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Fascinating Specialty Quilts

Over the past month or so I’ve seen a few quilts that are so unique I just have to share. Last week I posted about the Capital Quilters show in Bismarck, ND. One of the quilters who was in my Beginning Fiber Art class, Colleen, had a quilt in the show that really made me smile. It’s called Mod TVs (I apologize that I don’t have Colleen’s last name, nor the quilter of her quilt – the picture of the card on the quilt was too blurry to read):

Colleen said she made it from a pattern, but the special part was she picked some of her favorite cartoon characters from the past and her long-arm quilter came up with patterns to put them on the tv screens.

What a trip down memory lane. Thanks Colleen!

The next quilt I want to share was made by Debbie Hawver. She was asked by a friend to make a memory quilt from her granddaughter Grace’s clothes. Debbie did an amazing job of fitting the clothes together:

She kept many of the flounces, straps, and ruffles, and even repliquéd Grace’s name in her favorite colors. What a treasure! Great job Debbie!

Debbie is a regular in my Open Lab class, as is Jean Casey, who also made a fascinating quilt for a friend. Her friend’s husband died unexpectedly and Jean was asked to make a memory quilt from his shirts and ties. She decided to match them up and created this amazing quilt in a “quilt-as-you-go” fashion.

Jean used the collars along with the ties, and then quilted each block in a pattern to match the tie.

In this one straight quilting lines are an extension of angles in the tie fabric.

She matched up railroad tracks with the train tie.

And this one is self explanatory. Jean said she did a bit of free-motion practicing before actually quilting this block.

The border is made from leftover shirt pieces and she even put a few pockets in for fun! Well done, Jean.

Three very different and delightful quilts. Thanks for letting me share them ladies.


Also – last week I mentioned a great idea for making sample quilt sandwiches to practice free-motion quilting on:

Purchase pre-quilted muslin fabric with your 50% off coupon at JoAnn’s and simply cut it into smaller rectangles. I spent a few days teaching for the Shawnee Quilters in Carbondale, IL this past week (a wonderful group) and tried it out. It worked great! No basting sprays, no pins in the way, and it’s quite easy to ignore the cross-hatching in the background!

While I was in Carbondale I had a delightful surprise. Nancy had been at a meeting where I presented my Quilt Tales lecture – complete with tuxedo.

She snapped a pic of it and created her own  😀 ! front:

and back:

I love it – hope it made you smile.

November 18, 2018, Inspiration
A Red Patch

My friend Vicki Spiering is a talented, award winning quilter who did something simple when she first began making quilts – that I wish I had done! I’ll let her tell you in her own words:

I was introduced to quilting in 1989 by enrolling in an MATC adult ed quilting class at Greenfield High School. I had been a 4-H girl, loved to sew but didn’t know much about quilting. It was probably during one of these early classes, when the ladies of the class were visiting and getting to know each other, that an elderly lady in our class told me about an aunt who had made quilts for family members, placing a small green patch in each quilt (I’ll assume they were Irish). The quilter’s descendants had scoured antique stores checking old quilts; when they found one with the green patch, they knew that they had found their ancestor’s work. This idea appealed to me and my next fabric shopping spree included 2 yards of a red pin-dot fabric to incorporate someplace in my quilts. 

It’s been almost 30 years, and yes, every quilt of mine has a little red patch. And I still have plenty left from that 2 yard purchase.


In the early 90’s, for a few years, I had a little cottage quilt pattern company – and naming my business “A Red Patch” was easy. When friends and family receive my quilts, almost the first thing they do is hunt for the patch (red arrow added).

I don’t necessarily try to hide the red fabric patch, but I also don’t want it to stand out and distract from my quilt either.

I have my rules too. I now find it part of my art and think in advance where I might place it. The Red patch is never more than a single triangle in a block, or a leaf in a floral appliqué. I don’t want it to be obnoxious or a focal point in my quilt.

I do think of  my legacy and descendants who might search for my work knowing that my quilt, large or small, can always be identified by this red piece of fabric. It’s been fun.

This is a picture of the very first quilt I made with the red dot fabric in it:

I brought this quilt out to photograph for your blog and can’t stop thinking about how I went about starting it in1989. Class #1 was all about getting excited, talking about what a quilt was, patterns we might be wanting to make, etc. I jumped ahead of Class #2 and went out and bought my fabric. The pattern I picked said that I needed 36 – 1″ squares with 1/4″ seam allowance for each complete block, etc. I still remember cutting up a cereal box and making my cardboard templates. Then tracing around and hand cutting out 100+ little squares, half blue, half peach. I came to class with zip lock baggies full of little cut up squares and I was sure I was going to impress my teacher. Her mouth dropped and she felt so bad …. because class #2 was talking about tools, (Olfa cutter and rulers) and tricks (like strip piecing for a 9-patch). I threw the baggies out and bought more fabric. How far I’ve come :)”

Vicki’s most recent email included this message and picture:

“A few years ago I was in San Francisco and my husband Kurt (architect) and I visited a frank Lloyd Wright building. It was then that I discovered FLWright had red tiles made and one tile is in many of his buildings.”

What a nice addition to her story – and I’m pleased to add her image to the rest. Thank you Vicki for sharing your story and quilts. It almost makes me want to go back and add a patch of something to all my quilts, but I’m afraid it’s too late.

Has anyone else had the forethought to do something clever like this to make your quilts identifiable? Please share your story as a comment to this blog. If it’s too long – and you have pictures – please send me an email.


Ben Franklin Quilt Fest – Oconomowoc, WI

I’ve been invited to be one of the speakers at this year’s Quilt Fest! My talk will be about my new passion: Modular Memory Quilts! If you missed my lecture at the Madison Quilt Expo – here’s your chance  :-)! For information on all the activities go to:

