to receive the blog regularly through email.

How Doing Just 3 Simple Things Can Help You Keep Your T-shirts Forever

A colorful quilt made from a collection of Harley Davidson t-shirts


We Have a Solution – Make a T-shirt Quilt

A colorful collection of t-shirts arranged on the floor in preparation to be sorted for a t-shirt quilt
Is your collection of t-shirts overflowing?

T-shirts. Everyone has them.

Perhaps  the favorites, all worn and well loved, are hidden away in an overstuffed dresser drawer. Perhaps your collection of vacation t-shirts are overflowing in the closet.

Maybe you have saved your student’s shirts from high school events or you have a vast collection of concert t-shirts, work related events, team sports….the list goes on! So many shirts not enough time to wear them all!

How can you keep them forever?

3 Simple Steps to Keeping Your Shirts Forever

At The Quilt Rambler studio we specialize in the quality manufacture of what is known as T-shirt quilts. You provide the clothing, we provide the quilt!

A colorful t-shirt quilt made from a collection of Harley Davidson t-shirts
We turn your collection of favorite shirts into a T-shirt quilt that will capture YOUR story in a unique and one of a kind sort of way

Step One – Sort Through Your Shirts for Your T-Shirt Quilt

colorful t-shirts are laid out on the floor to be included in a t-shirt quilt
Step One: decide which shirts to include in your t-shirt quilt

Your t-shirt collection tells your story…

Do you want to showcase a specific collection of shirts such as high school, vacation shirts, or your prized Harely Davidson T-shirts? Or do you want the theme to be “This is My Life” and include all your favorites?

Step one is to simply sort through and pick out your favorite shirts.

Step Two – Wash Your Shirts

We understand stains and worn spots, that’s just part of the story of your quilt. But do give them a quick freshing up by washing them. Please do not use a dryer sheet or fabric softener.

Step two is to wash the shirts without fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Step Three – Box Them Up and Send to The Quilt Rambler

Delivery guy is handing The Quilt Rambler a box full of shirts to be made into a t-shirt quilt
We love it when the delivery person brings us your shirts to make a T-shirt quilt

What could be simpler?  Contact us for the shipping address and instructions.

Step three is ship your collection to The Quilt Rambler


T-shirt Quilt Three Simple Steps to Keeping Your T-shirts Forever
3 simple steps to keep your t-shirts forever as a T-shirt Quilt

It Really Is That Simple! 3 Easy Steps To Keep Your Favorite T-Shirts Forever as a T-Shirt Quilt

A beautiful t-shirt quilt made up of uniforms and jerseys by The Quilt Rambler Karen Overton
Let us tell YOUR story through your collection of favorite shirts

1. Sort

2. Wash

3. Send

In a few short weeks we will turn your t-shirts into an heirloom that can be used and loved for a lifetime.

More details  can be found here on our website.

Or simply fill out the contact form with any questions.

The Quilt Rambler

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling YOUR Story One Quilt at a Time

We love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment or question. And forward this link to friends who would be interested! Thank you!

Casey’s T-shirt Quilt made from High School Spirit Shirts

T-shirt Quilt, Graduation Quilt, Dickinson High School,

Once again, I’ve asked my friend Irma to share with us about her son’s high- school -graduation-send-off-to-college t-shirt quilt. As a special note – today Casey is celebrating his 25th birthday! Happy Birthday Casey from your friends at The Quilt Rambler!

Happy Birthday Casey – according to your mom and your shirt – you are the Best Son Ever!

This is my story about the various quilts that my friend, Karen Overton, has made for me – this one is specifically about the quilt she made for me for my son using his old high school spirit shirts.

First, some background information…

My name is Irma Cortez, and I have only one child – a son named Casey.  As an only child, I admit that I lovingly doted on him and gave him anything and everything he needed or wanted, and I also kept everything he ever made or wrote, or that was of any significant or sentimental value.

Irma is a loving mom who has kept all the precious moments of the life she and her son have shared


In high school, my son was actively involved in various sports like football and tennis, along with various organizations and clubs.  He also has a strong Christian faith and he attended many youth activities including singing in the Christian Rock Band at his church.

Dickinson High School had a dress code, and like most teenagers, my son didn’t like wearing a uniform.

Since he was involved in so many different school sports, clubs and activities, he was always getting free spirit shirts or we purchased shirts from the various clubs or events that he attended, which eventually lead to quite a large collection of spirit shirts.

