Spool Pin Doilies

In the “Pieceful Star” class I taught a few weeks ago, Bonnie brought along her Singer Featherweight™ to sew on. She had a hand-made notion I’d never seen before and it was not only clever, but lovely. Instead of placing a felt circle under her spool of thread on the thread pin, she had a “Spool Pin Doily”.

Bonnie said she had taken a class on Featherweights™ at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, and one of the other students had made them and brought them to sell. I love it! I’d like one for every machine I own!

Sew, I did a little internet search and found many sites that have them for sale. Prices ran around $5. One site had a pattern for crocheting your own:  http://foothillsofthegreatsmokymountains.blogspot.com/2014/10/spool-pin-doily-pattern.html. I think I need to share this with my mom. She’s a great crocheter and I bet she wouldn’t charge me too much. Usually she’ll do anything for me if I invite them over to play with Sommer and Trey. Great grandparents are such pushovers 😀 !

The Pieceful Star class was a lot of fun. It has the beauty and appeal of a Lone Star without having to match up all the diamonds. All of these 31″ square quilt tops were made by students in that class!

Pieceful Star by Suzi Banks

Pieceful Star by Mary Miller

Pieceful Star by Joyce Egle

Pieceful Star by Sue Ehlen

Pieceful Star by Bonnie Morris

Pieceful Star by Jane Wettstein (don’t you love the fun way she used her scraps in the border?)

Pieceful Star by Cathy Bornemann

I’m offering the Pieceful Star class again at Waukesha County Technical College on Saturday, March 18th, from 9 to 2:30. We need a few more students for this workshop to run, so please sign up at wctc.edu!

February 12, 2017, Classes Notions
A Multi-Country Quilt Challenge

I hope you enjoyed last week’s post about Rumi O’Brien and her quilts (to read that story click here). I also hope you’re looking forward to the rest of the story!

While going through my photo album I was so pleased to find how well I had documented the “sister city” challenge – between quilters in Madison, WI; Freiberg, Germany; and Berne, Switzerland. This is a picture of my album with a photo of the challenge poster, the fabric scraps opened across the top, and me standing next to my quilt. Don’t you love the 80’s hair?

One of the newspaper clippings I saved, reported a part of the story I had forgotten:

The German and Swiss quilts were lost in shipping! Georgellen enlisted the help of Swiss, German and U.S. embassies, then Sen. Herb Kohl, and the Postal Service, to help find the quilts. We hung the American quilts so the exhibit could open on schedule, and the European quilts finally arrived the morning of the opening reception! Talk about excitement!

I won’t be able to show you all of the quilts, but I chose a few of the ones I found most interesting. The pictures you see here were taken of photographs, so the quality is not perfect. The American quilts have their makers in the pictures. The European ones don’t. I apologize for not having the quilter’s names with their quilts. That was one part of the documentation I neglected to include 😥 . I’ll share a slick trick about my  quilt at the end of the line up!

I found it interesting that most of the American quilts were traditional in design, while many of the European quilts were quite “artsy”.

The quilt I made for the challenge is named “Floral Lights”. I chose to add a burgundy, a blue, and a pink fabric to the challenge fabrics; and pieced them into basket weave blocks. These became the background for a floral silhouette.

Isn’t the floral design lovely? I’ll let you in on my secret. The white fabric was a “white-on-white” print, so the design was already on the fabric. I drew around it with a washout marker, quilted on the line, and trimmed away all the non-floral areas of the white fabric, so the piecing showed through. I then machine satin stitched the flowers and hand-quilted the same design in the border areas.

I’m quite sure this was the first challenge I ever participated in, and it was a great experience!


A Sew We Go from Quebec to Boston update!

Wendy and I are working on the projects and extra special plans for our upcoming cruise from Quebec to Boston this Fall. One of the quilters who signed up early has had to cancel due to a family circumstance. Her roommate is still planning on going and is looking for a travel partner. If you think you might be interested in coming along, please email me at clkquilt@gmail.com, or contact Kristi at (262)786-6763/kristi@journeysandgatherings.com. For more information on the cruise, please go to: http://www.chrisquilts.net/trips/

February 5, 2017, Challenges
Fascinating Story Quilts

This week I received an envelope from my first quilting teacher, and very dear friend, Sharon Grieve Grinyer. In it was a newspaper clipping from the Wisconsin State Journal that took me back to 1989. The article was entitled:

And begins with:

“There’s a good story behind Rumi O’Brien’s quilt called “Hiding Under Shrubs – I’m Too Famous.” There’s a story, in fact, behind every Rumi O’Brien quilt.” Made from tiny scraps of cloth and laced with thousands of minute stitches, O’Brien’s handiwork is consistently clever, always unexpected, and often very funny.”

To read the entire article, go to:  http://host.madison.com/wsj/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/the-whimsy-of-rumi/article_c9885798-72cb-5f90-8825-b43b25ea9c6b.html

Rumi is a quilter I met early in my quilt journey, while taking part in my first quilt challenge. This all brought to mind a story I think you’ll find quite interesting and I’d like to present it in two parts.

Part 1 begins with a multi-country quilt challenge. I still have a photo of the original challenge exhibit sign and this is what it said:

“In early Autumn, 1989, Georgellen Mikkelson was contacted about orgainizing the Madison, WI, end of a quilt challenge between quilters in Freiberg, Germany (Madison’s Sister City), Berne, Switzerland, and Madison, WI. She gathered a varied group of 21 quilters, and anxiously awaited the arrival of the “Challenge Fabric” from West Germany.

The participating quilters were each given a 12″ square of each of the fabrics. Five additional fabrics of the quilter’s choice could be used. The finished quilts were to be no larger than 24″ x 24″.

In January of 1990, the Madison quilts were shipped to Europe. They were on display, along with the Freiburg and Berne quilts, in both European cities. The entire group of quilts – all 65 of them – will be on display here in the Madison Civic Center until July 1990.”

I found these leftover pieces of the challenge fabric stuffed in a page of the photo album with the challenge pictures. Maybe I had a premonition I’d need them for a blog someday :-)!

I enjoyed making my challenge quilt (to see it, you’ll need to read next week’s post for part 2 🙂 ).

When it was time to get together and see all the Madison quilts, there was one that really caught my attention. It was Rumi’s. Her quilt told the story of the challenge in hand appliqué!

Amazing! And hand quilted too. I was so impressed, I signed up to take a class from her at a local quilt shop. The class was called “Making Babies” and we made 2 little dolls. Rumi was a wonderful teacher and the stories she shared of her life in Japan were delightful. I lost touch with her after that class.

A few weeks ago Sommer found those dolls in a toy bin and began playing with them in her doll house.

After reading the article about Rumi in the paper, I had to dig out the old photo album and revisit my memories of the challenge and Rumi.

I can’t wait to make the trip to Madison and see the exhibit of her quilts. The exhibit is entitled: “Crossing Mountains and Other Adventures – Story Quilts by Rumi O’Brien”. For all the information go to:  https://sohe.wisc.edu/research-development/design-gallery/2016-17/crossing-mountains-and-other-adventures-story-quilts-by-rumi-obrien/.

Next week: part 2 of the Sister City Challenge!


January 29, 2017, Challenges
A Great Binding Tip!

A number of years ago my friend Jean  showed our Open Lab class a clever way to control binding while attaching it to a quilt (to read a previous post about some lovely placemats Jean made, click here!). I thought I had posted about it, but can’t seem to find that post (after 6 years of blogging I’ve covered a lot of topics!)

The concept is quite simple and it requires 2 easily obtained supplies: an empty toilet paper roll and a piece of ribbon. After making enough binding to go around her quilt, Jean rolls it onto the toilet paper roll, threads the roll onto a length of ribbon, ties the ribbon around her neck, and stitches the binding to her quilt. The binding feeds evenly off the roll in an extremely organized fashion. Brilliant!

Fast forward to this past Christmas. Connie, another Open Lab friend, was making tree skirts (I posted about them in December – click here for that post). She chose to couch silver cording onto one of the tree skirts (for couching instructions click here). Jean just happened to have one of her special rolls with her and it made the couching oh so much easier:

Connie added the cording with Jean’s binding roller.

couching roll

Here’s a close up of the couching. It really added some extra zip to the tree skirt!

Thanks Jean, and Connie 🙂 !

I don’t know why I haven’t tried this yet, but I know what I’ll be doing with my next empty toilet paper roll.

Let me know if you try this. A picture of your project would be fun too!

January 22, 2017, Embellishing finishing
A Winter Window Quilt

Last Summer I shared the story of a winter quilt I’d completed (click here to read that post). Well, it’s finally hanging on the wall!

Today’s post is about another winter wall quilt, recently finished, and a quick tutorial on a fun raw edge appliqué technique that doesn’t require fusibles! It’s a very different quilt from the first one, and is hung in a unique way.

In November my friend Doris Deutmeyer gave a lecture and workshop for Patched Lives quilt guild. You may have seen her wonderful work at quilt shows, as she vends at many of them. Her patterns and kits are great, and just in case you’d like to see more, go to: http://fabricationsbydoris.com/wpsite/. I was excited to take her class and chose a winter scene called Crystal Night. This is the pattern and the piece I left class with (some of the students got theirs pieces done and matted!)


Mike and I like to repurpose antiques for our own use and enjoyment (to see another antique repurposing project from a few years ago, click here). Years ago we needed a towel rack in the master bathroom. We found an old window, Mike added coat hooks to the sides and I made an autumn landscape quilt to fit inside it. Since we have no windows in this bathroom (only skylights), it seemed the perfect answer.

I had told Mike I’d make a quilt for every season – but that never happened. As I was making my Crystal Night quilt I realized the time had arrived to change out the seasons (or at least one of them)!

I ordered some extra fabric from Doris, because the new center was too small for the window. I measured how much I needed to add to all 4 sides, knowing the sides were going to be a bit of a challenge. I wanted the distant trees and mountains to match up and look more organic – a straight seam would be too obvious.


I decided to use one of my favorite “raw edged landscape” techniques. I placed the light blue fabric over the dark blue, making sure there was enough overlap. Then I drew a “mountain” line and stitched:


Next I trimmed close to the line.


Once both sides were done I added them and sewed the additional sky and snow on top and bottom. After layering, quilting, binding and placing it in the frame – we have a towel rack with a winter view:

The Springtime view is already beginning to percolate through my brain.

Do you like to repurpose antiques? Any pictures you’d like to share?

January 15, 2017, Appliqué finishing
Silly Goose

So here’s a fun way to begin the new year – sharing pictures of my latest quilt! A few weeks ago I mentioned that my most recent contest quilt had been accepted into the New Quilts From an Old Favorite contest at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. The judging is completed and I’m now free to share my quilt with you. The traditional block the museum chose this year was Flying Geese. While at the AQS show in Paducah this past Spring I got my idea. It’s called Silly Goose, and the label reads: “There’s one in every crowd. She just can’t follow the leader or the rules. What a silly goose!”

flying geese variation

It was great fun creating the crazy, silly-ness in the solo silly goose.

I used stretchy metallic fabric once again. You may remember my first experience with that in “40 Wonderful Years” (click here for that post). It was a challenge to sew on, but the stretchiness gave the trapunto a shine I loved. The only color I couldn’t find in a Spandex™ type fabric was orange, so I tried polar fleece. Another non-traditional quilting fabric. It is a little fuzzy, but I was pleased with the results.

Next, came the quilting. That was even more fun! I chose to free motion embroider designs on the background fabric in neon thread, before I layered and trapunto’d the top. This allowed the embroidery to lay on top of the poofy areas.

machine embroidered trapunto

The effect was just what I was looking for.

Once begun, the quilting took on a life of it’s own, and it was a joy.

This was followed by fused crystals in the small amount of space that wasn’t yet stitched.

WooHoo! I hope you can see the joy I have in playing with fabric, color and design. The Flying Goose exhibit will be hanging in the National Quilt Museum during Quilt Week this Spring. Then it will travel for two years to many shows across the country. All the quilts will also be featured in a book, published by the museum. It’s always fun to have a quilt travel and visit places I have yet to see.

I praise God for the opportunities and joy He’s given me through quilting!


January 8, 2017, Embellishing free motion
Quilting Time

Happy New Year!

Before I jump into my first blog topic of the new year, I have a quick request for my readers in Canada. When Wendy and I take our next Sew We Go adventure to Canada this Fall, we will want to make some memorable quilt oriented stops along the way. If you have any suggestions for possible shops or contacts in Quebec, Sydney, Halifax or St. John’s, please send me an email at chris@chrisquilts.net . Thanks!

And for all of you in the US, I wanted to let you know we have reserved a few extra cabins on the Norwegian Dawn – just in case you’d still like to be a part of this exciting trip. And, we have a quilter who would like to join us, but is in need of a roommate. Please email me for more information  🙂 .


And now for my topic of the week: Quilting Time.

On Thursday this week Maria invited Ida and me over for a day of quilting in her recently cleaned studio.

When we arrived we found her living room to be a feast for the eyes. She had her lovely Christmas quilts hanging on the wall.

and many other beautiful quilts folded over ladders.

Along with clocks! So many clocks! And they were all at different times!

So, we had to ask. Her answer got me to thinking about time – a thought very pertinent, since we’ve just started a new year. Time can crawl, or it can fly (like all of 2016). It is also of the essence, and this related to Maria’s reply.

She said that time is very, very precious. It’s the most valuable thing we have. Food, things, people, and just about everything else can be replaced, but when time is gone – it’s gone. She loves to go thrift store shopping and look for old or interesting clocks. This was the point when we noticed none of the clocks were at the current time. When asked she replied her clocks represented important dates in her life: her dad’s birthday, March 12, was 3:12 on one of the clocks. Her birthday, October 9, is 10:09. Each clock meant something. Wow! I had never noticed that a 12 hour clock could represent the dates for a 12 month year.

Then she showed us the one set for three o’clock to represent the time of Christ’s death for her sins. She said she has the alarm on her phone set for that time each day, so she will pause and remember His sacrifice. I think I may be in need of a few more clocks  🙂 .

We each got quite a bit of quilting done, plus a lot of good conversation, and a nice lunch out. Maria showed us the quilt she’s been working on for almost a year, Jinny Beyer’s Moonglow. She has one more border for the top to be finished.

Gorgeous! Thanks Maria, for a delightful, and insightful, day.

My wish for the new year is that you will have time to do what you love, and to spend with those you love. And that you will use it wisely. God bless you in 2017!

January 1, 2017, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas 2016!

Joy to the World!

I love Christmas! It is such a joyful time of year. And when it snows, everything is so beautiful! We’ve had 5 major snow falls so far and I feel like I’m living in a winter wonderland.

I enjoy the preparations for Christmas. One of my favorite pre-Christmas activities is to “ring and sing” for the Salvation Army. My friend Sharon and I have done this for over 15 years, and this year Margaret joined us.

One of my family’s Christmas traditions is to bake Christmas cookies together. My mom and I haven’t missed a year since I was able to help. This year Betsy, Sommer and Trey joined in the fun.

My dad was in charge of helping the kids “unwrap the Hershey kisses”.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day we were blessed to celebrate with all the family who live nearby. I couldn’t resist having our family Christmas picture taken in front of my round robin Christmas quilt this year. Merry Christmas from the Kirsch house!

Many gifts were exchanged, but the most amazing gift of Christmas is that God became man, lived, died and rose again, out of love for each of us. Oh come let us adore Him – Christ the Lord!

December 25, 2016, Uncategorized
Tree Skirts and Cookie Covers

Last Christmas I shared a story in my blog that has become one of my favorites. It was entitled “Cookie Nana and the Seven Tree Skirts”. Here is a picture from that post of Connie with one of her tree skirts.

doily tree skirts

It really is a delightful story (to read it click here), and this year she’s agreed to let me share a continuation of that story, and a lovely Christmas project idea she got from her mom. So here’s “the rest of the story”:

When Connie gave the seven doily tree skirts to her grandchildren last year, her two children were a little put out that they didn’t receive one. So this year she worked on two more skirts in class. The following pictures were taken as they were in progress. She made her kids “non-doily” tree skirts of her own design. For her daughter, who lives in Ohio, she made an Ohio Star skirt.


And for her son she made a Lemoyne star variation, because she’d always wanted to make the Lemoyne Star block.


Stunning! I’m sure they were very much appreciated!

So now for the project:

During show and tell at my Thursday Open Lab, Connie told the group that her mom had a unique cover she used to put over her Christmas cookies when they were placed on a serving platter. Instead of putting each type of cookie away in separate containers after the meal (or in my mind, to keep sneaky fingers away when the cookie plate is ready, but the guests haven’t arrived before the meal), she covered the whole plate with a pretty, quilted Christmas circle, “lined” with plastic.

quilted cookie cover

Connie used two sided, pre-quilted fabric, finished off with a binding.

cookie-cover-side-1 quilted cookie cover

And with a button on each side. She then made a buttonhole in a circle of clear plastic.


She buttons the liner to the quilted circle.


And the side with the plastic goes face down on the cookie plate.


What a great idea! Connie chose to use the button/buttonhole idea so she could alternate the different sides of the quilted circle, but simply sewing the quilted circle and the plastic circle together with a button on the outside to lift by, would work just fine. And quilting your own pretty fabric would add variety (pre-quilted fabric selection is limited).

I liked the idea so much I asked her if I could put it on the blog. Imagine my surprise when she gifted me a cookie cover of my very own at our class Christmas party this week! Thank you Connie – you are a blessing to me  😀 !


And a parting picture. We’ve had at least 3 major snow storms already this year and it is beautiful!

This morning my car thermometer showed it was -4° on my way to church. Winter has certainly arrived in Wisconsin! Stay warm and enjoy this lovely season of giving.

December 18, 2016, Uncategorized
Quilts and Staples?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our woods. Last week we got a few inches of snow, so I headed out to take some pictures. This was my favorite:

Yesterday we brought the canoe into the barn just in time for more snow. The pond is now frozen over, the birds are loving our feeder, and it looks like we’ve had about 6″ more so far.  I think it’s beautiful!

