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Capital Quilters – North Dakota

Last weekend I had the exciting privilege to be the “National Teacher” at the Capitol Quiltfest in Bismarck, North Dakota. What a delightful group of quilters – and a wonderful show! I was blessed not only with the opportunity to teach 3 workshops and judge the quilts, but I also presented my Quilt Tales lecture at the Saturday banquet. What fun!

These are photos of some of my favorite quilts in the show:

The use of value in the barn quilt by Amy Munson is spectacular!

Great pieced and appliquéd quilts!

And so much variety!

The quilt to the left in this photo won Best of Show, and the modern one on the right, by Stepanie Mart won Viewer’s Choice.

The Best of Show quilt: Bouquets for a New Day, was made by Karen Boe, and quilted by Barbara Simons. All aspects were very well done. I was especially intrigued by the detailed quilting which was as intricate as thread-painting in some areas (note purple feathers below) and yet the quilt hung flat!

The dear woman who organized my visit and carted me around, Marlene Sapa, was the featured quilter of the show. She had an exhibit of her work and it was beautiful.

I learned a few things from the students in my Beyond Meandering workshop. One was that some basting sprays (used to hold the quilt sandwiches we stitched on together) caused skipped stitches – so beware! Another was a Laura Heine idea shared by Jenny:

When making sample quilt sandwiches to practice free-motion quilting – use your 50% off coupon at JoAnn’s and buy pre-quilted muslin fabric. What a great idea! The pre-quilted lines can be ignored. Just cut to the right size and begin!

I so enjoy watching the students try out the various patterns and find the ones they like to stitch.

The last day of the show I taught Beginning Fiber Art. This is a class for traditional quilters who don’t know if they can make art quilts, but who want to try. Everyone gets a new, “artsy” name and I bring an overflowing suitcase of my Parallelisms quilts.

It’s always exciting to see what everyone creates. There are contemplative moments:

But there are also moments of joyful discovery and play:

Thank you everyone at the Quilt fest – I had a marvelous time!


November 11, 2018, Travel
A Unique Quilt Show

On October 13th I left early in the morning to present a 1:30 lecture at the:


Autumn was in full swing and the sun rising through the trees was beautiful.

Spring Grove is a lovely small town in the southeastern corner of Minnesota, and the entire 3½ hour ride was very enjoyable, both going and coming home. I left early in the morning so I’d have time to see the show before I was to speak. I had wondered why it was billed as a “Quilt Show and Sale”, but assumed there was a vendor mall with items for sale – like most quilt shows. I was surprised to discover that, not only did they have a nice group of vendors, but all the quilts in the show were for sale! From Autumn table runners to king sized, hand quilted, Lone Stars (made by the local Amish women), there was something for everyone!

I was intrigued by their simple hanging system – clothes hangers! No sleeves required.

This even worked when hanging quilts double – they simply clamped the hangers top and bottom and linked the hooks:

Many of the quilts contained preprinted panels, pieced together in interesting ways. I especially liked this pair of table runners:

I presented my Gradation Play lecture, and was so pleased to see that Mary Deters, the quilter who made the arrangements for my visit, had a quilt in the show using a lovely blue gradation in the background:

The Amish women, some of whom had quilts in the show, also provided lunch and desserts.

And they were as yummy as they look (I did ask permission to take this picture, as I know these dear people do not like to be photographed).

Thank you to all of the Spring Grove quilters for inviting me to be a part of your wonderful show!

October 28, 2018, Travel
Madison Quilt Expo 2018

I just returned home from 3½ fun filled days in Madison, WI at the Quilt Expo. Each year I like to do a post about the show because each year it seems to get bigger and better. It has become a national level show, with quilts and vendors from all over the US and a few other countries as well.

I know many quilters go to shows for the vendors, and I do enjoy a bit of the shopping frenzy, but my favorite part of the show is always the quilts. So, I immediately headed towards the competition quilts – and the first grouping I saw was the Expo’s annual challenge: “Bake Off”. My friend Lori had entered a spectacular quilt she entitled “Tools of the Trade” – and SHE WON THIRD PLACE!

Great job Lori!

I knew there was a special memorial exhibit of Nancy Zieman and Natalie Sewell’s quilts, so I decided to head there next. You may remember I posted about Natalie’s passing 2 months ago.

They were such good friends, and special friends of mine. I loved seeing their quilts one more time.

These dear ladies will be missed.

From there I went to see the competition quilts. The beauty, skill and creativity displayed in these quilts was overwhelming. What a feast for the eyes! I’d like to share just a few of my personal favorites, along with a photo of the cards that describe the quilt and credit the maker:

The detailed appliqué on this quilt is amazing, and the hand-quilting is so well done.

This quilt has a lovely, vintage feel, and I think the simple grid quilting was the perfect choice.

Made to God’s glory!

Kim’s use of ombré fabrics took this colorful quilt to a whole new level.

These talented ladies are friends of mine, and they all are very skilled crazy quilters.

I found Colin’s story fascinating.

What a wonderful use of a gradation fabric as the background, and what a joy to be able to share in Eileen’s celebration!

This one caused me to do a double-take. Take a look at the following close-up:

Now that’s true recycling!

The second day of the show a friend came up to me and said she liked my quilt. I was a bit confused, as I hadn’t entered a quilt this year. It turns out the Sun Prairie Barn Challenge quilts were hanging at the show and my barn was traveling with the group. Mine’s the one at the top right in the corner:

I repliquéd the interior of my friend Di’s Falkwerk barn, with a view of their traditional red barn out the window. I was sure I had shared that quilt in a previous blog post, but I can’t seem to find it. I think you might find it interesting, so please watch for it in a future post  🙂 .

I was blessed with the opportunity to teach at Expo once again this year. I taught both a Seminole piecing border workshop, and presented my new Modular Memory Quilts lecture. The students were delightful and I feel everything went well (although I forgot to take any pictures 🙁 ).

Over the years I’ve shared photos of a blue sedan covered in rubber duckies that is usually somewhere in the parking lot of the convention center, but I hadn’t noticed it for a couple of years. Well, as I was leaving the show to go out with a friend for pizza one night – look what was in front of us! Different car, same duckies.

They make me smile!

It was another spectacular show! And I enjoyed all aspects of it, but I think my favorite part each year is reconnecting with friends. Smiling, reminiscing, sharing stories and laughter, as well as starting some new friendships. What a blessing this quilt show is! Thanks to everyone at Nancy’s Notions and Wisconsin Public Television who work hard to make it a first class event. Thanks also to all the wonderful volunteers. I’m already looking forward to next year.


September 9, 2018, Travel
Eleanor’s Story
Over the years Wendy and I have had many wonderful repeat travelers with us on our Sew We Go adventures. One of the most enjoyable “characters” we’ve had join us is a dear woman named Eleanor. Eleanor lives in Illinois and heard about our Mississippi riverboat cruise when I spoke to her quilt guild. She and her friend Claire decided to join us, way back in the Spring of 2001, and we had a marvelous time (Eleanor is third from the left, I’ll let you figure out where Wendy and I are 🙂 ).
Our next cruise was to Alaska and Eleanor was one of the first to sign up (in this picture she’s just below me – top left).
We followed that trip with a European riverboat cruise on the blue Danube. We floated from Germany, through Austria and completed our trip in Hungary. It was delightful – and Eleanor was right there with us (to the left of Wendy in the first row).
Next we were off to Holland during tulip time. I love this picture of “quilting” time in the lounge with Wendy explaining to Eleanor the next step in our project. This is followed by Eleanor and her roommate Mary in Keukenhof Gardens.
I must admit, my most memorable times with her were on our riverboat cruise through France on the Rhone and Soane rivers. Eleanor had been a teacher in Paris in her youth and she was the most amazing tour guide for us during our post-cruise extension. She led us from Notre Dam Cathedral on a lovely walk along the Seine (stopping for a photo shoot), that culminated in a delicious lunch at Christines!
These photos include Eleanor’s dear friend and roommate Susan. She plays an important part in the rest of the story!
A few years after this trip I got word that Eleanor was in poor health and was living in a care facility. We really missed her on our subsequent adventures.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. To my surprise, and extreme delight, I got an email from Eleanor and this is what she said:
“Dear Chris, Until April I had not quilted for three years! Here’s why:  I had a fall which caused a concussion, misdiagnosed as being caused by a seizure. The medication caused all kinds of side effects which I won’t go into. But the turn around came when Susan, (you may remember her from the Rhone trip) made a brilliant remark. I had changed doctors, the side effects had disappeared, but the nursing home did not want to let me return to my apartment. (I used a wheelchair and had a caregiver).
Susan said, “Let’s go to Paris!” Doctor gave the OK and with Sylvia (my caregiver) and Susan’s generosity, off we went.
So where is quilting?  Well, when we got back to Lake Forest, the care facility was willing to let me return to my apartment. Sylvia and I were unpacking fabrics and discovered two that I had purchased years ago. “My grandson would love this; he’s into creepy crawlies.” I thought. Only problem: my wheelchair was too wide to fit into the console of the sewing machine. A former student knew of a place where I could buy a wheelchair narrow enough. I didn’t want to cut the fabric up too much and Sylvia wanted to be a part of things so I kept it simple. Only quilting done: freehand stars done in glow in the dark thread on the “dark” side
and outlining the stars on the daytime side.
She also included this wonderful photograph of herself and Sylvia.
What a blessing! I emailed her right back to ask if I could tell all of you about her in a blog post. Her response?
“Dear Chris , I am delighted to hear from you! (Although your blogs WERE the communication that kept me going when I was too weak to turn over in bed). You are welcome to share my story.”
And that’s what I’m doing.
Dear Eleanor, I’m thrilled to see you feeling well and back to quilting. I’m humbled and pleased to hear that you enjoyed my blog posts throughout your difficult journey.
Thank you so much for one more trip – the one down memory lane!

A Tribute to Pat

As I’m writing this post my heart is aching over the loss of a dear quilting friend, Pat Gilane. She and Bob are at the foot of the staircase in the Alaskan group picture above (Pat’s the one in the pretty red floral dress  🙂 ).

Pat had struggled with pulmonary fibrosis for years. She was a true example of grace in suffering, and a joy to so many. She knew Jesus as her Savior and is breathing easy in His presence at last. I’m praying for Bob and their family as they move forward without this sweet lady. She will be missed.

July 15, 2018, Travel
A Quilted Flag

I have been traveling a lot lately. I recently spent 3 days with the Shawnee Quilters in Carbondale, IL, teaching both Repliqué and Beginning Fiber Art. The students were delightful and, since I did a lecture for their guild meeting on the third day of my visit, they were able to bring their workshop projects for show & tell.

Great job ladies!!! Thanks for a lovely time!


In May I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a week in New York City with my cousins. Deb, Cindy and I had a spectacular time touring the Big Apple, taking in two Broadway shows, and indulging in delicious meals – all interspersed with lots of giggles. We had an amazing view from our hotel room – 35 floors above Times Square.

We did a 2 ½ hour guided bike tour through Central Park with Tony,

and walked or took the subway all over Manhattan. We even walked across the Brooklyn Bridge!

Cindy, Deb and I enjoyed our ferry ride with a tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Our guide Zach made it especially fun.

He did a great job of sharing a lot of history and fascinating information about these two amazing places, plus he spiced it up with his “Zach facts” 😀 ! They weren’t necessarily true, but they kept us smiling (note his flag in the picture above). Here he is next to an actual size replica of the Statue’s foot in the pedestal museum beneath Lady Liberty.

During the rest stop on the tour I showed Zach pictures of my “How Beautiful – Liberty” quilt (click here to see a post about that quilt).

This got me to talking about the tours I’ve led and how Wendy and I have a mascot who often finds herself atop flags so we can keep track of our guides, like when Rudy and Quiltina led us through Siena, Italy.

Zach jokingly mentioned he’d love a personal flag that announced his “Zach Facts”, and when I got home I decided it would be fun to make him one to wave along with his orange “company” flag. He emailed me the “head shot” he wanted me to use, I transferred it to white fabric – along with the words, added the Statue fabric to the back and did a bit of fun quilting. Here are the results – front and back:

And this was his response via email:

“Hey Chris, I just received your quilt and card in the mail today and I want you to know how honored I am. It really made my day. Even the back side of it is beautiful. Loved the card as well. Can’t wait to proudly wave that flag. I am truly thankful.”

That made it so worthwhile. Isn’t it interesting how quilters can find a way to bring quilting into all aspects of life (LOL)?

June 24, 2018, Travel
A Dragonfly Retreat

I’ve been invited to teach at a wonderful venue in Bangor, Wisconsin this Summer! It’s called:

It’s located in an elegant colonial home built in 1935.


With a big and bright workroom:

Lovely accomodations:

including dragonfly quilts on the beds:

A beautiful dining room:

And to top it all off – a Sweet Sixteen mid-arm machine is available for you to use to free motion quilt your projects! (It’s the same machine I quilt on  🙂 )

I’m scheduled for July 19th to the 22nd, and my focus will be BORDERS!

I’ll kick off the weekend with my Border Boutique lecture in which I’ll share a plethora of ideas and techniques to add just the right “frames” to your quilts. From pieced to appliquéd; from threaded to embellished; there’ll be something for everyone!

Then I’ll present my Seminole Borders workshop. In it students will make samples of 5 different Seminole techniques that would add excitement to any quilt.

I did a blog post on this workshop a few months ago. To read all about it click here!

There’ll be plenty of time to design and create borders for your own projects over the course of the weekend – and I’ll be there to help and encourage you in any way I can.

I’m very excited about this opportunity and I’d love to have you enjoy it with me. For all the information go to:


Hawaiian Cruise 2019 Update!

While we’re on the subject of traveling with quilters, we recently had a quilter sign on for a balcony cabin on our next Sew We Go adventure – and she’s looking for a roommate!

If you are interested, let us know. What we typically do in these situations is give the interested parties each other’s contact information. These two quilters then talk on the phone and, if they make a good connection, they meet for coffee or lunch and find out if they’re compatible. It’s worked well for many of our travelers in the past. Please email me at or contact Kristi through the link to our flyer:

Wishing you a Happy Easter Sunday celebrating the resurrection of our Savior!


April 1, 2018, Travel
Sew We Go to Hawaii


One year from today Wendy and I will be sailing the waters of the warm Pacific! Doesn’t that sound wonderful? We’d love to have you join us and we’re ready to share the details!

All of the information, including dates, pricing, and the reservation form are in our Hawaii cruise flyer which may be opened by clicking on the following sign:

We’ll be traveling from January 4-12, 2019.
As always, we are including a lot of extras along with our seven days in paradise to make this trip a great value:
♦ Shore excursions in five different ports especially tailored to the interests of our group.
♦ A night in Honolulu prior to the cruise to take the stress out of arrival and boarding.
♦ Pre- and Post- trip gatherings, along with friendship block exchanges and on-board projects for everyone who wants to participate!
♦ And, as stated in the flyer, our goal is to include fiber related activities where possible. This may include meeting with local guilds, visiting shops that carry fabric, yarn, native crafts or other fiber arts, taking part in workshops, or featuring guest educators/speakers. We’ll share what we come up with as it becomes available.
♦ All of this in addition to everything the Aloha State and Norwegian Cruise Lines have to offer. It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss!
So please read the flyer, reserve your spot, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
With warm thoughts,
Chris, Wendy and Kristi

January 7, 2018, Travel
Sew We’re Going Again!

Sew We Go quilt cruise Quebec

Our cruise from Quebec to Boston was so much fun we couldn’t wait to plan our next adventure. It didn’t take us long to decide on the destination:

We’ll be flying into Honolulu and cruising around the islands of Hawaii aboard the Norwegian Pride in January of 2019.

We don’t have all of the details confirmed yet, but we wanted to let you know about the trip and get a feel for how many of you are interested in joining us. Here’s what we have so far:

As with all of our adventures, the trip will include excursions in each port, cruise projects, pre and post trip gatherings and all the special “quilterly” extras you’ve come to expect from us.

Depending on cabin category, the cruise fare should be $2800-$3800 per person.

It’s too early to get airfare pricing for 2019, but these are the January 2018 prices – to give you an idea of what to expect:

*Milwaukee to Honolulu – 1 stop $856 – 11.5 hours each way (overnight on return trip)

*Chicago to Honolulu – 1 stop $772 – non-stop $989 – 9.5 hour there/8 hour return (overnight)

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, please send me an email at and I’ll add you to the list of those who want more information. That way you’ll hear from us the moment we have more to share! Aloha!

November 26, 2017, Travel
Fiber Finds and Inspiration

Here’s one final post inspired by our recent quilting cruise, this time focusing on the items and information we found that could be used in future projects. Sometimes scenery is my greatest inspiration, and this shot of Montmorency Falls in Quebec is one I’m sure I’ll refer back to. The trees were just beginning to turn color and the rainbow in the mist was lovely (and no, we did not have time to climb the staircase and walk over the bridge 😉 .

We didn’t find any fabric in Quebec City, but aren’t the colors of these peppers at the farmer’s market breathtaking? What a great palatte for a piece of fiber art.

One thing we were surprised to discover while traveling was the absence of quilt shops in the areas we visited in Canada (or at least shops that we could get to in the time we had available). We did however find wool shops! My favorite was the “Bobbin Tree” in Sydney, Cape Breten Island, Nova Scotia. They had yarns, gifts, and loads of wool items and kits. I decided it was time to try my hand at wool penny rugs because they had the circles pre-cut. I began stitching them together on the ship that evening and they are addictive. Now it’s time to decide a pattern for stitching them onto the background.

I also succumbed to a kit for tradtional rug hooking on a piece of burlap sack. I haven’t gotten too far, but it will be a lovely candle mat some day.

Both kits included all the supplies, so I think they were well worth it. And I’m learning some new skills!

A few blocks away we found the “Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design”. They were having an artsy rug hooking display on the second floor and it was spectacular! Here are just a few of my favorites:

Makes my efforts with the kit I bought look rather meager, but I’m still enthused!

Our next port was Halifax, Nova Scotia. We enjoyed a wonderful bus tour of 3 seaside towns that day and found a wool shop in Lunenburg with a very clever display. Who would have thought to sew pattern pieces together? I had to take a picture!

The next seaport was Mahone Bay. They were having a scarecrow festival and I’ve never seen so many fascinating scarecrows. Here are two of my favorites:

As we drove into town we passed a “Quilt Shop”. We were very excited and quickly started walking towards the shop once we exited the bus. When we got there I posed for a quick picture out front,

and then went in to discover that it was a shop that sold finished quilts! I guess “quilt shop” is a misnomer – we expect to find fabric and supplies in them, not quilts.

When we got to Bar Harbor, Maine, more of the trees were starting to change. When we walked under this one, I couldn’t resist yet another color inspiration picture.

And Bar Harbor had a quilt shop! It was a great one! Quiltanna and I enjoyed it very much!

This final picture is one that may not inspire a quilt, but it makes my mouth water every time I look at it.

The best clam chowder I have ever had. It was at the Sail Loft in Boston. Yum!

I have many wonderful memories from this cruise and the inspiration for future projects makes it even more of a blessing.