September 16, 2018, Inspiration
Quilt Artist Extraordinaire!
Would you believe the person who made this stunning quilt is visually impaired?
It’s title is “Pips on Point” and it was made by my dear friend Lisa Giesfeldt. Here’s a detail picture to make sure you’re sufficiently impressed :-)!
I’m constantly amazed at her artistry and effort. I asked her to write her story for my blog in her own words and was delighted when she agreed.
“I started quilting four months after my oldest was born in 1993, and was completely hooked within the next few years. I began to enter local quilt shows after joining my first guild in 1999 where I met yours truly, Chris. Four more guilds later, and quite a few ribbons, convinced me to starting my own quilting business, which included craft shows and machine quilting for others. 
Everything came to a crashing halt the day before my 35th birthday in 2000. I awoke that morning unable to see clearly out of my left eye. I thought it was due to a possible tear in an old contact lens.  After putting in a new lens there wasn’t any change in the vision in the eye. After visiting an opthamologic specialist, who said I would never regain vision in the eye, I felt helpless and scared. Luckily my mom came up to help and took me to the Eye Institute of Wisconsin. We found out that I had macular degeneration, which is very rare in someone so young. I had a recessive gene from each parent as well as severe myopia. The cracks that had developed required laser surgery to prevent any more stress and cracks to the retina. After months of depression I finally got back into quilting. My right eye was strong, and my quilting muscular memory skills were also strong. 
It didn’t take long before I adapted to the loss of the central part of my vision in my left eye. I also discovered some new tools which helped a lot. The June Tailor Shape Cut ruler recommended by Chris, really made a huge difference.
I could very accurately cut strips without any worries. I also started using the Creative Grid Rulers which have very clear markings. I also recommend rulers with high color contrast which make the black lines stand out. 
Everything was going well for the next 7 years — designing patterns and teaching at some local quilt stores; winning more ribbons on my quilts;
quilting countless quilts for others; and being a stay at home mom for two young boys. In 2007 another catastrophe occurred. I received a head trauma to my right side which caused another crack, but this time to my right eye.  I discovered at this point that I also had myopic degeneration and not just macular degeneration. The severe stretching of my eyes has caused the retina to become extremely thin and fragile. Needless to say, this caused another setback in my quilting endeavors. Another laser surgery was needed to prevent the cracks in my right eye from spreading and causing more damage. 
I refused to let everything stop me from going forward. I still entered a competition piece that year in Sun Prairie titled “Circle of Blues” after my feelings at the time. It didn’t earn a ribbon, but, I got it done. By the end of the year my left eye, now having to be the stronger one even without the central vision, became my lead.  I also found a magnifier attachment from Bernina that fit on my 150 machine.
I still use it today when quilting matching thread on dark backgrounds. It really helps me to actually “see” every stitch and how I’m doing.  All the Ott lights I use around my machine and cutting areas also reduce any eye strain. 
Over the years since 2007, I’ve adapted to my disabilities. I rely very heavily on the peripheral vision of my left eye when cutting and piecing. I use a Dritz machine needle threader to thread all my machines as I can’t see the hole in the needle anymore to do it by hand. In 2014 my husband bought a larger Bernina for me, a 710,
which enables me to quilt the bigger customer quilts much easier. (I still can quilt a 130″ X 130″ quilt on my 150 if I need to.). There are times when it is very frustrating not being able to see whether everything is accurate or not. I have to rely more and more on 24 years of quilting memory. But, I haven’t given up.  I still enter competitions to keep the creative juices going. Each one pushes me to prove that I can still enjoy the hobby I consider my second passion, after my family of course. I also think that continuing to stay in two guilds has made a huge difference.  The support I get from my quilting friends allows me to forget about my vision issues and focus on the future. And, that next challenge.”
She did add, in a phone conversation we had, that her greatest frustration is everything takes so much longer than when she could see well. I think from the following pictures, her work is worth the extra time!

“Circle-go-Round”  the Sun Prairie Quilt Show “Best of Challenge” winner

“Quilting Inferno” – another Sun Prairie Quilt Show “Best of Challenge” winner

“Wicked Comes to Wisconsin” – made for the Cherrywood Wicked challenge

Cherrywood/Quiltworx challenge quilt

“Our Yellow Magnolia” – made for the Milwaukee Art Quilters “Not So Mellow Yellow” challenge

“Van Gogh Goes to Zaanse Schans” – made for the Cherrywood Van Gogh challenge – Lisa’s quilt placed in the top 20 and will be exhibited in Paris in 2018

“Hidden Spirit Within” – made for the Milwaukee Art Quilters “Self Portrait of the Artist as an Animal” challenge. Lisa’s husband transferred a picture of her eyes to fabric for her to use for the eyes of the eagle.

Thanks to Lisa for allowing me to share her story and just a few of her incredible quilts.
 I hope you are inspired and encouraged by Lisa, Maria and Mary. I think they all are a great example of Maria’s Insight Resilience group’s motto: “just because you’ve lost your sight doesn’t mean you’ve lost your vision”!

November 19, 2017, Inspiration
Visually Impaired Quilting 2

I met Mary years ago. She had broken her wrist and wasn’t able to cook for herself. At that time I was delivering Meals on Wheels and was blessed to have her added to my list. We both share a strong faith and became quick friends and prayer partners. I soon learned she also sewed and when she discovered I taught quilting she signed up for a class.

Mary does wonderful work, but over the years her macular degeneration has made sewing increasingly difficult. She perseveres, piecing by machine and quilting by hand. Recently she asked me to help her to quilt a lap sized, scrappy rail fence quilt and I was happy to do it. She already had it layered when I got there and she told me to do whatever I wanted, so I brought it home and chose to spiral quilt in the blocks (of course – it’s my favorite free motion pattern).

Then I chose to straight line “piano key” quilt the wide border. I had an ulterior motive – I wanted to play with my “Line Tamer” ruler from “Four Paws Quilting” (click here for their website). It makes straight line quilting on a free motion machine almost fool proof. It works well on a domestic machine with a ruler foot too! Stitching in the ditch between the borders was a breeze because the channel in the ruler keeps things lined up exactly where you want them.

When I’d get to the spot where I wanted to turn perpendicular to the inner border and channel quilt I simply rotated the ruler, lined it up parallel to the last quilting line and continued stitching.

The floral fabric makes the stitching lines a bit difficult to see, but I hope you get the picture.

So here’s the part that made me laugh out loud. Mike didn’t know I was doing this for Mary. During the quilting process I would lay her quilt out on the floor when taking a break.

At one point I ran upstairs to get a cup of tea and when I came down Mike had come in from outside and was looking at the quilt. He said “now that’s a quilt I can relate to, it looks like a real quilt”.

I guess I’ve overwhelmed him with my art quilts lately 😀 ! I think he felt badly when I told him it was Mary’s quilt because he thought he’d hurt my feelings, but I thought it was hilarious. I love traditional quilts as much as I do fiber art, even though I’ve obviously been doing more art quilting lately.

When I returned Mary’s quilt to her I told her the story about Mike and she loved it! Since Maria was kind enough to let me give one of her Quick Threading needles to Mary – I presented it to her with the quilt and she was intrigued. She told me she’d give it a try and let me know what she thinks. Mary has a needle threader built into her sewing machine, but every so often the wire in it bends and then she’s out of luck. I think these needles will be a nice back up for her.

Mary is going to do the squaring up and binding on her quilt and give it to her brother and sister-in-law for their anniversary. I’m sure they’ll love it.

Next week I’m planning one last post in this series. Stay tuned – I know you won’t want to miss it!

Oh – just one more picture. This is Maria’s most recent quilt:

She began it in Open Lab from a picture she found on the internet. She used a gridded fusible interfacing as her base and cut up squares from a bright Jellyroll™ of 2″ strips. She then added some additional batiks Jean brought in for her (the friends in my Open Lab are really good at sharing). I’ve never seen Maria so joyful over a quilt. She really enjoyed the entire process and I think her joy shows in the quilt. Great job Maria!

