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Glorifying God in Fabric

Last week I posted about my friend Sonja and her delightful new lecture. The response was great and when she emailed me concerning all of the guilds who have contacted her, she included information about her latest “big” work, made for Christ Church Whitefish Bay. It is so fascinating that I felt I must do a Sonja: part 2 post.

This is the description of her work in her own words:

This representation of the Good Shepherd was modeled on images of icon paintings.

It rests within the confines of icon art where objects are generally grouped in ones, threes, and sevens with a relatively flat perspective.  Notice there is only one person holding one lamb.  There are three sheep and three trees on the right side, the bush-like tree on the left holds seven clusters of foliage and the sky holds three clouds.  In addition to symbolic numbers, colors for the Good Shepherd are often restricted to red with gold trim for the garment and blue for the shawl.  The Button Trees on the right are simply a flight of fancy when creativity took leave of my senses. The hanging was created under the direction of the Holy Spirit based on many long talks, cajoling, and spirited debates.

This piece of art was made with sun resistant outdoor furniture fabrics.  Some fabrics were covered with nylon netting to add variety of color. Extensive free-hand quilting was used to add detail and texture.  The bee in the lower-left flower symbolizes the Good Shepherd’s powers of rejuvenation, nourishment, and perseverance and honors the bees in my hives.

It took me 10 months to design and create which included 200 hours of work.  The materials were $1000 dollars because I used Sunbrella fabric at a cost of about $50.00 per yard.”

I was so taken with her skill for creating 3 dimensional portions, while working with a fabric that is not typical for quilts.

Well done Sonja!

April 14, 2019, Uncategorized
Your Creative Mind

Last month my friend Sonja was the speaker at my guild.

She is a quilter/fiber artist and I’ve admired her work and her creativity for years. When she decided to put together a lecture, I asked the program committee at Patched Lives to sign her up right away.

Her lecture was entitled Your Creative Mind – and it was a hoot!

She is talented, inspiring and a lot of fun.

I especially loved the grandmothers flower garden quilt she’s been hand piecing for years.

She’d taken the papers out of the back and can’t decide which side she likes better.

I think the back is great. Here’s a close-up:

She has a wonderful perspective on quilting and life. If you’d like to have Sonja share her creativity with your group, email me and I’ll send you her contact information.

April 7, 2019, Uncategorized
Positive/Negative Quilts Revisited

I did a post a year ago about the different look that can be achieved by simply changing the value placement of the fabrics in a quilt pattern. In it I shared quilts made by 2 friends using the Bear’s Paw pattern. To read that post, please go to:

This week I want to expand on this topic. Way back in 1997 my friend Carolyn took a class I was teaching called Almost Charming. The students brought in the 6″ squares we’d been exchanging in our guild, we sorted them by value, then stitched them into half square triangles, and pieced them into Friendship Star blocks. Since a charm quilt has only one piece of each fabric, and this pattern has two, it isn’t a true charm quilt – so it’s Almost Charming!

I did a post about this quilt way back in 2012. You may want to visit it because it contained my favorite technique for sorting fabrics by value:

So – back to Carolyn. During class she asked me if she could make the stars white, because stars are not black. I hadn’t thought of that when I made my quilt, but she had a great point. We talked through how to change the placement and she went to work. Over the years she would bring up the quilt and how she really wanted to get it done, and in 2009 she finally did. Then she said she’d send me a pic. Well, it only took another 10 years for the photo to arrive (we both laughed about it)! – and her quilt is lovely!

Isn’t it interesting how different the pattern looks when the values are rearranged? I presented a lecture to Carolyn’s guild a few weeks ago and we both brought our quilts to compare them. It was great fun. Thanks Carolyn!

Around this same time I decided I wanted to share a block making technique with my Open Lab class, and the sample quilt I needed was my granddaughter Sommer’s baby quilt. She’s not a baby anymore. In fact, she just celebrated her 7th birthday!

But she was happy to let me borrow her quilt and I was struck by what a great positive/negative design it contained. So I threw it on the floor and grabbed my camera. By the time I snapped the picture, her little brother Trey had photo-bombed the quilt.

It took a bit of persuading, but he finally rolled off, and I got a shot of just the quilt. You’ll notice it contains both positive and negative blocks and the juxtaposition adds excitement to the whole piece:

In case you’re having a hard time seeing the basic blocks, here they are:

This block is a fun one to make oodles of – and then play around with placement. If you’d like to play a bit yourself – I found a printable tutorial for making the Mary’s Triangles blocks at:

I did a post about this back in 2012, when Sommer was born. It has information on how to lay out blocks with a strong diagonal and you can read about it at:

I know this post contained lots of links. I hope you don’t mind, I just love to share techniques and inspiration. Have you made a Mary’s triangle quilt? Have you made a quilt that included positive/negative effects? I’d love to see pictures. Please email me at !

March 31, 2019, Uncategorized
A Sweet Memory

I first began making quilts with my Repliqué technique in the early 1990s. We were living in Sun Prairie at the time and I had numerous people in the Madison area commission me to make quilts of a building or vehicle that was important to them.

One of these clients owned the local Dairy Queen restaurant. Here’s the 1994 photo:

They said it was the last original DQ shaped like a barn in the State and they wanted to have it made as a quilt to hang in the restaurant. I made the quilt – 26 years ago! This photo is of a photo because we didn’t have digital back then :-).

I was so pleased to have it hanging where many could enjoy it, but I was a bit concerned about how well it would hold up – simply hanging from a dowel in an ice cream shop.

Well, we moved away and when we went back to visit my brother and his family over the years, Dairy Queen just wasn’t on the agenda.

This past week Mike and I had business in Madison and, on a whim, we decided to stop for a sweet treat. I was so pleased to see that the quilt was still hanging there – and they had it framed to protect it! It still looked great!

And it’s still in the original barn building!

Here’s a detail shot. The signage was done in satin stitching, ink, paint, and cross-stitch.

Our Blizzardswere delicious and the woman behind the counter said she’d been working there for 29 years. She even remembered my nephews, who worked with her while they were in High School.

What a wonderful trip down memory lane!

March 24, 2019, Uncategorized
Educational Quilts For Kids

A month or so ago I received an email from Rita. Here’s what she wrote:

I attended your repliqué class at the Bismarck Quiltfest and purchased your book for kids…..the one with colors and numbers. the reason I am emailing you is to get your input on the color and number quilts for my special needs granddaughter…..Emma is almost two and she has Down syndrome. I was hoping to put the two designs in one quilt……I think I will eliminate the cursive writing and just put the appliqué number with the cute buttons on that particular block and try to use them in one quilt…..I think I will need to use the “0” and cut the block down to better try to fit it together.  I am trying to make it a bit simpler for her level of development.   I have also decided to use only nine of the color blocks to simplify it a bit for her level! Do you have any ideas to make this work?”

When she wrote to me I was in Hawaii and I didn’t get back to her in a very timely fashion. This may have been a good thing, because she moved forward on her own and her ideas and execution were great. I finally wrote her back and said I loved the idea, and it would be easy to resize and adjust things when copying the patterns from the book. She responded:

“Thank you for taking time to hopefully help me……So I have attached two photos of the blocks I have completed so far……. I only did some of the color blocks to try to keep it simpler for little Emma….I made the blocks the same size in your pattern but I am stuck on the placement now because of course they are different dimensions… I have a couple of different options which incorporate sashings or borders. I would entertain your input on these ……I want you to know I am not trying to redesign your awesome patterns but to make it a bit simpler for Emma for a development tool.”

This time I responded that she should trust her judgement because Emma would love it whatever she chose (I actually didn’t say it that well, but I wish I had). This time she sent me one more option and wrote:

“This might work too?”

I could tell from Rita’s email that she was pleased with this simpler setting and I agreed. Her next email began:

“I thought I would send you a photo of Emma’s quilt – I finished tonight.   I hope it does your two patterns justice!  I really love the size for her and combining the two patterns.   The math was a bit challenging to get the blocks to work but I love the way it turned out!  I know she will use it to work on her color and number development!”

I am so impressed and very pleased that Rita took my ideas and made them her own. I wrote her that this is when a teacher really feels successful.

Many years ago I had a student take one of my Snuggle and Learn classes. She made the “Touch Me, Feel Me, Read Me” quilt for her daughter because she said her husband was blind and he would be able to “read” this quilt to her.

What a blessing to be able to encourage quilters to make quilts that help those with handicaps! Praise the Lord!

I think Rita’s quilt is spectacular! and what a wonderful story! Rita sent me these photos of her with Emma, and Emma with her quilt.

Over the course of our email exchange she shared one other thought concerning a future blog topic:

“I think this would be an awesome blog post to learn about “adjusting” patterns to fit a persons projects!”

Hmm. That sounds a bit challenging, but I love a challenge. Stay tuned :-)!

March 17, 2019, Uncategorized
Pieceful Travels

I’m thrilled to be sharing some very exciting news with you. I’ve been invited to lead a tour to the International Great Quilt Festival in Tokyo, Japan, this coming January – and I’d love to have you join me!

This has been on my “bucket list” for years, but I really never thought I’d have the opportunity to actually go there. A woman I met several years ago plans travel adventures for quilters. She just returned from this exact trip and invited me to lead it for her next year. Besides spending two days at the Quilt Festival in the Tokyo Dome (and staying in the attached hotel), we’ll be touring many of the most interesting sites in Japan and taking classes from Japanese quilters and fiber artists!

The following quote about the quilt show is from a website called Quiltripping. You may read the enitre post at:

“The annual Tokyo Great International Quilt Festival presents the works of the best quilters in Japan. This is also the largest quilt show in the world, filling up the whole floor of the Tokyo Dome which is Tokyo’s indoor baseball and special events stadium. Roughly 250,000 Japanese and international visitors check out the quilts and special exhibits over the course of seven days. Apparently, this is the largest attended event in the Tokyo Dome (even beating out baseball).”

And, if experiencing the quilt show isn’t enough – we’ll spend a night at an Onsen hotel with views of iconic Mount Fuji.

We’ll visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine and see the magical, seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the hills behind the Shrine.

We’ll take classes with Japanese artists in Shibori dyeing, Rocketsu
dyeing (a traditional wax-resist dyeing method),

and we’ll even learn to make sushi!

Our brochure with dates, prices, and all the details will be available in a very short time. Until then I’m compiling an email list of anyone interested in joining me on this once in a lifetime adventure. If you’d like to receive more information as soon as it is available please email me at: .

March 10, 2019, Uncategorized
PaintStick “Appliqué”

When Wendy and I lead tour groups, we always have at least one project to teach while we’re traveling. Our recent cruise to Hawaii was a bit of a challenge concerning this topic because the ship traveled from island to island during the night and we had almost all of our daylight hours available to explore the islands. This was a good thing – Hawaii is a great place to have time in the sun :-). But, on most of our other trips we had a day or two “at sea”, giving us plenty of project time.

We were able to “squeeze” in two class sessions this trip, so we needed a fun project that could be accomplished in a short amount of time. What we came up with was Hawaiian Appliqué done with paintstick stenciling. I know I’ve posted this photo before, but this time I’d like to share a bit about the technique.

What’s so exciting about this technique is that the Shiva™ Oil Paintsticks are actual oil paint in a crayon form. They create beautiful designs that are permanent on fabric. Therefore they can be used on garments as well as quilts. It’s a wonderful way to put designs on fabric/clothes, but words could be stenciled too! Just imagine the possibilities!

I chose to put my Hawaiian design on a t-shirt.

So – here’s how: The first step was to create the pattern “paper snowflake” style using freezer paper.

This was opened up to reveal the pattern and ironed onto the fabric, shiny side down.

Then we colored along the paper edge with a paintstick, and dragged the paint onto the fabric with a stencil brush.

The results were great – and everyone got them done in the time we had available. We will be having a cruise reunion in April and we’re hoping everyone will bring their finished quilts for show-and-tell. I’ll post pictures at that time!

If this technique intrigues you, I will be teaching it as an all day workshop at WCTC on April 12th. We’ll be making a Spring time table topper, and students will not only learn this technique, but a few other ways to use Shiva™ Paintsticks too.

Everyone will cut out the same tulip pattern, but the color choices are up to you. I’ll have a variety of paintsticks available for student use, so no one has to purchase them until they’re sure they enjoy using them.

To register go to: on “Course Search” and type “quilt” in the “Course Title” box; then click on “Find Courses”.


And one more thing :-)!

An upcoming workshop for quilters in the Milwaukee area!

I will be teaching my 3 hour Seminole Sampler workshop for Common Threads Quilt Guild on Wednesday afternoon, March 27. They meet in Lannon, WI (northwest of Milwaukee). This class is done using a pre-cut kit, which is provided for a low extra fee. Everyone gets a lot of sewing done and students go home with samples of many different Seminole border patterns.

There are a few openings left, so if you’d like to give it a try or just want more information, you can contact Beryl at

March 3, 2019, Uncategorized
Help For a Bleeding Quilt

A few weeks ago Lynn sent me the following comment. It led me to write this week’s post:

“I recently finished a quilt, washed it with color grabbers and still had the colors bleed.  Purchased the fabric at a reputable quilt shop and began a class using the batik fabrics the same day.  My question is would you please speak on fabric preparation before beginning process and also ways of rectifying disasters such as this?
Normally I wash all fabric before starting, besides bleeding have had unequal shrinking concerns, but when taking a class, this is not always possible.”

Yikes! I have only had this problem happen to me once, many many years ago, and I never did get the stains out. It was a scrap quilt in blues and one of the fabrics bled to the back of the quilt just a little, along the quilting lines, wherever that fabric happened to be in the quilt. I didn’t notice it right away and was grateful it was on the back. I simply use it and ignore the problem, but that probably isn’t the best way to deal with it :-).

I wrote Lynn back with supportive words and questions. She sent me this picture with her response:

“Actually didn’t dry it before noticing the bleeds and even washed it using color grabbers and cold water. After trying all suggested remedies: oxyclean, borax, dawn and finally bleach, (lighter fluid was the exception), I carefully painted worst bleeds with bleach.  Not totally gone, but much better.  Very glad this was going to be my quilt and not made for someone else.

Here’s a picture of her finished quilt. It is lovely!

So – I’m hoping this post will be the start of some information sharing that will help all of us with future problems. As most of us know, color bleed occurs when fabric gets wet and dye leaches out of the fibers. This commonly occurs in the washing machine and can result in color transfer between items in the load.

So here are a few of my own thoughts, and some recommendations I got off the internet:

Prevention is the best solution!

Pre-wash your fabrics! Especially if the quilt is made to be used and washed (I have to admit I don’t always wash the fabrics I use in my art quilts because I don’t plan to ever wash them, but I realize this is not a super wise decision).

I’m always concerned that putting all the fabrics in the washer with a color catcher to pre-wash them may not stop a problem, so I typically fill the sink with a couple of inches of lukewarm water and, beginning with the lightest value fabric, I submerge the fabric and then squeeze out the excess water. If the water stays clear, I throw that piece in the dryer and go to the next lightest fabric. If one of the fabrics does bleed, I continue to rinse it, change the water, rinse it… until it stops bleeding. If it doesn’t after 4 or 5 changes – I don’t use that fabric! When all the fabrics are “safe” I throw in a color catcher/grabber and turn on the dryer. This has worked well for me.

In Lynn’s case, she didn’t have the chance to pre-wash her fabric because she took the class the same day she purchased her fabric. I have had this happen and my solution was to cut a small piece (2″ square) from each of the fabrics that look like possible bleeders, get them wet, squeeze the water out, and lay them on a white piece of paper towel. I leave them for 5 to 10 minutes and if the paper stays white, chances are they’re ok.

Another good idea is to put a color catcher/grabber sheet in with every quilt you wash.

Too late – the quilt came out of the washer bleeding!

Lynn tried some of these options, and didn’t have perfect results, but they are a good place to start:

Don’t let it dry!!!  I’m not kidding – if you let it dry the stain will set and be much harder to remove. Make a paste of a color-safe, oxy-bleach mixed with lukewarm water (not actual bleach!) Spread it over the stained area and allow it to penetrate for 5 minutes. While that sits, mix the oxy-bleach into a bucket full of lukewarm water (follow manufacturers instructions for amounts). Once dissolved, stir in one gallon of cool water and submerge the quilt in the mix. Let soak for one to five hours. Rinse well and repeat if needed.

As I did some research on the web, variations on the above instructions came up again and again. If your quilt does dry it would still be worth trying this process.

Another suggestion I found was in a comment to a blog from “Sarah” who said Carbona Run Remover is “amazing, amazing, amazing! Doesn’t do a darn thing to the colors that are supposed to be there, but gets the ones out that aren’t.” You can find information on this product at: . 

She also recommended Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover. I found both at Walmart and JoAnn’s on-line, and I think I need to purchase them to have on hand – just in case.

I have one more suggestion for a quilt that has dried and no amount of effort or product gets the stain out. My dear friend, Sharon Rotz, had this problem with one of her wonderful quilts. It was featured in her book “Log Cabin Quilts With Attitude”:

I remember her telling me about it years ago, so I emailed her and asked if I could share her story:

“As far as the efforts to clean up the bleeding quilt, I used quilt soap, dye magnet sheets in washer, then desperately, laundry detergents and finally appliqué. On the up side, the quilt is very soft from being washed so many times!”

Appliqué is a good option if all else fails. The worst of her quilt’s bleeding was on the back so, in keeping with the garden theme, she appliquéd fabric printed with seed packets!

She even added a few packets to the front. Here’s a detail photo:

Well done Sharon! 

So now it’s your turn. Do you have a story about a bleeding quilt? Was the outcome good or not so good? Any fixes we haven’t touched on yet? Have you tried any of the products or ideas mentioned with success? Please share so we can all learn!

February 17, 2019, Uncategorized
Fabric Origami

A few weeks ago I shared a picture of the origami Hawaiian shirts we made while on our Hawaiian cruise (they measure about 2″ x 3″). The updated picture above shows the shirts with leis Wendy crocheted for everyone.

The idea originated with an ornament my friend Jean blessed me with a few Christmas’ ago. She’d found the pattern while vacationing in Hawaii and was kind enough to share it with me. The problem – we wouldn’t have access to enough irons to make this project according to directions while on board the ship. Hmm…

First I tried making a shirt out of scrapbooking paper, but it wasn’t fabric (I really prefer fabric – and I’m sure you get that).

Next, I found a “Layer Cake” of tropical batiks that I thought would look great (in case you don’t know, a “Layer Cake” is what quilters call a pack of 10″ squares). I shrank the pattern down a bit and tried to make a shirt by simply finger pressing the tightly woven batik, but it was too limp.

Then I had a very distant memory come to the surface: years ago, when I first taught quilting at MATC in Watertown, my friend Barb told the story of her time in nursing school when she and her roommates would need to make their caps crisp and stiff. To do this they soaked them in liquid starch and smoothed them onto the shower stall. It was worth a try!

Our shower stall has never been this colorful! When they were dry I peeled them off and ironed them smooth. The side of the squares that touched the shower came out shiny, so we folded that side to the inside when doing the origami. It was simple to cut the squares into the appropriate sized rectangles and the fabric finger pressed beautifully. All of our travelers were successful.

I didn’t get a photograph of the group with their folded shirt ornaments, but we’re having a cruise reunion in a couple of months and I’ll be sure to have everyone bring their’s along so I can send a quick pic in a future post :-).

So, if you ever want to try an origami pattern with fabric – now you know the easy way! And if you’d like to try making your own Hawaiian shirt ornament – I did an internet search for videos on origami shirt ornaments and there were quite a few to choose from :-).

February 10, 2019, Uncategorized

Last October I had a wonderful time teaching at a Quilt Festival in Spring Grove, MN (Click here to read the post I wrote about that visit). While there I met a very talented quilter and I was blown away by her work. Her name is Doreen and she describes herself as “A quilter who rides a motorcycle, living on a small hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. Grandmother and Great Grandmother and now retired.”

Treadlemusic is what she calls her business and it is a fitting name for what she does. Her machine quilting is exquisite (she was actually doing it while at the show, but what I found most engaging about her work is what she does with vintage linens!

Aren’t they amazing?!? She truly gives new life to old pieces. In this picture you can see her “before” and “after” on a simple embroidered doily.

Here’s a link to just one of her blog posts:

Have you ever used vintage linens in your quilts? Doreen has really encouraged me to look at my collection of doilies and tablecloths as a drawer full of opportunities. Thanks Doreen, for letting me share your quilts and inspiration!


Also… Today was the Artist Reception for the Quilt As Art exhibit at the Cultural Arts Center in Whitewater, WI. I’m posting a little late, as I just returned home. The exhibit is being held in a lovely old building on Main Street. There are seven artists whose work is on display and the variety of work is fascinating. Here are just a few pictures:

The show runs from today until February 24th, and the gallery is open Thursday – Sunday; noon to 5pm. For all the details please go to:

February 3, 2019, Uncategorized
Silhouette Appliqué

I’ve posted about my Repliqué technique a few times in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever featured the great way it works to create silhouettes on your quilts.

The very first time I tried it was for a challenge back in the 90’s. A year ago I did a post about that challenge (please click here to read that post), and this is the quilt I made for it:

Just so you aren’t too impressed with my artistic abilities, the floral design was actually printed on the fabric, white-on-white, and I simply stitched along the foliage.

What I loved about the technique was that it used machine free-motion stitching, but I didn’t need to be perfect at it, because the stitches wouldn’t show like they do when free-motion quilting. I’ve used it for many quilts since then. Here are just a few:

Silhouette design 1
Aunt Gracie’s Farm
Brad’s Grad Quilt

One of the projects I’ve been working on recently involves silhouettes of Mike and me with our grandkids. This one is of Hanna and me when she was 2 (she just turned 13 – oh my!)

After making this one I needed to do one of Grandpa with Willy when he was 2 (now he’s almost 11 – the years do fly by).

This past year I’ve made a quilt of Trey helping grandpa stack wood (he’s 3).

And Sommer quilting with me. She was almost 6 at the time. She may be a bit older than the others, but I loved the photo.

I hang them in a grouping using my Modular Memory Quilt technique (please click here for a previous post about it).

I’m in the process of writing a book on many of the techniques I use in my Modular Memory quilts and silhouette appliqué will be covered in it. So if you’re intrigued by this technique – stay tuned :-).

If you live nearby, and would like to try your hand at creating silhouettes in fabric, please consider signing up for my February 22nd class at WCTC.