This week’s post has nothing to do with snow, but I hope you enjoy it!

You may remember a post I did last Spring about rust dyeing (click here to read that post). My friend Ida created a couple of pieces of rust-dyed fabric when our group experimented with the technique. Well – she decided to do something with a piece of that fabric. She added a Seminole border in wonderful matching fabrics.


Our group had discussed the difficulty of quilting rust dyed fabric. The rust leaves enough metal in the fabric to make some areas impenetrable to a needle, thus making the quilting step a frustrating experience. Ida surmounted that problem by “tying/tacking” her quilt with brass staples!

idas-staples1 rust dyeing

Ingenious! And just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun. Leave it to my very creative friend Ida – to come up with the perfect solution.

Stapling your quilt… it might become the new, “in” way to quilt!


An Exciting Update for quilters in and out of Wisconsin!

This past week I received good news about the Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin video on pbs. The entire show is now available on-line. So, even my out of State viewers can access it! Here’s the link!


Join host Nancy Zieman for this special featuring interviews, stories and quilts.

December 11, 2016, finishing
A Variety of Stars

I love the Lone Star pattern. Any star medallion can be a delight to the eyes, especially in Christmas colors. But matching all the diamond points in a Lone Star can be a bit tedious.


While in Paducah this year, I began to play with an idea to simplify it, yet still create an interesting star. I began by piecing a very simple pattern, in this case a checkerboard, then I cut identical diamonds from the piecing. Voilá – a pretty pieced star medallion, with no diamond intersections to match:

Pieceful star quilt

That was fun, but what if I started with a different simple block? I liked this one even better and called it “Pieceful Star”:


This type of playing is just too much fun not to share. So I’m teaching it as a one day workshop at Waukesha County Technical College this winter. It will be offered on 2 different days, in case you can’t make one of them :-).

I’m also offering my usual Thursday afternoon Open Labs, and one Thursday morning Open Lab in January!

The additional workshop I’m offering is a repeat of my beginning fiber art class called “Parallelisms and Concentricities”. This is an art quilt class for traditional quilters who don’t think they’re creative, but want to try. It’s a day for using your imagination while playing with beautiful fabric, skinny strips, and geometric shapes. Loads of fun fusing and embellishing techniques from my most recent book will be shared.



Parallelisms I

For all the information go to: http://www.wctc.edu/, in the gray “Course Search” box (scroll down and on the right), choose “Spring Semester”, and type “quilting” in the “Search for: Course Title/Subject” box. Then click on “Submit”. All the quilt offerings should be there! If you have any problems registering on-line, you can call registration at: 262.691.5578. Here’s the class information:


Course Information
Quilt-Parallel Concentricity – 304 611A 001
CRN: 21145
Duration: Feb 18, 2017 – Feb 18, 2017


Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin – Update

The PBS program I’ve been telling you about aired this past Tuesday. Many fascinating quilts and their stories were shared, and the interviews with Wisconsin quilters were very interesting. Wendy and I had our 15 seconds of fame (it may have been more like 2 minutes 🙂 ). What an honor to be a part of it!

For those of you in Milwaukee, you will have your chance to see it. Here’s the scoop: “Milwaukee PBS will air Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin during the March Pledge (Saturday, March 4-Sunday, March 19, 2017); the March schedule will be released on or about February 1, 2017.”

For those of you outside of the State, It may be aired on the internet in the future. I’ll keep you posted!

December 4, 2016, Classes Piecing
Scarecrow Faces

Important information about our upcoming cruise

Our Sew We Go cruise from Quebec to Boston in September of 2017 is going to be norwegian-dawnspectacular! And we still have a few cabins left. Because this is such a popular cruise, most cabins not spoken for by December 26 will be released back to Norwegian Cruise Lines. So, if you’ve been contemplating joining in on the fun, we need to hear from you soon. This could be a wonderful addition to your Christmas “wish list”. For all the details go to: http://www.chrisquilts.net/trips/, or to open a printable pdf click here!”

***And now for my topic of the week***

While teaching in Nebraska last year, I found a pattern for a table runner I just had to have.

To order your own pattern go to: Happy Hollow Designs!

I usually like to design my own projects, but these scarecrows were just too cute, and I promised myself I would make it this year! I pulled it out in the beginning of September only to realize I didn’t really feel like tracing/cutting out all those little pieces. Inspiration struck when I thought about scanning the pattern into my Brother Scan ‘n Cut™, and letting this wonderful machine do the tedious work. It was a great project for me to learn more about what my Scan ‘n Cut™ can do (to read my previous Scan ‘n Cut™ post click here).

Once the pieces were all fused and cut out, Sommer helped me to “build” the scarecrows. She was disappointed when I ironed them down


and machine blanket stitched around them,


because she couldn’t keep playing with them. So she offered to draw the faces. I stalled until mommy came to pick her up. That night I told Mike about it and he said I should let her. Duh!

The next day I had her draw some faces on paper first. We talked about different expressions, and shapes for eyes and mouths. I was amazed at how confident she was. Then I handed her a washout marker (grandma loves her, but she’s not crazy 😀 !) and stepped back. Without hesitation she drew every face: boom! boom! boom! She was done and never even needed to turn the piece around to draw the upside down scarecrows!!!


scarecrow faces scarecrow-faces-detail2

And here’s the finished runner:

scarecrow faces

I love them! I traced over Sommer’s lines with permanent marker. I think it’s my favorite table runner ever.

November 27, 2016, Appliqué Computers and Quilting
Garment Art

Before I get to this week’s topic – I have some exciting news! I finished my most recent contest quilt this past month, and sent the photos and entry papers to the National Quilt Museum in Paducah 24 hours before the deadline. The New Quilts From an Old Favorite challenge block this year was “Flying Geese”. My quilt is entitled “Silly Goose” and it was accepted as a finalist!!! It will be hanging in the museum during quilt week this April – praise the Lord! I can’t share pictures until after the judging, but I learned a lot while creating this project and can’t wait to post about it in the future.

And now – my topic of the week:

I have a jacket I made to wear while presenting my “Gone to the Dark Side” lecture, but I like it so much I wear it often (and Mike is ok to be seen with me wearing it in public  🙂 .

quilted art jacket

quilted art jacket

I may have shared the jacket previously but, if you haven’t seen my lecture, you haven’t heard the story.

I often refer to my fabric stash and UFO’s as items that are marinating until they reach the perfect time to be used and enjoyed. Usually a project hits the UFO bin because I’m not sure what to do next, and it’s not until I learn a new technique that will work in it, or I have a person or contest to finish it for, that that particular project comes to fruition.

Way back in the mid 90’s I found a yard of fabric in a remnant bin at JoAnn Fabrics that grabbed me.


I wasn’t sure it was even all cotton, but I didn’t care. I bought it, brought it home, and threw it in the stash (a healthy stash needs to be fed regularly).

A few years later I passed by a clearance shoe rack at a major department store and found a pair of shoes in the exact same fabric (and I did still wear this type of shoe back then)!


Now I’m sure I need to use that fabric in a garment, so I buy the shoes and throw them on a shelf near the stash.

A few years later I’m at a discount store and there it is … a purse in the same fabric!


So I threw it on the shelf, next to the the shoes and pulled out the fabric. After pulling some additional fabrics from my stash, and finding a jacket pattern in the pattern box, I began string pieced units for the jacket fronts. About an hour into it I lost interest and everything was thrown into a brown paper sack and pushed to the back of the shelf.

Additional years passed until I met a trio of garment sewers at a Sewing and Quilting Expo, who referred to quilting as “the dark side” of the sewing world. This led me to create the “Dark Side” lecture. As I’m putting this lecture together I realize it would be great to have a “costume” to wear while presenting it. I dig to the back of the closet, decide I still like the fabric, and discover the shoes still fit. I also have a newer jacket pattern that I really like. It’s called the “As You Wish” jacket by Kate Art Designs. This is not only a well done pattern that is easy to use, but Kate has a video in which she shares the perfect way to fit your jacket on her site.

The marinating is finished, all the necessary components have come together, and the time to create the finished project has arrived.

I marked each pattern piece at the correct size, and cut it out about 1″ larger than needed from  3 fabrics: the outer fabric, the lining and a piece of flannel to act as a thin batting/filler. I layered each piece and began the fun part – creating a design. I played with design techniques from my most recent book: “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art”.


Squares and square-spirals were fused in place and then secured with top-stitching. The solid yellow areas are made from ultrasuede.

The sleeves yelled at me “don’t overdo it”, so I continued the square theme in a “Big-Stitch” with embroidery floss (click here for a post on the Big Stitch).

Once the designing was done, I cut the pattern pieces out at the correct size and sewed the jacket together, binding the outer edge and covering the seams with the focus fabric.

I’m so pleased with the results and especially thrilled that this very old UFO has a new and exciting life ahead of it. I’ve also discovered that I now utilize some quilting techniques to speed up and augment the garment creating process.

Do you have a garment background? Any garment pictures you’d like to share?

November 20, 2016, Hand Quilting
Quilt Storage

Way back in 2011 I posted about a wonderful feature in my studio I call my “Magic Box”. This is where I keep my art quilts that shouldn’t be folded – since I don’t have an unused bed to stack them on. I recently had an oops moment with the box, and thought it would be a good time to share this creative idea, especially since many more quilters are viewing my posts now. This was my intro back then:

“There are many options for storing finished quilts. Wallhangings which contain fusibles can be particularly difficult because folding can leave virtually permanent creases. When I was blessed with the opportunity to have my new studio built, I wanted to come up with a workable solution that wouldn’t take up a lot of space. After a bit of brainstorming my husband came up with the winning idea – the Magic Box! Think “Murphy Bed” hidden behind the design wall.”


My design wall is made of two fabric covered styrofoam insulation boards. They lean against the Magic Box when it’s closed (yes, there is always at least that much stuff hanging on it – no matter how hard I try to stop myself).


To open it, I pull the boards to the side,



unhook the hooks:


And gently allow the box to drop down to the floor:



There are weights (pvc pipes filled with concrete and covered with quilted tubes), connected with ropes through pulleys, that counterbalance the weight of the box/quilts, so I can lift the weight.


The quilts are held in place by batting covered boards, that clamp at the top and middle.


It has all worked wonderfully well for almost a dozen years, until a recent small snafu. I’ve been twisting the clamps gently because I didn’t want to put any undue strain on the quilts, but I think I was under-doing it. This was my most recent opening:


The center board held, but the top was too loose and all the quilts slid out from under it. No big deal. I simply removed the top boards and re-stacked the quilts. This system has worked very well for me. It takes up very little space and holds a lot of quilts! It’s too small for bed quilts (65″ x 65″), and it’s too cumbersome for small projects, but for large wall hangings it’s the perfect solution.

How do you store your quilts?


Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin

I’m very excited to share that Wendy and I will be featured in the upcoming PBS special “Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin”. It will be hosted by Nancy Zieman and will air twice: Tuesday, November 29, at 7pm-9pm and Saturday, December 3, at 10:30am. To read more about this special go to:  http://wptblog.org/2016/11/treasured-quilts-of-wisconsin-showcases-tradition-innovation-and-inspiration/

A Monday morning added note: One of my readers emailed me to ask if this program will be aired in Milwaukee, since she couldn’t find it on their schedule. I contacted the originators of the program and here is their answer:

“Unfortunately at this point, Milwaukee Public Television hasn’t picked it up. We are hoping it pledges well and the station will pick it up for March pledge. So you will be able to see this program anywhere in the state except for Milwaukee. But if viewers in that market have access to Wisconsin Public Television in their cable or satellite package, they should be able to watch it.”

November 13, 2016, sewing space/studio
Birthday Block Update

I love Autumn. So having a Fall birthday is always a joy, but this year it was especially delightful. While the children were enjoying their leaf pile:


I was enjoying my block pile:

birthday quilt blocks

Are you ready for the grand total?

60 blocks exactly!!!

I can’t believe it. How amazing! I had to recount the pile twice, just to be sure.

In honor of my 60th birthday, Wendy invited friends to send me 4-patch blocks during the month of October (click here to read that post), in hopes of getting 60. And I did! What wonderful fun!

Thank you to everyone who made this gift so special. I have enjoyed every moment reading and re-reading the blocks and cards while thinking about the dear friends who sent them to me. Some contained short messages, others quoted famous people (there were two from Einstein!), and many included Scripture verses. Each block is special to me. Here is a sample of just a few:

The block from Wendy, who came up with this delightful idea. We have shared so many adventures together and words can’t express what a blessing she is in my life.


My mom taught me to sew and, even though she is not a quilter and she had a broken hand at the time, she made a block and wrote on it (I love the X O X O X O white fabric, and I love you mom!).

birthday block

At Patched Lives quilt guild Geraldine came up and handed me this block:


She wished me a happy birthday and then explained that her hands shake too much to write well, but when I look at her unsigned block I should think of my dear friend Geraldine who is 89 years old. You’d never know it to talk to her!

A surprise block came from my friend Nina. We haven’t seen each other in quite a while, so imagine my glee in receiving this message along with a block: “Dear Chris, Happy 60th birthday! I read your blog every week. As we travel quite a bit, I can actually report that it has been read in some wild places – New Zealand, Tasmania, the Ukraine, Israel – to name a few. It has given me great pleasure and a cozy sense of home.”


The last block I’d like to share was the last one I received. It was #60 and came all the way from Arizona. Evelyn and I have had many wonderful quilting adventures together.


I’m not able to find the words to capture how truly humbled and blessed I feel by the generosity of all you dear, dear people. Thank you so much! I can’t wait to start playing with a layout for my favorite quilt (I’ve already decided this will be my favorite quilt 😀 )!

If you’d like to see the list of the Scripture verses included on my blocks click on birthday-block-bible-verses!

November 6, 2016, Uncategorized
Comfortable Quilting Tips

This past week our son had a few well deserved days off of work – which meant grandpa and I had some time off from child care. Mike decided to make good use of the time, and beautiful weather, making fuel for our wood-burner.


And I was able to finish my current competition quilt! The deadline is this week, so the timing was perfect! I had previously machine quilted about 1/3 of the project, and the time had come to do the free-motion background fillers. I placed the quilt under my HQ Sweet 16 and hooked it up to my “Quilt Float” system (for details on the Quilt Float, click here and then here). That’s my #1 suggestion for making quilting more comfortable!


The clamps hold the bulk of my quilt and carry the weight, so everything moves easily under the needle. This works for domestic sewing machines as well as mid-arms, and it makes the entire process so much less strenuous!

You may have noticed the magnifier arched in front of the machine. It is one of my favorite new tools and my #2 recommendation for making quilting more comfortable. It has a “goose-neck” arm attached to a heavy duty clamp for easy positioning, and it increases my visibility so much now that my eyes are over 60  :-). I purchased mine in Paducah a few years ago, but I did find it on-line at jabetc.com


Don’t you just love my quilting gloves? I got them in the gift shop at the International Rose Gardens in Portland, Oregon last year when Wendy and I took a group of quilters to the Sisters Quilt Show (click here for information on our next adventure). Quilting gloves make moving the quilt so much easier, and are #3 on my list of recommendations for making quilting more comfortable.

So, I began to quilt, but I still couldn’t seem to get comfortable. I tried adjusting my chair height (elbows should be even with the table top), but that didn’t help. I scooted the foot pedal around, but that too wasn’t working. What was wrong??? I finally stopped long enough to analyze the situation and realized the chair was cutting into the back of my legs. I’m not sure why I hadn’t had this problem before (could it have something to do with that age thing again?), but it was bugging me now – and I needed to do something about it – fast!

It occurred to me that I needed to raise my feet off the floor. I found a sturdy, 3″ tall cardboard box in the attic and it did the trick! It was especially nice to have both of my feet on the platform. I felt much more balanced and a whole lot more comfortable. Thus, “raising the floor” is tip #4.


You might have noticed there are small blocks of wood under the feet of my sewing machine table. This is my husband’s method for protecting the carpet, and it did raise the table about 1″, exacerbating my problem. Since I’m 5′ 6″ tall and this worked for me, I bet “raising the floor” could really be helpful for quilters with shorter legs.

Do you have any additional quilting comfort ideas to share?


Last week Marla responded to my post about Slow Stitching with a picture. This is what she said:

“I love this slow stitching movement.  I started slowing down the process almost a year ago.  Sometimes life gets in the way of our quilting, and we become frustrated by not producing all the quilts we’ve designed in our minds.  I have started doing more handwork and improvisational piecing with minimal planning.  It’s very satisfying and quite beautiful.  I’ve attached a piece of embroidery on felted wool, all improvisational except for the leaf shape.”

Marla Morris-Kennedy slow stitching

It’s lovely, Marla. Thanks for sharing.

I’m hoping to try my hand at “slow stitching”, but it may need to wait until I’m past my “fast chasing after grandchildren” phase of life.

October 30, 2016, free motion
Slow Stitching

Oops! Technical error! Sorry!  To view this week’s post on Scarecrow Faces go to http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=8058!


This past Summer I had lunch with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen for years. Dagmar Plenk is an amazing fiber artist, and many of my award winning quilts contain her beautiful hand-dyed fabrics.

She had taken a break from quilting and dyeing, and is now getting back into it, but from a different angle. She’d spent a lot of time knitting over the past few years and handwork is a joy for her.

During our conversation she spoke about “slow stitching” and I had to say “wait, back-up, what in the world it slow stitching?”.

She explained it as a very organic experience in which she takes fabric, tears it into strips, and hand couches it to a background fabric with no real pattern or plan. I was intrigued. Then she showed me some pictures:

Dagmar Plenk slow stitching



Here’s a picture of her work in progress:

Dagmar Plenk slow stitching

She said she’s tried to start with a plan, but it never turns out as well 🙂 .

Since  September I’ve watched her participate in a “hundred day challenge” on Facebook. Here is her first post:Dagmar Slow Stitching

And days 2 and 3:

dagmar slow stitching

She is now up to day 30 and the journey has been very interesting:


I’m fascinated by her process and the beautiful pieces she’s created. Thanks Dagmar, for sharing this intriguing fiber art with us.