At first, spirit shirts were only allowed at school on Fridays for pep rallies and football games; however, it was soon announced that it would be acceptable for students to wear spirit shirts any day of the week.

My son was scheduled to graduate from DHS in June of 2010, and he was accepted to and would be attending Baylor University in the Fall that same year.  Since we knew that he’d be going away to college after graduation, I started cleaning out his room at home, going through all his old clothes, and discovered that he was no longer wearing a lot of the older shirts from his previous years in high school.

This is how and when I decided to have a t-shirt quilt made from my son’s old t-shirts, and this is when Karen Overton came into the story.

The Quilt Rambler, t-shirt quilt made from high school spirit shirts, Dickinson High Schoo
Irma turned to Karen, The Quilt Rambler when it was time to make Casey’s T-shirt Quilt

Once I gathered and collected all the spirit shirts that my son no longer wore, or didn’t plan on taking to college with him, I contacted Karen and we scheduled an appointment to discuss a quilt project.

With all the shirts we had to work with, I elected to have a queen-sized quilt made for my son using all his old shirts.  This size quilt that I decided on is called a 5X5 quilt (also called a 25-square quilt), meaning it was 5-squares wide and 5-squares long.

Queen size t-shirt quilt made from 25 shirts t-shirt quilt made from high school spirit shirts
Casey’s T-shrit quilt measures approximately 87″ x 87″

I’m not really sure why I chose green and gold for the sashing and the cornerstones, except that maybe it was because there were various shades of green, but I recall that I choose gold for the backing to bring out the gold colors on the front.

The Quilt Rambler specializes in t-shirt quilts
Irma added a monogram using gold thread to match the gold backing on Casey’s t-shirt quilt.
Go Dickinson Gators!

The photo below shows the monogram I had put on Casey’s quilt.  I used gold thread to match the gold sashing and cornerstones and the backing.

As I previously stated in my other story about Lulu’s MuuMuu quilt, most of my quilts that my Mom made me were always kept in storage at the top of my closets.

However, I now have this quilt hanging on a quilt rack in his room at home.


T-shirt quilt on display
Casey’s T-shirt Quilt from his high school memories is proudly displayed in his room at home
Casey and Irma

I’m so pleased with all the quilts that Karen Overton has made for me.  Her workmanship and the quality of her quilts are top-notch.  Her knowledge of quilting and the time required to finish a project is very precise.  She can estimate when it will be ready and most times, she finishes them sooner.  I have received so many compliments from friends and family who have seen the quilts she had made for me, and I’ve referred several people to her.

Creating an Heirloom, T-shirt quilts keep memories in a useful form
Irma and Karen sharing a moment reflecting on a job well done by both to keep Casey’s high school memories in a usable quilt that will last for years to come.

Thank’s Irma, you are a great mom! And a wonderful friend and customer. The best compliment is a referral – I appreciate you!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler

Telling YOUR story, one quilt at a time


Ode To The Unknown Quilter – A Double Wedding Ring quilt

Ode To The Unknown Quilter –  A Double Wedding Ring Quilt

By definition, an ODE is “a lyric poem expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.”

I’m not a poet, I’m a rambler…but this post does have what I hope to be enthusiastic emotion.

As a longarm quilter for hire, it’s my job and joy to assist quilters in the finishing of their masterpieces. Sometimes the owner of the quilt top isn’t necessarily the one who pieced it, sometimes the top has been inherited or a special purchase from an estate sale or antique market. Sometimes I don’t even know the story, as in the case of this quilt.

Several years ago one of my faithful customers had a neighbor with a quilt top that needed to be quilted. If I was told the story I have certainly slept since then and don’t remember. All I remember is my customer telling her neighbor that she would show it to her longarm quilter and see if anything could be done with it…for you see, the top had “issues.”

I wish I had a better of a command of vocabulary because “issues” seems disrespectful, and I certainly don’t mean any disrespect to the unknown quilter, but this is another one of those “bless her heart” quilts…

This particular quilt was hand pieced, and judging by the feed sacks and other recognizable fabrics, was probably pieced in the 1930’s or 1940’s when the double wedding ring pattern was prevalent.

