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Sewcial Swarm - 2015 New Quilt BloggersIf this is your first time visiting, welcome to my blog! Let me introduce myself. My name is Robyn, by day I am a quality assurance engineer (I test software) and a mommy. At night, I quilt!

Until the age of 32 I had never used a sewing machine. During the summer of 2013 I was was pregnant with my daughter and having trouble finding maternity pants that were the right length for me, which is an ongoing theme in life… but when you are pregnant your shopping choices are much more limited. For some reason I got it in my head that I would buy a sewing machine so that I could hem my own pants. After purchasing the machine I decided to see what else there was in the world of sewing, and happened upon a quilt pattern that would be just perfect for the nursery. As it turns out I absolutely hate (and stink at) hemming pants, but I fell in love with quilting and have never looked back.

Back then I was writing posts about my sewing on our family blog, If you care to hop over there you can become better acquainted with me and my past sewing. The sewing posts were beginning to take over though, and I also felt I had to hold back because most people that read it were probably just looking for baby updates. So, last fall Hoops & Thimbles was born. I suppose I should have gone with a more quilting oriented name, but I decided to have it match my Etsy shop’s name (even though there isn’t much there!). When I chose the Etsy shop’s name it was mostly a matter of trying to find something that wasn’t already taken, and at the time I was going through a hand work phase.

This blog is still finding its way, so I would love to hear feedback from any and every one. What sorts of things would you like to see here? Do you like the format? Is it confusing that the blog posts aren’t on the home page? I really hope that one day this blog will be able to help others on their own forays into the vast and wonderful world of quilting. I share my triumphs and mistakes, and try to share tips and tricks as I learn them. My hopes are that one day I will have tutorials of my own, and maybe even make some of my own designs.

My piecing work has improved greatly since that first quilt, and the quilting is coming along as well. That first quilt I made was just a stitch in the ditch, but I was brave enough to try free motion quilting on the second quilt I made. That quilt was the Basket Lattice by Sheri Pape Designs, which I finished in August 2013 just before my daughter was born. I really love that quilt; I just try to ignore the horrible quilting on it. My daughter also loves the quilt, and has claimed it as her own.

Recently I finished quilting another quilt, Flower Patch, on a long arm that I rented locally. Hopefully you can see a bit of improvement since then! I haven’t put binding on this one  yet, but I should have another finish under my belt pretty soon. And it is about time for this quilt! If I remember correctly, Flower Patch would have been the fourth quilt I started piecing back in November 2013. However, I put it aside and didn’t pick it up again until a couple months ago. The black in the quilt photographs horribly, please forgive it. If I was doing this quilt over again though, I would have not included the black fabrics from the jelly roll and layer cake I used to make the quilt.

After finishing the Basket Lattice quilt, I was a little hesitant about quilting. I loved piecing, but quilting was intimidating and hard! During that time I completed a second quilt for my daughter, and was the lucky recipient of an embroidery machine as a Christmas gift right around the same time. It was then that I got the bright idea to try quilting in the hoop, and the result can be seen below. The results were pretty good, but it is way too time consuming for me. Since then I have been pretty much sticking to straight lines. Now that I am feeling more comfortable with the long arm though, I should be plowing through more quilts!

Okay, now that all the quilty stuff is out of the way… more about me personally as I would love to get to know all of you and make some new friends! These days I don’t have much time for reading or doing anything that isn’t toddler or sewing related, but I try to listen to audio books while I sew when I can find something good to listen to. My poor Nook is laying in the closet neglected, I am not sure I have even turned it on in the past year. My favorite book series is the Dresden Files, but I love reading just about anything. Suggestions are always welcome! I haven’t found anything good to read (or listen to) lately.

Some other facts:

  • I have been to Japan four times and love it there
  • The last movie I watched was The Kingsman
  • I live in North Carolina, born and raised
  • I love cooking and canning, although I haven’t had much time for it lately
  • I am a night person, which is good since it is the only time I have to quilt

And finally, I am not sure I am qualified to hand out blogging tips to my fellow ‘New Bloggers’ Blog Hop participants… so I will give the best quilting tip I know. Be forgiving of yourself. This was something I had to set in my mind from day one, as I am a perfectionist. I believe there have been terms such as “OCD” used to describe me in the past. And, the lady at the long arm rental place delicately called me “up tight” about my quilting recently because I am quick to point out all the things that are wrong with my work rather than what is right. From day one I had to tell myself that every quilt, every stitch, every mistake was a learning experience. It is okay that my quilts are not perfect, because I am learning. However, now that I am approaching the two year mark for quilting it is becoming harder to go easy on myself!


