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A Delightful New Friendship

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

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

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

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

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

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

She said “yes” ūüėÄ !

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

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

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

September 30, 2018, Challenges Uncategorized
Photo Inspiration: Door

I belong to a group of fiber artists called ThreadBenders. ThreadBenders is a relatively new group, and we have some delightful and very enthusiastic artists. We recently completed our first “big” guild challenge and 13 of our 16 members participated. I was very impressed with the results!

The challenge was named “Photo Inspiration: Door”. The picture we chose to inspire our quilts was taken by a friend of one of our members in St. Thomas, VI.

You can read the rules and see all of the quilts at:

About 5 years ago I took a 10 week class at WCTC about Adobe Photoshop‚ĄĘ. It was a great class and I think I’ve forgotten more than I remember because Photoshop‚ĄĘ can do so much. But the things that have stuck with me have been incredibly helpful. One aspect of the program I was particularly interested in was called “transform”. You can do the most amazing things with your pictures by using commands like “skew”, “warp”, “distort”, etc..


Fascinating, but weird. And after making all of these weird variations, what do you do with them?

Well, I chose the last one and made a quilt.

“Stretch, Warp, Abstract” has a very odd outer edge and the portion that stretches across the main body of the quilt was actually made as a separate quilt, and attached after both were quilted. This quilt forced me to come up with new techniques and try a lot of different ones I already had in my bag of tricks. That’s what I love about challenges, and that’s why I take classes and read magazines – to learn new techniques.

I loved making this quilt (well I loved it most of the time¬† ūüėČ ). It could easily be the most unusual quilt I’ve ever made.¬†I was impressed with the variety and imagination of all the challenge quilts, and I hope you will visit our site to see them:¬†

And here’s the icing on the cake. We chose 8 of the quilts to enter in the “Ultimate Guild Challenge” competition held at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, MI and they were accepted! They’ll be traveling to Grand Rapids for the show in August! We’re all very excited!

Once they return, we’ll be looking for venues to display them. If you know of a quilt show, shop, art museum, etc. that would be interested, please let us know by emailing me at .

July 1, 2018, Challenges
Rusty Chicken Wire and a Rooster

Hawaiian Cruise Update

Before I get to this week’s topic, I’d like to answer a question about Shore Excursions during our upcoming quilter’s cruise to Hawaii in January of 2019.

The price of our adventure includes a group excursion in each port on the cruise. Our number one priority in choosing these excursions is to make sure we see everything Hawaii has to offer! We plan to also include some stops especially of interest to quilters, when it won‚Äôt interfere with the exploration of our destination. We’ll have all the details available in mid-summer. At that time our travelers may choose to opt out of our shore excursion package, if they so desire, and the cost of their trip will be adjusted to reflect this. I hope this is helpful. We still have a few cabins available and you can read all the details, and sign up, by clicking on:

And now – a topic to crow about¬† ūüėÄ !

Last Fall Sue Schlobohm, a student in my Open Lab class, told me she wanted to make a quilt for a challenge at a local craft/quilt shop. She had purchased the packet of fabrics to be used in the challenge and had decided she wanted to make a quilted portrait of a well embellished rooster. To accomplish this she was wondering if I knew of anywhere to get “chicken wire” fabric for the background. Well, you might remember that in the Summer of 2016 I tried my hand at rust dyeing and created a piece of fabric with a very rusty hunk of chicken wire fencing (to read all about it click here).

I had folded 1 yard of fabric around a “1/2 yard” piece of fencing (that’s why the side on the right is a lighter version of the one on the left).

I immediately felt the need to share half of the fabric with Sue :-). And – Wow – did she put it to good use! Here is her wonderful quilt.

Sue makes decorator pillows professionally and deals with a lot of home dec fabric. Some of those scraps found their way into this regal rooster’s tail, along with her lovely hand stitching.

Her label is well done also:

The words in the picture are a bit difficult to read, so here’s what it says:

“The Funky Chicken

Was appliquéd, machine stitched, hand embroidered and quilted by Susan Jones Schlobohm for the Ben Franklin Quilt Challenge, Oconomowoc, WI Р2017

The theme was animals, and you had to include the 3 fabrics seen to the right. The background fabric was rust dyed by Chris Lynn Kirsch, teacher and inspiration.

The quilt is dedicated to all my friends at the WCTC Open Quilting Lab”

I was thrilled to be acknowledged by this talented lady and I hope all of her friends in Open Lab read that last part¬† ūüėÄ !

Thank you Sue, for letting me share the story of your delightful quilt. Congratulations on a job well done!


And, since this post spoke of both a rooster and Hawaii, I thought you might find this interesting:

A few years ago Mike and I vacationed in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, and we were fascinated by the plethora of wild chickens and roosters running all over the island. Here’s the story:

“Most locals agree that wild chickens proliferated after¬†Hurricane Iniki¬†ripped across Kauai in 1992, destroying chicken coops and releasing domesticated hens, as well as roosters being bred for cockfighting. Now these brilliantly feathered fowl inhabit every part of this tropical paradise, crowing at all hours of the day and night to the delight or dismay of tourists and locals alike.”

February 18, 2018, Challenges
Anything Goes – Fiber Art Exhibit!

Before I get to today’s topic I’d like to apologize for last week’s email link error which affected quite a few of you. If you would like information on our Sew We Go cruise to Hawaii in January 2019 – please click on this link:¬†




And now for my “Topic of the Week”:

I’m very pleased to announce that Threadbenders, a new fiber art group I belong to, has an exhibit of challenge quilts hanging at Sew Much More in Waukesha, Wisconsin!

(formerly known as Frank’s Sewing Center – 2140 W Saint Paul Avenue).

I belong to two art quilt groups and in 2017 they both held Anything Goes Round Robin challenges. I’ve participated in these before and it’s a great learning experience. In essence each member puts something in a bag, passes it to someone else and does anything they want to what’s inside the new bag they get. After 4 or 5 rounds the originator gets their bag back and the only rule is “you can’t be upset over what you get back”. The originator then is encouraged to finish theirs.

Many participants in our Threadbenders challenge did finish theirs and the results are quite interesting. Those results are what is hanging at Sew Much More (here are two pics of the exhibit, but they really are much more interesting “in the cloth”).

We took pictures each step of the way and have posted them on our blog. To see all of the finished quilts and all of the step-by-step pictures go to:

Here are the pictures of my challenge piece’s transformation. Laura got my bag first. It contained an unfinished class sample from my silhouette appliqu√© workshop.

Laura – round 1

Connie – round 2

Sonja – round 3

Brenda – round 4

I was a little befuddled about what to do with what I got back. After staring at it for a while I decided it might be fun to use it as the focal point of a “Modern Quilt”, using the shapes in the challenge piece to inspire my quilting designs. I was pleased with the results (red – I know – who would have thought it???).

If you didn’t link to the Threadbender’s blog above, to see all of the Anything Goes quilts, please do so now at:¬†¬†

And to see the finished projects – go to Sew Much More! It’s a great store and you won’t be disappointed!

January 14, 2018, Challenges
Welcome Home Quilt

Have you ever entered a quilt into a contest in which it traveled for a period of time?

In 2015 I entered the Madison Quilt Expo’s “Fall Leaves” quilt challenge. Part of the entry agreement was the quilt would travel with the exhibit for two years. That’s a long time!

My quilt “Which Way Does the Wind Blow” arrived back on my doorstep this past week. What a joy to have it back and hang it up for Autumn!



This was the card that traveled with it.

The quilt got it’s name because I challenged myself to draft some of the leaves as oddly shaped mariner’s compasses using my “Compass Capers” technique (you can purchase a copy of my book at: Piecing the leaves was not difficult, but finishing the leafy edge took a bit of perseverance.

I lined the back of each leaf and stitched them to the quilt on the leaf veins (compass seams) resulting in a 3D effect. I liked the image of the windblown tree so much, I made a second quilt entitled “Autumn Dusk”.

This time the interesting effect was achieved by using an orange/black¬†Pointillism fabric for the sky and water. This may not be the last time I make a quilt with this tree – perhaps there’ll be a series. Stay tuned :-).

Have you had a quilt travel? Please comment to this post and let us know!

