Sew We Go 2015

Traveling with friends who share your interest is always fun. Traveling with planners who share your interest adds an extra level of excitment! Our most recent Sew We Go adventure was a cruise on the Baltic Sea this past May. Visiting 6 different countries, seeing the sites and tasting the tastes would have been enough to make the trip memorable, but the most wonderful moments for Wendy and I were the dinner we had with Danish quilters at Kirstin’s Quilts in Roskilde,

dinner shot1

Watching Reinhard create German Blaudruck fabric in Rostadt,

Handdruck demo in Rostock

the fiber art classes at the Katerina Gild in Tallinn, Estonia,

E Tallinn-artist workshop fiber broach3

And we even left our mark on the Happy Talk wall in Copenhagen!

Sew We Go Copenhagen

We traveled with Norwegian Cruise Lines and truly enjoyed the Free Style Dining, wide variety of entertainment, and fine accommodations. While at sea Wendy and I taught a number of different classes and projects – allowing our travelers to participate in whichever ones tickled their fancy.

class time at sea

Our travel planner, Kristi, has a unique talent for adding side trips to our excursions that make our trips exceptional – and the plans we’re making for our next trip promise to be just as special and exciting.

So now we’re planning our next BIG AVENTURE!

Please consider joining us as we travel through London, Lisbon, and Barcelona with many special things to see and do along the way!

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We’ll begin by flying into London. This is a destination on many “bucket lists”. Kristi specializes in working with each traveler to be sure your trip fits your needs and wants. We are hoping to spend an extra day or two here to tour the city, possibly visit a quilt shop or maybe even Liberty’s of London and hopefully meet some British quilters. We have no firm details yet, but have many ideas we’re pursuing. You could work with Kristi and plan to arrive earlier and see the special places in London you have on your bucket list.

From there we’ll travel to Southhampton and hopefully visit the Overlord Embroidery at the D-Day Museum. This work of fiber art was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry,  and it traces in stunning visual form the progress of Overlord, from its origins in the dark days of 1940 to victory in Normandy in 1944. Here’s an excerpt from their interesting website:

Then we’ll board our luxury  ship, the Norwegian Epic and Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 11.54.52 PMcruise south, encircling the Iberian Peninsula with stops in Vigo, Spain, which was built over an ancient Roman settlement, on the slopes of a hill crowned by two old forts. The landscape and the architecture will provide wonderful inspiration for your next quilt.

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From there we’ll journey to Lisbon, Portugal. This capital city boasts ancient sites on every hillside. When I did a search to find what Lisbon was know for, this was the response I received: “Amazing food, beautiful beaches, lovely mountains, rich history… it is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. The handicrafts mentioned were linens and ceramic tiles!

Malaga, Spain is a port on the Mediterranean  Sea. It’s the birthplace of Pablo Picaso. It is also home to the Alcazaba, a Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 4.23.57 PMrestored ancient fortress that dates back to the 11th century. From there the excavated ruins of a Roman amphitheater can be viewed.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 3.32.29 PMWe’ll also visit Cartagena, Spain and end our cruise in the lovely city of Barcelona!

It’s a city designed to delight the senses where you can visit other-worldly modernist works of Gaudi such as Sagrada Familia, a cathedral over a hundred years in the making. If food is your interest, you may want to experience Basque tapas – plates of bite-sized goodies served atop a piece of bread – they’re a culinary trend in Barcelona.

We are just beginning to explore all the options that will be available to us – from a touring and a quilting stand point. There is also the possibility of staying on a few days in Barcelona or … it’s just a short plane ride from Barcelona to Madrid or Paris. The exciting part is that we will make the plans and you can just come along and enjoy the adventure. Won’t you please consider joining us in October of 2015. To get all the information, please go to the web page we have specifically designed to share all the details:  http://www.chrisquilts.net/trips/ . And feel free to contact us with any and all questions.

Upcoming Events

I have quite a variety of exciting workshops scheduled this semester at WCTC. You may access all of the information about these classes and more at wctc.edu (click on “Course Search”, click on “Fall Semester”, type “quilting” in the subject line, then click on “Submit”. Once there, click on the class name for pictures and descriptions!

Scrap Happy - October 11, 2014

Scrap Happy – October 11, 2014 – Bring your left over blocks, strips, and scraps and we’ll have great fun!

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Chop Blocks – October 17, 2014 – We’ll chop up 10″ squares and do a bit of simple piecing!

Snowperson Topper - November 14, 2014

Snowperson Topper – November 14, 2014 – the faces are actually the batting showing through. Loads of fun embellishing will be taught!