Enough about me… go check out some of the other great new bloggers that are posting this week!

And check out the lovely folks that are hosting this blog hop as well:




  1. You’re a QA engineer! We will have to email and swap stories cause I’m a web developer previously worked on a iOS app and while they drove me nuts I miss having super organized QA engineers finding my bugs for me πŸ™‚ I love your origin story, hemming pants is one of those things that I hate doing too, I’ll wait until I have 3 or 4 pair to hem before I actually pull out the blind hem foot for my machine!! So glad you’ve joined us here for the hop and for the record I love your name, my blog’s name is a re-use of a domain I used for a photoblog years ago and it has nothing to do with quilting but I kind-of like it that way.

  2. Nice to meet you, Robyn! Your quilting on your Flower Patch quilt looks great. I wish we had a place near where I live to rent time on a long arm. And don’t feel bad, my Nook is in the same boat as yours. Just don’t forget to charge it. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything πŸ™‚

    • Robyn

      Thanks! Maybe a long arm place will open for you soon. For a long time there was only one place here, which was a shop where the owner brought in one of his old personal long arms and later added a second newer one. Now there is an APQS dealership too, which is now my favorite place to rent. (and thanks for reminding me to charge my Nook… it has been a long time)

  3. How fun learning about you! I love your blog name ~ Mine is not sewing related at all. What a jump from wanting to make maternity pants to quilting. Quilting is forgiving, don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect. Celebrate your achievements!!! Thanks for sharing yourself on this Blog Hop!!

    • Robyn

      I like your name though! So what if it has nothing to do with quilting; it is unique, catchy, and has the ring of a boutique name. (and thanks again for those hand dyed fat quarters from the last SMS giveaway day! they are so pretty and bright!)

  4. I did have to click around a bit to find your post today, but I think regular readers will know where to go and how to find you. πŸ™‚ I, too, am a quilter and pretty much useless with other sewing tasks (I get anxious thinking about making a one hour bag or anything not a quilt)! I hope the blog hop experience is a good experience.

    • Robyn

      I am torn about the WordPress theme I am using. On one hand I really like the main page, but I do wish the blog was there as well. Perhaps I can find a good theme that will put the portfolio of projects in a side bar, leave the featured posts slider up top, and then the current blog posts could be in the main area. It is probably something I would need custom built though… if only I had time to learn CSS!

  5. Hi, it’s great to meet at learn more about you. I really like your flower patch quilt and especially the quilting!!

    • Robyn

      Thanks! That quilt was definitely a journey, but I am really happy now that it is quilted. Now if only I could find the right binding for it…

    • Robyn

      Thanks! I really feel like I need to do some more work that involves hoops to justify it though LOL. Maybe one day I will have all my quilting projects under control enough that I can get to some of those embroidery projects I have waiting.

  6. What’s a Nook? I’m a paper person and just can’t bring myself to get a reading device. Right now I’m reading. Radical Acceptance Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach. It’s a slow process!

    • Robyn

      I will look into that one. I do love my Nook (Barnes & Noble’s reader), especially since it has a lit screen that lets me read at night without bothering my husband… I just wish I had time to actually read a book. For fiction books, the Nook is great… but when it comes to reference books or quilting books, I find I need paper in order to really ingest it.

  7. Hmm. I’ve read Radical Acceptance I can vouch that its a great book. I really enjoyed getting to know more about you. I’m in Sewcial Swarm also. Your quilting is awesome. It looks expert to me.

    • Robyn

      With two recommendations I will definitely have to check that book out. Thanks for the compliment on the quilting! I am trying really hard to get better at it.