September 24, 2017, Challenges
A Beach Quilt

A while ago I presented a program for Common Threads Quilt Guild in Sussex, WI. One of the quilters in attendance was a woman named Colleen. During show & tell she shared a delightful “Row by Row” quilt.

beach quilt

When she showed me the back of the quilt, I knew I wanted to share it on my blog. Here’s the story, in her own words, and two pictures of the back:

I belong to the Ties That Bind Quilt Guild that meets in West Bend, WI.
Last year, we had a Row by Row challenge where each participant chose a
theme and put their own fabric in a box after making the first row.  I
chose a beach theme because I had purchased fabric several years ago while
visiting my aunt in North Carolina that made me think of beaches and I
wanted to use it.  After the quilt went around to all of the participants,
I put it together and put a border on it. The bottom row was the one with
the flip flops.  After completing the top, I decided that it looked a bit
like a postcard and I thought that I would label the back of the quilt like
it was a giant postcard. 

beach quilt back

I used leftover letters that I had cut out for a
craft project at Girl Scout Camp a few years ago.  Chris, I swear I
measured the top!  However, somehow, while I was quilting it on the
longarm, I realized that I had much more back than I did top.  Usually that
wouldn’t matter, but since I had writing on the back, I couldn’t just cut
it off.  I decided to go back to the sewing machine and make another row.
I added the title of the quilt to that row “Life’s a Beach” and sewed it to
the quilt while it was on the longarm. 

It was a fun quilt to make and I¬†really enjoyed seeing what the other members came up with.¬† It is one of my¬†favorite quilts.”


I love the way she labeled the back in a post card style. Notice how the place and date are in the “post mark”!

Thanks Colleen, for letting me share your quilt. The back is so clever and I love hearing about your process for problem solving!

If anyone out there has a Row-by-row you’d like to share, please email me a picture at If you’d like to include a story, that would be icing on the cake¬† ūüôā !

Wishing you a blessed Resurrection Sunday – He is risen indeed!

April 16, 2017, Challenges
A Divas Barn

A short while ago I received a comment to my blog from a quilter named Michelle. She wrote that she belonged to a group that had a challenge in which they made not one, but two slice quilts from the same picture. Since I’ve participated in two¬†slice quilts: the Jennings Homestead (click here¬†to read that post)

Jennings Quilt

and Garden of Grace (click here to read that post),

I was intrigued and wrote back asking to hear all about it. Here’s the story:

“A very special group of women, aptly named The Divas, have been coming together for almost 10 years to share in the joy of art quilting. A ‚Äúsmall group‚ÄĚ born out of the local guild, where the names and faces have changed over the years‚Äď gather once a month to share, explore new techniques, expand quilting knowledge and critique each others work in a loving and fun way. Typically, at least one challenge a year is agreed upon to push their creativity and spark growth as a quilter and as an artist. The most recent‚Äď a ‚ÄúSlice Project‚ÄĚ was chosen. This is quickly becoming a popular group project for many as it takes any quilter on an inspirational journey! A photo is chosen and literally divided into portions according to the number of quilters. For the Divas, a simple photo of a barn was selected. Then, they separated the members into 2 groups- one of 6 and one of 5. For the first, the photo was divided vertically into 6 straight strips. For the latter- they actually turned it into 5 puzzle pieces! The perimeters were straightforward‚Äď with full reign to make a quilt with any color or texture. Interpretation was flexible and items in the photo could be deleted or added. The few requirements were that any included lines that ran into the next slice must match up and the bindings were to be the same. Hence, as seen in these pictures‚Äď an old barn magically became two amazing and unique pieces of artwork that are truly breathtaking.”

Slice Quilts Barn

Aren’t they beautiful? I especially like the puzzle pieces. The Divas are located in Fort Collins, CO and, in order to give credit where credit is due, here are the names of the Divas who participated in this challenge:¬†Charlotte Jackson, Judy Donaldson,¬†Julie Bortz Wilson,¬†Nola Stone, Pam Peterson,¬†Lesli Singer,¬†Judy Beach,¬†Becky Judson,¬†Cecilia Milano,¬†Michelle Cerise, and Kimberley Shootman

Thank you ladies, for sharing your lovely quilts with us.

April 9, 2017, Challenges
A Multi-Country Quilt Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Sew We Go from Quebec to Boston update!

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

February 5, 2017, Challenges
Fascinating Story Quilts

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

And begins with:

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

To read the entire article, go to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t wait to make the trip to Madison and see the exhibit of her quilts. The exhibit is entitled: “Crossing Mountains and Other Adventures – Story Quilts by Rumi O’Brien”. For all the¬†information go to: ¬†

Next week: part 2 of the Sister City Challenge!


January 29, 2017, Challenges
Quilt Round Robin – Anything Goes!

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

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

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

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

Puzzling Spumoni 1

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

September 25, 2016, Challenges
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‚ĄĘ. 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
Art Deco Wins at AQS

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

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

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

You Decide 2016 by Judy Valentino

You Decide 2016 by Judy Valentino



ADD – Art Deco Door by Kathy Downie



Le Dame Moderne by Kathleen Irons Sweeney



Miami Moon by Linda Fleschner



Milwaukee’s Night Light by Kathleen Hughes



Studio 15W by Sonja Pavlik



Vogue by Diana Dunaway



quilting with spandex

Forty Wonderful Years by Chris Lynn Kirsch

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



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

AQS sticky tip

It’s a worthwhile read¬†and you can¬†see the whole post at: ¬†! Then sign up for their blog to receive all of their great tips.


August 14, 2016, Challenges
Sixteen Square Feet

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


In fact – everyone at the show was great!

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

Sixteen Square Feet quilt

and here’s Carol’s description:

sixteen square feet quilt

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

sixteen square feet quilt

Thanks for letting me share your quilt Carol!

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

couching yarn on quilts

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

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

couching yarn on quilts

Strawberries, Buildings and Fiber Art

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

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


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


June 18, 2016, Challenges Embellishing
I Love Winter!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love winter quilt

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

i love winter quilt

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

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

I love winter quilt

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

I love winter quilt

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


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

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

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

Welcome back to my spandex quilting adventure!

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

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

AD straight quilting

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


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

AD free mo from the back

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

quilting with spandex

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

I hope you enjoyed my spandex adventure. Any questions?

June 5, 2016, Challenges Fabric
Creating Art With an Audience

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


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


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

And now for this week’s post:

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

Sanctuary quilts

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

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

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

To begin, I chose to place the cross in the center of the pattern and then use the lighter value squares near the cross, with the value going to the darker fabric on the edges. I then chose a Scripture verse from the Gospel of John and used my new Brother Scan n Cut‚ĄĘ to make the letters (to read a post on this delightful tool go to:¬† I fused the letters in place, covered everything with black tulle, and machine quilted around the letters,

Scripture quilt

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

Scripture quilt

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

Scripture quilt

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



April 17, 2016, Challenges
Joyce’s Amish Quilt

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

Joyce Egle blocks

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

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

Joyce Egle Amish quilt

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

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


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

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.18.53 AM

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

February 28, 2016, Challenges
Blocks, Blocks and More Quilt Blocks!

In my series of posts about my Lunch Bunch quilt, I asked you all to send me a picture of your stack of challenge blocks. These were the three photos I received (thanks ladies Рand no names are included so as not to induce guilt)!

Joyce Egle blocks

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

Cathy Swinkowski 1 at 500 Cathy Swinkowski 2 at 500

I hope this may encourage you to put them together, and I can’t wait to hear all about it¬† ūüėČ . If you have been meaning to send me a photo of your stack of blocks – there’s still time – just email them to me.

On this same topic of bunches of blocks that are waiting to become a quilt, a few weeks ago I did a class on Repliqu√© for the Chocolate City Quilters in Burlington, WI. They are a really fun group and they did a great job creating their house blocks. Whenever I teach my Architectural Repliqu√© class I make a sample house block along with the students. During this class I actually counted them only to reveal that I’ve taught this particular class 70 times!

Replique blocks

If¬†a person made that many of the same block, they probably would get a bit wacky with their fabric selections. And I’ve done just that. I have many seasonal themed blocks, and I chose these four as close-up examples:

Replique Blocks

I thought you might like to see some of my more “interesting”¬†ones up close.

Replique Blocks

With curtains

Replique Blocks

While teaching in Alaska

Replique Blocks

After chaperoning my Son’s orchestra trip to England

Replique Blocks

Fun fabrics

Replique Blocks

It is football season!

Replique Blocks

Silly fabric in the windows

Replique Blocks

Made in a class on 9-28-01

You may have noticed writing on the blocks. Each time I make one I ask the students to sign the block, and then I write the name of the guild, location and date on the paper backing. I think you can tell I’ve really enjoyed making these blocks. I have so many wonderful memories of these classes and students. When I finally put them together I will have one REALLY BIG Autograph quilt (or maybe two normal sized ones¬† ūüôā )

Who knows when that will be? If you are interested in my Repliqué technique, you may purchase either of my books on the subject at:

My First Two Quilt BooksIf you’d like to have me present a class for your guild, please send me an email at

October 11, 2015, Challenges
Our Favorite Quilt

We all made it happily home from the Sisters Quilt Show, with lots of great pictures and memories (and more than a little fabric). The shops and vendors were great, but I think Wendy and I really enjoyed looking at the wide variety of quilts most of all. We were especially pleased to run into a mutual friend from Wisconsin, Karen Lorenz, and to meet her sisters (or was it sister-in-laws?) who live in Oregon. A few years ago they all went to the show and bought the same kits. They challenged each other to make them and enter them in this year’s show – and they did!

sis Karen Lorenz quilt

Great job ladies!

