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New Year’s Smiles and Upcoming Classes

Teaching Quilting is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I’ve met so many wonderful people, learned far more than I’ve taught, visited fascinating places, and made dear friends. I’m grateful God planned it to be a part of my life, because I certainly hadn’t.

As I travel and teach I often come upon quilts and their makers that are simply too interesting or amusing not to share. This happened once again a few weeks ago when I was invited to present my “But I Still Love You” lecture for the Crazy Quilters in Mukwonago, WI. It just happened to be their Christmas party and the appetizer/dessert potluck was delicious. I think the guild enjoyed seeing my antique quilts and hearing their stories.

After the talk came show and tell. I love show and tell, and this group didn’t disappoint. There were many lovely quilts, but the two that stole the show were from Jean Cruikshank. They were made by her mom, Wilma Elkhart, and found in her belongings as Jean and her 4 brothers and sisters prepared for mom to move into assisted living. Jean said the first one was made from favorite shirts/sweaters that had belonged to Jean and her siblings:

Wilma had a rather unique and straightforward method for including the garments! The “dots” are actually the tied knots holding the comforter together, and it gave us all a bit of a chuckle. 

Then Jean brought out Wilma’s second creation. It’s made from the dresses she wore for her’s and her children’s weddings. Prepare yourself…

Admit it – you smiled. Many of us in the room laughed out loud. The entire garments were stitched in place, then the layers were tied together once again.

I really have never seen anything quite like it. Thanks Jean, for letting me share these delightful “quilts”.

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As a new year approaches it’s always fun to try something new. So let me tell you about 4 all day workshops I have scheduled for the upcoming semester at WCTC. 

Pinwheel Strips

Friday, January 25, 9 – 2:30

Silhouette Applique

Friday, February 22, 9 – 2:30

Spin Star

Friday, March 15, 9 – 2:30

Paintstik Fun

Friday, April 12, 9 – 2:30

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I’d also like to tell all the local Wisconsin quilters about two new teachers at WCTC. Nan Feurer will be teaching 4 quilting workshops this semester and Fatun Mohomed will be teaching garment construction. You can read about all of our classes and register on-line at https://www.wctc.edu/.

Simply type “quilt” or “sewing” into the “Course Search” box and then click on “Find Courses”. 

ALOHA 

And, just to let you know, I will be taking a 2 week vacation from my blog beginning this week. Wendy and I leave Wednesday to take a group of quilters and friends on a cruise around Hawaii. We are really looking forward to getting away to warmth and sunshine – and I’ve decided the computer won’t be going along. 

Happy New Year one and all!


December 30, 2018, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas 2018

Christmas is such a beautiful season and I’d like to set the tone for this year’s post with a picture of a lovely Christmas angel made from a hymnal by my dear friend Maria. 

What a treasure. Thank you Maria!

Every Christmas my friend Sharon and I like to ring and sing for the Salvation army. This year my grandson Trey joined in for the first half hour. We’ve been doing this for at least 16 years, and it’s still a bright spot in my Christmas season! 

Another tradition is cookie baking. My mom and I have never missed a year since I was old enough to help. Dad’s a big help too. His best skill is tasting our results, but he’s gotten quite good at decorating gingerbread men and unwrapping kisses with Trey. My daughter-in-law Betsy, along with Sommer and Trey, are now part of the tradition. So much fun!!!

The tree is up, the gifts are wrapped, and the house is ready for the upcoming celebrations.

For years I used to overdo and stress about the holiday preparations, but in recent times I’ve cut back to just the essentials and my focus is daily on the true gift of Christmas – the birth of our Savior – who became a man, lived a sinless life, then suffered and died to save us from our sins and prepare a place for us in heaven. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16

What a wonderful reason to celebrate! God bless us, everyone!


December 23, 2018, Uncategorized
From One Barn to Another

When you say barn quilt nowadays, people often picture a wooden barn block attached to the exterior of an actual barn. I have one of those and posted about it years ago (click here to read that post).

Earlier this year I made a fabric barn quilt and entered it in a contest in which it traveled for 6 months. After I got it back I realized I had never included it in a blog post. It was a very enjoyable project and I tried a number of different techniques to accomplish my goals, so I felt it was time to share it with all of you – since it’s still the same year as I made it (by 2 weeks  :-D) ! It’s called “From One Barn to Another” and it measures 24″ square.

This was actually created by combining photographs of two different barns owned by my friends Glen and Di Lohr who live just across the road from me. Di was happy to have me do a photoshoot one sunny summer afternoon, as inspiration for a Barn Quilt challenge which invited quilters to do something innovative with the barn theme.

The majority of the quilt is the interior of their German Fachwerk barn.

Unfortunately this window didn’t look out at their more traditional Wisconsin style barn. But that didn’t stop me, I just Photoshopped™ it in,

and used my repliqué technique to do most of the work. 

The bricks created the greatest challenge for me. I certainly didn’t want to satin stitch all the way around each one. Neither did I want to use raw-edged repliqué (stitch around each brick and trim away so the mortar shows through). So I did something completely different – I thread-painted (stitched heavily in mortar colored thread) the mortar in as a wholecloth design on brick colored fabric! 