    • Robyn

      Have you checked out the Craftsy long arm courses? They might be helpful for you. And Judi Madsen (of Green Fairy Quilts) has some good videos on her blog, but warning… her work is at such a high level it will immediately make you feel awful about your own quilting. The best thing for me has been quilting charity quilts for practice; I am so lucky that the lady I rent from is a member of a guild with a never ending pile of them, so I get to practice for free. If you have a guild nearby that is very active with charity quilts, perhaps you can inquire about any opportunities to practice with them.

  8. Pingback: Some of my favourite quilts | The Bias Edge

  9. Hi Robyn!
    I’m an audiobook listener too! I almost always have one going. I have so many recommendations, if you want to send me an email. Though I confess I like books written for teens, along with fantasy. I agree, hemming is boring, I’ve got a pile of pants waiting. Be kind to yourself, don’t worry about pointing out your mistakes. Have you seen this post about that?
    Where I live, most people get their quilt tops finished by a long-arm quilter, so I think it’s great that you started doing them yourself from the start!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Robyn

      I would love to hear your recommendations! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with young adult books. Some of my favorites have been written for a young audience. And thanks for that link too, I will check it out!

  10. I’m visiting as part of the New Quilt Blogger Hop; I participated last year. I blog over at I don’t know that my sewing would have developed into much if I started off with pants hemming. Though, being pregnant currently, I can appreciate the desire to have something that fits. Because my maternity shorts aren’t loose enough for a flattering fit, I’m down to wearing mostly dresses. Highlighting my increasing varicose veins isn’t what I was going for, but I don’t have a lot of options at the moment.
    I’ve discovered that you really have to watch those jelly rolls. Everything looks so well-coordinated in the package, but then you make something using all of the strips, and a strip, or several, look really misplaced. Your quilting looks really nice, and it’s a pretty quilt.
    I’m a bit of a perfectionist too; I’m trying to set some of that aside, at least in the realm of quilting. I figure it’s a good sign that I’m learning if I know I can do better the next time because of some new knowledge or increased practice.

    • Robyn

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! I have been having a serious case of baby envy lately. Sucks that you have to deal with this heat though, hopefully what they say about the dry heat being more bearable is true… I have never been to NM. Here in NC the humidity makes these 100 degree days miserable. I was so lucky that it was a mild summer when I was pregnant.

      I was just checking out your blog… thanks for sharing all those wonderful quilts from the Fiber Arts Fiesta. I especially love Changing Seasons… what stunning work! And Dear Jane Meet Aunt Grace… love it!! There is so much to left to see on your blog, I haven’t even made it to your own work yet… I am going to be perusing it all day at work. (don’t tell)

  11. Thanks for the great introduction to your quilting history. It is always so interesting to read how people get started. I hate to hem too. It is such an unrewarding task. I think I’d rather sew on a loose button. I do not share your ODC tendencies. I’m pretty laid back and I like to say my style is organic. I enjoy the wobbles and bobbles in my quilting. You might find my work unnerving in its imperfection. Your work shows a very steep learning curve and I can see where you will quickly be able to create at a level that will allow you to put your OCD aside and relax in the enjoyment of the creative process.

    • Robyn

      I don’t mind buttons… and if I am making the pants hemming isn’t so bad… I just despise hemming pants that are already made! I am ashamed to say that I have had a pair sitting in my sewing room for months waiting to be hemmed. It makes me feel al little better about it when I hear so many others echo the sentiment.

  12. Hey fellow OCD person! It’s very hard to get over the “oooh, look, there’s a mistake there” – honestly, no one will notice, and if they do it’s because they know how easy it is to do so don’t care! I’m also a fellow night owl – I could happily work away in the early hours but unfortunately have to get up in the morning!

    • Robyn

      I know this, I really do… it is just hard to believe it! Even though when the non-quilter sees my quilts they are quite impressed, and even when the other quilters in my monthly BOM meetings give me compliments, it is still so hard to stop myself from thinking they are just being nice. I too could quilt all night if I didn’t have a silly job to go to in the morning. If I were only 15 years younger I just might! I really miss the time when I could stay up all night and function just fine the next day.

  13. I would much rather quilt than hem pants! (But I keep getting asked to hem them.) Your quilts are beautiful! I can be a little OCD as well. But I believe perfect isn’t flawless, perfect is finished.