If you’re interested in the “Slow Stitching” movement, Dagmar recommended typing it into a search engine. I also found oodles of info on Pinterest.

Have you done any slow stitching? Any pictures or thoughts you’d care to share? Please send them to me at chris@chrisquilts.net.

October 23, 2016, Design
A Consistent Seam Allowance


Happy Autumn! As I was about to post to this week’s blog, Mike hollered for me to come quickly to the kitchen window. This is what I saw – a large Tom turkey and 9 hens running through the leaves. I must admit – this has nothing to do with the topic of the week, but it’s Autumn, so I couldn’t resist! Now on to the topic at hand  🙂 !

I often have students who struggle with keeping their 1/4″ seam allowance consistent, or their blocks always end up too small, or they are using 2 different sewing machines on the same project and the distance between the needle and the edge of the foot differs between the machines. If your seam allowance isn’t accurate or consistent, your frustration level can really skyrocket.

I have a trick to help with all of these issues. I don’t remember where I learned it, but I’ve used it for years and shared it with many quilters.

To begin with, I prefer to sew with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, because I like to press my seams to the side and this always takes up an extra thread or two, thus shrinking the blocks. By using the scant 1/4″, my blocks remain the correct size. So… here’s the trick:

  • Take an index card, marked with 1/4″ lines, and cut off the bottom of the card on the lowest blue line.
  • Place the card under the needle of the machine and lower the needle by hand so that it pierces the card just to the right of the next blue line. When the needle is at the lowest level, it should be “kissing” the line.
  • sa-index-card-hole-1Place masking/painters tape along the right side of the card, making sure you don’t cover the feed dogs.sa-index-card-tape
  • If you struggle with keeping your seam allowance consistent, it’s helpful to stack a number of layers of tape on top of one another, to make a thicker edge to run the fabric along (sort of like the bumpers in bumper bowling  🙂 ). I’ve really appreciated knowing this technique when teaching children to quilt.
  • Remove the card and piece to your heart’s content.
  • Keep this card. sa-index-card-holeIf/when the need arises to sew on a different machine, put the needle down in the hole on the card, tape along the right side, and be assured you will be stitching with the same seam allowance on both machines!

This can be especially helpful when a group of quilters is working on the same quilt, for charity or competition purposes. If one person tapes each machine using the same card (or if the card is passed around), everyone will be making blocks the same size!


Birthday Block Update

Thanks again to everyone who gifted me with a 4-patch birthday block. So far I have 42 beautiful squares! This was Wendy’s comment to last week’s post (click here to read that post):

“Anyone is welcome to send a four patch to Chris. I am sure she would love to have a block from any of her blog friends!”

I will gladly keep you posted on what these blocks will become – as soon as I figure it out!

October 16, 2016, Piecing
Birthday Quilt Block Surprise

This past week I celebrated a rather “landmark” birthday. I was overjoyed to discover the thoughtful, and sneaky, plan of my dear friend and co-travel leader, Wendy Rieves. She invited quilting friends to send me black and white 4-patch signature blocks (she sent me a copy of this after the fact).


Woo Hoo! Sommer and I have had a lot of fun getting the mail each day!


You may remember I recently posted about a new lecture I’m putting together called “Friendship Quilts: Then and Now” (click here for that post). How clever of Wendy to think of combining that idea with birthday blocks. It was so thoughtful of her to organize this, and I especially appreciated her requesting a favorite prayer, Scripture or note of encouragement to be written on each block.

This past Thursday my Open Lab class held a lovely surprise birthday party, complete with cupcakes, singing, and more blocks. What a blessing! Then, last night, my dear husband threw me a lovely surprise party – family, friends, food, fun and another block!birthday-blocks

I have received this beautiful pile of blocks so far – and Wendy was kind enough to suggest the “block party” last all month! It is a joy to read each one and think about the dear quilter/friend who took the time to make it for me. I can’t wait to see the friendship quilt they will become.

I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who sent a block and made this birthday a very special one for me. And my BIGGEST THANK YOU to Wendy. We’ve had so many wonderful times together and I look forward to many more. I thank the Lord for you!

Just a reminder!


Wendy and I will be taking a group of quilters on a cruise from Quebec to Boston in September of next year aboard the Norwegian Dawn! We’ll not only explore these 2 beautiful cities, but we have stops in Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the Bay of Fundy. We’re planning many special events and projects to thrill quilters of every level, plus – non-quilters are also welcome!

quilt cruise Quebec Boston

The sign up is going great! We still have a few cabins available. To read all about it click here!

PS We have a few travelers who are looking for a roommate. If you are interested please contact Kristi at (262)786-6763  or kristi@journeysandgatherings.com

October 9, 2016, Friendship Quilts
Umbrellas as Fiber Art

My friend, Kathy, had a Saturday Quilt Camp in her home a few months ago. She invited a bunch of quilting friends and we sat around her living room stitching, eating, and having a wonderful day! Kathy’s show and tell was her trapunto’d umbrella.


She entered a contest from a group called “Women’s Journey’s in Fiber”, in which they were to create an umbrella as a piece of fiber art. She decided to make her panels using Derwent Inktense pencils™. Once she’d colored her design on the fabric, she trapunto’d areas from behind by stuffing them with fiber fill.

umbrella-detail-2 Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

She lined the umbrella with a piece of her own hand-dyed fabric:

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

And it was featured in a book about the contest pieces:

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

Lovely work Kathy. Thanks for letting me share – and for a fun day!

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

To learn more about Kathy Downie, please visit her blog at: https://kathysquiltingjourney.wordpress.com/.

October 2, 2016, Design
Quilt Round Robin – Anything Goes!

Over the years I’ve participated in many Round Robin exchanges in the guilds I’ve belonged to: “Add a Border”, “Row by Row”, and “Around the Square”, just to name a few. Probably the most unique one was held by the Milwaukee Art Quilters and it was called “Anything Goes”. I did a post about it way back in 2010, but I’ll be participating in a new Anything Goes challenge in a new Fiber Arts guild (more info to come 😉  ), and thought it was a good time to revisit this fun idea.

So, here are the rules: there are none! Each participant chooses a block, a hunk of fabric, a small failed project, a piece of fabric they’ve dyed or painted – anything goes. This item is placed in a paper bag with some symbol recognizable only to the owner (the owner is not revealed until the end of the rounds), and they are all thrown in a pile on the floor. Everyone picks a new bag, opens it, and pictures are taken for future reference. This works best if there are 4 or 5 in each group, so if you have more participants, divide into groups first.

Oh – I forgot to mention, there is one rule – you can’t be upset by what you get back  😀 !

I began with 3 large, hexagon log cabin blocks from a failed 1995 workshop where the teacher discovered half way through that the blocks wouldn’t fit together and the class ended.

Puzzling Spumoni 1

The fabrics were dated, and I had no idea what else to do with the blocks, so in the bag they went. The first person chopped up two of the blocks and sewed them back together into long strips (the next few pictures were made using Photoshop, because back then we didn’t take step-by-step pictures – they may not be perfect, but you get the idea).


The second person thread painted a peacock feather on a new piece of fabric, and bordered it with the pieced unit strip.


The third didn’t like it at all, so she chopped everything up again and added a bunch of stuff from her scrap bag. She then cut this new “fabric” into jigsaw puzzle shaped pieces and pinned them onto a piece of black fabric.


The fourth artist said she was at a loss for the first 29 days of the month. The last day she stared at it, and was so frustrated, she went out for ice cream. When she returned, she was inspired. She removed a few of the pieces and put a cherry on top!


This is how it was returned to me, so I put it in a dish and added the spoon.


The handle of the spoon sticks off the quilt and is supported by a dowel in a sleeve. The shape of the dish is the shape of the lower half of the quilt. I was very pleased and named it “Puzzling Spumoni”! All but one of the other pieces in the challenge turned out great. We each tried new techniques and grew as artists while having fun.

I highly recommend trying an Anything Goes challenge with your friends.

If you’d like to get in on the Anything Goes challenge I’m participating in, our new Milwaukee area fiber art group is called Thread Benders and we will be meeting the third Wednesday in September in Brookfield. Email me for more information!

September 25, 2016, Challenges
Valances and Arm Rest Covers

Occasionally I get an idea for some quilted item I need and, before I begin creating from scratch, I open my bins of UFO’s (remember, this stands for ultimately fabulous opportunities!) and see if anything fits the bill. A few years ago one of my UFO’s became the valance in our bedroom. I never got around to making it a blog topic, but now I’m working with another UFO that is becoming armrest covers. With two such items – it just had to become a blog topic. We’ll begin with the valence!

We re-carpeted our bedroom in blue and I found drapes to match, but the whole look needed a little zip. In my UFO bin I found a bag full of plaid, 3-D bow tie blocks. If you’ve never made them, click here for a great tutorial! I had enough for the valance and, since the blocks were already made, it went together quickly!

bow tie window valence

You may have noticed our unique tie backs. I saw this on Pinterest™, and after a short walk in the woods, Mike was well into making my wish come true  😀 !

log home curtain tie backs

The second repurposing of a UFO happened because my parents have birthdays in July. My brother and I were very blessed to have parents who raised us with a cottage on Lake Sinissippi. It is a wonderful place of fun and happy memories for all of us.


Well, Dad and Mom’s chairs in the living room at the cottage were showing some wear. So, I pulled out the UFO bins and found a bag of blocks I’d made in a Scott Murkin class in Paducah last year.

quilted armrest covers

I laid them out in a pleasing pattern


and sewed them together, bordering them to the appropriate size.


Then the ends were sewn on and they were ready to gift!

quilted arm rest covers

This isn’ the first time I’ve posted about repurposing a UFO. In 2013 I made one into a cover for my Kitchenaid Mix Master. Click here to read that post. I did one other post in 2010 filled with ideas for completing UFO’s. You can read that one here.

Have you ever repurposed a UFO? Do you have a great idea for finishing them? Care to share a picture?



Due to life situations, family and friends of a dear friend of mine are holding a sale of her quilting fabric and supplies. Here are the details:
When: October 1-2; Saturday from 9:30 to 3:45 and Sunday from noon to 3:45
Where: The Whitefish Bay Library; 5420 North Marlborough Drive, Whitefish Bay, WI
What will be available: A lot of hand dyed cottons (Lunn & Mrowka, Melody Johnson & Laura Wasilowski, etc), commercial cotton’s (Hoffman woodblock prints, batiks, Alexander Henry, Nancy Crow, etc.), hand dyed silks, novelty fabrics, beads, embellishments, etc.

September 18, 2016, UFO
Madison Quilt Expo 2016


I think I say this every year, but the Madison Quilt Expo this past weekend was the best yet! There was something for everyone and it was all very well done. Thanks to everyone at Nancy’s Notions and Wisconsin Public Television for making this great event a reality.

I had the blessed opportunity to share my Border Boutique lecture each afternoon to the largest crowds I’ve ever had at Expo. I didn’t teach a hands on workshop this year, which gave me much more time to enjoy the show. And enjoy it – I did!

If you want to see loads of great pictures of the quilts, vendors and events from the show, you can go to the Quilt Expo Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=quilt%20expo.

I always like to share things from the show that you may not see on other sites, such as me getting a hug from Bucky,


when the UW marching band made a surprise visit! You never know what you’ll see at Expo!


While looking at the quilts I ran into May. A while back she learned my drafting technique for the Mariner’s Compass and, while spending time with her grandchildren, decided to make a necklace using Shrinky Dinks™. I love it! It may have to be my next grandma/Sommer project.


There was a special exhibit of quilts that I found particularly interesting. It was a group of quilts from a challenge held by my friend Kim Lapacek. I did a blog post about her passion for quilting last year (click here to read that post). Here’s the challenge info:


This large and exciting exhibit filled a long hallway at Expo, and were arranged in spectral order. I noticed that one of the monthly inspiration blocks was the Monkey Wrench. You may remember a “New Quilt From an Old Favorite” Monkey Wrench quilt I made with my friend, Sharon Rotz, a few years back.

Quilt - Two Friends Monkeying Around

It measures 60″ square, and contains telescoping monkey wrench blocks, quilted with more block outlines and trapunto monkeys chasing each other around with wrenches (you’ll have to look closely to find them).


Well, a few of the challenge monkey wrench quilts had similarities to ours and they made me smile:

monkey-wrench5 monkey-wrench4 monkey-wrench3 monkey-wrench2 monkey-wrench1


It was great to reconnect and spend time with many friends. Thanks especially to my dear friend, fellow teacher, and roommate, Laura Krasinski. She always makes everything extra fun.


And I’d like to close this post with a picture of the Viewer’s Choice award winner from this year’s show:”He Who Guides Me” by Mary Buvia of Carmel, Indiana. "He Who Guides Me" by Mary Buvia

It was inspired by a picture her husband painted. Awesome!

September 11, 2016, Challenges Travel
Friendship Quilts

As I said last week, I’m very excited about the new guild lecture I’m putting together. The idea began to form a few weeks ago when I was looking at the quilted tote my grandchildren use to transport library books.


France autograph tote – front and back

It’s made from friendship blocks exchanged while on our Sew We Go riverboat cruise through France in 2008. It got me to thinking about all the wonderful friendship/autograph/signature quilts I’ve made or been given over the years. Like this one that was given to me by Common Threads quilt guild in thanks for my years as president (thanks Valeria!)

autograph quilt Common Threads

And then… what about that old top I made after collecting signature blocks at a family reunion in 1993? It was at the bottom of a UFO bin, along with a group picture from the party, already printed on muslin. It only needed a border to complete the top. I added one with Seminole piecing and it’s ready for quilting!

Lohse reunion 1993 quilt top-border 2016

Everyone who attended the reunion (including the kids) signed their block and many also drew or wrote something important to them on it.

This led to pondering about “that” vintage autograph quilt top I purchased a few years back. I pulled it out and enjoyed looking over all the signatures and wondering about it’s history. Who was Grandma Chapman? What’s the name of this lovely pattern?


I looked more closely to find other interesting signatures. Than I did some research to discover the pattern is called “star bouquet”. What fun!

Well, from there it was a short hop to checking out Buckboard Quilt’s website for signature quilts. I wasn’t disappointed! Judy makes every effort to get the story when she acquires a quilt, and she had some great stories!

Like one that has a block signed: mother 82, and the pattern is called Little Britches, or this one in which Judy included a copy of the obituary of the man in who’s estate the quilt was found.


I’m having such a good time gathering the quilts and their stories. It’s requiring some detective work – which I’m enjoying immensely.

In the talk I’ll share old and new quilts, their stories, plus handouts with patterns for great autograph blocks to use in your next friendship quilt.

If you’d like to see more quilts and hear the stories, I’d love to visit your guild and share them all! Please direct the program people in your guild to this blog, and have them contact me! Thanks!!!

September 4, 2016, Classes Vintage Quilts
Buckboard Quilts – and a Deal Almost Too Good to be True!

In 2012 I did a post about a wonderfully generous woman named Judy Howard, and her efforts to feed hungry children via quilts. You can read that post at: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=2701.

Since that time I’ve purchased a number of quilts from Judy, and donated a few too! Well, I’m in the process of putting together a new lecture (stay tuned for it’s unveiling  🙂 ), and I needed a few vintage quilts to make the talk more interesting. I went to Judy’s website: buckboardquilts.com , and found just what I was looking for. When I contacted Judy to order them she told me to write my check to the charity of my choice to feed needy children! I was amazed! The entire cost of the quilts went to the charity of my choice – and I got the deduction! This was something I needed to share. So I emailed Judy and asked her to share her story on my blog. Here it is:


“Since 1976, Judy Howard has owned and operated Buckboard Antique Quilts in Oklahoma City. Her love of quilts de­veloped while taking a class from nationally renowned fiber artist Terrie Mangat and antique quilts became her specialty. Julia Roberts, America’s sweetheart, likes to give Wedding Ring quilts when her family and friends marry. Jessica Lange and Dustin Hoffman are also celebrity clients, Dustin purchasing seventeen quilts while he was in town filming Rainman. Four of her quilts can be seen in the six week mini-series Alias Grace available on Netflix this fall.

Judy recently moved her shop home, open by appointment.  To celebrate her fortieth anniversary, she is giving away 200 antique quilts, tops, squares, vintage textiles and 400 small art quilts and her six books in exchange for tax deductible donations written to your charity of choice to feed needy children.”

And here’s a little about her books:

     “Heavenly Patchwork I and II and Centennial Stitches were awarded the Golden Seals as official Oklahoma Centennial Book Projects. Both Heavenly Patchwork I and II received Best Non Fiction Book awards. Thanking Our Troops—God Bless America Touring Quilts received 2nd Place in the Heartland New Day Book Fest.


And best seller 1905 Cookbook—Food for Body and Soul records our pioneer lifestyle through food, fun and fellowship.


Hot off the press is Judy’s Quirky to Modern Art Quilts—Hippie at Heart which is an inspiration for all quilters.


Judy now presents Quirky to Modern Art Quilts, Civil War and Madonnas Quilting on the Prairie Bed Turning Programs, which include fifty quilts dating back to 1837.


Judy’s latest projects include her Patriotic, Food for Body and Soul, Children—Hope for Tomorrow, Recycled/Repurposed, Quirky and Words to Live by Touring 22” Quilt Exhibits available for $100 rental.

To schedule a program, book signing, exhibit, see/purchase her quilts and books call 405-751-3885 or email . Write your check to the local food charity of your choice and take the tax deduction on 200 antique quilts on www.BuckboardQuilts.com and 400 small art quilts and her books on www.HeavenlyPatchwork.com .”


WOW! If you’re in the market for antique or small art quilts – this is the time to visit Buckboard Quilts. I also own her books and highly recommend them.

Next week I’ll be posting about my brand new lecture. It will have old quilts, contemporary quilts, fascinating stories and block patterns to share. I’m excited – I hope you are too! Stay tuned  😀 !