Woven Star Stockings - December 5, 2014

Woven Star Stockings – December 5, 2014 – The stars are woven from fabric strips and not pieced!

And for a bit of winter fun – my dear friend Wendy is teaching her ever popular wool felted mittens at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art in Cedarburg.

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Visit the museums website: http://wiquiltmuseum.com/ to sign up!

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Hanna and Willy’s I Spy Quilts

My two older grandchildren are now 8 and 6. You may remember Hanna from the quilts she’s made with me when they’ve come to visit from Washington (to read those previous posts, click here).

This was the year I decided to make them both “I Spy” bed quilts. So, I brought all the cut up “I Spy” fabric squares, batting and backing to Paducah and quilted all the 6″ squares. I blogged about that in a post last April (to read that one, click here  :-) ).

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.18.58 PMI’ve been working at these quilts steadily, using Sharon Pederson’s Reversible Quilts technique, and I highly recommend her book (her blog is:

http://sharonpederson.blogspot.com/).

Once all the blocks were quilted (with “W’s” on Willy’s and “H’s” on Hanna’s), I laid each of them out in a pleasing arrangement. The backs of the squares were laid out to form a checkerboard on the back of the quilt. I then separated them into rows, and began stitching the rows together, using narrow strips of fabric to cover the seam allowances. The strips for the top side were folded in half lengthwise and the strips for the back were left flat.

The first step was to stitch both strips to the top and back of a quilted block.

Willys rqayg first stitching

Next, the back strip was sewn to the adjacent block.

Willys rqayg second stitchingThen the blocks were opened up and the top strip acted as a flap which was folded over the seam allowances. This was stitched down with a decorative stitch (sorry the fabrics in the blocks has changed. I forgot to take a picture of this step for the blocks above).

Willys rqayg sew flap Here’s a picture of Willy’s quilt laid out and in progress (my granddaughter Sommer loved this part and “helped” me by crawling all over the squares and telling me what she “spied”):

I Spy - quilt as you go

You may have noticed that I threw a few 12″ squares into the mix for fun. Actually, after putting all the 6″ squares together, I must admit that making both quilts just from 12″ squares sounds very appealing. But, they’re all together, bordered and bound. Here’s Hanna’s from the front:I Spy quiltAnd from the back.

Hannas quilt back

I often say in my classes that whenever I think I’m hot stuff, the Lord humbles me. I was clipping along on Hanna’s quilt and pretty pleased with myself. Then, after all the blocks were together, I flipped it over to find that my checkerboard had not turned out as well as planned. You can see that the 12″ blocks interrupt the pattern, but that doesn’t cover up for the fact that some of the rows are just plain wrong. Or are they? I’ve decided that this new pattern is pretty and I’m sure Hanna will love it!

Here’s Willy’s from the front:

Willy's I-Spy Quilt

And from the back.

I-Spy back

His checkerboard is better, but still not perfect.

I quilted the borders with words – a special message for each child that came from my heart. I’m hoping this will guarantee they’ll have to learn to read cursive!

So, two weeks ago, I was able to fly out to Washington to deliver the quilts to the kids. What a joy – and they really did love their quilts. We stayed together in a motel, swimming and doing lots of fun things. Here they are with their quilts the first night:

New quilt Hanna New quilt Willy

and on their beds at home (Miss Kitty liked Hanna’s quilt too!)

Hanna, kitty and quilt Willys bedWilly made me promise to teach him to make a quilt the next time they come to Wisconsin. I can’t wait!!!

 

Posted in Kids, Travel | 3 Comments

Madison Quilt Expo 2014

I’ve just returned from teaching at the annual Quilt Expo in Madison, WI. I believe it is the biggest quilt event held in Wisconsin and I’m always grateful to be a part of it!

Wisconsin Quilt Expo

The students in my lectures and workshops were a delight and, as usual, I think I learned as much from them as they did from me  :-) !

This show seems to get better every year. The quality and number of vendors is incredible – and then there are the quilts! I just happen to have a few photos of some of my favorites from this year’s show to share.

You may remember a story I told in a post this past February about a collaboration quilt I made with my friend Evelyn, named “Intergalactic Journey” . It involved a UFO (Unfinished Object) found in her bathtub (if you’d like a refresher on the story, click here). We entered it in the Expo and just had to have our picture taken next to it at the show.

Expo 14 Bathtub

It’s such fun to create a quilt with a dear friend (although I still think we should have titled it “Out of the Bathtub”). The large circle was the UFO that started it all and Evelyn made it in a class named “Circles of Illusion” which was taught by Andi Peredja.