And I’d like to share one last item:

A Different Type of Quilting Adventure!

This past week Joan contacted me from North Carolina. She attended my lecture when I visited her guild in Hendersonville in 2013 and has been reading my blog ever since (thanks Joan). This is part of what she wrote:

“I am a member of an organization called Friendship Force and members can travel all over the world and the USA and participants stay at the homes of the people in the area they are visiting.  I went to a quilting Journey (that’s what these experiences are called) in Iowa last year and 18 quilters from all over joined together for 9 days as we saw presentations, shopped, talked with other quilters and even made a table runner.  I decided that our area of the Blue Ridge Mountains would be a perfect location for a Quilting Journey and we are calling it Quilting Mountain Style.”

The journey will take place from May 23 to May 31, 2018. She included a link to read all about it:

I so enjoyed North Carolina and I’m sure this trip will be a great adventure. You’re welcome to contact Joan with any questions. Her email is:  

October 22, 2017, Travel
“Quilting” at Sea

Quilters often ask me what makes a cruise a quilting cruise. Well it certainly isn’t that all 2500 people on the ship are making a quilt. But our group (which numbered 43 this trip) had fun with fabric, even if we didn’t do any stitching. The main focus of the trip is for people with a common interest to see wonderful sites, enjoy delicious food, socialize, shop and do some things with fabric too. We try to spend at least 1½ hours each day in class, working around shore excursions, meals, and on-board entertainment.

We began our most recent trip with a “prior to the cruise” project by inviting everyone to participate in a friendship exchange. We asked quilters to find a leaf shape of their choice either in their yard, in a book or on-line. I chose a maple leaf because this year is Canada’s Sesquicentennial,

but participants could pick any leaf they wanted. We had 32 quilters in the exchange, thus each of us chose an Autumn color batik and cut out 32 leaves with paper backed fusible web attached. Only 6 of us wanted them signed, so we asked everyone to do this to six of their leaves while on the ship and then we exchanged them. Here mine are laid out in a wreath.

Beautiful! I’m not sure if this is what they will become. The project option  I came up with prior to the trip was to scatter leaves across a windswept background with tulle shadows to add depth.

The next quilt related portion of our trip took place the first night on board. I shared a new lecture I call “Travel Memory Quilts”. I’m very excited about this new idea the Lord blessed me with. In essence, I distill each trip down to a favorite picture and create a single block to represent it using a variety of techniques. Each block is quilted and bound separately and they are attached to each other with a simple system of my own creation. In this way the “quilt” can be added to or rearranged with very little effort!

I’m working on other memory quilts using this technique and I’m pretty sure this is going to grow into something even more exciting. More information to follow!

During the trip Wendy gave two presentations. One on her method for making “batiked” scarves and another in which we each created a quilt label. Mine will go on my leaf quilt – whenever I get it done  😀 .

The main project on the trip was a fused block of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

I created the pattern from a picture and made up kits for the 33 travelers who chose to participate. I finished mine as a small wall quilt and added a few of the pins I collected while traveling. Here are pictures of class time aboard the Norwegian Dawn.

Mary and Jane were the first to finish theirs

And everyone got a block made. I can’t wait to see them all together at our post-trip gathering.

We combined traveling and quilting – it doesn’t get much better than that!

October 15, 2017, Classes Travel
Quilters at Sea

I just returned from our “Sew We Go – Quebec to Boston” quilting cruise. Wendy and I accompanied a group of 43 quilters, husbands, and traveling companions on a wonderful adventure during Canada’s sesquicentennial year!

It was a delightful group.

One of the greatest blessings of leading our Sew We Go adventures is traveling with happy people who share an interest in travel and quilting. In today’s post I’d like to share some pictures of just a few of our group enjoying themselves.

Like Alice and Karen in front of the St. Lawrence river on our first stop during the bus tour of Quebec City:

Or Jerry and Joyce near the hotel Le Chateau Frontenac, inside the walls of Old Quebec:

In this picture Jim, Mary Ann, Jacque, Will and I are enjoying the beauty of Montmorency Falls:

We also loved the company of Ritarose and Heidi in the atrium of the luxurious Norwegian Dawn:

Myrt, Evelyn and Ron soaked in the beautiful weather on the shores of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia:

and Mary and Jane were pleased to be the first to complete fusing together our onboard lighthouse project:

Everything went well because of our spectacular travel planner, Kristi, of Journeys and Gatherings (PS Happy Birthday Kristi!)

And then there was the food! I’m quite sure Ritarose and Lynn were feeling the joy while indulging in canollis from Modern Pastry in Boston:

Plus the fun of riding the water taxi in Boston Harbor with Linda and Alice.

I think it is obvious we were all having a fantastic time.

Please visit my blog during the coming weeks for posts on the inspiration and quilt related experiences we had along the way.


October 8, 2017, Travel
Madison Quilt Expo – 2017

This year’s Quilt Expo did not disappoint. The crowds were even bigger than last year! The quilts were spectacular! The vendors well stocked and oh, so tempting! What a great show!

I especially love immersing myself in the competition quilts. I enjoyed them all, and here are a few I found particularly captivating:

A Glimpse Through the Cattails by Julia Graber of Brooksville, MS

Rainbow Hosta Queen by Grace Kragness of Oak Creek, WI

The Engagement Photo by Nancy Carney of Verona, WI

Remembering Roatan by Pamela Kuck of Shawano, WI

When I wasn’t on the show floor admiring the quilts, I was sharing my passion for quilting in lectures and workshops. I’ve been invited to teach at the show every year since it began, praise the Lord! And the teaching kept me very busy this year (so busy I tended to forget to take pictures). Each morning at 8:30 I presented my lecture “Friendship Quilts – Then and Now”. The antique quilts and their stories were very well received and I hope the patterns I shared, along with the contemporary signature quilts themselves, inspired quite a few of those present to plan for a future autograph quilt of their own.

On Thursday and Saturday I taught 3 hour workshops on Beginning Fiber Art (formerly named Parallelisms). It’s such a joy to encourage quilters who haven’t done much artsy style quilting to give it a try. I just hope the students had as much fun as I did :-).




On Friday I shared my Seminole Sampler workshop to a full house. The students enjoyed the fact that the kit provided all the fabric strips cut and ready to sew.

A highlight of the class was having Delores show us the skirts and apron she had purchased from the Seminole Indians for her daughters.

She was kind enough to let me pose with the apron. Isn’t is lovely?

On Thursday night my roommate Laura and I were invited down the hall for a Tyvek™ painting/burning party.

Linda provided all the supplies and showed us how to make leaves with this fun technique.

Not bad for a first effort, and it was a lot of fun. Thanks Linda!

Spending time surrounded by quilts and quilting friends – it doesn’t get any better than this!


And one more quick note for those of you in Southeastern Wisconsin. My friend Jodi told me about a “Quilter and Crafter Bonanza Sale” being held this weekend between Williams Bay and Elkhorn. Here’s the flyer she gave me:

Maybe I’ll see you there!

September 10, 2017, Travel

I had some fascinating responses to last week’s post about quilts in other countries. There was one in particular I want to share – with pictures, but before I do, I have a few items to share related to the post I did about quilting and Star Wars a few weeks ago (click here to read that post).

In that post I shared pictures of my grandson Willy with the “Flillow” I made him from Star Wars fleece. I made his sister a “flillow” too and, since I didn’t want her to feel left out, I asked Hanna to take a selfie with hers. She wears glasses and so do all the animals on the fleece in her flillow.

Hanna’s favorite craft is to make purses, etc. from decorative duct tape. Here’s the wallet she made for me. I use it to keep my coupons organized in my purse. It even has a Velcro™ closure. The theme of the tape seemed appropriate to include here  🙂 .

and then  I had the opportunity to take a picture of a Star Wars top Karen had just finished for her grandson in my Open Lab this week.

All of the large blocks are Star Wars fabrics, and she chose a setting pattern with colorful pinwheels – what fun! Great job Karen!


Now for the “quilting in other countries” response:

Iris is a very talented quilter whom I’ve met a number of times. I knew she wasn’t a native Wisconsinite by her accent, but was pleasantly surprised when she sent me this message (it’s a bit long, but worth the read):

“I was born in Estonia and moved here after I met my wonderful husband many, many moons ago.

Here is the answer about quilts and Estonia: Estonia is rich in fabric and fiber arts (as I am sure you experienced on your trip) and every woman knows how to knit a sock or stitch a flower. We grew up with – I assume you would describe as – frontier spirit meaning you didn’t go to store to buy stuff but made them yourself. My grandma use to sew all her own dresses, blankets and knit for the whole village. However, there is not an exact tradition of quilting in Estonia (as known in America … as in get fabric – cut apart – sew back together), BUT it is coming and I have even seen some quilt (as we understand in America) shows (online pictures) and know people who practice it.

The reason for not having quilting (as known here in American) tradition is simple. Fabric was expensive and it was used only for things that you really needed like clothing etc. and quilts (except whole cloth or wool quilt) with all the cutting was considered wasteful especially when you needed to dress your whole family on a small salary and required sewing machine that many could not afford. You can however find wool quilts with stitches that didn’t require sewing machine necessarily and used wool, which was way cheaper or even free due to everyone (at least who lived outside city) raising sheep. Hence you have amazing stitched blankets with most beautiful motifs and flowers. They do look like quilts (some are even assembled from blocks) but are not traditional quilts (as we think of quilts here). they are stitched and in some ways they are way more beautiful than quilts here can ever be as with thread/yarn you can paint way more deeper colors for the perfect flowers you are stitching (does  that make sense?) vs fabric appliqué where you are stuck with whatever fabric you.

In Estonia we didn’t learn to knit or sew as in America where you have weird short version of text telling you what to do and only if you speak the “knitting/crochet/etc language” can you translate what it means. In Estonia we learned by charts for everything with universal understanding of what it means (see pic called knitting).

Your answer was wonderful as there is no such thing as traditional quilt blocks (like log cabin) in Estonian quilting (though they are coming, learnt and taught now) and I am not surprised that your friend didn’t find any shops as most shops are dedicated to fiber arts rather than quilting. Hence the only way to really do “Estonian way quilts” would be to copy/interpret flower patterns to fabric appliqué or knitting patterns into pieced quilts (as you suggested). I included a link to a book that is full of such patterns called MUHU TIKAND and can be ordered online (see below) or if you have access to such older magazines like EESTI NAINE (Estonian woman) which always carried such patterns.

A really good resource is also Debroah Kendall (hope I spelled her name right) who has lot of tapestry quilts where one can get ideas for how to quilt flowers. See below link to one of her books.

anyway, hope it helps or gives ideas.”

I have seen some of Iris’ original designs so, when I wrote to thank her for her response and ask permission to share her email, I also asked if I could share pictures of her quilts. She was very gracious – and I know you’ll be impressed. The first one is based on Estonian embroidered designs.

This one has a similar feel and coloration.

I love the way she mixes piecing and appliqué.

And her delightful sense of humor is evident in these last two entitled the Cowboy

and Will You Marry Me:

Thank you Iris, for adding great insight into my post and for sharing your wonderful work!



May 28, 2017, Travel
Do They Make Quilts There?

This past Friday I received an email from a woman named Krystyna. Here’s what she wrote:

“Hello, I am half Estonian, born in the US and would love to connect to my heritage through quilting. I have been trying to locate a traditional Estonian quilt and hopefully one that isn’t embroidered. My searching brought me to your lovely site and I am wondering if you would have any idea of where I might find a pattern(s) for said traditional quilt(s). Or does this even exist, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t.”

Krystyna’s request got me to thinking about all of the times Wendy and I have been preparing for one of our Sew We Go adventures, hopeful to find quilt shops and groups in the places we’ll visit, only to find – nothing.

When Wendy and I visited Tallinn, Estonia while cruising the Baltic Sea, we discovered a city with friendly people and a huge love for history, culture and art. It was our favorite port of call on that trip. We even were able to take classes from artists in the art district of the city. To read about it please go to: We found “fiber art”, but no quilts.

In composing an answer to Krystyna, I got to thinking about a woman I know who is a missionary in Tallinn. I decided to write to her and her response was not only interesting, but she had suggestions that are applicable to quilters trying to find quilting patterns from other countries. I hope you will enjoy Denise’s response:

“Hi Chris, Wow, what an interesting question. 
As hard as it is to believe, there is no tradition of quilting here. That’s the short answer!

I have been to all the handicraft and agricultural fairs here in
Estonia over the past 12 years and have never even seen a quilt, nor
have I met or heard of any women who do it, and I have looked, believe
me. Perhaps it’s a result of being shut off from the rest of Europe
for centuries, but they use textiles they can grow: flax (linen) and
wool, neither which lend themselves to quilting. The indigenous
handicrafts being actively preserved today are Estonian embroidery,
weaving, felting, knitting and crocheting, and a kind of tatting.
Neighbors just bought angora rabbits to start harvesting their own fur
to make their winter hats, scarves and mittens. She will be hard
pressed trying to connect to Estonian culture through something that
doesn’t exist. That’s the long answer.

My recommendation is to adapt the colors and patterns of Estonian
woven tapestries and interpret them into a quilt, to combine her
passion for quilting with Estonian cultural references. It is very
Estonian to create something “new” and be inventive.

Each region in Estonia is represented in dress by it’s own distinct
colorful pattern of woven woolens, which could be easily adapted to a
quilt pattern of her own design. Most are three to five colors, and in
stripes. A couple of regions vary from that norm, but in all regions
the women make skirts and belts out of “their” local textile, which
they wear on national holidays and for special events. You know
exactly where a group of women is from by the stripe of their skirt.
The following link shows some of those patterns (the first word in
each pattern is the name of the county). There are more, I just can’t
find a repository that shows them all on one page:

This link shows a gathering of people celebrating in national dress:

Hope this helps. Have a great day! In His Service, Denise”

I loved the idea of taking a traditional handicraft design and making it into a quilting pattern. The links Denise provided were very nice. I also found a few pictures while surfing the web that I think are inspiring. The first two were from: (please visit their site. The pictures and stories were great).


The following woven designs could easily be converted into pieced patterns:

And this one would be lovely in appliqué:

I hope you can see the possibilities, no matter what country you’re interested in.

Thanks so much for your question, Krystyna, and for the in-depth response from Denise.

Have you ever made a quilt pattern inspired by a traditional handcraft from another country? I’d love to know more. Please send me pictures at:


May 21, 2017, Travel
Inspired and Enthused

On the road again – from Paducah back home to Wisconsin. The weather isn’t nearly as nice. Here’s a picture as we cross the “flying geese” bridge heading north.

But oh, what a wonderful trip we had!

We really enjoyed the quilt shop and Amish dry goods stores in Arthur, IL, and we did our best to support them. I found myself saying “pace yourselves” to my new roommates, who were stocking up on a bit of beautiful fabric before we even reached Quilt City, USA! After a delicious lunch at Yoder’s we were back on our way. We made it to our B&B in time to attend the National Quilt Museum reception. It was such a privilege and a joy to see my quilt, Silly Goose, hanging with all the other amazing “Flying Goose” challenge pieces.

I’ll be doing a post on the National Quilt Museum soon, because it is a real treasure for the quilt world.

That night my sweet roommates battled their exhaustion to help hang a display of quilts in the front windows of Tribeca restaurant (one floor below where we stay). The exhibit consisted of a collection of quilts from my book “Where do I Start With Fiber Art”, along with an African themed piece made by my dear friend Laura Krasinski.

The next day we helped to hang the quilts in the AQS show. Inspiration abounded. What fun to see them up close and personal. We then were asked to hang an exhibit of European quilts from the Studio Art Quilt Alliance (SAQA) at the Paducah School of Art an Design. It was a perfect venue for a group of fascinating quilts.

After that we were finally able to set up our kitchen studio  😀 !

The remaining days were filled with great classes, lectures, vendors, food and fun. Laura joined me for my traditional “bubble tea” at Etcetera.

We met up with the Fiberistas and, aside from our second annual mexican dinner together on Saturday night, we had to do the kitschy AQS Paducah backdrop thing for our 2017 picture.

Other than our trip home, the weather was beautiful. We so enjoyed the lower town area, the murals on the flood wall, and all the wonderful quilts.

It was such a total escape from reality and a chance to recharge our batteries – and it was a lot of fun! Looking forward to Quilt Week 2018!

Were you in Paducah this year? Any pictures you’d like to share? Please email them to me at:

April 30, 2017, Travel
Paducah or Bust – 2017

Greetings from central Illinois. I know I’ve done this before, but I still find it amazing that I can post to my blog on my laptop, from a truck cruising down the highway at 70 mph, while using my cellphone as a “hotspot” internet connection! What a fantastic world we live in!

Once again I’m on my way to Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky. It’s my favorite part of Spring. This year my travel partner, Wendy, had the wonderful opportunity to fly to Ireland with her husband and visit their daughter Tori, who is studying in Dublin. I’m so glad for them, but I know I’ll miss having her along. The good news is I found two friends who were thrilled to come along this year. Laura and Eileen have never been to Quilt Week, so I can’t wait to show them around.

This is just my part of the stuff I’ll “need” in Paducah. Once again we’ll turn the kitchen into a studio and do some stitching when we feel the urge.


We’ve decided to split the trip in half this year. By only driving halfway we didn’t have to miss church today 🙂 . We’ll spend tonight in Champaign, IL, so we can visit the Amish shops in the Arthur area tomorrow, since they are closed on Sunday. We’ll check into the B&B tomorrow afternoon and the fun will begin.

Quilt Week in Paducah – here we come!

April 23, 2017, Travel
Madison Quilt Expo 2016


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

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

If you want to see loads of great pictures of the quilts, vendors and events from the show, you can go to the Quilt Expo Facebook page at:

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


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


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


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


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

Quilt - Two Friends Monkeying Around

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


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

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


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


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

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

September 11, 2016, Challenges Travel
Sew We Go On a Brand New Cruise!

Sew We Go quilt cruise Quebec


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

quilt cruise Quebec Boston

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

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

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

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

Official Quebec Website

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

sydney nova scotia website

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

Halifax nova scotia

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

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

Thanks Lynn – so happy to have the pictures!

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


Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse


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

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




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

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

Site of the Boston Masacre

Site of the Boston Massacre

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

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


July 17, 2016, Travel
Quilt Week 2016 – Paducah, KY

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

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


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

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

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


Quilting super heros








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

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


And I even participated in the sidewalk art out front:


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


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


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

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

Fiberistas in Paducah

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


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

April 24, 2016, Travel
Ben Franklin Quilt Retreat II

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


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


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

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

BF 16 hippies-and-audrey

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


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


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

Chris' Scrap Happy quilt

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


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

Kudos to both Chris & Mary!

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


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

BF 16-Nina's-pics

A fun time was had by all!


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


April 10, 2016, Travel
Minot Prairie Quilt Festival

Greetings from Minot, North Dakota,

Minot downtown

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

Minot Prairie Quilt Fest

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

Minot goodies

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


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

Minot Scandinavian Center

The gift shop was filled with interesting characters!

Minot making friends

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

Diane Slickers

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

Diane Slickers2

Congratulations Diane!