Fabric of Survival

My friend Nina emailed me shortly after reading about the Sister City challenge on my blog. In her email she wrote about two topics I think you’ll find interesting. The first was related to the post I did concerning the exhibit of Rumi O’brien’s story quilts in Madison (please click here to read that post). Here’s what Nina had to say:

“Last week’s piece about Rumi struck a chord.  I am hoping to get to Madison. And…I want to let you know about another exhibit of story quilts if you haven’t already heard about it. It is called “Fabric of Survival,” 36 quilted and embroidered pieces created by a Holocaust survivor when she was 50 to show her daughters what her life in Europe was like. They will be at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee , opening Thursday night Feb 16 through May 26.  Here is a link about it: 
Nina did send me a copy of the book about Esther’s quilts.
The quilts are fascinating, and the needlework – amazing! Here are just two from the collection:
To see all of the quilts go to:
A group of us from my Open Lab class drove down to the museum this past Thursday to see Esther’s quilts and hear Nina present a talk entitled “Diversity in Cloth: Culture and Catharsis”.
The quilts were outstanding and really need to be seen “in the cloth”. Nina’s lecture was very interesting and informative. It was a delightful evening.

Another item Nina shared in her email to me was triggered by the mention of the sister cities quilt challenge between Madison, WI and Freiberg, Germany (please click here to read that post). This is a portion of that email:

“I have to say, the blog about your challenge with the two other cities caught my eye.  Freiberg is near the place my father was a GI prisoner of war, and the town his rescuers were born in.  They met at a farm near Brand-Ebersdorf (on the map just south of Freiberg) and remained best friends for life. I went there in 2013.  I can’t recall if my father’s book came out while I was still trekking to Waukesha? If not, you may find it interesting.  Let me know, and I will send it to you.  The book has grown legs, and I have been invited to groups (churches, libraries, community groups etc) to speak about it all over the country. It is in part a book about faith, and choosing to do the right thing in the wrong place.  Maybe up your alley.”

I was not familiar with the book about Nina’s father, so she sent me a copy, and I read it in 2 nights – I literally couldn’t put it down. It is an amazing story. I highly recommend it!

Thank you, Nina, for your friendship and the information you shared!

March 5, 2017, Inspiration
What is a Fiber Artist?

“The Narrow Gate”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

I am no longer a member of the Milwaukee Art Quilters, but I am part of a new fiber art group in the Milwaukee area called the Threadbenders. I’m very excited about what’s going on with this creative bunch and I hope to share pictures and ideas about the group in a future blog.

So, what makes someone a fiber artist? I couldn’t find a definition in the dictionary, but I have my own opinions on this subject 😀 . I feel that anyone who makes quilts is a fiber artist! We have a passion and purpose for creating quilts that keep our families warm, adorn our walls and tables, or help those who are in need. We purchase fabric and supplies carefully, yet with enthusiasm, cut it apart, sew (or fuse) it back together again, and receive joy in the process. What better form of “art” can there be?

Because I do not have a background in art, I never thought of myself as an artist. When I began quilting I chose geometric patterns to piece because I loved geometry and could use a sewing machine.

My first quilt

As I continued to make quilts I started envisioning projects I couldn’t find patterns for. With the encouragement of teachers and friends, I tried to put into fabric what was floating through my brain and, lo and behold, I was happy with the results (most of the time).

“1491 A Quilter’s View” – made for the Quilters Newsletter Magazine contest “Discovering a New World in Quiltmaking”; 1992

Since, as I said, I have no background in art, I have always felt that there is creativity inside of each of us. That’s what I try to share with my students.

Parallelisms I – my first adventure into the world of abstract art.

But this opinion has evolved over the years. Artists are inspired by many things and my faith in Jesus Christ is a huge part of my inspiration.

“Into the Light – a Journey of Faith” – made for a contest entitled “Windshield Visions”, I’m driving down the curvy road of life towards the light of Christ, and in the rear view mirror is the sinful life I’m attempting to leave behind with the help of the Holy Spirit.

As I’ve grown in my faith I’ve come to realize that, because we are created in God’s image, and His amazing imagination created everything – we must each have some creativity inside of us! I know that my abilities and opportunities are all a gift from Him and I praise and thank Him for it every day! What a blessing it is to be able to do what I love and have others want to know about it. Praise the Lord!

“Crossings V: Living Water” – This is one of a series of quilts I’ve made called “Crossings”. I feel the beads cross the gap and hold the broken pieces of my quilt together, as my faith holds the broken pieces of my life together.

Coming to know Jesus as my Savior has changed my life and my attitude. I realize I have a purpose: to bring God glory. I don’t always succeed, I’m a work in progress, but it is my goal and my joy to share this with others. That’s why I’m a fiber artist!


For those of you in the Milwaukee area, I’d like to share a special opportunity to take a class in fiber art. My dear friend Laura is hosting a special workshop with Barbara Yates Beasley on June 11th. I’m already signed up! Here’s the flyer with all the information.

February 26, 2017, Inspiration
Cookie Nana and the Seven Tree Skirts

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

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


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

“Anna Yersin” Cookie Nana

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

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

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

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

The story continues with Connie’s memories:

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

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

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

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


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

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

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

doily tree skirt

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

doily tree skirts

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

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

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

doily tree skirts

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

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

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

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

December 12, 2015, Inspiration
A Winning Quilter

It’s possible to be an inspirer/encourager in many ways. I recently received an email from my friend Judy who wrote “Congratulations on being a Quilt Inspiration!”. This was followed by a link to this blog: (thanks Judy!). The sisters who write the blog explained on their “about” page: “We created Quilt Inspiration to pay tribute to the artists who inspire us with their beautiful works.” So I quickly scrolled down to see “Intragalactic Journey”, the quilt Evelyn and I made together a few years ago:

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.19.45 PM

You may remember the story of this quilt, and why I wanted to name it “Out of the Bathtub”, but if not, please click here!

What a lovely surprise! It is truly a blessing to be considered an inspiration – especially while having fun with your friends. This leads to this week’s “topic”.

In October of last year I did a blog post with a number of short “topics” in it. One of them, “mini topic #3”, was about the “Inspired by Libby Quilt Auction”. Libby Lehman suffered a stroke in April of 2013, and a number of her friends and fellow teachers made quilts to be auctioned off and help with expenses for Libby’s medical treatment and care (go to: for the original post).

Anne Nee is a friend of mine who has traveled with Wendy and me. She told me she read that post and immediately went to the site and then wrote a check to send for the Libby fund. She also admitted she hadn’t read any further and wasn’t really aware she had put herself into a drawing to possibly win a quilt.

Well, in February she received a call from Mary Ann Fons! Mary Ann told Anne she had won the quilt Mary Ann had made for the benefit auction.

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt

To say Anne was surprised would be putting it mildly. Mary Ann was ready to mail it right away, but Anne was leaving for Arizona. When Anne returned, Mary Ann was traveling, but in March the quilt arrived at Anne’s house. Her granddaughter, Celina, has made a quilt and loves quilting, so Anne waited until Celina could come over and help her open the box. She said it was so much more fun to share the moment with Celina.

The quilt was the perfect fit for Anne – she loves it!

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt

She was excited to show me the hand-made label.

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt

And the autographed copy of the magazine in which the quilt appeared!

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt Anne Nee mag inside

Anne told me she uses the quilts she’s made on her beds, but this was the first one she chose to throw over her favorite chair in the living room (like it is in the photo above), and she snuggles up under it whenever she takes a little rest.