You’ll learn to repliqué the floral pattern onto a beautiful background fabric, and the exciting part is – we’ll be doing free-motion satin stitching! It’s actually fun because the stitches are so close together it’s almost impossible to do it wrong :-). You can sign up at, but please do it soon. I need a few more students for the class to run. Email me at with any questions.


and one more thing:

I’m participating in an upcoming quilt show in Whitewater, Wisconsin called:

The Art of the Quilt

and here are the details:

A quilt show will be featured at the Whitewater Arts Alliance’s Cultural Arts Center, 402 West Main Street, from February 1 to 24, Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.  There is a free reception, open to the public, on Sunday, February 3rd from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the CAC.  

February will find one of the Whitewater Arts Alliance’s most popular exhibits returning to the Cultural Arts Center.  “The Art of the Quilt” will feature the work of several talented area quilters.  As of this date, the WAA has commitments to share their creativity from Mary Althaus (Whitewater), Chris Kirsch (Watertown), Rita Oehrke (Palmyra), Lori Schloesser (Watertown), Michele Smith (Whitewater), and Sue Theune (Whitewater).

I’d love to invite you to the reception on Sunday, February 3rd. All the artists should be there and it promises to be a fascinating show. I will have many of my favorite quilts on display. If you can’t make the reception, but you live in Southeastern Wisconsin, please consider taking a ride out to Whitewater during the month of February to add a bit of color to your snowy winter!

January 27, 2019, Uncategorized

Our Hawaiian cruise was a sunny, fun and fascinating time in paradise. It may be over, but I have so many wonderful memories and I’d like to share a few with you!

Wendy and I began our trip with a few days in Honolulu simply getting use to the warmth and sunshine. By day two we were ready to walk to the top of Diamond Head.

That evening the rest of our group joined us and the next morning we were on our first tour – to Pearl Harbor. It was a very moving experience.

From there we boarded the Pride of America (how fitting). There were 40 of us total and it was a fun and friendly group.

We visited 5 ports of call on 4 islands and were blessed to see volcanos, waterfalls, rain forests, sandy beaches, along with macadamia nut, cocoa and coffee plantations. This trip had it all!

Fern Grotto flat bottom boat ride in Kauai
Napali Coast

Some of us were even able to swim under a waterfall!

Not only were the flora and fauna beautiful, but we found a few quilt shops along the way:

Yellow Hibiscus – the State flower
Quiltina just can’t resist a bit of photo-bombing!

Our class time went well. All participants had great results with their Hawaiian Paintstik Appliqué projects.

And we even threw in some extra fun – making fabric origami shirts to be kept as Christmas ornaments. A lovely reminder of the trip.

I will be sharing some additional photos and inspiration in the next few blog posts, but today I’d like to leave you with this lovely sunset view.


And one final note:

I came upon this information recently and I’d like to share it before I forget. In my free motion quilting classes we talk a lot about machine tension. In Bob’s latest email from Superior Threads he posted a great handout on thread tension, complete with easy to understand diagrams. Click here to see it – and print it out!

January 20, 2019, Uncategorized
New Year’s Smiles and Upcoming Classes

Teaching Quilting is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I’ve met so many wonderful people, learned far more than I’ve taught, visited fascinating places, and made dear friends. I’m grateful God planned it to be a part of my life, because I certainly hadn’t.

As I travel and teach I often come upon quilts and their makers that are simply too interesting or amusing not to share. This happened once again a few weeks ago when I was invited to present my “But I Still Love You” lecture for the Crazy Quilters in Mukwonago, WI. It just happened to be their Christmas party and the appetizer/dessert potluck was delicious. I think the guild enjoyed seeing my antique quilts and hearing their stories.

After the talk came show and tell. I love show and tell, and this group didn’t disappoint. There were many lovely quilts, but the two that stole the show were from Jean Cruikshank. They were made by her mom, Wilma Elkhart, and found in her belongings as Jean and her 4 brothers and sisters prepared for mom to move into assisted living. Jean said the first one was made from favorite shirts/sweaters that had belonged to Jean and her siblings:

Wilma had a rather unique and straightforward method for including the garments! The “dots” are actually the tied knots holding the comforter together, and it gave us all a bit of a chuckle. 

Then Jean brought out Wilma’s second creation. It’s made from the dresses she wore for her’s and her children’s weddings. Prepare yourself…

Admit it – you smiled. Many of us in the room laughed out loud. The entire garments were stitched in place, then the layers were tied together once again.

I really have never seen anything quite like it. Thanks Jean, for letting me share these delightful “quilts”.


As a new year approaches it’s always fun to try something new. So let me tell you about 4 all day workshops I have scheduled for the upcoming semester at WCTC. 

Pinwheel Strips

Friday, January 25, 9 – 2:30

Silhouette Applique

Friday, February 22, 9 – 2:30

Spin Star

Friday, March 15, 9 – 2:30

Paintstik Fun

Friday, April 12, 9 – 2:30


I’d also like to tell all the local Wisconsin quilters about two new teachers at WCTC. Nan Feurer will be teaching 4 quilting workshops this semester and Fatun Mohomed will be teaching garment construction. You can read about all of our classes and register on-line at

Simply type “quilt” or “sewing” into the “Course Search” box and then click on “Find Courses”. 


And, just to let you know, I will be taking a 2 week vacation from my blog beginning this week. Wendy and I leave Wednesday to take a group of quilters and friends on a cruise around Hawaii. We are really looking forward to getting away to warmth and sunshine – and I’ve decided the computer won’t be going along. 

Happy New Year one and all!

December 30, 2018, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas 2018

Christmas is such a beautiful season and I’d like to set the tone for this year’s post with a picture of a lovely Christmas angel made from a hymnal by my dear friend Maria. 

What a treasure. Thank you Maria!

Every Christmas my friend Sharon and I like to ring and sing for the Salvation army. This year my grandson Trey joined in for the first half hour. We’ve been doing this for at least 16 years, and it’s still a bright spot in my Christmas season! 

Another tradition is cookie baking. My mom and I have never missed a year since I was old enough to help. Dad’s a big help too. His best skill is tasting our results, but he’s gotten quite good at decorating gingerbread men and unwrapping kisses with Trey. My daughter-in-law Betsy, along with Sommer and Trey, are now part of the tradition. So much fun!!!

The tree is up, the gifts are wrapped, and the house is ready for the upcoming celebrations.

For years I used to overdo and stress about the holiday preparations, but in recent times I’ve cut back to just the essentials and my focus is daily on the true gift of Christmas – the birth of our Savior – who became a man, lived a sinless life, then suffered and died to save us from our sins and prepare a place for us in heaven. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16

What a wonderful reason to celebrate! God bless us, everyone!

December 23, 2018, Uncategorized
From One Barn to Another

When you say barn quilt nowadays, people often picture a wooden barn block attached to the exterior of an actual barn. I have one of those and posted about it years ago (click here to read that post).

Earlier this year I made a fabric barn quilt and entered it in a contest in which it traveled for 6 months. After I got it back I realized I had never included it in a blog post. It was a very enjoyable project and I tried a number of different techniques to accomplish my goals, so I felt it was time to share it with all of you – since it’s still the same year as I made it (by 2 weeks  :-D) ! It’s called “From One Barn to Another” and it measures 24″ square.

This was actually created by combining photographs of two different barns owned by my friends Glen and Di Lohr who live just across the road from me. Di was happy to have me do a photoshoot one sunny summer afternoon, as inspiration for a Barn Quilt challenge which invited quilters to do something innovative with the barn theme.

The majority of the quilt is the interior of their German Fachwerk barn.

Unfortunately this window didn’t look out at their more traditional Wisconsin style barn. But that didn’t stop me, I just Photoshopped™ it in,

and used my repliqué technique to do most of the work. 

The bricks created the greatest challenge for me. I certainly didn’t want to satin stitch all the way around each one. Neither did I want to use raw-edged repliqué (stitch around each brick and trim away so the mortar shows through). So I did something completely different – I thread-painted (stitched heavily in mortar colored thread) the mortar in as a wholecloth design on brick colored fabric! 

The challenge fabric we were required to use was a barn board print. I used both sides of the fabric to achieve shading in the window frame (the right side was gray while the reverse was much whiter):

Out the window I did all the man-made objects with repliqué, and the God-made objects with raw-edged repliqué (no satin stitching).

When it came to the ceiling, I didn’t have a dark enough shade of brown, so I painted what I did have:

I was pleased with the finished results. I’m going to hang on to it for a little longer, in hopes of exhibiting it in a few shows, but eventually is will be gifted to my wonderful neighbors.

December 16, 2018, Uncategorized
Hand-made Christmas

We were living in Sun Prairie, WI when I first learned to quilt. After a few years of making quilts I decided selling them in craft fairs might be fun. At one of these fairs I met Jeannie. She loved quilts, but had no desire to make them, so we worked out a deal. It turned out – she and her husband made original design Santas and I already had a Santa collection 🙂 . Jeannie’s husband did the carving and she did the painting. We worked out a barter. She ended up with a number of my handmade quilts,

while I was thrilled to acquire 5 of their unique Santas (the tallest is 10″) .

Fast forward to last month when I was teaching in North Dakota. Amy was in my free motion quilting class. She caught on fast and did very well, but she admitted to me her first love was knitting. The next day she stopped by my classroom and handed me a small box with a thank you note attached. Inside was a hand-knit Santa!

Amazing! And now he’s part of the family. They may not be jolly, but I love them all!

What a wonderful gift. Thank you so much Amy!

By the way – Amy has patterns available on-line, and her work in lovely! You can see for yourself at:


Also – if you’re looking for a unique, last minute Christmas gift, my daughter-in-law, Betsy, has an Etsy shop where she sells her macramé and animal sketches:

Her macramé is lovely: 

and she has many adorable animal sketches available (each one is 8″ x 10″):

If you’d like a sketch or painting of your own pet or favorite animal, Betsy  would be happy to work with you. You can contact her at: 

And, for those of you who live in Southeastern Wisconsin, Betsy also has her work available at “There’s No Place Like Home” in Oconomowoc (25 S. Main St.).  She’s very talented (I’d say that even if we weren’t related, LOL)

I think hand-made gifts are the best!

December 9, 2018, Uncategorized
A Delightful New Friendship

A memorable meeting took place for me at Expo this year. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about it. The story begins about 2 years ago. My friend Lisa asked me if I was on Lori Kennedy’s blog “The Inbox Jaunt”. I said “no” and she recommended I check it out. I did and I was very impressed.

Lori has a truly amazing blog. She posts daily (and I thought posting weekly was impressive 🙂 ). Her writing is well done and her photography is beautiful. Lori’s specialty is designing quilting motifs that can be broken into simple units so “normal” quilters can do them. I liked her work so much that when I read she was doing a lecture at the 2017 Madison Expo, I signed up right away.

I enjoyed her lecture and found her to be an engaging speaker. When taking lectures and workshops I like to watch for teaching techniques and styles that I can implement to improve my classes. I took many notes in her lecture.

When the talk was over she was mobbed by the crowd and, since I didn’t have any specific questions or comments, I moved on without actually meeting her.

Fast forward to this past Expo. The organizers hold a teacher “meet and greet” on Thursday after the show. It’s a delightful way to catch up with friends and get to know the other teachers. As I walked in I noticed Lori was there. We made eye contact, but she was chatting with a group, so I moved on. A short while later she came up to me and asked “you’re Chris Kirsch aren’t you?” I smiled and she told me that she, her mom, and her sisters, had been in a lecture I presented at a retreat in northwestern Illinois many (20 ?) years ago. She said my lecture had inspired her – WOW! To think that someone who’s work I admire was in some way inspired by me was such a blessing.

We had a lovely conversation and I even got to meet one of her daughters, Faye. The last day of the show I sought her out to ask if I could include her in an upcoming blog post – and to have my picture taken with her.

She said “yes” 😀 !

Lori is the author of a number of books and she writes articles for American Quilter magazine. I’m a fan, and I know you’ll enjoy her blog:

We never know whom we might influence in our life. I am so pleased to now know Lori as a friend!

Do you have a story about a teacher or quilter who has encouraged or influenced you in your quilting journey?

September 30, 2018, Challenges Uncategorized
Quilted Memories – A Contemporary Twist

Shortly after I posted to my blog last week, Cheryl commented that she has a booklet about the Sunday School Picnic quilt.

That led me to do an internet search and I was thrilled to discover the whole story of this amazing quilt. I added the link to my post, but by then over 300 people had already read it, so I thought I’d better share the link again here for those of you who might be interested. It’s a fascinating story and well worth the read. Click here for the link.


This week I’m going to follow up on the vintage memory quilts by showing my own modern version. The majority of those antique quilts were bed sized and hand quilted. You don’t see many memory quilts like those being made today. But we still want to make quilts to commemorate people, places and events. I love to travel and I’ve often thought about making one quilt about my travels. The problem is I’ve been so many places – praise the Lord – that it seemed to be overwhelming.

Last year while planning for our Sew We Go cruise from Quebec to Boston I had a “light bulb” moment. What if I would choose one photo from each trip that triggered all the wonderful memories of the entire vacation? Then I could make each photograph into a block and …

Modular Memory Quilts was born! I gave a lecture on this “quilt”, and all the techniques I used to make the blocks, for our group while on board the Norwegian Dawn and it went over quite well (to read about the projects on that trip click here).

This block is one of my favorites from the “quilt”.

It’s from Mike’s and my first visit to Hawaii when our son, Brad, was a senior in High School. We invited his best friend along and, while stopping at a waterfall on the Road to Hana, the boys decided to climb to the top and jump!

Others were doing it and it was a real case of “monkey see, monkey do”.

To make the block I used a bunch of techniques: glue-stick raw edge appliqué, stitched cheesecloth, and even thread painting on tulle to create my jumping Brad. What fun – and what a great memory.

As you may know, Wendy and I are taking a group of quilters to Hawaii this January. We still have a few cabins available, but since this trip will fill, Norwegian Cruise Lines is requesting all the “non-spoken-for” cabins be returned to them soon. If you have been thinking about joining us – click here for all the details and instructions for signing up while you still can!


Now back to Modular Memory Quilts  🙂 .


One of my favorite parts of making Modular Memory Quilts is that each block is made, bordered, quilted and bound as a separate unit. There’s no quilting and finishing a big quilt! Then I connect them together with my own unique technique, using hair bands and safety pins (yes – really 🙂 ). This is what makes it completely modular. The blocks can be moved around; additional blocks can be added over time; other’s can be taken away; or, if the “quilt” becomes too large, it can be broken up into two separate quilts.

I was working on this project during the Madison Quilt Expo last September and, while walking through the show, I was delighted to see my friend Wendy Butler Berns had made a quilt in a similar fashion and entered it in the show (click here to visit Wendy’s website).

“Unconditional Love – Always” was made as a triptych of quilts of her children with their pets, using her Picture Image Machine Appliqué technique. She put them together with strips of fabric and buttons, so they can eventually be separated and each child can have their own quilt at some point in the future. What a wonderful idea!

Since making my travel quilt, I’ve thought of many more types of memory quilts that would work well as a Modular Memory Quilt: children’s art, grandma’s embroidered squares or hankies, workshop samples … just think of the possibilities! Here’s one – the project we’ll be making on the Hawaiian cruise is a type of “Paint-stik™ appliqué” I wrote about a few months ago (click here for that post). I made three quilts with this technique and decided to combine them “modularly”.

I’ve since made a few other of these “quilts”. Completing small, individual block quilts is quick and a lot of fun. I’m very excited about the results and I’ll be doing a lecture on these fun souvenir quilts at the Madison Quilt Expo this September. Not only will I talk about the quilts and my connecting technique, but I’ll also demonstrate step-by-step instructions for many of the techniques I used to create the blocks. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

June 17, 2018, Uncategorized
Quilted Memories – Vintage Souvenir Quilts

This past March I signed up for a bus trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, sponsored by the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art in Cedarburg. It was a spectacular trip! The exhibit we went to see at the Art Institute was entitled “Making Memories: Quilts as Souvenirs”. We enjoyed a wonderful tour of the quilts which were separated into souvenirs of places, people and events. Here are just a few of the fascinating quilts on display, along with the labels that accompanied them:

Sunday School Picnic – I found this quilt delightful. It really tells a story! And if you’d like to read the whole story click here!

Map Quilt – I apologize for the dark photograph of this quilt, the museum lighting is good for the quilts, but not great for my iPhone’s camera.

Quilt Show – the workmanship on this one really blew me away!

The piecing, appliqué and quilting were all extremely well done. Here’s a close-up:

State Birds and Flowers

This lovely example of an embroidered quilt was of great interest to me because I have a similar quilt in my collection.

My quilt dates to 1947 and was made by Lillian Heidtke in Wisconsin. The embroidery is very well done, but the quilting is minimal. The quilting on the Art Institutes quilt was very impressive, but I still love mine  🙂 .

I wish I could have shared all of the quilts. It was a spectacular exhibit and a wonderful trip.

I was particularly interested in this exhibit because I’ve begun a journey into memory quilts with a “modern” and “modular” twist. I’ll let you in on all the fun in next week’s post!

June 10, 2018, Uncategorized
Child’s play – Markers on Fabric

A few years ago my friend Linda and I played around with Sharpie™ Markers, muslin and isopropyl alcohol (to read that post go to:

A while later I decided to try it with Sommer. We colored circles:

Then added alcohol with an eye dropper:

Here are our results:

Then we tried again. Sommer drew anything she wanted (these are lighter and brighter, and make me smile):

I decided I liked the way the black bled to purple and made it the focus of my design, allowing some space between the elements:

I was happier with these results:

Have you played with markers like this? Any pictures you’d like to share?


And one more note on Sommer and crafts – our passion is not always their’s!

A few months after Sommer made her first quilt (you can read that post at: )  I wanted to make her an apron. She was excited and wanted to help. We pulled out a pattern I’d purchased a while ago and she picked a pretty fabric from my stash. I ended up cutting it out with my rotary cutter and she didn’t like the waiting and watching, so she lost interest for that day. The next afternoon, while Trey was napping, she helped me set up the featherweight, we pinned a seam together and she began to sew.

Three seams later she asked if she could go play. When I asked her if she wanted to work on it tomorrow or if I should finish it – she perked up and said I could finish it  😕 . So I did.

She’s happy to wear it and help me cook. Her favorite part is tasting the “gredients”.

June 3, 2018, Uncategorized
More Delightful Pin Cushions

After last week’s post I received a number of pictures of more pin cushions. They were so diverse and interesting, I just had to do one more pin cushion post  😀 !

Laurie sent this picture with the following message: “I inherited this stagecoach pin cushion from my Mom who passed away in 2009.  There is styrofoam under the red covered top and if you look closely you can see the retractable measuring tape on the bottom between the wheels. I don’t use it because it’s too cute and I don’t want to wreck it.”

Lorraine’s email contained another helpful hint for using cushions: “This isn’t a special pin cushion but it has a special purpose. I love using these numbered pins but got frustrated because they would always get mixed up in their sectioned container. I finally decided to dedicate a pin cushion just for them.  By keeping each number grouped together the pins are now so much easier to use.”

Shellie said “Here’s a photo of a thumb pin cushion that I bought on Sunday, at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah.”
I think I have one of those too – now to figure out where I put it!
Nina sent me a photo of part of her collection with the comment: “Some from flea markets, others from mom and grandma and children. I just adore them!”
And Cathy said the following are only part of her collection too:
What a fun, useful and collectable item pin cushions are! Thank you so much ladies for sharing your treasures with us.
These all got me to thinking about 2 additional ones I inherited from a relative’s sewing collection many years ago. They’re unique in that the pins are stuck into the edges. One is a velvet circle and the other looks like a “mattress”. I’m showing them from two different angles and the pin heads give you an idea of their size. I wonder how old they are.
I spent the past 6 days in New York City with my cousins Deb and Cindy.
We had a marvelous time visiting all the sites and seeing a few Broadway shows. It was wonderful!
Funny thing – in all the shops we wandered through I didn’t find a single pin cushion  😉 !

May 27, 2018, Uncategorized
Pin Cushions

On our rare “child”- free days Mike and I like to go for rides to nearby towns and visit antique shops. On one of our recent adventures I found an old pin cushion that really tickled me.

As you can see it’s in the shape of an old telephone (so very different from our present day devices), with the pin cushion in the center of the rotary dial, the scissors fitted into an opening at the top, and it even has a retractable measuring tape that comes out the back of the “phone”. It makes me smile and got me to thinking about some of the other pin cushions I have. Some are utilitarian, like my purple magnet with flower head pins that I use daily:

Or the one I made that hangs by my sewing machine and is attached to a schnibble bag:

I’m sure these are familiar to many of you. The next one I’ve shared before, but I think it may bare repeating. 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.

The next one was our trip project when Wendy and I took a group of quilters on a riverboat cruise in France. It is an armchair caddy that not only has a pin cushion across the top, but 2 roomy pockets and a scissors holder (the pocket on the other side has an embellished map of our trip on it).

(Just a quick note – we still have a few cabins available for our Quilter’s Hawaiian Cruise this January. Click here for all the information)

This next cushion isn’t one I use, but I found it in an antique store many years ago and I love it. It will keep my new “telephone” company on the shelf.

Are you a collector of pin cushions? I never thought I was, but I guess they do appeal to me.

Do you have a favorite one you use every day? or any that are interesting or unique? Please send me pictures at

May 20, 2018, Uncategorized
Quilting with Difficult Fabrics

I’ve put Minky™ fabric on the back of a few quilts to make them extra snuggly – with good results. In fact, on my granddaughter Rainee’s quilt I put it on the back and turned it to the front to make the bound edge; and I reverse Repliquéd it into an “R” on the front of the quilt too (this is a technique in my book “Snuggle and Learn Quilts for Kids)! To read about that quilt go to .

turned back to front binding

Recently I was making a quilt for my dear niece Kate. She and her husband are expecting a little girl in June and I couldn’t wait to make her a quilt. The problem was I chose to piece with Minky™ this time. I found the fabrics I wanted to use at Vogue Fabrics near Chicago. Minky™ is an ultra soft, plush type of fleece, and what I found there was similar, but I’m not sure that’s what it’s actually called. The pink check on the right is for the back of the quilt and the white was what I decided to piece into a star – just look at the height of that nap! What was I thinking!!!