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

Minot Rep class

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

Minot ca friends

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


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

Liberty in Sun Prairie


March 13, 2016, Travel
Turkish Textiles

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 1.00.57 AM

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


Like in Turkey! We will be in Kusadasi/Ephesus on a Wednesday. We’ll be touring the city – historic ruins and all, but there’s more. That’s the day the Kusadasi Open Air Market is based mostly on textiles! Perfect! This is the quote from the website: : “Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, open air markets are settled in large streets. Villagers bring fresh produce from their farm to sell, so even if you would not buy, you would have a chance to observe the season’s vegetables, socialize with locals and live the authentic atmosphere. Wednesday’s market is mostly based on textiles.”

See what I mean by saying “there’s something for everyone”? But many of you may find these facts I’ve learned interesting:

Pamuk is the Turkish word for cotton.

Cotton is cultivated everywhere in Turkey, so that Turkey is in fact the third biggest producer of cotton in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 1.07.59 AM

Traveling inland and passing Ephesus there are many cotton fields.  The harvest is in September – October, just when we’ll be there!

Turkey is just one of the stops on our fabulous, upcoming tour. I haven’t even begun to research Venice, Athens or Dubrovnik.

If this sounds like something on your bucket list :-), please consider joining us. This is a wonderful time to tell your loved ones that what you’d like for Christmas is a contribution to your Adriatic fund  😀 ! Plus, Kristi would be happy to arrange an installment payment plan for you. All the information can be found on this link:


December 6, 2015, Travel
The International Quilt Study Center and Museum

This past week was a wonderful adventure! I was invited to lecture and teach for the Lincoln Nebraska Quilters. There were so many reasons this trip was special. First – it was a great group!

Second – my niece and her family recently relocated to Omaha (which is less than an hour’s drive from Lincoln). Kaitlin and Marty have 2 adorable little ones and I was able to stay with them for a couple of days.

walsh blog

Third – Barb and the guild invited me to take a tour of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 1.52.43 PM

I’d heard about it for years, and it was truly a blessing to be able to see it. Especially since I was given the tour by a guild member who is also a docent at the Museum.

The IQSCM was a gift to the University by Robert and Ardis James, who are famous for their quilt collecting and generosity to the quilt world.

Lincoln Ardis collection

Ardis wanted the Center to be called the “Quilt House”, and this is the dedication at the entrance to the building.

Lincoln quilt house

The exhibits were fascinating, from a collection of African American quilts:

Lincoln African

through a thought provoking exhibit of Michael James quilts made in memory of his wife:

Lincoln Michael James

to my personal favorite – “Covering the War”, an exhibit of quilts made during war time in our nation (very fitting since I was there just before Veteran’s Day). These quilts were displayed with their touching stories:

Lincoln war quilts

And this was only a small part of the Center’s collection, and all of it’s other attributes. They often have charity sew-ins in the atrium, and the community is invited to be involved in many activities.

I really admired the Center’s logo – a lovely circle of needles:

Lincoln needles

Lincoln pinAnd Pat was kind enough to give me her pin as a remembrance of my visit. Thank you, Pat.

If you’re ever near Lincoln – I highly recommend this as a “not-to-be-missed” attraction!



Fourth – I got to share my passion for quilting and two suitcases full of quilts! The night of the IQSCM tour, I presented my “Journey With a Compass” lecture to a large and delightful group of quilters, and the next day I taught my beginning fiber art class entitled “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art”. These mainly traditional quilters had a lot of fun stepping outside of their comfort zones to play with fabric, color and design.

Lincoln FA2

Lincoln FA3

Lincoln FA4

Lincoln FA1

Lincoln trees

I always learn as much as my students, and it was quite obvious that a good time was had by all  😀 ! What a wonderful guild! Thanks for everything!

I had never been in Nebraska before, but now I’m scheduled to return in March to lecture and teach for a guild in Fremont. I can’t wait!


November 15, 2015, Travel
Sew We Go on a Cruise of the Adriatic Sea!


Sew We Go Adriatic, #sewwego, #quiltadventure,

Wendy and I, along with our Travel Planner Kristi, are VERY excited to share all the information about our next Sew We Go adventure. We will be taking a group on a cruise of the Adriatic Sea in September of 2016, beginning and ending our trip in Venice!

Adriatic Cruise

We will be traveling on the Norwegian Jade which features 14 decks and holds 2,300 passengers, the perfect size to access the smaller ports along the Adriatic coast.

Norwegian Jade

The ship features 19 restaurants, 12 bars/lounges, and many other offerings to keep you busy. While we will have a busy week, there will be two days at sea so you can enjoy all this ship has to offer. Temperatures should be perfect for touring, between 70° & 80° on average, depending on the port, with minimal rain. We are adding a night on each end of the trip so you can travel without the worry of delays affecting your adventure. Of course, you may choose to add additional nights or flight deviations and make this trip truly your own.

So what ports of call will we be visiting?


Venice, Italy – You could start a discussion about Venice by praising its restaurants, wine bars, marble churches or blown glass. But you probably won’t. You’ll likely start with the fact that Venice is built on water. It is a place where people either float slowly down palace-lined man-made waterways or stroll down narrow alleyways. There’s no more extraordinary place to find yourself, or lose yourself.


Dubrovnik, Croatia – Despite the magnificent 13th century walls that surround the city, Dubrovnik, Croatia is one of the most welcoming cruise destinations in all of Europe. Dubbed “the pearl of the Adriatic” by the poet, Lord Byron, this Croatian city exudes romantic charm and beautiful scenery with its shimmering marble streets, centuries-old buildings capped by bright orange roofs, and lovely beaches ensconced between awesome rocky ledges. The historic Old Town has not changed much over the centuries with water and horse-powered mills. And with the city on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, this truly historic town will continue embracing its heritage for many years to come.


Athens, Greece – Athens, Greece is the cradle of civilization, the oldest city in Europe. Occupied since at least the 26th century B.C., the history to be found here is unrivaled. Not only is this city home to the Acropolis and some of the most important architectural structures and archaeological finds in the Western world, it is also a very modern city, an urban amalgam of extraordinary art, culture, cuisine and shopping.


Ephesus, Turkey – Take a journey into the past in richly historic Ephesus, Turkey. Once an ancient Greek city, Ephesus was known for the famed Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built, destroyed, and rebuilt again through several notably historical periods, Ephesus boasts abounding ruins and archaeological excavation sites. View the remains of the Roman Library of Celsus, the Gate of Augustus, the Tomb of John the Apostle, the home of the Virgin Mary, and the Basilica of St. John, among several other ancient sites. In addition, this area is famous for their woven rugs, vineyards, olive groves, peaches, and apricots.


Split, Croatia – Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Split, Croatia on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, has a long and eventful history dating back to the Greek colonies of 425 B.C. The city became an important settlement with the construction of Diocletian’s Palace (295 A.D.) in the center of the city. Split offers a wealth of exciting places to visit, from the majestic cathedral and marble streets in the center of town to the harbor area with its cafe-lined promenades and views of coastal mountains. Combined with the medieval city of Trogir, one has the rare opportunity to visit two World Heritage Sites on the same day.


One of the big advantages of traveling with us is the way we handle “shore excursions”. When I’d cruised prior to “Sew We Go”, I found it frustrating that the excursions were not included in the total price of the trip, and I had to figure out what I wanted to see in a place I had never been before. Well, we take care of that. Kristi,Wendy and I do the research and decision making to choose an excursion in each port that takes in the most interesting and exciting sites, with an eye towards quilting and fiber art. We schedule these ahead of time and include them in the package!


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Details about a Sew We Go trip: While Wendy & I host these trips to gather with other quilters, we work to create a trip that any traveler will enjoy. The fiber-related components are optional with delightful alternatives for those not interested in the fiber arts so don’t hesitate to bring a friend or spouse. We include private group tours, classes, group meals, and informal gatherings for your enjoyment. Specific shore excursion and touring details will be available in Spring 2016 but you can be sure we will include the must-see sights of each destination we visit. We encourage you to explore each destination to the fullest and take in all the activities onboard the ship, whether with the group or on your own.

Air Transportation: Due to regularly full flights, group fares are no longer very attractive (minimal discount, last minute seat assignments, no deviations). As such, we recommend purchasing individual tickets that best fit your itinerary and needs. Currently, round-trip Chicago-Venice fares for shorter duration itineraries are around $1,430. Lower fares are currently available with longer layovers ($1,150) or multiple stops ($900). We are here to help you book flights if you would like assistance. We suggest not booking tickets until we have confirmed the minimum required participants for this group sailing.

Documentation: This trip requires that you have a passport that does not expire before April 4, 2017 (or six months after your return date). Passports applications may be filed at your local post office. All ports on this cruise allow you the freedom to tour as you like without visas.

What’s Included?  Cruise fare, port fees, government taxes, ship gratuities, group gatherings/tours/excursions, two nights Venice-area hotel (one pre, one post), most mealsA onboard, beverage packageB onboard, and 100 minute per stateroom internet package. Also included are Venice airport transfers (as a group on main arrival & departure days) along with additional meals and entrance fees, detailed once our excursions are finalized.

Insurance: Through experience, we have made it our policy not to include travel insurance in package pricing. While including it makes it easier, finding that your needs are not covered by a universal policy makes that coverage a waste of money. We recommend independent internet sites (such as to find the coverage you need based on your work status, health, and choice of coverage level. A policy for this trip, covering the customary inclusions can be expected to cost $150-$250 per person. Insurance is optional. We will assist you in obtaining a policy if you so desire.

Cruise Documents: NCL provides all travel documents electronically and requires advance online check-in. Each traveler will be required to set up an account at and complete the check-in process prior to departure. If you do not have access to the internet, please check the appropriate box on the registration form and we will contact you for the information necessary to get checked in and obtain your documents prior to sailing.

Dining: NCL has a reputation for re-imagining the whole concept of cruising by creating Freestyle Dining. There are numerous dining options available to please your palate. Your choices include seven complimentary restaurants [buffet & table service], six specialtyA restaurants [steakhouse, churrascaria, French, Asian, Italian, Chef’s Table], as well as room service, bake shop, and pizza delivery. ASpecialty restaurants have an additional cover charge.

Entertainment & Fun: You’ll find a grand casino, full service spa, fitness center, card room, internet café, jogging/walking track, art gallery, library, chapel, pools /hot tubs and much more.

Beverage Package: BUnlimited Fountain Soda featuring soft drinks at all restaurants and bars, including gratuity. You may upgrade your soft drink package to a wine/beer (+$350) or alcohol (+$430) beverage package, please indicate your interest on the form. (All occupants of stateroom must have same package. Packages do not include package sales, “take aways”, mini bar purchases, bottled water, specialty coffee beverages, or Red Bull energy drinks. +Upgrade price subject to change.)

Stateroom Occupancy: All pricing is per person, based on two per stateroom. Single occupancy is higher in cost, please indicate your interest in the single rate on the form and we will get a quote. NCL limits the number of single occupancy staterooms for each group onboard. If you do not have a roommate and would like one, we will put you in touch with others looking to share so you can determine compatibility.

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Send the completed form

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 along with a check (payable to Journeys & Gatherings) or credit card information to:

Journeys & Gatherings, Kristi Mirocha, 2060 Hawthorne Drive, Elm Grove WI 53122

(Do not send credit card information via email.)

Questions? 262-786-6763 or

November 7, 2015, Travel
The Sisters Show

I’m writing to you from Oregon where Wendy Rieves and I are enjoying the company of 31 delightful quilters while participating in every aspect of the 40th Annual Sister’s Quilt Show! We began our trip in Portland and then bussed our way down to Sisters, shop hopping to 4 quilt shops along the way. Each one was unique and we loved them all!

We began at the Cotton Patch in Keizer, OR – a bright and cheery store with a generous owner and a friendly staff. Then it was on to Salem and Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest. A big store in the heart of downtown, with lots of fabrics and sample quilts. We also visited BJ’s Quilts in Bend. Another friendly shop with loads of exciting things to choose from.

shop hop or

The 4th shop we visited was the the Stitching Post in Sisters! This is the store where Jean Wells started it all 40 years ago!

Stitchin Post Sisters

This was on Thursday, because we wanted to beat the crowds to this special store. There were still plenty of people there, but the shopping was good. This store had so many creative patterns and little extras, plus a huge fabric selection.

Stitchin Post

When Jean Wells started the Sisters Outdoor Quilt show, I’m sure she never imagined it would become the quilter’s “bucket list” destination it is today. The quilts are hung on the second Saturday in July, on the outsides of the buildings, for one day only. I decided I needed to take a picture of the main street two days before the show for comparison purposes  🙂 ! So hear it is on Thursday:

sis Thursday

And this was Saturday:

Sisters Quilt show

Friday we went to visit the vendors at the Fair Grounds in Redmond – and then it was off to the picnic. 800 quilters were fed a yummy meal of hamburgers, watermelon, and cupcakes!

Sisters picnic

This was followed with a greeting by Jean Wells herself, and entertainment which included Alex Anderson, Laura Wasilowski and some wonderful singing by 5 of the Gee’s Bend quilters.

Sisters picnic Gees Bend quilters

The next morning we arrived back in Sisters for the show. Over 1400 quilts were hung that morning (most attached to heavy wire with clothes pins), and it was even better than we’d imagined. This was our first view of the side of the Stitchin Post that morning:

Sisters quilt show 2015

But that was only the beginning of the quilts. They were hung on just about every building on the main street, plus many buildings on many other streets. The shops in the town were varied and wonderful – from art galleries to antique stores. There were also vendor tents set up wherever there was room. Good food, good music, great shopping and…

The weather was amazing! 70’s and partly sunny! We didn’t have to deal with the usual high temperatures and blazing sun. It couldn’t have been a better day for an outdoor quilt show. However, the wind did pick up in the afternoon and we were able to see a Quilt Rescue Team-member in action  😛 .

Quilt Rescue Team

It was a very full and extremely enjoyable day! I highly recommend a visit to the Sister’s show. I hope to return some day soon.

This was our 9th Sew We Go adventure! We traveled with a great group who loved to laugh and socialize. We really enjoyed getting to know each other and traveling together on this exciting trip which also included Portland and the Columbia River Gorge.

If sharing a Sew We Go adventure with Wendy and me is on your bucket list, please consider saving the date for our upcoming cruise of the Adriatic! Our travel planner Kristi, is putting the final details together for September 24th to October 1, of 2016. We will be visiting Venice, Croatia, Turkey and Greece, seeing all the sites and including many memory making extras – arranged just for quilters. As soon as the details are ready, I’ll share them here on the blog!


And just a quick update on the quilt I featured in last week’s post. I had a wonderful visit with Hanna, Willy and Rainee this past week. I gave Rainee the quilt for her birthday – and she loved it!

Rainee Gma quilt 7-15

July 13, 2015, Travel
Dairy Breakfast

I’ve written about barns and quilts before. From the quilt I made in the early 90’s, using fusible web to recreate the barn on my in-laws Iowa farm (fused – jigsaw puzzle style).

quilted barn

To my getting caught up in the Painted Barn Block craze on our own shed:

barn quilt

Well, this post isn’t actually about quilting, but it does have a connection to barns, and I hope you’ll find it interesting.

If you’re not from Wisconsin, you may not know that a bubbler is a drinking fountain and everyone goes out for Fish Fry on Friday nights. If you’re a city dweller, even in Wisconsin, you may not know what a Dairy Breakfast is, so I’d like to share some pictures of a truly rural Wisconsin tradition! They are a Saturday/Sunday event on different weekends throughout the Summer, in different counties around the State. Families around Wisconsin volunteer to spruce up their dairy farms and host these Dairy Breakfasts. The Watertown Agri-Business breakfast was this past weekend and it is always a lot of yummy fun! Mike and I invited our daughter-in-law, Betsy, and and the kids to join us (Brad had to work 🙁 ).

DB signsWhile the others waited in line for the food, Sommer and I visited the petting zoo:

DB petting zoo dairy breakfast petting zoo

Then it was our turn to eat. We watched them make eggs and pancakes Wisconsin style:

db eggs

DB pancakes

Then we held out our plates – and they were loaded up by the friendly volunteers:

DB serving

and don’t forget the cheese (it was going fast!):

DB cheese

We sat down to eat in the huge barn and were entertained by the ever-present polka band –  complete with cow spotted hats.

DB eating

DB band

Afterwards we looked at the model railroad, and model farm displays, while grandpa saved our place in line for the hay wagon tour of the farm. Here we are loading into the wagon.

DB wagon 1

It was a great tour and very informative. This farm has 450 milking cows in one barn! That number doesn’t include the calves and young cows who haven’t had a calf, residing in a different barn.

DB barn

They grow hay, corn and soybeans to feed the herd, and it takes 1000 acres to feed this crew! I was impressed.

By the end of the tour our tummies were full, we’d learned a lot, and Trey was worn out.

DB the end

Next week I promise to include quilt content 😀 !


June 28, 2015, Travel
Driftless Fiber Arts

Last weekend Mike and I drove to Des Moines for our nephew’s high school graduation. We made a mini vacation of it which included spending a night in a B&B/Edwardian Mansion in Dubuque on Friday night. As we were driving past Mineral Point, WI, on our way to Dubuque, I spied a sign for Pendarvis and said to Mike – I’ve heard of that, wonder what it’s about.

On the way home I looked it up on my phone (isn’t technology amazing?) and discovered Pendarvis started in the early 1800’s as “A settlement of highly-skilled Cornish miners which unearthed an ore that led to a mining frenzy”. To read the actual history of the settlement and it’s preservation go to –

I was intrigued. Then I clicked on their calendar and found that we were right on time for the Driftless Fibre Arts Faire! We had to stop!

Pendarvis sign

There were sheep, lambs and alpacas,

Pendarvis alpaca

Local vendors with yarn, garments and many interesting works of fiber art,

Pendarvis yarn

It was a feast for the eyes and a wonderful way to break up a long drive on a sunny afternoon.

I’ve done a bit of playing with felting wool roving into cotton fabric on a shirt. I used my friend Linda’s felting machine and was very pleased with the results.

felted front felted back

So I couldn’t resist purchasing a bag of colorful wool ends. Who knows what I’ll do with it???

Pendarvis roving

The only problem was, by the time we had visited the vendors and I made my purchase there wasn’t enough time to enjoy a tour of the buildings led by a costumed guide.

Pendarvis house

We are already planning our trip back!

Upcoming Classes at WCTC

This Summer I’m teaching one all day Open Lab class each month, as well as 2 one day workshops. Here’s the scoop:


Swirls and Stars Learn an exciting way to piece twirling Snails Trails blocks and let them dance around pieced stars. A great class for quilters who are comfortable with piecing techniques and want to try something a bit challenging. The pictured project is lap sized, but a smaller wall hanging version will also be an option. Friday, June 26th, 9 – 2:30, Course Reference Number: 5363 (this class is coming soon, so if you’re interested, please sign up today!)


Beginner’s Workshop Learn the basics of rotary cutting and stitching an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance while creating a lovely table runner. You may already be an experienced quilter, but please let your non-quilting/newby friends know about this fun, basic class. Saturday, August 8, 9 – 2:30, Course Reference Number 5364

Register by phone at: 262.691.5566 or on the internet at:, click on Course Search, choose Summer semester and type “quilting” into the Course Title/Subject box. All the quilting classes will appear, with instructions for signing up at the top of the page.