The back side of a hand pieced treasure – double wedding ring pattern

I always love taking a photo of the actual hand piecing before it is covered up forever and ever amen. For a reason unknown to me, the piecing was done in both a black thread and occasionally a white thread – could it be that the unknown quilter was using what was available as far as thread choices were concerned? Could it be that she was a beginner and the black thread was a way for her to see where she was working, or could it be that she was a seasoned saint whose eyesight was aided by this choice of thread color? I’ve had one friend suggest that the quilter had a “waste not want not” attitude and perhaps re-used thread from worn garments as perhaps even she repurposed those garments incorporating them into her quilt.

The quilter struggled with some of the curved piecing

The double wedding ring is not a pattern for the faint of heart, however, the symbolism of the design is one that will warm your heart. Double wedding rings were sometimes made in hopes of a future marriage or sometimes given as a wedding gift. Regardless, it’s a difficult pattern to piece with its small ring of colorful scraps and its odd size melon in between, not to mention the large center piece whose proper geometric name escapes me….

There’s a little fullness in the way this quilt top lays

Yes, this quilt had some issues – for one, it didn’t want to lay flat when spread out on the floor, and as you can see in the photo above, it didn’t end on an even note. The edges looked more like ruffles potato chips with ridges than a quilt that would grace a bed ensemble.

Ah, but that’s only if you look with your eyes and not your heart!

Not knowing the quilter, the history of the quilt, or anything really except the current owner wanted it finished and was willing to accept puckers in the completed project – I was left up to my imagination as to how to quilt this particular masterpiece.

The design needed to be taken into consideration knowing there would be many pleats and puckers along the way, yet I didn’t want to just meander or stipple over the entire top. An edge to edge pantograph wouldn’t work either, number one simply because it would again be difficult to ease in the fullness and number two (which was really number one in my mind) is it just wasn’t befitting to a double wedding ring. Too much time had been invested in the piecing, it would be disrespectful to rush the finishing by just stitching any ole thing to hold in the batting and call it finished.

Somewhere in time, a lovely lady set her mind upon piecing a double wedding ring quilt. Perhaps in hopes of her own marriage, perhaps just because she liked the pattern. Could it have been her first quilt or even one of her last? After all the careful planning and choosing of the scraps for the rings and the countless hours of piecing did she grow weary and decide not to quilt it? Was she frustrated when she couldn’t make the seams obey and lay flat, or was she piecing during a difficult time and the simple motion of needle and thread working in her fingers brought her peace and the end result wasn’t the focus? Something I’ll never know – but what I do know is this unknown quilter had the tenancy to finish that which she started. Not a ring missing, not an unfinished row, a little uneven and a little full, but a complete top. Bravo!

This was a top that cried out “finish me” and to the best of my ability that was my goal. In an effort to mask some of the fullness I decided to double layer the batting, with an 80/20 cotton/poly on the back to help shape the quilt and a high loft poly on the top to soften the fullness that was inevitable.

What to stitch? What would work the best considering the obstacles and still honor the quilter’s love and attention to the completion of her top? What indeed but hearts!

When that thought hit me, the love just flowed out from one quilter to another. The shared passion and perhaps the shared imperfection. Somehow I could relate to this unknown quilter. My designs aren’t perfect, I don’t make a perfect quarter inch seam in all my quilts, sometimes my blocks are a little wonky, but the love is never less than a perfect love – love for the process, love for the journey, love for the therapy brought about by playing in fabric and thread, and love in hopes that one day this labor of love will warm someone’s heart as it warms them from the outside elements. Can the love be felt? I certainly hope so, I tried to match it stitch for stitch with the love I imagined of the unknown quilter.

Finished is Good!

So yes, it’s a little uneven, yes it’s a little puckered, and yes it still needs a binding put on to make it complete but once that is done IT IS FINISHED! I hope the new owner will savor the character added to the quilt by its age spots, creative piecing, and beautiful scraps.

Double Wedding Ring Equals Love

And yes, I hope it is loved when it finds its way home. I hope it will be said that I completed my task of honoring the quilt maker by finishing her quilt so it can be used as intended.

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Telling YOUR story one quilt at a time.

Please leave a comment below we’d love to hear your thoughts!



Lulu’s MuuMuu’s Memory Quilt

The Story of Lulu’s MuuMuu’s Memory Quilt.