We really didn’t have a planned walk as Wendy and I¬†traversed Sisters, but we both agreed we found our favorite quilt hanging from one of the last buildings on our route. Many of the quilts were hung in groupings and this grouping was of a challenge organized by a local guild with the theme being the 40th Anniversary of the Sister’s show. This quilt is called “The Heart of Sisters” (and our Quiltinas loved it so much they jumped into the picture).

Sisters quilt show my favorite quilt

The maker, Janet MacConnell, wrote on the blue label “Forty houses, forty trees and forty stars commemorating forty years that the Stitchin Post and the Sisters quilt show have been in the “heart of Sisters”. After recently moving to Sisters, becoming involved in classes, clubs and quilting activities has helped me to feel a part of this special community. This quilt for the 40th Anniversary challenge honors the significant place quilting holds in the heart of Sisters.”

As we looked more closely, we realized that the central motif was a heart shape that held:

Heart of Sisters quilt

the 3 Sisters mountains for which the town is named, the Stitchin Post itself, a row of¬†quilts, and even a fabric printed with quilters. What wonderful attention to detail! As we stepped back to get a distance view, we nearly ran into the maker and her husband¬† ūüôā . We immediately felt a bit guilty for having held¬†the dolls up to¬†her quilt, but she was fine with it and so happy to tell us all about her labor of love. She even agreed to be in a photo.

Janet MacConnells quilt at Sisters show
They said they moved from San Jose, CA and liked the small town feel of Sisters. She reiterated how quilting and the Stitchin Post really helped to make her feel a part of this community, which she is now proud to call home.

Great quilt Janet! Thanks for sharing it with us!


I also wanted to remind everyone that registration is now open for classes at the Madison Quilt Expo. Please click on the button below for all the information!

Quilt Expo Teaching Button

July 19, 2015, Challenges
Project Quilting

Kim Lapacek and me

A few year’s ago I met a very talented and energetic quilter named Kim Lapacek. She had attended my Mariner’s Compass lecture at a Quilt Expo – and she was so excited about the technique that she made a few compasses and sent me pictures. I was impressed!

This past week Kim was the speaker at Patched Lives Quilt Guild – and we all were impressed (can you find the mariner’s compasses in this amazing scrap quilt?)

Kim L 1

Kim and her husband have three young girls and run an apple orchard in Poynette, Wisconsin.

Lapacek Orchard

For a bit about who Kim is Рin her own words Рgo to:

I must tell you, she¬†is a fantastic quilter (or at least a fantastic “topper” – she admitted her Aunt-in-law, Barb Raisbeck, quilts most of her quilts)!

Kim L 3

She is also a very entertaining speaker. I would highly recommend her for your guild or quilt group.

In her talk she explained how, a few years ago, she got the idea to do something she calls Project Quilting while watching Project Runway on TV. On Project Runway designers are given a garment challenge and 2 days to create it. On Kim’s blog she chooses a quilt challenge theme and participants are given 1 week to create it. During her regular season these¬†quilts can be any size – so quilters can fit it into their schedule. ¬†Kim makes a quilt along with everyone else. She also has prizes! What a fun idea – and we got to be a part of the fun because she shared many of her Project Quilting quilts! Here are just two:

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.57.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.57.52 PM

She also does “off – season” challenges during the Summer and apple time in the orchard. Her current off-season challenge series is:

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.40.51 PM

It uses Cherrywood fabric and these quilts need to be 20″ square. For background information on this challenge click here! For the current challenge info click here! Kim said that over 70 quilters made quilts for her most recent challenge! And you can be a part of the fun. If you decide¬†to take one of her challenges, please let me know – and send pictures!

To contact Kim and have her speak to your guild, simply go to her blog:

June 14, 2015, Challenges
Garden of Grace

What a wonderful trip to Paducah! The quilts were amazing, the crowds were huge, and a good time was had by everyone I spoke with! As I mentioned last week, Wendquilt lunch at Kirchhoffsy and I had a display of our quilts at the Tribeca Gallery, but Wendy wasn’t able to spend Quilt Week in Paducah¬†this year (It is her birthday today though – happy, happy birthday Wendy!). Another dear friend, Linda, joined me in the fun. Here we are having lunch at Kirchhoff’s:

One of the quilts hanging at the gallery was a collaboration quilt between Wendy and me entitled Garden of Grace. Last year, while having a lovely quilter’s lunch at Grace Church in Paducah, I took this photo (the dogwoods were at their peek!)

cross and dogwoods

Wendy and I had talked about doing a “slice quilt” together, and decided this was a good photo to start with. The National Quilt Museum’s traditional block for the “New Quilts From an Old Favorite” contest this year was the ever popular 9-patch. We decided it would be fun to photoshop in a 9-patch quilt,

Garden of Grace quilt 9-patch

enlarge the photo to 50″ square, and divide¬†it into a large 9-patch. Colored corner and center squares alternate with black and white ones (you’ll have to look closely to see it in the picture).Garden of Grace with black and white squaresThis made the entire quilt one large 9-patch. A line drawing¬†was made next,

Garden of Grace cartoon

and each of the 9 squares were printed out full size. We each chose the sections we wanted to make and got together when most of the blocks were done.

GofG block in progress

At this point we decided it might actually work – and scurried to finish all the blocks.

Garden of Grace blocks The blocks were sewn together and Sommer helped me layer the quilt in a frame.

Garden of Grace in frame

Wendy and I took turns quilting it, and Wendy did the finishing. Our quilt was not accepted into the museum contest, but we were thrilled with the memory quilt we had created, and we both felt we learned a lot in the process. It was very exciting¬†to have the opportunity to display it in Paducah, even if it wasn’t at the museum. This is the finished quilt:

Garden of Grace

So, Linda and I had lunch this past Friday at Grace once again and I was surprised to find that the crumbling base on the cross in the church yard had been repaired and the large dogwood branch cut away.

GofG cross repaired

It looks lovely, but I think the photo from last year was much more interesting¬† ūüôā !

I spoke with some of the ladies from the church and they’re very interested in having it hang at their quilter’s luncheon in 2016. What a blessing!

I’d like to¬†leave you with a few more photos from the AQS show. One of my favorite quilts (and there were many) was made by Nancy Prince. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The figures in the foreground were machine embroidered and then applied to the quilt. It was amazing.Nancy Prince quilt

A fun way to get around town was to ride in the bicycle rickshaws provided by Quilt in a Day.

Paducah bicycle rickshaw

Linda and I really enjoyed an evening Ghost Walk tour through the streets of downtown Paducah. We were led by a costumed guide from the Market Street Theater who entertained us with many gruesome tales.

Ghostly guide

And at the end of the day on Friday, Lisa gave new meaning to the phrase “shop til you drop”.

quilt shop til you drop

I went up to her and asked if she was alright and, when she assured me she was, she gave me permission to take her picture. We introduced ourselves and had a nice conversation¬† ūüėČ !

Now I’m home, having great fun reliving a wonderful week in Paducah, and looking forward to Quilt Week 2016!

April 26, 2015, Challenges
And the Floss Frenzy Winner Is:

Because of some time-sensitive information, I’m actually sharing two blog topics this week. The challenge results are the most exciting, so they come first. But please continue to the end for a bit of sharing about the French Braid pattern.

I’ve had an exciting week of tallying votes in the Floss Frenzy Challenge. All of the entries were delightful! They¬†received so many wonderful comments, and many voters mentioned that they wished they could vote for more than one. But one vote a piece was all that was allowed and the winner is:

Ida Porzky of Watertown, WI,

for her crocheted button flower wall quilt!

FF Ida Porzky

Ida is a dear friend of mine. She is a talented quilter and her crochet work is spectacular also (I have the privilege of owning a number of her doilies!). She has won a basket full of floss – 237 skeins to be exact, one each of all the different colors I was originally gifted ¬† ūüėÄ ! Congratulations Ida!

Next I need to make a special mention of Patt Nieman’s quilt. Patt had requested only red floss, because she wanted to make a redwork quilt. She completed her beautiful quilt, and sent me pictures well before the deadline. I’m sorry to say, I misplaced her picture and it wasn’t included in the initial posting of the challenge. Patt¬†emailed me concerning my error a few hours after¬†the challenge began. I put it into the blog as soon as I could and, even with the late start into the viewer’s choice voting, her quilt still won second place!

Patt Nieman quilt

Patt will also receive a prize of embroidery floss!

Thanks so much to all the participants. You are all winners to me!!!

A few interesting challenge statistics:

37 packs of floss were sent out.

18 stitchers returned pictures in time for the challenge.

Over 120 votes were cast.

Quite a few people have let me know that they are still working on their projects, but they just couldn’t get them done in time. If you’re one of these – keep at it – and then send me a picture when it’s finished. I plan to feature a Floss Frenzy II showing¬†in a future blog post!