    • Robyn

      When I started practicing quilting charity quilts on the long arm, the shop owner’s mantra was “a good quilt is a finished quilt” and I really try to repeat this to myself often!

  14. I related so much to your post regarding finding fault in all my quilts. It’s hard to let go. I love that you are a QA Engineer, I am a business analyst who writes functional requirements and use cases and I always say that your QA person should be your best friend on a project. Your quilts are beautiful, quilting is so much better than hemming pants, I still can’t hem pants.

    • Robyn

      Requirements? What are those?! LOL I have been doing agile development for so long, I haven’t seen a requirement in about three years. It is about the only thing I miss when it comes to waterfall development, but on the other hand, being able to change/make up “requirements” as needed is quite nice as well. Making the QA person your friend is definitely a good idea, but the same is true for the BAs. At the last (waterfall) company I worked for, I made a point to befriend all of the BAs. It definitely comes in handy when you find a contradiction in requirements or some other conundrum that you can’t rely on the dev to fix alone.

  15. Nice to meet you Robyn. Love your quilts and as an OCD quilter myself, I often have to remind myself not to be too critical. Do you own a long arm machine or do you just rent one at your local quilt shop. I really want to learn how to use one but can’t see justifying the expense of owning my own.

    • Robyn

      Nice to meet you as well! I can’t justify the cost of a long arm either and, even if I could, I don’t have space for one. One day though! One day! For now I just rent, and am very lucky that the local APQS dealer is both a long armer herself and a member of a local guild that has a ton of charity quilts in need of quilting. So I get all the free practice I want! Or at least, all the practice I can find the time for.

  16. Hi Robyn! I am member of the Sew Fabulous Hive! I am loving connecting with my fellow new quilt bloggers! I love your Work Table Page! It gives a behind the scenes look at up coming posts!

    • Robyn

      Hi! The Work Table page also keeps me on track! When you are juggling this many projects, it is really easy to lose sight of what needs to be done. Seeing a list of all the things I need to do helps with motivation, like right now… it is already halfway through June and I haven’t even started on my Plain & Fancy blocks, nor have I nailed down the binding fabric for Flower Patch. I did pick some up, but I am not in love with it. But having the list on that page hanging over my head makes me feel like I have deadline to meet, so I am really itching to get back to my sewing room. The act of crossing items off is quite rewarding though! On the other hand, it is totally stressing me out right now.

    • Robyn

      If you are a list person, I definitely recommend it! That page really helps keep me focused on what needs to be done, and crossing items off my “to do” list is quite satisfying. At the end of the month, when I look at the list of everything I have done it also really helps put what I have accomplished in perspective. There have been times when I feel like I haven’t really done much, but then I look at my list and realize how much I really did achieve.

  17. I am married to a software developer, and he is super OCD. I am not. He has the hardest time with me just allowing an imperfection be in a quilt. I always just tell him “If I wanted it perfect I would make it that way.” Love your blog!!!

    • Robyn

      Good response! My husband is also a QA Engineer, but he does more automation work than I do these days… so he is more software developer than anything else at this point. He is the opposite though, not OCD at all. It is probably thanks to him that I have been able to be as forgiving of myself as I am. Although, last night he had the nerve to say I should just find a way to print designs on fabric because all the cutting and piecing was too much work. I kindly informed him that although it was entirely possible, that would be cheating… and quilting is about enjoying the process and craftsmanship as much as the end result! That would be like telling an artist painting a picture, “Well, why don’t you just print one out?” (although that was right after I spent two hours trimming up the last of my HSTs for ‘On Point’)

  18. As a recovering perfectionist, I know your pain. “Better done than perfect” has become my mantra. With limited sewing time and two small children, I have to let go of my perfectionist nature. πŸ™‚ Your FMQ looks great. I’m glad you jumped in to do it. What I love about free motion quilting is that I can see improvement even from beginning to end of a quilt. AND even though you have 2 years under your belt, you’re probably pushing yourself to do new and different stuff. Keep being easy on yourself. (Now if you stop trying to learn new skills and just make the exact same quilt over and over you can go back to striving for perfection!) πŸ˜‰

    • Robyn

      Oh no, I just realized I missed your comment! Sorry for the late reply! Making the exact same quilt over and over seems like a specific version of hell lol. I don’t think I could ever do that! I always find myself looking for new and more challenging things. Quilts with the same block over and over are a struggle for me, which is one reason I am so glad Plain & Fancy is a block of the month. Every month I have to really push myself to get past the border on the blocks, since it is the same thing every month. Right now I am attacking the sashing stars for it a step at a time so that I don’t go insane. 288 flying geese…. sigh.