So, it was exciting to discover this next quilt a few aisles down at the show.

Expo 14 time to flyMade by Brenda Roach of Bloomfield, IN this lovely quilt is titled “Time to Fly”. Here’s her description:

“I was inspired by workshops that I had taken with Andi Perejda (“Circles of Illusion”) and Gail Garber (“Flying Geese and Swirling Designs”). I had also learned about designing with butcher paper and piecing with freezer paper. I began with the “Circles of Illusion” and designed the quilt from there.”

It was exciting to see the wonderful quilt Brenda created from her “Circles of Illusion”.

Two other quilts that tickled my fancy in the show were inspired by the same photograph. Lori Schloesser is a friend and fellow Fiberista member (our Watertown fiber art group). Her most recent project was inspired by a photo and here’s her description:

““Almost Peonies” is the result of a personal challenge to make something floral. My work is generally geometric and I’ve never done flowers. I chose peony buds because they were the most geometric flower I could think of. It was a fun challenge, and I managed to make the piece more linear than I thought was possible.” And here’s the quilt:

Expo 14 Lori

A bit farther into the show I was delighted to find a quilt made by Vicki Quint. Vicki is a Watertown quilting friend who moved away a few year’s ago. This is the description of her piece:

““Peonies Year ‘Round” – Lori Schloesser of Watertown, WI had shown me her photograph last fall of these peonies. She told me about her plans to make a pieced wall hanging. I asked her if I could have the pattern so I could needle-turn appliqué it. We both completed our versions.”

Expo 14 Vicki

How interesting to see the same photo recreated in piecing and appliqué! These are two very talented quilters.

I hope you find this last quilt/story interesting also. “From the Outside Looking In” was made by G Wong of Wellesley, MA, and she says:

“This quilt was inspired by the PBS documentary “The Amish”. The front of the quilt is the traditional Amish center diamond block which portrays a non-Amish person peering into the lives of Amish living. The back of the quilt is from the standpoint of an Amish person looking into the non-Amish world, as busy and full of noise.”

Expo14 AmishI think one of the best parts of the show to me was getting to see so many friends and students, to share a quick smile and a hi, or even stop for a few minutes to chat. Quilting friends are the best friends.

Floss Update

I’m still contemplating all of the great suggestions I received about what to do with my recently acquired, sizable, vintage floss collection (click here to read that story, just in case you missed it).

So far I did send 2 vintage boxes with a mix of colors to the American Quilt Study Group in response to Laurie Magee’s comment: “American Quilt Study Group is holding our annual seminar in Milwaukee at the Crown Plaza Hotel Sept 10-14. This is a group that supports research into the history of quilts, etc. Some of your vintage thread would be a wonderful addition to our silent auction.  http://americanquiltstudygroup.org/sem14info.asp

This was a time sensitive suggestion, so I sent it right out and hope the floss finds a good home and provides some needed funds for this worthy organization.

The other comment that I wanted to share was from Karen. She wrote:

“This reminds me of mission I was on back in the eighties. I was doing counted cross stitch at the time and decided I needed all the colors. I’d stop on the way home from work once or twice a week buy a few skeins, and spend a bit of time wrapping each one around a little card designed just for that purpose. I ended up with about 6 plastic boxes with all the floss lined up in numerical order. I still have them and don’t need more! Good luck figuring out what to do with your great find.”

Well, Karen was a volunteer at the Expo and I was blessed to have her help in my room during a lecture. She told me she had used some of that floss to make a color wheel. This intrigued me and I asked if she would send a picture. She not only did that, but brought it in to my lecture the next morning and said I could share it on the blog (thanks Karen!)

Expo 14 Karens floss color wheelIt was even more beautiful in person! Thanks Karen! I’m not sure if I’ll make my own, but I certainly do have the floss to do it  :-) .

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And one last item I’m really excited to share. If you have taken my Parallelisms class (from my book: Where Do I Start With Fiber Art). You know that I talk about using a product called Steam-a-Seam™, from the Warm Company™, to fuse sheer fabrics to quilts. A little over a year ago Steam-a-Seam™ disappeared from the marketplace because the company that made the release paper went out of business. Well – I have great news – I went to the company website and it looks like we need only wait til the end of September. Here’s what I found:

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Posted in Inspiration, Travel | 3 Comments

A Pony Quilt – 18 Years in the Making!

This week I have exciting news to share – well, at least it’s exciting to me! A quilt I began over 17 years ago, and chose to hand quilt, is finished!

Let me tell you the story and then unveil the quilt :-).

