A Pony Quilt – 18 Years in the Making!

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

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

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

Vintage Quilt Lecture by Chris Lynn Kirsch

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

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

pony blue pony green pony pink pony yellow

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

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

carousel pony quilt

I love it!

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

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


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

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

Needle Wars

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

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

Schmetz color coded needles

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

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

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

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

sewing machine needle organization

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

Superior Threads on color coded needles

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

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

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

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



Posted in Notions | 2 Comments

Floss Frenzy

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

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

DMC Embroidery Floss

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

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

Vintage DMC Floss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you do with it?

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

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

And a quick reminder

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

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

Posted in Notions | 54 Comments

Thank-you Quilts

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

Laurie's butterfly quilt

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

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

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

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

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

autograph quilt Mad City

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

autograph quilt Common Threads

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


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

An Amish Adventure

You may remember my mentioning that Mike and I were in Philadelphia over the 4th of July. We decided to drive there and, to make the journey more enjoyable, we chose to take our time (3 days out and 3 days back) and stay in Bed and Breakfasts along the way. Mike used to absolutely refuse to stay in B&B’s, but after a number of years of my politely requesting we try it, he gave in and it was such a good experience – we’ve stayed in many since. Prior to this trip I did some on-line research into B&Bs in the area we’d be traveling through, and things couldn’t have gone better.

In Somerset, PA we stayed at Quill Haven. I was truly excited when I first found them on line, only to realize it wasn’t Quilt Haven (the owner, Carol, has a thing for hedgehogs :-).

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.48.41 PM

But in their lovely home Carol had quilts on the beds, made by her Mother. She and Rowland also had beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, chickens and … goats who liked oatmeal cookies (and their goat’s milk fudge was delicious).

Philly goatsWe enjoyed the surroundings and conversation so much, we stopped for another night with them on the way back to Wisconsin also.

Further down the road on the return trip we stayed at the Big House in the Little Woods near Shipshewana, IN. Once again, the owners were warm and friendly and their home was charming. This was obviously in Amish country and Gail not only made a scrumptious breakfast (with Dave’s help), but she’s a quilter. There were once again quilts on all the beds,

Philly bed quilts

as well as the walls

Philly wall quilts Philly crib quilt

and windows. Gail said she adjusted a table runner pattern to make this valance. I apologize for the poor quality photo – the colors were really lovely)

Philly valance

A real highlight was when Dave asked if we’d like to go for a buggy ride. He called his neighbor, Ben, and within the hour we were touring the Amish countryside in a horse drawn buggy!

Philly mk buggy

Riding with Ben and Missy (the horse) was a real treat.

Philly Missy

Ben has a wonderful sense of humor (he has 11 children, all of them boys except for 9), a wild sense of color (he chose the interior for the buggy without any help from his wife),

Philly buggy

and a real gift for conversation. Mike was in the back and did the photography (with permission from Ben).

Philly shadow

Ben Borntreger holds two quilt/rug/craft auctions every year at his farm in Millersburg, IN. The auctions are held on the 2nd Saturday in April and the 3rd Saturday in September. The address is 4110S 1000W, Millersburg, IN 46543. You can call him for more information (they have a phone by the road and they check their messages often): (260)593-2640. I hope to get to one of his auctions in the near future. It would be a great opportunity to visit Ben, Dave and Gail once again!

Posted in Travel | 6 Comments

Problem Solved

I’ve been doing a lot of quilt related stuff lately and find myself in the wonderful position of having many blog topics just waiting for a week to be posted. I’m grateful to have so many fun things to share. This week’s post is from an email I received a while ago. I think you’ll find it quite interesting:

Hi Chris,
I was told that if you want to hang a small wall hanging all you have to do is pin the corners onto the wall.  I decided to try that with my 30s flower wall quilt.  Obviously, my 26″ X 30″ piece was too big because after several months it began to sag in the center.  I am sure the added weight of the applique added to the problem.  I knew I had to add a sleeve and dowel but since that is not one of my favorite things to do I just left the quilt on wall for a few more months.  The sagging got worse!