She told me it was all because of me, that I inspired her to go to the blog. But I’d say it was simply a blessing for her, because of her generosity!

Thanks Anne, for sharing your quilt and it’s story with us!

I would also like to share a bit about Libby’s progress since her stroke. During Ricky Tims’ annual concert at the AQS show in Paducah this year. He called Libby on Facetime, live for all to see. She’s come a long way and it was a joy to see her smile. To watch that video go to:



August 2, 2015, Inspiration
Pyramids, Neck Ties, and Floss – Oh my!

Once again I seem to be collecting recent pictures of quilts and projects that are too good not to share. This week’s grouping of short “post-ettes” (mini-posts 😉 ) may be a little eclectic, but I hope you’ll enjoy the variety.

To begin, I taught a somewhat unique class this past week at WCTC. The project was called an “E-Reader Pyramid”. A while back, Jean brought a catalog picture to Open Lab of one of these unusual devices for hands-free reading on your E-Reader. I thought it would make a great Christmas gift for my grandkids (since we gave them Kindle Fires for Christmas last year), and I jumped into designing my own version. It ended up being a different sort of class for me. It was a fun group of pyramid builders, and we had a great time creating together:

pyramid makers

Here’s the one I made for Hanna:

Nancy Drew e-reader pyramid

I couldn’t resist making it out of “Nancy Drew” fabric. She may be a little young for these mysteries now, but I’ve decided that I’m going to gift her one of my cherished, vintage issues along with her pyramid.

For Willy’s, I didn’t have enough of any one fabric that seemed to fit, so I took some of the leftover fabric from his I-Spy quilt, and made each side different:

Willy pyramid 2*************

Last year I introduced you to my friend from Arizona, Margit Kagerer, and her amazing quilts. You can revisit that post at: I was especially intrigued by her necktie quilts. She does small photo snapshot quilts and larger innovative pieces. Here’s just one of the larger tie quilts:

necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer

Margit sent me a copy of her new book.

Margits book

It’s filled with beautiful pictures of her fiber art and a bit of her own thoughts on each. You can contact her at:


Cindy Gillingham makes photo snapshot quilts from men’s neckties too. She recently sent me pictures of her very creative art:

Cindy Gillingham necktie quilts

Cindy Gillingham necktie quilts2



Aren’t they delightful? I found her bindings especially effective in framing the quilts.


Moving on to a completely different style of quilting – I recently taught my Mariner’s compass class for a guild in Galesburg, IL. Joyce Kneer sent me a photograph of the project she completed from that class. Very impressive!

MC Joyce Kneer - Gaylesburg, IL


The next few pictures are of projects embellished with embroidery floss. With my floss frenzy challenge in full swing, I thought they might provide some inspiration. Plus – they’re just fun to look at.

Barbara Byron sent a picture of her embroidered barn quilt:

barbara byron emb barnsPatti Votruba has made some “girly purse” blocks using floss:

Patti emb purse blockAnd in this one she “fringed” the floss along the bottom edge for a really sweet effect:

patti emb purse block with ef fringe

Thanks to everyone who shared pictures this week!

And last, but certainly not least –

A SEW WE GO Update! 

Our 2015 adventures may seem far away but the details require months of planning.  We are quickly approaching some commitment dates with our vendors so we want to be sure we make arrangements for everyone interested.  If you want to participate but haven’t registered yet, please let our travel coordinator know by November 25!

You may email Kristi at   or phone 262-786-6763.

Our 2015 travels will take us to Sisters, Oregon July 8-13 (click here for details) and to Europe October 9-19 (click here to for details).

We always have loads of fun, please join in!

November 9, 2014, Inspiration
Madison Quilt Expo 2014

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

Wisconsin Quilt Expo

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

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

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

Expo 14 Bathtub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expo 14 Lori

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

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

Expo 14 Vicki

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

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

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

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

Floss Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.30.20 PM

September 7, 2014, Inspiration Travel
Inspired by Chihuly

If you’ve been to the Milwaukee Art Museum, I’m sure you’ve been amazed at the glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Here’s a bit of information I found about it on a blog.


To visit that blog go to:

The first time I saw the sculpture at the museum I was blown away. Well, while in Arizona I had the delightful opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens with Evelyn, Hazel, Eddie, Joan and JoAnn


to see an exciting exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s art. It was entitled:


What a feast for the eyes! We arrived shortly before sunset. These photos are courtesy of Evelyn because her pictures were much better than mine. They may not be as good as seeing the gardens in person, but I do hope you’ll find them inspiring non-the-less.

C-boat C-orange


C-night-spirals C-orange-ball2 C-purple2 C-yellow-night-2In this last photo Evelyn caught me enjoying an explosion of blue!

C-blue-profileIf you’d like to watch a video about the artist and how his glass is created, go to:

Whether you are a traditional quilter, a fiber artist, or anywhere in between, I’m sure you are able to appreciate the beautiful use of color and design in these photographs.



February 16, 2014, Inspiration
Kathie’s Lone Star

This week I’d like to share the story of a truly beautiful quilt and a very talented quilter. Kathie Boucher is a fellow member of the Milwaukee Art Quilters who is willing to do as much piecing as it takes to make her quilts showstoppers! She posted this photo to Facebook a few months ago and it overwhelmed me. Kathie's Lone StarThe pieced squares in the background of her broken star took it to a whole new level of interest. And then – she added half Mariner’s Compasses to the corners! I just had to contact her and ask her about it. I was thrilled when she said I could feature the story on my blog. So, here it is, in her own words: “I’m always hoping to convey to people that original quilt design is not out of reach. How I’d love to see more quilters less dependent on someone else’s patterns…. This quilt began its life in a very informal Lone Star class, led by Cheryl Gerbing of Waukesha, WI.  Cheryl’s design would have yielded a 72 inch square quilt. The setting squares and triangles would need to be quite large, and for me this was way too much empty real estate. So my first decision was what to do with those huge squares and triangles. My initial idea was to appliqué them, which caused a lot of hilarity among my friends. They know I don’t like appliqué and have mostly managed to avoid it throughout my quilting career. My friends were right—I found myself thinking up reasons not to work on the quilt, and the eight star points languished in a box for many months. The Lone Star seemed destined to become a Christmas quilt for my bed. I decided to piece eight large setting squares, in order to grow the 72 inch Lone Star into a larger quilt. I worked up some ideas in Electric Quilt, and finally chose a design of Variable Stars and Irish Chain blocks for the setting squares. setting blocks Geometry reared its head. Once the setting squares were constructed and sewn into place, star in progress the quilt needed eight more big Lone Star diamond sections to encircle the main star. This necessitated a mad shopping scramble in order to find more of those Lone Star fabrics. It was now about two years since the original star had been made, so shopping was a challenge. Fortunately I was able to find all but one of the original fabrics. outer diamond ring With the addition of these new star points, I still needed four large corner sections to build the quilt out to its final square shape. I turned to Electric Quilt once again, and drew a sunburst–a quarter of a Mariner’s Compass. I took my drawing to a local office supply store and had it blown up to the huge size needed.compass pieces I paper-pieced eight sunbursts to make the four sunburst corner sections. May I say that it was the least enjoyable paper piecing I’ve ever done? Working on such a large scale really challenged my visualizing skills, and there was a fair amount of ripping, re-sewing, and bad language. But at this point, there was no choice except to grit my teeth, push through, and get it done. The quilt was long-arm quilted by Marge West of Whitewater, WI. Her suggestion of a fairly tight allover quilting pattern nicely complemented the design, the fabrics, and produced the antique look I wanted. It’s all very pleasing to me. lone star top But like I tell everyone—it’s hard to go wrong with this color scheme.” The color scheme is great – but Kathie’s creativity and skill are what makes it so wonderful! Did you notice her shadow in the last picture? Her head is right over the center star. How delightful! Thank you Kathie, for sharing your quilt with us.