Quite a few years ago my husband gave me a pattern for a civil war era hoop dress and the hoop skirt to go with it.  He had been at a Civil War reenactment, found these items, and thought I could make a costume to wear when I lecture. This was the inspiration for my first lecture about antique quilts entitled “But I Still Love You”.

Vintage Quilt Lecture by Chris Lynn Kirsch

In planning an introduction for this lecture I came up with an idea that required me to have a vintage dog quilt and a vintage pony quilt. I acquired the dog quilt shortly after coming up with the intro idea, but there were no pony quilts to be found. I had planned to give the lecture for my own guild, Patched Lives, first. So I did my intro and asked the ladies in my guild to imagine that they were looking at a pony quilt (ha!ha!).

A few days later I received an envelope in the mail from a guild friend (thanks, Johanna). She sent me a pattern for a carousel pony block and a note saying that perhaps I should make a pony quilt. What a great idea! I grabbed my small pile of vintage feed sacks and took them along to Paducah with me. That year Wendy, Jill, my Mom and I were all spending quilt week in Paducah together and I conned them into making pony blocks. They each chose the fabric they liked and hand buttonhole appliquéd a pony onto a piece of muslin.

pony blue pony green pony pink pony yellow

Upon arrival home I stitched the top together, bordering it with orphan bow tie blocks which were given to me by my friend Barb.

At that point I decided the quilt needed to be hand-quilted, but couldn’t talk my Paducah buddies into doing the quilting on their blocks. I enjoy hand-quilting in small increments, and typically worked on this crib sized piece while traveling to Paducah each year (Wendy never did give in and offer to help). This past April I actually did do quite a bit of the quilting during our AQS adventure, so I decided to take it along when Mike and I drove to Philadelphia last month. I really worked in earnest on that trip, because I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. It only took me one evening of quilting after our return to actually finish the quilting. Putting the binding on was a joy!

carousel pony quilt

I love it!

I used the corners of a vintage hanky for the saddles, the same black trim from my dress became the poles, and embroidery floss (go figure), was used for the tails. They’re adorned with a few old beads and buttons.

Do you have a quilt that has taken you over 18 years to go from start to finish? Would you like to share your story?

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This week I’ll be heading to Madison, WI for Quilt Expo! I’ve been blessed to teach there every year since the beginning. This year I’m doing “Sit and Sew’s” on free motion quilting, and lectures on many different ways to add circles to your quilts. It’s always a wonderful show. I hope to see some of you there!

Posted in Hand Quilting, Uncategorized, Vintage Quilts | 2 Comments

Needle Wars

I’d like to begin this week’s post with a big THANK YOU to everyone who responded to last week’s Floss Frenzy post. There were so many great suggestions, and there is so much floss, that I’ve decided I’m going to divide it up to use it in a number of different ways in order to benefit as many as possible. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve recently been made aware of what sounds like a change for the better in the sewing machine needle industry: color coding of needles. When a student mentioned this to me I did an internet search and discovered this information on the Schmetz site:

Schmetz color coded needles

Used with permission from Schmetz – http://www.euronotions.com

My reaction: what a great idea!!! Even with a magnifying glass, I find it difficult to read the print on a needle.

According to the Schmetz website:   http://www.euronotions.com/colorcoding.htm, they are just beginning to faze in this new improvement. So I’m going to watch for the Top Stitch, Quilting and Jeans needles (my favorties) to come out with color coding.

At this time I am using a method for identifying needles that has worked well for me most of the time. I have a divided pin cushion that I’ve marked with the needle sizes I use. When I’m changing needles, and the used one still has life in it, I stick it in the appropriate place in the cushion. I then put a fancy headed pin in the section that represents the needle I’ve just placed in the machine. That way I always know which type and size is being used.

sewing machine needle organization

While getting ready to share this blog, I received my most recent e-newsletter from Superior Threads. I enjoy getting their newsletter and highly recommend it (you can sign up at  http://www.superiorthreads.com/). Well, the newsletter began with an article about color coding needles, and this is what it said:

Superior Threads on color coded needles

Used with permission from Bob Purcell, www.superiorthreads.com.

Elizabeth’s suggestion for color coding needles is another clever idea.

I must admit, I’ve used Schmetz needles for years and find them to be very good quality needles. Superior Threads has great titanium needles and I use those too. It’s a personal preference which you prefer, and I think we need to be aware of what’s out there and try them all until we find what works best for each us.

By the way – there is a hilarious video on the Superior site called Quilters Anonymous. Watch it if you need a smile!