It’s time to pour that second cup of coffee and snuggle deep in your lap quilt to sit back and enjoy this touching story by guest writer, Irma Cortez for The Quilt Rambler…fair warning, you may need tissues….Karen


This is the first of my stories about the various quilts that my friend, Karen Overton, has made for me – this one is specifically about the memory quilt she made for me using my mom’s muumuus.

First, some background information…

My name is Irma Cortez, and my mother is Lucy Cortez.  She was a quilter.  She lovingly and meticulously made quilts by hand.  My mom was affectionately called, “Lulu.”  It was what the first grandbaby pegged her with, and it stuck.

I remember that my mom would sit at her quilting rack for hours and hours, for weeks and weeks, and months and months as she would work on a quilt and stitch and sew endlessly while watching her favorite soap operas on TV.

My mom first started out making baby quilts one by one for all of her grandchildren.  My parents had eight (8) children.  Little did she know then how many grandchildren she would eventually have when she first started, but quilting soon became a life-long obsession of love and passion for her.

My mother doing what she loved doing the best

In between making baby quilts, she also began making quilts for various friends and family members, especially each of her children.  She would have various quilt projects in process, working on them simultaneously depending on which patterns she felt like working on at any given time.  When each quilt was finished, my mom always hand-embroidered either her whole name or her initials on each of her quilts.  If one quilt happened to take longer than a year to complete, she would always be sure to put both the year that she started that quilt and the year that she finished making it.  If she felt like it, or if we were lucky enough, sometimes she even stitched the person’s name on it that she had made the quilt for, which has helped us to identify our quilts through the years.

My mom’s quilts were very well made and became very popular.  She was a perfectionist and each stitch was carefully and lovingly sewn and stitched with exact precision.  There were plenty of times she would not like some stitches, and she’d take them out, and re-do them if needed.

Lulu showing baby blanket with yellow trim

More often than not, Lulu made her quilts as a token of love and would gift them to special friends and loved ones.  She would start a new quilt for family when she heard that a new baby was coming; however, sometimes she made quilts for people that wanted to pay her for her baby quilts.

When she was getting paid, it was not unusual for her put all her personal quilt projects on hold to start and finish those quilts for “paying” customers.  My mom’s thinking was that the more quilts she sold to paying customers, the more quilting materials she could purchase and stockpile for future projects.  And there were lots of stockpiles!!

In 2008, my mom suffered a massive stroke, and she was unable to quilt during the time she was hospitalized or while she was recovering in rehab.  It took the entire year before she was able to resume her love of quilting again.

Sadly, Lulu suffered another massive stroke in July 2009, and she passed away on 7/23/09.  At her memorial service family members decided to showcase just a small selection of her many handmade quilts displayed amongst various family pictures and photos of her grandchildren. All who attended were astonished at all the beautiful quilts she had made and expressed high praise for them.

A baby quilt that she made was put on the sign-in table at Lulu’s memorial service.
Display tables at her memorial service were covered with quilts made by Lulu.

 Following her funeral family members gathered to help clean out our mother’s house and decided to distribute her personal belongings to those that wanted them.    

It should be noted that quilting was not my mom’s only passion.  She also loved and collected Hallmark ornaments, Coca-Cola ornaments and collectibles, and also ceramic roosters of all shapes and sizes.

There were so many Christmas ornaments – literally hundreds and hundreds of them, that we were each able to selected those ornaments that were sentimental to us for various reasons.

By mutual agreement, we decided to donate the majority of her clothes to the Goodwill or a women’s shelter.  However, while we were separating and packing her clothes, I noticed her large collection of “muumuus,” and at one point, I started separating those that I knew had been her favorite ones.

This is when and how I decided to make a memory quilt from my mom’s favorite items of clothing, and this is also how Karen Overton comes into the story.

Luckily, I’ve known Karen Overton from attending the same church for years and years.  I knew that she was a quilter, and I told myself that I’d call her one day to discuss making a quilt for me.

I took all of my mom’s “muumuus” that I wanted home with me, I washed & dried them, and then I folded them and put them in a plastic container where they stayed for almost two years.  I wasn’t sure why it took me so long, but, the old saying, “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” probably had something to do with it, but once I was ready, I contacted Karen to ask about making a memory quilt.

After our initial phone call, I met with Karen at our scheduled time, and it was then that I learned what it takes to make a memory quilt.  Admittedly, I was thrown aback when Karen informed me that I had to decide what size quilt I wanted, what pattern I wanted, which colors to include in the quilt, etc.  I never knew all the decisions that were required to make a quilt, and the attention to detail that is required.