January 12, 2014, Inspiration Piecing
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
Slice Quilts

A lot of excitement has been arriving in my mailbox recently! First came the latest issue of Quilting Arts and an article about the Milwaukee Art Quilters and our award winning Jennings quilt (more about that to follow :-)). Then came the Summer issue of the National Quilting Association‘s magazine – “Quilting Quarterly” – and Wendy Rieves and I are cover girls! Our quilt, “Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden” is featured on the cover of the magazine!

Sunflower Quilt

We are thrilled and I have to give Wendy a lot of credit because those beautiful sunflowers are her creation. Thanks Wendy!

So, now for this week’s actual topic:

I’ve mentioned the Milwaukee Art Quilters in previous blog posts and during the AQS show in Paducah this year, a group quilt we made won an award. I believe the Jenning’s Homestead Quilt was the first project made by this group that wasn’t made for competition and it’s been winning awards in every show it’s traveled to – go figure :-).

Milwaukee Art Quilters Jennings Homestead

The Jenning’s Homestead quilt is an example of a slice quilt and here’s the story:

When Marq began we would hold our monthly meetings in member’s homes. As our numbers grew this became a bit difficult. One of our founding members, Suzanne Riggio, came to the rescue. Her daughter and son-in-law, Theresa and Paul Jennings, owned a business and made space available for us to meet. Over the years they never charged us anything for this privilege and Suzanne suggested to the group that we make a slice quilt of their beautiful, historic home as a “thank you”. Another member, Judy Zoelzer-Levine, had had some success with this technique and volunteered to enlarge a photograph of the home and divide it into 24 portions. All willing members were given a picture of the home (for color and continuity),

Jennings photo

an actual sized “cartoon” of their chosen section (this was mine),


And a mapped “cartoon” showing how the portions fit together:


We were allowed to use any techniques of our choosing and were asked to leave at least 1″ extra fabric all around our block to aid in putting things back together. Suzanne preferred the colors/theme to be early Spring so that the house would not be blocked by foliage. Once the blocks were completed they were assembled and the quilting was done by Terri Kirchner.

We invited Theresa and Paul to a meeting where we presented them with their quilt. They were stunned and overjoyed. Suzanne then informed them that she wanted to enter it in a show or two because it did turn out so well and … the rest is history!

Marq and the quilt were even featured in the most recent issue (June/July) of Quilting Arts magazine. It is such a blessing to be a part of this talented group!

Have you ever been a part of a slice quilt project? Please comment and tell us about it!

PS My daughter-in-law sent me this picture of Sommer at Discovery World on the lake front in Milwaukee. She seems to be reaching for the Calatrava designed Quadracci Pavillion at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It made me smile!

Sommer at Discovery World

June 9, 2013, Inspiration
Life Lessons

Let’s start with a quick smile:

Hanging in ThereI saw this on Facebook from Wish Upon a Quilt! Too funny! I commented to ask for a pattern and haven’t heard back. I guess the life lesson would be to “Hang in There”.

A few months ago I presented my lecture entitled “Quilt Tales” for the It’s a Stitch quilt guild. In this talk I show quilts, stories and stuff from my life as a quilter/teacher and then share the lessons I’ve learned along the way. One of the members said she’d like a list of these lessons and I responded that it might make a good blog post. I promptly forgot all about it. Lorraine recently emailed me and I was so glad she did :-)!

I will be doing this talk at the W.O.W. Gallery in Wittenberg, WI next Sunday (Feb. 10th at 1pm) and would love to have you join me. If you can’t make it, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned with a few shortened stories and pictures thrown in:

1. We all have to start somewhere!

first quilt

 My first quilt circa 1974 (the solid green squares are wool – thus the puckering). Now don’t you feel better about your first quilt?

2. Don’t Take Yourself To Seriously. And When You Succeed – Praise the Lord!

3. Encourage Your Inner Child and Encourage the Children Inside Your Friends Too!

My Inner ChildI made Elyce in a class with Eleanor Peace Bailey and my dear friend Mary Camacho made her adopted sister. You’d have to hear the talk to get the rest of the story :-).

4. Your Work Has Value!

5. Never Say Never!

I never planned to quilt, teach, create fiber art or write books:

My First Two Quilt Books

God had plans I couldn’t imagine. I can’t wait to see what He has in mind next!

6. Life Is Attitude – Have Fun!

7. Let Your Joy Be Your Inspiration!

God Is LightArtists are inspired by many things. My faith is a huge part of my inspiration and this quilt is called “God Is Light and In Him Is No Darkness At All”. It’s from my Crossings Series. It was made in four pieces and beaded back together along the horizontal and vertical axis. I feel the beads cross the gap and hold the broken pieces of my quilt together as my faith in Christ holds the broken pieces of my life together.

8. Laughter Is Good For the Soul!

9. Quilting Friends Are the Best Friends!

And lastly, my most personal message because it’s been such a blessing in my 36 year marriage to my wonderful husband Mike:

10. Loving Each Other Is More Important Than Being Right!

Do you have a Life Lesson and story you’d like to share. I’d really be interested in hearing about it and encourage you to add it as a comment to this post. Thanks!

February 3, 2013, Inspiration
Floor Quilts

A few weeks ago I posted about some of the amazing tile floors we saw in Italy and what wonderful quilt patterns could be found there. Two quilters wrote back on the subject. Lois Jarvis, a very talented quilter, quilting teacher, and  dear friend from Madison, WI, sent the following pictures of floors she saw on a trip to Venice (we, sadly, didn’t get that far north).

I found this floor very appealing and a much easier pattern than some of the floors I photographed. I can just see beautiful batiks alternating with the checkerboard blocks.

The 3 dimensional qualities of this one are intriguing.

If one could get the values right in this next one the effect would be stunning!

You can learn about Lois on her website:

Terri Mattingly sent this picture of a quilt from Norah McMeeking‘s book “Bella, Bella Quilts”:

Terri then wrote me with this message and picture:

“Hi Chris, This is my own design.   This was inspired by an article in one of the quilting magazines I was getting.  I think Norah McMeeking was the subject of the article.  I studied pictures in the magazine and on websites and created this. Terri Mattingly”

Doesn’t this just make you want to do a “floor quilt”? I’ve had a few students in my Open Labs use patterns from Norah’s book also. They are rather labor intensive, but so beautiful. Thank you Lois and Terri!