August 28, 2016, Vintage Quilts
Tutus and Soleless Sandals

Last week Sheila made an inspiring comment on my blog. I thought many of you would find it interesting, so here it is:

“Thanks for your weekly hints.  I’ve found them very helpful. Just finished laying out fabric for a number of mug rugs.  Great idea for friends instead of Xmas cards.  Will make a bunch now.  Then first week in Dec. we will deliver them.  Will take my grandfather’s string of brass bells his horses wore during the Christmas season and ring at the houses where we deliver mug rugs.”  

Thanks Sheila, for the great idea! Now on to this week’s blog post. It isn’t really about quilts, but includes ribbons, tulle, and beads. I hope you enjoy it!


This Summer, Sommer and I have had fun doing crafts. Both of the projects I’m sharing here were made with items quilters probably have on hand, or could easily find at a local craft store, and they were simple enough for a 4 year old (with help 😉 ).

The first was a tulle tutu.


You’ll need a piece of 1″ ribbon long enough to tie around a little girls waist with a big bow (set this piece aside); a roll of 6″ wide tulle in a pretty color, and a roll of 1″ wide ribbon to compliment the tulle in the skirt.

  • Measure the length you’d like the tutu and double that number. Cut 12 pieces each, of the tulle and the skirt ribbon, at that length.tulle tutu
  • Clamp the waist ribbon to a table at each end, or tie around chairs.
  • Fold a length of tulle in half and place around the child’s wrist.tulle tutu
  • Pull the tails under the ribbon and have the child grab them above the ribbon.tulle tutu
  • Now have the child simply pull the ends through the loop to make a “knot”.tulle tutu
  • Repeat for all the tulle and ribbon pieces, alternating as you go.

    tutu proud

    too-too proud!


The next week Sommer’s little brother, Trey, pulled something out of one of my drawers. It was a trip down memory lane, as my grandmother made these “soleless sandals” for me when I was in High School.


The second pair he grabbed came from the Sew We Go adventure Wendy and I made to Alaska. As we were preparing for our cruise of the Inside Passage, Wendy’s sister Heidi offered to share a beading project. We were thrilled, and it ended up being another version of this fun foot jewelry.

A-cruise 025

My grandmother’s were crocheted, but Heidi’s were made with strung beads. She was kind enough to bring all the supplies and a bunch of us had a great time making them.

I put them on and Sommer wanted a pair of her own. So I found some elastic thread and beads in my studio and she was off. She preferred working on the floor and spread out all the supplies. Then she began to put the beads onto the threaded needle:

kids foot jewelry

kids foot jewelry

Just watching her technique makes by back hurt, but she was content and finished her first one:

kids foot jewelry

Then, 4 beads into the second one, she pricked her finger. No blood, but the tears flowed freely and her “drama queen” side kicked into gear. She wanted me to finish it, but I remember my mom making sure I finished a project myself, to learn perseverance. So we put it aside, and the next day, with a little bit of encouraging, she jumped back on the horse – and here are the results:

Soleless sandals for Grandma and Sommer

There are many Youtube videos with lessons for “how to make foot jewelry, or toe thongs”. Here are just a few:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHurNgGTyiQ , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS98Z_8go0c

Please let me know if you make any for yourself, or share them with a child. I’d love to see pictures!

August 21, 2016, Kids
Art Deco Wins at AQS

I hope this isn’t too obnoxious, but AQS sent it to me – and I’m passing it along 😀 !
Art Deco winner

You may remember a quilt I posted about a few months back, made with Spandex, and named Forty Wonderful Years (click here and here for both of the posts about that quilt). It was made for a Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge called “Art Deco”. Eight fiber artists made quilts to fit that theme and we entered them in the American Quilters Society show in Grand Rapids. The show was this past weekend and we took second place!

I thought you might like to see the rest of the winning quilts:

You Decide 2016 by Judy Valentino

You Decide 2016 by Judy Valentino



ADD – Art Deco Door by Kathy Downie



Le Dame Moderne by Kathleen Irons Sweeney



Miami Moon by Linda Fleschner



Milwaukee’s Night Light by Kathleen Hughes



Studio 15W by Sonja Pavlik



Vogue by Diana Dunaway



quilting with spandex

Forty Wonderful Years by Chris Lynn Kirsch

I’m honored to be a part of this winning group!



And I’d like to close with a wonderful tip/tutorial from the AQS blog – On-Point! In it they describe a great way to keep organized during a project, using sticky notes.

AQS sticky tip

It’s a worthwhile read and you can see the whole post at:  http://www.quiltviews.com/quilters-best-friend-sticky-advice! Then sign up for their blog to receive all of their great tips.


August 14, 2016, Challenges
Fitting Quilt Borders – Mathlessly

Seminole quilt border

The generally accepted rule for getting borders to fit on your quilt is to square up the top, and then measure the length of two opposite sides and across the center of the quilt top. In a perfect world these 3 numbers should be the same, but only God is perfect, and most of us know that these numbers seldom match. If they’re way off I do some re-stitching. If they’re within a 1/2″, I split the difference and cut the border strips at this size – easing them to fit.

On smaller pieces I’ve discovered an easier way. It may sound like cheating, but it works for me – if the sides are close to the same length (1/2″ or less difference – I might try up to a 3/4″ difference, but more than that would be pushing it). Here are the step-by-steps:

  1. Fold the quilt top in half and lay it on a table, with the edges you’re adding the borders to closest to you. I’ve left a 1/2″ underlap in the picture so you can see that both sides are aligned together. I then smooth these edges out so they are evenly on top of each other (trust me, even though the entire length isn’t in the picture, it is even on the right side too). If they aren’t exactly the same size I: place the corners on top of each other, hold them between a forefinger and a thumb on each side, and tug gently, placing it back on the table.mathless borders1
  2. Make 2 border strips at least 1″ longer than the side of the quilt, and square off the ends on the left. Place these border strips on top of each other, and aligned with the left edge of the quilt top.mathless borders
  3. On the opposite end of the strips, rotary cut the borders even with the right edge of the quilt top. You now have two strips that are the same length as the quilt top.mathless bordersmathless borders
  4. Now it’s time to sew on one of the border strips. This is one time I do pin the pieces together! Place a border strip, right-sides-together with the edge of one side of the quilt top, and pin it even with the left end (red pin head). Pin the right end even also (pink pin head).
  5. Grasp both ends, holding the quilt top and strip between finger and thumb, and gently tug until the strip lays flat (as directed in step 1). Place a pin in the center (middle pink pin), mathless borders
  6. This is the trick to make sure the strips fit: Use the grasp, tug and pin method from step 5 to place a new pin between a center and end pin. Repeat this process of pinning in the center of every pair of pins until the strip is securely pinned to the quilt top.
  7. Sew in place, and repeat for the opposite side. Attach the remaining sides in the same manner. (I just realized that I took these pictures while attaching the second set of green border strips, but you get the idea).

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

And if you like the Seminole piecing in this border – stay tuned – I’m planning to do a blog topic on it soon!


And now – a photo finish! Connie took my Spin Star class a few years ago and used my piecing technique to make purple blocks for her granddaughter (click here for more information on my Spin Star technique). Then she did something spectacular!

Connies Spin Star quiltShe brought this quilt to class last week and I knew you’d want to see it! What I love is the way she alternated the spin stars with bears paw blocks, but to make them fit and work together, she added the outer, “claw border” from the bears paw block around each spin star. Wow! What a clever idea! Great job Connie!

August 7, 2016, finishing
The Wool Chicken… and the Rest of the Story!

wool chicken

Last weekend Mike and I decided to run away. We stayed at the Inn on Hillwind, a lovely Bed & Breakfast near Plymouth, WI.

Inn on Hillwind

It was charming, relaxing, and the breakfasts – superb! I enjoyed walking through the gardens each morning, as did this friendly kitty.


Plymouth has a wonderful Main Street for wandering. One of the shops we stopped into was called Fibbermcgee’s.


As we entered we were greeted by another kitty. This one was made of wool!


At each turn another fascinating, original wool creation greeted us. From critters to flowers, they were each unique and wonderful:

wool-frog wool-flowers wool-flowers-bird-bee wool critters and flowers

In the last room the previously pictured chicken clucked my name. I looked at the tag and discovered all of these wonderful hooked wool pieces were made by someone I knew!!! Joanne Zahorik traveled with Wendy and I to Ireland in 2010! She told us upfront she was not a quilter, but she traveled with a friend who was. She was a delightful addition to our trip, and even gave me a wool pumpkin pin (it was an Autumn tour of Ireland). What a small world! I contacted Joanne and she was happy to have me share her work, and spoke very highly of Sue, the owner of Fibbermcgee’s.

My new chicken friend (complete with hog scraper “feet”) is enjoying keeping company with the rest of my collection:


Thanks Joanne!

Quilt Expo Volunteer poster

July 31, 2016, Uncategorized
Another Spin Star

You may remember a post I wrote last January. I was hosting a “Tie Dye” baby shower for my niece Brianne. Well, Tessa Grace made her arrival later that month, and I needed to make her a quilt! I decided I was in the mood to make another “Spin Star” (my version of a fussy-cut quilt – click here for more on my technique), and I found a bright and pretty print fabric that was just right. I cut my identical repeats from the fabric, and stitched together 12 unique stars on a yummy butterscotch color background.


When it came to the quilting, I wasn’t sure what would work best in the open areas. I decided to cover one with Glad Press n Seal™, and audition a variety of designs using washable markers, erasing and redrawing until I found the pattern I liked. Then I just quilted through the Press n Seal™ and tore it away.

marking quilts with Glad Press n Seal

I found a beautiful turquoise blue “Minky” fabric for the backing and turned it to the front, to give it a soft outer edge. For instructions on this technique, click here!


The Minky had a lovely texture, and the free motion quilting made it even more fun.


Here are Scott, Brianne and Tessa with the quilt.


It took me a few extra months to complete the quilt, but I don’t think Tessa minded the wait. What a blessing to give a gift of hand-made love. I hope she enjoys it!


And just a little FYI 🙂 ! _QE2016_I'mTeaching_225x225Click here for all the information!

July 24, 2016, finishing Piecing
Sew We Go On a Brand New Cruise!

Sew We Go quilt cruise Quebec


Wendy and I are ready to unveil the details of our next adventure! Kristi has put together a wonderful cruise, plus so much more:

quilt cruise Quebec Boston

We’ll be enjoying the eastern coast of North America aboard the Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship, in the Fall of 2017, and it promises to be spectacular!

Please consider joining Wendy & me on this special sailing of the Norwegian Dawn as it sails Canada and New England waterways. Not only will you enjoy a wonderful cruise to exciting destinations, but you’ll get all you’ve come to expect from Sew We Go:

  • Personalized excursions in each port, chosen with quilters/fiber artists in mind!
  • Optional projects designed and taught by Wendy and Chris before and during the cruise!
  • An extra day in Quebec and Boston to make sure you don’t miss anything in these two beautiful cities!
  • We’re even working on the possibility of meeting with other quilters along the way, as we’ve done on past trips!
  • And, as always, non-quilting traveling companions are welcome. There will be plenty of variety to keep everyone happy!

We’ll begin our trip with an extra day in Quebec. There is so much to see in this historic city on the St. Lawrence River. It is divided by steep bluffs into Upper Town – which includes the old quarter – and Lower Town. Perched atop Cap-Diamant, the old quarter is the only walled city in North America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Click on the picture below to visit their official site!

Official Quebec Website

Then we’ll board the Norwegian Dawn and sail to Sydney, Nova Scotia to see the world’s largest fiddle! The coal industry brought immigration from many parts of the world to Sydney, giving a multicultural mix of over 50 ethnic backgrounds and a global flavor to its history. Located on Cape Breton Island, Sydney is also an ideal jumping-off point for scenic adventures. (click picture for their official website).

sydney nova scotia website

Next on our itinerary is Halifax, Nova Scotia. We’ll admire the rugged coastline that surrounds Halifax, the world’s second-largest natural harbor. This beautifully preserved city is Nova Scotia’s capital and was founded in 1749. Take steps through history and climb to The Citadel to witness the Old Town Clock. (click picture for their official website).

Halifax nova scotia

From there we’ll cruise to St. John, New Brunswick, on the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy is a wonder of nature. Twice daily a hundred billion tons of water pour in from the Atlantic Ocean, and the water level in the Bay rises a staggering four stories.

Lynn traveled with us to the quilt show in Sisters Oregon last year. She recently emailed me that she wouldn’t be able to join us this time saying she had already taken a three week road trip of the places we’ll be seeing and, in her words, “the entire goal of the trip was the Bay of Fundy…the highest tide change in the world. Encourage EVERYONE to take that tour.  It’s spectacular! The day Bill and I were there I think the tide was 37 feet.  We walked on the ocean floor and when the park ranger told us to go back up, we did. You can either walk up 90+ stairs or walk a bit for an easier incline.” She then sent me this picture!Bay-of-Fundy-Lynn

Thanks Lynn – so happy to have the pictures!

Our next stop will be in the US – Bar Harbor, Maine! Mike and I vacationed there back in 2003. We enjoyed hiking and discovering the natural beauty of Acadia National Park. I didn’t have a great camera at the time, but these were two of my favorite pictures:


Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse


This second one was taken from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia, looking down at Bar Harbor, and it makes me smile. Just think – you could be vacationing on that ship  😀 !

Our last port of call is Boston! A city with so much history for us to explore: Bunker Hill Monument, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, Quincy Market, the mansions of Beacon Hill, and Boston Common, the oldest public park in the U.S. These were a few pictures Wendy took in Boston and Cape Cod. The last one with her daughters, Lauren and Tory!




Thinking of Boston reminds me of a unique experience I had when I taught for a guild in Cape Cod in 2006. They had me fly into Boston where a driver (named Mike – not to be confused with my husband) picked me up and drove me to Cape Cod. Mike said he would be taking me back at the end of my visit and, since my return flight was late in the afternoon, I asked him if I could hire him to give me a driving tour of Boston. He said he’d never done that, but he’d study up and do it. The night before, a nor-easter blew in, but he’d put so much effort into planning that he wanted to do it in spite of the storm. I never got out of the car, but got some interesting pictures through the often rainy windshield:

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

Site of the Boston Masacre

Site of the Boston Massacre

There’s loads more to see in each of these ports of call than the pictures I’ve shared. Plus, we’ll be traveling with other quilters and experiencing so much more than just the cruise. We are very excited and hope you are too. For all of the details please visit the “trips” page of my website by clicking on:  http://www.chrisquilts.net/trips/.

From there you may reserve your spot by sending your reservation to our travel planner – Kristi. We have a limited number of spaces reserved, so please sign up today!


July 17, 2016, Travel
Rust Dyeing for Novices

You may remember that I awarded my judges choice ribbon at the Evergreen Quilt Show to Kim Frisk’s quilt – “Wherever the Wind Blows”, which was made with rust dyed fabric (click here to read about it!).


I mentioned that I wanted to give rust dyeing a try – and I did! I watched a few Youtube videos, hunted for some rusty stuff, gathered up the supplies – and found it to be easy and fun. I’ve never been into fabric creating – I’d rather buy from others who are good at it, but I enjoyed this so much – I did it twice!

The first effort yielded 4 fat quarters of rust dyed fabric. The two in the center were done with steel wool. The one on the left had nails and screws scattered across it, and the piece on the right was twisted and wrapped around a rusty horseshoe:

rust dyed fabric

Would you like to try it? If not, scroll down to see the other pieces. If so, read on 🙂 !

You’ll need fabric, vinegar, rusty stuff (or steel wool, which worked great and started out “not rusty”), rubber gloves, plastic bags, water and salt. Here’s the basics (google “rust dyeing” for more specific instructions):

  1. Soak fabric in vinegar and wring out.
  2. Tear open a large plastic bag and lay the fabric on it (manipulate if you like).
  3. Put on gloves and arrange rusty items on top. If using steel wool – pull apart and spread across the fabric, then put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray away.
  4. Cover with more plastic, or another piece of fabric, and then more plastic. It should be wrapped in plastic to keep the warmth in, but loosely enough to allow air to get in and cause the rust to form.
  5. Leave in a warm place for at least 12 hours (it was recommended not more than 72 – I got great results in 24)
  6. When done, fill a 5 gallon pail with 4 gallons of water and dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in the water. Rinse items in the salt bath and then rinse with more water.
  7. Hang out to dry, iron and enjoy!

The steel wool pieces in the picture above were made like a plastic/fabric/steel wool/fabric/plastic sandwich, that then rolled up jelly roll style. After my first attempt, I read that putting bags of rice/beans on top of the plastic will help hold things closer to the rust.

A few days later the Fiberistas met at my home to join in the fun. We gathered our buckets of rusty stuff and headed to Mike’s shed (wish I’d remembered to take pictures  😥 ). This time I decided to put a piece of plastic in the bottom of a bin. I layered these pieces, with rusty stuff between, on top of each other, and covered the pile with plastic and weight bags (the rusty stuff used is listed beneath each photo):

rusty-nails,washers,star,chain, steel-wool

Nails, washers, a star, steel wool in patches, and a heavy chain that gave the look of a tire tread!



Pieces of rusty sheet metal and nails.


rust dyed fabric

A doily given to me by Barb. This one was at the bottom of the pile!

I did one additional piece that night, using a chunk of rusty chicken wire. I started with a yard of fabric and folded it in half with the chicken wire in between. This was weighted down with a bag of top soil (remember – we were in the barn  🙂 ).


I think it’s my favorite. Wouldn’t it make a great honey bee quilt?

Have you done any rust dyeing? Please send pictures of any exciting pieces you’ve made. I’ll share pictures of the other pieces made that night in a future post.

July 10, 2016, Dyeing
Vets Roll

Happy Fourth of July Weekend everyone!!!

I want to share one more “Quilt Week in Paducah” post from our trip in April. It’s about a patriotic quilt, and seemed to fit in as this week’s post perfectly.

Early in our week at the AQS show, Wendy and I made a stop at one of the “Quilt In a Day” locations. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw 2 familiar faces just inside the doorway. It turns out that a group of quilters from back home in Wisconsin were selling chances for a raffle quilt!


Beth and her friends were raising funds for an organization I was unaware of, but I was very impressed by what they shared.