Fortunately for me, Karen had a nice little studio set up and she showed me plenty of her own quilts, and some of the projects she was currently working on. She was very helpful and informative in explaining the various parts of a quilt and how the quilting process comes together.  Even though it had been 2 years, I was very emotional at our first meeting, and Karen recognized how tenderhearted I was with my mom’s clothes. She didn’t rush me for decisions, instead, she let me take the time I needed to decide what I wanted.

Once I decided that I didn’t actually want a full sized quilt to put on a bed, we discussed the various sizes for a lap throw quilt instead. With Karen’s help and assistance, I finally chose a 3 X 4 quilt (also called a 12-square quilt), which means it has 3-squares across and 4-squares down, measuring approximately 53” x 70”.

Since I had plenty of muumuus to pick from, Karen made sure to ask all the right questions that helped me better decide which of the muumuus I would use for the quilt, i.e., which were Lulu’s favorites? did any of the muumuus have stains or tears on them further indicating being her favorites? were there ones which could provide a more sentimental touch to the quilt? which one’s did I like most? what colors did I want to use, was there a specific room I felt I would use it in? etc.

With Karen’s help, we went through all the muumuus again and I picked all the ones that I knew my mom had worn the most – and it turned out that I had photos of my mom wearing some of them!

My mom was always a happy person, I recall she always had a smile on her face, and she always eager to sit down and talk and visit with friends or anyone anytime.  With Karen’s guidance and assistance, I knew that I wanted a cheerful and bright quilt, one that would make me feel good and happy each time I used it, and that would always remind me of my Mom.

As luck would have it, the muumuus that I had selected had a variety of bright colors in them – pinks, yellows, greens, and blues.  So, I opted for a bright yellow trim for the sashing, and a bright pink for the cornerstones and the backing.

Photo shows the coordinating colors on the back and front of Lulus Memory Quilt
Photo shows the coordinating colors on the back and front

I ABSOLUTELY love, love, love this Memory Quilt!!

It is the perfect size to curl up with on the couch or on top of my bed while I’m watching TV.  I use it all the time, and I get a warm, fuzzy feeling each time I use it.

I love how Karen helped me to color-coordinate the trim (binding) with the back of the quilt to match the squares!

Once Karen contacted me that my quilt was finished, I went to pick it up and I cried.  It was such a sentimental moment for me to see my mom’s favorite muumuus all together, in one place on a memory quilt.

Karen Overton has made three (3) quilts for me – one was a queen-sized quilt for my son using his high school spirit shirts, and two others which were both memory quilts – this one for my Mom and another one for my brother.

Lulu’s Muumuu memory quilt made by Karen Overton

I knew that I wanted to have this quilt monogrammed and chose a bright pink thread to match the quilt and it turned out beautiful.

This is the monogram I had put on Lulu’s quilt.

Long story short, my Mom graciously and lovingly made many quilts for me throughout her life for various occasions, i.e., several baby quilts for my son, a blue & white king-sized quilt to match my blue & white bedroom, the first quilt she ever made me was a red twin quilt with boats on it, etc.

Lulu’s quilt hanging on a quilt rack in my bedroom.

I am very warm natured, and I don’t generally use quilts to sleep with at night, so, all my quilts have almost always just been stored in closets and only used when the weather changes.

However, throughout the years, I have since purchased and/or acquired several quilt racks from garage sales or resale shops, and now I have some of my favorite quilts that my Mother made me proudly hanging in my home.

I will always cherish these special quilts, and I will pass them on to my son one day, and hope he will care for them and cherish them as I do.

Thank you Irma, for sharing Lulu’s story with us. Irma will be sharing her stories of her son’s t-shirt quilt and her brother’s memory quilt in a future blog.

*As a special notation – at the time of commissioning this quilt the option to monogram was not available. The Quilt Rambler now offers this service on all Memory Quilt.

Celebrating a life well lived through the precious memories quilted with love

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, helping to tell YOUR story one quilt at a time.

Please leave a comment below we’d love to hear your thoughts.




The Quilt Rambler


WIP, UFO or working on your PhD?

Quilters seem to have their own lingo. Take for example the acronyms mentioned above. WIP in quilt terms means Work In Progress. Whereas UFO is stretching it a bit to mean UnFinished Object. Here’s an interesting one, PIGS = Projects In Grocery Sacks. But I think my favorite one is PhD – Projects Half Done.  Doesn’t that sound SEW smart!