  19. Hi Robyn, it was lovely to get to know a little more about you, even though we’ve been chatting for a while.
    I love that you’re getting in to quilting, and learning to use a longarm. It’s definitely a process! But listen to any professional quilter and they’ll tell you that it took them ages to get to a point of proficiency they were comfortable with. Your work looks great!
    I think we all struggle with our perfectionist tendencies. It’s something I’ve been discussing with a lot of quilters recently. The problem I have with it, is that it makes us point out flaws that no one else would notice otherwise. I’ve been trying really hard to let go of that urge to criticize everything that I make, but it’s tough.
    I agree with Sarah. Machine quilting does involve a big learning curve, but it’s something that you can improve noticeably at quite quickly. I hope you stay with it.

    • Robyn

      I have apparently missed replying to a chunk of comments… I am feeling like a terrible blogger right now. Sorry! Thanks for stopping by, it has been fun following along with your progress on your blog. I definitely plan to stick with quilting. At first I was really intimidated by it, but now that I have finished Flower Patch and see it washed and completely done I am feeling more in love with it. I can’t wait to improve my quilting skills!

      • No worries Robyn. I’m sure it’s tough keeping up with all the blog hop posts. I’m so glad that you’ve decided to stick with quilting. It takes up a ton of time, but almost everyone I know dabbles in other fiber arts from time to time. It’s such a great journey. You’ll have so much fun along the way.

      • I’m so pleased that you’ve decided you love quilting. It’s such a fun journey. You’ll have a wonderful time engaging in increasingly complex projects. When I first started quilting, I was told that skill level didn’t matter as much as perseverance does. If you love a quilt, and really want to make it, chances are that you can. Just look online for tutorials for any techniques you need to brush up on, or are new to you, and have your seam ripper handy. I made a quilt last year that I thought had zero chance of working out, but it’s lovely. It’s on the way to it’s new home, and will come up on the blog once it lands there. Sure, there are few things I did very wrong, but I got to where I needed to be, which is the main point. Hopefully you’ll keep all this in mind when you’re looking at a project that seems intimidating.

  20. Hello, nice to meet you! It’s nice to see your lovely quilts and the quilting looks good to me. I also had never used a sewing machine until the age of 32 when i had an urge to learn! I wanted to sew bags and toys but find that hemming my trousers (I’m short!) is a great bonus of being able to sew. I’m a beginner quilter, I started my first quilt 4 years ago but am still working on my 4th, I’m very slow! I can be too critical of my work too, but I generally find I don’t care about the mistakes or the imperfect parts.

  21. Nice to “meet” you, Robyn! Your Basket Lattice is gorgeous. I have the Dresden Files books on my iPad but I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. Maybe I’ll give them another look. Thanks!

    • Robyn

      So sorry I missed your comment earlier… please forgive me for the late reply!

      Thanks πŸ™‚ The Basket Lattice is a great pattern.

      Dresden Files is a fun series. All of the books take place in a span of a few days each, so they are action packed and hard to put down. If you start reading them, I think I recall book 7 not being all that great. I kind of stalled on that one, but once I got past it I flew through the rest and really loved the series. Can’t wait for the next book!

  22. Hi Robyn! I take my hat off to you FMQing your second quilt! I just bought a quilting foot today so am looking forward to the chance to try it out. I doubt I’d be brave enough to jump right in and try it on a real quilt though. If you want a book recommendation, I just finished reading The Moth which is a collection of short stories so you can just read a little at a time and you don’t lose track of any plot!

    • Robyn

      Sorry I missed your comment earlier!! Please forgive my late reply. I think FMQ’ing my quilt was more of a sign of ignorance LOL. I was trying to figure out this whole world of quilting, and saw some videos of FMQ online. As usual with videos of experienced people, they made it look so easy!