I cut squares of a pink cotton and drew a diagonal line on the wrong side. I then placed them right-sides-together with the “furry nightmare fabric” called “fnf” from now on 🙂 , pinning intensely. I sewed on both sides of the line and cut down the middle. The nap made everything squish and squirm. I was really glad I’d oversized the squares. After trimming them down I needed to pieced these half-square triangle units into a star. That meant “fnf” right sides together with “fnf”. It was awful. I’ve sewn on velvet and this was much worse. But I refused to give up.


Once the star was finished the entire perimeter was the cotton fabric, so I could breathe a little easier and lay out all the other pink squares.

Did I mention the nursery theme is pink with stars? And Kate and Ryan are both hunters, thus the pink camo fabric (thanks Maria!) The rest of the piecing was a breeze.

What I learned is that one should never try to put a really high nap fabric right-sides-together with anything else and expect to have great results. I decided I could still use the pink checked Minky™ for the back because it wasn’t sewn right-sides-together with anything, and it worked well. To quilt the “fnf” star, I cut a heart from freezer paper, ironed it in place on the back of the quilt,

and quilted around it from the back.

It all came together and I was happy with the results. Especially when I saw the smile on Kate’s and Nonna Deb’s faces.

Can’t wait to meet this little sweetie in June. Love you guys!

May 13, 2018, Uncategorized
Repaired and Back on the Bed!

In last week’s post I told the story of a quilt (it’s really a comforter because it’s tied, not quilted) that has kept Mike and me warm for 42 years. I was overwhelmed with the wonderful comments and suggestions to that post. I washed it, hung it outside (Spring is finally here!) and took a few minutes to simply look at it.

As puckery and worn as it is, it has too many wonderful memories to end it’s usefulness now. But how to repair it? Since almost all of the worn blocks were on the edge – why not cover them with a border “quilt-as-you-go” style? Please bear in mind my original comforter was layered with a sheet and a sheet blanket, stitched around and turned; then it was tied with yarn every 16″ – so it never laid flat, even before the wool shrunk. That added a minor layer of difficulty to this process, but I persevered.

I pulled out a pretty fabric from the “multi-yard” area of my stash, and cut a strip of fabric the length of each side of the comforter by the width of the outer row of blocks + 1 ½”. I laid a border strip, right sides together, with it’s appropriate side of the quilt, covering the outer row seam by 1/8″ and stitching with a ½” seam allowance.

As I continued stitching I found a block that shows why something had to be done  🙂 !

Once the seam was done I folded the border strip over the row of worn blocks, turned everything over to the back, and folded the border back on itself to create a “self-binding”.

I stitched it in place from the front with a decorative stitch.

I repeated this for the other side, then I added the top and bottom strips, this time leaving 1 ½” extra on both ends to finish the corners.

While working on the borders I did find 2 squares in the interior that were threadbare. To fix them I went through my box of 6″ squares, chose 2, trimmed them down to the right size, pressed under 1/4″ hem, and topstitched them in place with a mending stitch on my machine.

My old friend is still quite wonky, and there were some unavoidable puckers on the back (which I will not share pictures of), but it’s back on the bed and ready for another 42 years!

Thanks for all of the encouragement!

May 6, 2018, Uncategorized
Paducah 2018!

Linda and I are driving home from another wonderful trip to Quilt Week in Paducah! As I mentioned last week – we had a snowy start, but it was all up hill from there. The sun shone almost the entire week and the tulips were blooming (although the dogwoods were only just beginning to bloom).

As I do every year, I’m going to share a few pictures of some of my favorite parts of the trip, and I need to begin with the sign that “we’d arrived” – the Flying Goose Bridge!

We got to the 1857 B&B in the heart of Paducah, unpacked and then put up a display of my Mariner’s Compass quilts in the front window of Tribeca restaurant, just downstairs from our living quarters.

What a blessing to be able to show my quilts during Quilt Week. We helped to hang the show on Tuesday and I couldn’t wait to see my friend Lori Schloesser’s quilt.

I’ve featured my friend Evelyn in quite a few of my posts and this year she was part of a new group slice quilt that was awarded a third place (Evelyn – tell me again – which of the 5 strips was yours 🙂 )?

There were so many incredible quilts and it was a privilege to see them all.

This year AQS hosted a special exhibit that I feel was one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. It was called “Art in Denim” by Ian Berry. The pieces were not quilts, but they were fiber art. He uses only denim, scissors and glue to created portraits and landscapes that truly amaze.

My picture doesn’t do this piece justice. To really experience Ian’s work you need to visit his website at Linda and I had the chance to meet and talk with this endearing young man. His work is incredible and yet he is funny, soft spoken and very approachable.

We set up our kitchen studio and did some sewing, but our special playtime this year was with alcohol inks.

I’d taken a class at Sew Much More in Waukesha this winter. It was so much fun I bought the supplies and have been sharing them with my quilting friends. I’ll be doing a post on this in the near future, but I wanted to show you our Paducah creations – plates and trays!

We had to do our traditional bubble tea stop at Etcetera (actually we had to do that twice).

As we left this morning, I couldn’t resist just one more picture – the compass quilts are back in my suitcase and the rain is gently falling.

It was such fun to catch up with friends, find some new treasures at the vendors, eat fun food and escape the snow and “reality” for a week. Thanks, Linda, for a great time!


April 22, 2018, Uncategorized
A Quilter’s Rest Stop

It’s time for Quilt Week in Paducah! This will be my 29th trip in a row and I’m very excited. But the start to this year’s trip was quite unique from every other. Yesterday we had freezing rain and today it turned to snow. This was my driveway as I left this morning.

It was the worst winter storm this year. Oh how glad I am to be heading to Kentucky with my dear friend Linda. The snow was letting up by the time we got to Rockford and tonight were staying in Champaign, IL. – not a snowflake in sight and it’s 43 degrees – hooray!

Next week I’ll share some of our Paducah fun but this week, since I’m talking about travel, I have a quilt and travel related post:

My friend Connie recently returned from a driving trip to Texas and New Mexico with her husband. On the drive home through Iowa they happened to stop at the Cedar County rest stop on I-80 between Iowa City and Davenport. She was very excited about it because the entire building was filled with quilt blocks!

Iowa is in the process of updating 38 of it’s rest stops and each one has it’s own unique theme! This one was designed to resemble a train station with an Underground Railroad theme.

Here are a few of the pictures she shared with me: The exterior blocks:

Some interior blocks:

And an entire interior wall:

I found a great website about this fascinating project, with pictures of all the themed rest stops at:

It looks like a wonderful stop! Thanks Connie!


Linda and I will be staying in the B&B above Tribeca Restaurant in Paducah again this year. I’m planning to hang a display of my Mariner’s Compass quilts in the front window. Please stop by and visit them if you’re in the area!


April 15, 2018, Uncategorized
A New Trick for Attaching a Quilt Label

I did a series of posts earlier this year on using Elmer’s School Glue™ to baste things together while quilting. I’ve discovered one more use that’s been a real help when stitching labels onto my quilts.

It’s really quite simple:

Create your label in any way you like. I usually design them on the computer and print them onto colorfast printer fabric.

Press under a 1/4″ hem all the way around.

Scribble a line of glue all over the wrong side of the label.

Place it on the back of the quilt and iron in place to dry the glue.

Now stitch it down without worrying about the label shifting, or the thread tangling around any pin heads! In the picture above I haven’t stitched it yet, and you will notice corners of the pressed hems peeking out along the edges. This is not a problem because I’m able to use my needle to tuck these corners under the label as I appliqué it in place.

I backed this quilt with a fabric I got in Alaska a few years ago. It was the perfect back.

I’m currently putting this label on my Winter Window quilt because I didn’t add a label when I finished it back in 2015. It hangs in our “master bath window towel rack” (to read my post about this quilt click here).

At the end of that post I stated that I already had an idea for my “Spring” quilt. The picture I used for this new quilt was the view from my kitchen window.

Working on a Spring quilt helped me to endure portions of this very cold winter, and this week I decided it was time to replace the winter quilt in my window (and finally add a label – two winters after it was completed).

Now if we could just warm up past 36 degrees!!!

April 8, 2018, Uncategorized
Microwave Bowl Holders Revisited

Thanks for all the comments/votes for the background fabric on Moseley’s quilt. I enjoyed tabulating the votes and reading so many well thought out comments. If I’m going by numbers, #3, the outdoor sky fabric, won with 47 out of 69 votes. But it’s not that easy, my daughter-in-law, Betsy (Moseley’s mom), voted for one of the others. What to do??? I haven’t decided yet, but when I do – I’ll post it on my blog – so you’ll be the first to know  😀 !

This week’s post is a short one because I had only a little bit of sewing time between my wonderful trip to Florida with my cousin and a fun getaway with my husband to a B&B in Steven’s Point, WI (our son took off this week and we were grandchild-free). This was what I worked on in that little bit of time, and I thought you might enjoy it:

I’ve made quite a few Microwave Bowl Holders, or Soup Cozies,  over the years. We use ours daily, for handling hot and cold bowls, and I’ve given many as gifts. I posted about this a few years ago. To read that post click here.

While in Paducah this Spring I found a delightful “kitchen utensil” fabric. Upon arriving home I realized I have dear friends who would really appreciate a pair of the bowl holders. So I grabbed my new fabric and here are the results:

To watch a great tutorial on how to make them, go to:

July 9, 2017, Uncategorized
Quilting Time

Happy New Year!

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
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
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
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:

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
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
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:

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
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
Fiber Art Earrings

Greetings from snowy Wisconsin (I couldn’t resist including a picture – large pre-Thanksgiving snows are not that common here)!

snow 11-15


Before I get to my new “topic of the week”, I wanted to thank everyone whocloset clean mags gone commented on my “Closet Clean-up” post a few weeks ago. Many of you expressed a concern that recycling the magazines might deprive others of their value. You will be happy to know that someone did claim them and Mike was  kind enough to “dumpster dive”, and put all the loose ones into boxes for me to deliver 🙂 .

Then Judy sent me an email about her own Closet Clean-up adventure which involved a trip to the container store and a clever way of labeling. Here’s what she wrote:

“Chris: I really wanted to tell you how much I admire and am always searching for those  perfect solutions to sewing room organization.  Last year, I was able to move my sewing room into a bigger space thanks to my really awesome husband.  That space came with an enormous walk-in closet!!  I wasn’t sure how to organize my stash, so one trip to The Container Store and voila!!  Men’s shoe boxes from The Container Store are the perfect size for your stash!!  I then bought chalkboard fabric and labeled each box.  They are also the perfect size for projects.  Here’s a picture to share.”

And here’s the picture:

Judy Fox storage pic

Chalkboard fabric! What a great idea! It looks so much better than my taped on “scrap paper scribblings”, and the labels are easy to change. Thanks Judy!


And now for my “topic of the week”:

I have a new pair of hand made, fiber art earrings – and I love them!

Earrings by Sher

I receive many compliments every time I wear them. Here is a little about the earrings:

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.01.44 PM

Now, let me tell you about their maker. I met Sharon Rotz when we taught together at a retreat in Central Wisconsin. We hit it off right away and have become good friends. I’ve mentioned Sharon in a number of previous blog posts because we’ve had the chance to exhibit our work together, and I’ve been inspired by her books and techniques. We’ve also collaborated on 4 quilts together: “Tumbles the Cat”,

tumbles the cat quilt

“Two Friends Monkeying Around”,

Quilt - Two Friends Monkeying Around

“The Rose of Chris and Sharon”,


and “Goyne Round in Circles”.

Goyne Round in Circles

Sharon is an incredible talent and It’s been a joy to quilt together. Now she’s on to a new adventure with her hand-made jewelry and, like everything else she does, it is incredibly creative and well done. Please visit Sharon’s website:  to see her wonderful work.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 9.03.53 PM

I highly recommend clicking on her jewelry page, you just may need to own a Sharon Rotz original!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all !!!


November 22, 2015, Uncategorized
Best Pumpkin Seeds Ever!

This past week I finished the quilt I’ve been working on since May. I’m so excited to share it, but the timing isn’t right because I want to enter it in a competition. So…

Occasionally I put a “non-quilting” post on my blog – if I think it will appeal to many of you – and I think this one will! But before I get started, I need your help. My Mom was going through stuff recently and gave me an envelope full of pins, needles and sewing “odds and ends” from a distant Aunt. There were two very unique needles and I wonder if any of you know what they were used for. The top is brass color and the rest is a metallic blue (they look more silver in the picture). They’re flat and 2 ¾” long.

weird needles

Any ideas??? There was also one odd pin. The head is a large ball, about the size of the yellow head on a quilting pin, and it was hollow with 4 openings where it attached to the shank. The shank is 1 ¼” long. Anyone seen one of these?

weird pin

Thanks in advance for any information you can share.


Autumn is my favorite time of year!

So why would a quilter blog about pumpkin seeds? Because these are truly the best I’ve ever tasted. My son told us about a nearby farm that sells a medium sized pumpkin, orange with green speckles, that has hull-less seeds.

kakai pumpkins

This pumpkin variety is called Kakai. The seeds are fat and green.

Best Pumpkin Seeds Ever

My Sister-in-law gave me a recipe a few years back that requires no washing of the seeds. Her recipe makes crisp and yummy seeds from regular pumpkins, but when combined with the Kakai seeds – DELICIOUS!

pumpkin seeds cooked

Mary Sue’s Pumpkin Seeds

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin into a large bowl (should have enough to make a single layer on a large cookie sheet – the picture above was from all 3 Kakai pumpkins). Pull off as much fiber as you easily can, but do not wash the seeds. In a microwave safe bowl melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in ½ to 1  tablespoon salt (depending on your taste), a dash of garlic powder and a dash of Worchestershire Sauce. Mix together and pour over seeds. Stir until seeds are covered. Spread in a sided cookie sheet and bake at 300º for 1 to 1 ½ hours (until crisp).


Now I’d like to leave you with a few Autumn smiles. Happy October everyone!

Autumn Sommer Sommer leaves Autumn Trey

Trey pumpkin

October 25, 2015, Uncategorized
Creativity Studio

This past week I had the opportunity to stop by Wendy’s Monday quilt-in. Wendy Rieves is my “quilt adventure traveling partner”, co-teacher and all round dear friend. She is the manager of Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, plus she teaches at WCTC, and each Monday she invites any interested quilters to drop in to her Creativity Studio, which she holds at her church, and sew for a while.

Wendy's Creativity Studio

She provides encouragement, help with project problems, and home-made soup and bread  😀 !

Wendy's Creativity Studio

The ladies love it! Many of the quilters who were there are regulars, but she has many others stop by when they have quilting questions, or just want to have a little stitching and socializing time.

I’ve heard about this for years, but never attended until this week. I had a quilting “emergency” and it was Wendy to the rescue! I’ve been working on a challenge quilt for months and have a deadline of November 2nd. I realized that the words I wanted to add to the quilt would work best if cut with one of those new-fangled machines. Wendy has a Brother Scan-n-Cut, so I called Frank’s to ask Wendy about it and place my order. The problem was that it wasn’t going to arrive in time, so she offered to bring hers with her on Monday for me to use.

While the smell of simmering vegetables wafted through the air, I began to learn how to use the Scan n Cut.

Wendy scan n cut

It was amazing. I programmed in the letters I wanted, put iron on fusible on the back of my fabric, attached it to the cutting mat, and fed it into the machine. A few short minutes later I had fusible letters, in just the size and font I wanted! Removing the letters from the mat was a bit tedious

Wendy scan n cut letters

but well worth the effort. By the time I had all 5 pages cut and moved to fabric for transport home,

Wendy scan n cut letters2

lunch was ready and I was invited to stay. It was delicious – and the company was delightful!

You’ll have to wait to see what I’m doing with all those letters. I can’t wait to share this new project with you once it’s done.

If you would like more information about Wendy’s Creativity Studio, you can contact her at:

Thanks to Wendy and her Monday ladies for a fun, yummy, and very productive morning!


Also, here’s another opportunity for those of you living in Southeastern Wisconsin. My quilt guild, Patched Lives in Wales, along with Crazy Quilters in Mukwonago, are hosting Mickey Depre as our speaker and teacher in November. Mickey is a very talented and entertaining quilter and you’re welcome to be a part of this event. Here’s the information:

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 2.39.37 PM

For a picture of the workshop project and the supply list go to:

For more information, or to sign up for the workshop, contact Kathy Frye:

Mickey’s books were recently reviewed on –

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 2.32.52 PM

To read the rest of the article, go to

October 18, 2015, Uncategorized
Elegance in Stitches

Last week I shared pictures of the Milwaukee Art Quilter’s Color Wheel Opposite exhibit at the Madison Quilt Expo. One of the other special exhibits was entitled “Elegance in Stitches” featuring the work of my dear friend Joanie Zeier Poole.

Joanie Poole quilter

Joanie and I have been friends since the late 80’s, when we were both members of the Prairie Heritage Quilt Guild and helped to hang the Sun Prairie Quilt Show together each year.

It’s been a joy to watch Joanie find her place in the quilt world and she has become a machine quilting wonder. Her Heirloom Machine Quilting is beautiful and award winning.

Joanie Poole quilter

Joanie Poole quilter

Joanie Poole quilter

She has written a number of books and teaches many great lectures and workshops.

Joanies fan Joanie Poole quilter

Information for all of the above can be found on her website:

Joanie Poole quilter

She recently also launched her blog where she shares loads of tips and techniques:

Joanies blog pic

If your guild is looking for a knowledgable and engaging speaker/teacher – I highly recommend her!

Congratulations on a wonderful exhibit Joanie!


October 4, 2015, Uncategorized
Decking Out the Nursery

I’ve been doing more sewing than quilting lately. Sommer’s baby brother is due February 26th, and Betsy is in nursery preparation mode. The color scheme she’s chosen is navy blue, kelly green and brown. She asked me to make the curtains …

nursery curtains

bumper pads, and a hanging diaper holder.

nursery diaper holder

I’m continually being amazed by my daughter-in-law’s abilities. She’s a loving wife and mother. She’s done the design work on two of my books. But I never realized what a talented painter she is, until now. Here’s a picture of Sommer with their two doggies, Moseley and Nershi (Sommer is quite an artist herself – and two fisted).

Sommer painting 1-14aAnd these are the pictures Betsy painted recently for the baby’s room:

Nirshy painting Mosely paintingDidn’t she capture them well? The finishing touches on the nursery will be completed this weekend, and I put the final stitches into the baby’s quilt this past week. So, he can come any time now 😀 ! I’ll send pictures once he’s arrived!

Yo Yo update!

I recently received an email and photo from Lorraine about her yo yo project. I just had to share:

“Hi Chris,
A few weeks ago you talked about yo yos on your blog and asked for pictures of our yo yo projects.  Here is my story:

When I bought my first yo yo maker I decided to make a vest.  I spent several evenings making yo yos and after I had a big pile of them I decided I had enough to put the vest together.  I took a vest that fit me well, laid it on the floor and began arranging my pile of yo yos to duplicate the front panels.  My big pile of yo yos did not come close to finishing the front panels!  I had to spend many more evenings making many many more yo yos in order to finish the front panels and then do the back of the vest.  Although it took much longer than I thought and many more yo yos than I anticipated I like the finished project and get lots of compliments when I wear the vest.”

IMG_0084Lorraine, It is lovely! Thanks for sharing!


February 8, 2015, Uncategorized
Barn Quilts – When You Don’t Have a Barn!

Happy December! Let’s kick it off with a very unique December Barn Block  🙂 !

Mickey Miller was in a recent Mariner’s Compass workshop. She sent me an email after the class and here’s what she said:

“Thank you again for teaching the class yesterday, I had a great time learning. I didn’t finish my quilt block but I did use your compass method for my December barn board. Earlier this year I asked my husband to make me a small barn out of plywood. Each month I paint a new block for the barn. I am very excited with my December block.”

This picture shows Mickey’s innovative “barn”:

Mickeys barn

Here’s her painted December block:

Mickeys December barn blockAnd here it is hanging in all it’s December glory:

Mickey Miller compass barn quilt

Thanks so much for sharing your “barn” and blocks with us, Mickey!

Obviously these pictures were taken a few weeks ago, because we are now covered with a blanket of early snow. So, I’d like to close with a December picture of my barn block.

Winter barn blockHope you’re warm and finding lots of time to quilt those Christmas projects. I so love this time of year!


November 30, 2014, Uncategorized
Virtual Quilt Show – A Danish/American Challenge

Often I share things in my blog posts that pertain to places and events in southeastern, Wisconsin. I’m well aware that many of you live in other States. While putting together this week’s post about our Baltic cruise challenge, it occurred to me to mention that both of our upcoming Sew We Go adventures are currently priced without airfare. Our travel planner, Kristi, will work with each traveler to find them the best airfare possible and… since we’re not doing a “group flight”, she can help you arrange for flights from wherever you live!!!

(click here for Sisters, Oregon, July 8-13, or here for Europe October 9-19).

And now the quilts!

While on our wonderful cruise of the Baltic Sea, Wendy and I passed out “fat eighths” of a lovely blue/green batik, and asked our travelers, as well as the quilters we met at Kirstin’s Quilt in Roskilde, Denmark, to make something with it.

These were the “rules”:

Danish - American Quilt Challenge

And these were the fabrics:

Danish American Challenge fabric

The shop owner in Roskilde, our hostess Kirsten, designed a placemat pattern for our group – and even translated it into English for us. It was a very thoughtful gift:

Kirsten's pattern


Thanks to everyone who participated.

Here is our Virtual Quilt Show!


Mary Beth Weeks SWG placemats

by Mary Beth Weeks – “Attached is the project I made using the fabric you passed out to us on our (great!) Baltic cruise in May. I also included a very similar piece of fabric that I already had. I’m sure you recognize the place mat pattern as the one Kirsten gave us. I had only enough fabric to make two sets but my husband and I are using them now and enjoy the bright spots on our table.”

by Louise Sundquist - "I made four placemats using the challenge fabric and three other fabrics I purchased in Kirsten's shop."

by Louise Sundquist – “I made four placemats using Kirsten’s pattern, the challenge fabric, and three other fabrics I purchased in Kirsten’s shop.”

