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Stars, Squares and Fiber Art

Last week I shared the story of Anne’s Serendipity Stars.

Many people asked me how they could obtain a copy of the most recent issue of American Quilter magazine. I didn’t have an answer, so I emailed Anne. Here’s her response:

“Any place that has quilt magazines might still have a copy. I only have a couple of copies, but Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc has 20 copies that they are going to sell during their Quilt Fest weekend in October. I have made a new gmail account just in case anyone wants to ask me questions, it’s I have directions that can be emailed, not thinking about charging anything so I don’t have to worry about income, taxes etc. Will suggest that anyone that wants the directions could just make a little donation to their local animal shelter if they want, it isn’t required though.”

What a generous offer. So, if you are interested in more information about Anne’s star technique – feel free to email her  😀 . She said she might be a little slow to respond because of her busy schedule, but she will try to check that email account in a timely fashion.

Upcoming Classes

The class lists are out for the Fall semester at Waukesha County Technical College. I’ll be teaching 3 all day project workshops:

Quilting – Layered Squares; Friday, September 21st; 9-2:30

Combine simple piecing, diagonal cutting and clever block construction to make this crib/lap-sized quilt with a three-dimensional look.

Quilting – Pieceful Stars; Friday, October 26; 9 – 2:30

Get the look of a Lone Star style medallion, without all the fussy piecing. We will strip piece simple blocks and then cut diamond shapes from them to create a star that is much simpler than it looks! 

Quilting – Beginning Fiber Art; Saturday, November 17; 9-2:30

Are you a traditional quilter who is interested in making an art quilt? Come and discover your inner creative child by playing with simple fusing techniques, fabric, color and design. Students will not be creating the pictured quilt, but their own unique work of art. (This class was formerly titled “Parallelisms”)

We also have a new quilting instructor starting in the Fall. Welcome Nan Feurer! She’ll be teaching 2 classes. Here are the titles and descriptions:

Quilting For Beginners – Anyone can quilt! Learn several quilt blocks and techniques to create a beautiful heirloom.

Quilting – T-shirts – Learn to use a “quilt-as-you-go” technique to transform adult and child t-shirts into a beautiful quilt full of great memories.

To register for a class go to:, in the course search box choose Fall 2018 and type “quilt” in the “course title/subject” box, then click on “submit”. All of the quilting classes will appear and you can open the description/photo of each class by clicking on it’s title.

If you’ve never signed up for a class before, instructions can be found in the link just below the picture of the college.


July 29, 2018, Classes
Serendipity Stars

A year or so ago Mike and I were having breakfast at a local coffee shop when one of the employees came up and introduced herself. Anne is a quilter with a love for quick techniques and making charity quilts. She told me she had come up with a fun technique for making stars by slapping 2 fat quarters together doing some creative stitching, cutting and stitching again! I was intrigued and she emailed me pictures of some of her quilts:




















This last one is my personal favorite!

She asked me if I had any thoughts on how she could market her technique. We did a bit of brainstorming and she liked the idea of a magazine article. I gave her some contact information for American Quilter magazine and – Anne was published in the July issue!!!

This is her picture and bio from the magazine:

Anne Widmann

Anne loves to make quilts as quickly as possible, and her Serendipity Star technique developed as she experimented. She put two fat quarters together just to see what would happen, and the result was magical, resulting in six-pointed stars and a world of possibilities. Project Linus is dear to Anne’s heart; in one year, she not only made 54 quilts for Project Linus, but also a few quilts for others.






Her article includes a hexagon table runner pattern using her technique.

This is what the July issue cover looks like

and the label says it will be displayed until August 14th. I highly recommend picking up a copy today!

Congratulations Anne!

Also, Anne will be doing a lecture about her technique at the Ben Franklin Quilt Fest this October in Oconomowoc, WI. She’s very excited and I can’t wait to see her in action!


A Tribute to Natalie

I’m saddened to share the loss of another dear quilting friend. You may remember Natalie Sewell as the first quilter to win major awards for raw edged landscape quilting, and then writing books on the subject with Nancy Ziemann; but I’ve known Natalie since we were both very traditional quilters in Madison, WI in the early 1990’s. We belonged to Mad City Quilters and took classes from each other over the years. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with her and call her my friend. I learned so much from Natalie and I will miss her.