December 9, 2012, Design Inspiration
Quilts and Inspiration in Italy

As our group of quilters descended upon Italy we were anxious to partake in all that this beautiful country had to offer…….and we were hoping to discover a quilt shop or two along the way. Well, quilt shops in Rome, Florence and Sienna are not a common sight. We did find some wool to please the knitters among us and there was a fabric store in Florence that catered to garment designers with prices that were astounding (the first bolt I pulled out was 240 Euro/meter!!!)

Towards the end of the trip we spotted a quilt in the small, mid-evil village of Cortona.

But, upon closer examination, I’m pretty sure it was a pre-printed panel. Still it did look picturesque hanging in the narrow street.

So, what was there to tickle the fancy of quilters? Plenty! You may have already heard (or experienced first hand) the beautiful quilt designs on the floors of the cathedrals in Italy. In this we were not disappointed and here are just a few of my favorites:

If that was a bit too intricate how about this:

And just one more:

The landscapes and art work were all very inspirational, as was the architecture. While staring in awe at the dome of the Pantheon Wendy remarked that it reminded her of log cabin blocks.

This dome was built about 2000 years ago and is still standing! The oculus in the center is open and when it rains the rain comes in. It was one of my favorite sites.

While winding our way back to the bus after our visit to Cortona one of the group pointed out this empty storefront and commented that there was an obvious lack of quilters and supplies in central Italy and perhaps I should open up a shop and teach beginner classes.

I’ll have to talk it over with Mike :-)!

Have any of you made a quilt inspired by the cathedral floors in Europe? The art or scenery?? I’d really enjoy hearing about it and would love to have you email me a picture:

November 11, 2012, Inspiration Travel

As quilters we often make quilts inspired by the creativity of others ….. we do so love all our patterns and books! This is a great system because designers have ideas to share and many quilters are not into making up their own designs.

My daughter-in-law, Betsy, is a professional graphic artist and Sommer’s mommy. In 2009 I was in a creative rut and I began asking her about her work. After an exciting discussion she agreed to loan me some of her pieces. My hope was to create fiber art that didn’t reproduce her work, but was inspired by it. This became an adventure we call KirschArt.

We’ve had our work shown in a number of different venues. Our first joint exhibit was at a restaurant in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. We shared exhibit space with my talented friend, Laura Krasinski.

We currently have pieces hanging at the Brickhaus Café in Jefferson, Wisconsin, and this is one example of our collaboration – Betsy’s photography and my fiber art.

The Brickhaus Cafe has a beautiful garden area for outside dining and great food. Tea and Textiles, a wonderful quilt shop, is just a block away. I’d love to have you stop in if you live nearby.

Since then Betsy and I have collaborated on a completely different project: Compass Capers! She did all of the illustrations in my book and then taught me how to use Adobe InDesign while putting it all together. She is a very talented young woman and such a blessing to me.

So – have you ever created a quilt which was inspired by someone else’s art? If so, I’d really enjoy hearing about it. Please comment to this post or, if you’re so inclined, email me a picture :-)!

PS I really enjoyed reading all the comments about your favorite notions. Thanks to everyone who responded. Most of them I already have on my “fav” list, but I hadn’t heard of the “touch n brow”, so I stopped at Sally’s Beauty Supply the other day and …WOW… this is a great tool! Thank you Cindy!


August 19, 2012, Inspiration
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:

Compass Capers

I’d like to send a big thank-you to everyone who commented on last week’s blog post with opinions on classes. I was very pleased with all the suggestions and will really take them into consideration when planning new projects!

Now for my exciting news:

Compass Capers – Create Your Own Unique Mariner’s Compass Quilt is now in print and available on my website!!!

Thanks to all who sent suggestions for the book name or voted for their favorite in the previous post. This title was the winner that made the front cover with a good majority of the votes:

Compass Capers - Create Your Own Unique Mariner's Compass Quilt

The runner up book name was one of my husband’s suggestions and it made the back cover:

Compass Capers book, back cover

Inside you’ll find instructions for drafting compasses any shape or any size. It’s not difficult because it’s done with paper folding techniques and there are pictures every step of the way. Then learn to paper piece your creation with clear step by step instructions and loads of pictures once again.

There are also photographs of many of the Mariner’s Compass quilts I’ve created over the years.

Most Mariner’s Compass books limit the pattern options. Compass Capers is different. By letting you decide on the shape and size of your blocks, the pattern options are endless. Your imagination is your only limitation!

To order your own autographed copy, click here!

April 15, 2012, Inspiration Piecing
What’s Your Opinion?

In teaching at WCTC, I’m always interested in which classes are popular and why. I enjoy all aspects of quilting and especially like to teach new twists on traditional patterns.

One thing I’ve noticed is that if a class includes “log cabin”, in just about any form, it will fill quickly. I guess we all love that traditional standard.

I tend to prefer teaching technique classes rather than specific projects, but I’m really interested in your feedback. What are you looking for in a class:

Traditional patterns?

Variations on traditional?

New techniques?


Sampler blocks?



Fiber Art and exploring creativity?

Modern Quilts?


Machine Quilting?

Do you like to be challenged to try something new?

Is there a pattern or technique you’ve wanted to learn in a class, but haven’t found it available?

I really appreciate your opinions and feedback.

Now for a little housekeeping:

My website is under construction and should be up and running again very soon. If you tried visiting it for information on our Sew We Go to Italy adventure, I have all the details on a page on this blog. Click here to read all about it!

The deadline for our window view challenge is coming soon (April 15th). I need to get myself motivated back into it and thought some of you might need a reminder too :-)!

And, just in case you were hoping for a new picture of Grandma and Sommer, here it is:

Thanks in advance for your quilt class opinions!

April 8, 2012, Challenges Inspiration
Are You In?

The weather in Wisconsin has been unique this year. A week ago Friday we had a very wet snowstorm that left 8″ of beauty all over the woods. After clearing the driveway Mike invited me out to build a snowman. It was dusk and the scene was lovely!

By Sunday the temps were heading up into the 60’s and I discovered snowmen can’t do backbends.




So what does this have to do with quilting? Well, this was the view I enjoyed through the window above my sewing machine while quilting on Saturday.

I had an overwhelming urge to create a quilt about it. Then I got to thinking that many of you probably have inspiring views from windows in your home too. This led to the idea of holding my first blog challenge! I hope many of you are up for this. It’s quite simple.

1. Email a picture of your view to me at: by next Sunday, March 18th.

2. I’ll post them to a “Challenging Views” page on this blog for all to see.

3. Then make a quilt inspired by your view, any size, any shape, any technique (small is good). You could repliqué the picture, but there are many other ways to be inspired by it: create a traditional pieced pattern using the colors of your picture, pick any item in the photo as a theme for your quilt or ……..any other direction you care to go.

4. Send me a picture of your finished small quilt by April 1, 2012 to be posted on the blog (that’s the deadline – its not a lot of time, but the project is small – and you’d just put it off until the week before anyways :-).