June 6, 2015, Classes Travel
A Two Women Show in Paducah

Greetings from Paducah, Kentucky! We had to drive through some pretty heavy downpours in southern Illinois, but we knew we’d arrived when we drove over the “flying geese bridge”:

flying geese bridge

Wendy couldn’t make the trip this year because of a family wedding, so my friend Linda joined me. The first order of business when we got here was to meet Philip and hang a “2 women show” in the gallery of Tribeca restaurant.

Fiber Art Exhibit Paducah 2015

Wendy Rieves and I will have our fiber art on display during AQS Quilt Week in Paducah 2015! (I’m just a little excited!)

You may remember that the past few years we’ve stayed at a B&B on the second floor of a downtown building, just upstairs from a Mexican Restaurant.

Paducah 15 Tribeca front

Well, last year the owners of Tribeca invited us to display our fiber art during this year’s show. Here’s a sneak preview!

Paducah 15 exhibit 2 Fiber Art Exhibit Paducah 2015

Paducah 15 exhibit 3

This post is a bit later than usual, because we just finished hanging the quilts and they’re ready for you to see. So, if you’re planning on visiting Paducah this week, here’s how to find us: When heading from the convention center towards the National Quilt Museum, go past the museum, and straight ahead you’ll see the Yeiser Art Center.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 6.19.54 PMWalk down the cobblestone street to the right, and Tribeca is half way down the block.

If you’re at the big, pink Finkel building, doing some shopping, this is what you’ll see when you walk out the main door (it’s the theater on the opposite end of the Market building from the Yeiser).

Paducah 15 market-finkel

Between the tree on the left and the Market, you can see Tribeca. Oh, did I mention, the food is great too? So please stop in for lunch or dinner!

If you’re unable to make the AQS show this year – never fear, I’ll share some additional pictures next week!

From all our friends in Quilt City USA – have a wonderful week!

Paducah 15 faces

April 19, 2015, Travel
Howdy From Sedona

I need to apologize up front, because there is nothing about quilting in this blog (unless you count photographic inspiration). I was going to take a week off, but I thought you might enjoy a few pictures instead.

My friend Rosemary and I wanted to take a trip to Arizona. Our husbands weren’t interested in going, but encouraged us to go – and to have a good time. So we’re doing just that. We flew into Phoenix on Friday and drove up to Sedona. Yesterday we did an off-road jeep adventure with Lil’ Deb.

blog Sedona 2

It was bumpy, exciting, and all with amazingly beautiful views!

Today we took a ride up the Oak Creek Canyon and road on Route 66 through Flagstaff. This included some wonderful hiking.

blog flagstaffThen we journeyed back to Sedona for more hiking,

blog sedona 3

And the sunset in Sedona was breathtaking!

blog Sedona 1

Tomorrow we head to the Grand Canyon. What a blessing!

Next week I promise something much more quilterly. Until then good -bye from Arizona!

blog Sedona 4


March 22, 2015, Travel
Sisters – From a Number of Angles

Just a couple of quick notes about last week’s post. Thanks to those who commented and suggested checking with your machine technician before using monofilament thread – good advice. Also, I recently spent some quality time on Diane Gaudynski’s blog and I highly recommend it: Her website is:

seven sisters in sisters


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember the Saga of the Quiltsissies. It was really quite silly, but the feedback was great. This is how the story began (and this is leading to something):

“Once upon a time there were 2 quilters, named Chris and Wendy, who liked to take others on quilting adventures in Europe. Prior to a trip to France in 2008 they talked about creating a traveling companion named Quiltina. She was based on a cardboard cut out called Flat Stanley who travels with school children and helps them to journal their trips. Wendy made the first Quiltina and then created her sister Quiltanna for Chris. These Quiltsissies joined the quilting cruise in France. They brought along a third sister, Quiltilly.

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While on the cruise a contest was held and the winner, Evelyn, was awarded Quiltilly as her prize.”

As the story continues, Evelyn and her sister Hazel (who has Quiltzilla) stayed with us during quilt week in Paducah a few years ago, and she brought Quiltilly along, but Quiltilly was showing signs of neglect. On top of that, Evelyn left her behind. So Wendy and I naturally held her for ransom.

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After quite a bit of excitement, Evelyn did pay the ransom in jewels – batik diamonds!

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(To read the whole adventure go to: and and and  )

Years have passed and Wendy and I are currently planning our next Sew We Go Adventure to the Sisters Oregon Quilt Show this July! For our trip project we’ve chosen the Seven Sisters block, and it uses diamonds! The ransom diamonds have been waiting for such a time as this, and we’ve been having a wonderful time putting it all together – in hand and machine piecing options. Here are the three samples we’ve created already (they’re table topper sized and addictive – like eating potato chips):

7 sisters 1 7 sisters 2

7 sisters 3

All of the quilters who join us on the trip (Evelyn and Hazel are already on the list!) will have the opportunity to make their own Seven Sisters quilt during our travels. We’ll also have a pre-trip get together in which travelers can make their very own Quiltsissie!

Here’s the good news:


Our adventure begins and ends in Portland, OR – how you get there is up to you (although our travel planner would be happy to help you with those details). Thus, it doesn’t matter where you live – you can be a part of the fun!

So if you’d like to join us there’s still time! You can even bring your sister!

For all the details go to:

then call Kristi at: (262)786-6763

And I couldn’t resist this parting picture:

seven sisters pillowcaseWhile shopping in a local quilt shop – Tea and Textiles in Jefferson – I found this wonderful “cheater cloth” of the Seven Sisters block. I just had to make a pillowcase for Wendy to take on the trip. I think I’ll make one for myself also. Too much fun!!!

February 1, 2015, Travel
New Products

I gave my threads lecture at the Ben Franklin Quilt Fest in Oconomowoc last fall. I’ve been giving this talk for quite a few years, and am always learning and updating the information I share. While speaking, I was made aware of two new products I wanted to try.

Product #1 – Aurifil Nylon Monofilament Thread

Over the years I’ve done quite a bit of testing and researching the different threads on the market. When I first began quilting with invisible thread, the only option on the market was nylon and I didn’t have much success (in fact, I had one disaster that took me 5 nights to rip out!). I must admit that invisible thread is not my favorite choice for quilting because it’s meant not to show. With all the gorgeous threads on the market, and my love for thread, I like to see the thread in most of my projects.

But, sometimes I truly don’t want the thread to show. So when the polyester invisibles came out, I gave them a try. I liked them better because they didn’t seem to stretch as much as the nylon. One of the companies that makes a polyester version stated on their website that “nylon gets brittle and yellows with age” – and I took them at their word. Well, Aurifil has come out with a new nylon invisible thread.

At Ben Franklin quilt fest, when Terrie told us all about Aurifil nylon, I was surprised because I thought everyone knew that “polyester invisible was better”. I was a bit skeptical because of my past experiences. But I really like Aurifil cotton threads, so I’m thinking they must have a good reason for choosing to make their version of invisible thread in nylon. They don’t say much about it on their website. In fact this was their description: “Aurifil Monofilament is 100% nylon and made in Italy. It is a zero thread breakage product with a smoother finish. Available in both Clear and Smoke shades”.  (

I couldn’t find any internet sites that did unbiased comparison testing of these products, but I recently stumbled upon an Australian blog that gave the Aurifil monofilament rave reviews: This site recommended another blogger who had tested it under high heat with an iron. She stated it survived the test with flying colors. Read about her test and comments here:

I decided to do some stitching tests of my own. I tried two different nylon invisibles, and two different polyester invisibles. Here they each are – taped to a piece of paper:

invisible threads

The thicknesses were quite different, but to my surprise, they all performed about the same. Each of them needed to have the tension lowered, even for machine guided stitching. When free motion quilting, the Aurifil needed to have the tension lowered the most. I felt the look and feel was comparable between all of them. I used them to do free motion quilting on a large wallhanging I was working on and, I felt they all sewed well and gave me a look I was pleased with, once the tension was adjusted. This was eye opening. Now I’m not sure which is best. Perhaps they’re all good (please note, I did not do intense, conclusive testing – just a bit of playing  🙂  ).

At this point I decided to contact an expert. Diane Guadynski is an amazing, prizewinning quilter and also a dear friend. She was the first free motion quilter I ever took a class from (and one of the best!), and at that time she was using nylon invisible. So, I recently emailed her with my questions and here are some of her thoughts (used with her permission):

“I used it (nylon) in all my work for years, and I did heat set things, used quilts on beds, washed and dried them and it stayed clear and flexible, not brittle or yellow and didn’t break.” … “I haven’t used invisible thread for a long time, just here and there as needed.” She said that after a while she began “using silk thread top and bobbin, with a new set of things to worry about!”

“Truly I think a majority of the problems that came about from nylon thread were due to incorrect use in the machine – wrong tension primarily, threading problems, and wrong bobbin thread, wrong bobbin tension.

Another interesting thing about invisible threads, all types, is that some machines like one brand or nylon v. poly, and it’s good to try another type if your machine doesn’t work well with it.  Getting that perfect combo of bobbin thread and invisible is tricky but once you find what your machine likes you can relax and it should work fine.”

Her final comment: “I hope people realize that it’s more demanding than any opaque threads (well, except metallic, eeeeek).”

Thank you so much Diane!

If you like to use invisible thread in your quilts with good results, or you have tried this new thread from Aurifil, please share you thoughts with a comment at the end of this post.

Product #2 – Chrome Needles 

When the titanium coated sewing machine needles first came out, I had to try them. I liked them, but didn’t notice a huge difference between them and the old fashioned needles I was use to. Plus, they are more expensive. At Quilt Fest, Terrie (I’m learning a lot from her!) shared that Floriani has come out with a chrome plated needle made by Schmetz.

Chrome plated needles

You can read all about them and watch a video here:

I’ve purchased them and I’m anxious to give them a try. I’ll share my thoughts in a future post. Have you used them? What is your opinion? Please let us know by commenting on this post!

One thing to note: even though these needles are made by Schmetz, they are available exclusively through Floriani.

Upcoming Event – for your information!

NQA Quilt Show 2015

I’ll be teaching at the National Quilting Association Show this Summer in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ve been a member of NQA for years, and have had many quilts in their shows, but never was able to attend myself. So, I’m really looking forward to being a part of this year’s show. For all the information click here, and for a listing of all the classes click here!

January 25, 2015, Notions Travel
Sew We Go to the Sisters Show

Sisters pic

Is the “Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show” on your bucket list? It’s been on mine for many years, and I recently discovered it was on my friend Wendy’s too. So we presented the idea to Kristi, our travel planner, discussed some of the other wonderful sites to see in the Pacific Northwest, and this resulted in an extra Sew We Go adventure in 2015!

Sisters pic2

To watch a slide show of pictures from the 2014 show, on the Quilt Show blog, click on the following link, then click on the arrow and enjoy:

Here are all the details from our brand new flyer:


Sew We Go to Oregon title

Join Wendy & Chris on a quilt adventure to the Pacific Northwest. Whether you subscribe to the traditional City of Roses reputation or the more recent Keep Portland Weird slogan, there is something for everyone in Portland. We will start and end in this city and, in between, explore the Willamette River Valley during fiber-related adventures with mountain vistas, national forests, and river gorges as our backdrop.

Summer weather in this area is very dry (less than an inch of rain the entire month) and temperatures are warm, with daytime averages in the 80s. Evenings cool to the high 50s.

The specifics of our itinerary will be finalized once the quilt event organizers firm up their details early next year. For now, here is our planned itinerary. We do hope you will join in the fun.

Wednesday, July 8    Fly to Portland, Oregon (PDX). If the majority of the group will arrive by 1pm, we will include a city tour & shop hop. If not, enjoy the city at your leisure; maybe a Voodoo Doughnut, the must-see Powell’s City of Books, International Rose Test Garden, or Portland Japanese Garden. Overnight in Portland.

Thursday, July 9        After our included breakfast, we will depart on our trek south. On our way, we will shop hop in the towns of Keizer & Salem to break up the drive, with lunch on your own in Salem.   Next stop, Sisters! Visit The Stitchin’ Post, do a little shopping, and take in the city before its quilt transformation for the weekend. Depending on time, we have another shop or two we can visit enroute to our home for the next three nights. Once we are checked in, unpack, have a bite, take a swim, go for a walk, do whatever you like before the hectic weekend begins. We will gather tonight for some social time. Overnight in Redmond/Bend.

Friday, July 10           After our included breakfast, we will be transported to the Redmond Fair Grounds to take in the Oregon Summer Quilt Expo. This event features quilt exhibits, vendors, and educational sessions designed for your enjoyment while awaiting the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on Saturday. We will return to the hotel around 2 pm to rest up for the evening ahead. Later in the afternoon we will return to Sisters for the traditional Picnic in the Park and Guest Lecturer, returning to our hotel around 9 pm. Sleep well for Saturday will be a full day!

Saturday, July 11       Put on your walking shoes, enjoy the included breakfast, and hop on the bus for our day in Sisters. The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show runs from 9 am – 4 pm. You are free to explore, shop, eat, or all the above before we return to our hotel. We will gather for dinner this evening with happy exhaustion! Save some time to pack your treasures, for tomorrow we head north.

Sunday, July 12         After our included breakfast, we will begin our trip back to Portland. We will have lunch in the shadows of Mt. Hood before taking in the Hood River Fruit Loop with stops at a lavender farm and alpaca ranch. Tonight is yours to pack, socialize, or explore the city a bit more before the trip home. Overnight in Portland.

Monday, July 13        Enjoy breakfast and prepare for the journey home.

Here are a few Web Resource Links to click on for more information:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

We are planning group tours and events which will appeal to a quilter and fiber lover. Specific touring details will be available in spring 2015. Our planned itinerary will be adjusted should events or businesses change their offerings. Of course, you may choose to add additional nights and make this trip truly your own. We are limiting participation to insure attendee comfort and the ability of tour sites to be equipped to handle the group.

Air Transportation: Flights may be booked at any time once the trip’s minimum participation is confirmed. We will offer assistance if needed. Internet fares have proven to be the best value.

What’s Included?  Portland airport transfers on official tour dates; transportation to group events; five nights hotel, double occupancy; minimum driver gratuity; group gatherings/tours; five breakfasts; one lunch, two dinners; Quilt Expo admission fee; Wendy, Chris, & travel coordinator accompaniment.

Meals: Group meals aren’t usually the best value (higher cost, slow service, less quality) so we have opted to allow each of you the freedom to dine as you wish. Should quality group dining opportunities present themselves as we finalize the itinerary, we will give you the option of participating at an additional cost.

Insurance: Through experience, we have made it our policy not to include travel insurance in package pricing. While including it makes it easier for you, finding that your needs are not covered by a universal policy makes that coverage a waste of money. We recommend independent internet sites (such as or your preferred insurance agent to find the coverage you need based on your work status, health, and choice of coverage level. A policy for this trip, covering the customary inclusions (travel delay/missed connection, lost/delayed baggage, emergency medical, medical evacuation, cancellation due to illness/death of travel companion/family member) can be expected to cost $150-$250 per person depending on age. Insurance is optional. We will assist in obtaining a policy if you would like help. If your participation is dependent on having a roommate, insurance is recommended because, should your roommate cancel, you would be liable for single supplements or cancellation fees.

Accommodation Occupancy: All pricing is based on two per room. Single occupancy may be available. If you do not have a roommate and would like one, we will put you in touch with others looking to share.


Land Costs: Credit Card $1,495 per person; Check/Cash $1,450 per person; single supplement $600.

Airfare is additional. Fly into Portland International Airport (PDX), currently selling at $550+ from MKE.

To Reserve Your Space: Complete the registration form in its entirety and submit with payment. We must have your signature on file before confirming your reservation. Payment may be made by check or credit card. Check/cash payments may be made as often as you like provided the minimum due at each deposit date is met. Credit card payments will be processed at due dates.

Payment Schedule:

Upon reservation: $300 per person

January 25:………… Additional $400 per person

March 11:…………… Additional $400 per person

May 11:………………. Balance Due


Prior to January 25…………. no fees assessed

January 25 until March 10 $500 per person

March 11 until May 10…… $1,000 per person

May 11 or after ……………… 100%

Journeys and Gatherings

To access a pdf version of all the above information, plus a printable form to send to Kristi, click on the sign below:

PDF flyer button

October 26, 2014, Travel
Quilting in the Northwoods

This past week I had the delightful opportunity to teach for the Northeast Iowa Quilt Guild’s retreat, held at a camp in Minnesota. I saw many “quilt blocks” hanging on barns along the way and was so pleased to find a lone star block on the Camp’s barn upon my arrival.

Barn with lone star quilt block

A portion of the quilters at the retreat were already set up and ready for me to begin my first class – Beyond Meandering. The room was big and light and a wonderful place for a sewing class/retreat:

NEI retreat NEI retreat2

I recognized Sue and she told me she had taken this class previously and was now a long-arm quilter. Praise the Lord! She was loving it and still using some of the designs I share in the class. She then showed me this sweet crib quilt she had quilted using a pre-printed panel:

NEI Sue quilt

Here’s a detail shot:

NEI Sue quilt detail

I really liked the way she left the insides of the circles un-quilted. What a great effect!  That night I presented my “Gone to the Dark Side” lecture  to a laughing crowd (I hope they were laughing with me and not at me :-).

The next day I taught my beginning Fiber Art class, called Parallelisms, and discovered a very creative group of quilters. Here are just a few in action (Aurora, Sabrina and Valeria – all the students get new names for their creative muses):

NEI Aurora NEI Sabrina and Valeria

Just look at some of the wonderful designs the class came up with:

NEI para class1 NEI para2

And this is only the beginning! We also discussed embellishing and finishing techniques.

I stayed on an extra night and this generous group invited me to make thread catchers and microwave hot pads along with them in a class taught by Sandy. We stitched and sewed into the night and had so much fun.

Saturday morning I began my 3 1/2 hour drive home. Autumn is my favorite season and we’ve had very little color change in the leaves in southeastern Wisconsin so far this year. I was hoping this trip north would give me a peek at the autumn colors I so love, but I was surprised to find that it was a late year for color everywhere I went. I saw a lot of green, but I did spy this tree in Lansing, Iowa, right along the Mississippi River.

Lansing color

That wasn’t all I saw in Lansing. The ladies at the retreat had recommended I make a stop at Horsfall’s Lansing Variety on Main Street, 2 blocks off the river. Horsfall’s actually has 2 stores, the one on the corner and the one under the arrow.

Horsfalls Variety, Lansing, IA

Horsfall’s was every bit as unique as they had described. Here’s the front door:


It is a popular place, and I did quite a bit of squeezing by other shoppers due to the size of the aisles:



They are truly a variety store. From one spot you can pick out yarn for your next knitting project, while getting your grandson a basketball hoop, and stocking up on toilet paper. What a hoot!


They carry embroidery floss (I recognized it as floss right away, but have been traveling so much I still haven’t decided what will become of my box of floss 🙂 )

Horsfalls 5.5

and quilt batting (if you can reach it).

