My Quilt Lab

by Cynthia Concha

  • cynthia concha

"What I listen to while at my sewing machine" is today's blog writing prompt. In case you missed it, I'm participating in Cheryl Sleboda's December blog challenge.

Check out the link below to learn more.

I'm a huge audiobook junkie, although I am slowly expanding my podcast collections as well. On the audiobooks side, I listen to a lot of fantasy, sci-fi fiction. However, I mix it up occasionally with a healthy dose of self- improvement. My podcasts reflect the health conscious side of me mostly; but there's a couple of quilting podcast too. Below are some of my favorites.

Favorite authors:

#1 My number one is Patricia Briggs who has two series I'm addicted to: Mercy Thompson series and Alpha and Omega series. Both are from the same alternate modern-day universe with characters that frequently cross-over from one series to the other. Check out her website below and listen to the first book, Moon Called to get addicted too! There's a added bonus in the Mercy series; one of my favorite VO actresses does the series. Lorelei King is amazing, and I've picked up other books to listen simply because she was reading them.

#2 Closely following Briggs, is Jim Butcher's Harry Dresdan books. They're narrated by James Marsters (you know, ... Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer series) and he's INCREDIBLE. The series is about Chicago's only wizard for hire, and follows Harry's adventures with the city police, local mobsters, and supernatural world - complete with Fae, vampires, werewolves, wizards, and so much more.

#3 The third author I'll mention is a recent find for me, and I believe recommended her to me. Annette Marie has three series (and a fourth started in 2021) based off her alternate modern-day world called the Guild Codex. They all center around Vancouver, British Columbia. And my favorite of the 3 series is the Spellbound series which follows a bartender who stumbles upon a magic guild and gets caught up in a world she never knew existed. This series also has all the fantasy suspects as above: fae, witches, mages, vampires, demons.

#4 To prove that I enjoy something other than fantasy, I submit to you The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey, which is actually two writes using the one name. (And the TV show adaptation is great too!) I'm about halfway through the series, and I slowly picking up the one-off's for each character. The thing I love the most about this series is how real the science around being in space feels; how it affects the body, real-time space travel, zero-gravity life. I also love how dynamic the characters are; they truly evolve with each book in positive and negative ways.

#5 And for my curveball series, I give you Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire books. I first discovered these while watching the Netflix TV show, Longmire. The books were updated to present time and culture for the show, but are still amazing and engaging as they are. Plus, they're read by my second favorite VO actor, the incomparable George Guidall. (Seriously, this guy could read the dictionary and I would listen, he's that good!)

I've also been adding some multi-cultural books - both fiction and non-fiction - to broaden my horizon and expose myself to cultures and realities that I don't see on a daily basis. I'm trying to listen to at least one non-white and/or non-American author a month. Here are the ones I've listened to so far and recommend:

  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (Great read! Recommend to everyone who's exploring racism and how to be a better advocate to the disadvantaged and marginalized.)

  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (This was tough to listen to at times, but the author creates a future world that seems very possible.)

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (In the middle of this one; good so far and the narrator is awesome!)


As I hinted to above, the world of podcasts is still a bit new to me. I've only started exploring this auditory adventure-scape within the past couple of years. Most of the podcasts I listen to are self-help, educational, and/or inspirational, but there's a couple sewing centered podcasts too. Here are my favorite:

  • Kwik Brain by Jim Kwik 15 minute or less episodes that focus on improving your brain, whether through nutrition, habits, or lifestyle choices. I like to listen to these while I ride the stationary bike too because the 15 minutes is a perfect warm up for me.

  • Mindvalley Podcast with Vishen Lakhiani Tons of great speakers that touch upon every corner of life issues. This podcasts prides itself on being the best place to get quality, usable education (unlike today's university experience - their words). I've discovered many interesting authors through this podcast. It led me to ...

  • The Model Health Show by Shawn Stevenson Everything about health and fitness under the sun can be found here! (Fav episodes include the history of Coca-Cola -- go check it out!) The thing I love about Shawn is how thoroughly he researches his topics and his guest speakers. I believe I'm a healthier person because of this podcast.

  • American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast Hosted by the staff of the magazines by the same company, this podcast not only showcases what's in their magazines but also includes interviews of designers and sewlebrities, and is filled with tips and tricks.