Ilse Jessen-Denmark

by Ilse Jessen – “I have always wanted to try this block. Now I had a chance to do it. Looking forward to seeing the other quilting items.”

by Eileen Diercks - "From the Danish/American challenge fabric I made a zippered pouch for my Kindle and its charging cord.   I used some of the “fancy” stitches on my machine, using a variegated green, blue and yellow thread which I had on hand, for the quilting.  For the lining I used a lime green batik fabric which I had in my stash, and the green zipper was also from my sewing supplies.  So it did not cost me anything extra for this handy pouch. Thanks for the challenge."

by Eileen Diercks – “From the Danish/American challenge fabric I made a zippered pouch for my Kindle and its charging cord. I used some of the “fancy” stitches on my machine, using a variegated green, blue and yellow thread which I had on hand, for the quilting. For the lining I used a lime green batik fabric which I had in my stash, and the green zipper was also from my sewing supplies. So it did not cost me anything extra for this handy pouch. Thanks for the challenge.”

Rostock, Germany

Nancy Hansen challenge piece

by Nancy Hansen – “The first photo is a border detail at Rostock Cathedral. The second is my attempt to replicate it.”

Margie Abbott Umbrellas

by Margie Abbott – “I just finished my challenge quilt. It is 46″x55”. It’s called “Dancing Umbrella” and was designed by Edyta Sitar. I used a brown batik in all but four of the blocks, where I used the blue challenge fabric to showcase the blue fabric. I enjoyed participating in this challenge and am anxious to see all the other entrants’ works of art.”

by Christina Yun - "Attached is a picture of my fabric challenge.  I used the challenge fabric for the top and the bottom of my smock cushion.  And, the remainder of the fabric I used as a ribbon for the doll's hair.  I had a lot of fun doing this challenge."

by Christina Yun – “Attached is a picture of my fabric challenge. I used the challenge fabric for the top and the bottom of my smock cushion. And, the remainder of the fabric I used as a ribbon for the doll’s hair. I had a lot of fun doing this challenge.”

by Karen Moore - A photo/Map memory quilt (note the addition of the pins she collected along the way)

by Karen Moore – A photo/map memory quilt (note the addition of the pins she collected along the way)

by Pam Merklein - "I used the fabric you gave us for the top portion of my “Oak Park Bag” and for the tabs and loop. The button was purchased in Tallinn, Estonia. I had a charm pack at home that provided the squares and the balance of the fabric was left from a senior HS gift quilt for my grandson. I look forward to using it and being reminded of our wonderful trip."

by Pam Merklein – “I used the fabric you gave us for the top portion of my “Oak Park Bag” and for the tabs and loop. The button was purchased in Tallinn, Estonia. I had a charm pack at home that provided the squares and the balance of the fabric was left from a senior HS gift quilt for my grandson. I look forward to using it and being reminded of our wonderful trip.”

Had a lot of fun making this table topper.   Have fond memories of the cruise. Thanks,  Jan Arndt

by Jan Arndt – “Had a lot of fun making this table topper. Have fond memories of the cruise.”

by Lisa Giesfeldt - Lisa made this small purse and said she "even used the ribbon that was wrapped around the fabric.  It's my zipper pull. The color worked with my batik choices."

by Lisa Giesfeldt – Lisa made this purse and said she “even used the ribbon that was wrapped around the fabric. It’s my zipper pull. The color worked with my batik choices.”

by Chris Kirsch - "I also made a tote. The fabric was mixed with many others is a tote pattern designed by a mutual friend, Kathy Frye. I used Wendy’s faux batik method to create the words “Sew We Go” for the front pocket of the bag."

by Chris Kirsch – “I also made a tote. The fabric was mixed with many others in a tote pattern designed by a mutual friend, Kathy Frye. I used Wendy’s faux batik method to create the words “Sew We Go” for the front pocket of the bag.”

"I also used the batik technique to put our logo on the pocket on the back of the bag. Kathy’s pattern is meant for a travel bag and this pocket has Velcro at the bottom, so the bag can be placed over the handle of a wheeled suitcase!"

“I used the batik technique once again, to put our logo on the pocket on the back of the bag. Kathy’s pattern is meant for a travel bag and this pocket has Velcro at the bottom, so the bag can be placed over the handle of a wheeled suitcase!”

And one more “non-challenge” picture! While in Helsinki we were treated to a visit to Marimekko Fabric. Nancy Hansen found a beautiful polished cotton and made it into a lovely jacket. She wore it to Patched Lives Quilt Guild this past month and it was stunning. She was kind enough to pose for a picture:

Nancy Hansen's jacketThanks Nancy!


November 23, 2014, Uncategorized
Quilts on the Ceiling?

I’d like to begin with an apology to Cindy Gillingham. Last week I shared pictures of 2 beautiful silk landscape quilts made by Cindy, but I mistakenly changed her name to Sue. I’m so sorry Cindy. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful quilts.


Just when you think you’ve heard it all – someone proves you wrong. While packing up my car after a workshop in Janesville recently, I got into an interesting conversation. I was asking Pat Burtness about her quilted jacket and found it was her own creation.

pats jacket

While I admired it, she asked me if I’d like to see the headliner of her SUV. She and her husband had covered the old, drooping headliner with a beautiful pre-quilted fabric!

Pats headliner

even the visors were covered (she had to un-quilt the fabric to make it work)

pats visor

My car’s only a year old and the headliner is fine, but this idea just tickles me, and has me dreaming…. thanks for sharing Pat. What a creative and talented lady you are 😀 !


Class Update

Friday, December 5th, I’ll be teaching a 5 hour workshop at WCTC called “Woven Star Stocking”. The stars are literally made from fabric tubes which are woven together (they’re not pieced!).

304-621K Woven Star Stocking

I got to thinking that this is a technique that’s fun to learn, and the strip of stars would be delightful in a placemat too. I haven’t actually stitched one yet, but here’s a virtual version I created in photoshop:

woven star placematThere’s still room in the class, and both the placemat and the Christmas Stocking instructions will be included. To sign up, please go to:

*****************************Dark Side quilt lecture

And one last bit of information to share. Tomorrow, Monday, November 17th at 7pm, I’ll be presenting my lecture entitled “Gone to the Dark Side” for the Community League of Menomonee Falls (for a lecture description click here).

The address is W152 N8645 Margaret Drive, and guests are welcome!

November 16, 2014, Uncategorized
Biscuits Anyone?

Louise is a student in my Open Lab class at WCTC. She recently began making a biscuit quilt. I’d seen pictures of this style of quilt, but had never seen one “in the cloth”. It was fun to watch Louise’s progress.

Louise and biscuit quilt

She began with a cute, flannel teddy bear print, and cut out 4 1/2″ squares – fussy cutting each one so a bear was centered in it. She also cut some solid blue flannel squares this size, to create a pattern in the quilt. The backing squares were cut at 3 1/2″. I wasn’t quick enough to think to get pictures of Louise making biscuits, so I tried my own. Here are the supplies for one biscuit:

biscuit quilt

To make each biscuit she would pin the corners of a teddy bear square to the corners of a backing square, wrong sides together:

biscuit quilt

pleat each side, pin the pleats to three sides of the backing square:

biscuit quilt


and sew with a 1/4″ seam along the three sides:

biscuit quilt

She would then stuff a clump of fiber fill into the biscuit:

biscuit quilt

and machine stitch the fourth side closed:

biscuit quilt

She really got into a rhythm and we were amazed at how quickly she had made enough for her crib sized quilt (I now have my first biscuit made, and am on my way to my own biscuit quilt 😀 ).

Next, Louise sewed the biscuits together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, placing the blue biscuits in a pattern among the bears.

Louise biscuit quilt detail

Once the top was made, borders were added, and this past week she layered it with a pretty backing fabric and a thin layer of batt to give the whole project a bit of stability.

Louise biscuit quilt edgeMy picture of the entire piece didn’t turn out too clear, but it gives you a feel for the finished design.

Louise biscuit quilt entire

The quilt layers are pinned together and Louise is now tying  the layers together at each biscuit intersection with blue pearl cotton. She’ll do a bit of tying in the borders, and finish the edge with a binding.What a lucky baby!

Have you made a biscuit quilt? We’d love to hear your stories!


November 2, 2014, Uncategorized
A Little of This, A Little of That, and Chocolate

There have been a number of things this past week I’ve wanted to share – so I’m putting them all together into one post.

Mini Topic #1: Floss Frenzy Challenge Update

The response to last week’s challenge was great and many skeins have been sent off to quite a few different States. I still have plenty left, so if you’re still inclined, please email your snail mail address to:

Mini Topic #2: Quilts, Bees and Honey – But What Does That Have to Do With Chocolate?

Things associated with bees and honey have inspired quilts for years. There are patterns named “honeycomb”, “honey bee”, and “honey bee in the garden”. I’d like to share two of my bee related quilts. The first one is a placemat I made for a challenge when I belonged to a group called the Quilty Bees. Our leader was my friend Evelyn (of Quilt Sissy fame 😉 ). She has a thing for bees and even wore a bee costume in one of her quilt lectures. Here’s our Queen Bee (I hope these make you smile – thanks for the pics, Evelyn):

Evelyn bee 2 Evelyn bee

And here’s the placemat (complete with a pocket for silverware):

quilted bee fabric placemat

In the next quilt I used honeybees as part of the quilting design:

sewing bear quilt

I even have a vintage quilt from my husband’s family that is made in the grandmother’s flower garden pattern, which is also called the honeycomb:

vintage grandmother's flower garden quilt

I’ve been thinking about honey and bees lately because Mike, Sommer and I just made a trip to a delightful place called Honey Acres.

Honey Acres

Honey Acres is just north of Ashippin, Wisconsin on Hwy 67 (not far from Oconomowoc). They have a “Honey of a Museum” there, and it’s a great place to take kids. But, my favorite reason for going there is because they’ve recently gotten into the gourmet candy business, and their dark chocolate mints are fantastic. Since many quilters like chocolate too – I couldn’t resist sharing this information.

honey candy bag

These incredible candies have only three ingredients:

honey candy ing

No processed sugar, no gluten, and they’re delicious!!! If you’re a fan of dark chocolate, I highly recommend you give them a try. You can order them from the Honey Acres website:

Mini Topic #3: Inspired By Libby Auction

As many of you know, quilt teacher, artist, and judge Libby Lehman suffered a stroke in late April of 2013. A new video is up on the web containing pictures of 34 quilts made by many of Libby’s friends and fellow teachers. These pieces are being auctioned off to help cover the medical expenses for Libby’s care. They will be exhibited in both Houston and Paducah. To see the quilts and get in on the bidding, go to:

Mini Topic #4: Steam-A-Seam is Back, but …

I posted a few weeks ago about the Warm Company making an official Steam-a-Seam production update. I was very excited that it would be available soon. Well, they just announced that “Steam-a-Seam 2” is back.


I must admit, I’m very disappointed  🙁 . You see, I use this product to adhere sheer fabrics to my art quilts. Of the 4 original types of Steam-A-Seam, Lite without the “2” was my favorite, because it was pressure “sticky” on only one side and that allowed it to work great with sheers. Any time there is an adhesive that sticks without having to be heated, it tends to gum up the needle while quilting. When there are two layers of this type of adhesive, it gums up the needle twice as fast – ugh! I know that I can wipe off the needle with alcohol on a cotton ball, but that’s a pain.

So, the company has decided to only make Steam-A-Seam 2 and Lite Steam-A-Seam 2. I was so disappointed that I called the Warm Company and politely requested they put Lite Steam-A-Seam (sans the 2) back into production also. If you agree, you may want to give them a call at the number in their ad above  😀 .

I hope you found something of interest in this week’s post.

October 19, 2014, Uncategorized
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!

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.


August 10, 2014, Uncategorized
A Student’s Quilts

After a wonderful trip to Philadelphia (to watch the fireworks on the Delaware River with a group of my cousins!), Mike and I returned home with enough time for me to get a good night’s sleep, repack and head up to Door County for a teaching engagement with a lovely guild named the Trillium Quilters. A bunch of us had a lot of fun on Thursday playing with color, fabric and design in my “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art” class. Whenever I teach this workshop I invite students to send me pictures of the projects they create with the techniques.

A few month’s ago I taught this same class for a guild in Iowa City. One of the quilters emailed me afterwards – with pictures!!! What a joy for me as a teacher :-). Here’s what she said:

“Chris, I’m Karen Miller (aka Anastasia) from your workshop at the Old Capital Quilter’s guild in Iowa City.  I have been playing with the parallelism technique you taught us.  I have been having so much fun with it.  Several years ago at one of my small quilt groups we played with the paint sticks and stamping on black fabrics.  I had three pieces when I finished.  I brought them home and laid them on a piece of rust batik that I had.  I liked the combination but couldn’t figure out what to do with them.  After I had your class I decided I was going to use those black painted fabrics using your technique.  What fun!!!!
I am sending you pictures.  I have added teal batik and some black and tan strip fabric from my stash.  I also did beading, but it doesn’t show up very well in the picture.  I will find a place in my home to hang these.  The tape on the finger worked really well when I was doing the beading.  The first and the third pictures are my favorite.  I am anxious to show them at the next guild meeting.
Thanks again for coming to Iowa City.  Karen”
And here’s the photos she sent to me:

Karen-FA1 Karen-FA2 Karen-FA3What a great way for Karen to use the surface design fabric she had created with Paint Stiks! Over the years I’ve played with a number of different techniques to add surface design to fabric. They haven’t always turned out great, but I kept them – of course. maybe I just need to cut them up and use them in something new. Perhaps it’s time for me to dig into that pile of opportunities and play!

Do you have a pile of your own surface design fabrics that are calling to you right now?

July 13, 2014, Design Uncategorized
Quilt Magazine Fun!

Just a bit of inspiration, before I share the “topic of the week”:

A friend recently sent me a link to a web site which features “satellite photos from Digital Globes in an attempt to change the way we see our planet Earth” These pictures are truly amazing and I saw quilt inspirations everywhere. Here’s just one.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.03.46 AM

I highly recommend visiting the site:

Now for more “Quilters in Denmark” excitement:

We just received information on this article which will appear in Kludemagasinet, the quarterly publication of the Dansk Patchwork Forening (guild).   []  The issue (#3) is not yet available for sale on the website but here is the article on our visit, written by shop owner, Kirsten Ekdahl.

 Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 9.14.50 PM


Google translate offers this rough translation:

Letters from Readers

American Quilters By Kirsten Ekdahl, Kirstens Quilt 

Most quilters would like to visit the shops and meet other quilters when they are traveling. This applies when Danish quilters are traveling, but it is certainly also true of quilters who visit Denmark.   

On May 18, 2014, 48 U.S. quilters (including a few spouses) traveled to Denmark to participate in a Baltic cruise.  To start the trip, they wanted to meet some local quilters. This brought them to stop by Kirstens Quilt in Hedehusene, who arranged a delicious 3-course meal and socializing with Danish quilters. Charlotte Bergstrom was invited to show some of her amazing textile images, which were very much admired. Although guests were tired after a long flight and a tour that morning, the group enjoyed lively conversation and exchanged lots of experiences and opinions – both patchwork and quilt, but also about much else. 

As a special gesture, the group brought gifts – and a challenge – To all Danes. We offer’ fat eights’ (approx. 22 x 55 cm) with a call to sew something with the fabric and send pictures to Chris Lynn Kirsch. Thereafter, they will be posted online in a small gallery together with the creations of the Americans. All in all a great day for everyone, who went home with lots of inspiration.  


So, the fun of our Baltic adventure continues! What a blessing!

Wendy and I did pass out fat 1/8ths of fabric to the Danish quilters and those in our group. Everyone was asked to make some quilted item of their choosing with it and send me a photograph by October. These projects should be quite interesting and I’ll post a link on this blog to the photographs when it’s done.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

My most recent quilting creation was made from the autograph blocks we exchanged on the trip, and flag blocks of the countries we visited. The predomanent colors are red, white and blue, so I couldn’t resist leaving you with this photograph of my latest “patriotic” quilt (When I put a centerpiece over the flags, it really does look perfect for Independence Day :-).

autograph runner

July 5, 2014, Travel Uncategorized
Painted Quilts

A while back I did a post about the painted barn quilt I ordered to hang on our shed (click here to read about it). barn quilt My dear husband had encouraged me to paint it, but I was more than happy to purchase it from someone who was good at painting. “Give me a sewing machine, not a paint brush” was my motto. Well, not any more.

I live a few miles south of Watertown, WI. Watertown is a small city that lies midway between Milwaukee and Madison. We’ve lived here for 10 years and find it to be a friendly community with a lot of charm.

The Watertown Arts Council “was founded in 1964, and their purpose is to foster and encourage, coordinate, establish, and publish the performance and exhibition of the creative arts in Watertown, and to encourage, develop, strengthen and enrich the cultural life of the area; to further develop a general interest in the natural beauty of the city and to promote an interest in cultural landmarks and work for the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and natural beauty.” One of their projects has been to paint murals on our downtown buildings: Welcome to Watertown That being said, last year they put together a program where they made banners available to anyone interested, asking them to paint both sides for display on Main Street during the Summer. They were great! Some were made by individual artists, a number were made by groups of kids in the elementary schools, there was a lot of variety.

This year they chose to do it again and Kay, one of the members of our small fiber art group, decided we should make a group banner. She got the idea one week before the deadline – and we all said yes! We met for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon, brainstormed a different design for each side and started doing some painting (I was amazed at how quickly and well this came together – it’s a great group!). During the next week, three of the members took turns doing the rest of the painting – and we got it done before the deadline! The banners were coated for the weather and then hung on lampposts up and down Main Street.

Here are a few of my favorites. fish banner copy This one was made by the students at Douglas Elementary School: kids banner cow banner And then there is ours – side #1: 2014 banner2and side #2: 2014 banner1 I actually had the privilege of painting a portion of the Mariner’s Compass side and I discovered that painting a quilt is actually fun … and it goes faster than sewing it. Fiberistas 2014 banner 2I’m quite sure I won’t give up my Baby Lok for a paint brush, but I recommend stepping out of the box every once in a while.

If you’re looking for a nice driving destination, please come and visit our town. On Main Street alone we have family run shoe and furniture stores, two ice cream places (Mullen’s is my favorite), an old fashioned theater where first run movies are $4, and there are many other nice shops and restaurants throughout Watertown.

There are also some nice quilt shops out our way. If you’re coming from Milwaukee, you’ll definitely want to stop at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. Their fabric department is actually a large, high quality quilt shop. Plus their craft supplies and gift items are spectacular. Their website is:

After spending some time in Watertown, it’s a short drive south on Hwy 26 to Jefferson, where you’ll find a shop called Tea and Textiles at the corner of Hwy 26 and Hwy 18. Barbara has a great selection of fabrics and you’re always welcome to a cup of tea. For more information go to:

If you’d rather head north a ways, J & A Stitches, near Juneau is a very unique quilt shop. Take Hwy 26 north and then head west on Hwy 60 a short ways to Welsh Road. You’ll probably have to wait for the geese and peacocks to clear the drive before you can make it up to the farm house/quilt shop. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the adventure. You can find them on the web at:

June 29, 2014, Uncategorized
Sew We Are – in the Baltics


I will not be blogging for the rest of May because Wendy Rieves and I are on our most recent Sew We Go Adventure – leading a quilting cruise on the Baltic Sea. It promises to be a great adventure and I’m sure I’ll have lots of fun, quilty news to share when we return. Thanks for stopping by!

May 16, 2014, Uncategorized
The Queen of Quilting

I learned to quilt while living in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and I was blessed to immediately become a part of a group called the Prairie Heritage Quilters. This group puts on a quilt show in Sun Prairie every Spring and it has the distinction of being the longest running show, headed by the same person for 40 years! The leader of this group of quilt lovers is Klaudeen Hansen, and I’m very pleased to be able to say she’s a friend of mine.Prairie Heritage Quilters 40th AnniversaryAt this year’s show there was a special room filled with memorabilia from the past 40 quilt shows. It was in this room that we had a photograph taken of the current Prairie Heritage Quilters group. A Madison area art quilter, Marlene, made the crown Kaudeen is wearing, and dubbed her the Queen of Quilting.

queen of quilting

Klaudeen has been a positive influence in my quilting career and I thought it would be a good idea to do a tribute to her as this week’s blog post.

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 3.05.02 PM

Klaudeen started teaching sewing for Madison Area Technical College in the early 70’s. Somehow that transitioned into teaching quilting for them as well. We’re quite sure she was the first quilting teacher MATC had.

The Prairie Heritage Quilt Show started basically as a show and tell display in 1974, so all of her students could see what the others were creating.  The first year or two this was held at St. Chad’s church.  It moved to St Albert’s as it grew and was held in the lower level. The first contest was in 1977 and it had 66 entries. The show moved upstairs and included vendors in 1979. This is a picture of some of the original members in their quilt aprons at a show in the early 80’s (Klaudeen is on the right).


The show has always been on a Monday, and then it grew to add Tuesday (they couldn’t start on Sunday because the show was held in the sanctuary of the church and thus, the quilts were hung on Sunday afternoon). These are unusual days of the week for a quilt show, but it’s worked well in Sun Prairie. Our group would have to move out all the chairs (assisted by some husbands, sons and brothers) and move in the quilt racks. Then the hanging of the quilts would begin.

Over the years the show has become very popular. There was a time 11 tour buses brought quilters to the show in one day! and … one year a TV show called PM Magazine (like a local entertainment tonight) filmed their show from our show! Quilted ribbon toppers were first created by Arlene Statz in 1983, and were hand quilted by her! We believe we were the first show to ever make them, if not the first anywhere, definitely the first in our area.

I joined the group in the late 80’s and this photograph was the first one I have of the group (I’m bottom row center, next to Klaudeen).

Klaudeen Im a PHQ

In going through my photos, I came across a quilt I entered in the show in the early 90’s, called “The Sidewalks of Sun Prairie”. It was the first quilt I made using my Repliqué technique and it won 2 of Arlene’s ribbons! A First in wallhangings, and a special Originality ribbon too.


Klaudeen (and the Prairie Heritage Quilters) have also been a big part of the American Quilters Society’s history (AQS). She met Bill and Meredith Schroeder in Bell Buckle, Tennessee at the National Quilting Association Show, over 30 years ago. The Schroeders owned a publishing company that published Collector Books. They decided quilting was an up and coming past-time and wanted to put on a show, but weren’t sure how to go about it.  They were introduced to Klaudeen and she helped write the rules for the AQS show. She also hand typed the show book for them for years! Quilts were entered by slides, full size and detail, those were logged by Klaudeen to be sure they were entered in the right category, etc.. Then two slide projectors were set up side by side, in Sun Prairie, to view the quilt entries. Klaudeen and the Prairie Heritage Quilters juried the AQS show for the first several years. They also made the Viewer’s choice boxes (still in use at the Paducah show) and hung the quilts at the AQS show as well (we still help with the hanging of the show every year).