Braids and French Braids – Quilt As You Go

Doing a braided table runner – quilt as you go, is a quick and easy way to complete a pretty project. Many of you may know how to do this, but just so we’re all on the same page, I’ll share a brief “how-to”:

1. Cut a piece of batting and backing fabric slightly larger than the size of the runner you desire. Layer the backing, wrong side up, on the work surface. Smooth the batting on top of this. These layers may be held together with basting spray, or a few pins. Mark center lines down the length and the width on the batting, with a removable marker.

quilt as you go

2. Cut a square of fabric that will fit the width of the runner, when placed on the diagonal. Pin in place at the center.

quilt as you go

3. Cut strips of fabric for the braid. It looks nice in either a planned palette or scrappy. You will complete one side of the runner first, and then the other. The strips will be added chevron fashion on two adjacent sides of the¬†center square. Choose a strip and lay it, right sides together, even with¬†one edge of the center square, and with the tail hanging off the edge of the runner. Stitch in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

quilt as you go

4. Carefully press the strip open, and trim off the tail even with the runner edges.

quilt as you go

5. Lay a strip of fabric along the adjacent side of the center square, even with the square/strip portion of the runner, and with the tail hanging off the outer edge of the runner again. Stitch as in step 4, press open and trim the tail.

quilt as you go

6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until one half of the runner is pieced and quilted. Finish the other half of the runner the same way.

quilt as you go

8. Square off with pointed ends (as in my sample) or rectangular, bind and enjoy!

quilt as you go


A technique with a similar look, but an added¬†bit of pizazz is called a French braid. This pattern became very popular a few years ago. The original book constructed the pattern as a top, in need of quilting. It struck me that doing it “quilt as you go” would be a great option. I played a bit and created this lap sized quilt:

french braid

Adding the squares was the tricky part, but I came up with a fun way to make it work. Each row was made separately and then¬†I put them together with¬†the Reversible Quilts method I used for Hanna and Willy’s I-Spy quilts (to read the post on that technique – click here). Each row was actually a runner, so I made that option into a class and I’ll be teaching it the end of this month at Waukesha County Technical College. Here’s the info:

CRN 21783 French Braid Runner






Quilting Workshop: French Braid Runner –¬†Friday, March 27th, 9 – 2:30

Use a gradation of color or value to create this stunning table runner. The best part is the piecing is done “quilt-as-you-go”. Once the top is done, the quilting is too! This technique can be used to create a bed-sized quilt and instructions for doing so will be included in the class.

If you are interested, please sign up soon!  You can register on-line at or by phone at 262.691.5578. The Course Reference Number (CRN) is 21783.

March 8, 2015, Challenges Piecing
Floss Frenzy Challenge – Revealed!

I’m so excited! The entire Floss Frenzy adventure has been so much fun: getting the floss, figuring out what to do with it, and then … receiving all the pictures of your wonderful projects. What a joy!!! (if anyone is new to the blog, click here¬†for the original post)

To begin this post I’d like to share “my challenge project”. I cross stitched¬†a cover for my Iphone. I’d seen something like it on Pinterest and felt it was a great use for embroidery¬†floss!

The base was purchased on and it was fun to¬†cross stitch through the silicone (there were perforations for the stitches). It must be an Amish iPhone case because I didn’t cross one of the stitches, proving only God is perfect (LOL – can you find it?)

embroidered iphone case

The problem is that the case didn’t fit my phone as tightly as I’d like, so I gifted it to my friend Maria – who was thrilled! I enjoyed making it and I’m glad it found a good home.

Maria and phone1After issuing the challenge I realized that I still had way more floss than I could ever use, so I sent an email¬†out to the missionaries my church supports, asking if they could use it in their ministries, and quite a few of them responded. It’s been fun to see how far the floss is traveling and to hear about the crafts it’s being used for in Peru, Mexico, Estonia, Sweden and even Micronesia!

So now – it’s time for the challenge. Please remember that most all of the floss “three packs” were chosen at random by me – and please only vote once ūüôā .

Virtual Floss Frenzy Challenge Exhibit and Viewers Choice Voting

FFblog Newsham

The following projects are numbered and anonymous. Please vote for your favorite by emailing your chosen number to me at


An embellished wallhanging

An embellished wallhanging


A quilted map of Watertown, WI

A quilted map of Watertown, WI


FFblog Qui

An embroidered sampler


FFblog Han

An embellished purse.


FFblog Por

A wall quilt of a vase filled with crocheted button flowers.


FFblog Gil

An embroidered mug rug


FFblog PorL

An embellished wall hanging


An embellished wall hanging. (sorry I didn‚Äôt take a ‚Äúfloss‚ÄĚ shot, so I‚Äôve included a detail of the embroidered portion)

An embellished wall hanging
(sorry I didn‚Äôt take a ‚Äúfloss‚ÄĚ shot, so I‚Äôve included a detail of the embroidered portion)


FFblog mag

An embroidered wall quilt


A needle punched purse

A needle punched purse


A needle punched mug rug

A needle punched mug rug


Embroidered block that will become a label for a granddaughter's quilt

An embroidered block that will become a label for a granddaughter’s quilt


Wallhanging quilted with embroidery floss

A wallhanging quilted with embroidery floss


An embroidered quilt top

An embroidered quilt top


An embroidered and quilted prayer flag

An embroidered and quilted prayer flag


An embroidered pillow case

An embroidered pillow case


An embroidered modern sampler

An embroidered modern sampler


A redwork quilt

A redwork quilt

Thanks to everyone for the great response. I loved seeing what the floss became. Finishing by the deadline makes you all winners in my book, but it will be fun to see which project wins the prize!

Please vote soon everyone!

March 1, 2015, Challenges
Floss Update

Vintage Embroidery Floss

Some time has passed since I shared the story of my good fortune at having received a box filled with DMC embroidery floss (if you don’t remember that story, you can read about it by clicking here). I so enjoyed reading¬†all the comments made to that post. Since then, I’ve had many people ask me if I’ve decided what to do with¬†it all. There were many comments recommending I give it to charitable organizations, and I’m definitely planning on doing some donating.

One of the most popular suggestions was to give a packet of floss to volunteers who like to embroider, and have them make blocks to be put into a thank you quilt for Rowland and Carol (the owners of the B&B who gave the floss to me). I think that’s a wonderful idea, and I’m searching out block patterns to share, along with the floss – eventually. I will fine tune these ideas and let you in on my plans¬†in a future post. But I have enough floss to do a number of things and this week I’ve decided to present a¬†Floss Frenzy Challenge !!!

In the comments to the Floss Frenzy post,¬†Jan M. shared this quote – ‚ÄúFrom one fine thread a work of art is born‚ÄĚ. With that in mind – here’s the challenge (with a tiny bit of pre-story¬† ūüėÄ ):

Last Spring I completed a project using embroidery floss (prior to acquiring the big box). I used the “Big Stitch” on a jacket, which I wear in my newest lecture: Gone to the Dark Side¬†(for a post on the Big Stitch technique¬†click here¬†and for information about my “Dark Side”¬†lecture, please click here)

quilted art jacket

quilted art jacket

I began thinking of many other things quilters could do with floss:

* Make “redwork” (or “bluework”, or “yellowwork”, or whatever color you like) blocks and stitch them into a quilt.

* Tie a quilt with the floss.

* Embellish a tote by couching the floss onto it.

* Quilt a table runner using the “Big Stitch”.

* Find some quilterly thing to do with counted cross-stitch.

* Use the floss as a closure on a quilted cover for your e-reader.

I’m sure there are many, many more. So here are the “rules”:

Floss Frenzy Challenge

The challenge will happen via the United States Post Office, and the internet.

If you would like to participate:

1. ¬†Email me your snail mail address (for your own privacy, please don’t put it in a comment to this post). My email is:

2. ¬†I will then mail¬†you 3¬†skeins of floss.¬†If you want it to be a real challenge, I will randomly choose the colors. Or… you may give me a suggestion of¬†which colors you prefer. My goal is to have many people participate.

Embroidery floss challenge

The Packer’s win today may have influenced the colors of floss chosen for this picture ūüôā

3. ¬†Make¬†something with it! Anything you choose! No size requirements! No real rules at all ūüôā ! Make something you can use, or try a technique you’ve been wanting to play with, or make your dear Mother-in-law a candle mat for Christmas. It’s up to you.

4.  Email me a picture of your project by February 28, 2015! That should give you plenty of time and something to do on cold winter nights (if you live somewhere with cold winter nights).

5.  I will put these pictures into a virtual quilt show on a page on my blog for all to enjoy!

And there will be prizes!

I’m hoping to get good participation, so please email me today!