Horsfalls5I’m told they had fabric at one time, but the owner’s wife didn’t like cutting the yardage.

I did find a few treasures I needed and Jesse checked me out. Can you find him among all the stuff?

Horsfalls7Horsfall’s is famous for being unique. Jesse handed me a copy of a newspaper clipping that appeared in the Chicago Sun Times. Thanks to the North Iowa Quilters for the site-seeing suggestion!

Horsfalls news

Next I drove up the hill a ways in order to get a good view of the very narrow bridge that would take me back to Wisconsin.

Lansing bridge distanceAfter driving back down Main Street (and a quick stop at a great Estate Sale), I drove over the bridge and headed south on the Wisconsin side of Old Man River.

Lansing bridge

Then, a short ways down the road, I came upon an Amish “Country Faire” in the park just south of Ferrysville, WI. The black raspberry pie was delicious!

Ferrysville Amish

The weather was great, the sites wonderful, but the time spent with quilters was the best part of the adventure!

How is the autumn color in your neck of the woods?

September 28, 2014, Travel
Sew We Go 2015

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

dinner shot1

Watching Reinhard create German Blaudruck fabric in Rostadt,

Handdruck demo in Rostock

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

E Tallinn-artist workshop fiber broach3

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

Sew We Go Copenhagen

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

class time at sea

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

So now we’re planning our next BIG AVENTURE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Events

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

Scrap Happy - October 11, 2014

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

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.22.16 AM

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

Snowperson Topper - November 14, 2014

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

Woven Star Stockings - December 5, 2014

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.13.15 AM
Visit the museums website: to sign up!

September 21, 2014, Travel
Hanna and Willy’s I Spy Quilts

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

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

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

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

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

Willys rqayg first stitching

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

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

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

I Spy - quilt as you go

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

Hannas quilt back

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

Here’s Willy’s from the front:

Willy's I-Spy Quilt

And from the back.

I-Spy back

His checkerboard is better, but still not perfect.

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

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

New quilt Hanna New quilt Willy

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

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


September 14, 2014, Kids Travel
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
An Amish Adventure

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.48.41 PM

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

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

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

Philly bed quilts

as well as the walls

Philly wall quilts Philly crib quilt

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

Philly valance

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

Philly mk buggy

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

Philly Missy

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

Philly buggy

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

Philly shadow

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

August 3, 2014, Travel
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
Tallinn, Estonia

A quick addition to last week’s pictures from Rostock, Germany. I didn’t want you to think I was the only one hugging German men. Wendy found two (Reinhard, and Klaus – the tour guide):

Wendy and 2 men

And Kristi (our fantastic travel planner) rated a kiss!

Reinhard and Kristi

Speaking of Kristi, she arranged for a phenomenal trio of classes while we were in Tallinn, Estonia. Estonia holds artists in very high regard. We began with a stop in a handicraft type shop. This shop had quite a variety of items (from hand knit sweaters to wooden trivets and so much in between). They were all made in traditional Estonian style.

Tallinn handcrafts

In the back room of the shop was an exhibit of fiber art. The artist’s made wall art inspired by jewelry (the jewelry was displayed in shadow boxes next to the art).

Estonian fiber art

This reminded me of a recent Milwaukee Art Quilters challenge called Bead Inspired (click here to see the quilts in that exhibit).

Many artists are trained at the Universities in Estonia, and the old town of Tallinn is filled with shops and studios featuring these very creative individuals. A short walk from the handcraft shop we discovered more fiber art for sale:

Tallinn Estonia fiber art E Tallinn-Estonian fiber art3 E Tallinn-Estonian fiber art5

What a feast for the eyes. But this was nothing – Kristi had scheduled our travelers to take classes with a group of Estonian artists! Our next stop was the studios of the Katariina Gild.

Here is a picture of the members of this “Gild” from their website: (I highly recommend visiting their site! It starts in Estonian, but if you scroll down a ways it’s in English! Be sure to visit all the pages 🙂 )

Katariina Gild Estonia

We broke up into smaller groups and some of us took a class in Patchwork, making an embroidered and quilted bag:

E Tallinn-artist workshop-patchwork2 E Tallinn-artist workshop-patchwork3

Others took a Fiber Art class, and made broaches from yarn and other embellishments.

E Tallinn-artist workshop fiber broach3 E Tallinn-artist workshop-fiber broach

and there were even workshops in Leather Art. I found that intriguing, and the instructor, Pille, was very talented and very inspiring. In the first photo Jerrie and I are making business card wallets. In the second we’re posing with Pille and our finished creations. It was an interesting process, and I did buy one of her handmade books (on the shelf behind us).

E Tallinn-artist workshop-leather2

E Tallinn-artist workshop leather-JerriePelleMe

It was a wonderful day of inspiration and learning. I didn’t take any photographs of the finished projects (the patchworkers actually placed their projects into a packet and stitched it closed for the trip home – so none of the rest of us got to see them), but we’re having a cruise reunion in July and I’ll be inviting everyone to bring what they made for show and tell. Watch for pictures in a future post.

I wish we could have had another day in Estonia – what a wonderful place to explore!


June 15, 2014, Travel
Blaudruck and Handdruck

Blaudruck, is a German word translated Blue Print. It is a dyeing method in which a white pattern is formed on a blue background. It uses what is called “reserve pressure” in which the fabric is printed with a resist (called a “Papp” in German) and then indigo dyed.

Handdruck is a German word that can mean “hand printing”.

We were able to experience both first hand on our tour in Rostock, Germany. We began the tour on the outskirts of Rostock, just down from St. Peter’s church, on what looked to be a residential street.

Blaudruck outside1

What a delight to discover we were heading to this shop:

Blaudruck Rostock Germany

On the first level of Christine and Reinhard Haase’s home we were treated to a demonstration of Handdruck, and a display of both Handdruck and Blaudruck created by the Haase’s. Note the logo to the right on the sign above – Haase is German for hares!

Reinhard is a delightful, bearded man with a great sense of humor, who didn’t speak a word of English – and yet we all thoroughly enjoyed his demonstration! They use very traditional German methods for their art, and he had a book showing how they still do it the old fashioned way. Then he jumped right in!

Handdruck demo in RostockHe demonstrated how he loaded the dye onto the traditional blocks, lined up the design, and printed a table runner before our eyes.

Haase Blaudruck Rostock GermanyThe Handdruck “direct printing” demonstration was easy to understand and he made it look quite effortless (I’m sure practice has a lot to do with it!). A Blaudruck demonstration would have been more difficult to do as the Papp (a resist made of the sap of birch trees and clay – if I understood our guide correctly) would be applied with the “blocks”, dried, indigo dyed and then washed in a special solution to remove the Papp. After the demonstration we were able look more closely at some of the shop samples and make some purchases.

blaudruckhanddruck I’m so pleased to own a blaudruck runner and egg cozy from Reinhard’s shop. I’m also happy that he agreed to a hug and a photograph!

Blaudruck Reinhard and me

What a delightful and educational visit!

And here’s an interesting addition to last week’s post. I ended with a picture of Sew We Go making our mark on Copenhagen:

Sew We Go

I just found the photo I’d taken of the description of the “Happy Wall”:

Happy Wall Copenhagen

For more information and a fascinating tour into the art of this very creative man, go to:!about1/cnk1 

June 8, 2014, Dyeing Travel
Sew We Go to the Baltic Sea

Wendy and I have returned from our quilting adventure on the Baltic Sea – and it couldn’t have been more wonderful. We traveled with a warm and friendly group of 51, including quilters, non-quilters and 5 men! Sew We Go Each and every one was a blessing to Wendy and me. Our event planner, Kristi, of Journeys and Gatherings, was able to join us on the trip, and she kept everything running oh, so smoothly. We visited 6 countries in 12 days and the weather couldn’t have been better (they say it is only sunny 60 days each year in St. Petersburg and we got 2 of them :-)! The Norwegian Star cruise ship crew did a fantastic job of keeping us comfortable, entertained and well fed.

I’m planning to share the quilt/fiber aspects of the trip over the next few weeks. Kristi did a great job of fulfilling our wishes for special excursions that would appeal to quilters and fiber artists, and these stops were mixed well with tours of the important things every tourist in that area would want to see. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about what quilters and fiber artists are doing in other countries. We’ll begin in Denmark :-)!

We flew into Copenhagen very early on a Sunday morning. After a visit to the Viking Museum (which included a typical Danish lunch) we checked into our hotel for a bit of a rest (we’d flown through the night) – and then it was on to Kirsten’s Quilt in Roskilde. Yes – a real live quilt shop just outside of Copenhagen! And it is a large and well stocked shop. kq That would have been exciting enough, but then Kirsten and her group of Danish quilters served us a fantastic meal in the upstairs classroom and then we all ate together and got to know each other. I bet you can’t tell the Danish quilters from the Americans! dinner shot2dinner shot3 dinner shot5 dinner shot1 Kirsten gave each of us a placemat pattern of her own design: Sew We Go After dinner, Wendy and I made a little presentation of some things we brought to share with the Danish group. I gifted copies of my 2 most recent books and Wendy shared the story of Quiltina, w giving qt sm and then gave Kirsten her very own Quiltsissie! Kirsten WCWe also brought fat 1/8ths of a lovely green/blue fabric which we gifted to all of the Danish quilters in hopes they will join us in a: challenge Next we went downstairs to do some fabric shopping, Kirsten Quilt and admire an art quilt display by Charlotte, one of the Danish quilters. To see Charlotte’s work, please go to her website: It was a delightful evening of quilts, food and friendship. If you’re ever in Denmark, I highly recommend a visit to this shop. And that was just the beginning of our Baltic adventure.

The final day of our trip we spent in Copenhagen once again. This time a number of us set off on our own for a train ride into the city and we discovered the Happy Wall. It is a large black wall with hinged, rectangular, colorful “doors”, that passersby are invited to flip, thus creating words and designs. We couldn’t resist making our mark: Sew We Go CopenhagenHere’s a distance shot, so you can get some perspective: Sew We GoWhat fun! Next week I’ll share what we learned about Blaudruck fabric printing in Rostock, Germany.

And one more thing :-): I have a free motion quilting class coming up on Friday, June 13th, called Beyond Meandering. In it I share how to make quilting the quilt as much fun as making the top.

free motion quilting

The class needs a few more students in order to run. If you’re interested, please register at Thanks!

June 1, 2014, Travel
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
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
New York, NY

This week’s post is filled with more travel fun! Last week I was teaching in Pella, IA and Madison, WI and this week I’m writing to you from Manhattan! Thanks to my dear friend, Maggi, who moved from Wisconsin to New York, I was invited to share my Mariner’s Compass techniques with the Empire Quilters!

I flew in on Friday morning and took a taxi to my hotel in Chelsea only to discover that my room wasn’t quite ready. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, so I headed to the High Line. My friend, Chiyoko, had recommended it and it was only a few blocks away. It’s an old elevated rail line that has been converted into a garden walkway with trees and plants (growing amongst the rails),


interesting art,


and fascinating views (like this one of the Statue of Liberty).


From there I walked to the City Quilter – a wonderful quilt shop a block from the hotel! And I just had to buy a few yards of New York fabric :-):

City Quilter

After lunch at a typical New York deli, I found my way to FIT – the Fashion Institute of Technology. In their beautiful gallery space they had an exhibit called Retro Spective. It included fashions from many different decades and “explored fashion’s relationships with it’s own history”. Being that I’m also I garment sewer, I found it fascinating.


By then my room was ready – on the 24th floor – and this was the veiw:


What a blessing, and I’d only been here a few hours! Once I got situated I hopped on a subway and headed “uptown” to visit with Maggi. We had a great time of tea and conversation.

The next morning I rolled my bag of quilts about 4 blocks to a lovely old church where the guild meeting was being held. The quilters began arriving as I prepared my quilts.

Empire QuiltersWhat a lovely group! I shared my Mariner’s Compass quilts along with their stories and even did my “I can draft a compass in under 5 minutes” demonstration.

drafting a mariner's compass


Today was a Mariner’s Compass workshop. Another fun day with wonderful quilters. The group shot from class was too fuzzy to post :-(, but I do have a picture of my new friend Mary. We have gotten to know each other over 3 delicious dinners and she has graciously shown me around the city. Thanks Mary!

I gave myself an extra day here and have some wonderful plans for tomorrow, but that will have to wait for next week’s post. I do however have one more thing I’d like to share. If you’re interested in taking my “Mariner’s Compass” class, or the free motion quilting class I call “Beyond Meandering”, I will be offering both next month at the AQS quilt show in Des Moines, IA (another great travel adventure to look forward to :-)).

AQS Des Moines

It promises to be a delightful show and you can get all the information, as well as register on their site at:

I’d like to close with one last New York picture – the view out my window right now! The Empire State Building is lit up so beautifully at night!

New York at nightPraise the Lord!

September 15, 2013, Travel
Travel Fun

Before we get to the topic at hand, I’d like to add one more bit of information to the topic that was covered in the last two weeks of blogs. The wool batt I was using in the wedding quilt was a new type called “washable wool”. These batts have only been around for a few years. Prior to that wool batts had to be treated very carefully.

I realized I needed to address this part of the wool batt discussion when Jackie made this comment (and I’m putting it here because not everyone reads the comments :-)): “Thanks for the heads up on the shrinkage.  I have 3 wool batts that were given to me.  They come from her sheep and she had the wool turned into batting.  I have been afraid to use them because I’m not sure how to.” 

This was my response: “Jackie, Wool that has not been processed for washing will shrink a lot!!! Typically quilters do not hand or machine quilt those types of batts. Rather they are used in what’s called a duvet. It’s like a bed sized “pillow case” that the wool batt is smoothed into, and then it is tied and ready for use. That way, when the quilt (actually a comforter) becomes soiled, the ties can be cut, the wool batt removed and re-carded, the duvet washed and then it can be put back together again.”

I hope that was helpful. I didn’t want to lead anyone astray!

Now I’d like to share some pictures and thoughts on a wonderful week of quilting travels…

My week began the day after Labor Day when I had the delightful opportunity to lecture and teach for a quilt guild in Pella, Iowa. On the way there I stopped to have lunch near Madison with my dear friend Evelyn (of Quiltilly fame :-)). We had a quick meal, happy conversation, and exchanged a collaboration quilt she and I have been working on (more details to come about that quilt in a future blog!). From there I continued on a sunny, 4 1/2 hour ride that took me just south and east of Des Moines.

The ladies of the Pella Quilt Guild were delightful! They invited me to join them for a delicious dinner at a local golf club, followed by my dressing up in “tails” for my “Quilt Tales” lecture. The next day a bunch of us had fun making houses using my Repliqué technique in an all day workshop. It was a very enjoyable 24 hours, and the time I was there went by much too quickly. As we were cleaning up after class the ladies asked me if I’d seen the Pella windmill. We could just view the top of one of the arms from the window and I couldn’t resist a short side trip to the downtown area before I left town. The community is very proud of its Dutch heritage. Notice not only the full sized, working windmill downtown, but the oversized yellow, wooden shoes in the doorway.


The downtown area is charming, with beautiful tiles around many shop windows and interesting murals painted along an arched pathway off of the main street.


I only wish I had had some time to explore all the antique and specialty shops! But, I needed to return to Madison, WI for an 8:30 lecture Thursday morning at the Wisconsin Quilt Expo. This show is a joint venture of Wisconsin Public Television and Nancy Zieman Productions and it has become a National level quilt show. I’ve been blessed to teach at this event every year since it’s inception and it just keeps getting better and better.

The crowds were huge (and the floors were shiny :-)):


The quilts were breathtaking, inspiring and sometimes humorous (I apologize for the fuzzy picture, but you get the idea – I laughed out loud).


The vendor booths were a bounty of temptations. And just being around quilters was such a joy! In this photo I ran into Arleen and Grace from Quilter’s Plus quilt guild in Glenwood, Il. I met them when they invited me to visit their guild last year and we had such a nice time getting to know each other. We were all ogling the fabric in Wendy Richardson’s booth when I spotted them.


A big HI goes out to everyone I ran into in Madison!

My dear friend, Laura Krasinski, was my roommate this year and we had a wonderful time together. Laura is also a teacher and her lectures on thread painting are very popular. You can learn more about her at her blog:

My daily lecture was about playing with fabric gradations and one of the quilts in the show just stopped me in my tracks:


What an amazing use of the black/gray gradation fabric in the border! Plus, the appliqué and quilting were superb. The quality of the entries was so great I just couldn’t decide on a viewer’s choice (a rare thing for me).

I also taught two workshops on beginning fiber art – called Parallelisms. Those of you who have been reading my past blogs know that this is the topic of my latest book and it is now in print! I picked up the first batch on the Friday before Labor Day 🙂 (it will be available on line soon – I just need a bit of time to add it to my website – here’s hoping I remember how to do that!) I’m so excited to share it with you, and I promise to do so very soon!!!

The students were great and we all had a lot of creative fun! I tend to get so into my classes that I forget to grab my camera, but I remembered to snap a few photos with my phone in my last workshop on Saturday. These ladies were playing with fabric, color and design, and I’m quite sure they were having a lot of fun!


I have two more pictures from that class that I


just have to share. There was a man sitting in the back of the classroom when class began. I wasn’t quite sure why he was there, but I chose to just proceed. It turns out that his two daughters, Karen and Jan, were in the class and he was there with them. When I asked him if he wanted to participate in the class he said “no”, but he told me he was a quilter. Then he very proudly said that his wife had been a quilter and he had made two bed sized quilts which he quilted by hand! He then pulled two pictures from his shirt pocket and just beamed when I asked if I could photograph him. This is Ken Drake and his quilts (did I mention he is 87? I was very impressed!):


Thanks Ken, for letting me share your story!

2013expo-josie's-horse-and-meOh, and guess who else had a quilt at the show? Josie! She had entered her horse in the youth category. Shortly after having this picture taken I ran into her and her mom in the parking lot. They were there for the youth presentation and I was tickled to have time between classes to see her hold her quilt up on the stage:



2013-mad-ex-josieIt was so nice to talk to Josie again, and to meet her mom. What a wonderful show and a very full week of quilting fun!

Were you at Expo? What was your favorite part?

I’d like to leave with a closing shot of the rubber duckie car for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of seeing it driving around Madison. Too funny!


September 8, 2013, Travel
Josie’s Quilt

This week I have a very uplifting story to share!

My dear friend Linda works with young girls in 4H and a few weeks ago she called to tell me about Josie. Josie is 14 and very talented. She has entered the Waukesha County Fair in many different categories, but is especially good at quilting. This year she decided to make an art quilt of her own design and was planning to enter it, but when she was in the quilting stage someone had hinted that it wasn’t good enough. Her mother and Linda were looking for a way to encourage her so Linda brought Josie and her quilt to my house. I wasn’t sure what to expect and had put on my best “face of encouragement” when she brought out her truly amazing quilt. It was a pictorial quilt of  a horses head and when I asked her if she knew this horse she said only in her mind. Josie had used black and white prints in raw edge appliqué on a blue background with yarn embellishment for the mane. She had done a bit of quilting and was adding the borders “quilt as you go” with piping. The quilt was wonderful! There was a bit of what I’d call “poofiness”, but I was sure that would be remedied with more quilting, so we talked about how to quilt it and finish the borders. I then shared a lesson I’ve learned over the years: We shouldn’t make a quilt to win awards or please a judge. We should make quilts to please ourselves. She left with a smile on her face and I felt grateful to have met her.