5. The following week’s blog we’ll have a viewers choice vote and the winner will get a wonderful prize!

Here’s a sample to get you started thinking. This is much more involved than our simple challenge, but it is the only other time a window view has been my inspiration.

When we lived in Sun Prairie my husband and kids built me a wonderful “aviary” post with bird houses and feeders hanging from it.

It stood outside my kitchen window and I delighted in watching the birds each morning. When we had to move I couldn’t take the post with me, so I made this quilt which was inspired by it.

Perhaps you’ll think of this as a chance to try a new technique or just play with fabric. I can’t wait to see what you come up with :-)!

March 11, 2012, Challenges Inspiration
Ola from Arizona!

Greetings from warm and sunny Mesa! My dear friend Evelyn Link invited me down south to enjoy the weather, see the sights, spend time with friends, visit quilt shows and shops and do a bit of teaching too. What a blessing!

The past week has been a whirlwind. Joan and Patty (from Wisconsin) and  Evelyn’s sister Hazel all jumped into the car with E and I and headed to Tucson. Our first stop was the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

 I’ve never seen so many cacti and Quiltina had her picture taken with just about every one.

From there we went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum where we saw even more cacti, plus birds, animals and beautiful scenery.

The Tucson Quilt Fiesta was a wonderful show and the quilts were great! We even found time to do a bit of shopping.

Now we’re back in the Phoenix area and I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of quilting groups – dear friends and inspiring show and tell. I was  even invited to present a trunk show for E’s art quilt group – the Mavericks! Their show and tell was incredible.

Evelyn is a fantastic quilter and I’m quite sure you’ll find her studio and stash amazing and inspiring.  So here are a few pictures. The first is of my bedroom. It is the master bedroom and happens to be her studio. It’s almost difficult to fall asleep with all the quilterly fun surrounding me. 

The master closet contains her stash

and the tub is where she keeps her UFO’s!

Considering I like to read in the tub at night, this was a bit disconcerting. Fortunately she has a tub in the second bath too.

For the past week E, Joan and I have had a great time being roommates. Joan will be returning to Wisconsin on Tuesday, but I get to stay for Quilting in the Desert and a lot of other fun adventures. My husband says it’s been snowing back home, so I’m REALLY enjoying every moment.

Sew where do you keep your UFO’s?

January 23, 2012, Inspiration Travel
Word Quilts

Last week I posted about free motion quilting around appliqués and this week I’d like to tell you about that quilt. My niece Kaitlin was married on December 30 and back in November my Mom and I had a shower for her. While planning the event Mom mentioned that it would be nice to hang a banner from the loft (we live in a log home and our bedroom overlooks the living room). I thought about printing one on paper, but then inspiration hit ….

I appliquéd each letter of Kaitlin and Marty’s names on a quilt block, using my Repliqué technique (from my second book: Snuggle & Learn Quilts for Kids), and hung them from a clothesline.

Then I made those blocks into a cuddly lap quilt as my wedding gift to them!

So here’s the beautiful new couple:

And here’s the quilt:

It was an enjoyable project and I even found matching flannel for the back!

Waukesha County Technical College – Quilting Classes

The new semester is just underway and I wanted to mention a few of my upcoming classes (Wendy is teaching some great classes too and all the information can be found at ; click on class search; scroll down and type “quilting” in the “Course Title/Subject” box and click on submit)

My “Open Lab” classes are a great place to get quilts finished while spending time with a wonderful group of quilters on Thursday afternoon. There are three sessions this semester and each one is four weeks long.

I’m also offering these one day workshops:

Fabric Silhouettes 

Saturday, Feb. 11

Learn to create silhouettes in fabric with this fun, free motion satin stitch technique. The class project will be a floral design, but we’ll also discuss how any picture – a grandchild at play, a friend’s profile, a cherished pet, etc. — could be created using this simple technique.

Irish Chain – Friday, Feb. 24

Create a charming, traditional double Irish Chain quilt, with simple strip piecing techniques, in plenty of time for St. Patrick’s Day!

Simply Dynamic – Saturday, March 10

By using just two different fabrics and a simple block, create an amazing variety of quilt designs. The only challenge is deciding which arrangement is your favorite! This course is designed for quilters of all levels.

Beyond Meandering Friday, April 13 Students will learn spirals, leaves, stars, snowflakes and so much more! Make quilting the quilt as much fun as stitching the top. Bring along a quilt top and we’ll brainstorm how to quilt it.

January 16, 2012, Appliqué Inspiration
Leftovers Revisited

After the previous “Leftovers” post I received an email from Lucy Zeldenrust. Lucy is from Manitowoc, WI and she shared another great idea for using those coordinated leftovers:

Here is what I do with leftovers…after I have ‘overcut’ , I can sometimes get a small lap quilt or crib quilt out of the pieces, possibly with the additions of another fabric.  My favorite, however, is to put the leftover bits, pieces, strips and small amount of fabric from a project into a zip lock bag, and put them into my “leftover box”  When the church, senior center, Nature center, etc. need something for a raffle, it is a pretty quick job to whip out a pillow or two or three from these already matched/coordinated  pieces.  I’m attaching 2 photos of the front and back  of a ‘leftover’ pillow. (I make and quilt two small “quilts” then sew them together to form  the pillow )  I have even occasionally handed them out to my small quilt group (where we do whatever the monthly hostess passes out) and asked them to make a 14 or 16″ square from them(adding whatever they wish) for a future pillow.  Got some interesting and (mostly ) attractive results.

This was just so clever, I had to share it.  Thanks Lucy!

So, how do you use up your leftovers?

Merry Christmas!

I’ve decided to take a short “blog break” during this beautiful season. There is so much to keep me busy while celebrating the birth of the Savior and I know you are all busy too. So, I’ll get right back at it after January 1st. I wish you all a blessed Christmas, Chris

December 11, 2011, Inspiration Piecing
What a Great Show!

I’ve just returned from teaching at Quilt Expo in Madison, WI and it was a spectacular show. My classes were filled with enthusiastic and eager students. The aisles of the vendor mall were filled with willing shoppers and the overall atmosphere was charged with excitement.

This show has really grown from it’s beginnings and has become a national level event. They even added 30 vendors since last year!

This year I was truly blown away by the quilts in the show. Even though there were entries and prizewinners from all around the country, the number of very talented entries from Wisconsin was amazing. I spent a lot of time admiring the intricate designs and stitching in the handquilted entries and then had to come back the next day to absorb all the inspiring creativity of the fiber art.

Since my latest passion is to make the machine quilting take the quilt to higher and higher levels, I was amazed to see all the new designs and innovative placement in these fascinating quilts.

That being said, I’m sure I’ll be hearing comments from friends and students saying there were too many art quilts and not enough for the average quilter. I’d like to share my perspective on this:

Quilt Expo is a juried show and each piece was chosen from pictures sent in by the maker. Many quilts didn’t make it in and therefore the ones that were accepted had to be a step above average to be chosen. I feel the fun of a juried show such as this is to see the “what ifs” and “I could nevers” so that we may all be inspired to try something new. The quiltmakers who were represented are not your average quilter and, as a viewer, we need to keep this in mind.