October 12, 2014, Challenges
Ugly is in the Eye of the Beholder

At my guild Christmas party the “Special Projects” committee organized an “ugly fabric” exchange. We were to put 1 yard of an ugly fabric in a brown paper bag and we played a game to exchange them. We were to do something (anything) with them and have it ready to show at our July picnic. I was rather pleased to receive a fabric I didn’t consider ugly – in fact – I liked it!

ugly fabric challenge

I recently taught a class at WCTC called Spin Star and it’s my own technique for making a “Stack and Whack” style quilt. In looking at this fabric, I could see that it would make great kaleidoscope type stars. The problem being that I’d need 8 print repeats in the 1 yard. I did a quick count and, much to my surprise, there were actually 9 repeats! So I cut out 8 identical 9″ squares. This left an odd¬†“swiss cheese” sort of scrap,

ugly swiss cheese

but the star blocks were delightful! Here are just 3 of the 8!

ugly fabric challenge stars ugly ss2 ugly ss4

It’s hard to believe one fabric could provide this much variety in the stars. And the remaining 5 were just as interesting.

I decided to set them on-point, with a “zig-zag” type of sashing. I have an antique quilt from the 1800’s set this way and I’ve always been intrigued by it.

Antique 8 pointed star quilt

I discovered that it is not a very quick or easy pattern to piece, so it will never be a class, but I thought it was very pretty. At this point it seemed obvious to me that this would make a lovely Spring table cloth. So I added a striped border – and I’m very happy with the results.

ugly tablecloth above

ugly tablecloth

Have you participated in an “Ugly Fabric” challenge? Any pictures you’d like to share :-)?

Blog Update

Next Saturday Wendy and I will be leaving on our Sew We Go adventure to the Baltic Sea. It’s promising to be a wonderful trip and I’ll have lots of pictures and stories to share when I return. So, I’ll be taking a two week¬†vacation from blogging.

Here are a few extra pictures about my latest quilting/sewing adventures to hold you over until we return :-)!

Since returning from Paducah, I’ve been in a “get er done” mood. I found a pattern for a sun dress at one of the downtown vendors during the AQS show and Wendy discovered an adorable owl fabric at another, so I made Sommer a sun dress – just in time for our warmer weather.


It was a super- simple pattern and the straps criss-cross in the back.


The black and yellow polka dot bloomers are adorable, but they didn’t show in the picture :-(. I also made Mike a pair of jama pants (which he chose not to model for the blog). Then I was ready to start something “new” and I dug up a pattern I purchased years ago “whose time had come”. It was a small, “Springy”,¬†three panel hanging¬†with a sweet, free standing frame. I decided it would make a perfect Mother’s Day gift for my Mom and finished it last night.


Mom loved it (or at least she said she did :-)!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms out there – and Happy Spring to everyone!

May 11, 2014, Challenges
Really 3D Quilts

What a beautiful day to baste a quilt in the driveway (to read a previous blog on my quilt basting frame click here :-)!

quilt basting in driveway

My niece is getting married in 2 weeks and it’s time to get this quilted. So I spent part of the afternoon pinning the layers together and now its ready for my Sweet 16, but before I get to that I need to write up this week’s blog…

My Objet D’Arc

A few months ago I blogged about the Double Wedding Ring pattern and how it was used in a Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge called Objet D’Arc. To read that post click here!

This was the challenge exhibited at the Milwaukee Machine Quilting show this past weekend and Susan commented on my piece because it is a bit unique. It’s 3-D and reminiscent of an accordion door. About 13 years ago my friend, Tricia Spitzmueller, made an “accordion door” style quilt and I was inspired. I came up with my own technique and “Reflections of My Quilting Heritage” was the result.

Reflections of My Quilting HeritageWhen viewed from the right (top photo) you are looking at my sewing journey beginning with my great, great grandmother who made traditional quilts by hand to keep her family warm, through my mom teaching me to sew, then my friend Sharon teaching me to quilt and finally to my entrance into fiber art. Each of the women in my quilting journey are reflected in a hand mirror.

The view from the left is a quilt in which one half is a reproduction of a log cabin quilt I own made by great, great grandma Mary. The other half is a variation of my Parallelisms technique. I had just started making art quilts and so it was current to the time of the quilt.

This project was actually made from three different complete quilts, two of which were cut into chunks and sewn back together. This unit then hangs on the third quilt!

My recent “accordion adventure” was inspired by the vintage double wedding ring arc. I began by adding fusible to the back of my arc and cutting it into smaller arcs which were then fused to a bright background and quilted (notice the vertical marks dividing the quilt into thirds)

double wedding ring quilt variation

A second quilt was made as a reproduction of the traditional double wedding ring design, but in more modern colors. This was also layered, quilted and marked.

double wedding ring quilt

Once these pieces were quilted I cut them on the vertical lines, alternated them and stitched them together. This new piece was bound, velcro was added to it and to a base quilt and – Voila! I call this quilt “Accordion Arcs”. This is the view from the right:


And this one is from the left:


I feel like I’ve only begun playing with this technique and the next project is in the planning stage already :-).

Have you created any REALLY 3D quilts? We’d love to hear about them!

Oh and here’s a quick reminder of an upcoming event:

Madison Quilt Expo

Quilt Expo is always educational, inspiring and fun. I’ll be teaching there once again and I hope you can be there too!

August 11, 2013, Challenges
Slice Quilts Revisited

Slice quilts are a familiar topic lately on my blog and I have some more I’d like to share. Kathleen G. commented on a post with a recommendation I look into the other slice quilts my friend Judy Zoelzer Levine had created with the North Shore Quilt Guild. I remembered seeing these lovely quilts and contacted Judy about featuring them this week. She was happy to oblige. Here’s the story in Judy’s own words, straight from her website:

“When I heard that Gilda‚Äôs Club was opening in Milwaukee and my local quilt guild, North Shore Quilter‚Äôs Guild of Milwaukee, had been asked to donate three quilts for their community room, I knew I wanted to be involved.

When I saw the room, a large narrow, brightly lit space, and learned the community room was where many of the club functions would take place, I knew immediately quilts about community was what I would want to see on the far wall.

After the three quilts were designed, I realized the quilts needed not only to be about community, but also the ‚Äúlook‚ÄĚ of being made by the community.¬†I presented the idea of a ‚Äúslice‚ÄĚ quilt to North Shore Quilter‚Äôs Guild and asked if they would be interested in participating. Even though it was a very ambitious project, I received an enthusiastic ‚ÄúYes‚ÄĚ.

Members of the guild made the 90 blocks. I assembled them and Terri Kirchner expertly long arm quilted them.

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

It’s About Community: The Places of Milwaukee; 48″ x 50″; Owned by
Gilda’s Club of Southeast Wisconsin

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

It’s About Community: The Start of A New Day; 48″ x 50″
Owned by Gilda’s Club of Southeast Wisconsin

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

It’s About Community: The People of Milwaukee; 48″ x 50″
Owned by Gilda’s Club of Southeast Wisconsin

Judy is a fantastic fiber artist with a lot to share on her website. I highly recommend a visit:

On another note – Life has been crazy and wonderful for the past 2 weeks. Our oldest grandchildren, Hanna (7) and Willy (5) have been visiting us from Washington State. I was blessed with the opportunity to fly out and get them on June 18th and will be taking them back home this Tuesday. Aside from the blog topics I had planned ahead of time, nothing but the kids has gotten much of my attention recently. We’ve created many, many memories and I thought you might enjoy a picture of us at the Hartland parade today :-)!

6-30 parade

Tomorrow Hanna and I will be finishing the quilt she is making for her cousin Sommer. Stay tuned for pictures of that adventure!

June 30, 2013, Challenges
A Tribute and the Quiltilly Saga – Part 2

The Milwaukee Art Quilters is a very talented group of artists and I am honored to be a member. Recently we had a showing of a group of our quilts that were made as a tribute to a dear member who passed away in 2011.

Nancy Kimpel was not only a skilled quilter, but her many talents also included knitting, and¬†dyeing of fabric and yarn. She was a great inspiration and encouragement to the group. When she died her dear husband John and close friend, Mary Ellen Heus, decided to divide up her hand dyed fabrics/threads into 40 bags, bring them to a meeting, and challenge members to create a piece of fiber art from the contents of the bag for an exhibit to be called “Inspired by Nancy”. We all clamored for a bag.

The fabrics and hand dyed perle cottons in my bag were lovely and I decided that I didn’t want to add anything to them. They were interesting enough to stand alone. I’d always wanted to play with overlapping geometric shapes in a positive/negative fashion and the patterns in one of the pieces of Nancy’s fabrics gave me a great place to start. So I began drafting and drawing until I got a design I liked, used my Repliqu√© technique to appliqu√© the top and then had a lot of fun quilting it all.

kirsch-chris-lynn-inspired-by-nancyI was pleased with the effect of extending the designs from the center into the border with the quilting.