Linda called me a while later to let me know that Josie finished her quilt and not only entered it in the County Fair, but won the grand champion award and it would go on to the State Fair. I was so happy for her and glad that she persevered! This past week my dear friend Sharon Grinyer and I went to the Fair together and we were delighted to see a merit award hanging on Josie’s horse quilt!


I can’t wait to see what she does next!



After enjoying the 4H exhibit we decided to “eat our way through the Fair” (a term we borrowed from a winning photo album in one of the exhibits)

And began with the Lion’s Corn roast.


I am a member of Patched Lives Quilt Guild and we sponsor 2 awards (non-4H) at the State Fair. So once we were sufficiently full we headed over to see the quilts. Our “small quilt – appliqué” ribbon was awarded to Nancy Gruenewald for her lovely hand quilted piece.

PL-winner-GruenewaldOur “small quilt – pieced” award went to Chris Motl for her delightful circular red and white quilt.

PL-winner-MotlCongratulations to all the winners. The entire exhibit was a feast for the eyes.

eye-feastFrom there we went to Oconomowoc to spend some time enjoying the Milwaukee Machine Quilting Show. The Milwaukee Art Quilters had an exhibit of our recent challenge quilts: “Objet D’Arc” hanging there. Each member was given a vintage arc that never grew up to be a Double Wedding Ring quilt and we all did something innovative with it. Sharon was enjoying the creativity.

Objet-DThe quilts and vendors were all very nice and we were glad we had made time for a visit to the show.

The next day I packed up to teach at the Sewing and Quilting Expo held this past weekend in Platteville, WI.

Quilting Expo

I even talked the ladies in one of my sessions into smiling and waving for you!

expo-2I was invited to present 4 different lectures on Saturday, so packing was an adventure. The students were great and I’m sure a wonderful time was had by all.

If you get to the Wisconsin State Fair be sure to look for Josie’s quilt :-)!

Did you get to any fun, quilt related events this past week?




August 4, 2013, Travel
Ladies of the Lake

I met Mary Van Grinsvin at a PTO meeting when our sons were in middle school and we decided to volunteer to be co-presidents. We soon discovered that we both were quilters. We enjoyed some fun times together, but then our sons headed off to different high schools after which Mary and her family moved away. She and her husband recently retired to a beautiful home on a lake in northern Wisconsin and she became connected to a quilt guild in Minocqua. As fate would have it she volunteered to co-chair the program committee with Glennes Youngbauer, another quilter I had known years ago through a guild in the Milwaukee area. I’ve run into both Mary and Glennes at quilt shows over the years and was so pleased when they invited me to teach for the Ladies of the Lake quilt guild last weekend. It is a very talented and friendly guild and both workshops were a lot of fun (at least for me they were :-)). Silly me, I forgot to get my camera out during the classes, but Mary did send me a picture of some of ladies and the Mariner’s Compasses they made in class.

Mariners Compass quilt classNot only were the classes a blessing, but I had a wonderful time staying with Mary and Greg. Their home is lovely, but what blew me away was her studio.

quilt studio

What wonderful natural light and everything is so neat (she did admit to picking up a little before I arrived). Mary is an organizational genius and after seeing her storage closet, I knew I had a blog topic to share.

quilt studio

She had her shelves built with 8″ between them and she places each of her projects in a bin. She found these bins through a medical supply company and had to order 100 of them. She has used 64 so far and sent one home with me. Doesn’t this inspire you to get organized? It certainly has given me the organizing bug.

After class each night we had a bit of time on the lake. A ride in Greg’s new boat was a joy on Saturday and on Sunday Mary and I chased a loon while kayaking. What fun!

kayaking quilters

kayaking quilterThanks Mary for a delightful weekend!


The Quiltilly Conclusion

To refresh your memory – last week Quiltilly ran away and got into some mischief. Upon her return she decided to hide because she knew Chris wasn’t too happy about her nose ring!

While Chris looked high and low for that naughty Quiltilly, Quiltanna felt it her responsibility to expose her hiding place (the fishbowl of scraps):

KK-P13q-fishbowlAfter climbing out everyone talked it through and the Quiltsissies were back to having fun. So much so that they were found hanging from the rafters.

L P13q-rafter-hangingIt was at this point Chris realized how much Tilly’s missing hand hindered her and she decided to do something about it – a cup hook fit the bill handily!

M P13q-new-handAll too soon this little adventure was reaching a conclusion. Evelyn was heading to the Baltics for an exciting cruise and she really wanted to take Quiltilly along. Chris invited her to lunch (Wendy wasn’t able to be there) and Evelyn arrived with the ransom in hand. She was a bit reticent to hand it over, but Chris was happy to take it:

R-P13-paying-ransomOoooh! Diamonds!


Joy only a Mom can display!


But Evelyn wasn’t too sure about the hook!

V-P13-a-hookThe Quiltsissies served a yummy lunch and afterwards Chris sent this note to Wendy:

“Diamonds! And they’re batiks! We’re rich! Evelyn and Quiltilly were happily reunited and excited about their trip to the Baltics next week. Only wish you and Quiltina could’ve been here. All’s well that ends well!”

and they all lived happily ever after.

The End

PS Chris received this note a few hours later:

“We had to drive thru almost  blinding rain but Quiltillie and I are safe at home.  Quiltillie cried all the way.  She has been thru such an ordeal.  I was so glad to rescue her from the clutches of her kidnappers.  I’ll probably have to take her to a psychiatrist.”

Perhaps not everyone lived happily ever after :-(.






May 26, 2013, sewing space/studio Travel
Paducah Glimpses

Paducah dogwood in the rain

Another year’s pilgrimage to Paducah is but a memory. In spite of a lot of rain and the coldest temps I can remember during quilt week, it was a wonderful trip with many highlights. The dogwoods were at their blooming peak! The quilts were stunning and inspiring! My classes were filled with delightful, enthusiastic and talented students! The vendors were way too tempting. Fun times were spent with good friends! And there were many giggles along the way. I wasn’t as good as I should have been about snapping pics, but here are some special times I did capture:

Wendy with Quiltman and Bobbin

Wendy’s birthday lunch at Grace Church with a special rendition of Happy Birthday by Quiltman and Bobbin!

Paducah Lunch at Grace

Yummy, good times!


Quilting on the back of the Best of Show quilt by Renae Haddadin and Karen Kay Buckley.

P13 HEC-Etcetera

Hanging around with dear friends Hazel and Evelyn after a “Bubble Tea” at Etcetera.

Jennings QuiltHanging the Milwaukee Art Quilter’s group entry: The Jenning’s Quilt and

Milwaukee Art Quilters winAccepting the third place award from Bonnie Browning with fellow Marq member Judy Zoelzer-Levine.

Kirchoff Bakery

P13-Kirchoff-1Watching a very enthusiastic employee at Kirchoff Bakery doing the “basket dance” while waiting for our delicious sandwiches.


Dinner with friends at JP’s.


Making good use of car time on the ride home with the Quiltsissies observing (more on them in a future post :-))





April 28, 2013, Travel
It’s Paducah Time!

A big hi y’all from sunny Kentucky!

Wendy and I began our adventure this morning


and for the first time we traveled to Paducah via Chicago so we could make a stop at Troy Fabric’s Fabriganza. Troy is a fabric manufacturer and distributor and this weekend they were hosting a big warehouse sale. There were shelves and tables full of beautiful bolts of fabric.


Wendy shopped for the kits for her “Block of the Month” at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha.

P13-Troy-checking-outThen a nice man helped us load the bolts into an already full van.

P13-loading-and-already-full-vanAs evening neared we knew we were getting close when we crossed over the river from Illinois to Kentucky via the “Flying Geese” bridges. Here we’re approaching them.


And here the geese are flying overhead.


Upon arrival we hoofed all our things up 25 stairs to our B&B above a Mexican Restaurant. We were then able to set up our studio in an area some people refer to as a kitchen 🙂

P13-kitchen-studioTomorrow we’ll help hang the quilts in the 2013 American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show and Contest.

We are very excited to be here and we are also very excited to share that we have some updated information about our May 2014 Baltic Cruise.

We’ve finalized the cruise details: dates, inclusions (daily shore excursions and a pre-trip extra night in Copenhagen!) and prices. You can find all the information at We still don’t have pricing for the airfare, but we do want to be sure we get enough cabins reserved. This is your chance to visit the site and reserve your spot now!

Stay tuned! Next week we’ll have pictures from Quilt Week!

April 21, 2013, Travel
Best Part of Spring!

To me, the best part of Spring is that it’s quilt show season. Last week was non-stop overcast and rain – perfect weather for being inside at a show. And last weekend was also filled with opportunities in our area.

The Crazy Quilter’s show in Mukwonago, WI is always a treat. The variety and quality of quilts was inspiring and the vendors were chock full of temptations! I had the pleasure of being one of the judges this year and it was a real blessing to be a part of such a well run show. My only regret was that I forgot to take my camera :-(.

This same weekend was also the date for the Sun Prairie Quilt Show. This is a unique show in that it has been run by the same person, Klaudeen Hanson, in the same location for 39 years! Amazing! I’m sure that’s a record! I have been a part of her group, the Prairie Heritage Quilters since I began quilting in 1987. This year we added a special exhibit of quilts by the 3 teachers in the group: Klaudeen, Joanie Zeier Poole and myself. We also each did some free demonstrations for the attendees on Sunday and were blown away by the response – standing room only. What a joy!

I did bring my camera and would like to share a few pictures of the show. This one is of the teacher exhibit. A few of my quilts are on the right, Klaudeen’s bright piecing graces the center and Joanie’s amazing heirloom quilting is to the left.

Sun Prairie Quilt Show

My dear friend and traveling companion, Wendy Rieves, won a Founder’s award for her latest block of the month quilt which she teaches at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, WI.

Wendy Rieves flower quilt

This room contained some of the smaller quilts and quilted items. My dear friend, Ida Porzky, made the flower table runner.

Sun Prairie Quilt ShowI was very proud of a student in my Open Lab. Louise Sundquist is fairly new to quilting and recently jumped into creating her own art quilts. I had to twist her arm a bit to get her to enter her sunflowers quilt (lower right), but doesn’t it look delightful?

Louise's quilt

There were great vendors at this show too. What a lot of inspiration for one weekend!

Then there’s just one more “show” I have to mention. It’s actually a Milwaukee Art Quilter’s exhibit taking place at UWW called “Inspired by Nancy”. Nancy Kimpel was a dear friend, talented fiber dyer/artist and marq member who passed away a few years ago. Each member of Marq was given a bag of her fabric and asked to make a small wall quilt for this exhibit. It is a wonderful collection of quilts. Here are just a few photos (but they really don’t do the exhibit justice):

The piece on the left of the kite on Milwaukee's lakefront is one of Nancy's quilts

The piece on the left of the kite on Milwaukee’s lakefront is one of Nancy’s quilts

Inspired by Nancy

IBNancy-3Inspired by NancyIf you would like to see them in the cloth, here’s the information:

MArQ “INSPIRED BY NANCY” QUILTS • FINE ARTS GALLERY • 1500 N. University Drive, Waukesha • Gallery open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; Friday: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m., 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Through April 29.

This coming weekend Wendy and I will be packing up the car and heading for Paducah! I can barely wait. So next week I’ll be blogging from Quilt City USA!  I’ve already started packing for my classes – I just love Spring!

Does your guild have a Spring show? Are you a part of it? Do you have a photo you’d like to share? Please email them to me at

PS Registration has begun for Summer classes at WCTC. All of the information can be found at To find Wendy’s and my classes click on “Course Search” in the bar at the top; type “quilting” in the “Title/Subject” box and click on “submit”; Then click on each class for the details. Here’s a sneak preview:

Beginning Free Motion Quilting 6-14-13 (sorry, no picture)

Quilt In 6-28-13 (sorry, no picture here either) – this class is a one day Open Lab where the students work on whatever project they choose and I’m there to help in whatever way I can and I’ll provide a surprise or two also :-).

Mariners Compass

Compass Capers 7-12-13

logs and chains

Logs and Chains 8-9-13

Wendy's T-Shirt Quilt 6-4-13

Wendy’s T-Shirt Quilt 6-4-13

Wendy's Dresden Tree Skirt

Wendy’s Dresden Tree Skirt 7-13-13

Wendy's Stars of Fortune 8-10-13

Wendy’s Stars of Fortune 8-10-13


April 14, 2013, Travel
Sew We Go to the Baltics

Sew We Go jpg logo

Wendy and I now have the information for our eighth Sew We Go adventure. We would love to have you join us in May of 2014 on a Norwegian Cruise Line tour that will take us to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Estonia and Germany. We’ll spend ten days seeing amazing sights, indulging in delicious cuisine, creating a memorable project and enjoying the company of other quilters. Here’s all the details:

Baltic Cruise logoNorwegian Cruise logo

We are so excited to announce our destination for 2014!  You will see places you may never have thought about visiting but you will be so glad you did.  This trip will feature a great variety of cultures, historical treasures, and wonderful food.  All without packing and unpacking!

As always, we will have many special extras planned including a pre-trip project, a cruising project, visits to local fabric and needle art shops, and loads of sharing of information via our Sew We Go blog prior to our grand adventure.  Remember – all projects are optional and non-quilter traveling companions are more than welcome to join us!

We will be sailing on the Norwegian Star which was built in 2001 and completely refurbished in 2010.  It is a smaller ship with a capacity for 2,346 guests.

Where are we going?  Check out this itinerary!

Day One - Copenhagen, Denmark

Day One – Copenhagen, Denmark

Day Two - Rostock (Warnemunde), Germany

Day Two – Rostock (Warnemunde), Germany

Day Three      at sea

Day Four - Tallinn, Estonia

Day Four – Tallinn, Estonia

Day Five and Six - St Petersburg, Russia

Day Five and Six – St Petersburg, Russia

Day Seven - Helsinki, Finland

Day Seven – Helsinki, Finland

Day Eight - Stockholm, Sweden

Day Eight – Stockholm, Sweden

Day Nine        at sea

Day Ten         Return Copenhagen

This ship features Freestyle Dining so you can dine wherever you want, whenever you want (of course, we hope you will join in the group meals we plan). How about this for variety: 11 restaurants, 9 bars/lounges; 2 pools (1 indoor lap), kids’ pool, 6 hot tubs, casino, shops, theater, library, internet café, spa, fitness center, sport court, golf driving net, walking/jogging track, teen club & youth center!

There will be loads of entertainment, too, including magic, music, comedy, murder mystery and more.  NCL offers entertainment from names you know – Second City, Shout!, Elements – no amateur talent shows here!

The Cities We Will Visit

Copenhagen, Denmark   In a country rich in Viking history, grand castles and lush green countryside, Copenhagen is a charming city of 17th- and 18th-century buildings, beautiful parks and gardens, pretty promenades along canals, and ancient winding streets made for walking.  Outdoor cafe-sitting and outings to the magical Tivoli Gardens are highlights.  Old Copenhagen is a warren chock-a-block with galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and antiques galore.

Rostock/Warnemunde, Germany   The fine old Hanseatic red-brick town of Rostock and its neighboring seaside resort, Warnemunde, are best known as the jumping-off points for Berlin, which is three to five hours away by train.  In Warnemunde, you’ll see rows of ancient, timber-framed houses, sleepy squares, and boats galore. Ice cream stalls and hundreds of screeching seagulls complete the seaside feel.  Medieval Rostock feels small thanks to miles of undulating countryside and forest around the town.  Although some of the city’s magnificent, old buildings were destroyed in World War II, you can still see grand marketplaces, bridges, city ramparts and gates.  Like many places in Germany, the city still brews excellent beer.

Tallinn, Estonia   Tallinn features a remarkably restored, medieval Old Town and still feels a part of the 1400s because of the cobblestone streets and medieval architecture. Walk the winding streets on cobblestones, past medieval towers and the old city wall, and you’ll feel like you’re taking a step back into a medieval storybook, with striking towers and historic brick buildings.  Tallinn is artsy and a delightful place to hang out and people-watch.  The shops, galleries, and antiques venues serve up some interesting finds such as elaborate weavings from cloth artists and modern art from local painters.

St. Petersburg, Russia   The beautiful city Peter the Great founded in 1703, in what was then swampland, has unbelievably sumptuous Czarist-era palaces, onion-domed churches and the lovely Neva River. Peter was inspired by London, Paris, and Vienna and carefully developed the city by plan, creating canals and passageways.  Most of the design remains intact today.  It is a fascinating place with a lurid past that’s fit for a romance novel.  St. Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia from 1712 to 1914 and remains Russia’s cultural capital.  The city itself is like a living museum. You are likely to find yourself oohing and aahing at the architecture art is a key attraction. Visit the Hermitage, home to significant collections of Matisses, Picassos, and Rembrandts.

Helsinki, Finland  Helsinki is a city with a strange mélange of identities.  Maybe it’s the Russian influence.  Maybe it’s the strong appreciation of contemporary design (the city is home to Marimekko, Kalevala, and Iittala). Or it could be the dark, cold and snowy winters that last half the year.  One can find both the historic Helsinki (founded in 1550) in its monuments and cathedrals or the sleek Helsinki at the avant-garde museums of art and design.

Stockholm, Sweden   Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia, was founded in 1252, and comprises 14 islands.  The premier tourist attraction is Gamla Stan (Old Town), one of the largest neighborhoods of 16th-century buildings in Europe.  Cobblestone streets and arms-width alleys criss-cross Gamla Stan. There, you’ll also find the 18th-century Royal.  Offsetting the city’s bustle and buildings are large swatches of green space. The Ekoparken, or eco-park, curves for six miles through a couple of the busiest islands and along one side of the downtown business district.

The Details

The cost for this trip will range from $2,300 to $3,000 per person, sharing a cabin, depending on which cabin category you select, plus airfare.  This ship features inside cabins, outside cabins with a picture window, or a balcony cabin with floor to ceiling balcony doors.  All cabins have one queen bed which can be separated into two twins.

Our trip package will include cruise, port fees, cruise taxes, airport transfers in Copenhagen, prepaid mandatory service charges onboard, soft drink beverages (incl. tax & gratuity), and private shore excursions for our group.

Airfares will be announced this summer but we expect them to be around $1,000.

Additional expenses will be personal optional services (spa, internet, etc.), alcoholic drinks, shopping expenditures, and any pre- or post-stays you may decide to add to this dream vacation. 