This is why we need to attend the smaller, local, non-juried shows and fairs as well as the big events. Most local shows are not juried and normal quilters can go there and see things that they may actually be able to make, as well as a few “jaw-droppers”.

So don’t be too quick to criticize the big shows for the lack of simple or traditional quilts, but enjoy each show for what they are and attend as many varied shows as you are able :-).

Well, that’s my opinion, what’s yours?

September 12, 2011, Inspiration Travel
2011 – Fall Classes

It’s registration time for classes at Waukesha County Technical College, Madison College – Watertown and Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo! Here are the courses I’ll be teaching, along with dates, times, pictures and sign up information. I hope to see many of you this Fall!


I have a quick correction to my first Open Lab class which was to begin on Thursday, September 8th. When I made out the original schedule I didn’t know that I would be blessed with the opportunity to teach at Nancy’s Notions Quilting  Expo once again. Therefore, the Open Lab will actually begin September 15th and run through October 6th. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m hoping many of you will attend the show in Madison instead 🙂.

By the way…Wendy’s classes are listed at WCTC too, so don’t forget to check them out :-)!

Quilting – Open Lab – Here’s your chance to finish those workshop projects, complete a UFO or two, or start something completely new! During this 12-hour course, students will learn a different aspect of finishing each week. Topics may include fitting and designing borders, sandwiching the quilt, methods and designs for quilting, binding and labeling. Thursday afternoons; 12:30 to 3:30; for three 4 week sessions:

September 15 to October 6 Offering #304-602A-004, CRN 11835

October 13 to November 3 Offering #304-602A-001, CRN 11690

November 17 to December 15 Offering #304-602A-002, CRN11691 

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Beginning Fast Patch  Offering #304-635H-002, CRN 11698 A class designed to teach basic quilting skills with an emphasis on rotary cutting, machine piecing and having fun! Students will construct a unique “Sampler” wall quilt while learning to strip piece, paper piece and so much more.  This class  will run on 2 Saturdays, September 17 & September 24;    9 – 2:30 each day.

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Lone Star Magic Offering #304-602I-003 CRN 11692 Create this ever popular traditional star pattern with all the diamond points aligning perfectly. The secret is to piece them on a Quiltsmart™ foundation. Everyone can have great results!  Friday, October 14; 9 – 2:30



To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Beginning Free Motion Offering #304-603A-001 CRN 11693Learn to drop your feed dogs and machine quilt your projects without fear. We’ll practice template designs, doodling fillers, arcing pieced blocks and more. Saturday, November 12; 9 – 2:30.

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!


Doggie Stockings Offering #304-655-001, CRN 11696
For the true pet lover – create bone shaped, crazy quilted stockings for the canine kid in your life. Inspired by my daughter-in-law’s love for my granddogs, they’re fun to make and truly unique.

Saturday, December 3; 9 – 2:30



To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

MATC – Watertown

Beginning Fast Patch (pictured in WCTC classes above) Catalog #60306621, Class #40286

Learn basic quilting with an emphasis on rotary cutting, machine quilting and having fun. This small wall quilt would also be a great project for established quilters who want to improve their skills. Strip piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, quilting and binding will all be covered and a finished quilt will be the result!  (9 hours total) Monday, September 12, 19 & 26; 12:30 – 3:30

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on

Tropical Breezes Catolog #60306621, Class #40285

Get away from it all on Monday afternoons while you create this lovely lap sized quilt. Made in the colors of sand, sea and palm trees, this simple “slap back triangle” technique is fun to do and makes blocks that seem to sway in the breeze. A great class for all skill levels.  Monday, October 10, 17 & 24; 12:30 – 3:30 (nine hours total).

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on

Beginning Free Motion Quilting Catolog #60306621, Class #40289

Do you have unfinished quilt tops longing to be snuggled under? Then this class is for you. Learn the basics of dropping the feed dogs and doodling fun designs on your quilt. No degree in art is required and, with a little practice, you can enjoy finishing those tops! Saturday, October 8; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:

Beyond Meandering  Catolog #60306621, Class #40291   If you’ve been free motion quilting for a while and wonder if there is life after stippling and meandering, the answer is YES!  This class is for those who have done a bit of free motion quilting, but want to know more.  We’ll spend the morning practicing many new free motion “filler” designs. After lunch we’ll brainstorm which quilting designs to use where on quilt tops the students bring along!  Working with large quilts will also be discussed. Saturday, October 22; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:

Quilt InA one day Open Lab!  Catalog #60306621, Class #40292  Bring in your projects that need to be finished and get them done! Whether your pattern is no longer making sense, you can’t remember how to miter a border or you can’t get the binding right, Chris will help you forge ahead and have success. A perfect day away from the pre-holiday distractions and a Christmas surprise will be part of the fun! Saturday, December 10; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:

Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 8-10
Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis.

I will be presenting a lecture at 8:30 daily called “Which Design Where?” -The top is done; now how do you quilt it? If you want to do it yourself, but don’t know where to begin, this lecture is for you. Learn simple ways to make your creation useful, beautiful and, above all, finished! Bring a top of your own to be “brainstormed.”

I’ll also be presenting a 3 hour hands on workshop from 1-4 daily
entitled “French Braid – Quilt As You Go”  


Add pizzazz to a traditional braid with chains of high-contrast squares. By stitching the strips together on top of quilt batting and backing fabric, the quilt is done along with the piecing. A table runner will be made in class but instructions for a lap size quilt will be provided.

Register Online: – click on “Advance Registration Guide”

August 4, 2011, Inspiration
Effort or Blessing

We all have talents as well as struggles, but I watched something recently that made me realize how minor my current struggles seem to be when it comes to quilting. I’ve never shared a You Tube video with you before, but this one was so inspiring I thought you’d all enjoy it. Thanks to Barb J. for sending it to me. 


As I watched the beginning I was inspired by Diane Rose’s sense of humor, positive attitude and perseverance in the face of what appears to be a great handicap, but as the video continued it was obvious that she has a special joy and quilting is a big part of that. Her quilting is not an effort, but a blessing.

My thoughts meandered from her story to some of my friends who create beautiful quilts in spite of a variety of handicaps: arthritis, fibromyalgia, back surgeries and the list goes on. Most of these quilters are not complainers, but rejoicers. Many have a strong faith, which I believe we all need to face life’s challenges, and they use their passion for quilting to take their focus off of their troubles. In so doing they can overcome them, at least for a while. I’ve also noticed that these friends often tend to be involved in quilting for others. Doing for others is such a blessed way to take our minds off of our problems.

After all this deep thinking and reflecting, what I really realized is how blessed I am to have this gift for quilting, the ability to create brings me such joy and the friendship of other quilters is so special. I’m grateful for my blessings as well as my struggles. They are all a part of my journey through this life. One of the reasons we’re here is to encourage each other. Thanks to so many of you for being an encouragement to me!

January 30, 2011, Inspiration