The resulting group of quilts were amazing. If you missed the exhibit at UWW, you can still see the quilts on our blog:

The Saga of Quiltilly, Part 2

As you may remember Quiltilly, one of the Quiltsissies, has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. We will begin with Evelyn’s cryptic response to the ransom note:¬†

“I’m sorry. ¬†How high is the ransom? ¬†Hummmm. ¬†I’ll have to check my stash.”

The kidnappers quickly realized she hadn’t actually read the note and gave her a bit of instruction:

Click on the first picture above to read the ransom note!”

This was her next unsatisfactory response:

“Sorry I haven’t learned how to download to my computer and could only read about half of the ransom note. ¬†I was able to read the tattoo. ¬†Sounds like you two are having way too much fun since we left.”

To which the impatient kidnappers replied:

Can you tap on the picture and then reverse pinch on the screen? ¬†Remember we are the kidnappers, do not humor us.¬†Tilly is in good company. No suffering…….yet

At this point she caught on and sent this message:

“Wow. The kidnappers even have to educate the victims. ¬†Okay, will diamonds do?¬†I’ll do anything you say to get my Tilly back.”

To which they messaged back:

“Any unmarked jewels wrapped in a brown paper bag. Just make us happy.”¬†

So the kidnappers and the Quiltsissies had an enjoyable ride back to Wisconsin with time to climb a tree:

zz P13-Quiltsissies-2

And a cultural stop too!

F P13-Quiltsissies-1 From there began the long portion of the ride back to Wisconsin and the stress and excitement were a bit much for poor, little Quiltilly. This message and photo were sent back to Evelyn:

“Not traveling well. She threw up”

FF P13 carsickWhat will happen when Tilly gets to her new home? Will she behave? Be here next week for the continuing adventures of the Quiltsissies!



May 12, 2013, Challenges
Bead Inspired 2

Back in September I posted about a recent Milwaukee Art Quilters challenge called Bead Inspired (click here to read the original post and my quilt’s story). As the name implies, we were each to choose a single button or bead and make a small art quilt that was somehow inspired by it. The button I chose was a Czech Aurora which is stitched to the center of the quilt:


I originally made the quilt round (unusual shapes were allowed in the challenge rules) and it was a bit tricky to hang. I actually inserted a length of 1/4″ wide plastic tubing into the binding from behind, that went all the way around, and it held the quilt in shape quite well. The problem was that none of the other quilts entered were unique in shape. When mine was one of the 8 selected to go to the Ultimate Guild Challenge contest in Grand Rapids, I decided to place it on a quilted background square so that the group would look more unified and this is how Czech Aurora looks now.

czech-aurora-with backgroundWell, our challenge quilts took third place in the competition – Praise the Lord! The problem is that only 8 of the 19 quilts were ever seen outside of our group. It’s a fascinating exhibit of fiber art (if I do say so myself). To see all of them please go to the Milwaukee Art Quilters blog:¬†

So here’s where you come in. I’ve been looking for venues to share these exciting quilts. Does your guild have a quilt show that might be interested in hanging Bead Inspired? Is there an art museum or gallery in your area that might be a good fit? I’d really appreciate any ideas you have. Please send me the contact information for any possibilities and I’ll take it from there. Thanks!


March 31, 2013, Challenges
Have You Ever Made a Double Wedding Ring Quilt?

The past few days I’ve been getting back into some creative stitching by starting on a “small challenge” quilt through the Milwaukee Art Quilters.¬†The challenge is called Objet D’arc and each participant was given a vintage double wedding ring (DWR) arc from a rummage sale find and asked to do something with it.

Double Wedding Ring arcs

I’m not ready to unveil the plan for my quilt yet, but part of it involves making a traditional DWR block with modern fabrics. The problem is I don’t enjoy curved piecing. I have a garment background and am capable of doing it, but it’s just not my favorite technique. I do however enjoy coming up with ways to avoid curved piecing! First I needed a pattern, so I did an image search, cropped a block out of a quilt photo, printed 4 copies, and outlined the arcs with a black marker.

I then cut out the curved strips and paper pieced them from my fishbowl of bright scraps!

At this point I decided to appliqué the curved edges, so I wet the seam allowances with liquid starch and a q-tip and pressed over the edge of the paper (be careful not to get the paper wet).

The next step involves clear thread. Be sure to use a good quality polyester invisible thread (not nylon – I prefer Superior or Sulky).¬†At this point I’d like to insert a few tips on machine stitching with this thread.

1. If your machine warns you when the bobbin in nearing empty, it may not read low levels of the clear thread and thus stop you from sewing long before you reach empty. To avoid this, wind a bit of a cotton thread on the bobbin first and then wind the clear thread over the cotton thread.

bobbin filling

2. This is a very thin, strong thread and it winds very tightly on the bobbin. I’ve seen bobbins actually break from the pressure, so it’s a good idea to only fill them 1/2 to 3/4’s full.

working with invisible thread

Now back to appliqué. I pinned the arcs in place on the background fabric and stitched them down with the invisible thread and a very narrow zig zag (set stitch width and length at 1).

machine mock hand applique

This looks best when the needle pierces the appliqu√©¬†piece as it swings left (in the picture above) and goes into the background only when it swings right, thus capturing the folded edge. I appliqu√©d all of the arcs in place this way and here’s the block:

double wedding ring

Then the paper needed to be removed by cutting away the background fabric:

It worked quite well. I don’t think I’ll ever do a bedsized DWR quilt this way, but it was fun in one block.

Have you ever made a DWR quilt the traditional way? I’d love to know how many of you enjoy curved piecing. Please comment and let me know.

December 31, 2012, Challenges Piecing Vintage Quilts
Bead Inspired

Our latest challenge in the Milwaukee Art Quilters guild is entitled Bead Inspired. We were to create a small wall quilt that was inspired by a single bead or button which had to ¬†be attached to the quilt. About 20 of our members participated in the challenge and 8 of those quilts were entered in the Ultimate Guild challenge at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, MI ….. and we won third place! To see a video of all of the winners in Grand Rapids click here (our quilts are about 4 minutes into the video ).

I chose a button called a Czech Aurora which¬†I purchased at the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee a few years ago. I researched the history of this type of button and put this information on the label: ‚ÄúNorth Bohemia has been a European glass-manufacturing center since the 13th century. The vast majority of glass buttons made in the 20th century owe their existence to the craftsmen of this area.¬†Almost all glass buttons require a significant amount of handwork. Glass button craftsmen typically work at individual stations furnished with a small furnace, a quantity of glass canes, and scissor-like button molds in which one button at a time is hand-pressed from glass drawn from a semi-molten glass cane.¬† Intensely colorful fired-on iridescent lusters on these buttons are called “auroras”.”

While staying (and shopping) with my friend, Evelyn, in Arizona last January I found a striped fabric that was just what I needed to begin working on my challenge quilt. Evelyn is quite skilled in the use of Shiva Paintstiks‚ĄĘ and she encouraged me to use them in the quilt (click here for my post on how to use Paintstiks). I did just that plus some intense fussy cutting of the stripe to create my design. The button is at the center of the quilt and the Paintstiks create the outer 3 rings and the “half moons” inside the gold ring.

We will be posting pictures of all of the Bead Inspired quilts soon at

Have you used beads or buttons on a quilt? If you have, and you would be so kind as to email me a picture at:, I’d be happy to include it in a future blog!

An FYI for Wisconsin Quilters!

This weekend is the Quilt Fest at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc, WI. The featured quilters this year are Laura Krasinski and Juleen Jaeger. The display of their quilts is amazing! The Fest includes a Viewer’s Choice quilt show in the aisles, a wonderful fabric department with many good sales and free demonstrations/lectures all weekend. Here’s the schedule for those interested:

Saturday, October 6

10:00-10:45 “Gradation Play” by Chris Lynn Kirsch

11:30-12:15 “Perfect Half Square/Quarter Square Triangles” by Caren Zimmerman

1:15-2:00 “What’s New!?” by Pam See

2:45-3:30 “Journey of a Needlefelter” by Tricia Anderson

Sunday, October 7

11:30-12:15 “Conquering the T-Shirt Quilt” by Sheryl¬†Schwochert

1:15-2:00 “‚ÄúMastering Raw Edge Fusible Applique‚ÄĚ by¬†Laura Krasinski

2:45-3:30¬†‚ÄúFast & Fun Tips with Freezer Paper‚ÄĚ by Kathy Frye

Hope to see you there :-)!

September 30, 2012, Challenges
Feeding Needy Children

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone had a vintage Burgoyne Surrounded or Pineapple Log Cabin quilt they might be interested in selling because I’m in need of those patterns for a new quilt lecture I’m putting together. I already had a sample of Mariner’s Compass and Rose of Sharon, but I was thinking I’d like a better example of those too – if I could find them.