Our travel agent is Kristi Mirocha. Please contact Kristi via email, phone, or mail to be placed on the list for additional information and registration forms as the details are finalized:

Kristi Mirocha · Journeys & Gatherings · 2060 Hawthorne Drive, Elm Grove, WI  53122 · 262-786-6763 ·

Kristi's logo

For a printable version of this information click here:  SWS Save the Date Flyer (1)

March 17, 2013, Travel

The Milwaukee Art Quilters and Sharon Rotz (a dear friend and very talented quilter, click on her name to visit her blog) will be having a combined gallery show at the Walls of Wittenberg Gallery (W.O.W.) in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, beginning January 18th! It’s called:



The town of Wittenberg is lovely with delightful murals painted on many of the buildings. I featured the murals in a post last year. This is the back of the WOW:


Click here for a a visit to my previous post with more murals or go to the Walls of Wittenberg website for a delightful slide show of all the murals.

As you may have read above, Sharon and I will both be doing lectures in Wittenberg in conjunction with the show.

Here’s the press release from the gallery:



The Walls of Wittenberg is pleased to present “Stringing Along,” the fourth annual quilt show, featuring the work of the Milwaukee Art Quilters and Sharon Rotz, Mosinee. The show opens Saturday, January 19, 11am-3pm, and continues Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am-3pm, through February 10 at the WOWSPACE, 114 Vinal Street, downtown Wittenberg. Free Admission.

MARQ’s “Connecting Thread: A Line of Design” was the 2010 winner of the Ultimate Guild Challenge in Knoxville, TN. The challenge had exacting standards. Each quilt is 36 inches square and a string of red cording must run through each quilt, exiting or entering the piece either 12 inches from the top or bottom, ultimately connecting all the quilts when displayed. Of the quilts on display, the work of eight artists was chosen to go on to Knoxville: Terri Kirchner, Cecelia Rotter, Nancy Linz, Roberta Williams, Kasia, Jane Wolton, Nancy Kimpel and Linda Reuss Benson.

The Milwaukee Art Quilters (MARQ) was organized in 1992 to exchange information about contemporary art quilts, pursue exhibitions and competitions and to share artistic critiques of one another’s work. More than 40 members from various backgrounds come together to advance their work as quilt artists.  To quote MARQ, “Art quilts are part of the fiber art field of highly collectible artwork. They are meant to hang on the wall like an oil or watercolor painting. The quilted surface brings a dimensional depth to the artwork that paint alone cannot.”

To continue the theme of “strings,” Sharon Rotz, Mosinee presents her collection of “String Quilts.”  Strings are those leftover bits of fabric that could have been thrown out; however, thrifty quilters make use of even their smallest bits of fabric. These strips of fabric are sewn together to cover a foundation, cut into shapes and used in quilting patterns. Sharon has used her stash of “strings’ to add spontaneous color and pattern to her contemporary art quilts. Not made for utilitarian purposes but for the joy of the viewer, Sharon’s quilts delight the eye.

Visitors to the WOWSPACE are familiar with the award winning work of Sharon Rotz. She has successfully competed in national and state competitions; her work as a commissioned textile artist is displayed in private collections and public venues; she writes quilting books, creates quilting patterns and has more than 20 years experience conducting workshops or giving lectures to quilt guilds and others.

A boutique of books, patterns and smaller quilted pieces allows the visitor to purchase an addition for their own quilt collection.

Sharon Rotz, Mosinee, will discuss “Diet Quilts” on Saturday, January 26, 1 PM, Wittenberg Community Center, 208 Vinal Street. Door Prizes! Suggested donation is $5.

Chris Lynn Kirsch, Watertown, will present “Quilt Tales,” on Sunday, February, 10 1 PM, Wittenberg Community Center, 208 Vinal Street. Door Prizes! Suggested donation is $5.

Don’t miss these opportunities to see some exquisite quilts and learn from 2 expert quilters.


I hope many of you will have an opportunity to visit Wittenberg during the show!

PS Just in case you can’t make the show and you’d like to see my Line of Design quilt, “Risen”, here it is:



January 6, 2013, Travel
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
Adventures in Quilting

Our “Sew We Go” trip to Italy ended up being even more of an adventure than some of us had anticipated! Wendy and I departed with 21 quilters (and friends) for Rome on October 19th. We began our journey with wonderful weather and a delightful guide named Rudi. We toured and ate our way through central Italy and had a wonderful time. All too soon Wendy and 14 of the group had to head back home. I stayed on with 6 of our travelers for what was meant to be an extra 2 days in Rome, but hurricane Sandy had other ideas. Instead of flying home Monday, our flight was cancelled and we weren’t able to return until Friday night. We were forced to endure an additional 4 days in Italy :-).

I had intended to share insights and inspiration from the trip in this week’s blog, but I’m only half unpacked and haven’t yet begun to go through my pictures. This is probably just as well because there is another topic I’m anxious to share this week.

In a previous post I mentioned that I had been invited to be the Featured Quilter at the Slinger Quilt Show put on by the Ties That Bind quilt guild this past Saturday. Well, when I realized I wouldn’t be home until late Friday I had a problem – all 25 of the quilts I had promised to display at the show were in various and sundry locations throughout my home. So I sent my husband an email from our hotel in Rome asking if he would be willing to collect them up and deliver them on Friday. He had already been babysitting our granddaughter full time while I was away and yet he kindly agreed. All I had to do was show up on Saturday.

The guild did a wonderful job of hanging my quilts and my dear friend, Rita Rehlinger, was kind of enough to send me these pictures.

It was very exciting to have so much of my work exhibited in one place and a joy to be able to share some of my quilt’s stories. Praise the Lord!

There were many great vendors and so many wonderful quilts in the show. What an honor to be a part of it all!

I was able to talk with so many people and I enjoyed meeting each one. Thanks to everyone at Ties That Bind!


November 4, 2012, Travel
Quilt Fests Galore

This past weekend was the Quilt Fest at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. If you’re not from the area, then let me fill you in! As I understand it, Ben Franklin was originally a dime store chain, but now each store is independently owned and they are very different, one from another. The store in Oconomowoc has an amazing collection of crafting supplies, a lovely gift deck, a full service framery and a quilt shop quality fabric department. The employees make the store what it is and the fabric department crew is great! Terrie Siefert, the manager (and a dear friend), gave me permission to take some pictures for this blog, so please …. enjoy!

Beginning at the front door there are quilts! These were made by one of this year’s  featured artists, Juleen Jaeger.

Along the back wall, and in full view from the front door, are quilts by Laura Krasinski, the other featured artist at this year’s show.

There is a Viewer’s Choice quilt show hanging in the aisles!


I was very pleased to see that a number of my students had quilts entered in the show!

My “Gradation Play” talk was very well attended by a smiling, happy group of quilters!

And, of course, I always enjoy an opportunity to share my quilts and my passion.

There is another Quilting Event coming up in November that I’m quite excited about. The Slinger Quilt Show will be held November 3rd and they’ve invited me to be their featured artist. What a blessing and an honor. I’ve even been invited to be there and talk about my quilts (I didn’t need to be asked twice :-)). Please go to: for all the information about the show!

And, one more bit of information for you quilt show enthusiasts – the Wandering Foot Quilt Guild’s show is rapidly approaching. It will be held Oct 20 and 21 at the American Legion Post in Oak Creek, WI. Their website is:

October 7, 2012, Travel
Whirlwind Teaching

I’ve just returned home from teaching 7 classes/lectures in 4 days – and all on Mariner’s Compass! What a joy and blessing, but I have to admit to being a bit exhausted. Thanks to everyone who took my classes! Wednesday was an all day class with a wonderful group, the Pine Tree Needlers in Wautoma, WI. I used to teach at their annual retreat and so it was very nice to reunite with past friends. I only wish I had thought to snap a photo or two. Thanks to Patty B. for her kind hospitality.

From there I headed to Madison, WI to meet up with my dear friend and roommate, Laura Krasinski. We were both on the faculty at Quilt Expo (it was Laura’s first year and she did a great job!). This was the Expo’s 8th year and it just keeps getting better. The crowds were big, the quilts were amazing and the Vendor Mall was as good as it gets. I believe a good time was had by all. My lectures and workshops were all well attended – Praise the Lord – and on the last day I did remember to use my camera. This was my Saturday morning class – a very talented group (even Maria who was hiding behind her machine :-))!

I found the show quilts to be very inspiring. There were quilts from Wisconsin, all over the US and beyond. Being a juried show, the competition was intense. I’ve mentioned this in my blog before, but I think it bears repeating. When a show is juried, the quilts need to catch the jurors attention to be chosen. This means that many wonderful quilts may be turned down. Typically these are the regular type that most quilters make. They can still be found in abundance at local quilt shows and county fairs and are so much fun to view, but when attending juried shows I recommend going with the attitude that you just want to be wowed and inspired!

That being said, I enjoy the excitement of entering juried shows because I make quilts that like to be seen. I have had many quilts accepted into juried shows and quite a number of times I’ve been turned down. That’s just the way it is. This year I was blessed to have the 2 quilts I entered accepted. In the following photograph 2 viewers are really examining one of them: Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden (third from the left). This is a project I made with my dear friend, Wendy Rieves, and it was featured in a previous post. Please click here for a better picture and more information.

What a joy it was to actually win a second place ribbon. Wendy and I were thrilled!

I have one more photo to share. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the entry hall still filled with happy quilters, even on the last afternoon of the show.

Quilt Expo has really grown to be a National Level quilt show and the city of Madison has a lot to offer as well. I highly recommend marking your calendars for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday following Labor Day weekend next year!

Were you able to attend Expo? What was your favorite part :-)?

September 9, 2012, Travel
Parallelisms in England


One of my favorite workshops to teach is called Parallelisms. The above quilt is entitled “Joy” and it’s just a small sample of this fun technique. Parallelisms is an art quilt class for traditional quilters who would like to try creating a piece of fiber art, but aren’t sure they can. My answer is absolutely “yes” and I’ve had a lot of fun proving it. A few years ago I taught this class at the AQS show in Paducah and one of my students, Doreen Davis, had traveled all the way from England for the show (not just to take my class :-)). After returning home she emailed me to ask if she could teach my technique to her quilting friends and I was honored to be asked. She recently sent me pictures of a class with this message:

“Hi Chris, We had a wonderful day yesterday at the class, the ladies had the most fab time, they were all a bit hesitant at first cos I think they were all used to being told you must do it this way and that but after I had stressed onto them that this is a fun workshop and not to be stressed over, they all let their hair down and thoroughly enjoyed every minute as I hope you can tell.”

Doreen procured permission for me to share a few photos on the blog, so here they are. First a few of Doreen’s quilts (I’m so impressed that she has had such fun with the technique!):

And now WIP’s (works in progress) by Linda, Carol, Ruth, Eve and Liz:

It certainly looks like they were having a bit of fun. Thanks ladies!

I will be teaching Parallelisms for Quilter’s Plus quilt guild in Illinois on August 30th. If you think your guild would be interested in a “let your hair down” kind of art quilt class, please let me know!

July 22, 2012, Design Travel
Quilters are Ubiquitous

U-biq-ui-tous (adjective) – existing or being everywhere.

As many of you know, our upcoming Sew We Go adventure will be to Italy in October. We’ve been searching for quilty things to do while we’re there and Wendy suggested checking out Quilting Bloggers to find Italian quilters. I thought it was a wonderful idea. There were 62 Italian quilt blogs listed so I decided to surf through them and glean the ones that would be of the most interest to our travelers. Here’s the best part of the story:

After going through 6 pages of potential blogs for our list I was getting a little punchy and just randomly picked one on the last page. It was This quilter’s name is Rossana, her blog is in English and 3 posts in I discovered that her daughter, Anna, is going to be a foreign exchange student this August in Waukesha, WI.  Wendy and I teach in Waukesha and a number of our travelers are part of the Crazy Quilter’s Guild which holds a quilt show in Mukwonago where Anna will be attending High School. I found this a pretty amazing coincidence :-) ! Rossana and I have been emailing back and forth ever since and I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to meet at some point.

So, if you’re planning a trip to another State or another Country, you might just want to go to Quilting and check out what the quilters are doing and saying in that area. You never know what might come of it!

Oldies But Goodies 2

As promised in my last post, here are a few more links to past posts.

I had the delightful opportunity to lecture and teach for 2 guilds in Illinois this past week and I promised the students I’d share the link to a recent post on my Quilt Float system for free motion quilting. It’s done in 2 parts: supplies and set up.



July 18, 2011 – Making a Quilt Sandwich – Another older blog that many quilters seemed to find helpful contained step by step directions for basting the layers of a large quilt together. My frame is made from simple materials, sets up wherever there’s room (garage, outside, ???) and will get you off your knees!



January 9 and 16, 2011 were a pair of posts about reorganizing my studio. I came up with some storage strategies you might find helpful. Part 1 was called Housekeeping and Part 2 was called Project Creep.




Friendship, Travel and Autograph Quilts

Quilting friends are the greatest and traveling with quilting friends is an absolute joy! When Wendy and I lead our Sew We Go adventures we always have a “pre-trip” project and a “take along” project. The pre-trip projects for the past 5 tours have included autograph blocks that we exchange while traveling. They’re a wonderful way to preserve memories just like the Album Quilts our grandmothers used to make.

Each trip we choose a block and all those who desire to participate make enough blocks to exchange, as well as enough extra blocks to complete the chosen pattern.

Our Danube Cruise block was paper pieced in shades of blue and green to evoke memories of gentle waves. 

This type of piecing guarantees all the blocks will fit together .

On our Holland Cruise we had everyone make “flying geese” that could be put together into a Dutchman’s Puzzle block.

I also had my geese fly between the other portions of my quilt.

While floating through the south of France we exchanged Indian Hatchet blocks (that’s the block’s name, I didn’t make it up).

I chose to make my blocks into a tote bag.

The Irish Chain pattern was an obvious choice for our trip to Ireland. There are 2 blocks in this quilt: each quilter made checkerboard blocks and background blocks out of batiks and we signed and exchanged only the background blocks.

This is such a lovely pattern!

Wendy and I are so excited about our next Sew We Go adventure. We’ll be traveling through Italy this coming October and here’s a preview of the design for our Tuscan Sun friendship quilt. We’ll sign the middle rails in the rail fence blocks:

Rome, Sienna, Florence, the Vatican!

Art, Sights, Food, Wine!

It promises to be a wonderful trip and there are still a few spaces available. Click here for all the information!

Do you have any special autograph quilts? Please send pictures to my email,, and I’ll post them in a future blog!

March 4, 2012, Piecing Travel

I returned home from Arizona last Monday night and Tuesday the sun shone bright and it reached 47 degrees. Unusual temperatures for Wisconsin in winter – and I’m not complaining!

So, what’s the “WOW” for? Well, “Walls of Wittenberg” of course.  Wittenberg is a lovely, small town in north/central Wisconsin.

Due to my friend Laura Krasinski’s kind suggestion, I was invited to present my “Challenged Mind” program there this past Saturday in conjunction with a quilt show that is going on at the WOWSPACE Gallery.

Not only was I able to share my quilts and their stories with a lovely group, but seeing the Gallery exhibit was a special treat!

From the tin ceiling to the stain glass windows, it is a delightful space for an exhibit of quilts and Fiber Art!

The Best of Show winning quilt was  made by another dear friend, Sharon Rotz (please enjoy the pic of Sharon and her quilt and disregard the beautiful, bright sunshine coming in the window).

Sharon was kind enough to hold up quilts during the talk (and then invite me for a slumber party at her home that night).

After enjoying the quilts we drove around and took in the amazing murals that are painted on many of the buildings in town:

I just had to share a few of my favorites. This fascinating, 3-D mural is on the back of the WOWSPACE Gallery (I think it was my favorite):

With just a 1/4 turn to my left I was able to catch this photo of the back of the bowling alley (quite an interesting shot with the evergreen trees and remaining snow).

Then there was the grocery store:

The Post Office:


and the Middle School:

Many thanks to Susan Hanson and Miriam Nelson (and Elaine too) for all their efforts concerning the exhibit and the presentation.

The quilt show will be hanging for one more week and the murals are always there :-). If you live far from Wittenberg, I hope you enjoyed this short photo-journey and if you live close enough to make a visit, I know you will not be disappointed.

February 6, 2012, Travel
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
Quilt Exhibit

I am very pleased to announce a quilt exhibit entitled “New Quilts From Old Favorites” is currently hanging at the Wisconsin Historical Museum on the Capitol Square in Madison, WI. These quilts are innovative interpretations of a number of traditional blocks. Some of the quilts were made in collaboration with my dear friends Sharon Rotz and Wendy Rieves and others are my own. Samples of the traditional pattern of each are also included in the display.

Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden by Wendy Rieves and Chris Lynn Kirsch

Tumbles the Cat by Sharon Rotz and Chris Lynn Kirsch









This wonderful opportunity came to be because my friend Evelyn Link’s daughter, Gwendolyn Rice, is having the premiere of her play “A Thousand Words” preformed by the Forward Theater Company in Madison. She had the idea of involving a variety of artists in a number of unique exhibits to coincide with the play’s grand opening. I have also been invited to do a lecture at the museum on January 14th. I’m so grateful to have Gwen include me in this exciting collaboration and am including the press release so you can read all about it!

The Art of A Thousand Words –Photos and Fiber Art Inspired by Forward Theater’s World Premiere Play

Madison, WI — Forward Theater Company has partnered with artists throughout Dane County to present a series of art exhibits complementing the world premiere of the play A Thousand Words, by local playwright Gwendolyn Rice. The play, which will be presented in Promenade Hall at the Overture Center, January 19 – February 5, 2012, focuses on many types of art – from the stunning black and white photography of Walker Evans, to crude patchwork quilts from Kansas. It also poignantly explores the relationship between art and commerce, the power of photography, the role of museums in marketing and discovering artists, and the search for authenticity on both personal and artistic levels.

To engage in a broader conversation around these themes, FTC, in close collaboration with David Wells and the Terry Family Foundation, assembled several mixed media exhibits created by local artists, including professional photographers and quilters, and members of the Center for Photography in Madison, the Mad City Quilt Guild, and the Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists.

Author Gwendolyn Rice originally conceived the play A Thousand Words after reading a small article in the newspaper about the discovery of photos in a Key West, Florida, bar. The owner had stumbled upon a treasure trove of books, fishing gear, and personal effects from one of the bar’s most famous patrons – Ernest Hemingway. Among these items were a collection of black and white photos taken by Walker Evans. Rice stated, “This story fascinated me. Unfamiliar with the photographer or his work, I started researching Evans and studying his photos. He eventually became a main character in the play.”

When the play was added to Forward Theater’s third season, the staff began to think about ways to engage additional audiences and artists through visual art. “To me, this project is all about collaboration and being inspired to create something new,” said Jennifer Uphoff Gray, artistic director for Forward Theater Company, and the director of A Thousand Words, a co-production mounted by FTC and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. “Since the genesis of this play was a set of photographs, and evocative, compelling photos and quilts are explicitly discussed in the play, it seemed natural to involve artisans in those media. It’s been an amazing cross-pollination among artists.”

Rice concurred, saying “It’s really interesting to see how creative people in other fields interpret the images that led me to write A Thousand Words. It is my hope that the play – and the exhibits ‑ will encourage viewers to think about the nature of authenticity, the process of art creation, and the power of words and images.”