The challenge fabric we were required to use was a barn board print. I used both sides of the fabric to achieve shading in the window frame (the right side was gray while the reverse was much whiter):

Out the window I did all the man-made objects with repliqué, and the God-made objects with raw-edged repliqué (no satin stitching).

When it came to the ceiling, I didn’t have a dark enough shade of brown, so I painted what I did have:

I was pleased with the finished results. I’m going to hang on to it for a little longer, in hopes of exhibiting it in a few shows, but eventually is will be gifted to my wonderful neighbors.


December 16, 2018, Uncategorized
Hand-made Christmas

We were living in Sun Prairie, WI when I first learned to quilt. After a few years of making quilts I decided selling them in craft fairs might be fun. At one of these fairs I met Jeannie. She loved quilts, but had no desire to make them, so we worked out a deal. It turned out – she and her husband made original design Santas and I already had a Santa collection 🙂 . Jeannie’s husband did the carving and she did the painting. We worked out a barter. She ended up with a number of my handmade quilts,

while I was thrilled to acquire 5 of their unique Santas (the tallest is 10″) .

Fast forward to last month when I was teaching in North Dakota. Amy was in my free motion quilting class. She caught on fast and did very well, but she admitted to me her first love was knitting. The next day she stopped by my classroom and handed me a small box with a thank you note attached. Inside was a hand-knit Santa!

Amazing! And now he’s part of the family. They may not be jolly, but I love them all!

What a wonderful gift. Thank you so much Amy!

By the way – Amy has patterns available on-line, and her work in lovely! You can see for yourself at: https://www.knitpicks.com/cfPatterns/IDP/IDP_Pattern_List.cfm?ID=K00509

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Also – if you’re looking for a unique, last minute Christmas gift, my daughter-in-law, Betsy, has an Etsy shop where she sells her macramé and animal sketches: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KnotsAndNubs?section_id=24967124

Her macramé is lovely: 

and she has many adorable animal sketches available (each one is 8″ x 10″):

If you’d like a sketch or painting of your own pet or favorite animal, Betsy  would be happy to work with you. You can contact her at: kirsch.betsy@gmail.com. 

And, for those of you who live in Southeastern Wisconsin, Betsy also has her work available at “There’s No Place Like Home” in Oconomowoc (25 S. Main St.).  She’s very talented (I’d say that even if we weren’t related, LOL)

I think hand-made gifts are the best!


December 9, 2018, Uncategorized
Adding Borders – Quilt as You Go!

Last week I shared a technique for bordering a block quilt-as-you-go, but have you ever finished the quilting  on a project and realized it would look nicer with one more border? or maybe it needs to be just a little bigger? I’ve had this happen a number of times and, before I bound the outside edge, I did something about it! This also works for quilts that have been constructed “quilt-as-you-go” fashion and need borders, and it works on any quilt – small or large. It’s as simple as:

1. Measure the top and bottom edges of the quilt, decide the border width, and make two border strips this width and length from each of: (a) the border fabric for the front of the quilt, (b) the backing fabric and (c) batting. (Please be aware I’m using a sample quilt sandwich as my “quilt” for this demo – I was practicing feathers  🙂 )

2. Choose 1 set of borders and lay the border fabric (a), right sides together, and even with the top edge of the front of the quilt.

3. Pin this strip in place and flip the quilt over to the back. Lay the back border strip (b) even with the same edge of the quilt, right sides together.

4. Lay the batting strip (c) on top of this back border strip.

5. Add more pins along the edge through all the layers

and sew through all six layers with a ¼” seam allowance (a walking foot is very helpful).

6. Fold all the border strips away from the quilt, and on top of each other to make a flat border:

Here’s a side view:

7. Press this new quilted border along the edge, pin if desired, and repeat for the bottom of the quilt.

8. Measure the sides of the quilt and repeat from step 1 above to add the side borders.

The borders may now be quilted (if needed) and the binding attached. I like to quilt a straight line ½” from the border seam all the way around. This encases the seam allowance and it’s thickness adds a nice fill to this narrow quilted area.

I hope this was helpful and easy to understand. It is a very do-able technique :-).

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Continuing Stories:

A few weeks ago I shared the story of a shirt and tie quilt made by my friend Jean. She recently wrote to tell me she made a label for the quilt using a pattern for an origami Hawaiian shirt ornament she’d made as Christmas gifts in 2014. I was a lucky recipient of one of those ornaments:

And here’s the label (name removed to protect privacy):

Adding the “dry clean only” advice on the label was a great idea too. She also said she tucked some leftover tie fabric in a few of the border pockets.

I was so glad she included these pictures. Thanks again Jean!

Also, in response to Debbie’s quilt for little Grace, Beth emailed me this: “I saw your picture of the memory quilt with the clothes. I thought I would share the quilts I made for my great niece and great nephew with their onesies!”

So many great ideas – thanks Beth!


December 2, 2018, finishing