Well, I decided to do a bit of searching on-line and I found a gorgeous Rose of Sharon top on a site called Buckboard Quilts, and it was in my price range! I contacted the owner, Judy Howard, purchased that top and conversed about the other quilts I needed. During those emails, she said she would send me information about a project that is dear to her heart. It’s a quilt contest to raise funds to feed children. ¬†I decided I wanted in and I completed a small “Parallelisms” quilt I had in my UFO pile. It’s called Chasing Butterflies and the idea was that children should be concerned with childish things like chasing butterflies and not about hungry tummies. Here’s a picture of my quilt:

As a thank you for donating the quilt to the contest, Judy sent me a copy of her wonderful cookbook and I just knew I needed to share this information with you. I asked Judy to send me something to put on the blog and here it is. Enjoy!

22‚ÄĚQuilt Contest/Exhibit Feeds Needy Children

The overwhelming need to feed needy children inspired Buckboard Quilts to sponsor the ‚ÄúFood for Body and Soul Touring Quilts Contest and Exhibits.‚ÄĚ The exhibits are touring the U.S. for three years with all proceeds from the $100/week-end exhibit rental and accompanying¬†1905 Cookbook‚ÄĒFood for Body and Soul¬†going to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

     See for quilt photos, entry and rental forms, calendar of shows and sample recipes and stories.

¬† ¬†These two hundred-fifty 22×22‚ÄĚ and larger touring quilts capture the essence of pioneer cooking, ethnic customs, vintage kitchen collectibles, passion for food, family, celebrations and holiday traditions, food stories from the Bible, fighting hunger; feeding hope–anything and everything food or anything that feeds your soul like quilting, grandkids, music, art, gardening, etc.


¬†It’s not too late for you and your children to enter your 22‚ÄĚ quilts to receive a free copy of the¬†1905 Cookbook–Food for Body and Soul¬†with each entry, free advertising on the story label and a chance to win $2500 in prizes and 33 rosette ribbons.


¬† ¬† ¬†Please mail your 22‚ÄĚ quilts ASAP to 12101 N. MacArthur, #137, Oklahoma City, OK 73162. Reserve your exhibit today by emailing¬†¬†or calling¬†405-751-3885.¬†Displayed in as little as 20 feet, sixty 22‚ÄĚ quilts can be hung in 40 minutes displayed 3 up, back to back, or spread out for maximum effect. Drop-down labels feature heart-warming stories.

¬† ¬† ¬†Judy Howard‚Äôs new cookbook for cooks, foodies and historians is based on recipes from pioneer days in central Oklahoma.¬†1905 Cookbook: Food for Body and Soul¬†will inspire today’s cooks regardless of age or sophistication. Recipes like Molasses Drop Cake and Delightful Biscuits or Delicious Chicken Pie and Roast Beef with Oyster Dressing entice the taste buds and make you want to keep this book within easy reach to satisfy your body and soul. In addition to this amazing and often amusing collection of 300 epicurean delights, Howard’s book is flavored with 200 turn-of-the-century photographs, 1905 merchant ads and stories of the 89er/pioneers who compiled the original cookbook found at a flea market. This cookbook will complement any cook’s recipe collection and is the perfect gift at discounted price of $12.95 if ordered on¬†

¬† ¬† ¬†Enter your 22‚ÄĚ Food Quilt today to help feed needy children. And reserve the $100 exhibit for your next show.


If you’re looking for some quilting fun this week. I’ll be teaching at the UW Platteville Sewing and Quilting Expo. For all the information go to:¬†

July 29, 2012, Challenges
Evelyn’s Quilt

Evelyn finished her Window View Challenge quilt and it’s a delight! Last January I spent 2 weeks with her in Arizona and wrote a few posts from her lovely home. You may remember the story about storing her UFO’s in the bathtub??? If not, click here to read all about it. I slept on the day-bed in her studio and this is the view from her studio window. She sent this picture as her inspiration for the challenge:

And here’s the quilt that view inspired:

She said she challenged herself to play with some new techniques. The window is actually a wholecloth quilt with oodles of stitching. I was particularly intrigued by the attached sewing machine. Too clever! Thanks so much Evelyn for sharing your view and your quilt!

This got me to thinking about how photographs can inspire us. That train of thought led me to think about some photo play I’ve been doing lately. My friend Di invited me to join a photography blog she runs for a group of friends. The idea is to take a picture every day and strive to improve your camera skills. She posts a calendar each month with a theme for each day (yes, we try to post a photo a day!). I’m really enjoying the challenge and I feel my skills are improving. I’d like to share my three favorite photos from the past few months to see if they might inspire you to do a little photo play of your own.

The first one is a winter scene from the beginning of March. We had 2 geese take up residence in our pond.

As the snow began to melt, I got this up close shot of the ice melting on the creek.

This next one was taken more recently. Mike and I went for a canoe ride just before sunset and the temperatures dropped enough to cause a mist to rise off the water. It was beautiful!

I can’t resist just one more – my most recent picture of Sommer Elizabeth (Grandpa and I are not only surviving daycare, but loving it!).


Have you taken any shots you’d like to share? Please email them to me and I might just share them in a future post!

PS Just a note on our Sew We Go Italy adventure. We have 21 people signed up and one of our quilters is looking for a roommate to share the fun. If you were thinking about joining us, but didn’t have someone to travel with, please let me know.


May 13, 2012, Challenges Photography
My View Quilt

Greetings from Paducah! Wendy and I arrived this evening and we’ll be helping to ¬†hang the show tomorrow. God is good :-)!

I decided I needed to do a bit of follow up on my window view challenge. I haven’t received any pictures of quilts from those who sent me view pictures, but I did get my snowman quilt done. We haven’t had a flake of snow since 3 days after this picture was taken.

So, I decided I’d better share it now before summer is upon us.

I decided to try a number of new techniques. To begin with I chose a vintage damask napkin for the background with the idea of creating the scene as a wholecloth on it.

Step 1 – I reversed the image on the computer and then enlarged it on the computer using the instructions in my May 23rd post.

Step 2 – I ironed Decorbond¬†‚ĄĘ stabilizer to the back of the napkin and pinned the enlarged picture to the center of the stabilizer.

Step 3 – On the paper pattern side I free motion stitched around all the trees, the snowman and the snow drifts using bobbin thread to match each area.

Step 4 – I turned to the napkin side and colored in the trees and shadows with watercolor pencils. Then I took a damp q-tip and blended the colors.

Step 5 – I thread painted everything from the napkin side (this is how the paper side looked after the thread painting).

Step 6 – I removed all the paper and layered the napkin with batting and backing.

Step 7 – I quilted around the main objects and the border (frame of the picture) and then bound the edges.

Step 8 – I couched yarn over the picture frame and inside the binding

and Voila! A fun experiment and a unique quilt!

Stay tuned – next week I’ll bring you the inside scoop on Paducah!

April 22, 2012, Challenges Design
What’s Your Opinion?

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

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

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

Traditional patterns?

Variations on traditional?

New techniques?


Sampler blocks?



Fiber Art and exploring creativity?

Modern Quilts?


Machine Quilting?

Do you like to be challenged to try something new?

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

I really appreciate your opinions and feedback.

Now for a little housekeeping:

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

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

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

Thanks in advance for your quilt class opinions!

April 8, 2012, Challenges Inspiration
Welcome Sommer!

Last week’s “snowman in the window” picture is but a chilly memory, considering we’ve had temperatures in the 70’s here for over a week. That is not just odd – it’s unbelievable for March in Wisconsin. Many are speculating as to the reason, but I have my own theory – my granddaughter was born this past Monday and her name is Sommer Elizabeth. So Sommer is here ¬†:-)!

6 lbs 15 oz and 21″ long, with lots of dark hair ……. we’re all thrilled! Thanks for letting me share our joy.

So what does the view from my window look like today?

Quite a change, but I am still excited about making a small quilt from the picture with the snowman. I’m thinking of thread painting the entire scene on a vintage white damask napkin. I’ve never thread painted an entire scene and I think it will be quite challenging. I think this challenge should be ¬†about trying something new.

A number of you responded to the challenge, and  so far 3 have sent me pictures which have been posted to the Window View Challenge page on this blog. Click here to see them.

I’m looking forward to ¬†receiving more pictures and there is still time to get in on the fun. The quilts can be any size, from ¬†a post card on up. ¬†The prize will be an autographed copy of my new book: Compass Capers (which should be available for purchase through my website very, very soon). So send me a picture of your view at, and join in on the challenging fun!


March 18, 2012, Challenges
Are You In?

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 11, 2012, Challenges Inspiration
A Touch of Paintstiks

I’m once again writing from Mesa, but will return to beautiful, snowy Wisconsin tomorrow! While here Evelyn and I have spent some time working on quilting projects (big surprise) and her inspiration was just the touch I needed to get a great start on my quilt for the current Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge: “Bead Inspired”. The idea was to choose a single bead or button to be the inspiration for a quilt and then to attach it in some way to the finished piece. Finding the button was the easy part and the ideas have been percolating for months, but I hadn’t been ready to take that first step until now.