Here’s the mission statement for Vets Roll:

Vets Roll

Beth was so excited to tell me about how much she loves chaperoning these trips from the mid-west to Washington, DC, and what a blessing it is to meet these heroes and hear their stories. She shared that a bus trip is much more comfortable and less stressful than flying for these aged veterans. I was very interested and impressed. Please visit the Vets Roll website and find out more about this great organization at:  http://www.vetsroll.org/

Because the pattern in their quilt is one that Eleanor Burns has done a book about, Quilt in a Day generously allowed them to be a part of their “Quilt Week” store. Kudos to Eleanor!

Thanks ladies, for all your efforts in letting our vets know how much they are appreciated!



And one last picture 🙂 ! A few posts back I shared my “Around the Block challenge” quilt entitled “I Love Winter” (click here to view that post). Recently another participant in that challenge, Deb, sent me a picture of her quilt top and it is so lovely,  I wanted to share it with you. Her theme was “up north”:

Deb Braatz Athe B challenge

July 3, 2016, Uncategorized
Sixteen Square Feet

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to judge the Everygreen Quilt Show in Ashwabenon, WI. They put on a terrific show – with over 300 quilts! We had a great team of judges, and the judging coordinator, Lindi, is very well organized, and a delight to work with.


In fact – everyone at the show was great!

One of the categories I was asked to judge was the guild challenge. This year is was “Sixteen” for the year 2016, and each person had a challenge fabric that needed to be visible in the quilt. The ingenuity and talent of the participants was amazing. They were all such fun to view. But I just had to share the first place quilt. It is called “Sixteen Square Feet”!

Sixteen Square Feet quilt

and here’s Carol’s description:

sixteen square feet quilt

Not only does Carol have a delightful sense of humor, but she has the skills to put her thoughts into fabric in an amazing and technically successful way. From the cuffed/creased pants with loafers, to the satin “polish” on the flip-flop wearer – her attention to detail blew me away!

sixteen square feet quilt

Thanks for letting me share your quilt Carol!

The other fun story from the show concerned the Best of Show winner. At the end of the day of judging, we put our heads together and give the “big” awards: creativity, best workmanship, judges choice and best of show. Then, and only then, do we get dinner 😉 . Lindi took us to a restaurant for a delicious meal. This is where we met Sheri, our lovely hostess for the night. Sheri graciously offered her home to Margaret, Carol and me, and took very good care of us. The next morning we all returned to the show for our judge’s tour and Lindi informed me that she hadn’t realized the night before, but Sherri’s quilt had won Best of Show! What fun it was to find her and give her the good news!


Sheri is a very talented long-arm quilter and she does quilting for hire 🙂 .

I’d like to close this post with the quilt I awarded my “Judges Favorite” ribbon. Kim Frisk made this lovely work of fiber art, called “Wherever the Wind Blows”, from rust dyed fabric she’d created using steel wool. She said the fabric reminded her of a map, and that was her inspiration. The appliquéd ships and pieced mariner’s compass came together in a beautifully balanced and intriguing work.


Kim’s quilt won the show’s creativity award also. I can’t wait to try rust dyeing myself!

It was a great show! Thanks to Lindi and all of the Evergreen Quilters for allowing me to be a part of it!

June 26, 2016, Challenges
Buildings, Strawberries, and Couching

I’ve written before about the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, WI, and that’s where the second completed UFO I spoke of last week is right now.

WMQFA had it’s beginnings in the Wisconsin Quilt History Project – documenting quilts in Wisconsin. Then a farm was acquired and the fundraising was begun to turn an old barn into a museum! Before the barn was renovated, I was at a fund raising event there, and took pictures of some of the buildings. While on a teaching trip to Alaska (click here to read that post), I stayed with quilting friends and had time to Repliqué two of the “building” blocks.

Each Spring Cedarburg has a Strawberry Festival, and each year the WMQFA has a strawberry challenge. When I got the entry form for this year’s Strawberry challenge, I knew the time to finish those blocks had arrived. I completed the third “building” block, added patches from a “fruit” fabric, bordered, quilted and bound it all in time to drop it off at the Museum – 4 hours before the deadline.


Sew, what does this have to do with couching? Well, when I’d completed the quilt top, the black fabric was overwhelming.

couching yarn on quilts

I didn’t have much time to come up with a fix, so I did a bit of quick noodling, and decided to couch red yarn inside the black border. This is a “go to” technique I’ve used before and it’s a goodie.

To begin, I thread the machine with a color thread to match the yarn, and set it for a zig-zag stitch wide enough to cover the yarn. I leave a 3″ tail of yarn at a corner, lay the yarn in the ditch of the border seam, make one stitch in the yarn at the corner to anchor it, and zig-zag it in place – pivoting at the corners.

couching yarn on quilts

Strawberries, Buildings and Fiber Art

When I reach the end, I thread the yarn tails into a large needle and bury them in between the quilt layers. I had a great time quilting the border with words. Then I needed a name. When nothing clever came to mind, I asked Sommer who said, in matter of fact 4 year old fashion, “Buildings and Strawberries”.

My friend Sonja created a fascinating piece of fiber art for the contest also.


My quilt, Sonja’s, and all of the entries, will be on display at the museum in Cedarburg the weekend of Strawberry Festival – June 25 and 26! Please let me know if you see it there 🙂 !


June 18, 2016, Challenges Embellishing
I Love Winter!

In the past few weeks I’ve finished two UFO’s – talk about feeling virtuous  😀 ! As I’m writing this blog post, temperatures in Wisconsin are in the high 80’s! It is an odd, but appropriate time to share this quilt and it’s story:

In 2013 the special projects committee at Patched Lives (the traditional quilt guild I belong to) came up with a fun idea for a “round robin” type of challenge.  Here are the rules:

Around the Square Challenge – groups are made up of 6 or 7 participants. A list is made of the members of each group so the projects can be passed around in order.

1. Each participant picks a theme for their project (examples could be: Noah’s ark, snow people, up north, a day at the beach, etc.).

2.  Draw a 4″ grid  8 x 10 on a piece of flat quilt batt – orientation is your choice. 4″ is the finished size of all the squares in the quilt, so pieces will need to have seam allowance added.

3.  Create a block in the chosen theme to cover a 16″ x 16″ square or a 12″ x 20″ rectangle (plus seam allowances). Safety pin in place somewhere on the grid. Once begun, this block may not be moved.

4.  Place in a traveling container along with any fabric or embellishments that can be used in the quilt. A “travel journal” and/or ready-to-sign label may be included also.

5. Projects are passed to the next quilter on the list and they are to make blocks to cover 12 squares on the grid. This could include an 8″ finished block, two 4″ x 8″ blocks, and four 4″ blocks, or other combinations, but no additional block can be as large as the original. These blocks are safety pinned over squares in the grid and may not be moved.

6. The projects are passed until all participants have worked on each one. The traveling containers are then returned to their originators who will add blocks to fill any open squares, and finish the quilt. They may move the blocks around on the grid if desired.

My theme was “I Love Winter” (I really do – when its cold outside I can stay inside and quilt guilt free!). Here’s my main block:

I love winter quilt

I received a delightful variety of blocks back, with some empty squares. I had fun rearranging them and filling in the spaces. Most of my additions ended up being a light blue, tone-on-tone fabric that gave it all a checkerboard effect. I then added borders, and layered it all with a sweet snowman fabric on the back:

i love winter quilt

The quilt needed a lot of “in-the-ditch” quilting. This is my least favorite way to quilt, but a few of my friends had mentioned using an “in-the-ditch” foot on my sewing machine. It turns out I had just the foot, and it helped. It isn’t perfect, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.

The rest of the quilting was done free motion and that was much more fun. Binding was added and now it’s done – in plenty of time for winter!

I love winter quilt

Here’s the label that traveled with the project, and is signed by all the talented quilters who made it such a wonderful quilt.

I love winter quilt

Maryjane was kind enough to bring hers to the last guild meeting, and let me take a picture. Her theme was angels – and it is lovely:


Thanks ladies! I love winter, and I love my winter quilt! Admit it – how many of you out there love winter too?

Stay tuned, next week you’ll get a peek at my other recently finished UFO!

June 11, 2016, Challenges
A Spandex Quilt, part 2 – “40 Wonderful Years”

Welcome back to my spandex quilting adventure!

Sewing on this non-traditional fabric presented a number of problems. Not only did the copper spandex fabric show pin holes and drag when satin stitching with a walking foot, but I couldn’t find any way to mark it for quilting. I could mark on the black, but that wasn’t good enough.

Then the real problem came when I tried to free motion. It would go smoothly for a while, then the spandex would begin to drag and pucker under my hopping foot. What a DRAG!!! When free motioning, there is no way to place paper under the foot, as I did when satin stitching. What to do??? Well, I was able to do a lot of straight quilting first to anchor everything.

AD straight quilting

Next, I free motioned in the black fabric (where there was no drag).


Here’s the exciting part: the straight line grid quilting I’d already done framed in where the free motion quilting would go. So I flipped the quilt over and free motion quilted my spirals from the back. It worked great!

AD free mo from the back

Some areas were quilted heavily and others weren’t quilted at all. The effect was what I was hoping for, and here’s the finished quilt!

quilting with spandex

So Why is it called “40 Wonderful Years”? Well, when creating the design, I needed a focal point for the center. I wanted to use Art Deco lettering, as that was very popular during the Art Deco period. But what “word”? You may remember that my husband and I just celebrated a landmark anniversary (click here for that post). On our first date (in 1972), we went to dinner and a movie, and then we walked along Bradford beach on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, and this romantic man drew our initials in the sand. I decided to return the compliment 🙂 !

I hope you enjoyed my spandex adventure. Any questions?

June 5, 2016, Challenges Fabric
A Spandex Quilt

While at the Sister’s Quilt Show Expo in Oregon this past Summer, l happened upon the Babylok™ booth and was intrigued by a sample the rep had made using swimsuit material. Because the fabric was shiny and stretchy, the machine quilting was dimensional and dynamic. Then, on our way back to Portland, we stopped at a huge fabric store and I found a piece of metallic copper spandex knit – on a clearance rack! I went home with 2 yards.

AD copper spandex

When the Milwaukee Art Quilters chose “Art Deco” as their large challenge theme this year, I knew I had the fabric and the quilting idea, I just needed a design. I did a bit of web-surfing and found a site with instructions for creating “Great Gatsby Style Patterns” in Photoshop. (in case you’re interested it’s:  http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/how-to-create-a-great-gatsby-style-art-deco-pattern).

After a bit of trial and error I chose a design. Next I made a few small stitching samples with a variety of different batts and stabilizers, so I could try stitching on this very non-traditional fabric and see what worked best.

quilting on spandex

I decided to create the quilt top using my Silhouette Appliqué technique:

  1. I drew my design, with a sliver of soap, onto a black cotton fabric,
  2. I then layered it on the copper spandex fabric, both right sides up. Next I placed this on the wool batting and stabilizer I had chosen. I pinned in areas where the black fabric would not be cut away, because the copper fabric shows pin marks.
  3. In black thread, I stitched on all the soap lines using a walking foot.
  4. The black fabric was cut away, close to the stitching, everywhere I wanted the copper to show.
  5. Next, all of the raw edges needed to be satin stitched. When satin stitching, the spandex would begin to drag under the toe of the machine foot while the toe on the black fabric moved fine. This sheering effect was not working at all, but I was able to slip a piece of paper under the spandex side of the machine foot and then it stitched quite well.

AD layered

Once the appliqué was done, I layered everything over a piece of flat cotton batt, and the quilt backing fabric, re-pinning in the black fabric areas once again.

Stay tuned, in my next post I’ll cover the trickiest part – the quilting!

May 28, 2016, Fabric
Forty Wonderful Years

Today is a very special day in my life. Today I’ve been married to my best friend for 40 years.

Wedding-pic web

Mike and I had a bicentennial wedding. No red, white and blue, but rainbow pastel bridesmaids, complete with matching parasols.


Our parents have been great examples of how to have a good marriage.


In the 1980’s Mike and I were enjoying our beautiful kids,


good jobs, and a lovely home in the woods; and then… at around the time of the above picture, I was introduced to QUILTING!

My dear husband has been supportive of this addiction ever since, even when he admitted he didn’t understand why I cut fabric apart and sew it back together again.

In 1994 I quit dental hygiene and began to focus on teaching quilting as my vocation, and I ended up finding a delightful niche in the quilt world.

Oodles of classes, four books and many Sew We Go adventures later, a new passion came into my life – grandchildren who live nearby! I love kids and I knew I wanted to take care of them while mommy and daddy were at work. When I brought up the idea to my dear husband he said “but what about your quilting?”. I said it was a fun ride, but I was ready to quit to be with the grandkids. His response was “keep quilting, we’ll make it work”. And he has!


When I teach (or spend a week in Paducah), this dear man watches those little ones full time. He’s amazing!

As with all marriages, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I’m so grateful to be on this life journey with Mike. So I’d like to dedicate this week’s post to a very special husband! Thanks for 40 wonderful years!

May 22, 2016, Uncategorized
Quilted Memories

Our son, Brad, was very active in his High School orchestra. The orchestra teachers connected with a youth orchestra in England and they did exchange trips. Brad was able to travel to England twice, and both times I went along as a chaperone (I couldn’t have my son play his cello in Salisbury Cathedral – and not be there!) On one of these wonderful adventures I had the pleasure of meeting Art and Debby Abe. Their daughter was also in the orchestra and they decided to chaperone the trip too. I discovered that Debby was a quilter, and we’ve run into each other in the quilt world numerous times since that trip.

A few month’s ago I taught at the Ben Franklin retreat (to read that post click here), and Debby was there too. My heart ached for her when she told me what had happened in her life this past year. Then she showed me some pictures that made her story so endearing to me that I asked her if I could share it. Here it is in her own words:

“This is a memory quilt made from my husband’s clothes. Art passed away unexpectedly last April at the age of 60. I created this quilt with the thought it could be used as a picnic blanket, as it is backed with his jeans and pants.


As I was assembling this quilt, I was thinking how it is so much like our lives. In sewing the pieces together I did the best I could with the flawed and imperfect materials I had to work with, it was a challenge putting them together, because of the different fabric types. But in the end it turned out beautiful. Just like life – we are flawed and imperfect and have challenges, but in the end GOD’s “project” turns out beautiful!
Just like in the center of the quilt is what Art wore to church, so should God be the center of our lives. When we live a God centered life, we will have peace and joy – despite the heartbreaks of life.
And so (in quilter language) when the challenges and trials of life cause us to fall to pieces – we pick them up and stitch back together the fabric of our lives and press forward.”

Debby chose to make a unique memory quilt for each of her children:


Then she went a step further: “As a Christmas tradition, I would make a “Christmas eve” gift.  We open gifts on Christmas morning. This year I took my husbands ties and created a memory gift. The girls ( my 3 daughters, 1 daughter-in- law, and 2 granddaughters) received a purse. My son and 3 son- in- laws got a key chain made from the end of a tie (sometimes it was the tie used for his wife’s purse). For my grandson I cut down one of Art’s ties to toddler size.

Purses from neckties

Here’s my granddaughter Ellie – who promptly filled up her purse and wore it around after receiving it.”


What an incredible labor of love! Thank you for sharing your story with us Debby – and God’s blessings to you and your family!

May 15, 2016, Uncategorized
Crazy Quilts and Stevengraphs

In keeping with my recent crazy quilt post, I’d like to relate a story about a crazy quilt of my own:

In 2002 I had the privilege of purchasing a wonderful Crazy Quilt, circa 1885, from a dear lady in Illinois.

1885 Crazy Quilt

The owner was a woman named Vee and she related this history of the quilt to me: “It was found in an attic in the bungalow of Julius and Harriet (Lyons) Reed in Three Bridges, NJ after Etta (Harriet) had passed away in the 1970’s. Etta was Vees husband’s Aunt. They were originally from Davenport, IA. Julius was a soldier during the Spanish American war and he fought in Cuba. When he returned he went to New York and met Etta at church. They fell in love and lived in NY until Julius was drawn to a piece of property in New Jersey. Julius was a floor worker at Wanamaker’s Department Store in NY and they were quite poor, but he wanted this piece of property so badly that, as the family story goes, he met some Italians and did something for them – no one knows what – and they gave him enough money to buy the land. Julius then built the bungalow completely by hand. Etta was very good at decorating on a shoestring. Julius preceded Etta in death and after she passed away Vee and her husband went through the home and found little of value except for this crazy quilt which was in a box in the attic. They knew nothing else about the quilt, but Vee did mention that Julius did have very wealthy relatives in New York named Wentworth.”

Don’t you just love family stories and the unique details which are remembered?

Well, the quilt was stored well for all of it’s life, obviously never seeing the light of day for any length of time, so I wanted to get it appraised right away. While doing the appraisal, my friend Carol Butzke, commented that my quilt included a Stevengraph.

Crazy Quilt Stevengraph

I’d never heard of a Stevengraph and set out to learn more. In searching the internet I ran across a collector in England. I sent him the picture, and here is a portion of his response:

Thank you for sending the image of your silk. It has come across very well, and I can confirm it is indeed a Stevengraph. When originally mounted, the title printed on the card mount was “The First Point”.
This is of course a scene of two hounds chasing a hare. The rider on horseback is the judge, and the person in red at the edge of the crowd is the person who has just released the hounds, called a ‘slipper’.
It is impossible to date your actual silk, as they were made continuously right up to the destruction of the factory in 1940.
Thomas Stevens, of Coventry, Great Britain created the word Stevengraph to describe his silk pictures. It has now been extended to include all such woven silk pictures, and even the bookmarks as well.
All silks fade very badly in day light, and deteriorate with light and dust. From the image you have sent me, if your actual silk is as bright coloured as the image, yours is in remarkably good condition. There is no fading, and no apparant damage. As an item of beauty, it now needs always to be part of the quilt of which it has become an intregal part.
I hope this gives you a flavour of your Stevengraph. Do take care of it and the rest of the quilt. Keep the silk out of as much light as you can and away from dust, and who knows, maybe it will last another 100 years.