Klaudeen ribbon topper

The dogwood ribbon toppers for the AQS show have been hand made by the Prairie Heritage Quilters all these years. Klaudeen’s daughter Janell is an active part of the PHQ and was the ribbon maker one year. She, along with Jean Sessions (one of the original members and our unofficial historian), shared information and pictures for this post with me. The above topper was made by Jean. Judging of the AQS show was Klaudeen’s responsibility. She does not judge the show in Paducah, but is the one to convey the expectations to the judging staff.

Klaudeen is also the editor of the AQS Quilt Art Engagement Calendar. These wonderful desk style calendars have a beautiful quilt featured next to each week of the year, and – each year at the Paducah show an Autograph party is held at which many of the quilt makers are invited to attend so that purchasers of the calendars can have the pages autographed. It’s a fun, free event to attend at the show!

Klaudeen calendar

Klaudeen continues to work every AQS show, along with her husband Merv, and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all! Besides her work on the various shows, she is a teacher, lecturer and quilt judge. If your group is looking for a speaker with a wealth of experience and a delightful enthusiasm for our craft, I can garauntee you’ll enjoy Klaudeen. You may contact her at: Klaudeen Hansen, PO Box 253 Sun Prairie, WI 53590;  608-837-2298


May 4, 2014, Uncategorized
I Spy – a Beginning

Well, this past week just flew by – and it was a wonderful Quilt Week in Paducah! The quilts and vendors were very inspiring, the weather couldn’t have been better, and Wendy, Emily, Katherine and I even got to catch up with Quilt Man at the Grace church luncheon on Friday (his sidekick “Bobbin”missed it because he has a day job :-).

Quiltman in PaducahLater that day I came upon the Statue of Quilterly (my name, didn’t know what else to call her) posing near the gazebo on Broadway … only in Paducah!!!

Statue of QuilterlyHere are some non-documented, but interesting statistics we heard from a dear man in a van who gave us a ride to the Convention Center one morning. The city of Paducah has a population of about 26,000 and around 40,000 quilters descend upon the city for 1 week!

There is so much to do! Besides the AQS show, classes, and vendors, there are many lovely antique and specialty stores downtown, and almost all of the empty storefronts fill up with vendors. There is an antique quilt display and more vendors at the Rotary club every year.

This year we also did an evening stroll, called Parlors and Porches, that wound through the Lower Town area.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 3.00.22 PM

A number of years ago Paducah came up with an artist relocation program where the old, deteriorating homes in the downtown area were sold, at a great discount, to artists who would then renovate them and move their studios there.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 2.58.01 PM

Caryl Bryer Fallert was one of the artists who relocated there (although she built a new home/studio in the area).

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On Friday night we purchased a wristband and then were treated to tours of studios and some of these renovated homes. It was great fun. Some were so lovely, some extravagant and one oddly fascinating.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 2.58.26 PM

We ended the evening with “Bubble Tea” at Etcetera.

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I highly recommend you experience a Lower Town tour for yourself during next year’s show!

And finally, here’s the “I Spy” portion of this week’s post:

Last week I shared a picture of the kitchen studio Wendy and I set up in our Paducah abode. We actually did do quite a bit of stitching during Quilt Week. This year I brought along the components for two “I Spy” quilts that I’m making for my older grandchildren. Prior to the trip I collected 6 inch “I Spy” squares. Then I cut enough backing and batting squares for two twin sized quilts. Here are some 6″ squares for Hanna’s blocks (white batt, various “I Spy” prints and flannel squares in yellow and “Hello Kitty”, which will alternate on the back of the quilt):

I Spy beginningsWhile in Kentucky, I layered and quilted all of Willy’s squares (the back of his quilt is flannel too, and will alternate between blue and “Spiderman”)


I got over 3/4’s of Hanna’s squares quilted also


I hope you can see that Willy’s are quilted with a free motion “W” and Hanna’s with an “H”.


Now it’s time to do some unpacking. Then I’ll finish Hanna’s squares and hopefully get started on putting both quilts together using Sharon Pederson’s “Reversible Quilts” technique.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.18.58 PM

I’ll keep you posted as things progress.


April 27, 2014, Uncategorized
Happy Easter From Paducah!

The AQS quilt show is this week and the quilts will be hung on Monday. So, Wendy and I decided to drive down yesterday (Saturday) and spend Easter Sunday together! The drive was sunny and pleasant, and it was such a joy to see the trees leafing out part way through Illinois. As usual we looked forward to going over the “Flying Geese” bridge that spans the Ohio river just before we arrived in Paducah.

Paducah-14-fg-bridgeWe stay downtown in a B&B that takes up the entire second floor above a Mexican restaurant. So, the first order of business was to haul all of our stuff up the very steep staircase.

Paducah-14-stairsAt that point we needed a break and decided to take a walk by the river (stopping briefly to take a picture)

Paducah-14-friendsThat done, we couldn’t put off the “studio set up” any longer.


Paducah-14-studio2Then it was time for a dinner of Fajitas downstairs and a bit of stitching before heading to bed.

This morning we attended a joyful Resurrection Sunday service at the church which hosted part of the quilt show during the year of the flood. What a blessing.

While driving we were overwhelmed with the beauty of all the blooming things.

Paducah-14-bloomingThe dogwoods are at peak and the prettiest we’ve seen them in years.

Paducah-14-dogwood-2This afternoon we did something very unusual for us on Easter. We went to a play. Our place is right across the street from the Market Street Theater and they were performing a matinee of Steel Magnolias. It was very nice and the walk home was short (this is the front of the theater and the arrow in the tree is pointing at the windows of our abode :-).

Paducah-14--theaterTomorrow we’ll help to hang the quilts and then the excitement of quilt week in Paducah begins.

Just a little aside. Wendy’s birthday always falls during quilt week. This time it is the day we’re heading home. Prior to the trip I was trying to come up with something special to do for my dear traveling friend – then the idea hit. We not only do Paducah together every year, but we lead tours in the US and Europe together under the name “Sew We Go”. So, as a remembrance of our journeys together, I made her a “Sew We Go” pillowcase.

Paducah-14-pillowcase-stripsComplete with project fabrics from some of our previous adventures.


It was a joy to make and I hope Wendy enjoys many good nights resting her head on it!

Happy Easter, one and all! And may the weather be warm and sunny, wherever you are!









April 20, 2014, Uncategorized
Dangles that Tangle

It seems every so often I just have to share a post about jewelry. I came up with a unique way to store dangly earrings and I hope you find this helpful (or at least interesting). I enjoy wearing artsy earrings, but there’s a problem:  most artsy earrings dangle and when stored – dangles tangle!

While untangling one morning I got to thinking that the inside of the vanity door beneath my sink could be put to use. I went out and bought a couple packs of cup hooks and then smiled sweetly at Mike. He fell for it and headed to the shed to get his drill. About 10 minutes later my problem was solved!

hanging dangly earringsIt works great! They’re right where I want them when I’m getting ready and they’re not at all in the way!

dangles-2The best part is, there’s plenty of room for more cup hooks :-)!

Do you have any clever ways you store your jewelry?

Oh, here’s one more quick pic – the charity quilt I was having free motion fun with in the last few posts!




April 13, 2014, Uncategorized
Snipping Bobbin Threads on Top

Have you ever been quilting a large quilt on your domestic machine and needed to cut the bobbin thread? Climbing beneath the mass of quilt can be a miserable act of contortionism. Here’s a simple way to cut the bottom thread from the top!

1. Sew a number of tiny stitches close together and stop:

cutting bobbin threads on top2. Raise the needle, and pull the quilt away so you can grab the top thread:

free-motion-fun-snip23. While holding that thread, place the needle back in the same hole (close is good enough):

free-motion-fun-snip34. Raise the needle again, then tug on the thread you’re holding. You may need to grab the thread above the eye of the needle with your other hand and tug on both threads. The bobbin thread should pull to the top:

cutting the bobbin thread on top5. Pull the quilt away from under the needle while holding onto the threads. Continue to tug on the threads until about a 1″ loop of bobbin thread comes to the top.

free-motion-fun-snip56. Cut all 3 threads that are coming out of the hole (the top thread and both ends of the bobbin loop.

free-motion-fun-snip67. The top thread will now be cut even with the quilt top, and the bobbin thread is now severed, with no tail on the back. Here’s a picture of the loop of bobbin thread cut off:

free-motion-fun-snip7It really works! Try it, you’ll like it!

This week I’d like to share a second topic. I hope you’ll enjoy:

Quilting With Kids Revisited

This past week, my nephew’s 7 year old daughter, Lily, came for an overnight visit because she wanted to learn to quilt. She had seen the quilts her cousin Hanna had made and wanted to make a quilt too (click here to read about my granddaughter, Hanna’s, quilting adventures).

Right after a breakfast of Uncle Mike’s waffles, we had to head to the studio (she didn’t even want to change out of her jammies). Lily is very bright … but she’s always moving, so I thought this might be a bit of a challenge (here’s a typical shot of her :-)):


She did great! I had her pick out 12 charm squares from my box of 6″ squares, in order to make a doll quilt. She arranged them in a 3 x 4 set and the sewing began. She listened well and was very careful.

kids quilting

Once the top was pieced, she chose a piece of flannel for the back, layered it with batting, pinned all around, and sewed – leaving an opening for turning.

kids quilting

She then poked out the corners.


And quilted 1/2″ away from the outer edge and with an “X” through the middle. She sewed every stitch herself!

kids quiltingThen she wrapped a dolly in it and said “can we make another one?”

Lily-with-dollBy this time Aunt Chris decided we all needed to take a walk in the woods :-)! It’s so much fun to share your passion with the younger generation!




April 6, 2014, Uncategorized
And the Winner is…

ME! Last Fall, while teaching at Quilt Fest in Oconomowoc, WI, I purchased raffle tickets from the Oconomowoc Quilters Guild for their first ever raffle quilt. In January I got a voicemail saying “you’re the winner of our raffle quilt”. On the message Hilda, the guild president, held out the phone to the group and everyone was yelling “yea” and “hooray”. I wish I could have answered in person :-). I called Hilda back and we arranged for me to pick my prize up at the February meeting – which ended up being cancelled due to freezing rain :-(. This past week there was no snow or ice, and I had the wonderful privilege of accepting my quilt in person from all these dear ladies. I copied this off of their website:

Oconomowoc raffle quilt

It’s gorgeous! Many members pieced the blocks, appliqued the borders and worked on finishing this beautiful quilt. It was machine quilted by Dawn Thurow with lovely swirls and feathers. I am so grateful to each of these dear quilters and amazed that I won!!!

I took it home and immediately snuggled up with Sommer under my rainbow of stars.


Have you ever won a raffle quilt?


March 23, 2014, Uncategorized
On the Road Again… and Again… and Again!

In the past 8 days I’ve taught in 3 states and packed and unpacked suitcases 3 times! I’ve met so many wonderful quilters and my quilts have enjoyed getting out and being seen. I’m so blessed to be able to do what I love and have the energy to do it :-)!

In Princeton, IL I presented my lecture: “Journey With a Compass” and the following day they chose the Mariner’s Compass workshop. We found a large, oval platter in the church kitchen where the workshop was held and these 4 talented quilters really made great progress towards getting them done.

Mariner's Compass class Kate did it all with her hand in a cast (I was impressed)!

Mariner's Compass class

From there I stopped home for a day to regroup and then traveled to Iowa City for a Threads Untangled lecture and a Parallelisms workshop. What a friendly and fun group. The fiber art created in class was delightful, but I was remiss and totally forgot to take a few pictures :-(.

I then returned home for 2 days to pack up for the Fox Valley Technical College – Sewing and Quilting Expo in Oshkosh, WI. I taught an all day Free Motion workshop on Friday, and on Saturday I did 5 lectures in 8 hours – Whew!

quilt lectures

The toughest part was packing 7 bags and loading them in the car. I’m so glad I have an SUV that can hold it all.



The students were interested, and interesting, and there was so much information to share and many beautiful quilts to see. It really was great fun, and I slept very well last night :-).

One of the interesting things I learned was in the evening lecture with Karen Kay Buckley. She highly recommends serrated scissors for cutting out fabric. They enable you to cut through many layers without having things slip around. She has them available on her website: Her quilts are wonderful (you’ve probably seen them on the cover of a magazine or two), so do spend a little extra time checking out the gallery section of her site.

Thanks to everyone who made this past week so enjoyable!

Did you attend the Expo? Did you learn anything you’d like to share?



March 16, 2014, Uncategorized
Snow Dyeing 2014

A few years ago I had a dyeing adventure which I shared on the blog. It began with a baby shower for my daughter-in-law. We tie dyed onesies and diapers/burp cloths, and I ended up doing a bit of snow dyeing. To read those blogs click here and here :-).

At our Fiberistas meeting last week, our group of Watertown fiber artists decided to try our hand at snow dyeing (we certainly have enough snow around here!). We did it simply, and used a Tie Dye kit from JoAnn’s. Mike was kind enough to clear a space for us in his heated shed. We just had a bit of warm weather, followed by freezing rain and a dip back into bitter cold, so the snow was crusty and hard. Mike to the rescue! He dug up some loose snow with the bucket on his tractor and dumped it right outside the door.


It didn’t seem right for him to be dumping snow on an area he’s had to scrape snow off of almost daily for months! But he did – and it was very convenient.

We each brought a bin with a rack in the bottom (cookie rack or whatever we could find), to keep the fabric out of the melting snow. I’d read that it’s a good idea to get the fabric wet and freeze it prior to dyeing. Lori did so, but only crumpled her fabric slightly  before putting it in the freezer and it worked quite well (smart girl). The rest of us squeezed our wet fabric into tight balls, then froze. Not a good idea. We needed to thaw them a bit to get the fabric to lay out in our bins. Once that hurdle was past, we shoveled snow on top and made “sno cones”.

snow dyeingHere’s a picture of a few of us happy snow cone makers (Annabelle is standing in for me :-):

snow dyeing

The snow began to melt in the barn while we went inside for Show & Tell and socializing. Everyone took their bins home. We were to dump them when the snow had melted and rinse the fabric. Only Lori remembered to take a picture of the melted mess before dumping (gorgeous in her red bin).


So here are the before and afters:

Kay (her before picture is “making sno cones” above):

snow dyeing







Me (left) and Lori:

snow dyeing

I began with unbleached muslin (2 pieces) and Lori started with white:

snow dyeing

snow dyeing






Ida (left) and Helen:

snow dyeing


snow dyeing

snow dyeing





Ida didn’t use as much dye, so hers are softer in hue, while Helen began with a “white on white” print, which added extra interest.



Here’s Liane’s:

snow dyeing


Her variety and intensity were quite interesting!snow dyeing

Each month our group plays with some different type of surface design or embellishment and we’re learning a lot. I highly recommend this type of play for your group!

Also, Last week, when I shared Margit’s quilts, I wasn’t aware she had a website. To see even more of her exciting work, please go to: I mentioned the Mavericks Art Quilt Group and they also have a site that I’m sure you’ll enjoy:

One last item! I have a fun, fast, piecing class coming up at WCTC. The pattern is called Card Trick. It’s a wonderful design for showcasing pretty fabrics and the pattern is for a lap sized quilt, but it would be easy to make it smaller or larger to fit your need. There are still a few openings.

quilt quick card trick

A Quick Card Trick – April 11; 9-2:30: Learn this strip piecing twist on the traditional card trick block. A background fabric and four contrasting “card” fabrics are required to make 13 ten-inch blocks set on point in this eye-catching quilt.

To sign up for a class on-line: go to, click on “Course Search” in the top bar, type “quilting” in the “Subject/Title” box near the bottom and click on “Submit”. Click on the class you’re interested in and then click on “Sign up for a class” under “Getting started” in the sidebar on the right.

March 9, 2014, Uncategorized
Margit and her Quilts

I met Margit Kagerer the first time I visited Evelyn in Arizona. Margit is a member of the Maverick’s Art Quilt Guild and I’m delighted to call her my friend. On my recent visit she was kind enough to invite a group of us to her beautiful home. We were treated to breathtaking views from every window


as well as a “gallery tour” of her art and home. I thought you would enjoy seeing some of her inspiring work.



Don’t you love the way the quilt fits the architectural detail of the fireplace?


What a whimsical and clever tumbling block display!

Margit has won many awards for her quilts and she shared her collection of miniatures with us.


I was impressed with all of her work, but I was particularly intrigued with her current creative use of men’s neckties. I guarantee you haven’t seen tie quilts like these before :-)!

necktie quilts


necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer

She even creates small landscapes completely from the ties!

necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer


For a virtual tour of more of Margit’s work, go to:

Thank you Margit, for a lovely visit and for your kind permission to share your work on my blog!

Has anyone else done something unique with neckties???

March 2, 2014, Uncategorized
A Chihuly Inspired Quilt, an Upcoming Event, and a Survey!

There’s a little something for everyone in this week’s post. Please read all the way to the end because I’d really like your input on our Sew We Go survey!

A Chihuly Inspired Quilt:

Last week I shared the pictures of Dale Chihuly’s work because I saw so much quilt inspiration in it. Deb K emailed me about a quilt by Melissa Sobotka that took first place at the Houston Quilt Festival this past year, and it was an amazing fiber reproduction of Chihuly’s work! Here’s a picture from her website (yes, it’s all done in fabric):!art-quilts/c3c1


An Upcoming Event:

The Kattywampus Quilters in Randolph, WI, are hosting a community event in March to celebrate National Quilting Month (Randolph is a small community located about an hour north of Madison). I will be one of two speakers and my presention is entitled: Tradition With a Twist. I will also be teaching a Mariner’s Compass workshop. There are still a few openings in the workshop, so please consider joining us! The following is from the flyer for the show:

Revival Of Quilting into the 21st century

Saturday, March 22, 2014; 9-12:30

Randolph Community Center, 248 West Stroud Street, Randolph, WI

This is a community event to celebrate National Quilting Month. It’s for anyone who has an interest in quilting, just likes quilts, or is thinking about becoming a quilter – beginner  to experts.

8:30 Registration for door prizes, free will offering

9:00 Speaker – Lois Levenhagen, presenting: Not Your Grandmother’s Quilting

10:15 Bed Turning – Examples of many quilts from 21rst century

11:00 Speaker – Chris Lynn Kirsch, presenting:  Tradition with a Twist

12:15 Door Prizes

Tradition With A Twist : Take tried and true quilt patterns, add a few modern techniques, mix in a bit of imagination and you have Tradition With a Twist. Be entertained and inspired as Chris shares her “new” collection of vintage quilts, a bit of history about each, and their contemporary variations!


Chris’ love of quilting is matched only by
her knowledge of the craft, which she
enthusiastically passes along to you in
her classes, trips, books and blog.

Lois Levenhagen is  well known quilt teacher who has taught many different aspects of quilting across the country and locally through her long association with Nancy’s Notions. She is an excellent instructor and has introduced many people to the tools and tricks of the 21st century.

In between and after  sessions there will be displays and demos available of: quilting techniques, EQ7, quilting tools, guild quilts

Compass Capers Workshop with Chris Lynn Kirsch 

Traditional mariner’s compass quilts are beautiful, but can be difficult and time consuming to piece. This class will change that! Learn to draft a traditional compass using only a pencil, ruler and paper folding techniques. Then sew directly on the pattern using paper piecing – no math or templates! Once the technique is learned, compasses can be made any shape and any size.

When: March 22 1-4 pm

Where: Randolph Community Center, 248 West Stroud Street Randolph, WI

Registration: $20.00 members of KW, $25.00  for nonmembers, make checks payable to Kattywampus quilt guild (No refunds for cancellations, class limit 20 people). Send name, telephone number and check to Sue Reifsnider, W9555 Zimmerman Dr., Beaver Dam, WI 53916 (for more information contact Sue at

A Sew We Go Survey:

As many of you know, Wendy Rieves and I lead quilting adventures in the US and Europe under the name “Sew We Go”. We are very excited about our upcoming cruise on the Baltic Sea in May, but we’re also looking ahead to our next adventure (it never hurts to be prepared, plus it’s a lot of fun to think about).

We are thinking of hosting two very different destinations in 2015 and we’d love to have your input.

The first adventure would be traveling with a group of quilters to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. This is a one day show (7/11/15) but we would combine it with other stops that would appeal to quilters.

Next up would be a dream cruise on the Adriatic in September.  It would most likely be a round-trip cruise from Venice, Italy with stops in Croatia, Greece and Turkey.

So here’s the survey, and by saying you’re interested, you are not committing to anything:

1. Would you be interested in flying to Oregon to see the Sister’s annual quilt show in July, 2015?

2. Would you be interested in cruising the Adriatic with other quilters in September/October, 2015?

3. Is there another destination you’d like to visit with Sew We Go adventures?  We are always open to suggestions!

You may respond to the survey by clicking “leave a comment” below or emailing me at:

February 23, 2014, Uncategorized
Quilts and Sunshine

This week I’m very pleased to be writing from sunny Arizona. In January, 2012, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit my friend Evelyn in Mesa, meet many delightful quilters, and do a number of lectures and classes. It was a great time and you can read all about it at: You may remember that Evelyn stored her unfinished quilts (UFO’s ) in the master bathtub!

UFO bathtubDo you see the orange/black/yellow piece? Well, back in 2012, I pulled it out and discovered it was a “circle of illusion” ring Evelyn made in a class with Andi Perejda. I loved it and told her she needed to do something with it. She said “ok” and handed it to me, saying “your turn”. The challenge was on. I took it home to Wisconsin and chose to piece a mini Mariner’s Compass for the center. Next I appliquéd the whole thing onto a brown batik and shipped it back to Arizona. Evelyn added a “dragon’s tail” of flying geese. We both participated in the quilting and decided to enter it in the first AQS Quilt Week Phoenix. As soon as Evelyn was notified of it’s acceptance she invited me back to AZ! What a great place to be, especially this winter!

our quilt at AQS Phoenix

It was a joy to stand together in front of our quilt and a lovely opportunity for the Quilt Sissies to have a reunion (If you missed the saga of the Quilt Sissies, it all began with this post: ).