  • Hip to be a Square Podcast The host, Pam, was one of the co-hosts of The Stitch TV Show on YouTube, which sadly ended earlier this year. Pam still does podcasts occasionally and all of The Stitch in audio version can be found here too. (I miss you, Pam and Lynn!!)

Well, there's a little look into my literary side. I hope you found some new favorites. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments below. Until next time, I gotta get back to my quilt lab!


For more information about the blog challenge, click here:

The above image was found on; taken by the talented, Felix Lichtenfeld. Learn more about him at:

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  • cynthia concha

Need a last minute gift for that sewing or quilting enthusiast? I've got your back!

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite things, all worthy of last-minute gift giving. And available at most craft and sewing stores.

1. New Rotary Cutter and Blades

Any quilter will tell you that a new blade on their rotary cutter is better than sliced bread. And we're usually not so great at changing them out. So get your crafter a new cutter and/or replacement blades. These fellas are invaluable!

2. Rotating Mat

Not every quilter has one of these, but those that do can testify to how useful and time saving they are. Plus, because of their size, they also make a great necessity for workshops and sew-days away from home.

There are several brands, shapes and colors out there to choose from.

3. Wool Pressing Mat

This tool has become the biggest talk-of-the-town for the past couple of years. They can be a little pricey, but their reputation is worth every penny, because these guys really work well! I do all my pressing on a wool mat now; and I won't go back. And like above, because of it's size, it travels really well to workshops, etc. (And way more convenient

than even a small ironing board!)

4. Notions Gift Basket

Grab a basket and head to the notions wall at your local shop or big-box store. Grab a half dozen different items which can include (but not limited to): small scissors, seam ripper (find the ergonomic one for bonus points), thimble, fabric pencil/pen, pins, tape measure, spray starch (Mary Ellen's or Flatter), small cutting mat, thread, fat quarters, quarter inch tape, fray check, misting water bottle, hand needles, machine needles... and some tissue paper, and it's giftable!

4. Plastic Storage

I own about a half-dozen of these. They're 12 inch square and 3 inches (ish) deep. And they're absolutely perfect for holding WIPs (work-in-progress). I haven't met a quilter or crafter who doesn't appreciate an organizational tool. Some come with internal dividers for jewelry or buttons sorting. They come in other various sizes and colors as well.

5. Gift Card

Okay, here me out on this one. I know there are MANY people out there who think gift cards are impersonal or the easy way out. But I PROMISE you, if you get a gift card to your quilter's favorite little shop, they will love you for it. And honestly, if they're using the gift card to buy exactly what they want then you can't get a more personalize gift than that! And you can always spruce it by by attaching a fat quarter in their favorite color, or adding it to any of the above mentioned gifts as a bonus!

Happy shopping my lab assistants!

The quilt lab is calling!


Check out this blog challenge I'm participating in! And come by tomorrow for my next writing prompt!

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  • cynthia concha

Continuing with the daily blog challenge, although I missed a few days due to snow and work, I'm back to pick up the pieces. Just a quick post today, as it has been a long weekend. Let's get to it. (And check out the link below to learn about this blog challenge.)

My last big push for completing a WIP or UFO, is this yellow, black, and white Yellow Brick Road quilt. These quilts blocks were actually made by by mom, but she's lost interest in the project so I'm finishing it up for her.

I love the Yellow Brick Road pattern! It's published by Atkinson Designs, and as the pattern reads, is truly "one of life's simple pleasures!" This is the fourth YBR quilt I've pieced together, with at least one more on the horizon. It's an easy pattern for beginners at least, has a surprisingly complex look once the blocks are pieced together. And every quilt I've made using this pattern looks fresh and exciting. I recommend it to any quilter looking for a fun and quick pattern for gifts.

Right now I'm in the process of squaring up the blocks, and setting an overall layout plan according to the the instructions. I secretly love my little pile of scraps, and I'm tempted to find some way to use them in a different project. (Leave me a message below if you have any ideas.)

Stay tuned and you may see another Yellow Brick Road quilt made from the collection of fat quarters to the right early 2021!

That's all for today my lad assistants! Time to get some shut because I have an early day in the quilt lab tomorrow ...binding awaits!


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