Peter Daws”

I was thrilled to have this information!

Currently the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg is hosting an exhibit of Stevengraphs!

WMQFA stevengraph

This is a portion of some additional information the Museum emailed concerning the exhibit:

Museum Stevengraph

“In 1862, Thomas Stevens, working in Coventry, England, had produced nine fascinating silk pictures of different designs and patented the word “Stevengraph” to refer to the pictures. They were an instant success. By the late 1880s, Stevens had produced 900 different designs on aspects of Victorian life.
Using another Stevens invention at the York Exhibition in 1879 – the portable loom, people attending saw their picture being woven before their eyes. The pictures sold in the thousands and over the years Stevens was awarded over 30 medals and diplomas for the pictures.
Stevengraphs vary in size from 1 1/4 by 4 inches for bookmarks to 7 1/2 by 13 inches for mounted pictures. Once sold for as little as 50 cents, they are prized today by collectors.
The heavy German bombings on Coventry in 1940 leveled his buildings and business. But appreciation of Stevengraphs lives on through collectors and exhibits like ours at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts.”


I haven’t seen the exhibit yet, but I’m looking forward to visiting the museum soon!


Do you own any Stevengraphs, or have you any stories to tell?


And one more thing! While in Paducah, Wendy mentioned that there was a large display wall at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, WI (the shop where she’s the assistant manager), and they were considering featuring quilts by a “Customer of the Month” there. I told her I thought it was a great idea, and she responded “Good, you can be first!”

fiber art at Franks Sewing Center in Waukesha, WIsconsin

So I’ve put up a display of my Parallelism and Concentricity quilts for the month of May. My book “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art” is available there also. It includes the techniques I’ve used in the quilts displayed.

I hope you have a chance to stop by!

May 8, 2016, Vintage Quilts
A Dairy Queen Surprise

Last week I mentioned that Wendy and I set up a quilting studio in the kitchen of the guest house we stay in, like we do every year. This year we spent many hours stitching with the warm Kentucky breeze blowing in the door – it was lovely. My plan was to create samples for some new WCTC classes. I also took 2 workshops while at AQS: Linda Poole’s “Hoot” – working with Inktense pencils, and Kathy McNeil’s “Summer Seascape”, learning her way to appliqué. Both were excellent and I have plans for the samples. Here are the pieces I worked on in Paducah:



While stitching one day, my friend Kathy sent me an invite to an annual “party” they host during Quilt Week, at the Dairy Queen on Friday night. Wendy was taking a class, so I decided it would be something fun to do. Boy, was I right! I arrived, said my hellos to everyone, and then purchased my peanut butter cup blizzard. While we were enjoying the ice cream a bearded man came up to our group (which numbered about a dozen) and welcomed us to Paducah. He said that he’d been looking for a group of quilters and had something in his trunk he wanted to show us.

A few moments later his wife and daughter came in with a large garbage bag, and began to pull a quilt from it. Melissa explained that it was made by her grandmother in 1979. The back was a very bright yellow solid fabric with a red border. I had no idea what to expect – and then she unfolded one of the most beautiful crazy quilts I’ve seen!


The embroidery was spectacular and we spent a lot of time admiring all the wonderful details.

CQ-Paducah-16-racoon CQ-Paducah-16-spider CQ-Paducah-16-qal CQ-Paducah-16-pixie CQ-Paducah-16-basket

And look at the beautiful way Melissa’s grandmother signed her quilt:


Some of the most amazing things happen when you least expect them.


Thank you to the Shaws’ for sharing their lovely quilt.

And thanks for the invite Kathy! Same time next year?

May 1, 2016, Embellishing
Quilt Week 2016 – Paducah, KY

Greetings from the middle of Illinois. Wendy and I are returning home from Paducah. I can’t believe how quickly the past week flew by. Our trip to Quilt Week each year is my favorite  part of Spring. This year the dogwoods and azaleas were in bloom, the temperatures were perfect and the quilts were better than ever!

In past years I’ve posted pictures of the “flying geese bridge” that let us know we’d arrived, and the “1857 Guest House”, above a downtown restaurant, where we stay. This year I’ve decided to share some pictures of the impromptu parts of our trip. These began with a stop in Metropolis to don our quilting hero costumes:


And then we arrived in Quilt City USA. We set up our quilting studio in the kitchen and, over the course of the week, spent many hours there stitching – whenever we needed a break from the overwhelming amount of quilted inspiration, tempting vendors and wonderful food.

Our first evening we had the privilege of creating a window display in the front of Tribeca Restaurant. We chose to feature “Garden of Grace”, a quilt Wendy and I made together from a picture taken during the luncheon at Grace Church a few years ago.

On Monday we headed down to the Bill & Merideth Schroeder Convention Center to help hang the quilts.


Quilting super heros








They were amazing! And my quilt: “How Beautiful – Liberty” was hanging among all the phenomenal works of art – Praise the Lord!

How Beautiful - Liberty in PaducahDuring the week we enjoyed “Bubble Tea” at Etcetera Coffee Shop in Lower Town:


And I even participated in the sidewalk art out front:


One day we took a side trip into the countryside around Mayfield, KY to visit Backyard Fabrics – a bright and tempting quilt shop.


The quilts and shopping are all such fun, but I especially enjoy meeting quilters from all around the country. It’s always exciting to attend a church lunch or dinner and get to know your tablemates. Imagine my surprise when we went to dinner at the Methodist church, and I was seated next to Janet – a quilter who had taken my class when I taught in Fremont, NE last month!


We met her friends and had a lovely time of good food and conversation.

Then, on our final night, we met up for dinner with some of my friends from my Fiberista art quilt group.

Fiberistas in Paducah

Kay, Ida and Lori made the trip down from Wisconsin on Friday to see Lori’s beautiful quilt – “Autumn Gold”, and enjoy the show.


It was a great week, and I have more to share …  about crazy quilts, Dairy Queen, and “rolling veterans”, but I’ll save those for future posts. This was my 27th AQS quilt show in Paducah, and I can’t wait for next year!

April 24, 2016, Travel
Creating Art With an Audience

This week I’m posting to my blog from a car in the middle of Illinois. What an amazing technological age we live in: I can connect my laptop to the personal “hotspot” on my phone, and be on the internet while driving down the road!


Wendy and I are on our way to Quilt Week in Paducah.


This year we have the wonderful opportunity to decorate the windows of Tribeca restaurant with our quilts, as part of the Quilt Week contest held downtown. If you’re in Paducah, please come by to see them (on the cobblestone alley next to the Yeiser gallery).

And now for this week’s post:

You may remember a post from last year that included some wonderful multi-media art from a church in Wales, WI. I saw those pieces because I was invited to share some of my quilts, and my quilting journey, as part of the morning worship service.

Sanctuary quilts

It was a very interesting morning! Each year Jerusalem Presbyterian Church invites an artist to create art as a part of the worship service. Painting a picture in that time frame might be possible, but making a quilt presented some problems. I worked with Pastor Petterson to blend my fiber art process into the service. What we decided would work best was to invite members of the congregation to bring a piece of cotton fabric. These pieces were collected before the service and during the service I sorted them by value, trimmed them to size and laid them into a pattern while Pastor and I compared these processes to what Christ does in the believer’s heart.

The members brought some very interesting pieces (most of them were not quilters 😉 ). But it actually went quite smoothly and it was a lovely time of worship.

This brings me to this week’s post. I was asked to complete this piece of art and after much thinking and prayer, I finally came up with a direction, and the quilt is done!

To begin, I chose to place the cross in the center of the pattern and then use the lighter value squares near the cross, with the value going to the darker fabric on the edges. I then chose a Scripture verse from the Gospel of John and used my new Brother Scan n Cut™ to make the letters (to read a post on this delightful tool go to: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=6614). I fused the letters in place, covered everything with black tulle, and machine quilted around the letters,

Scripture quilt

with spiral quilting in the background (notice the church block in the lower right, that was cut from a polo shirt).

Scripture quilt

I’m sorry I didn’t get more “work in progress” pictures, but here’s one of the finished piece:

Scripture quilt

I plan to present it to Pastor Petterson and the church family in the near future. What a joy to have been a part of this worship project, and to see it come to fruition! It causes me to think of one of my favorite Bible verses – Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father in heaven”.



April 17, 2016, Challenges
Ben Franklin Quilt Retreat II

This weekend I had the delightful opportunity to teach, for the second time, at the Ben Franklin Retreat held in the Osthof Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI. Last year it was sunny and near 60 degrees the entire weekend. I drove up this year in snow flurries (but no accumulation on the ground), checked into my room and 15 minutes later – this was the view out my window:


After a delicious dinner, stitching with friends, chatting with my roommate, Kathy Frye (until after midnight), and a good night’s sleep, we woke up to this!


Beautiful, but cold – I thought it was supposed to be Spring!

The theme this year was “Piece & Love”, with an emphasis on the hippie generation! These are the organizers (or should I say instigators?) of the event, ready for a groovy day (Audrey Hepburn joined in the fun 🙂 ).

BF 16 hippies-and-audrey

I taught my Repliqué words technique from my “Snuggle and Learn Quilts for Kids” book, to make the words “Peace”, “Love”, and “Joy” (please note these are 3 separate quilts and I didn’t stay with the psychedelic theme – I made “Love” in Valentine colors, and “Joy” for Christmas):


At last year’s retreat I taught a class on taming a wild pile of scraps and orphan blocks into a fun quilt. I call it Scrap Happy (to access that post click here!):


At this year’s retreat Chris brought her completed top back!

Chris' Scrap Happy quilt

I recently received the following picture from Mary, a student in my Scrap Happy class at WCTC. She took the original idea and made it her own:


She said: “Since your class in October of 2014, I’ve been playing with the strips we made and trying to finish it.  I just don’t have many orphan blocks and couldn’t find any way to make it work.  My fabric choices were pretty intense, and seemed to fight with anything I tried.  (Also, I get overwhelmed by large quilts and filling up all that space.)  So, instead of surrounding the center medallion with the strips diagonally, they worked better laid vertically in a strippy quilt.  This is how it is finally turning out.  Thanks for your inspiration.”

Kudos to both Chris & Mary!

There were over 80 attendees at the retreat, with many wonderful projects and fun ideas.


I found this idea especially delightful. Nina keeps her grandchildren close in her thoughts while quilting:

BF 16-Nina's-pics

A fun time was had by all!


I’d like to end this week’s post with a thank you to everyone who sent me offers and suggestions concerning my quest for a stain glass light to go over the counter in my kitchen. I wanted one that would look nice with the lamp I have over the dining room table. I was amazed when Jeanne Kline sent me a picture of a lamp she had loved, but had no need for any more. She couldn’t bear to dispose of it, so she’d stored it for years. It was the perfect fit – and I love it. Thanks so much Jeanne!


April 10, 2016, Travel
Pressing, Biscuits and Learning to Blog

This week’s post is a real mixed bag, hopefully with something for everyone!

While visiting the blog of a quilting friend I found a great post on starch/sizing alternatives. Her name is Lois Arnold, and you can see the post at:  http://loisarnold.blogspot.com/2015/11/does-it-work-best-press.html. It contains her product testing adventure with Mary Ellen’s Best Press™. I’ve used Best Press™ and discovered my husband and I are both allergic to something in it – it causes us to cough as soon as the iron hits it. So her alternative recipe was of interest to me. I highly recommend reading her entire article, but I want to share her recipe here:

iron-for-webLois Arnold’s Starch Alternative

3 cups distilled water

1/2 cup liquid starch

3 oz vodka

1 teaspoon essential oil

I tried it myself and love it! Works great and no coughing! My essential oil was a bit strong, so I think I’ll use just 1/2 teaspoonful in my next batch.


This week I’d also like to share a picture of a biscuit quilt made by a follower of this blog. Janet had seen the post I did a year ago, about a biscuit quilt made by my friend Louise (click here to visit that post). She emailed me this message:

Janets biscuit quilt

A few months ago you posted a picture of a Biscuit Quilt designed by one of your fellow quilters. I’m always looking for new ideas particularly with children’s and baby quilts and decided this would be the perfect use for some of my flannel scraps. This became a fun “work in progress” project but I quickly learned that overstuffing is not a good idea. The finished quilt was donated to the MS Auction held in southern Wisconsin. The response was great and I know the money raised went to a great cause. Thanks for sharing ideas and directions.

Isn’t it delightful!?! And the matching burp cloths are so clever. Thank you so much Janet! I really appreciate getting feedback from you quilters, especially with pictures, about the things I share on the blog 🙂 .


blogging bee fb post

And now, for all you readers in Southeastern Wisconsin, I’d like to tell you about an exciting new venture a friend and I are launching: The Blogging Bee!

It all started months ago with a random idea I shared with my dear friend and walking partner, Di Lohr. One day while trudging together on our snowy country roads, I mentioned the idea of a blogging class. A number of my friends and students had shown an interest in blogging, but didn’t know where to begin.  And so The Blogging Bee was born. It’s a 1-day blogging workshop, held at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, with a focus on quilting and fiber art! Di and I are a dynamo duo for this workshop: Di is a web designer and media expert by trade, and I have the quilting and fiber art knowledge, combined with 4 years of blogging experience (thanks to Di’s encouragement). Together we’ll cover everything you need to know to get your blog up and running with easy pizazz! You can read more here.

There’s a catch!

If you’re interested, you’d better sign up soon. We’re limiting our class to only 10 people. We want to make sure everyone gets personalized, hands-on attention and by the end of class they have a blog online and ready to go. Yes, it’s going to be a great workshop! Register at: The Blogging Bee!


April 2, 2016, Classes
Quilting in Nebraska II

This past November I had a wonderful time teaching in Nebraska. I had never been there before, and it was especially exciting because my niece and her family had recently moved to Omaha. I blogged about my time with the Lincoln quilt guild and my visit to the Nebraska Quilt Study Center in this post: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=6735.

Well this past week I made my second trip there, and it was just as delightful! This time I was invited to share my passion with the Prairie Piecemakers guild of Fremont. There was a great turn out for my “Tradition With a Twist” lecture, and the following day I taught Compass Capers in a spectacular quilt shop called Country Traditions.



The shop sprawls across 4 floors of what had been a furniture store.

View from the front door with Scott, quilter, teacher, employee and super student - he was the first to finish a compass!

View from the front door with Scott: quilter, teacher, employee and super student – he was the first to finish a Mariner’s Compass!

First floor view from the stairs

First floor view from the stairs

Second room on the main floor

Second room on the main floor

They had a marvelous selection of fabric, with many artfully designed displays. The second floor contained the offices, and the third floor/fourth floor housed the classrooms!

Third floor classroom from above.

Third floor classroom from above.

And our class - held in the "Penthouse".

And our class – held in the “Penthouse”.

The students were such fun, and they accomplished a lot.


Great job everyone! Thanks to Jan and Prairie Piecemakers, as well as to everyone at Country Traditions.

All this and another lovely visit with family too. Thanks Kaitlin, Marty, Henry and Rosemary – love you  😀 !

March 26, 2016, Uncategorized
Shape Cut a Quarter

Before we get to this week’s topic, I’d like to do a quick update on my quilt: “How Beautiful – Liberty”. It’s striking me as quite funny – I’ve enjoyed making my accordion door quilts, but never imagined anyone else would want to do it! Since sharing my last two blog posts, and winning the ribbons in Sun Prairie, I’ve had oodles of requests. My mind is just buzzing over the prospect of writing another book with all the techniques from “Liberty” in it. Please stay tuned!


A few weeks ago the grandkids were entertaining themselves very nicely with their toys in the living room. So I decided it would be a good time to take some pictures for this week’s blog. I brought up my cutting tools, put them on the counter, laid the mat on the floor (the lighting is best in the middle of the kitchen floor)

and went to find my camera. When I returned, this was what I found:

SC kids mat

Good thing I had my camera. Trey found sitting on my cutting mat so fascinating, I ended up having to move it to the kitchen table for the photo-shoot  🙂 . Now on to the topic at hand!

shape cutA number of years ago I shared my top three favorite rulers, and included in the list was the Shape Cut™ ruler by June Tailor. This past Christmas I did a post using it to fringe fleece scarves (click here for that post) and recently I shared a similar ruler for marking (click here for the Grid Marker post).

The Shape Cut™ is a great tool for rotary cutting multiple, accurate strips. When it came out it was well received, but it was limited to ½” increments. Back then I was doing freelance work for June Tailor (we’re talking the 1990’s). They asked me to come up with a way to cut ¼” increments with the ½” ruler and I was happy to take on the challenge (they did come out with a Quarter Cut™ ruler, but it had to be made shorter for stability, which made it less useful).

I spent quite a bit of time coming up with the answer, and I think you’ll find it works well. It’s really quite simple, and I devised a chart which does the math for you, that I’ll include in this post. I discovered the trick is to have a dashed line marked between the “0” and ½” slots on the Shape Cut™. The newer ones come with this marking,

SC orig dashed line

but if you have an older ruler, you can add it with a fine line permanent marker.

SC dashed ruler

SC drawn dashed line

Now for the step-by-steps. I’ve given you all the info, but remember there will be a chart at the end of this post that does the math for you!

Step 1: Choose a ¼” increment (i.e. 2 ¼”), double it (i.e. 4 ½”) and cut strips at this size. for 2 ¼” strips your cuts will be at 4 ½”, and 9″, and if you have the larger Shape Cut™, you can continue to cut at 13 ½” and 18″.

Step 2: Lift the Shape Cut™, remove the excess fabric from squaring up on the left cut, and reposition the ruler with the “dashed” ¼” line, along the left edge of the fabric.

We will now, in essence, cut these double strips in half!

Step 3: Cut in the 2 ½” slot (since the fabric is lined up ¼” from the zero slot, this strip will be 2 ¼”).

Step 4: Add the double cut amount – for our example – 2½” + 4½” = 7″. Cut in this slot, add 4 ½” again, and cut in the 11 ½” slot. If you have the larger ruler, continue by adding 4 ½” for each cut.