July 22, 2018, Piecing
Eleanor’s Story
Over the years Wendy and I have had many wonderful repeat travelers with us on our Sew We Go adventures. One of the most enjoyable “characters” we’ve had join us is a dear woman named Eleanor. Eleanor lives in Illinois and heard about our Mississippi riverboat cruise when I spoke to her quilt guild. She and her friend Claire decided to join us, way back in the Spring of 2001, and we had a marvelous time (Eleanor is third from the left, I’ll let you figure out where Wendy and I are 🙂 ).
Our next cruise was to Alaska and Eleanor was one of the first to sign up (in this picture she’s just below me – top left).
We followed that trip with a European riverboat cruise on the blue Danube. We floated from Germany, through Austria and completed our trip in Hungary. It was delightful – and Eleanor was right there with us (to the left of Wendy in the first row).
Next we were off to Holland during tulip time. I love this picture of “quilting” time in the lounge with Wendy explaining to Eleanor the next step in our project. This is followed by Eleanor and her roommate Mary in Keukenhof Gardens.
I must admit, my most memorable times with her were on our riverboat cruise through France on the Rhone and Soane rivers. Eleanor had been a teacher in Paris in her youth and she was the most amazing tour guide for us during our post-cruise extension. She led us from Notre Dam Cathedral on a lovely walk along the Seine (stopping for a photo shoot), that culminated in a delicious lunch at Christines!
These photos include Eleanor’s dear friend and roommate Susan. She plays an important part in the rest of the story!
A few years after this trip I got word that Eleanor was in poor health and was living in a care facility. We really missed her on our subsequent adventures.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. To my surprise, and extreme delight, I got an email from Eleanor and this is what she said:
“Dear Chris, Until April I had not quilted for three years! Here’s why:  I had a fall which caused a concussion, misdiagnosed as being caused by a seizure. The medication caused all kinds of side effects which I won’t go into. But the turn around came when Susan, (you may remember her from the Rhone trip) made a brilliant remark. I had changed doctors, the side effects had disappeared, but the nursing home did not want to let me return to my apartment. (I used a wheelchair and had a caregiver).
Susan said, “Let’s go to Paris!” Doctor gave the OK and with Sylvia (my caregiver) and Susan’s generosity, off we went.
So where is quilting?  Well, when we got back to Lake Forest, the care facility was willing to let me return to my apartment. Sylvia and I were unpacking fabrics and discovered two that I had purchased years ago. “My grandson would love this; he’s into creepy crawlies.” I thought. Only problem: my wheelchair was too wide to fit into the console of the sewing machine. A former student knew of a place where I could buy a wheelchair narrow enough. I didn’t want to cut the fabric up too much and Sylvia wanted to be a part of things so I kept it simple. Only quilting done: freehand stars done in glow in the dark thread on the “dark” side
and outlining the stars on the daytime side.
She also included this wonderful photograph of herself and Sylvia.
What a blessing! I emailed her right back to ask if I could tell all of you about her in a blog post. Her response?
“Dear Chris , I am delighted to hear from you! (Although your blogs WERE the communication that kept me going when I was too weak to turn over in bed). You are welcome to share my story.”
And that’s what I’m doing.
Dear Eleanor, I’m thrilled to see you feeling well and back to quilting. I’m humbled and pleased to hear that you enjoyed my blog posts throughout your difficult journey.
Thank you so much for one more trip – the one down memory lane!

A Tribute to Pat

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

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

July 15, 2018, Travel
Burning Fabric

Why would anyone want to burn fabric?

Perhaps a better question is: have you ever wondered if a fabric you want to use in a quilt is 100% cotton? There is an easy test to check. Many of you may already know this, but I’m hoping some of you will find this helpful.

Recently I was cleaning out the cupboard where I keep my quilt backing pieces and non-cotton fabrics. I found a piece of black and white polka dot fabric and wondered why it wasn’t in with the rest of my stash.

Perhaps it was a polyester blend. Nothing on the selvedge showed fiber content, so I grabbed a book of matches, cut off a corner of the yardage, and went outside.

I lit the pointy end with a match and watched it burn. I waited for it to cool, then I picked it up and when I rubbed it between my fingers, the residue was a soft ash.

This is the case for natural fibers such as cotton, rayon, linen, silk, etc.

For the sake of comparison I cut a triangle from a fabric I knew was a polyester.

The results? It melted.

You can see the light reflecting in the “plastic-like” burned semi-circle on the fabric, and the small black piece was stuck to the cement. Man made fabrics like polyester and nylon melt rather than ash.

The next day I pulled out some beautiful scraps I wanted to use in my next challenge quilt.

They were given to me by a woman I stayed with when I taught for a quilt guild in Eau Claire, WI. She told me there was a men’s necktie factory nearby and they sold their scraps by the pound. She then gifted me with a bag full.

Before I attempted to make them into appliqué shapes, I thought I’d better check to see if they were silk or polyester, because ties can be made from either. I’m happy to say they all passed the burn test and are silk:

The interesting thing was the ash was not as soft as the cotton fabric and it had a bit of a gritty feel when I rubbed it between my fingers. I guess I’ve never burned silk before because I was a little surprised by this.

Do any of you use this test for your fabrics? Any other thoughts you’d like to share  🙂 ?

July 8, 2018, Fabric
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™. It was a great class and I think I’ve forgotten more than I remember because Photoshop™ 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  😉 ). 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