No matter what you call them, if you are like the majority of quilters I know you probably have a project or two that is in some sort of process of being finished.

Starting The New Year Off Right – Quilting With Friends!

I belong to the Island Quilters Guild in Galveston and one thing that I enjoy about this wonderful group of quilters is gathering with them once a month for our Sew-ins.  A Sew-In differs by definition from a  Quilt Retreat. Generally retreats are overnight adventures whereas a sew in is just a day event or multiple day event as the case may be. Either way there’s lots of sewing and chattering going on as quilters bring whatever project they are working on to the designated facility and work on their projects together. Sewing is always better with friends!


Have Sewing Projects Will Travel

In eager anticipation of this month’s sew in I packed up my belongings, picked out two WIP,  and loaded up the car to head south about 13 miles… about halfway there I realized that I hadn’t packed my thread…SIGH!!!  So back to the studio!

Don’t Forget The Thread

So to avoid matters such as this I have now created my ultimate checklist for Sew Ins and Quilt Retreats. You can download a copy here and print for your use. Never again will I waste precious sewing time due to a forgotten item!

The Quilt Rambler’s Sew In/Retreat Checklist


Nothing Like The Hum of a Sewing Machine

Our weekend for January was a little cold so there weren’t as many in attendance as usual – but our hearts were warmed as we laughed and sewed together. We schedule two days together a month for our sew-ins at a local recreation center, a Friday and a Saturday,  where we have the freedom  to come and go during the course of those two days. Some can only attend a few hours, some are morning folks, some are afternoon folks. Most bring their sewing machine, but on occasion someone will bring handwork, or occasionally someone will just drop by for lunch to visit. Have I mentioned that this is a friendly bunch?

I generally attend both days but this month I was able to attend Saturday only…I thought I’d walk you around the room and show off some of the fun things my quilting friends were working on this weekend.

This is Jane. Her professional background is in embroidery. One of her goals has been to challenge herself in completing an embroidered whole cloth. She brought her PhD to share with the group.

The color of the dupioni silk is so rich and yummy! Jane was explaining that the challenge of this project is lining up the individual designs…if you look closely you will see that this WIP is comprised of rectangle blocks set expertly together to be totally seamless.  Jane’s professionalism shines!

Jane’s Whole Cloth

Jane is also working on a Millefiori quilt and leading a group of like minded quilters in working through this challenging english paper piecing project. I have to admire her dedication to detail, not to mention all the handwork! Each sew-in Jane manages to add a little more to this fabulous piece. I will do my best to keep you updated on her progress.



Moving around the room lets take a look at what Marilyn is working on this weekend..

Marilyn’s Handiwork

Marilyn is our guild president this year.  It’s always interesting to see what a she is working on – especially certain times of the year as Marilyn makes these “out of this world” costumes and pageant dresses. She must have the patience of Job! This weekend she was working on beading and sequence for a bodice of a gown – if I remember correctly this will be for an upcoming Mardi Gras outfit. Amazing….all I have to say is Handwork Rocks Girlfriend!


Debbie knits

This is Debbie, our past guild president. Debbie is best known for her vibrant colorful quilts – you should have been there at the last guild auction when her bags of quilting scraps were well fought over! This weekend Debbie was like me, she didn’t have the luxury of being there both days…she has the privilege of keeping her grandchildren every now and then (who, by the way, all have the cutest quilts made by Debbie)….all that to say, she is so committed to the fellowship of our little group that  even knowing she only had a short while to be with us she made a point to join us and brought a more portable project this time! We were all excited when she walked in around lunchtime to join our happy little band of quilters. I didn’t know Debbie knitted…can’t wait to see the finished project! Maybe next sew in or guild meeting she will bring it for “show and tell.”

This is Katy, also known as a  smokin’ needle. Which by my definition is someone who knows how to put the peddle to the metal and keep that machine hummin’ at lightening speed. Katy is one of those gals who has dozens of UFO’s and manages to finish several quilts whenever we are together. I’ve been on retreats and sew ins with her in the past where she finished up a top and managed to machine quilt it and bind it all in one setting. Did I mention that she’s a smokin’ needle? On this particular morning Katy was working on a row of flying geese  and by lunchtime Katy had this cute little baby quilt sewn together ready to add the baby’s name on the bottom border! Did I mention that she was a smokin’ needle – yep, she’s fast…but better than that, she’s good at what she does!