SC paper strips

Here’s a chart with all the math done. To open a printable pdf version – click here, then click on the purple lettering with the word attachment in it (I’m not sure why the extra step, but it works).

Shape Cut quarter cut chart

SC Trey matI’d like to close by sharing a short video I took when I couldn’t break Trey’s fascination with the cutting mat. Click here to view it. Grandchildren are such a blessing!

March 19, 2016, Notions
Minot Prairie Quilt Festival

Greetings from Minot, North Dakota,

Minot downtown

where I’m teaching at the Minot Prairie Quilt Festival. The sun is shining and the temps were in the 60’s all weekend. I was very impressed by the way they treat their teachers like queens. The accomodations  at the Minot Grand Hotel were lovely,

Minot Prairie Quilt Fest

and the goodie bag in my room was filled with a yummy variety of products from North Dakota.

Minot goodies

I arrived a day early and Susan and Janet were kind enough to show me around town.


We visited the Scandinavian Heritage Center where they had interesting buildings and a huge Dahl horse, similar to the ones we saw in Sweden.

Minot Scandinavian Center

The gift shop was filled with interesting characters!

Minot making friends

Back at the show I was given the opportunity to choose a “Teacher’s Favorite” quilt from all the wonderful pieces in the show. There were so many worthy of the ribbon, but the one that really grabbed me was bright, and beautifully quilted. Here is Diane Slickers with her quilt.

Diane Slickers

And here’s the picture her friend Judy took when she saw the ribbon  😀 !

Diane Slickers2

Congratulations Diane!

I taught three full day classes and the students were great!

Minot Rep class

And being that Minot is quite a ways north, I can now number Canadian quilters among my friends.

Minot ca friends

Everyone was friendly and such fun to be with. It was my first visit to North Dakota, and I’m sure it won’t be my last!!!


And one last thing 🙂 : This past week I entered “How Beautiful – Liberty” (the quilt I shared with you in last week’s post) in the Sun Prairie Quilt Show, and I was thrilled and humbled to have 3 ribbons hanging on it: a blue ribbon in it’s category, Crew’s Choice (the crew who hangs the show gets a chance to pick), and Viewer’s Choice! I’ve never won a Viewer’s Choice ribbon. What a blessing – praise the Lord!

Liberty in Sun Prairie


March 13, 2016, Travel
How Beautiful – Liberty!

Statue of Liberty

I have some very exciting news to share. I recently made a third quilt in my “Accordion Door” series, and I just found out it has been accepted into the American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah, KY next month!!! (to see the post about my first two”Accordion Door” quilts click here)

“How Beautiful – Liberty” is one quilt made from three, in a very 3-Dimensional way. Here is the rather unusual front on view:

How Beautiful Liberty full front.Kirsch-web

The view from the left is a Mariner’s Compass/New York Beauty combination quilt:

How Beautiful Liberty full left.Kirsch-web

And from the right – the true New York Beauty – Lady Liberty:

How Beautiful Liberty full right.Kirsch-web

This is a detail shot, looking down from the upper left corner, just to give you some perspective:

How Beautiful, Liberty detail.Kirsch-web

I used a variation of my Repliqué technique, called Raw-Edge Repliqué, to make both quilts on the “Accordion Door”. (I’m hoping to be teaching Raw-Edge Repliqué at the Madison Quilt Expo this September). The background quilt, which everything else hangs from, is embellished down the sides with Shiva Paint Stik™ designs. The words are from the Declaration of Independence, and were made using my Brother Scan n Cut™. You may remember a post covering the making of these letters from October (click here to view it).

As the label on the back of the quilt states, this is: “My tribute to the founding father’s words in the Declaration of Independence, and to all who have served our nation fighting for the rights endowed on us by our Creator.”

This quilt is currently hanging at the Prairie Heritage Quilt Show, in Sun Prairie, WI. The show runs Sunday through Tuesday (click here for show details).

Also, this weekend I have another quilt on display at the Elk’s Lodge in Watertown, WI (my town). The event is called:

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.12.50 PM

“A Festival of Visual, Musical, Theatrical and Literary Arts, and People’s Choice Fine Arts Competition”. The event runs Saturday and Sunday, March 5th & 6th. For the performance schedules: click here, then click on “view” under each date. The art contest I’m participating in is viewer’s choice, so if you live in southeastern Wisconsin I hope you’ll consider taking a road trip to Watertown  🙂 . Sunday afternoon you could actually visit both the Sun Prairie Quilt Show and the Watertown Arts Event!


I’m planning to do a few posts in the near future on some of the techniques used to make “How Beautiful – Liberty!”, but for now thanks for sharing in my excitement!

March 4, 2016, Design
Joyce’s Amish Quilt

You may remember a post of mine from last year concerning stacks of blocks that were waiting to become something. I asked for you to send pictures of your block stack, and first on the list was Joyce. (You can read that post at: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=6548)

Joyce Egle blocks

These blocks were made by an Amish friend of the owner, in all different sizes, and are kept in the vintage Santa box.

She now has the blocks together, ready for layering and quilting!

Joyce Egle Amish quilt

With one block much bigger than the rest, and the remainder a variety of sizes, turning them on point with “float” between the blocks was a great way to put them all together! I shared this technique in a post last year (go to: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=5861 to read all about it). Great job Joyce! Thanks for allowing me to post the picture of your lovely quilt top.

PS My myriad of “house” blocks from that post are still lovingly stacked in a very tall pile  – still “marinating”  😉 .


Also, I recently received the On Point Newsletter from AQS, and they were introducing a fabric line called “Gelato Ombré”:

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.18.53 AM

gradation fabric in quiltAren’t they lovely? I have an entire lecture focusing on using Ombré, or gradation, fabrics in your quilts – with loads of examples from traditional to artsy!  You can find the lecture information here: http://www.chrisquilts.net/classes/ . I would be thrilled to present it to your guild 😀 . Please email me if you’re interested. To purchase the fabric from AQS click here.

February 28, 2016, Challenges
Artistic Principles

paint night pic

When my kids were little I decided to take a cake decorating class. The first day the teacher said that artistic principles were consistent, no matter what the medium: cake decorating, painting, floral arranging, quilting, etc. all were successful, based on the same things. At that time I didn’t know what color value or composition meant (I have absolutely no background in art – and still don’t feel comfortable drawing free-hand). I had no idea that 30 some years later I would be a fiber artist, but that statement from years ago has stuck with me.

Recently my friend Kay invited the members of our Fiberistas group to a Relay for Life fundraiser – a “Paint Night Event”. You may have heard of these crash courses in art: you pay a fee, meet for 2 hours at a local business, and learn to paint. My first thought was “yeah, right! Me paint a picture in 2 hours”, but the sample (at the beginning of this post) was lovely and half of our group wanted to go. Should I??? Then I thought back to that cake decorating teacher’s comment and decided it was worth a try.

What fun! The teacher, Amy Buchholtz, was great, everything was supplied, and the mood was upbeat. It SOLD OUT! 46 women in the event room at Lyon’s Pub, on Main Street in Watertown, WI.

paint night roomful

We painted for 2 hours with 2 five minute breaks. After break #1 mine looked like this:

paint night first break

It was amazing to be able to create all those colors from red, blue and yellow! I must admit, it was nice to be able to just mix the color needed, but I still like the challenge of finding the perfect fabric to accomplish a goal. That’s part of the fun of quilting.

We continued adding details and everyone left with a finished work. It was fascinating to see the variety that comes from each person having their own vision.

paint night done

Mine certainly isn’t great art, but for my first attempt at painting – I’m pleased, and have already hung it above the computer in my studio. I love the way it matches the calendar (for this month at least).

painting hung

Lori, Barb, Kay and I agreed that it was fun, but we still feel more comfortable with fabric and thread.

I highly recommend trying something new with friends!

And, on a personal note – I’m looking to hire someone to make a stain glass lamp to match (or come close) to one I made from a kit 35 years ago.

stain glass lamp

If you, or someone you know would be interested, please let me know. Thanks!

February 20, 2016, Design
From Ugly Fabric to Valentine Quilt

My Fiberista’s group is having an ugly fabric challenge. In a nutshell: choose an ugly from your stash (where do they come from?), put it in a paper bag, throw bags in a pile, pick a new bag, make something with it. This is the lovely piece I acquired.

Ugly challenge fabric

I must admit, it didn’t seem to match anything in my stash, and I didn’t even know what sort of quilt/project to make with it. I decided the color sort of reminded me of milk chocolate, and with Valentine’s Day coming, I reflected on my favorite candy of the season – chocolate covered strawberries. Mmm! So I pulled out my brown, red, pink and green scraps (green for the stems  😉 ), and went to Pinterest to find some pattern ideas. Nothing grabbed me under “chocolate covered strawberry quilts”, but when I tried “chocolate covered cherries” – BINGO – there were quite a few.

The one that caught my eye was by a quilter/blogger named Susan (visit her blog at http://quiltfabrication.blogspot.com/). It used the Indian Hatchet block, which I’ve shared in previous posts.

Ugly block

This square makes a great autograph block, as seen here in this friendship quilt given to me by my quilting friends when I moved away from Madison (note the signatures in the wide white strips).

autograph quilt Mad City

What if I would use my Indian Hatchet technique, but with skinnier strips? And this is the result – a Valentine table runner:

Ugly challenge 2016

If you haven’t tried this block, it’s simple and a lot of fun.  You’ll need 2 contrasting fabrics. Cut a 3½” square from one and a 1¼” x 6″ strip from the other (feel free to experiment with other sizes – it’s a very “flexible” block).

Cut the square on one diagonal, and begin by folding one triangle in half to make a crease along the long edge with your fingernail. Fold the strip in half and crease it also.

Indian Hatchet block

Line up these creases while aligning the pieces, right sides together.

Indian Hatchet block

Sew the triangle to the strip. I chained many units together and stacked the unused triangles, so they would be in order for the next step, and I made sure I didn’t cut the chain apart.

Ugly triangle 1 chain

Press the seams towards the strips. Then add the second triangle by lining it up evenly inside the first one.

Indian Hatchet block

Separate the chain and press the second seams towards the triangles. Square up the block to 3½” by placing the 45º diagonal through the center of the strip.

 Indian Hatchet block

Next determine your pattern. As you may have noticed in the autograph quilt, the layout was rather abstract and interesting. I thought this time I’d like it more symmetrical, but I decided to ask Sommer (who is always nearby when I’m quilting) if she wanted to make a pattern. Here’s what she came up with for the first 16 blocks (then she lost interest):

Indian Hatchet block layout

I decided I really did prefer the symmetrical placement and she was OK with it. I made 40 blocks and set them 4 x 10.

My “ugly” fabric worked great and the leftover challenge fabric was just the right size for the backing. A quick Valentine table runner done just in time. Plus – the ugly challenge isn’t due until the end of the month. I’m feeling rather virtuous  😀 !

Do you have any fun Valentine projects you’d like to share?

Or how about a quilt you’ve made from an “ugly” challenge?

I’d love to see pictures! Please send them to me at clkquilt@gmail.com


February 14, 2016, Piecing
Grid Marking

Last week’s Gnome Home blog post was total silliness and fluff. This week’s has information that I hope you will find helpful in your quilting!

I recently surprised myself when I realized I’d never posted about a very helpful tool called the Grid Marker™.

GM mine

Years ago I did freelance work for June Tailor™: demonstrating for them at trade shows, testing their products, designing patterns and stitching samples. It was a delightful learning experience to work on that side of the industry. During my time with them I came up with the idea for the Grid Marker. I am a huge fan of their Shape Cut™ ruler, and felt there was a need for the same type of tool to mark accurate parallel lines. The slots in the ruler are wide enough to accommodate a pencil or marker – and it’s really easy to use!

To make vertical lines, set the bottom horizontal line of the Grid Marker™ along the bottom of the area to be quilted. Choose your favorite marking tool and draw in the slots at your desired increment:

GM verticals

Drawing with the ruler on the left. Accurate lines drawn on the right.

I hope you can see that horizontal lines would need the bottom line of the ruler set along the side of the block. Doing both results in cross-hatching.

To do diagonal lines, choose 45º or 60º, and place that line (I used 60º) along the bottom of the quilt block. Once again, draw in the slots at your desired increment:

GM angles

To do “hanging diamonds” (diagonal cross-hatching), place the other 60º line along the bottom of the block and draw the opposite angled lines:

GM crosshatching

This tool makes quick work out of drawing parallel lines, and it keeps them parallel!

When the Grid Marker™ was introduced, it was chosen as one of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine’s top 3 tools of the year! June Tailor™ continues to sell the Grid Marker™, but the newer version isn’t quite as long as my ancient and well used one.

Grid Marker

You can find them on the June Tailor™ website, at JoAnn’s, and hopefully at your local quilt shop.


February 7, 2016, Notions
From Thread Tails to Gnome Home

Last year the small challenge at the Milwaukee Art Quilters was entitled: “3-D Abodes”. As I noodled on what to create, I glanced at a bag of thread tails given to be by a long arm quilter. It was a wonderful mix of colors, and I had been adding to it for a year or so. So here come the “what ifs”!

What if I sandwiched the mass of threads between black tulle and free motion quilted it into a new “fabric”?

create fabric from thread tails

What if I embellished it with beads, and I got out that thread spinner I purchased and never used, and made more embellishments?

spin threads into ropes

What if I combined it all into a “gnome home”?

So I jumped in, layered, quilted and shaped the mass of threads into an abode by sewing a bunch of darts and pleats into the created “fabric”. Once embellished it looked like this:

I admit it’s weird, and I had to sew many arcs of plastic tubing to the inside to get it to stand up – and that was rather temporary. So, once the challenge was unveiled and photographed, I took it home and thought seriously about just throwing it away. Instead I tossed it on a shelf, and ignored it for months. Then one day Sommer asked me about it. I put it on the floor and she had a blast putting daddy’s old Star Wars figures in it. Problem is – it kept collapsing.

gh play

Once I realized it was a new favorite toy, I needed a fix, and it came in the form of a plastic jug. With a little glue and stapling it is now stable, and Princess Leia loves it!

gh jug save

So does Princess Sommer!

gh princess Sommer

If you know of a venue to exhibit the 3-D Abode challenge pieces, please let me know. It is a fascinating group of fiber art structures and we’d love to have them seen and enjoyed!

January 31, 2016, Embellishing Kids
No More Ruler Slipping!

Just when I think I have every ruler I could ever need, a new one becomes available that I can’t resist!!!

slidelock pic

A few month’s ago I put out a request on this blog from my friend Barb who was having problems rotary cutting. I didn’t get any responses – until this email from Barb herself 🙂 :

“A while back I asked you if you had any great ideas for cutting fabric since my vision has deteriorated. I know you were asking around, but since I hadn’t heard anything from you, figured that you were having about as much luck as I was in trying to find something that would help.

       Yesterday, while at our Tuesday morning quilting group, one of my ladies shared a gift she had received for Christmas–it may well be the answer. I am sending you the link (it has a great video demonstrating the tool and how it works). I tried it at quilting yesterday and it is amazing!  If you know anyone else who is having problems with vision and cutting their fabric, you might want to share the link with them.”

I went to the site, watched the video, and was very impressed! I have many students who struggle with the ruler slipping while cutting. If you fit into that category – you’ll want to know more about the Quilter’s Slidelock™. It’s a very clever tool. It has rubber snubbers and springs:

slidelock springs

The rubber snubbers are retracted in the normal ruler position, so the tool can slide easily across the fabric.

slidelock up

But when gentle pressure is applied to the handle, the rubber snubbers go down, touch the fabric and hold everything in place so there is no ruler slipping while cutting the entire length of the Slidelock!

slidelock down

I’ve tried it and it really works! The video on their website is very good and you can order your own Slidelock™ from their site: http://www.quiltersslidelock.com/.

Since this is my blog 😉 , I want to share some thoughts of mine about rotary cutting, along with my preferred way to use this wonderful tool.

Many quilters like to line their fabric up with the lines on the cutting mat, then line the ruler up with these lines also.

slidelock mat line

I find I’m not as accurate with this method because there are three entities to keep track of: mat, fabric and ruler, and if the fabric moves without my notice, it’s easy to get “V” strips. This is the way the Slidelock™ is used in their instructions. When I rotary cut, I prefer not using the lines on the cutting mat, instead I simply align the ruler with the fold of the fabric. In this way I only have to watch the ruler and the fabric, and if I cut perpendicular to the fabric fold, I always get straight strips.

Now be aware that there are no measurements on the Slidelock™ – making it more of a tool than a ruler. With just a little bit of noodling, I came up with a technique I’m really liking. Please remember, this is just my opinion, everyone needs to try it out and decide which method they prefer 😀 .

I started by marking a line at the bottom of my Slidelock™ perpendicular to the cutting edge.

slidelock line

I then aligned this mark with the fold of my fabric to square the fabric up (I’m demonstrating in a right hand fashion, but it is easy to reverse this technique for lefties).

Slidelock fold line

Push down on the handle to engage the rubber bumpers,

slidelock square 1

and cut.

slidelock square2

Don’t you love the way the edge of the Slidelock™ glows? This makes it very easy to see what you’re cutting! Now that the fabric is squared, it’s time to cut strips. There’s no need to turn the cutting mat, or walk around the table. Simply grab a 6″ x 24″ ruler and line it up on the right side of the fabric (this is different then we’re used to, but stick with me 🙂 ). I’ve decided to cut a 2 ¼” strip.

slidelock strip1

Butt the Slidelock™ up to the ruler, then press down on the Slidelock™,

slidelock strip2

slide the ruler away,

slidelock strip3

and cut!

slidelock strip4

It is helpful to continue to align the perpendicular mark at the bottom of the Slidelock™ with the fold of the fabric to make sure you’re always cutting perpendicular to the fold (even though I neglected to do so in the pictures above – sorry).

Whichever method is used for the Slidelock™, the original, or mine, I feel it is a great tool that fixes a very common cutting problem.

I’d like to send a big thank-you to Barb for telling me about the Slidelock™.

Thoughts or opinions??? I’d love to read them in a comment to this post. Thanks!