They joined us for frosty Coke’s on the sunny patio (much more enjoyable than the frosty stuff back home)!


And Joan D. is here from Wisconsin too, to add to the fun!


Every room of Evelyn’s home is actually a gallery of her beautiful fiber art. I thought you might enjoy a bit of a tour. This is her living room:

Evelyn's quilt galleryThe dining room/class room:


And even the bedrooms:


e-gallery5 e-gallery4

Here’s the artist in her office:

Evelyn's quilt galleryIt’s a real treat to stay in Evelyn’s lovely home and to spend time with her family and friends! I’ll close with a picture of a clever storage idea from her studio. She’s created a pressing/cutting station at chair level by placing a long, fabric covered board across a large number of stacking drawer units.

E-studio-counterIt’s really quite convenient, and I know because I’ve spent a little time stitching here (when I can pull myself away from the patio 🙂 )

I hope you’re staying warm, wherever you are!

PS I have to add a little aside, because it made me laugh out loud. Last winter my husband was in the Caribbean on business while I sat home during an ice storm. He sent me a picture of a cold drink on a patio, overlooking the ocean, with the caption: “we’re having icy issues here too”. I didn’t find it all that funny. So yesterday I sent him the photo of the frosty Coke with the Quilt Sissies above, with the caption: “We’re having problems with frost”. His response -“They can’t reach their frosty drink. You all should be reported for cruelty to stupid quilted figures”. I just had to laugh!

February 9, 2014, Travel Uncategorized
The Dark Side of Sewing

While teaching at a recent Sewing and Quilting Expo, I had a very interesting conversation with a trio of women. These dear ladies were staying in the same motel as I was and at breakfast they were analyzing the jacket of the commentator on tv. I, of course, couldn’t resist getting in on the conversation, which led to my asking them if they were there to attend the Expo. They answered yes and told me they were garment sewers. They then asked me and I told them  I had a background in garments, but that I currently focused on quilting. They knowingly looked at one another and one said in a low voice: “she’s gone to the dark side”. I laughed. Quilting? The dark side of the sewing world??? What made garment construction so light??? Have you heard this expression before?

I thought about that conversation many times during the Expo, and on the ride home I began thinking about the portion of my life in which I made garments. I began sewing when I was 7. My mother taught me to make a sleeveless dress (which I, alas, no longer have). I liked sewing right away and began taking Home Ec as soon as I entered Middle School (Junior High was the correct term at that time :-). During High School I made many of my own clothes and continued my sewing education all the way through a tailoring class my Senior year. I loved to sew! I’ve made clothes for many members of my family over the years.


When I got home from the Expo, I began digging through closets and drawers, and discovered that my pack-rat tendencies may finally prove to be a good thing!

Nautical themed fabric bell bottoms? Got it! Green fringed poncho? It’s there!

Halter Dress? But of course (it was the 70’s)! Oh – and I made Mike’s sport coat and vest too. Matching plaids was an adventure!

DS Mike-plaid-and-me-halter

Purple and yellow plaid wool blazer? Who wouldn’t hang onto that? (sorry the photo is B&W)


Puzzle Costumes? (kind of scary, isn’t it?).

puzzle costumes

A quick tour of closets and the attic yielded the inspiration for a new lecture: “Gone to the Dark Side”. I began pairing up these interesting (and often “laugh out loud”) garments with quilts, and have been having a very entertaining trip down memory lane.

I not only have old clothes and quilt stories to share in the talk, but I’m putting together a slide show of “vintage” pics showcasing myself and various family members actually wearing these garments long ago (you only got a sampling here). I’m also including quite a few modern quilted garments that combine both these old and new skills. If you’re a child of the 70’s, a past garment sewer, or you just want an evening of chuckles and entertainment, I think you may find this new lecture interesting. I would be so grateful to have you share my website: with the Program Chairpersons in your guild. My email is: . Or better yet, please send them to my blog!

February 2, 2014, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas 2013!

Christmas joy

Recently I’ve been contemplating how wonderful it is to be able to end each year with the “joy” that is Christmas! No matter what is going on in our lives, we can focus on the birth of our Savior and what He did for us.

Then I began thinking about the little blessings I’ve enjoyed this Christmas season already. When we had our first snow, Sommer and I tried to build a snowman. There wasn’t much snow and she didn’t want to wear her mittens or touch the unusual white stuff, but once I had put the little snowman head on the body, she couldn’t resist picking it up! I call this picture: “Grandma, snow is cold!”

snow is coldThis past week my friend Sharon and I kept our 10 year tradition alive and “rang and sang” for the Salvation Army. It is one of my favorite Christmas activities. The ringing is fun, but the singing makes it pure joy (even if we’re not always on key). This article was in the Watertown paper last year .


Sharon and I looked pretty much the same this year, so I thought our silliness in this picture might bring a smile to your face. I recently read a blog post entitled: “10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You to Know”. Please click on the title to read it – I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.

Another favorite tradition of mine is baking cookies with my mom. We’ve done it together every year since I was old enough to help. The men hang out in the living room and offer to be the taste testers. Over the years the kids have actively helped when they were around. This year Mike was out of town, but Dad, Mom, Brad and Sommer all were here. Here’s my mom making Spritz cookies (a family tradition) with the “new” old cookie press I found on eBay to replace my grandmother’s (which broke), along with Dad, who’s taking the taste testing part seriously.


And this one is of Sommer doing a bit of decorating. She got more on the tray than the cookies, until daddy tossed a candy decoration in his mouth. Then she got most in her tummy!


There’s one more blessing I’ve really been contemplating. Quilting certainly brings me a great amount of joy. What a blessing to be able to do what I love. Teaching is another happy part of my life. Each of you who take my classes or read my blog posts are a huge encouragement to me and I’d like to take this time to send you a great big THANK YOU!

From my family to yours – MERRY CHRISTMAS!



December 22, 2013, Uncategorized
A New Bead Adventure

Last month I had the opportunity to take a class with Betty Pillsbury. She is a crazy quilter from Albany, NY. Oddly enough, this particular workshop was not about quilting, but in it Betty taught the peyote stitch to attach a cabochon to a cuff bracelet. A cabochon is a flat backed stone or bead that has no hole to attach it with. I’ve always wanted to learn how to attach a stone in this way, hoping to use it in embellishing my quilts. I didn’t think I’d get hooked on this type of bead work. But I did! I’m now on my second bracelet with visions of #3 dancing in my head. I think I will use it in future quilts, but for now I’m dabbling just a bit in jewelry. Wanna see :-)?

Here is a front view with the cabochon attached. For a first effort, I’m pretty pleased.

beaded cuff bracelet

Once the cabochon was placed in the center, Betty encouraged us to just fill in the rest of the space. She had many samples and I had a blast choosing beads and filling around them. The bracelet was done in just over a week.

Here’s one side view:

beaded cuff bracelet

and the other:

beaded cuff bracelet

The base of the bracelet is called an aluminum blank. These come flat, are bent to shape and then the inside is covered with fabric. The original blanks from class had 90 degree corners and were a bit wider, the ones I just purchased are rounded.


The beading is done on a thick interfacing. Here’s my second bracelet in progress. Instead of one cabochon, there are 5 (chosen to match a new holiday outfit!).


And here’s the back:


Once the entire piece of interfacing is beaded, it’s glued to the cuff and then it’s all stitched together around the outer edge with more beads.

I’m not sure I needed one more addiction, but beads are such fun to collect and I’m really excited to see how this will meld into my future quilting projects. Do you bead?


One additional note. Back in April/May I wrote a number of posts about the Jenning’s Quilt. This was a group quilt made by the Milwaukee Art Quilters that has won many awards. It was a winner in this year’s AQS show in Paducah, KY. While at the show Judy Levine, Toni Mitt and I were part of an interview and it has just been posted by AQS.

Click on the picture below and you’ll be taken to the AQS website with the interview. Scroll down and simply click on the arrow in the center of the video box to watch it.


Judy did the lion’s share of the work on the quilt and I think she did a great job of speaking for the group in the interview.

December 15, 2013, Embellishing Uncategorized
Christmas Gifts

In last week’s post I asked to see pictures of Christmas projects you were making and Nancy sent me these:




Delightful! Thanks Nancy!


A few quilters in my Open Lab class at WCTC have recently made variations on the “microwave bowl holders” that are so popular right now. The idea behind them is great! You place your bowl of soup (or whatever) in the holder and put it in the microwave. Once the cooking is done, the bowl can be removed by holding the pad without burning fingers. It can also be used to keep your fingers warm when eating ice cream :-)!


I decided I wanted to make some as gifts and my friend, Barb, shared the web address for a blog with great instructions. Click here to visit that blog and learn how to do it:,

I made a few and loved using them. One addition I would make to Karen’s instructions on her blog concerns the quilting of the sections. She recommended just quilting with an “X”.

On mine I also quilted a circle a little larger than the bottom of the bowl in the center of each piece. In this way I knew where to end my darts … 1/4″ from the quilted circle!


I highly recommend pinning along the 4 lines the darts will be sewn on  and then setting the bowl in place before stitching, to make sure it will fit. Adjust as needed.

Here are a few pictures of the ladies making them in the Open Lab class.

bowl pads2

bowl pads3

bowl pads4

We had a good time and the pads were lovely!

bowl pads 1


Just one more Christmas gift suggestion that was made by Barb M.  on Facebook  a few days ago (she was the quilter I wrote about in my November 3, 2013 post, who finished the quilt her Aunt Jeanette had started on my first cruise).

Barb wrote: “I NEED a Chris Kirsch style quilt float–it would make quilting this quilt so much easier! Oh why didn’t I make one sooner. May have to take a break from quilting (when the fog lifts) and make a trip to Home Depot for the necessary components. Chris Kirsch, you may want to consider reposting the instructions for making your quilt float in one of your upcoming blogs. There may be others that would like to request the components for Christmas!”

quilt float

So, if you are planning on quilting a crib quilt or larger in the near future and someone is asking you what you want for Christmas; the needed supplies and assembly instructions can be found in 2 past posts. Just click here for part 1, and here for part 2!


December 8, 2013, Uncategorized
Jewelry Wreath

This post may not focus on quilting, but there are “pins” involved :-)!

When my mother-in-law passed away this past January, I inherited a jewelry box filled with costume pieces not claimed by any other relatives. There were many clip earrings and a lot of things I would never wear, but I couldn’t part with because they were mom’s, and some pieces were from her mother and grandmother!

A friend said she was collecting costume jewelry at rummage sales in the hopes of making a wreath. I found that idea very appealing and did a quick Pinterest search for jewelry wreaths. A few pictures came up and the one that grabbled me was done in mainly white, gold and silver. So, I called my mom and asked if she had any old jewelry she would be willing to part with. She had pieces of her own, plus jewelry from both of my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers and a great aunt!

Next I went through my own jewelry box and unearthed charm bracelets from years ago. I hadn’t worn them for years, so into the wreath pile they went. I then raided Mike’s jewelry box and found the ID bracelet I gave him when we were dating, and both our class rings. He also had many tie tacks, award pins collected over his flight career, and a few treasures that had belonged to his father.

I was excited. At JoAnn’s I found a straw wreath, thin florist’s pins, and a couple of spools of wide satin ribbon. I wired a hanging loop to the back, wrapped the wreath in ribbon (and a bit of leftover lace) and let the fun begin! Are you ready to see it :-)???

jewelry wreathThe locket hanging at top, center belonged to Mike’s great-grandmother. It is rather chunky and ornate, and we were assured by a jeweler that it’s value was only sentimental. Still, it makes a lovely focal point. Here are a few close ups of the rest of the wreath:

jw-ringsThe zebra pin in the next photo was my maternal grandmother’s. I remember being allowed to wear it on special occasions when I was a child.

jw-zebraMike’s father had been a naval aviator and the tie bar below was his.

jw-shipSome of my memory charms dangle over Mike’s volunteer firefighter badge on the right side of the wreath.

jw-leafA variety of pearl necklaces and chains are wrapped liberally around the wreath.

jw-clkThis project was a joy and resulted in an heirloom my family will hopefully treasure for generations.

November 24, 2013, Uncategorized
Turning a Block On-Point

Before we jump into this week’s topic, I would really like to share the creative gift my dear friend, Wendy, made for my birthday. As many of you know, Wendy and I lead quilting adventures, and our upcoming trip will take us to the Baltic Sea in May. We’ve been working on project ideas for the trip and both of us have been stitching Russian Nesting dolls that don’t nest :-)! These are Wendy’s:

Baltic felt-dolls

I appliquéd mine to a shoulder bag:


They are such fun to make and we’re sure they’ll be a hit with the hand stitchers on our cruise. So, Wendy took this a step further for my birthday and used her amazing skills with wool to make me new mittens!

Baltic mittens

I’m hoping they won’t be needed on our trip, but I love them and will enjoy wearing them all winter long here in Wisconsin!

Now for this week’s topic!

Last week I taught a class at WCTC called Scrap Happy. The idea behind it was to use up all the “orphan” blocks, strips and scraps leftover from previous projects.

scrap happy quilt  by Chris Lynn KirschOne of the techniques we used in class was to enlarge a block by adding corners to it, and thus turning it “on-point” (as in the Sun block in the upper left and the house block in the lower right). It struck me this would make a good blog topic! When I’m turning blocks I like them to have a bit of “float” around the original square. By adding this extra fabric at the block corners, there is no danger of chopping them off. I’ve discovered that I don’t like to go to the effort of turning these blocks to an exact size, so I make them a bit larger and square them back to the size I want. It’s a “non-math”, “seat of your pants”, method and I hope you like it.

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

I find this a simple way to turn a block and I hope it was helpful.


November 17, 2013, Uncategorized
Magazine Issues

I enjoy magazines! They help me keep in touch with what’s going on in the quilt world. They place beautiful pictures and great patterns at my fingertips. They often have heartwarming stories. They are a wonderful resource, but there is another side to it.

A while back Kris made this comment to one of my posts:

“I have piles of quilting magazines and am looking for some suggestions on how to store them. I am trying to go more digital and am thinking about scanning the patterns I like. I just don’t know how I would organize them once scanned. Saw an ad for a program called Paperport. Has anyone tried this?”

I want to thank Kris for bringing this topic up. I have my own magazine issues (no pun intended). In fact, I blogged about this in October of 2010. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t made much progress. Here’s my system as written in that post:

“Here’s my storage system: I leave many scattered around the house and then put them in boxes with the pages I like dog-earred. Then I seldom ever go back through the boxes (I didn’t say it was a good system :-)) .  A dear friend helped us move into this home 6 years ago and at one point, a lid fell off the box of quilt magazines he was carrying. When he realized what he was lugging, he set the box down and said he was happy to help, but he drew the line at old mags! That should have been a hint, but I’ve continued to pack them in boxes anyways.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to my many old boxes, but I have a new plan for future arrivals:

When I’ve finished with a new issue I’ll copy those articles I’m interested in and donate the entire magazine to my guild or give it away in my classes. That way no quilter will be disappointed by  missing pages (thanks Char!). It sounds good, now to actually put it into practice.”


Re-reading that post was a bit disappointing. I’m still dog-earring, but now I just pile them on top of the boxes we moved 9 years ago! UGH!!!


Actually, as I was taking this shot I began to feel a little better that there was still room in this area of the closet. Perhaps it’s not that bad. Then I remembered that I recently had begun placing my Quilting Arts and Machine Quilting Unlimited on the bookshelf in the hall (well, at least they’re neat).


Just so you don’t think I’m completely hopeless, the one change I have made since the writing of that previous post is – whenever I finish a magazine and there are no dog-ears (rare – I must admit), I put it in my guild bag and give it away at the next meeting – I really do :-)!

I’m sure there are many of us who need a better system. I’ve thought about getting my subscriptions on line, but I don’t really enjoy doing all my reading on the computer (I like the feel of holding a magazine and my favorite place to read is still the bathtub – difficult to do with a computer). This “Paperport” sounds interesting. Has anyone tried it?

Helpppppppp! How do you handle magazines? Please comment and let us know!


And here’s a “parting picture” of a fiber art piece from Debra Crivello, she writes:

“I finished my first wall hanging from your class in Madison.  I get lots of positive comments from those that have seen it.”

fiber artThanks Debra!


November 10, 2013, Uncategorized
Quilting in Outer Space

It’s a bonus week! My actual weekly post, “Tropical Breezes”, follows this one, but I decided to add an extra post because this is something I wanted to share as soon as I saw it.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.11.21 AM

Karen Nyberg, NASA Astronaut, actually quilted on the Space Station. She talks about the adventure of stitching without the aid of gravity (something we take for granted). It’s fascinating. Just click and enjoy:


November 4, 2013, Uncategorized
Tropical Breezes – A Quilt’s Story


The very first time I led a quilting cruise was a trip to the Caribbean in 2000. We actually brought Singer featherweight sewing machines along as our carry-ons (it was pre-September 11!) and we sewed on them while sailing between ports. I designed a pieced quilt as our project and called it “Tropical Breezes”. One of the dear ladies who traveled with me was a garment sewer and “not a quilter”. Jeanette was a great sport and decided to try the project. She did join Wendy and me on our Mississippi Riverboat Cruise the following year, but she never mentioned what had become of her Tropical Breezes “quilt”.

Well, a few years went by and I received this email in February of 2011:

Dear Chris,

My aunt, Jeanette Richter was on your quilting cruise to Cozumel in April 2000. She did not finish the quilt “Tropical Breezes” during the cruise and last year, after a major medical set-back, she gave me the fabric from the quilt to “finish” for her. Being a new quilter, myself, it looked overwhelming to me, so I set it aside while I worked on other projects to get a feel for quilting. I am now (I hope) ready to make her quilt, but as I was going through everything she gave me, hoping to read instructions and figure out what to do, I was dismayed not to find any instructions for piecing the blocks.  I am wondering if you might still have any instructions for this particular quilt and if so, could I get a copy? I would like to get the quilt pieced in the near future so that I have time to send it out to a professional quilter and be able to present it to my aunt for Mother’s Day (nothing like short notice, right?) I do have the lay-out pattern for the finished blocks, but just need to know how to piece the blocks.


I was thrilled and offered to help Barb in any way I could. In April of 2011 she sent me another email saying she had finished the quilt:

“I love it, it’s perfect (well, not really, but it’s perfect!) Amish folk lore says no quilt should be perfect because only God is perfect and we aren’t to compare ourselves with God”. So, to my aunt, it was as perfect as it was allowed to be–if you get my drift. She loved it and I am so blessed just by watching her joy in receiving the quilt. It has been a very beautiful day! Her response – “I couldn’t wait to see it finished, but is it really for me?””
Jenette with quilt


Two years passed. A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak to a guild in Janesville, WI and Barb was there – with the quilt!

caribbean quiltand label


I asked her to tell me the rest of the story and here it is:

“When I gave my aunt the quilt, we took pictures of her with it and chronicled her reactions. Jeanette (or Aunt Net to me) was a very special lady who gave so much to others, I couldn’t say no to finishing her quilt for her. Now that she is gone, I feel so close to her each time I see or handle her quilt. I felt honored to finish the quilt for her and blessed when I received the quilt back after she passed away. I am also so very grateful to you for your help in completing this project. You are awesome!”

Here’s one more picture of Jeanette with her quilt, and the pillows Barb also made. After the cruise, I made quilt labels for everyone with the picture of the group “photo-transfered” on them and Barb placed this label on one of the pillows!

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 8.43.54 PM

What a blessing it was for me to hear the story and see the pictures of Jeanette and her quilt. Thank you Barb, I’m so pleased to have been a part of this heart-warming story :-)!


I’ve received some interesting pictures lately of quilts that relate to recent posts, and this seemed like a good place to share them.

When I was visiting Evelyn in Arizona a few years ago, I taught a few “Parallelisms” classes  (this is the class that morphed into my latest book: “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art?”). Margit is a member of the Maverick’s fiber art group and she was in one of the workshops. She is a very talented and award winning artist and I was so pleased to have her in class. She recently sent me this note and picture:

“I just wanted to share a little project. I ‘borrowed’ your technique of Parallelisms for a small Christmas wall hanging. It was quick and fun. The wall hanging is for a bazaar to support our local library. I am a volunteer at this library. Hopefully someone will fall in love with the piece. I am so glad that I took your class.”

Christmas fiber art quilt

Adorable! Thanks for sending the photo Margit!

Dorothea sent me some pictures also. These were in response to the Flower Pounding post and here’s her message:

“Hi Chris, I have been a fan of your blog ever since you came to speak at Mad City Quilt Guild .  In one of your recent blogs on flower pounding I became excited because I had done some a few years back with my two sisters–a special Sister Weekend with that being our project.  It took a couple of years to make a quilted project of my poundings but thought you might like to see the results.  By the way, we did treat our fabric to keep it more colorfast with washing soda.”

flower pounding DM1

flower pounding DM2

flower pounding DM3Dorothea certainly was successful with her poundings! Thanks Dorothea!

I hope you enjoyed all the stories included in this week’s blog as much as I enjoyed posting them! I’d like to leave you with information on a local gallery show the Milwaukee Art Quilters are exhibiting in:

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 9.01.20 AM




November 3, 2013, Inspiration Uncategorized
A Quilted Memorial

I’ve been on the road again this week. This time to teach at the AQS show in Des Moines, IA. It was a great show – over 1600 quilts and loads of great vendors! I went with my dear friend, Linda, and we had a wonderful time. Here we are in front of one of my entries entitled: Cherry Baskets.


I made this quilt with my rather large collection of cherry fabrics and it really makes me smile. Here’s a second floor overview of the show with a big finger pointing at my quilt (just for fun :-))!


Now that your up to date on my latest travels (it’s been crazy :-)), here’s this week’s topic:

A few months ago I received an email from Lynn, a neighbor who lived behind us when we lived in Dousman. This was her message:

“My mom passed away 4 months ago and the hospital gave our family a quilt.  There are 4 siblings and one quilt, which is the dilemma.  Can you help me or direct me to someone that could?  My thought would be to have the quilt divided into 4 pieces, however I’m not experienced at all, in how to do that.  Thank you in advance for your time, I truly appreciate it. I look forward to hearing from you.”

And here was the picture she attached to the email:


I called her and said I would be happy to help. We both agreed that cutting the quilt into quarters wouldn’t be the best option.