      Thanks for the suggestion, I will check out The Moth.

  23. Hi Robyn, your work looks great and your daughter really do seems to love that quilt.. so cute! I am the same way with FMQ, I can do some, but not perfectly so sometimes I just stick with straight lines because I don’t want to mess up (but I also really like the look of it). I would love to rent a LA to try it out.

    • Robyn

      Sorry I missed replying to you!! She really does love the quilt. One night when I was about to take her upstairs for bed, I folded it up to put it away… she cried and begged for it. I gave in and handed it to her, she immediately wrapped her arms around it and carried it away. Since then it has been in her crib!

      If there is a long arm you can rent, definitely go for it!

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    • Robyn

      Thanks! It really is a great quilt pattern. One day I really want to make another one and try out some straight line quilting on it. Good luck with your quilting!

  25. I smiled at your comment about not using the black if you were to do that quilt again. I don’t think there is a quilt I”ve made that I’ve not seen something I would do differently after it was finished. I file those ideas away and hope I remember later. About being hard on yourself. 2 years isn’t long enough to demand perfection. Just look for improvement over past attempts, or look to see what new thing you have been brave enough to try.

    • Robyn

      I am so sorry it took me so long to reply… I have been a bad blogger lately. It really is hard to know what is on those jelly rolls sometimes. They are so pretty on the outside, but unless you can find a charm pack or something to flip through you have no idea what is hiding inside. Plus, when you are still new at color design you really don’t know how things will end up until it is all together. But everything is a learning process, and now I’ve had a couple more valuable lessons.

      • That is my pace in replying sometimes. I don’t think of myself as OCD, but your remark leads me to see one area where I am. I place items on my design wall (or floor or bed) and move them around till I like how they look. Easier with small pieces.

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  27. Lovely post! I will have to read up more on your family blog, that is so fun! I started one years back about my husband and I but once quilting/craftiness took over, that honestly got the boot. ha. I love all of the colors you use in your quilts, super yummy! I say this to anyone who uses lots of color, but I am totally drawn to pops of color and LOTS of color. I’m a bright person, I say! You really are progressing pretty fast and nicely, I bet you’ll have your own pattern out in no time!

    I love your overall format; however I almost did not make it to your post because when I clicked on the link to come here, it was on the homepage and I thought that was all the listed of your recent blog posts, in order… not finished products, etc. I thought maybe it was too far down and I honestly was about to not give it a try, but then my eyes glanced up and I saw the “blog” link and went for it… low and behold it is there. I wouldn’t say I found it confusing, but I would definitely say for a new person coming to your blog, they may easily step away just because the blog wasn’t accessible easily. You could try your home page being on your blog and then having the option to go view ‘all finished products (or whatever you want to call them’ – depends on if you are looking for readers to attract or really wanting to just show finished things off. I love the fresh look and cleaness of it though! I think you’ll end up an even shinier star in the end with your talent!

    *Stopping by from the 2015 New Blogger Blog Hop – New Bee’s

    • Robyn

      I have been really slack about updating my family blog recently; I really need to post something soon.

      Quilting has definitely changed my relationship with color! I use to be one that stuck to sedate and/or dark colors, but now I find myself loving color more and more all the time. Colors are definitely yummy!

      Thanks for your feedback on the blog format… I am thinking I really need to start searching for a new layout for the website that puts the blog on the landing page.

  28. Robyn. Excellent post that is about you and a great example for me!!! I find it hard to write about myself and am scheduled for week 4 of the Sewcial Swarm. I love the clean look of you website and your work table page idea!!! I’m going to make a page something like that! I love seeing what your style is and what things interest you. It says a lot. I love the black in your Flower Patch. If makes things pop and if it wasn’t there it would just all blend together and be less eye catching candy! I love your page with the free ideas with Pinterest Board Posts. How did u do that?

    • Robyn

      I used Pinterest’s widget builder…

      Browse around their help pages, they have some interesting things there.

      I look forward to reading your post! I am sure you will do great! It really is hard writing about yourself, but hopefully you will be able to get some good ideas from all the other blog hop introductions. I read some from last year to help in writing my own.

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