The collection of photos, quilts, embroidery, weaving, and fabric collages will be on display at several galleries in Madison, through March, 2012. In addition to these exhibits, the Wisconsin Historical Society will host two lectures complementing themes in the play, discussing antique and modern quilts. They will also display a group of original works by noted quilt artist and educator Chris Lynn Kirsch.

October 14, 2011

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Gallery Night, Orange Cone Studios presents Nick Berard’s black and white photos, inspired by the work of Walker Evans.

October 10 – December 1, 2011

Sundance Cinemas Gallery, 430 North Midvale Blvd, in Hilldale Mall
Photos and fiber art, inspired by the work of Walker Evans. Opening reception November 10, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

December 3, 2011 – January 14, 2012

Wisconsin Historical Society,816 State Street

New Quilts from Old Favorites Exhibit – Quilts by Chris Lynn Kirsch that re-imagine traditional patterns such as Mariner’s Compass, Dresden Plate, Sunflower, and Monkey Wrench.

December 8, 2011 – January 25, 2012

UW Madison Continuing Studies Building, 21 North Park St., 7th floor. A collection of black and white photos, inspired by the work of Walker Evans.

December 10, 2011    1:00 – 2:30 pm

Wisconsin Historical Society, 816 State Street – Trends in American Quilting with Curator Leslie Bellais; Why did quilting become so popular in America when it languished inEurope?  Why were there powerful national quilting trends, rather than a myriad of regional styles in the history of American quilting?  These are questions Leslie Bellais, Curator of Costume & Textiles at the Wisconsin Historical Society, will address in her presentation on the history of American quilting from the 1770s to the 1970s, with an emphasis on works of the Depression era.  Her talk will be illustrated with images of quilts from the Society’s collection. Suggested donation of $5 per person. Call 264-6555, email, or visit to reserve your space.

December 19, 2011 – March 4, 2012

Overture Gallery II, 201 State Street, 2nd floor. Photos and fiber art in the style of Walker Evans, inspired by the play A Thousand Words. Opening reception January 13, 6pm – 8pm

January 13 – March 4, 2012

Overture Hall Playhouse Gallery,201 State Street, lower level. Mini quilts by the Mad City Quilt Guild, inspired by the play and the theme “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words.” Opening reception January 13, 6pm – 8pm

January 14, 2012       1:00 – 2:30 pm

Wisconsin Historical Society – Contemporary Takes on Classic Patterns: A Talk with Quilter Chris Lynn Kirsch

Quilter, teacher, and author Chris Lynn Kirsch will discuss her original work in the exhibit New Quilts from Old Favorites. Hear Kirsch explain how the love for historic quilting patterns inspired her creation of vibrant, artful, decidedly modern quilts. Local playwright Gwendolyn Rice will also be on-hand to discuss her play A Thousand Words, which features antique quilts and forgotten women fiber artists in its plot. Cost to attend is $10 per person. Register by Monday, January 9th.  Call 264-6555, email, or visit to reserve your space.

A Thousand Words
For information about the play A Thousand Words, please visit To buy tickets ($35-$37 for adults, $30-$32 for seniors 62+, and $25-$27 for students) please visit or call (608) 258-4141.

A Thousand Words and the play’s complementary art exhibits are generously sponsored by the Madison Arts Commission (with funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board), Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Qual Line Fence, and Wegner CPAs & Consultants. Special thanks to David Wells and the Terry Family Foundation.

Forward Theater season sponsors include the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Distillery Marketing, The Gialamas Company, Isthmus, Wisconsin Public Radio, The Madison Concourse Hotel, and the Pleasant Rowland Great Performance Fund for Theater, a component fund of the Madison Community Foundation. 

About Forward Theater Company

Founded in 2009, the mission of FTC is: to create a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals that will expand the economic and cultural life of the greater Madison area.

December 4, 2011, Travel
Sew We Go to Italy!

You’re invited to join Wendy Rieves and I on our next quilting adventure:

When: October 19 – 27, 2012

Where: Rome, Florence, Siena, Tuscany

What will we do: delight in the scenery, be amazed by the history, enjoy the cuisine, revel in the shops, do a bit of stitching and ????

Who: you and a quilting buddy, husband or non-quilting friend

This will be our 7th Sew We Go adventure and it promises to be one of the best! Wendy and I, along with our incredible travel leader – Peggy, are loading this trip with many special touches not found in your average tour:

¤ We will be staying in a 4 star Hotel just a stone’s throw away from the Vatican in Rome and

¤ a luxurious Tuscan Villa in the hills outside of Siena.

¤ We will enjoy a cooking class at a private cooking school.

¤ We’re working on a get together  with Italian quilters!

¤ We will have our usual pre-trip party and project along with friendship exchange blocks in a Tuscan Sun theme!

¤ There will be stitching time most every day to create a lovely and useful momento of the trip!

¤ This will be a very unique and memorable adventure you won’t want to miss, so………..

delve into all the current details, pertinent web addresses and pictures on the “Trips” page of my website: .

November 7, 2011, Travel
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
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
Italy Update

As many of you already know, Wendy and I are planning to take our next Sew-We-Go adventure in Italy.

The good news is that Peggy, our travel expert, has some wonderful ideas to make this trip very special for quilters. The bad news is that she has run into a few road blocks for a May, 2012 departure. We were so pleased with the unique quilterly touches Peggy arranged for us in Ireland (meeting with the Irish Patchwork Society along with numerous quilt shop stops, just to name a few) that we’ve told her we are willing to wait to have her plan the best trip possible in Italy.

We are now looking towards an October 2012 trip. Some of the highlights we’re planning are:

Tours of Rome,


including the Vatican and the Sistene Chapel!



 Tours of Florence & Sienna!


Staying in a villa in Tuscany complete with cooking lessons!

Meeting with Italian quilters!



and of course food, art, history, stitching and making new friends!


We’re hopeful that the wait will also gain us a cost savings. The airlines will not commit to pricing more than a year out, so we have to wait a little longer, but we’ll let you know the details the moment they’re available. We appreciate your patience and look forward to your joining us :-)!

August 21, 2011, Travel
Post Tripping

It took me most of Monday and Tuesday last week to unpack all the stuff I had taken to Paducah, do some laundry and catch up on mail, etc.. At that point I was left with the pile of new stuff I bought at the AQS show. It got me to thinking about quilters and shopping. I’m not sure if this will sound familiar, but there have been many years when I start packing for my annual pilgrimage to Paducah and unearth the complete, and untouched, pile of stuff I had bought there the previous year (a bit embarassing to admit to, but I bet I’m not alone :-).

This is rather guilt inducing and I truly dislike feeling guilty, so I’ve come up with a plan. Actually, my friend Laura and I brainstormed this idea 2 summers ago when we attended the Milwaukee Bead and Button Show. We walked out embracing our treasures and decided we couldn’t go back the next year unless we did something with 3 of our purchases! It ended up being a good challenge and we both were up to it. We used our 3 items in a short amount of time and felt quite virtuous.

So, here’s a photo of my Paducah 2011 “had to haves”:

You might notice a bit of fabric. Who can resist? There’s a few books and a bunch of embellishments, along with 1 tool I’ve already used. I’ll tell you about it in a future blog.

I believe this type of personal challenge will help you to not only alleviate the guilt, but inspire you to use that great stuff. One additional recommendation is to assimilate the stuff you don’t use into the stash so you avoid finding those pesky piles next year.

So………………..have you ever? What do you think of the 3 item challenge? Any additional suggestions?

Having a wonderful time!

Today the sun was shining, the birds were singing and thousands of quilters were enjoying a great event. Wendy and I have been busy doing all the normal Paducah things – praise the Lord! It really came together. The wall quilts and classes are all at First Baptist Church. It has a beautiful lobby:

And the wall quilts are displayed very nicely    (if I do say so myself 🙂 in the Great Room:

I took an excellent class from RaNae Merrill on Spiral Mandalas. She shared many good tips and techniques:

The problem with taking a class is that you don’t get to go out and enjoy the sunshine. We’ll make up for that tomorrow. We have nothing to do but hit the vendors, wander the artist district in Lo Town and have lunch at Grace Episcopal church. We are so blessed.

So tomorrow I’ll post some pics with sunshine, but in parting I’ll leave you with this picture of me with Quiltman at the National Quilt Museum reception (his sidekick, Bobbin Boy, didn’t make it into the picture).

Only in Paducah :-)!!!

April 28, 2011, Travel
The Quilts are up!

Hi again from Paducah!

Wendy and I are exhausted. We were at the Pavillion (marshmallow) at 8am and spent the morning hanging the Bed Quilts and placing the miniatures in their cases. At the same time many vendors were setting up their booths. We got that all together by early afternoon and headed to First Baptist Church to hang the Wall Quilts. That took us until around 7:30pm at which time we did run out for a quick dinner. We ended the evening helping to hang the Lancaster winners  and a few quilt challenges at the vendors malls located in the old Circuit City and Office Max buildings out by the Mall. Got “home” at 9:15!

It took so long because we were “reinventing the wheel” with each venue. All the spaces were different from usual and the hanging periphenalia had to find it’s way there too. AQS did an amazing job of making it all come together. We were so impressed by the way the Schroeders and their staff kept their cool under very stressful circumstances.  It’s a great show and the quilts are breathtaking!!!

The flood walls are up now and it was dry all day (with a huge cloud burst about 1 hour ago). The waters are rising, but shouldn’t crest until the show is over. Paducah is not under water and is really ready for the quilters.

Tomorrow Wendy is taking an all day class and I’m going to go back and actually see the show :-). Hopefully I’ll have some pics for tomorrow’s post.

PS Happy Birthday to Wendy! It was a unique way to celebrate a birthday and we both had a wonderful day!

April 26, 2011, Travel
Paducah News: the Show Will Go On!

After 27 years of a wonderful show, something very different is happening at the beginning of quilt week in Paducah. The rains have been unprecedented and the Ohio River continues to rise. This morning the city decided to install the gates in the flood wall. The problem is that the Convention Center, which was to hold the show, is on the wrong side of the wall!

This photo was taken Downtown. The next one is shot towards the convention center. If you’ve been to the show, the first thing you’ll notice is that the Executive Inn is missing. The Convention Center is in the distance (next to the lower man in orange) and the white dome on the left, through the wall, is the Pavillion (lovingly called the marshmallow).

But the show will go on! We were to hang it today, but plans changed, as all the new set up needed to be done. We will be hanging it all tomorrow and here’s the plan:

The bed quilts, large wall quilts and miniatures will be hung in the Pavillion (on the correct side of the flood wall), downtown. The other wall quilts and all classes will be at the First Baptist Church on 28th and Broadway. All remaining vendors will be in the vacant Circuit City and Office Max buildings behind the Kentucky Oaks Mall. The buses will be running, as usual, so that everyone can get where they want to go. Everything else should be normal. AQS has done an amazing job of reorganizing and we’re all hopeful it will go smoothly.

So, if you’re planning on coming to Quilt Week in Paducah – come! But bring your umbrella :-).

April 25, 2011, Travel
My Favorite Part of Spring

As I write this blog, I’m sitting in Paducah with my dear friend Wendy Rieves. We drove down on Saturday during patches of sunshine and areas of rain. The flowers in Athur, Il were beautiful:

We’ve converted our motel room into a temporary studio with 2 sewing stations, a cutting table and a pressing area.


We’ll find time this week to help hang the show, take classes, giggle, stitch, eat; catch up with old friends and make new ones. What a magical place during the AQS show!

Over the years I’ve been blessed to room with many wonderful friends, but for the past 13 Wendy and I have been a team. Whether leading Sew We Go adventures in Europe or heading here each Spring, She and I just travel well together. What a blessing!

It’s difficult to believe that this is my 22nd trip to Quilt City USA. In 1989; a year after I learned to quilt; Sharon Grieve  and Carol Carr invited me to travel to Paducah and help hang a quilt show. I responded “Where’s Paducah?” They explained and I kindly thanked them for asking while explaining that I couldn’t go away for 5 days and leave my family to fend for themselves. Then I went home and told my husband about their crazy idea and he said “have fun”. I don’t think he anticipated it becoming a yearly pilgrimage!

Up until last year I’ve been fortunate to have stayed at the Executive Inn each time. I have so many fond memories of staying there: the convenience of being attached to the convention center, the large rooms (big enough for 2 full beds and 2 roll aways during the “the more the merrier” years and for 3 quilters with machines and a passion to stitch in recent times). That all was torn down last year with the demolition of the Executive Inn. Things change, but thanks to Bill and Meredith Schroeder and so many dear, hard working people in Paducah, the fun continues.

I’ve been to many of the big quilt shows in the US and, in my opinion, this one is the best because the entire city rolls out the red carpet and makes us feel so welcome. I hope to show you a bit of why I’m crazy about Paducah each day. I’ll share a few current photos and throw in a few past pics just for fun. So, if you’re so inclined, please read along!

April 25, 2011, Travel
What’s a Land Cruise?

In previous posts you’ve read about the Sew We Go cruises Wendy and I have led in the US and Europe, but you may not have heard about the Land Cruises (click for web site) we’ve been involved in.

Barbara Vallone and her crew put on a delightful and imaginative “trip” in Racine, Wisconsin every March.

2011 will mark their 15th year of great classes, fun events, delicious food and much more at the Radisson Inn, Racine, on March 4, 5,  & 6! The philosophy behind a Land Cruise is that some quilters can’t take a traditional cruise, but would still like to participate in a “cruise-like” getaway. Barb’s group provides a fun conference where quilters are pampered while having fun and learning new things.

The theme this year is “Landscape Quilts” and Natalie Sewell, Wendy Rieves and I are just some of the teachers involved. I’ll be teaching my Repliqué technique for turning favorite photos into quilt blocks as well as a child’s version (with a Repliquéd playground scene) of the backpack made from placemats and men’s neckties which was our project on the Irish adventure.

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Barb’s chocolate salad, so please make plans to attend!

Visit the website: or contact Barb at: 262-639-8185/  for more information.

January 16, 2011, Travel
Foreign Exchange

I’d like to share an interesting story concerning quilters in other countries. My first book, Replique Quilts, is out of print, but I have an attic full of them. I offer them for sale through my website and over the years I’ve had a few inquiries from other countries. The problem is I don’t take credit cards or do PayPal. This means both the other quilter and I are disappointed.

Six months ago a dear lady from Kamloops, British Columbia emailed me for a copy of the book and I came up with a rather strange proposition for her. I told her I would send her an autographed copy of Replique Quilts if, in return, she would send me something of equal value from her area that she thought a quilter in the US might enjoy. This idea was very exciting to me …… and she liked it too! A week later I received a lovely book about Kamloops which I devoured page by page.

The following week she emailed me asking for my address again because she wanted to send me an autographed copy of a book about a fiber artist in Nova Scotia! What a blessing.


I’m now awaiting a package from a quilter in New South Wales, Australia :-). This is a lot more fun than cashing a check!

Have you done any interesting exchanges with a quilter in a foriegn land? I highly recommend it.

November 3, 2010, Travel
International Quilting

The top ‘o the morning to you! (to which I now know to respond “and the rest of the day to yourself”)

What a wonderful time we had in Ireland! It is a truly beautiful country! Wendy and I, and a delightful group of quilters, non-quilters and 1 charming (and somewhat brave) husband visited the Emerald Isle by motorcoach. It was our first non-cruise trip and we’ve discovered there are plusses with both types of travel. One of the best parts of traveling by land was the flexibility we had with the schedule.

Peggy Anderson, of Travel Leaders, did an outstanding job of finding quilt related stops. We visited 3 lovely shops and did our fair share of spending, even though there’s no such thing as “Irish” fabric that’s made in Ireland (we’ll have an easier time finding that here around the middle of March).

My favorite part of the entire trip (and that’s saying a lot) was getting to know some Irish quilters! A group of members of the western branch of the Irish Patchwork Society met us for tea at our hotel. We shared show and tell and had time to make many friendships.  

On the last day of our trip we were the guests of honor at the October meeting of the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society in St. Anthony’s Hall in Dublin. Both groups were warm, friendly and very talented.

A dozen years ago I had the opportunity to meet with a group of quilters in England. It was a blessed time of sharing and the ladies were delightful, but I was surprised at how dated their fabrics and patterns were at the time. This is no longer the case. The shops in Ireland were very up to date in their inventory and the quilts were spectacular. I bet the internet had something to do with this :-)!

Do you have a connection with a quilter from another country? What are your observations about the similarities and differences? I’ll share additional thoughts on Thursday :-). 

October 31, 2010, Travel
Quilting in Alaska
What a wonderful adventure! Quiltina and I met Evelyn at the Madison airport on a Tuesday afternoon and we arrived in Anchorage after 10pm (it was still light out!). Evelyn’s sister, Hazel, met us there and drove us to her home in Soldatna – 3 hours away. Needless to say, it was a late night :-).
 Hazel and Eddie generously opened their beautiful cabin in the woods to us and made me feel like part of the family.  

My residence was in an “apartment” they’ve built over the garage which consisted of my bedroom, bath and the living room which is Hazel’s quilting studio. The three of us actually spent many happy hours there stitching :-). 

During the next 12 days we shared fun, fellowship, good food, beautiful sites and a lot of quilt related activities. It is so wonderful to visit a new area with friends who live there

I had the blessed opportunity to teach 4 different classes. My Mariner’s Compass class, held for a quilting group which meets at a church in Soldatna, went so well that they invited me back the following week to teach Free Motion Quilting. 

I taught 2 Replique classes. One at a friendly quilt shop in Seward called Sew ‘n Bee Cozy. A lovely shop and a great class!

The other Replique class was taught at the Eagle’s Roost Lodge. The owners, Ken and Patty, even treated us to a boat ride up the Kenai River. What fun!

Thanks to everyone who made these classes possible and to the students – who were not only fun, but taught me a lot.

I’m finally unpacked, so that I can begin to repack for 3 days of teaching at Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo in Madison, WI. I hope to see many of you there!

PS I was able to spend 3 days at the end of the trip visiting my grandchildren in Washington. Hanna, Willy and I had so much fun that I couldn’t resist this final picture of our day at a children’s museum. What a blessing!

September 6, 2010, Travel
On the Road Again

This Tuesday Quiltina and I will be flying to Alaska with my dear friend Evelyn Link. Her sister, Hazel Robinson, has arranged for me to teach a few classes there. What a blessing these 2 quilters are to me! Hazel has graciously invited us to stay with her for almost 2 weeks. There’ll be time for sightseeing, stitching, giggling and really getting to know each other. What a delightful opportunity. I’m very excited :-). 

So, I’ll be unable to blog, but I’m hoping to come up with some good topics to share when I return.

By the way, if you’re wondering who Quiltina is I’d be happy to introduce her. You may have heard about “Flat Stanley”. He’s a cardboard cut out schoolkids take/send all over and then write about his adventures. Well, Wendy Rieves and I lead quilting tours in the US and Europe. Prior to our last trip I mentioned to Wendy that we needed a quilterly version of Flat Stanley to accompany us on our travels and her fruitful imagination created Quiltina:

Here we are beneath an olive tree in the South of France! This fall Quiltina will be joining us in Ireland. God is so good!

August 15, 2010, Travel