Because it was only tied, I recommended she cut the knots, un-sew the binding (it was actually the back of the quilt turned to the front), take off the borders, and then we could get together and discuss the next step. She brought the disassembled quilt over and we sat on the floor brainstorming.

Since it was made of 8″ squares of Christmas fabrics, I suggested we take the quilt apart a little further and resew the squares into 4 table runners. She liked the idea! Here are the runners pre-borders (only one white square needed to be added to the original 15):

memorial quilt remakeNext, the borders were attached. There was enough fabric from the original borders to do one in the light green and two in the dark. Praise the Lord, I had the same green fabric in my stash for the border on the fourth runner:

Memorial Quilt remake

Next they were layered with batt and backing (there was enough from the original for all 4). I decided to turn them, rather than using binding (this will be the topic of next week’s post :-)). Once they were turned, I machine quilted them 1/2″ from the edge and in the ditch around the blocks (even though I greatly dislike “ditch” quilting). Then I chose to quilt hearts in the squares. I used a heart shaped “Mix and Match Template™” and traced around it with a sliver of soap in the red and a “Frixion™” pen in the white.

memorial-marking-1I’ve been wanting to try the Frixion™ pen for awhile and was pleased with the ease of marking. These pens are made by Pilot™ and were created for use on paper. The ink disappears with heat, like the friction from erasing on paper. The quilt world discovered them because the ink disappears with the heat of ironing! I was a little concerned about the long term effect of using this tool. I did a bit of testing and will share my results in a future post.

So – on to the memorial runners:

The free-motion quilting of the hearts was a joy and the table runners were finished quite quickly.


I hope Lynn and her siblings will be pleased.

Have you created a memorial quilt? Have you received one? Have you ever needed to make one quilt into more than one? We’d love to read your story!

PS I received pictures of quilts made by quilters in the Mariner’s Compass class I taught in Janesville a few week’s ago and I thought you might like to see them. This one is from Peggy Nelson:

mariners compass quilt

And this table runner is by Valerie Cook:

Mariners Compass quilted table runnerGreat job ladies! Thanks for sending pictures!

October 6, 2013, Piecing Uncategorized
Where Do I Start With Fiber Art?

I’m very pleased to announce that my new book is in print!!!


Thanks to everyone who commented on the cover choices. I had over 80 responses to my request for opinions and the vote was overwhelming for the above cover (only 14 for the the otter, which did make it on the title page).

This book is based on my “Parallelisms – Beginning Fiber Art” class. Many students have asked that it be made into a book some day – and some day is now. It is written for traditional quilters who think they’d like to try making an art quilt, but don’t know where to begin (or even if they can :-)). I’ve included loads of pictures, and simple, step-by-step lessons for fusing a variety of strips and shapes as well as instructions for working with sheers and some of my favorite beading techniques. Many people have asked how I bead my “Crossings” quilts together – and that’s one of the techniques included (for info about my “Crossings” series please go to this previous blog post: , and scroll down to #7).

Peg O’Donnell took my Parallelisms workshop at the Madison Quilt Expo this month and she gave me permission to post a comment she emailed to me about the class:

“I LOVE the new book.  Very helpful and inspirational information for the beginner. Plenty of clear to understand information to get anyone excited about trying fiber art.  You prove you are only limited by your imagination. I really enjoyed your class last Thursday.”

Thanks so much, Peg!

Sommer found the cover intriguing!

Fiber Art - Sommer PSclosed

And she seemed to like all the helpful pictures :-)!

Fiber Art - SommerPS

So, if you’d like to have your very own copy you may click here to get to the “books” page of my blog; then click on the “add to cart” button at the bottom of the book description, and you’ll be taken to a site that’s administered by PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account to purchase a book through this site. You can safely and securely purchase the book using a credit card or you can use a PayPal account if you have one.

If you’re not comfortable ordering on line, I’d be happy to have you send a check made out to me, for $22 to: Chris Kirsch, N7568 Ceasar Road,  Watertown, WI 53094. I will put a signed copy in the mail as soon as I hear from you.



September 28, 2013, Uncategorized
Interwoven Globe


I began this past week with my last day in New York and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maggi and I “met at the Met” and toured the opening day of an amazing exhibit. “Interwoven Globe” -a 300 Year Survey of Textiles at the Met – features a fascinating collection of vintage textiles from around the world (click on the exhibit title to be taken to the New York Times review).


I took a number of photos of the entrance to the Met for this blog. When going through them, the gentleman with the sandwich board duct taped to his shirt, caught my eye and, upon zooming in, I was able to read what his sign says: “Hi friend, I’m looking for a wealthy lady to be my wife. My name is Robert – single – never married – “. It made me laugh out loud (hope no one is disappointed that I couldn’t quite read his phone number or email address :-)).

After pouring over and enjoying the amazing examples of embroidery and needlework, Maggi and I had a lovely lunch. Then I decided to walk home – from 86th Street to 26th Street – through Central Park, Times Square and the Garment District. It was a great way to see New York and do a bit of people watching. What a memorable trip! Thanks to Maggi and the Empire Quilters for showing me such a good time.

I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon, and pulled the quilts out of the suitcase, but I didn’t have to put them away because I was off to Janesville, WI to do a Mariner’s Compass workshop on Saturday. Another delightful group of quilters and some beautiful compasses in the works:

mariner's compass class

As we near the end of a compass workshop I enjoy lining up everyone’s “work in progress” – so we can all ooh and aah!


Today I had the joy of driving to the library in McHenry, IL to present my “Tradition With a Twist” lecture. This lecture contains vintage, traditional quilts along with my modern, innovative variations. I’ve even created a jacket from some leftover, antique double wedding ring arcs to wear during the presentation. Fun, fun, fun!

This is proving to be a very “quilty” month and I’m loving all the places I’m seeing and quilters I’m meeting. September does seem to be the kick off month for quilting events and the beginning of the year for many guilds. What have you been up to, quiltwise, this month???

Quiltina-miffedPS Quiltina insisted I confess my neglect. While in New York, Wendy texted me to ask how Quiltina and I were enjoying ourselves. It was then I realized I hadn’t brought her along. If that wasn’t bad enough, I unintentionally left her hanging around the studio while traveling this weekend too! As I was piling the quilts up after today’s lecture (to be put back in my magic quilt storage box :-)), she jumped atop the pile, with her hands on her hips and made me promise to take her to Des Moines in October. I’m ashamed of myself for forgetting her and will keep you posted about our next adventure.


September 22, 2013, Travel Uncategorized
Pictures and Acronyms

I’ve received some great pictures recently, inspired by previous posts!

In response to “Barn Blocks“, Barbara Laufenberg of Ripon, WI sent me this picture of her’s entitled Nell’s Star

Barn Block

Carol Slattery also sent me some lovely pictures along with this message:

“Hi Chris
This is our barn quilt, put up in 2009 the year we had the Portage County Dairy Breakfast, Rudolph, WI, over 3000 people attended. 
Barn Quilt
The pattern is “Clay’s Choice”. 
Barn QUilt
I made four – 14 inch quilt blocks for decoration for the Dairy Breakfast also. Carol”

Wooden quilt blocks

Thanks Barbara and Carol for sharing your blocks with us!

Recently I received pictures from another blog follower concerning Mariner’s Compass.

Leslie Thorkelson made this Compass in a class I taught in Brookfield, WI. It was made for her sister and she named it “Honor Flight”. Leslie finished it and said she didn’t want to part with it, but she did and her sister loved it:

Mariner's Compass quilt

Than she made a variation for herself which she called “Brazilian Sunrise”:

Mariner's Compass variation

I really like the bright colors and off center – center :-)!

I hope these quilts inspired you. The painted, 14″ blocks seem to me much more doable than the 4 foot square one hanging on my barn. Maybe the garage needs a matching one?!?!?!

I’m also thinking about other mariner’s shapes with off center, centers. Like I don’t already have enough PIMM’s. That’s an acronym for “project in my mind”. While on Facebook the other day I came across this list of clever acronyms from Handi Quilter. Some I hadn’t heard before:

quilt abbrev

I hope HQ (“Handi Quilter”) gave you a smile!

Do you know of any other clever quilting acronyms not listed here? I’d love to add them to my list.

HQ (“Happy Quilting”), Chris




July 28, 2013, Uncategorized
The Fiberistas at WMQFA

Today was the opening reception for a fascinating exhibit of fiber art. It’s a biennale event and it was open to all fiber artists in Wisconsin (think about what you’ll enter in 2015 :-))!

But let me back up just a bit:

A few months ago I had the wonderful opportunity to become part of a new fiber art group that is just starting up in Watertown. We currently have 6 members (and one member wanna be) and a name – the FIBERISTAS!

The idea behind our group is mainly just to encourage one another in our art. At our second meeting we were discussing an upcoming juried exhibit. The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg was inviting entries into their: “First Fiber Arts Biennale: Wisconsin State of the Art”. Three of us decided to enter and we each had two quilts accepted! We were thrilled to be a part of this landmark event. So, two weeks ago we took our quilts to the museum and today was the opening reception!

The museum is housed in a refurbished barn on a farm just north of Milwaukee. It is a lovely venue.

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

The Fiberistas at the WMQFA

The Jenning’s Quilt is one of the first things you see upon entering the Museum (along with a yummy opening reception spread and don’t miss the gift shop!)

Wisconsin Quilt MuseumThere were many unique and interesting pieces of fiber art on display.

Fiber ArtQuilts, garments, knitting, rug hooking, beading and more!

Fiber Art

The pictures really don’t do the show justice (the lighting worked much better in person), but I wanted to give you a little taste of the show.

fiber art

And just one more photograph:

fiber art

If you’re a Wisconsin quilter, you need to read the rest!

In talking to Curator Norma Klimpke, she was very pleased with the fiber art entered in the show and the attendance at this opening event. But she had something she wanted me to share – this was meant to be an all Wisconsin show, yet the majority of artists participating were from South Central and South Eastern Wisconsin. She asked me to get the word out that they’d like fiber artists from all over the State to enter in 2015.  So if you live in Western or Northern Wisconsin (or anywhere in between), go to their site:, sign up for their e-newsletter and start thinking about what you’ll  enter in the second biennale show!

I hope many of you have the opportunity to visit this delightful exhibit between now and October 13th. Cedarburg is a lovely community with a downtown area that just begs to be wandered through. I highly recommend spending a day there!

July 21, 2013, Uncategorized
Barn Blocks

As you may know, hanging large, painted quilt blocks on barns is all the rage!

According to the website: Heritage Barn “The history of barn decoration dates back to the mid 1800’s. Painting symbols on barns originated from traditional folk art passed along from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled the Pennsylvania Dutch region in southeastern Pennsylvania. Once these groups including Lutherans, Moravians, Mennonites and other Christian reformists, built their family farms and communities, they would paint small patterns on their barns to celebrate their heritage and bring good fortune.  Originally these patterns were simple stars, compass roses, or stylized birds from traditional folk art.  

Today’s barn decorating revival became popular with a woman named Donna Sue Groves, from Adams County, Ohio.  She wanted to honor her mother by hanging a colorful painted quilt square on her barn.  Instead of just one quilt square, she began a community project with twenty quilts being displayed along a driving trail to encourage visitors to travel through the countryside. This was the start of our first quilt trail in America. Quilt trails are now being organized all across the country. Barn quilts are displayed around communities and then mapped out for tourist to follow these amazing works of art.  They promote tourism and help draw visitors into our rural communities. Traditional stars and various quilt patterns are now being displayed on barns, homes, sheds and sides of buildings.  They are also put on posts and displayed in yards and parks.”

While walking with my neighbor (and website designer :-)) Diahann a few months ago I realized that a nearby farm had a quilt block on the barn. Hmmmmmm. Then my friend Kathy sent me pictures of the log cabin quilt she had painted on a piece of wood and hung on her shed (she did it all herself – I was impressed!).

Kathy's barn quilt

This all got me to thinking that Mike and I had an ideal shed/barn for hanging a block. So, while at the AQS show in Paducah this year I found a vendor who sold smaller (2′ x 2′) metal barn blocks ( and one of the block choices was the Mariner’s Compass! I went home armed with a flyer and presented the idea to Mike. He said “why don’t you paint a big one yourself?” Well my response was “I don’t want to – I’d rather work with fabric than paint!”. The next thing I know, he’s surfing the web and together we found “Heritage Barn Quilts”. We liked the blocks on the site so I contacted Karen and emailed her a photo of the cover of my Compass Capers book. She was able to match some of the colors to my satisfaction and created a 4′ square painted and framed barn block. It arrived a few weeks ago, is now hanging and I’m thrilled!

Another Compass Caper

Here’s a view from the road (with a candid of Annabelle and a self portrait of me as well):

barn quilt

and one more shot so you can see it from every angle:

barn quilt

Karen work is excellent and she has pictures of my barn block, along with many others, and a few short stories at this address: It was fun to see how and where others have hung their “quilts”!

Do you have a quilt block in your yard letting others know “a quilter lives here”?

Have you driven the routes of any quilt block trails?

Please comment and let us know or better yet, send pictures to me at

An Exhibit You Won’t Want to Miss!

First Fiber Arts Biennale:  Wisconsin State of the Art

Opens July 17 at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Chris Lynn Kirsch, an Art Quilter from Watertown, WI, will have two of her quilts exhibited in the First Fiber Arts Biennale at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.
Join us for an explosion of fiber arts from the four corners of Wisconsin.  The museum sought out exceptional examples of all media of fiber arts from Wisconsin for this special exhibit.   Wisconsin artists responded creatively – and enthusiastically to this invitation.  Some highlights from the exhibit include:
◊   Quilts from artists Marla Morris-Kennedy of Mequon Candy Flynn of Middleton,  Jeanne Pfister of Appleton area
◊    Hooked rugs made by Lyle Drier of Waukesha
◊    Bead embellished fiber artwork from Lisa Binkley of Waunakee
◊    Knitted work by Sara Gryske of DeForest
◊    Fashion creations from nine Pius XI High School students
There will be an artists’ reception on Sunday, July 21, from noon to 3 p.m.  The exhibit runs through October 13, 2013.
The museum is located at N50 W5050 Portland Road, Cedarburg.  Phone number is 262.546.0300.  Hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.  More information is available on our website:



July 14, 2013, Uncategorized
A Quilting Cousin

It was a wonderful 2 weeks! Hanna and Willy were a delight and Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed every moment of their visit. We boated, swam, saw a parade, visited the zoo and they got reacquainted with all their Wisconsin relatives.

One of the highlights was Hanna’s enthusiasm for quilting once again.

quilting kid

Hanna with her dolly’s quilt

The kids were last here 2 1/2 years ago. At that time (Hanna was almost 5) she really wanted to learn to make a quilt and when she finished one for her dolly she asked if she could make another one (to read that post click here!).

We ran out of time that visit, but it was one of her first questions after arriving this time. So I set up my featherweight once again and asked her what she would like to make. We had all just spent a day with her cousin Sommer at my parent’s lake cottage.

cottage-cousins-So she decided she wanted to make a quilt for Sommer. I pulled out my box of 6″ charm squares and she chose her favorite 24. Hanna pieced them all by herself and her 1/4″ seam allowance was pretty consistant :-).

quilting kidOnce the piecing was done, we layered the top with batting and backing and pinned it all the way around.

quilting kidThen she sewed around the perimeter, leaving an opening, and turned the quilt right sides out.

quilting kidWe marked the diagonals and she quilted the layers together by machine.

quilting kidOnce again she completed a project with a smile on her face (although this one took a little longer and she didn’t ask to make another right away).

quilting kid

The night before they went back to Washington she gave the quilt to Sommer and this was the thank you picture Uncle Brad sent us from Sommer that night.

quilting kidThe message read: “Goodnight! Thank you for the quilt Hanna and Grandma”.

What a joy! Willy was a bit put out that he didn’t get to quilt. There just wasn’t enough time. But I promised to help him make whatever he desired on their next visit. Should be interesting :-).


July 7, 2013, Uncategorized
Name That Book 2!

I’m really anxious to share all about the new book I’m working on, but first a photo of another slice quilt!

Slice quilt

This picture was sent to me in response to last week’s post by Lucy Zeldenrust. It’s entitled ” The Rahn Mansion Panels” and here’s the story as told by Lucy:

“Chris…I’m pretty sure you saw this at The Rahr West Art museum when you were the  keynote speaker for our Ladies of the Lake quilt exhibit many years ago. This “slice” quilt is of Manitowoc’s Rahr West mansion and was completed and featured in 1994. Our picture of the mansion was an 8″ x 11″ sketch by local artist Doug Haag, which we cut into 8 slices. Each quilter had to increase the size of her own strip, by whatever means, to a final size of 8″ x 50″…hence the slightly off-kilter matching from slice to slice.  We call it character!”

This is another lovely example of a Slice Quilt. Thanks Lucy!

And now on to this week’s topic – Name That Book!

As many of you may remember, I self published my third book – Compass Capers – last year. One of the tough parts was coming up with a book title that was informative and catchy. Thus I asked for input from many of you. What fun that proved to be! I was amazed by the creativity you all put forth :-).

I am now in the midst of doing it again. I’ve had many students ask for a book on my beginning fiber art techniques. My classes on this are called “Parallelisms” because we play with skinny, parallel strips of fabric and a fun fusing technique (here’s just one).

Beginning Fiber Art


Over time I began creating “Concentricities” – playing with concentric shapes.

Beginning Fiber Art

The book will contain all of my tips, techniques and loads of pictures of quilts from both quilt series. My daughter-in-law Betsy, who is a graphic designer, is in on the project once again and the fun has begun. One of the big question marks is what to name it???

Here’s the description: This is a fiber art class for traditional quilters who aren’t sure they’re creative but want to try making an art quilt by simply playing with color, fabric and design.

So, what do you think? Beginning Fiber Art sounds a bit mundane. Parallelisms isn’t very explanatory.

What title for a beginning fiber art book would really make you want to pick it up and read on? Please send your ideas as a comment to this post. The winning suggestion will get a free copy of the book once it’s in print. I can’t wait to read what you come up with :-)!

June 16, 2013, Uncategorized
Diamonds, Gangsters and Quilts???

The diamond is a fascinating shape when used in a quilt. I’ve enjoyed playing with the lone star pattern:

lone star quiltand the tumbling block (in a little less than traditional way):

tumbles the cat quilt

But I have a different sort of diamond story to tell in this week’s blog. This story has been passed down by my husband Mike’s Mom, Johanna, who was 10 years old when it happened. I hope you’ll find it interesting, even though it has nothing to do with quilts (pretty clever segue – huh? :-)).

My husband is from Mason City, IA and his Great Grandfather, Furman Stephenson, was a prominent citizen during his career in the brick and tile industry.


One morning, in March of 1934, Grandpa Furman (who was 76 at the time) went into the First National Bank of Mason City to transact some business. He was wearing a 1 carat diamond tie tack that he had received in payment for a car. While he was in the bank Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and the gang showed up to rob the bank! They took all the cash and then grabbed a bunch of hostages to line up on the running boards of the cars as a human shield and make their getaway.

Grandpa Furman was one of the hostages and as one of the gangsters pushed him up against the car he asked “what do you want with me? I’m an old man and I’ll only slow you down.” The gangster agreed and pushed him in the dirt … with the diamond tie tack in plain view! After the gang departed Grandpa picked himself up, dusted himself off and went about his business. That night during dinner a neighbor called to ask how Furman was doing. When Grandma Sadie asked why, the neighbor told her that he had been in the bank that morning when the Dillinger gang robbed it. The family story goes that facing the gang was nothing compared to facing Grandma’s wrath for not having mentioned it to her :-)!

The diamond was passed down to Mike’s Grandfather who had it made into a ring and Mike inherited the ring when his step-father passed away a few years ago.

Well, I’ve heard this story many times and my Mother-in-law was always a bit disappointed after sharing it because it had never been documented. When she passed away in January, we took her ashes out to Mason City to be buried next to Dad and during her funeral I shared the story of the ring Mike was wearing with an acquaintance. After hearing it he told me that a few years back the Globe Gazette, Mason City’s newspaper, had begun holding a reenactment of the bank robbery every March and he thought they would be interested in the story. We contacted the paper and 2 weeks later the story Mom had shared for so many years was finally documented on the front page of the Globe Gazette with this picture of Furman, Sadie and the ring:

Furman-story4If only we had thought to do this while Mom was still around to see it in print. I hope you enjoyed the story and promise to get back to a more quilt related topic next week!

April 7, 2013, Uncategorized
Quilter Jim

This past September I taught my Mariner’s Compass technique at the Madison Quilt Expo. I had full classes all 3 days and I enjoyed the show immensely. Two months later I received an email from one of the 2 men who had taken my class at the show. Jim had completed the compass from the kit in class, but he had had some trouble with the outer edge:

Jims compass 1I was able to give him an alternative method for appliquéing the compass to a background fabric. Some time went by and then I received another email from Jim with a picture of his compass on the background and with a border. I was so pleased. He asked me about additional borders and suggestions for having it long arm quilted because he had never quilted anything before. At this point I encouraged him to quilt it himself (many of you will not be surprised by this :-)). We exchanged a few more emails and then I didn’t hear anything for a while.

This past week Jim sent me this photograph:

Jims mc 2Don’t you just love his smile ……. and the quilt?!? Here’s what he wrote:

“Hi Chris, I have just completed my Mariner Compass Quilt and have it hanging in my Florida Living Room. I wanted to share the image with you as I feel proud of the final quilt. You were quite right I was able to do the quilting myself and the use of the tape was very helpful.”

I was tickled and wrote right back to ask for permission to share his story and his quilt on my blog. His response:

“I would be proud to have you post my story and pictures on your blog. Maybe they will help others like myself to take the leap like I did. I really appreciate the time you took to explain how to do the tape method – it worked beautifully.”

This is what makes teaching so much fun. In case you’re curious about the tape method, it’s a simple way to mark the lines to be quilted by placing the edge of a length of masking tape along the line to be quilted, stitching along the tape and then removing the tape to be used again on the next line.

I’d like to share just one more quote:

“I made a great deal of use of your book “Compass Capers”. The book allowed me to complete the compass as your directions were quite clear and concise.”

Thanks, Jim, for letting me share your story, quilt and picture.  You are certainly an encouragement to me!

PS Thanks for all the kind words and prayers concerning the loss of my Mother-in-law. I’m writing this blog from a motel in Mason City, IA. Mom was from here and the family has brought her back for the funeral on Monday. She was a dear lady and will be missed.

