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

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

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

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

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

She said “yes” 😀 !

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

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

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

September 30, 2018, Challenges Uncategorized
Apples, Buttons, and Dachsunds – Oh My!

I got some great responses to last week’s blog post about Vicki’s red patch (click here to read all about it). Three of the quilters who wrote me were happy to send me pictures of their quilt “trademarks”, and I think they’ll make you smile.

Here’s Connie’s story:

“I don’t know if it was forethought on my part, but, as a primary teacher I always marked my students papers with an apple. I’ve carried this through on most of my quilt labels, which are in the shape of an apple, with a stem and a leaf usually using 3 different fabrics used in the quilt. On smaller pieces, I simply ink in an apple at the end of my name. My grandchildren are the recipients of many of my quilts. They always look for the apples and the message Gram wrote just for them.”

and these are 3 of her apple labels:

This is what Lorraine sent me:

“Long before I began quilting I was collecting buttons…LOTS of buttons (over 100,000)! So when I started quilting I decided I had to incorporate buttons somewhere. I decided to put buttons on each label, except on baby quilts, of course.” 

I try to be creative with how and where I use the buttons, but sometimes the best I can do is match the color of the backing!” 

The previous quilts incorporated the labels in their maker’s “trademark”. Liz, like Vicki last week, puts her mark on the front of the quilt. Here’s her story:

“My now 98 year old aunt suggested I always put something on my quilts to mark them as mine. My love for dachshund dogs has caused me to hide one somewhere on each quilt I have done. Pork Chop was my inspiration (at top on the photo). After he passed in 2014, we got Rusty, who looks very similar but thinner.”

And here are some of her quilts:

Did you find the doggie on this last quilt? He’s at Mary’s feet in the nativity  😀 .

What clever ideas – and so very unique. Great job ladies. Thanks so much for sharing your quilts with us!


September 23, 2018, Labels
A Red Patch

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ben Franklin Quilt Fest – Oconomowoc, WI

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

September 16, 2018, Inspiration
Madison Quilt Expo 2018

I just returned home from 3œ fun filled days in Madison, WI at the Quilt Expo. Each year I like to do a post about the show because each year it seems to get bigger and better. It has become a national level show, with quilts and vendors from all over the US and a few other countries as well.

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

Great job Lori!

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

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

These dear ladies will be missed.

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

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

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

Made to God’s glory!

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

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

I found Colin’s story fascinating.

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

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

Now that’s true recycling!

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

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

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

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

They make me smile!

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


September 9, 2018, Travel
Piped Circles Made Simple

A few years ago I put together a lecture entitled “Going Round and Round”. In it I shared many ways to add circles and curves to quilts. One of the methods used a flange, piping, or rick-rack, to attach curved edges to a background by machine. I knew it would work for circles too, but hadn’t done it. Since then, when I teach my Mariner’s Compass class, I tell the students the compasses can be attached using piping, and this would be a blog topic soon. The time has come! And this will work for any circle – not just compasses  🙂 .

Here is a compass made by my friend Ida Porzky. She made me a number of different shaped compasses to use as samples when I wrote Compass Capers.

For this tutorial I’m using pre-packaged corded piping, but homemade would work just as well.

Whatever piping you use, measure the distance from the long raw edge of the piping to the stitches holding the cording in place. It should be about ÂŒ”. Trim the seam allowance around the circle to this measurement:

On the right side of the circle, place the piping along the curved outer edge, with all raw edges even. Using a cording foot or a zipper foot on your machine, stitch on top of the stitches on the piping, all the way around, leaving about a 3″ space to connect the tails:

To connect the ends of the piping, remove an inch or two of the piping stitches to expose the cording. Overlap the cording ends:

Cut through both, and butt them together:

Pull the piping fabric back over the cording, trim the excess, turn under a ÂŒ” hem on the outer piece, and wrap the fabric back around the cording. Pin in place:

Sew the remainder of the piping to the circle. Fold the raw edges to the back, rolling the corded portion to the outer edge (I drew the stitches in in white so you could see them):

Place the piped circle on the background fabric, with the cording around the outer edge. Pin in place:

Stitch in the ditch all the way around, in a color thread to match the piping fabric.

And you’re done!

No hand sewing and everyone will wonder how you got that skinny bit of piping in there so perfectly  😀 ! Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thank you Ida for making your wonderful compass. I hope you like the background fabric I chose.

And by the way, I’ve added my Circle lecture to my list of offerings on my website: If your guild is looking for a speaker, I’d be thrilled to make a visit! And, if you’d like to learn to make an off-center mariner’s compass, you can purchase my book at:



September 2, 2018, Piecing