January 23, 2016, Notions
Tie Dye Baby – Results

After last week’s baby shower, all of the excitement of Christmas and flying across the country twice to transport grandkids took its toll. I spent the rest of the weekend as a couch potato. On Monday I realized I hadn’t rinsed the dye out of the baby things. Rinsing and washing was a bit of an undertaking, but mom and I persevered and the results were fun, fun, fun!

All the pieces went from this:

dying done blog

to the following pictures. My sister-in-law, Mary Sue, dyed mommy’s shirt and Scott’s Mom did his:

tie dye baby

The burp cloths (made from cloth diapers) were colorful fun:

tie dye baby

The onsies look great (notice how Sommer and Trey’s monkeys did a bit of photo-bombing  🙂 ):

tie dye baby

and the terry cloth bibs will look great on baby. They won’t show a bit of drool, dribble or food:

tie dye baby

Everything is folded and ready to deliver with great expectations!

tie dye done

Can’t wait for our sweet little girl to arrive!

January 17, 2016, Dyeing
Tie Dye Baby 2

When our son and daughter-in-law were expecting Sommer, I had a “tie dye” baby shower for Betsy and her friends. We tie dyed bibs, burp cloths and onsies – and had a lot of fun! (click here to read that post).

Sommer is almost 4 now (I can’t believe how fast time flies!), and my niece is expecting her first child – a little girl. So my Mom, Betsy and I decided to throw a tie dye baby shower for Brianne this past Saturday! This time we really had fun with the theme. Betsy made wonderful decorations and we even found a local bakery that made us tie dyed cupcakes – inside and out!

tie dye cupcakes

tie dye cupcakes blog

They were as delicious as they were beautiful. After brunch we headed to Mike’s shed, put on our plastic garbage bags,  and the dying began!

dying - Betsy,Sommer blog

Betsy and Sommer

tie dyed baby shower

My Aunt and cousins

My Mom, Brianne and great grandchild #9

My Mom, Brianne and great grandchild #9

A lovely group of fabric dyers :-)

Everyone did a great job! I sure hope this little girl likes bright colors. Here’s what it all looked like when we were done:

dying done blog

These pieces were covered with plastic and left to set while we went in for gift opening. I’ll share the finished pieces, after they’re rinsed and dried. I can’t wait to see how they all turn out!

Here’s a parting shot that should make you smile. Mom and I did a baby shower idea search on the internet and a picture of a unique fruit salad made us laugh out loud. I had to make it. I’m sure Scott and Brianne’s baby will be much cuter  😀  !

baby melonhead shower fruit salad

January 10, 2016, Dyeing
I’ve Discovered Pinterest!

Before I get to this week’s topic, I wanted to post the promised picture of my niece and nephews with their new scarves. They were a hit!

Von scarves

And now for some true confessions:

It’s crazy, I know, but I’ve gone into every step of this technological age kicking and screaming. My friend Di talked me into doing this blog (she’s the one who did a wonderful job of building my website and she can be reached at http://www.adunate.com/). She needed to do a lot of convincing, because I really wasn’t sure I could do it. I’ve had this same feeling about all of the social media universe. I’m just a little slow to jump into the unknown, but so grateful to Di because I really love doing this blog! So what’s next???

Well, a while ago I signed into Pinterest. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I found some interesting stuff on the site, pinned it to my page, and that was about it. Occasionally I’d look things up, but have never really gotten in to it. When I posted the blog about Connie Yersin’s tree skirts I thought her story was so wonderful I wanted to share it with as many people as I could. This led me to think I should figure out a way to get it on Pinterest. What I discovered is that a whole bunch of my blog postings are already out there. In fact, I have a “source” page on Pinterest! Who knew? Here’s a screenshot of that page:

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 10.35.46 PM

You can see it at:  https://www.pinterest.com/source/chrisquilts.net/

One of the main reasons I started to do this blog was to share information. It’s amazing how fast, and in how many ways the internet spreads ideas around! What I found most interesting was the pictures from my previous posts that were pinned the most often. By far my most popular one was my technique for turning a block on point (the blue/black star repeated many times in the screen shot above). You may visit that very popular post (Praise the Lord!) at:  http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=4070, or continue to read this post, as I’ve re-pasted the instructions at the bottom.

Woo Hoo! I’m a teacher at heart and I’m thrilled to have my blog posts be a help to others. I wonder what other ways my blog is getting around.

Would you like to know how to use Pinterest (be careful, it can be addicting and the hours will fly by)? Just go to: https://www.pinterest.com/ sign up and jump in. Once you’re signed up, please feel free to “pin” any of my posts/pictures you find helpful! This would help me to share with even more quilters, and I thank you in advance 😀 .

Do you do Pinterest? What do you like best about it? Any suggestions or recommendations?

Turning a Block on Point

1. Square up the block. Then place a square ruler over the block as in the picture:

turning a block on point

The diagonal line of the ruler is lining up along the vertical center of the block, and the upper corners of the block are at the same measurement along the rulers edges (mine are at about 6 1/4″).

2. Add 2″ to this measurement and cut 2 squares of your chosen corner fabric this size (mine were cut 8 1/4″). Cut both these squares on 1 diagonal.

turning a quilt block on point

This will yield 4 triangle with the bias on the long, diagonal edge. By cutting the triangles this way, the outside of the block being created will be on the straight-of-grain.

3. Place a triangle, right sides together, along one side of the original square. To center it, make sure the point of the triangle is on the center seam of the block. If your block doesn’t have a center seam, press it in half in both directions, and line the point of the triangle up with your creases.

turning a quilt block on point

4. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance and press the seam towards the triangle. There will be portions of the triangle not stitched down on the sides.

5. Repeat for the opposite side of the block.

turning a quilt block on point

6. Repeat for the remaining 2 sides. This time the seam will go the entire length of the long edge of the triangle.

turning a quilt block on point

7. Square up the block to the desired size.

turning a quilt block on point


January 3, 2016, Computers and Quilting
A New Twist on Fleece Scarves

I’m posting this message from a motel room in Portland, OR. I had a lovely Christmas celebration with my Wisconsin family yesterday. This morning (Saturday), I got on a plane to pick up my grandchildren, Hanna and Willy, and bring them back to Wisconsin for 9 days of fun!

I usually post on Sunday but, since tomorrow will be a very busy day (everybody wants to see the kids as soon as we get back!), they’re helping me get this out tonight.

HandW 12-15 blog

So here it is …

Shortly before Christmas Mike’s brother and family from Iowa let us know they were going to be able to come for a quick visit between Christmas and New Years. I decided, rathScreen Shot 2015-12-23 at 11.29.50 PMer last minute, that I wanted to make something for the kids. Not knowing what they needed, I said to myself “kids in the midwest can always use a fleece scarf”. (Stay tuned for a slick trick using the June Tailor Shape Cut™ ruler).

Kallie’s winter coat is dark purple, so I chose a pretty, light purple fleece with a hand-dyed look. Kade is a huge Milwaukee Brewers fan, so his was a no-brainer. But Kyle is a freshman in college. That was going to be a little tougher to choose. After a bit of noodling, an idea hit – look up his school colors. He’s going to Iowa State and the Cyclone’s colors are red and gold. Of course, I couldn’t find any fleece in that color scheme, so further noodling was required. JoAnn’s did have fleece in each of the needed colors, so I bought a 1/4 yard of each and:

Rotary cut them the exact same size, pin together and stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance along one long side:

fleece scarf, college colors scarf

Turn 5″ from an end:

fleece scarf college colors

Stitch to the opposite long side and repeat:

fleece scarf college colors

Place the Shape Cut™ ruler on top of one end of the scarf, with the cross seam at the bottom of the tear drop openings in the ruler, and the “O” slot along the left side of the scarf:

fleece scarf, college colors, Shape+cut ruler

Cut in the 1″ slot, and repeat every inch to make fringe:

fleece scarf, college color scarf, Shape cut ruler

Next I cut a large “I” from freezer paper and ironed it to the scarf (see second picture below for placement). I stitched along the edge of the paper,

college fleece scarf

removed it and repeated this process on the other end of the scarf. With a sharp scissors I trimmed the red fabric away from inside the “I” on one end of the scarf, and the yellow fabric away on the other:

college fleece scarf, scarves team colors

This was a simple and quick project that I feel turned out quite well. The kids will get their scarves tomorrow, so I’ll try to remember to take a picture and post it next week.

I wish I had been able to post this idea a month before Christmas, in case some of you might have wanted to make these for your high school or college age kids. Oh well, it’s never too late to start thinking about next year  😀 !

December 27, 2015, Uncategorized
Crazy Quilt Christmas Stocking

My daughter-in-law recently texted me this picture with the message “something seems to be missing :-)”.

crazy quilt christmas stockings

Well, the empty hook belongs to Trey and, since this is his first Christmas, grandma needs to get busy! I made Brad, Betsy and Sommer’s stockings using my own drawing of a stocking and “crazy piecing”, without all the thread embellishment typical of Crazy Quilting. The year after Sommer’s was made Betsy asked me to teach her how to do this, so she could make bone-shaped stockings for their dogs. She’s a quick study!

I thought some of you might like to know how to “crazy piece”. Here’s my version:

  •  Choose your favorite stocking pattern and cut out the basic shape, to size, from muslin or some undesirable fabric (like this pink stripe I attempted to snow dye in blue, with lousy results. It will be completely covered, so it works well here). I then gather up fabric scraps and leftover “pieced units” in appropriate colors.
  • To begin, pin a scrap or “pieced unit” with an odd shape and an odd number of sides to the fabric base – like the black/green/red “pieced unit” below. Lay a new scrap along one edge, right sides together, and stitch in place: CQS begin 1
  • Fold this new piece open and press. Since this process will be repeated many times, I like to use a wallpaper roller, instead of keeping an iron hot for the duration.crazy quilt stocking
  • Repeat this along all sides of your shape. Strips can be used, but it also adds interest to attach triangles and odd shaped pieced.Crazy quilt stockingCrazy quilt stocking
  • When edges get long, select a “pieced unit” again, or feel free to sew some smaller chunks together into “pieced units” and then add them to the crazy quilting. CQS adding pieced unitCQS pressing pieced unit
  • Continue in this manner until the base fabric is covered.
  • There may be times when things look a little ragged. Then just grab a long, wide strip, CQS adding cleaner upper 1lay it over everything and stitch, lay it over everything, fold back and press. crazy quilt stockingWhen you’ve covered a portion of an edge, it’s a good idea to stitch from the back, close to the outer edge of the base fabric, crazy quilt stocking

and then trim the excess away.crazy quilt stockingContinue until the base pattern is covered.

crazy quilt stocking

7.  Cut out a reverse pattern from backing fabric and two linings also (one and one reverse). Because mine has a cuff, it needs to be sewn between the stocking and lining pieces. The crazy quilt is sewn to one lining piece, and the backing fabric to the other.

crazy quilt stocking

8.  Then these pieces are put right sides together and sewn all the way around, leaving a 3″ opening somewhere in the lining for turning.

9.  Turn it right side out, stitch the opening closed, push the lining into the stocking and press. Add a hanging loop and you’re done!

#crazyquiltstocking, #crazyquilt, #stockingTrey’s stocking is now hanging with all the others – ready for Christmas.

crazy quilted christmas stockings, #Christmasstockings, #crazyquilt



Each year I spend time focusing on the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus, the Savior of the world, who came to earth in human flesh to save humanity from the curse of sin. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16. What an awesome gift! It gives meaning to everything else in our lives. My Christmas wish for you is that you may know Him as your Savior. Merry Christmas!


PS Here’s just one last picture to make you smile:

Sommer cookies for web

December 20, 2015, Piecing
Cookie Nana and the Seven Tree Skirts

This is a Christmas story I think you’re going to love! It may be a little long, but it’s worth taking the time to read 🙂 !

Connie came to my Open Lab class with a unique project idea. She had inherited a huge bin of handmade doilies from her husband’s grandmother – and she had a plan!


She wanted to make them into tree skirts, but didn’t have a pattern. I started by asking her the story of the doilies. She told me the story of:

“Anna Yersin” Cookie Nana

“Anna Yersin’s hands were never idle. Her days were filled with the duties of wife and mother. In the evening she crocheted or tatted, for many years by the light of an oil lamp. Hand crocheted whole table cloths have been passed down to family members through the years. The crocheted doilies, dresser scarves and table runners used in these tree skirts were found in the homes of her and her children. While Anna may not have made all of them, certainly the bulk of them were her handiwork.

strudelScreen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.43.34 PMAnna was also a great cook and baker. Her chicken and dumplings with apple strudel for dessert were family favorites. It was, however, her cookies that inspired her oldest Great Grandson Michael Scott to call her “COOKIE NANA.” At the age of 3 he had no idea how appropriate the name was.

During WWII Cookie Nana sent cookies to service men, not a simple task since sugar and butter were rationed. She continued this practice even after the war, always supporting those who served. Her children, now married with families, always had cookie jars in their kitchens filled with her cookies. Her cookie baking was especially prolific at Christmas. She began her baking after Halloween.   Not too early when you understand that she baked 25 to 35 different types of Christmas cookies, many of which were decorated and intricately done. She also doubled and tripled many of the recipes. The cookies were packaged for mailing and sent all over the United States to family and friends. She filled large sturdy department store gift boxes with cookies for her children and grandchildren. This was her Christmas gift to her family. In turn, we never had trouble deciding what to give Cookie Nana for Christmas or Birthday gifts. We gave her flour, sugar, butter, postage, nuts, chocolate, the list was endless.

Cookie Nana gladly shared her recipes, loved to share her secrets, but, no one in the family has ever been able to exactly duplicate her cookies. She was blessed with a gift, and we are blessed to call her our “Cookie Nana.”

The story continues with Connie’s memories:

The process of designing and sewing the tree skirts triggered many of my own memories of Grandma Yersin, “Cookie Nana.” When I married Bob, Grandma gave us a wedding gift that I came to realize carried great meaning. I was now a Yersin, and every Yersin household had a Kitchenaid mixer. Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.19.00 PMIn 1970 Kitchenaid was not sold in department stores. It was purchased through the Hobart Co., maker of heavy duty commercial mixers. At the time I wondered what I was supposed to do with this tall machine sitting on my counter since it didn’t fit anywhere else. Forty five years later it is still on my counter. It has never been repaired and is continues to be the workhorse of my kitchen.

When I was pregnant with Jill(1973), I spent one whole very hot summer day at Grandma’s house learning how to make strudel. She gave me a special table cloth to be used when I “pull” the dough. Yes the dough is pulled from the bottom and stretched until very thin, later to be used in the layers of the pastry. “You have great fingers for pulling the dough” she said, but, though I may have great fingers, I didn’t have her stamina. I never again made strudel by pulling the dough, not after I learned about phyllo dough!

I fondly remember, The Farm. Cookie Nana and her husband Anton bought 6 acres of land in Franklin, WI on 35th and Puetz Road in 1945. The 2 buildings built closest to the road were summer homes for Adolf and Philip. The lower building close to the pond belonged to the senior Yersins. There was electricity, beds, stoves, and sinks, but no Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.24.26 PMrunning water and no bathrooms in these buildings. The outhouse was centrally located on the land. While most of the acreage was grass, large gardens were planted every spring. Many of my unforgettable memories were from the frequent summer picnics on a 20 foot long picnic table housed in a large screen house. We never knew how many relatives, friends, or neighbors would stop by.   Cookie Nana came from the old country where the women were the cooks and the men always came first. The Yersin women were all outstanding cooks and always made plenty to share. These wonderful meals were then followed by card playing and baseball games.  

In closing Grandma’s house I chose 3 things that are currently used in my home.   I have Grandmas cake decorating kit. I absolutely love it. It is made of stainless steel, with interchangeable decorating tips. I use it every Christmas for my decorated Christmas cookies. I also have her oil lamp. Phil always told me it was the lamp he used for studying before they got electricity. It is displayed on an antique Singer treadle machine in our entryway. I also have a glass basket. It had a paper taped to the bottom, “Wedding Gift from Mama 1912.” Inside the basket, I have placed her tatting tool with about 18” of tatting. It was labeled the last tatting Grandma was working on. I found the tatting in the box of crocheted items used in the tree skirts.”


After a bit of brain storming, Connie decided to make the tree skirts “dresden plate” fashion and to place a doily at the rounded end of each “blade”, whether they were round or not.”

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt #chrisquilts.net/blog

Now the question was, how do you attach the doilies and keep packages from catching on them. The answer: cover each blade with tulle (sparkle tulle added to the Christmas charm), layer and quilt.

doily tree skirt

Once they were quilted, she sewed them together with the “reversible quilt as you go” technique I’ve shared previously (click here to read about it).

doily tree skirts

Then she finished the outer edge by attaching lace with a facing.

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

Connie set a goal that she’d have them all done by Thanksgiving – and she did it!

doily tree skirts

She printed the story shared above on labels she has lovingly handstitched to the back of each tree skirt. What wonderful Christmas gifts her children have to look forward to!

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt #chrisquilts.net/blog

Great job Connie! Thank you so much for sharing your talents and your family story with us!

If you enjoyed Connie’s story as much as I did, feel free to comment to this post. I’ll make sure she receives any and all comments 😀 !

December 12, 2015, Inspiration
Turkish Textiles

I’ve been doing a bit of investigating to find quilt/fabric related things to see on our upcoming Sew We Go cruise on the Adriatic Sea. I think the best part of our adventures is that we are a group of people, with a common interest (quilting), who want to see some of the wonderful places the world has to offer. The trip isn’t about quilting, as much as it is about seeing, tasting, discovering and doing whatever each port has to offer.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 1.00.57 AM

We do find time to indulge in some sort of quilting or embellishing on our projects each day, but the focus is mainly on the places we visit! This is why we have so many non-quilters join us on our trips (especially husbands!) There’s something for everyone!


Like in Turkey! We will be in Kusadasi/Ephesus on a Wednesday. We’ll be touring the city – historic ruins and all, but there’s more. That’s the day the Kusadasi Ope