PPS I can’t resist posting just one photo from my trip to Washington. Here’s Grandma with Hanna, Willy and Rainee Lynn:



January 19, 2013, Uncategorized
A Short Break

I returned home last night (Sunday) from a 5 day visit with my grandchildren in Washington State to find that my dear Mother-in-Law had passed away. She had been suffering with Parkinson’s Disease for many years and is now out of pain and with the Lord.

I think I need to skip a week on the blog, but will return with a new topic next Monday. Thanks, Chris

January 14, 2013, Uncategorized
What a Wonderful Time of the Year!

A white Christmas has certainly arrived here, with over 10″ of fresh, beautiful snow!

Add today’s sunshine and it is breathtaking!

What a blessing! I’ve been counting my blessings a lot lately and this is certainly a season for doing just that. While putting up my Holy Family quilt I realized I wanted to share some Christmas thoughts with you.

Christmas is a time for many things: cherishing our families, exchanging gifts, doing things for others, eating, singing and so much more. For most of my life these were what defined Christmas. But 15 years ago my family went through some very difficult times. During those years Christmas was hard. I wanted to have the perfect “photo greeting card family” and I didn’t and I was so sad. That was when the Lord saved me. He made me realize that this is an imperfect world and that’s why he had to be born as a man. So that he could live a perfect life, pay the price for sin and return to heaven to prepare a place for all who accept His greatest gift – Salvation!

Ever since that time Christmas has new meaning for me. It’s about celebrating the birth of my Savior. He was a servant – which gives the concept of doing things for others so much more meaning. He is the best gift, so even when life isn’t picture perfect, we have the peace and joy that comes from knowing Him.

From my home to yours – I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16

December 23, 2012, Uncategorized
Have You Ever?

First, I’d like to thank everyone for the kind words about the Featured Quilter article on the NQA website. You are all such a blessing to me.

Now for this week’s topic:

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself because you missed a self imposed deadline? I was in that situation last week. I wanted to have the Tuscan Sun autograph quilt completed for the post, but I didn’t get the outer border quilted. I was annoyed with myself, but decided I had done enough quilting on it to complete the post. Now I realize that not finishing the quilting and posting it in it’s unfinished state was a blessing. Would you like to know why :-)? Here’s the story:

The last night Wendy and I were together in Rome (7 of us stayed a few extra days) I realized I hadn’t gotten signatures from our tour guide and one of our travelers. So, Wendy took 2 of my blocks on the bus to the airport the next morning to have them signed, and I promptly forgot all about it.

After posting last week I received a message from Wendy saying that she still had those 2 signature blocks. Because I hadn’t quilted the outer border, I was able to remove 2 blank blocks and sew Rudi and Ruth’s blocks into place.

The new blocks are in and, even though I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to quilt it, I’m sooooo pleased I didn’t finish the quilting on that border!!!

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself because you hadn’t finished a quilt only to find that it was a fortunate occurrence? Please comment and let me know.


December 2, 2012, Uncategorized
Fabric Flowers

When my friend Linda had heart surgery I wanted to bring her something special. A few years earlier I had created a fabric flower bouquet for a fundraiser auction at my guild. I decided a fabric bouquet might be just what she needed to cheer her. I stitched some free form flowers, added buttons and beads, attached them to pipe cleaners and – voila – a bouquet!


I was blown away by how much this meant to her. She liked the flowers so much that when Deb, a mutual friend of ours, was ill she wanted to do the same for her. Linda told me she didn’t want to give her bouquet away, so she made a new one for Deb and included one of my flowers in Deb’s arrangement. What a great idea! Deb sent me this picture of her bouquet.


Then, this past Tuesday, I was invited to the 30th Anniversary party of the Log Cabin Quilt Guild in Muskego, WI. They sent invitations to all the past presidents, so Wendy and I were both there (Log Cabin is where Wendy and I met :-)). It was a delightful celebration and the members went above and beyond in providing a great event. Rita, their historian, gave a wonderful talk about the guild’s history and had 16 photo albums of activities through the years. There was a quilt show of past challenges and workshops, yummy snacks, tributes to long term members and each attendee got (you guessed it) a yo-yo flower on a stick out of the entry bouquet! Rita was kind enough to send me this picture.

It seemed obvious at this point that fabric flowers were going to be this week’s blog topic! Have you ever made any posies that won’t wilt? Have you ever received any?


This coming Friday Wendy and I, along with a delightful group of quilters (and friends), will be leaving the US for sunny Italy. We are very excited. I will not be posting for the next 2 weeks, but promise to have plenty of pictures and ideas to share from the trip when I return. Arrivederci! Chris



October 14, 2012, Uncategorized
Fishbowl Quilts & Pet Beds

A while back I posted about fabric storage and I shared a picture of the fishbowl I keep my smallest scraps in:

I’m currently in the midst of designing a project for the Spring semester at WCTC and it is in part a “fishbowl quilt”. The quilt is called Black, White and Bright and there are going to be numerous brightly colored, paper pieced, flying geese (perhaps I should call them flying fish) strips in it. I pulled all the bright hunks out of the bowl and have actually used some of them up!!!

As I cut off pieces too small to save I put them in a bag under my sewing table

and when I’ve filled enough bags, these schnibbles will all be sewn into an old pillowcase and donated to the local animal shelter as a pet bed. No waste!

I shared another fun use for the fishbowl scraps in a post over a year ago. If you need a smile, please click here :-).

Do you keep your schnibbles in a fishbowl? Do you have a better option?


August 5, 2012, Uncategorized
Labeling Vintage Quilts

JoLynn recently wrote me with an antique quilt story:

“I found this old quilt this last month in the middle of the hwy in Texas. It is a grandmothers fan quilt pattern. It needed a lot of repairs so I washed it and I am taking it apart and restoring all of the damaged fan blades. I love how you would not think to add such non matching colors together. I went to the store and bought some of the same colors to replace the ones that were damaged. I have no clue how old this quilt is but it was all hand done. I myself make quilts but I use the sewing machine. :) I am wanting to come up with some type of lable for the quilt but dont have any ideas. If you have any ideas please let me know. Thanks……. Oklahoma Self”

I did a blog post last October with instructions for creating simple labels for vintage quilts. You can click here to read all about it (be sure to read Lucy’s excellent instructions for making labels with the computer). JoLynn’s request made me realize that often we don’t know the quilt’s previous history – so does it really need a label? And if so, what should be on it? My answer would be yes because every quilt has a story we do know: who currently owns it and how they acquired it. JoLynn’s quilt has a wonderful story of adoption and caring and it should be on the label, along with her name, place and date.

Taking the time to label vintage quilts, especially if you have a collection, may be the difficult part. I was guilty of this for years and than a dear friend, Maggi Gordon, wrote a book entitled Vintage Quilts. She was interested in including a number of my quilts. Before I could give them to her for photography they needed to be labeled and now I’m so grateful to have them in the book and the labels done!

This is a wonderful guide for identifying and pricing old quilts and can be obtained through Maggi at:

And now for a plea. I’m currently putting together a new lecture called “Tradition with a Twist”. It will include vintage quilts and modern interpretations. I’ve been collecting the older quilts for a while and find there are still 2 patterns I don’t have. I’m looking for an old (30 years or older) Pineapple Log Cabin and a Burgoyne Surrounded. It you have either of these you would be willing to part with, please let me know and we can talk about it :-). Thanks!

PS I had a wonderful visit with my daughter and grandkids in Washington. I can’t resist sharing a few pictures. Here is Rainee Lynn at 2 weeks old:

and her sister and brother, Hanna and Willy:

Short Intermission!

Thanks for stopping by my blog this week. I will not be doing a quilting post as my daughter in Washington just had a little girl and I’m heading west to do a lot of hugging. I’ll be posting something quilty next week (and maybe a picture or 2 of Rainee Lynn- she and cousin Sommer are only 3 months apart :-)).


June 29, 2012, Uncategorized
Creativity Showcase

As I’ve stated before, I love all aspects of quilting. From the antique bed covers that kept our ancestors warm, to traditional versions of those designs right up to modern or artsy projects, I’m always on the lookout for new and fun ideas in the quilt world.

A few months ago I received an interesting email from Joanne Grimes. She is a self taught quilter with a very unique approach to quiltmaking. She purchases her fabric at thrift stores (this includes all sorts of garments and the fiber content is unimportant). She then creates her own designs from the inside out, using her own common sense, color sense and piecing techniques. Here are two of her quilts:

I think the intricacy of her designs is truly amazing and I told her so. She then sent me a picture of her most recent work in progress:

 Here’s what she said about it:

“I just finished the piecing part. I stopped counting pieces after the total of the stars went over a 1000 pieces.Thrift store for the fabric which includes a Packer t-shirt, some hospital scrubs, skirts, shorts,  shirts, pants and other t-shirts, but I did have the colors mostly decided before I went shopping.”

AMAZING! Atta girl Joanne. Keep innovating and thanks for the pictures.

I also want to share a quilt begun by Barb Setzer in a recent Compass Capers class I taught at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. She took the round class project to a whole new level and just sent me a picture of her compass creation. I so enjoy sharing what others are doing with my technique :-):

She never put the 4 quarters of that compass together, but instead she made 4 additional oval compasses and used the original quarters at the sides. Very creative! The class was last month and it’s quilted and bound! Quite impressive.

Thanks Barb and Joanne!

PS you may email Joanne at:

Quilting Fun in Paducah

Wendy and I have just returned from a wonderful time at the AQS show in Paducah, KY.

The quilts were amazing, the vendors exciting, and the weather beautiful with no floods in sight. I have a few thoughts, a great tip, and a good laugh I’d like to share.

We used to stay at the Executive Inn, but that is gone now and, after last year’s show Wendy and I decided we wanted to find a way to stay downtown once again (instead of at the Baymont by the Interstate). I did a bit of checking and we ended up at the 1857’s Bed &Breakfast on the second floor of a downtown building. It was delightful! Here’s our front door.

Our suite included a living room (which we turned into a quilt studio),

kitchen, sitting room and 2 bedrooms. All across the brick street from the Yeiser Art Gallery. What a blessing! We certainly had some fun nights of sewing here.

Hanging the show as part of the Prairie Heritage Quilters from Sun Prairie, WI, is always a joy. After the quilts were up we had the rest of the week to be inspired, shop, eat, take classes and………I was blessed with the opportunity to teach too!!! My first teaching assignment was to do a demonstration at the All Star Review on Tuesday afternoon. In the past the teachers each had a table and repeated their demo numerous times as the students moved from table to table. This year they had the teachers do their demo on a stage just once for everyone. This was especially nice for the teachers as we each got to see what the other was showing. The crowd seemed to really enjoy all the learning and after my time I was interviewed by a reporter from the Paducah Sun. It was so exciting to get the paper – complete with picture – ta da!

I hope you got as good a chuckle from it as I did. The camera that is filming my hands is not in the best of spots, but at least you can see Wendy’s face as she gracefully holds up a quilt :-).

So what was one of our favorite tips??? In a class Wendy took with Libby Lehman she learned that it is a good idea to begin attaching your binding at the top of a wallhanging because the bottom edge is usually closer to the viewer (or judge) and will be the area seen first. I’d never thought about it like that. Makes sense.

To see a You Tube video of the winning quilts go to:

The Quilt Show set up video is quite interesting also (with a cameo appearance by Wendy).

The AQS show in Paducah is my favorite show every year and if you haven’t been there I highly recommend putting it on your calendar for next year!

April 30, 2012, Uncategorized
Opinions Please!

I’m currently in the throes of writing my third book. This one will be similar to the others in that it’s based on a class I’ve taught many times and students have asked for it in book form. It will differ from the others in that I’m going the route of self-publishing. I’m very blessed in that my daughter-in-law, Betsy, is a talented graphic designer and we’re finding we make a great team.

We’ve reached the point of editing and I’m having a difficult time deciding on a title for the book. While riding in the car the other day I asked my husband to help me do a little brainstorming and he gave me a few good chuckles. Instead of helping me narrow down the options, he just gave me more. So, I thought I would get some feedback from quilters this time.

As many of you know, my technique differs from most of the other books out there in that the drafting is done using only a pencil, ruler and paper folding techniques. Because of this compasses can be made any size and any shape. They can then be accurately paper pieced.

With the other books on the market, the pattern you see is all you get, so there’s no opportunity for creativity.

So…. how do I get this difference across on the cover of the book? That’s where you come in. The following are the titles that have made the cut so far (in no particular order). Please read them over and let me know which one appeals to you. Thanks in advance :-)!

Compass Creations

Compass Capers

Not Your Mama’s Compass (this was one of Mike’s)

Create a Compass Your Way

Journey With a Compass

May the Compass Be With You (Mike’s favorite!)

Compass Capers – Create Your Own Unique Mariner’s Compass Block

Finding Your Way With a Compass  – Who Needs a GPS?

Getting Lost With a Compass (another of Mike’s)


November 20, 2011, Uncategorized
Old Frame, New Life

I met my friend, Eileen Rozumialski, when she signed up for our Sew We Go trip to Ireland. She was a fairly new quilter at that time and a delight to get to know. She has recently retired and shared a story with me about her new quilting studio. It was a story and an idea I think you will enjoy.

I often run into quilters who have inherited quilting frames from a relative. They usually are not sure what to do with them. I now have a suggestion and here’s Eileen’s tale in her own words and pictures:

“You might remember I mentioned some time ago having my grandmother’s quilting frame.  I would guess it must be 100 years old.  We finally figured out how to mount it on the wall so I could use it for displaying quilts.  3 of the boards are up and currently holding a quilt my great Aunt Ida hand pieced and quilted around 1940 using flour sacks and the maternity tops my mother wore while carrying my brother and myself.  I was actully unaware of them until my Mother passed some years ago and the quilts were found folded up and “stuffed” in pillowcases!  I learned she (my mother) had always been afraid to use the quilts as they were so precious to her.  Am hoping with hanging some of the creases will disappear.  As you can see on the picture the friend who figured out how to hang the frame figured out new pegs so I can raise or lower the horizontal piece.  We then used the 4th board in my new work studio (also in my basement).  I am thrilled beyond measure to be using the frame (and to now have a studio to sew in).

I know the frames were left unused in the rafters of a garage for probably 50 or 60 years before I figured out what to do with them and had a place to do it!  They were a piece of my family history I wasn’t ready to throw out and am so glad now I hadn’t.”

I’m so pleased Eileen cherishes all these pieces of her family history and thank her for allowing me to share them with you. Has anyone else found a new use for an old quilting frame?

October 23, 2011, Uncategorized
Quilting In the Desert

What could be more appealing than Arizona in January? How about a quilting retreat in Arizona in January? I’ve been blessed with the delightful opportunity to teach at this exciting event with many other inspiring teachers and wanted to let you know all about it!

Quilting in the Desert is held in Phoenix at the InnPlace Hotel Phoenix North.  Check out the website for all the details:

Please consider making the trip for 5 days of quilts, classes, sunshine and fun!

October 16, 2011, Travel Uncategorized
Let’s Face It!

My latest quilt has a very odd outer edge that I wanted to face, rather than bind. After a bit of noodling I came up with a way that worked great! It would work for any quilt with a curved or unusual outer edge (scallops, double wedding ring, grandmother’s flower garden, etc.). I can’t show the front of the quilt because I plan on entering it in a major show and don’t want to have it shown publically yet. So here’s the step by steps along with a full shape picture from the back :-). I hope you enjoy them.

1. Layer and quilt the quilt. Then, with water soluable thread on top and a thread that contrasts the backing fabric in the bottom, stitch through all layers on the exact line that will be the outer edge of the quilt. Cut away all layers 1/4″ from this line.

2. Lay quilt, right sides together, on a piece of  facing fabric which is slightly larger than the quilt itself . Pin all the way around.

3. Stitch through all layers (with regular thread on top now), exactly on the previous stitching line, all the way around.

4. Trim even with quilt and clip all “inny” angles.

5. Trim facing fabric 1″  away from stitching, all the way around.

6. Fold facing to back of quilt and match facing raw edge with quilt raw edge.

7. Fold facing completely to back and pin in place.

8. Hand stitch the facing to the back of the quilt and – Voila – you’re done!

If any of the water soluable thread shows along the edge, just get it wet and the problem will be solved (or disolved :-).

Also – This past week Laura Krasinski and I hung a joint exhibit of our work entitled “Make a Joyful Noise” in the lobby of the Waukesha Civic Theater on Main Street in Waukesha (just 2 doors down from Frank’s Sewing Center). Please stop by if you’re in the area!

October 10, 2011, finishing Uncategorized
Howe Many Machines Do You Own?

If you want to feel better about your sewing machine collection, read on. Up until recently I owned 6 (but one’s a treadle that’s being used as an end table, so I’m not sure it counts). I recently acquired #7…with my husband’s blessing, and I can’t wait to share. We were wandering through an antique store in Fort Atkinson, WI when this machine caught my eye:

For many years I’ve been presenting a quilt lecture about my collection of antique quilts entitled “But I Still Love You”. In it I share some sewing machine history, including information on Elias Howe, the “inventor of the sewing machine” (there were other machines invented in other countries, but his was the most user friendly and marketable, so he’s credited with it). There is actually a plaque on the machine with a bust of Elias Howe and the words “Elias Howe Jr; Inventor and Maker; New York, USA”.

The machine has been mounted in a case with a glass front and a light inside so that the mechanism underneath can be viewed when the crank is turned.

The case has a plaque that reads: “Inventor: Elias Howe; Patent #4750 Granted 9-10-1846; circa 1865-67; Restored by Carmon M. Howe; 1991”. I was able to contact Mr. Howe and he told me he is not related to the inventor. He found the machine on the 3rd floor of an antique store in LaCrosse, WI with about an inch of dust on it. When he saw the name – he had to have it :-). He said it won’t run because the bobbin mechanism was missing. We had a lovely conversation and he told me to enjoy the machine. I am already.

 After a bit of web surfing I found a photo of the same model machine as mine and it is indeed from 1867!  I searched for more details about the machine and found very little. I did find a wealth of information about Elias Howe and am anxious to share it in future lectures.

So, anyone own more than 7 sewing machines???

July 31, 2011, Uncategorized Vintage Quilts
Shrek on Quilting II

I was so pleased with the positive feedback on the quilt basting frame and I have a few more frame related comments:

1. I have 2 comments that would fall under the heading “leave your pins open”. The first is good advice when you take the pins out of your quilt as you’re quilting. I always toss them in a container open and store them this way. The downside is you get poked when pulling them out for the next use, but the upside is you don’t waste energy closing and reopening. It’s much healthier for your hands -ergonomically.

2. Next, leave the pins open as you baste the quilt. I do this whenever I pin a quilt in the frame by myself. It’s easier on the back to leave the pins open, remove the quilt from the frame and then sit in a comfy chair to close them all with a Kwik Clip or grapefruit spoon.

3. Storing the boards – you’ll want to keep the boards in a dry place so they don’t get damp and warp. I’ve found that stacking them in an I-beam in the basement keeps them out of the way, yet easily accessible. Wrapping a bungie cord around the I-beam near each end keeps them from tumbling down!

4. My final recommendation is that it is definitely more fun to “frame a quilt” with friends. Last week Ida was so sweet to come over as soon as I called. What a dear friend! Many years ago I needed to baste a quilt with a deadline and had mentioned it to Sharon and Carol early in the day. Mike was out of town and the kids were in bed when I finally set the frame up in the living room. We lived out in the country at that time too, so when I saw headlights coming up the driveway at 9pm, I was a bit concerned. What a delight to see my wonderful quilting friends walk up to the door – with chocolate! The quilt was quickly basted and a good time was had by all!!

So, how do you store your pins? Do you have a “quilting friends to the rescue” story?

July 25, 2011, Uncategorized
U Rah Rah Guilds

Thanks for all the positive comments about the spiral quilting on my recent project. It made me want to keep at it. This got me to thinking about how valuable encouragement from others really is, especially in our quilting. It can come in many forms: friends, family, classes and guilds (just to mention a few).

That led me to thinking about the quilt guilds I’ve belonged to and I decided it was a topic I wanted to expound on. So I’ve put on my cheerleader personna to get everyone excited about  guilds (yes, this was scanned straight out of my yearbook and I’m not telling the year!) 

Guilds are a great way to socialize, problem solve, be inspired and encourage each other! I feel that quilt guilds are also a great bargain. I currently belong to 2 guilds, but at one time I was a member of 5! The average yearly dues typically run between $20 and $30 and can include up to 12 meetings a year. Some have sub-groups where quilters can really get to know each other and many do charity projects. Most have at least a few speakers each year and to attend similar lectures at a quilt show would probably cost more than the yearly dues. What a bargain – and that doesn’t begin to cover what I think is the real value! My favorite part of each meeting is Show & Tell. I am always inspired by seeing what others are doing. In the Milwaukee Art Quilters we often use our S & T time to ask for critiques or help on current problem projects. This is something I greatly appreciate and it could be done in a sub group if your main meeting is too large.

Patched Lives (my more traditional guild) has 2 pot luck meetings a year that really focus on sharing ideas and getting to know each other. Good food and good friends, who could ask for more? We also have challenges and exchanges that inspire us to do different things and stretch skillwise as well as creatively.

I could go on and on, but I won’t :-). This brings me to a subject that is dear to my heart. It takes a lot of effort to have a great guild and many hands make light work. So if you belong to a guild, make sure you don’t just sit back and enjoy, but you do your part. I’ve found being on the board of my guilds has extra benefits. As President I found I got to know more members outside of my immediate circle. As program chair, I was able to bring in the teachers I wanted to learn from. When working on committees I experienced the satisfaction of being a part of the good things that were going on.

A number of years ago Wendy Rieves and I got the idea to write a book called Guild Builders. Our hope was that it would give loads of ideas to new boards so that they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel once they were elected and it would encourage everyone to get involved. The subtitle was going to be “How to Get That Quilter in the Second Row Off Her Fat Quarter and Helping”! We haven’t succeeded in having it published yet (actually making quilts is more fun), but it’s still a possibility. Wendy and I are always willing to share our Guild Builders ideas with anyone interested and are always looking to add to our stockpile of helpful ideas.

In conclusion I would recommend that, if you don’t belong to a guild – do it, and if you do….well… just read that “fat quarter” thing (hee!hee!).

Go Guilds!

July 4, 2011, Uncategorized