As someone who “makes a living” in the quilt industry I do my best to take “time off” to work on my own personal projects – this is why I appreciate our guild for hosting these sew ins and I do my best to attend as many as possible.

Karen’s PhD

Last July we had our annual 3 day Island Quilters Guild Sew In. THREE DAYS! I make this a high priority on my calendar to attend each year bringing as many UFO’s, PIGS, WIP, and PhD’s as possible. Last year I actually brought something new to work on the last day of the event. I had recently been cleaning out an area of my studio and found a ruler

and book by Lazy Girl Designs

I made this little top in one day from a  package of 2.5″ inch strips. And then it became a WISP = Work In Slow Process…

Until the January Sew- In that is! By lunchtime I  had added borders and my UFO became a TGIF = Thank Goodness Its Finished.

Karen’s UFO became a TGIF


Pieced backing

Actually it has become what I fondly call a Quilt in Waiting…as in it is a pieced top waiting to be quilted – and then it’s “Finished is Good.”  I ended up with a few pieced blocks that didn’t make it into the quilt top so decided to go ahead and piece them into the backing. Now it’s really ready for the longarm! Hum…wonder how long it will take to work into The Quilt Rambler rotation? Grin. “A cobbler’s kids have no shoes.”

We had a few more join us after lunch….so to continue with the show and share…

This is Pam, she’s a fiber artist/art quilter and recently new to our Galveston guild and to the island itself. She’s not a stranger to quilting or being known among the national quilting scene (she is friends with lots of nationally known quilters.) Pam was working on a little project for the Houston chapter of SAQA – Studio Art Quilt Associates. If I understood her correctly this is a piece that she will be teaching at an upcoming meeting with that guild.  And look!  she did all the handwork, embellishments, quilting and binding at sew in. Yep! Finished is good!

Did I mention that  Katy’s a smokin’ needle? She started another WIP, this time a paper piecing project…I believe she said this was going to be part of a placemat set.  I love the colors – so tropical on such a cold winter’s day.

Sometimes in the excitement of making quilts we lose track of some of the ones that just need to be finished. That’s what’s so wonderful about sew-ins! I have lined up all my UFO’s in a priority order and plan on working through as many as possible this year. Some date back to 1995!

Dena joined us after lunch. She was working on a very old project….seems this was one of her first quilts, part of a sampler class she took years ago at the community college. She was hand-quilting it and is almost finished…If you look closely you can see where she embroidered “Dena’s first quilt 1992 -20__” she said as soon as she finishes she will fill in the blank with the finished year. Talk about a major accomplishment!  Hum…is it considered Vintage or Antique if something is over 25 years old? Just kidding Dena – I think it is beautiful and a great memorial to your many successful years of quilting – looks like you passed your college class and have become a world-class quilter!

Dena’s almost finished quilt

Janielle is another quilter/knitter of the group.  This weekend she was working on finishing up several UFO’s. This first quilt top was pieced from a book called Jelly Roll Jambalaya Quilts 

I’m typically not a “brown” person (preferring bright jewel tones) but I do love batiks and this pattern just spoke to me.  Janielle was layering it to machine quilt and made good progress. She mentioned that this would be a charity quilt.  Through the generosity of our members our guild provides many quilts each year to various local charities.

Janielle’s Charity Quilt

Janielle brought blocks from another project also from the Jelly Roll Jambalaya Quilt book. (I just ordered my copy!)  It wasn’t long before she had these together in a quilt top.


Janielle’s blocks turned quilt top

Janielle did say that she is going to consider adding a border to this top. Her thoughts “some quilts just need a border to frame them in and I think this is one of them.”

Karen’s Second UFO

Not to be accused of being idle, I started on my second WIP after lunch. This is a top I pieced at a retreat last February called Stereo by Jaybird Quilts.

The pattern doesn’t call for a border but I wasn’t as pleased with my color choices as the original pattern so I thought it might look more contained if it had a border….

What do you think?

Karen’s 2nd UFO turned TGIF

All too soon it was time for me to call it a day. The event wasn’t “over” but my time was limited. Sigh. I was so pleased to finish two PhD’s in one setting – that sounds sew smart doesn’t it?