The first day I was in Arizona we went to a quilt shop named “Quiltz” and I found the perfect fabric to get me started, but I knew my background fabric needed some creative work and that’s when Evelyn suggested Shiva Paintstiks‚ĄĘ. I’ve played with them just a bit in the past, but Evelyn has taught classes with them and her expertise (and supplies) were just what this project needed. Here is just one example of a project she made using them:

The motifs in the blocks were made using a freezer paper stencil. Here’s a detail:

It worked so well on my piece that I wanted to share a little bit of what I did with them. These are sketchy instructions at best, but my hope is that they’ll be enough to make you want to take a class or buy a book and try them ūüôā!

Paintstiks are oil paint and can make a mess, so wear old clothes and cover your work surface. A tarp or garbage bag over a table works as does ironing a piece of freezer paper to your ironing surface. My supply list included the Paintstiks, freezer paper, a small knife, stencil brushes, rubbing plates and paper towels plus Goo Gone‚ĄĘ for clean up.¬†

First, the Paintstiks have a “skin” of dried paint that forms with time. I chose the color I wanted and removed the skin by scraping it off with a knife. If I had used the Paintstik recently and the “skin” was thin, I could have just rubbed it off with a paper towel.

I wanted circles of shaded color on my background fabric, so I marked a piece of freezer paper with the proper placement of circles and cut them out, thus creating a stencil. I ironed the shiny side of the freezer paper in place on my fabric (practice on a scrap first to be sure you like the color and effect). I wanted to start light, knowing I could always make it darker, so Evelyn suggested I color a circle of paint around a cut circle and brush it into the center with the stencil brush. This proved to be lighter than I wanted, so I drew a “crescent moon” directly on the right side of the fabric circle showing through the stencil and used the brush to drag some paint over the remainder of the “moon”.

crescent moon / brushed over / brushed from paper

Here’s the results with the paper removed:

crescent moon / brushed over / brushed from paper

The center shaded circle was just the effect I was looking for and I proceeded to add an entire ring of them around the center of my quilt. Next I wanted to create bands of irredescent color on my background fabric, so I cut the desired bands in the shape and size I needed out of freezer paper and ironed the shiny side to my fabric. I could have just colored this in with the brush as I did the circles, but I wanted more texture. Evelyn suggested using one of her rubbing plates (she has all the right equipment). Many things can be used for texture, but these plates are so easy and fit the bill. I tried 2 different ones on a sample:

and decided the small, speckled pattern worked best.

Evelyn’s suggestion for clean up was simple –¬†squirt a bit of the Goo-Gone‚ĄĘ in a small dish,¬†swish the brush around and brush on the paper¬†towel. Repeat until no¬†The brush will remain a bit discolored, but it isn’t a problem.

Now for the bad news – I’m not quite ready to show the challenge quilt yet. Isn’t the suspense intense? I promise to post it as soon as it’s fit to be shown.

In the mean time, if you want to do a bit of playing with Paintstiks, you can find loads of information at:, but please do check your local quilt shop for these wonderful products because we need to keep our local merchants in business! Any thoughts from Paintstik users out there?

PS Thanks for everything Evelyn!

January 30, 2012, Challenges Embellishing Notions
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?

Mischievous Blues

The latest¬†Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge¬†is entitled “The Blues”. The quilt needed to be 31″ square, at least 1/2 blue and fit the theme. My grandson Willy has the most beautiful blue eyes, so my subject matter was simple. However, creating him in fabric was truly a challenge. I have done very little in the way of faces, so this was a great learning opportunity.¬†I used a mixture of Repliqu√©¬† and my version of Caryl Fallert’s Appli-piecing technique, all accented with thread painting.

So here’s the picture of Willy with big sister Hanna:


and here’s the quilt:

As you can see, the real¬†Willy’s a whole lot cuter than the quilt Willy, but overall I’m¬†pretty happy with my first attempt and have¬†learned a lot. We all need to¬†try new things :-).

The one part I was pleased with was his hair and that (along with his eyelashes) was my thread painting adventure.

I used a fabric which contained areas of all the right values of golden red to brown, appli-pieced chunks of it together and then the fun began. I changed thread often and truly scribbled horizontally all over. It was freeing and almost fool proof! A great technique to have in your bag of tricks. I hope you have the chance to try it!

March 3, 2011, Challenges free motion
Friendship Exchanges II

Thanks to everyone who responded! I appreciate all the great suggestions. Now Wendy and I need to do a bit of brainstorming and share our ideas with the Irish quilters. We’ll let you know what we come up with :-).

February 25, 2011, Challenges
Friendship Exchanges

I’ve recently begun a delightful email relationship with one of the quilters I met in Ireland on our Sew We Go trip last October. Sandlin and I have been sharing stories about our families, faith and quilting. She’s currently making a quilt using Replique for her grandson. It’s delightful and really makes me smile.

You can visit her guild’s blog at:

Wendy and I are¬†hoping to put together some sort of friendship exchange/challenge with our Irish travelers and the Galway branch of the Irish Patchwork Society. We haven’t come up with the details yet and I was wondering if any of you have done long distance exchanges that were successful.

I¬†did one in the early 1990’s that was great fun. I was living in Madison, WI and belonged to Mad City Quilters. A group of quilters in Freiburg, Germany contacted us for a challenge and also invited a group from Bern, Switzerland. The German quilters chose 3 fabrics (1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green print) and sent 20¬†packets of the 3 fabrics to us and 20¬†to the Swiss quilters also.¬†We, along with 20¬†German quilters, were to each make a small wall quilt using the fabrics. That was it! The resulting quilts were delightful!¬†Here’s mine:

The most exciting part was that we were able to send them all to Freiburg and have all 60 hung in their town hall. Then all 60 came here and were displayed at the Civic Center on State Street in Madison. Lastly the quilts were exhibited in Bern before we each got ours back. This quilt has been many places I haven’t.

The added fun of this Irish exchange is that we’ve met the quilters from Galway. Now to come up with the perfect challenge (perfect is a relative term :-). Any suggestions? I’m really hoping for some helpful input from all you talented folk! Ta ta til Thursday!

February 21, 2011, Challenges
Anything Goes

The most unique challenge I’ve participated in is among my favorites. A number of years ago the Milwaukee Art Quilters discussed doing a “round robin” sort of challenge as Sarah explained in her comment (thanks Sarah). The theory being that one person makes a block or row and passes it to another who adds whatever the challenge rules dictate and after 3 or 4 additions the originator gets it back. The problem was that fiber artists seem to really dislike rules. So, we did an “Anything Goes Round Robin”. Each participant put something in a bag (block, piece of fabric, or whatever – no rules) and the next person could do anything they wanted to it! After 4 rounds the originator got it back and could finish as desired. The only real rule was that you couldn’t be upset about what anyone did to your item along the way.

My finished Anything Goes quilt is entitled “Puzzling Spumoni” :

It began as 3 hexagon log cabin blocks from a failed 1995 workshop where the teacher discovered half way through that the blocks wouldn’t fit together and the class ended. The fabrics were dated and I had no need for the blocks, so in the bag they went.

The first person chopped 2 of the blocks up and sewed them back together into a long strip. The second person thread painted a peacock feather on a light pink background and bordered it with the pieced unit. The third chopped again and added a bunch of stuff from her scrap bag. She then cut this new “fabric” into puzzle pieces and threw them in a bag. The fourth artist stacked them into a pile on a black background and put a cherry on top. This is how it was returned to me. I put it in a dish and added the spoon.

It is an odd shaped and humorous piece which I love, even though it really doesn’t go in my living room. I learned a lot working on the other quilts and feel its a good excercise in creativity. I challenge you to try it in your own group!

November 27, 2010, Challenges

I enjoy taking on a quilting challenge! Please understand, I don’t mean that I like it when I’ve sewn an entire seam right side to wrong side and I’m challenged to do 40″ of unsewing! A challenge made by other quilters is what excites me. Whether a fabric is chosen and a variety of stitchers are asked to do something original or an organization comes up with a contest, I can’t resist jumping in.

Last week the program chair at Wandering Foot Quilt Guild (thanks Jody)¬†challenged the members to put a UFO in a brown paper bag, along with all it’s components, and exchange it at their next meeting. Each member was asked to complete the UFO they picked up and it would be their’s to keep. Doesn’t it sound like more fun to finish someone elses project than¬† one of your own that’s hit a dead end? I’m intrigued. (to read more about UFO’s click on that category in the right hand column)

I’ve also been challenged in other ways by some of you through this blog. I’m still thinking about my Liberty of London fabric thanks to the challenge from Pat. That one is in the “marinating” stage :-).

What’s the most interesting challenge or contest you’ve participated in? I’ll tell you my favorite on Friday!

November 23, 2010, Challenges UFO