I finally added a proper hanger but of course that did not solve the problem.  I tried starching the back and ironing it, that didn’t help.  I laid it on a table, put a cutting board on top and weighted it down with heavy objects for several days, hoping to get it to flatten out, but that didn’t help.  I didn’t know what else to do.  I just resigned myself to the fact that I had ruined my wall hanging and would never just pin a piece on the wall again.

Then I read your January blog, “Wash and Pucker?” and decided to try your method of blocking the quilt.  Here is the result!!!!

Lorrianes flat quilt

Thank you so much for your wonderful article!  I can now go downstairs and enjoy my wall hanging again! Lorraine Bahr”

I was thrilled to received Lorraine’s email and to see the results on her beautiful Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I’ve used blocking to fix minor problems with many of my quilts and I hope you found Lorraine’s adventure helpful. In case you missed the instructions for my blocking technique, go to: http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=2844

Do you block your quilts? 

Also, this past week Natalie sent me this photo of a quilt she began in one of my classes.

Natalie Rockley Fiber Art QuiltHere’s what she had to say:

“Hi Chris, You taught a “Parallelisms” workshop on Oct 18, 2014 in Hendersonville, NC and this is my finished quilt from that class. Thank you so much for a fun class! Pattie Votruba helped me put the finishing touches by teaching me how to embellish with beading.”

What a happy quilt!

Thanks Natalie and Lorraine!

Speaking of beading, this leads me to one more item I’d like to share. My friend Sandy Hendricks (who taught me about thread painting faces), has an exhibit of her beaded floral quilts on display at Eclectica Bead shop in Brookfield.

beaded fiber artHer work is wonderful and the shop is truly a bead adventure. Here’s the contact information, in case you are able to stop by:

Eclectica & The Bead Studio
Galleria West Shopping Center
18900 West Bluemound Rd., Ste #148
Brookfield, WI 53045

Posted in finishing | 1 Comment

Upcoming Events! Pat Sloan and Me

The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

I’m thrilled to announce that in August I’ll be teaching two classes at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 11.09.06 PM

The date is Saturday, August 23rd. In the morning I’ll help students to realize that “quilting the quilt can be as much fun as making the top” in my “Beyond Meandering” workshop.

free motion quilting

The afternoon workshop is called “Threaded Borders” and in it quilters will learn how to take simple shapes and designs, combine them with high contrast threads and take their quilts to a whole new level of excitement.

quilt borders in thread

One class flows nicely into the next and you would be welcome to take either one … or both! (there is a discount if you sign up for both).

For all the information please go to:  http://wiquiltmuseum.com/education/classes-workshops/chris-lynn-kirsch-workshops

Pat Sloan in Wisconsin

You are invited!

Three Milwaukee area quilt guilds: Crazy Quilters (Mukwonago), West Suburban (Brookfield) and Patched Lives (Wales), are teaming up to bring nationally known quilter, speaker and teacher, PAT SLOAN, to Wisconsin for a 4 day event!

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.02.19 PM

On Wednesday, September 10th, Pat will kick off her visit with a lecture at the Richard T. Anderson Center on the Pewaukee Campus of Waukesha County Technical College, 800 Main St, Pewaukee, WI. The lecture is entitled:

An Evening With Pat Sloan - “Quilting with Expresso …. Quilts, Creativity, and Fun!” 

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.01.20 PM

You are invited to this event! It is open to everyone. The fee for the evening is just $10 (there is no charge for members of the three sponsoring guilds).

Then, on the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Pat will be presenting two different and exciting workshops – and we have a few openings left:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.04.55 PM

Wild and Free - create quilts with personality (this workshop is being offered twice!) – Thursday, September 11, and Saturday, September 13, 2014; 9 – 3:30

The second workshop is:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.06.06 PM

“The Magic of EASY Machine Appliqué” – draw, cut, machine stitch, so easy anyone can do it! - Friday, September 12, 2014; 9 – 3:30

We’ve created a website about the event with loads of information about Pat and all the details on the event. Please click on:  http://crazysuburbanpatchedquilts.wordpress.com/ to read all about it!

There are a few spots left in the workshops, and they’re going fast. If you’re interested in signing up you may contact Kathy Frye: rfrye@wi.rr.com, (262)424-4477 cell, (262)679-1798 home.

Hope to see you soon!

Posted in Classes | Leave a comment