Before I left I noticed Janielle pulled out another WIP, a beautiful Hunter’s Star that I believe she said Pam was quick to call “Dibs” when Janielle said she was probably going to give this one away… Time will tell.

Thanks for joining me for the ramble. I have a nice group of quilting friends from the island – I’m sure you will see more of their beautiful creations as time goes by.

Don’t forget to download your copy of the The Quilt Rambler’s Sew In/Retreat Checklist

Happy Sewing!

This is Karen, The Quilt Rambler, telling your story one quilt at a time!

Please leave a comment below as we’d love to hear from you!


The Big Reveal


Exciting things have been under wraps in my colorful quilting studio this past fall just waiting for the first of the New Year to officially announce!

Are you holding on to your computer mouse  with sheer excitement eager to scroll down to the big reveal?

Drum role please…..or better yet … let me hear the rattling of quilting pins in that cute decorative bin or the clanging of bobbins in your  bobbin case or to be really celebratory raise those rotary cutters and clink them in the air while  imagining joining in with  the cheers of your quilting  buddies…..wait for it….wait for it….

Here it is!!!

After being known for 13 years in the quilting community as Quilts ‘N Kaboodle, professional longarm quilting services, I’m announcing a new name and new focus!

Okay, maybe not that new as I’ve previously had another blog with a similar tag line….(that was a huge hint in case you weren’t aware!) but new as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. And that’s about as officially new as you can get!

Are you turning on and off your Daylight Table Lamp or flicking on and off the light on your sewing machine with anticipation….come on now – join me in the news of the year!

Quilts ‘N Kaboodle has officially closed the doors and the doors are being opened wide for The Quilt Rambler!!

Yes, that’s the new me… well, it’s the same me… Karen E. Overton ( or as some know me “Karen O in TX”) …but the new me professionally.

I’m so excited!  I’ve had such a difficult time keeping quiet…truth be told, I haven’t been that quiet…after all, I am a self-proclaimed rambler! Those that have known me throughout the years within the quilt community know my gift of gab when it comes to all things quilty. Did I mention I’m excited! So excited I’m chasing down so many rambling trails right now…..focus Karen, focus…

Okay…So why the name change you ask? Just to do something different. A little rebranding. An excuse for a new website and a new blog…and perhaps just because it’s easier to spell!

Actually, as hinted to earlier, I’m transitioning into a new focus with my quilting while the same time kinda staying the same…

Through the years I have been privileged to quilt some of the most beautiful quilts, all with a story to tell. I’ve celebrated with you when your quilt won a ribbon, or the best compliment of all -when you shared photos of your quilt being embraced by that special loved one you made it for. I’ve been blessed to have some of those quilts published in magazines and books or equally as important shared at guild meeting show and tells. Being a part of your quilts through longarm quilting as been pure joy. And I desire to continue to serve you in this area.

Some of my greatest joy has been in telling your story through the creation of a memory quilt or a t-shirt quilt. Nothing speaks louder of a life well lived than clothing well loved. It is so exciting for me to assist you in going through your child’s twelve years of t-shirt or sports jersey collection to make a special graduation gift. Or reliving your college days with you as you decide which treasured t-shirt should be the one to make the center of your quilt. So many of you have had wonderful collections and I have enjoyed being able to tell your story with a quilt.

Many of you have asked me to tell the story of a cherished loved one. I understand the memories of daddy’s shirts, mother’s muumuus, or a husband’s ties. Gathering these reminders and incorporating them into a quilt that can be wrapped around you to remind you of their love….well, all I can say is it just touches my heart to be able to be a small part of helping you tell your story.

So that’s the new focus – T-shirt quilts, memory quilts, quilts made from baby clothing….you name it! Making memories and telling YOUR story, one quilt at a time.

And because I love all things quilty my blog will be updated weekly with stories of your quilts, tips on being a better quilter, techniques to help you grow in your quilting, a tutorial every now and then, and reports of news-worthy products and happenings in the quilting community. I can hardly wait for this new year to begin, a new adventure, a new chapter in my quilting rambles. So join me on Facebook, and other social media (currently being developed so stay tuned!) It may only be a “name change” but its going to be the start of something wonderful!

Bring it on 2017! The Quilt Rambler is ready to ramble on!!!

Telling YOUR story, one quilt at a time! Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler!

Leave a comment below we would love to hear from you!