 

 

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Floss Frenzy

In my blog post from August 3, I mentioned staying at the Quill Haven B & B in Somerset, PA. Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.48.41 PMRowland and Carol were wonderful hosts, and during one of our many conversations, I mentioned I was a quilter. Rowland said to me, in a rather excited tone: “do you know about floss?” I answered “yes, I’m also a dental hygienist” (groan). He did laugh politely, but then told us about a very large box he had in the attic of his barn. His sister-in-law had passed away a few years previous and she had at one time owned a needlework shop. They were still trying to find homes for some of her things and they hadn’t yet figured out what to do with this box full of embroidery floss! Then he asked if I wanted it. I of course said “yes”!

So Mike made room for it in the trunk of the car and I didn’t allow myself to open it until we were home and unpacked. What an adventure opening that box was! It contained 237 boxes of DMC floss!!

DMC Embroidery Floss

The back of each box is stamped “Made in France”, and they look to be quite a few years old. I did an internet search to learn about DMC. The company got it’s start in 1746, and you can read the history at: http://www.dmc-usa.com/DMC-History.aspx . There is more information about the company today on the “about” page of that same website.

So, I pulled out all the boxes and arranged them by number.

Vintage DMC Floss

237 is a lot of boxes of floss. Each box originally contained 24 skeins of the same color floss. There were only about 7 colors that had multiple boxes and a majority of the boxes were full! I thought I’d open a few so you could get a better feel for the amount of floss I had been generously given.

Vintage Embroidery FlossThe problem is – I don’t do that much embroidery. So what to do with all this floss?!? The first thing I decided I would do is keep one skein of every color for myself, so I pulled these from their boxes and laid them out in numerical order.

Lots of Embroidery FlossWOW (an understatement)! What a feast for the eyes! I was amazed at how often colors switched in this line up.

So here’s where you come in. I’m looking for suggestions on what to do with the rest of the floss.

Should I keep the collection together? If so, who would want it?

Should I take it to my quilt guild and have a give-away floss frenzy? (after you get first dibs – Barb J :-) )

Should I have some sort of a “winner take all” contest on the blog?

What would you do with it?

Perhaps everyone who comments to this post should win a box :-)!

Please let me know. I look forward to your input!

And a quick reminder

Saturday, August 23rd is rapidly approaching and there are still a few spots left in my free motion quilting workshops at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art. Click here for the descriptions and a link to sign up!

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

Posted in Notions | 54 Comments

Thank-you Quilts

Last month, while teaching in Door County, WI, I met a quilter named Laurie who showed me a delightful butterfly quilt and shared it’s story with me. She related that she’d been the treasurer, membership chair and newsletter person for their guild for 10 years and when she finally let others take on those positions, the members of the guild made her thank-you blocks. Miriam was the one to choose the butterfly block (a rather unique one for a friendship quilt) and she organized the block making/collecting. Here’s a picture of the delightful quilt! Miriam is on the left and Laurie on the right.

Laurie's butterfly quilt

Each block is signed, and when I told Laurie how impressed I was with the way they were set with raw edge appliquéd wild flowers, she told me that she and her husband “parent” monarch butterflies. A few year’s ago I noticed a monarch chrysalis attached to a potted coleus in my driveway. It was such fun to check it each day and watch as the butterfly inside grew, emerged, climbed to the top of the plant, dried it’s wings and then flew away. Laurie and I had a nice chat about butterflies and I realized that the blocks were a truly thoughtful gift.

Laurie allowed me to photograph the graph paper drawing of the quilt (I was so glad she’d brought it along.

butterfly draft And here’s a detail shot (note the 3D monarch):

butterfly detailI’m so grateful to Laurie for sharing her quilt and it’s story with us.

Over the years I’ve held offices in many guilds and have received two thank-you quilts. I really cherish them. This first one was a collection of “Indian Hatchet” blocks from the members of Mad City Quilters in Madison, WI. Thanks to Carol for organizing the collection. As soon as we’d moved to our new home, I put the blocks together and quilted my lovely friendship wall hanging. I still have great memories of the members who’s name grace it.

autograph quilt Mad City

A few year’s later I was president of Common Threads Quilt Guild, in Sussex, WI, and Valeria not only organized the making and collecting of the blocks, but she had taken my Mariner’s Compass class and chose to make a compass for the center. If that weren’t enough, she added prairie points around the edge and handquilted this lovely lapsized quilt.

autograph quilt Common Threads

I think you can see why these quilts mean so much to me. Have you ever received a thank-you quilt? Please send me a photo, I’d love to share it on the blog.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments