Rust Dyeing for Novices

You may remember that I awarded my judges choice ribbon at the Evergreen Quilt Show to Kim Frisk’s quilt – “Wherever the Wind Blows”, which was made with rust dyed fabric (click here to read about it!).


I mentioned that I wanted to give rust dyeing a try – and I did! I watched a few Youtube videos, hunted for some rusty stuff, gathered up the supplies – and found it to be easy and fun. I’ve never been into fabric creating – I’d rather buy from others who are good at it, but I enjoyed this so much – I did it twice!

The first effort yielded 4 fat quarters of rust dyed fabric. The two in the center were done with steel wool. The one on the left had nails and screws scattered across it, and the piece on the right was twisted and wrapped around a rusty horseshoe:

rust dyed fabric

Would you like to try it? If not, scroll down to see the other pieces. If so, read on 🙂 !

You’ll need fabric, vinegar, rusty stuff (or steel wool, which worked great and started out “not rusty”), rubber gloves, plastic bags, water and salt. Here’s the basics (google “rust dyeing” for more specific instructions):

  1. Soak fabric in vinegar and wring out.
  2. Tear open a large plastic bag and lay the fabric on it (manipulate if you like).
  3. Put on gloves and arrange rusty items on top. If using steel wool – pull apart and spread across the fabric, then put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray away.
  4. Cover with more plastic, or another piece of fabric, and then more plastic. It should be wrapped in plastic to keep the warmth in, but loosely enough to allow air to get in and cause the rust to form.
  5. Leave in a warm place for at least 12 hours (it was recommended not more than 72 – I got great results in 24)
  6. When done, fill a 5 gallon pail with 4 gallons of water and dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in the water. Rinse items in the salt bath and then rinse with more water.
  7. Hang out to dry, iron and enjoy!

The steel wool pieces in the picture above were made like a plastic/fabric/steel wool/fabric/plastic sandwich, that then rolled up jelly roll style. After my first attempt, I read that putting bags of rice/beans on top of the plastic will help hold things closer to the rust.

A few days later the Fiberistas met at my home to join in the fun. We gathered our buckets of rusty stuff and headed to Mike’s shed (wish I’d remembered to take pictures  😥 ). This time I decided to put a piece of plastic in the bottom of a bin. I layered these pieces, with rusty stuff between, on top of each other, and covered the pile with plastic and weight bags (the rusty stuff used is listed beneath each photo):

rusty-nails,washers,star,chain, steel-wool

Nails, washers, a star, steel wool in patches, and a heavy chain that gave the look of a tire tread!



Pieces of rusty sheet metal and nails.


rust dyed fabric

A doily given to me by Barb. This one was at the bottom of the pile!

I did one additional piece that night, using a chunk of rusty chicken wire. I started with a yard of fabric and folded it in half with the chicken wire in between. This was weighted down with a bag of top soil (remember – we were in the barn  🙂 ).


I think it’s my favorite. Wouldn’t it make a great honey bee quilt?

Have you done any rust dyeing? Please send pictures of any exciting pieces you’ve made. I’ll share pictures of the other pieces made that night in a future post.

July 10, 2016, Dyeing
Vets Roll

Happy Fourth of July Weekend everyone!!!

I want to share one more “Quilt Week in Paducah” post from our trip in April. It’s about a patriotic quilt, and seemed to fit in as this week’s post perfectly.

Early in our week at the AQS show, Wendy and I made a stop at one of the “Quilt In a Day” locations. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw 2 familiar faces just inside the doorway. It turns out that a group of quilters from back home in Wisconsin were selling chances for a raffle quilt!


Beth and her friends were raising funds for an organization I was unaware of, but I was very impressed by what they shared.


Here’s the mission statement for Vets Roll:

Vets Roll

Beth was so excited to tell me about how much she loves chaperoning these trips from the mid-west to Washington, DC, and what a blessing it is to meet these heroes and hear their stories. She shared that a bus trip is much more comfortable and less stressful than flying for these aged veterans. I was very interested and impressed. Please visit the Vets Roll website and find out more about this great organization at:

Because the pattern in their quilt is one that Eleanor Burns has done a book about, Quilt in a Day generously allowed them to be a part of their “Quilt Week” store. Kudos to Eleanor!

Thanks ladies, for all your efforts in letting our vets know how much they are appreciated!



And one last picture 🙂 ! A few posts back I shared my “Around the Block challenge” quilt entitled “I Love Winter” (click here to view that post). Recently another participant in that challenge, Deb, sent me a picture of her quilt top and it is so lovely,  I wanted to share it with you. Her theme was “up north”:

Deb Braatz Athe B challenge

July 3, 2016, Uncategorized
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 – with 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 😉 . 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 🙂 .

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 appliquéd 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 Repliqué 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 🙂 !


June 18, 2016, Challenges Embellishing
I Love Winter!

In the past few weeks I’ve finished two UFO’s – talk about feeling virtuous  😀 ! 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 🙂 !

I hope you enjoyed my spandex adventure. Any questions?

June 5, 2016, Challenges Fabric
A Spandex Quilt

While at the Sister’s Quilt Show Expo in Oregon this past Summer, l happened upon the Babylok™ booth and was intrigued by a sample the rep had made using swimsuit material. Because the fabric was shiny and stretchy, the machine quilting was dimensional and dynamic. Then, on our way back to Portland, we stopped at a huge fabric store and I found a piece of metallic copper spandex knit – on a clearance rack! I went home with 2 yards.

AD copper spandex

When the Milwaukee Art Quilters chose “Art Deco” as their large challenge theme this year, I knew I had the fabric and the quilting idea, I just needed a design. I did a bit of web-surfing and found a site with instructions for creating “Great Gatsby Style Patterns” in Photoshop. (in case you’re interested it’s:

After a bit of trial and error I chose a design. Next I made a few small stitching samples with a variety of different batts and stabilizers, so I could try stitching on this very non-traditional fabric and see what worked best.

quilting on spandex

I decided to create the quilt top using my Silhouette Appliqué technique:

  1. I drew my design, with a sliver of soap, onto a black cotton fabric,
  2. I then layered it on the copper spandex fabric, both right sides up. Next I placed this on the wool batting and stabilizer I had chosen. I pinned in areas where the black fabric would not be cut away, because the copper fabric shows pin marks.
  3. In black thread, I stitched on all the soap lines using a walking foot.
  4. The black fabric was cut away, close to the stitching, everywhere I wanted the copper to show.
  5. Next, all of the raw edges needed to be satin stitched. When satin stitching, the spandex would begin to drag under the toe of the machine foot while the toe on the black fabric moved fine. This sheering effect was not working at all, but I was able to slip a piece of paper under the spandex side of the machine foot and then it stitched quite well.

AD layered

Once the appliqué was done, I layered everything over a piece of flat cotton batt, and the quilt backing fabric, re-pinning in the black fabric areas once again.

Stay tuned, in my next post I’ll cover the trickiest part – the quilting!

May 28, 2016, Fabric
Forty Wonderful Years

Today is a very special day in my life. Today I’ve been married to my best friend for 40 years.

Wedding-pic web

Mike and I had a bicentennial wedding. No red, white and blue, but rainbow pastel bridesmaids, complete with matching parasols.


Our parents have been great examples of how to have a good marriage.


In the 1980’s Mike and I were enjoying our beautiful kids,


good jobs, and a lovely home in the woods; and then… at around the time of the above picture, I was introduced to QUILTING!

My dear husband has been supportive of this addiction ever since, even when he admitted he didn’t understand why I cut fabric apart and sew it back together again.

In 1994 I quit dental hygiene and began to focus on teaching quilting as my vocation, and I ended up finding a delightful niche in the quilt world.

Oodles of classes, four books and many Sew We Go adventures later, a new passion came into my life – grandchildren who live nearby! I love kids and I knew I wanted to take care of them while mommy and daddy were at work. When I brought up the idea to my dear husband he said “but what about your quilting?”. I said it was a fun ride, but I was ready to quit to be with the grandkids. His response was “keep quilting, we’ll make it work”. And he has!


When I teach (or spend a week in Paducah), this dear man watches those little ones full time. He’s amazing!

As with all marriages, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I’m so grateful to be on this life journey with Mike. So I’d like to dedicate this week’s post to a very special husband! Thanks for 40 wonderful years!

May 22, 2016, Uncategorized
Quilted Memories

Our son, Brad, was very active in his High School orchestra. The orchestra teachers connected with a youth orchestra in England and they did exchange trips. Brad was able to travel to England twice, and both times I went along as a chaperone (I couldn’t have my son play his cello in Salisbury Cathedral – and not be there!) On one of these wonderful adventures I had the pleasure of meeting Art and Debby Abe. Their daughter was also in the orchestra and they decided to chaperone the trip too. I discovered that Debby was a quilter, and we’ve run into each other in the quilt world numerous times since that trip.

A few month’s ago I taught at the Ben Franklin retreat (to read that post click here), and Debby was there too. My heart ached for her when she told me what had happened in her life this past year. Then she showed me some pictures that made her story so endearing to me that I asked her if I could share it. Here it is in her own words:

“This is a memory quilt made from my husband’s clothes. Art passed away unexpectedly last April at the age of 60. I created this quilt with the thought it could be used as a picnic blanket, as it is backed with his jeans and pants.


As I was assembling this quilt, I was thinking how it is so much like our lives. In sewing the pieces together I did the best I could with the flawed and imperfect materials I had to work with, it was a challenge putting them together, because of the different fabric types. But in the end it turned out beautiful. Just like life – we are flawed and imperfect and have challenges, but in the end GOD’s “project” turns out beautiful!
Just like in the center of the quilt is what Art wore to church, so should God be the center of our lives. When we live a God centered life, we will have peace and joy – despite the heartbreaks of life.
And so (in quilter language) when the challenges and trials of life cause us to fall to pieces – we pick them up and stitch back together the fabric of our lives and press forward.”

Debby chose to make a unique memory quilt for each of her children:


Then she went a step further: “As a Christmas tradition, I would make a “Christmas eve” gift.  We open gifts on Christmas morning. This year I took my husbands ties and created a memory gift. The girls ( my 3 daughters, 1 daughter-in- law, and 2 granddaughters) received a purse. My son and 3 son- in- laws got a key chain made from the end of a tie (sometimes it was the tie used for his wife’s purse). For my grandson I cut down one of Art’s ties to toddler size.

Purses from neckties

Here’s my granddaughter Ellie – who promptly filled up her purse and wore it around after receiving it.”


What an incredible labor of love! Thank you for sharing your story with us Debby – and God’s blessings to you and your family!

May 15, 2016, Uncategorized
Crazy Quilts and Stevengraphs

In keeping with my recent crazy quilt post, I’d like to relate a story about a crazy quilt of my own:

In 2002 I had the privilege of purchasing a wonderful Crazy Quilt, circa 1885, from a dear lady in Illinois.

1885 Crazy Quilt

The owner was a woman named Vee and she related this history of the quilt to me: “It was found in an attic in the bungalow of Julius and Harriet (Lyons) Reed in Three Bridges, NJ after Etta (Harriet) had passed away in the 1970’s. Etta was Vees husband’s Aunt. They were originally from Davenport, IA. Julius was a soldier during the Spanish American war and he fought in Cuba. When he returned he went to New York and met Etta at church. They fell in love and lived in NY until Julius was drawn to a piece of property in New Jersey. Julius was a floor worker at Wanamaker’s Department Store in NY and they were quite poor, but he wanted this piece of property so badly that, as the family story goes, he met some Italians and did something for them – no one knows what – and they gave him enough money to buy the land. Julius then built the bungalow completely by hand. Etta was very good at decorating on a shoestring. Julius preceded Etta in death and after she passed away Vee and her husband went through the home and found little of value except for this crazy quilt which was in a box in the attic. They knew nothing else about the quilt, but Vee did mention that Julius did have very wealthy relatives in New York named Wentworth.”

Don’t you just love family stories and the unique details which are remembered?

Well, the quilt was stored well for all of it’s life, obviously never seeing the light of day for any length of time, so I wanted to get it appraised right away. While doing the appraisal, my friend Carol Butzke, commented that my quilt included a Stevengraph.

Crazy Quilt Stevengraph

I’d never heard of a Stevengraph and set out to learn more. In searching the internet I ran across a collector in England. I sent him the picture, and here is a portion of his response:

Thank you for sending the image of your silk. It has come across very well, and I can confirm it is indeed a Stevengraph. When originally mounted, the title printed on the card mount was “The First Point”.
This is of course a scene of two hounds chasing a hare. The rider on horseback is the judge, and the person in red at the edge of the crowd is the person who has just released the hounds, called a ‘slipper’.
It is impossible to date your actual silk, as they were made continuously right up to the destruction of the factory in 1940.
Thomas Stevens, of Coventry, Great Britain created the word Stevengraph to describe his silk pictures. It has now been extended to include all such woven silk pictures, and even the bookmarks as well.
All silks fade very badly in day light, and deteriorate with light and dust. From the image you have sent me, if your actual silk is as bright coloured as the image, yours is in remarkably good condition. There is no fading, and no apparant damage. As an item of beauty, it now needs always to be part of the quilt of which it has become an intregal part.
I hope this gives you a flavour of your Stevengraph. Do take care of it and the rest of the quilt. Keep the silk out of as much light as you can and away from dust, and who knows, maybe it will last another 100 years.

Peter Daws”

I was thrilled to have this information!

Currently the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg is hosting an exhibit of Stevengraphs!

WMQFA stevengraph

This is a portion of some additional information the Museum emailed concerning the exhibit:

Museum Stevengraph

“In 1862, Thomas Stevens, working in Coventry, England, had produced nine fascinating silk pictures of different designs and patented the word “Stevengraph” to refer to the pictures. They were an instant success. By the late 1880s, Stevens had produced 900 different designs on aspects of Victorian life.
Using another Stevens invention at the York Exhibition in 1879 – the portable loom, people attending saw their picture being woven before their eyes. The pictures sold in the thousands and over the years Stevens was awarded over 30 medals and diplomas for the pictures.
Stevengraphs vary in size from 1 1/4 by 4 inches for bookmarks to 7 1/2 by 13 inches for mounted pictures. Once sold for as little as 50 cents, they are prized today by collectors.
The heavy German bombings on Coventry in 1940 leveled his buildings and business. But appreciation of Stevengraphs lives on through collectors and exhibits like ours at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts.”


I haven’t seen the exhibit yet, but I’m looking forward to visiting the museum soon!


Do you own any Stevengraphs, or have you any stories to tell?


And one more thing! While in Paducah, Wendy mentioned that there was a large display wall at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, WI (the shop where she’s the assistant manager), and they were considering featuring quilts by a “Customer of the Month” there. I told her I thought it was a great idea, and she responded “Good, you can be first!”

fiber art at Franks Sewing Center in Waukesha, WIsconsin

So I’ve put up a display of my Parallelism and Concentricity quilts for the month of May. My book “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art” is available there also. It includes the techniques I’ve used in the quilts displayed.

I hope you have a chance to stop by!

May 8, 2016, Vintage Quilts
A Dairy Queen Surprise

Last week I mentioned that Wendy and I set up a quilting studio in the kitchen of the guest house we stay in, like we do every year. This year we spent many hours stitching with the warm Kentucky breeze blowing in the door – it was lovely. My plan was to create samples for some new WCTC classes. I also took 2 workshops while at AQS: Linda Poole’s “Hoot” – working with Inktense pencils, and Kathy McNeil’s “Summer Seascape”, learning her way to appliqué. Both were excellent and I have plans for the samples. Here are the pieces I worked on in Paducah:



While stitching one day, my friend Kathy sent me an invite to an annual “party” they host during Quilt Week, at the Dairy Queen on Friday night. Wendy was taking a class, so I decided it would be something fun to do. Boy, was I right! I arrived, said my hellos to everyone, and then purchased my peanut butter cup blizzard. While we were enjoying the ice cream a bearded man came up to our group (which numbered about a dozen) and welcomed us to Paducah. He said that he’d been looking for a group of quilters and had something in his trunk he wanted to show us.

A few moments later his wife and daughter came in with a large garbage bag, and began to pull a quilt from it. Melissa explained that it was made by her grandmother in 1979. The back was a very bright yellow solid fabric with a red border. I had no idea what to expect – and then she unfolded one of the most beautiful crazy quilts I’ve seen!


The embroidery was spectacular and we spent a lot of time admiring all the wonderful details.

CQ-Paducah-16-racoon CQ-Paducah-16-spider CQ-Paducah-16-qal CQ-Paducah-16-pixie CQ-Paducah-16-basket

And look at the beautiful way Melissa’s grandmother signed her quilt:


Some of the most amazing things happen when you least expect them.


Thank you to the Shaws’ for sharing their lovely quilt.

And thanks for the invite Kathy! Same time next year?

May 1, 2016, Embellishing
Quilt Week 2016 – Paducah, KY

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

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


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

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

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


Quilting super heros








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

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


And I even participated in the sidewalk art out front:


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


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


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

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

Fiberistas in Paducah

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


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

April 24, 2016, Travel
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 😉 ). 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™ 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
Ben Franklin Quilt Retreat II

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


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


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

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

BF 16 hippies-and-audrey

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


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


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

Chris' Scrap Happy quilt

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


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

Kudos to both Chris & Mary!

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


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

BF 16-Nina's-pics

A fun time was had by all!


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


April 10, 2016, Travel
Pressing and Biscuits

While visiting the blog of a quilting friend I found a great post on starch/sizing alternatives. Her name is Lois Arnold, and you can see the post at: It contains her product testing adventure with Mary Ellen’s Best Press™. I’ve used Best Press™ and discovered my husband and I are both allergic to something in it – it causes us to cough as soon as the iron hits it. So her alternative recipe was of interest to me. I highly recommend reading her entire article, but I want to share her recipe here:

iron-for-webLois Arnold’s Starch Alternative

3 cups distilled water

1/2 cup liquid starch

3 oz vodka

1 teaspoon essential oil

I tried it myself and love it! Works great and no coughing! My essential oil was a bit strong, so I think I’ll use just a few drops in my next batch.


This week I’d also like to share a picture of a biscuit quilt made by a follower of this blog. Janet had seen the post I did a year ago, about a biscuit quilt made by my friend Louise (click here to visit that post). She emailed me this message:

Janets biscuit quilt

A few months ago you posted a picture of a Biscuit Quilt designed by one of your fellow quilters. I’m always looking for new ideas particularly with children’s and baby quilts and decided this would be the perfect use for some of my flannel scraps. This became a fun “work in progress” project but I quickly learned that overstuffing is not a good idea. The finished quilt was donated to the MS Auction held in southern Wisconsin. The response was great and I know the money raised went to a great cause. Thanks for sharing ideas and directions.

Isn’t it delightful!?! And the matching burp cloths are so clever. Thank you so much Janet! I really appreciate getting feedback from you quilters, especially with pictures, about the things I share on the blog 🙂 .

April 2, 2016, Classes
Quilting in Nebraska II

This past November I had a wonderful time teaching in Nebraska. I had never been there before, and it was especially exciting because my niece and her family had recently moved to Omaha. I blogged about my time with the Lincoln quilt guild and my visit to the Nebraska Quilt Study Center in this post:

Well this past week I made my second trip there, and it was just as delightful! This time I was invited to share my passion with the Prairie Piecemakers guild of Fremont. There was a great turn out for my “Tradition With a Twist” lecture, and the following day I taught Compass Capers in a spectacular quilt shop called Country Traditions.



The shop sprawls across 4 floors of what had been a furniture store.

View from the front door with Scott, quilter, teacher, employee and super student - he was the first to finish a compass!

View from the front door with Scott: quilter, teacher, employee and super student – he was the first to finish a Mariner’s Compass!

First floor view from the stairs

First floor view from the stairs

Second room on the main floor

Second room on the main floor

They had a marvelous selection of fabric, with many artfully designed displays. The second floor contained the offices, and the third floor/fourth floor housed the classrooms!

Third floor classroom from above.

Third floor classroom from above.

And our class - held in the "Penthouse".

And our class – held in the “Penthouse”.

The students were such fun, and they accomplished a lot.


Great job everyone! Thanks to Jan and Prairie Piecemakers, as well as to everyone at Country Traditions.

All this and another lovely visit with family too. Thanks Kaitlin, Marty, Henry and Rosemary – love you  😀 !

March 26, 2016, Uncategorized
Shape Cut a Quarter

Before we get to this week’s topic, I’d like to do a quick update on my quilt: “How Beautiful – Liberty”. It’s striking me as quite funny – I’ve enjoyed making my accordion door quilts, but never imagined anyone else would want to do it! Since sharing my last two blog posts, and winning the ribbons in Sun Prairie, I’ve had oodles of requests. My mind is just buzzing over the prospect of writing another book with all the techniques from “Liberty” in it. Please stay tuned!


A few weeks ago the grandkids were entertaining themselves very nicely with their toys in the living room. So I decided it would be a good time to take some pictures for this week’s blog. I brought up my cutting tools, put them on the counter, laid the mat on the floor (the lighting is best in the middle of the kitchen floor)

and went to find my camera. When I returned, this was what I found:

SC kids mat

Good thing I had my camera. Trey found sitting on my cutting mat so fascinating, I ended up having to move it to the kitchen table for the photo-shoot  🙂 . Now on to the topic at hand!

shape cutA number of years ago I shared my top three favorite rulers, and included in the list was the Shape Cut™ ruler by June Tailor. This past Christmas I did a post using it to fringe fleece scarves (click here for that post) and recently I shared a similar ruler for marking (click here for the Grid Marker post).

The Shape Cut™ is a great tool for rotary cutting multiple, accurate strips. When it came out it was well received, but it was limited to ½” increments. Back then I was doing freelance work for June Tailor (we’re talking the 1990’s). They asked me to come up with a way to cut ¼” increments with the ½” ruler and I was happy to take on the challenge (they did come out with a Quarter Cut™ ruler, but it had to be made shorter for stability, which made it less useful).

I spent quite a bit of time coming up with the answer, and I think you’ll find it works well. It’s really quite simple, and I devised a chart which does the math for you, that I’ll include in this post. I discovered the trick is to have a dashed line marked between the “0” and ½” slots on the Shape Cut™. The newer ones come with this marking,

SC orig dashed line

but if you have an older ruler, you can add it with a fine line permanent marker.

SC dashed ruler

SC drawn dashed line

Now for the step-by-steps. I’ve given you all the info, but remember there will be a chart at the end of this post that does the math for you!

Step 1: Choose a ¼” increment (i.e. 2 ¼”), double it (i.e. 4 ½”) and cut strips at this size. for 2 ¼” strips your cuts will be at 4 ½”, and 9″, and if you have the larger Shape Cut™, you can continue to cut at 13 ½” and 18″.

Step 2: Lift the Shape Cut™, remove the excess fabric from squaring up on the left cut, and reposition the ruler with the “dashed” ¼” line, along the left edge of the fabric.

We will now, in essence, cut these double strips in half!

Step 3: Cut in the 2 ½” slot (since the fabric is lined up ¼” from the zero slot, this strip will be 2 ¼”).

Step 4: Add the double cut amount – for our example – 2½” + 4½” = 7″. Cut in this slot, add 4 ½” again, and cut in the 11 ½” slot. If you have the larger ruler, continue by adding 4 ½” for each cut.

SC paper strips

Here’s a chart with all the math done. To open a printable pdf version – click here, then click on the purple lettering with the word attachment in it (I’m not sure why the extra step, but it works).

Shape Cut quarter cut chart

SC Trey matI’d like to close by sharing a short video I took when I couldn’t break Trey’s fascination with the cutting mat. Click here to view it. Grandchildren are such a blessing!

March 19, 2016, Notions
Minot Prairie Quilt Festival

Greetings from Minot, North Dakota,

Minot downtown

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

Minot Prairie Quilt Fest

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

Minot goodies

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


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

Minot Scandinavian Center

The gift shop was filled with interesting characters!

Minot making friends

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

Diane Slickers

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

Diane Slickers2

Congratulations Diane!

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

Minot Rep class

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

Minot ca friends

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


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

Liberty in Sun Prairie


March 13, 2016, Travel
How Beautiful – Liberty!

Statue of Liberty

I have some very exciting news to share. I recently made a third quilt in my “Accordion Door” series, and I just found out it has been accepted into the American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah, KY next month!!! (to see the post about my first two”Accordion Door” quilts click here)

“How Beautiful – Liberty” is one quilt made from three, in a very 3-Dimensional way. Here is the rather unusual front on view:

How Beautiful Liberty full front.Kirsch-web

The view from the left is a Mariner’s Compass/New York Beauty combination quilt:

How Beautiful Liberty full left.Kirsch-web

And from the right – the true New York Beauty – Lady Liberty:

How Beautiful Liberty full right.Kirsch-web

This is a detail shot, looking down from the upper left corner, just to give you some perspective:

How Beautiful, Liberty detail.Kirsch-web

I used a variation of my Repliqué technique, called Raw-Edge Repliqué, to make both quilts on the “Accordion Door”. (I’m hoping to be teaching Raw-Edge Repliqué at the Madison Quilt Expo this September). The background quilt, which everything else hangs from, is embellished down the sides with Shiva Paint Stik™ designs. The words are from the Declaration of Independence, and were made using my Brother Scan n Cut™. You may remember a post covering the making of these letters from October (click here to view it).

As the label on the back of the quilt states, this is: “My tribute to the founding father’s words in the Declaration of Independence, and to all who have served our nation fighting for the rights endowed on us by our Creator.”

This quilt is currently hanging at the Prairie Heritage Quilt Show, in Sun Prairie, WI. The show runs Sunday through Tuesday (click here for show details).

Also, this weekend I have another quilt on display at the Elk’s Lodge in Watertown, WI (my town). The event is called:

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.12.50 PM

“A Festival of Visual, Musical, Theatrical and Literary Arts, and People’s Choice Fine Arts Competition”. The event runs Saturday and Sunday, March 5th & 6th. For the performance schedules: click here, then click on “view” under each date. The art contest I’m participating in is viewer’s choice, so if you live in southeastern Wisconsin I hope you’ll consider taking a road trip to Watertown  🙂 . Sunday afternoon you could actually visit both the Sun Prairie Quilt Show and the Watertown Arts Event!


I’m planning to do a few posts in the near future on some of the techniques used to make “How Beautiful – Liberty!”, but for now thanks for sharing in my excitement!

March 4, 2016, Design
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”  😉 .


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

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 Ombré, 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 😀 . Please email me if you’re interested. To purchase the fabric from AQS click here.

February 28, 2016, Challenges
Artistic Principles

paint night pic

When my kids were little I decided to take a cake decorating class. The first day the teacher said that artistic principles were consistent, no matter what the medium: cake decorating, painting, floral arranging, quilting, etc. all were successful, based on the same things. At that time I didn’t know what color value or composition meant (I have absolutely no background in art – and still don’t feel comfortable drawing free-hand). I had no idea that 30 some years later I would be a fiber artist, but that statement from years ago has stuck with me.

Recently my friend Kay invited the members of our Fiberistas group to a Relay for Life fundraiser – a “Paint Night Event”. You may have heard of these crash courses in art: you pay a fee, meet for 2 hours at a local business, and learn to paint. My first thought was “yeah, right! Me paint a picture in 2 hours”, but the sample (at the beginning of this post) was lovely and half of our group wanted to go. Should I??? Then I thought back to that cake decorating teacher’s comment and decided it was worth a try.

What fun! The teacher, Amy Buchholtz, was great, everything was supplied, and the mood was upbeat. It SOLD OUT! 46 women in the event room at Lyon’s Pub, on Main Street in Watertown, WI.

paint night roomful

We painted for 2 hours with 2 five minute breaks. After break #1 mine looked like this:

paint night first break

It was amazing to be able to create all those colors from red, blue and yellow! I must admit, it was nice to be able to just mix the color needed, but I still like the challenge of finding the perfect fabric to accomplish a goal. That’s part of the fun of quilting.

We continued adding details and everyone left with a finished work. It was fascinating to see the variety that comes from each person having their own vision.

paint night done

Mine certainly isn’t great art, but for my first attempt at painting – I’m pleased, and have already hung it above the computer in my studio. I love the way it matches the calendar (for this month at least).

painting hung

Lori, Barb, Kay and I agreed that it was fun, but we still feel more comfortable with fabric and thread.

I highly recommend trying something new with friends!

And, on a personal note – I’m looking to hire someone to make a stain glass lamp to match (or come close) to one I made from a kit 35 years ago.

stain glass lamp

If you, or someone you know would be interested, please let me know. Thanks!

February 20, 2016, Design
From Ugly Fabric to Valentine Quilt

My Fiberista’s group is having an ugly fabric challenge. In a nutshell: choose an ugly from your stash (where do they come from?), put it in a paper bag, throw bags in a pile, pick a new bag, make something with it. This is the lovely piece I acquired.

Ugly challenge fabric

I must admit, it didn’t seem to match anything in my stash, and I didn’t even know what sort of quilt/project to make with it. I decided the color sort of reminded me of milk chocolate, and with Valentine’s Day coming, I reflected on my favorite candy of the season – chocolate covered strawberries. Mmm! So I pulled out my brown, red, pink and green scraps (green for the stems  😉 ), and went to Pinterest to find some pattern ideas. Nothing grabbed me under “chocolate covered strawberry quilts”, but when I tried “chocolate covered cherries” – BINGO – there were quite a few.

The one that caught my eye was by a quilter/blogger named Susan (visit her blog at It used the Indian Hatchet block, which I’ve shared in previous posts.

Ugly block

This square makes a great autograph block, as seen here in this friendship quilt given to me by my quilting friends when I moved away from Madison (note the signatures in the wide white strips).

autograph quilt Mad City

What if I would use my Indian Hatchet technique, but with skinnier strips? And this is the result – a Valentine table runner:

Ugly challenge 2016

If you haven’t tried this block, it’s simple and a lot of fun.  You’ll need 2 contrasting fabrics. Cut a 3½” square from one and a 1¼” x 6″ strip from the other (feel free to experiment with other sizes – it’s a very “flexible” block).

Cut the square on one diagonal, and begin by folding one triangle in half to make a crease along the long edge with your fingernail. Fold the strip in half and crease it also.

Indian Hatchet block

Line up these creases while aligning the pieces, right sides together.

Indian Hatchet block

Sew the triangle to the strip. I chained many units together and stacked the unused triangles, so they would be in order for the next step, and I made sure I didn’t cut the chain apart.

Ugly triangle 1 chain

Press the seams towards the strips. Then add the second triangle by lining it up evenly inside the first one.

Indian Hatchet block

Separate the chain and press the second seams towards the triangles. Square up the block to 3½” by placing the 45º diagonal through the center of the strip.

 Indian Hatchet block

Next determine your pattern. As you may have noticed in the autograph quilt, the layout was rather abstract and interesting. I thought this time I’d like it more symmetrical, but I decided to ask Sommer (who is always nearby when I’m quilting) if she wanted to make a pattern. Here’s what she came up with for the first 16 blocks (then she lost interest):

Indian Hatchet block layout

I decided I really did prefer the symmetrical placement and she was OK with it. I made 40 blocks and set them 4 x 10.

My “ugly” fabric worked great and the leftover challenge fabric was just the right size for the backing. A quick Valentine table runner done just in time. Plus – the ugly challenge isn’t due until the end of the month. I’m feeling rather virtuous  😀 !

Do you have any fun Valentine projects you’d like to share?

Or how about a quilt you’ve made from an “ugly” challenge?

I’d love to see pictures! Please send them to me at


February 14, 2016, Piecing
Grid Marking

Last week’s Gnome Home blog post was total silliness and fluff. This week’s has information that I hope you will find helpful in your quilting!

I recently surprised myself when I realized I’d never posted about a very helpful tool called the Grid Marker™.

GM mine

Years ago I did freelance work for June Tailor™: demonstrating for them at trade shows, testing their products, designing patterns and stitching samples. It was a delightful learning experience to work on that side of the industry. During my time with them I came up with the idea for the Grid Marker. I am a huge fan of their Shape Cut™ ruler, and felt there was a need for the same type of tool to mark accurate parallel lines. The slots in the ruler are wide enough to accommodate a pencil or marker – and it’s really easy to use!

To make vertical lines, set the bottom horizontal line of the Grid Marker™ along the bottom of the area to be quilted. Choose your favorite marking tool and draw in the slots at your desired increment:

GM verticals

Drawing with the ruler on the left. Accurate lines drawn on the right.

I hope you can see that horizontal lines would need the bottom line of the ruler set along the side of the block. Doing both results in cross-hatching.

To do diagonal lines, choose 45º or 60º, and place that line (I used 60º) along the bottom of the quilt block. Once again, draw in the slots at your desired increment:

GM angles

To do “hanging diamonds” (diagonal cross-hatching), place the other 60º line along the bottom of the block and draw the opposite angled lines:

GM crosshatching

This tool makes quick work out of drawing parallel lines, and it keeps them parallel!

When the Grid Marker™ was introduced, it was chosen as one of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine’s top 3 tools of the year! June Tailor™ continues to sell the Grid Marker™, but the newer version isn’t quite as long as my ancient and well used one.

Grid Marker

You can find them on the June Tailor™ website, at JoAnn’s, and hopefully at your local quilt shop.


February 7, 2016, Notions
From Thread Tails to Gnome Home

Last year the small challenge at the Milwaukee Art Quilters was entitled: “3-D Abodes”. As I noodled on what to create, I glanced at a bag of thread tails given to be by a long arm quilter. It was a wonderful mix of colors, and I had been adding to it for a year or so. So here come the “what ifs”!

What if I sandwiched the mass of threads between black tulle and free motion quilted it into a new “fabric”?

create fabric from thread tails

What if I embellished it with beads, and I got out that thread spinner I purchased and never used, and made more embellishments?

spin threads into ropes

What if I combined it all into a “gnome home”?

So I jumped in, layered, quilted and shaped the mass of threads into an abode by sewing a bunch of darts and pleats into the created “fabric”. Once embellished it looked like this:

I admit it’s weird, and I had to sew many arcs of plastic tubing to the inside to get it to stand up – and that was rather temporary. So, once the challenge was unveiled and photographed, I took it home and thought seriously about just throwing it away. Instead I tossed it on a shelf, and ignored it for months. Then one day Sommer asked me about it. I put it on the floor and she had a blast putting daddy’s old Star Wars figures in it. Problem is – it kept collapsing.

gh play

Once I realized it was a new favorite toy, I needed a fix, and it came in the form of a plastic jug. With a little glue and stapling it is now stable, and Princess Leia loves it!

gh jug save

So does Princess Sommer!

gh princess Sommer

If you know of a venue to exhibit the 3-D Abode challenge pieces, please let me know. It is a fascinating group of fiber art structures and we’d love to have them seen and enjoyed!

January 31, 2016, Embellishing Kids
No More Ruler Slipping!

Just when I think I have every ruler I could ever need, a new one becomes available that I can’t resist!!!

slidelock pic

A few month’s ago I put out a request on this blog from my friend Barb who was having problems rotary cutting. I didn’t get any responses – until this email from Barb herself 🙂 :

“A while back I asked you if you had any great ideas for cutting fabric since my vision has deteriorated. I know you were asking around, but since I hadn’t heard anything from you, figured that you were having about as much luck as I was in trying to find something that would help.

       Yesterday, while at our Tuesday morning quilting group, one of my ladies shared a gift she had received for Christmas–it may well be the answer. I am sending you the link (it has a great video demonstrating the tool and how it works). I tried it at quilting yesterday and it is amazing!  If you know anyone else who is having problems with vision and cutting their fabric, you might want to share the link with them.”

I went to the site, watched the video, and was very impressed! I have many students who struggle with the ruler slipping while cutting. If you fit into that category – you’ll want to know more about the Quilter’s Slidelock™. It’s a very clever tool. It has rubber snubbers and springs:

slidelock springs

The rubber snubbers are retracted in the normal ruler position, so the tool can slide easily across the fabric.

slidelock up

But when gentle pressure is applied to the handle, the rubber snubbers go down, touch the fabric and hold everything in place so there is no ruler slipping while cutting the entire length of the Slidelock!

slidelock down

I’ve tried it and it really works! The video on their website is very good and you can order your own Slidelock™ from their site:

Since this is my blog 😉 , I want to share some thoughts of mine about rotary cutting, along with my preferred way to use this wonderful tool.

Many quilters like to line their fabric up with the lines on the cutting mat, then line the ruler up with these lines also.

slidelock mat line

I find I’m not as accurate with this method because there are three entities to keep track of: mat, fabric and ruler, and if the fabric moves without my notice, it’s easy to get “V” strips. This is the way the Slidelock™ is used in their instructions. When I rotary cut, I prefer not using the lines on the cutting mat, instead I simply align the ruler with the fold of the fabric. In this way I only have to watch the ruler and the fabric, and if I cut perpendicular to the fabric fold, I always get straight strips.

Now be aware that there are no measurements on the Slidelock™ – making it more of a tool than a ruler. With just a little bit of noodling, I came up with a technique I’m really liking. Please remember, this is just my opinion, everyone needs to try it out and decide which method they prefer 😀 .

I started by marking a line at the bottom of my Slidelock™ perpendicular to the cutting edge.

slidelock line

I then aligned this mark with the fold of my fabric to square the fabric up (I’m demonstrating in a right hand fashion, but it is easy to reverse this technique for lefties).

Slidelock fold line

Push down on the handle to engage the rubber bumpers,

slidelock square 1

and cut.

slidelock square2

Don’t you love the way the edge of the Slidelock™ glows? This makes it very easy to see what you’re cutting! Now that the fabric is squared, it’s time to cut strips. There’s no need to turn the cutting mat, or walk around the table. Simply grab a 6″ x 24″ ruler and line it up on the right side of the fabric (this is different then we’re used to, but stick with me 🙂 ). I’ve decided to cut a 2 ¼” strip.

slidelock strip1

Butt the Slidelock™ up to the ruler, then press down on the Slidelock™,

slidelock strip2

slide the ruler away,

slidelock strip3

and cut!

slidelock strip4

It is helpful to continue to align the perpendicular mark at the bottom of the Slidelock™ with the fold of the fabric to make sure you’re always cutting perpendicular to the fold (even though I neglected to do so in the pictures above – sorry).

Whichever method is used for the Slidelock™, the original, or mine, I feel it is a great tool that fixes a very common cutting problem.

I’d like to send a big thank-you to Barb for telling me about the Slidelock™.

Thoughts or opinions??? I’d love to read them in a comment to this post. Thanks!

January 23, 2016, Notions
Tie Dye Baby – Results

After last week’s baby shower, all of the excitement of Christmas and flying across the country twice to transport grandkids took its toll. I spent the rest of the weekend as a couch potato. On Monday I realized I hadn’t rinsed the dye out of the baby things. Rinsing and washing was a bit of an undertaking, but mom and I persevered and the results were fun, fun, fun!

All the pieces went from this:

dying done blog

to the following pictures. My sister-in-law, Mary Sue, dyed mommy’s shirt and Scott’s Mom did his:

tie dye baby

The burp cloths (made from cloth diapers) were colorful fun:

tie dye baby

The onsies look great (notice how Sommer and Trey’s monkeys did a bit of photo-bombing  🙂 ):

tie dye baby

and the terry cloth bibs will look great on baby. They won’t show a bit of drool, dribble or food:

tie dye baby

Everything is folded and ready to deliver with great expectations!

tie dye done

Can’t wait for our sweet little girl to arrive!

January 17, 2016, Dyeing
Tie Dye Baby 2

When our son and daughter-in-law were expecting Sommer, I had a “tie dye” baby shower for Betsy and her friends. We tie dyed bibs, burp cloths and onsies – and had a lot of fun! (click here to read that post).

Sommer is almost 4 now (I can’t believe how fast time flies!), and my niece is expecting her first child – a little girl. So my Mom, Betsy and I decided to throw a tie dye baby shower for Brianne this past Saturday! This time we really had fun with the theme. Betsy made wonderful decorations and we even found a local bakery that made us tie dyed cupcakes – inside and out!

tie dye cupcakes

tie dye cupcakes blog

They were as delicious as they were beautiful. After brunch we headed to Mike’s shed, put on our plastic garbage bags,  and the dying began!

dying - Betsy,Sommer blog

Betsy and Sommer

tie dyed baby shower

My Aunt and cousins

My Mom, Brianne and great grandchild #9

My Mom, Brianne and great grandchild #9

A lovely group of fabric dyers :-)

Everyone did a great job! I sure hope this little girl likes bright colors. Here’s what it all looked like when we were done:

dying done blog

These pieces were covered with plastic and left to set while we went in for gift opening. I’ll share the finished pieces, after they’re rinsed and dried. I can’t wait to see how they all turn out!

Here’s a parting shot that should make you smile. Mom and I did a baby shower idea search on the internet and a picture of a unique fruit salad made us laugh out loud. I had to make it. I’m sure Scott and Brianne’s baby will be much cuter  😀  !

baby melonhead shower fruit salad

January 10, 2016, Dyeing
I’ve Discovered Pinterest!

Before I get to this week’s topic, I wanted to post the promised picture of my niece and nephews with their new scarves. They were a hit!

Von scarves

And now for some true confessions:

It’s crazy, I know, but I’ve gone into every step of this technological age kicking and screaming. My friend Di talked me into doing this blog (she’s the one who did a wonderful job of building my website and she can be reached at She needed to do a lot of convincing, because I really wasn’t sure I could do it. I’ve had this same feeling about all of the social media universe. I’m just a little slow to jump into the unknown, but so grateful to Di because I really love doing this blog! So what’s next???

Well, a while ago I signed into Pinterest. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I found some interesting stuff on the site, pinned it to my page, and that was about it. Occasionally I’d look things up, but have never really gotten in to it. When I posted the blog about Connie Yersin’s tree skirts I thought her story was so wonderful I wanted to share it with as many people as I could. This led me to think I should figure out a way to get it on Pinterest. What I discovered is that a whole bunch of my blog postings are already out there. In fact, I have a “source” page on Pinterest! Who knew? Here’s a screenshot of that page:

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 10.35.46 PM

You can see it at:

One of the main reasons I started to do this blog was to share information. It’s amazing how fast, and in how many ways the internet spreads ideas around! What I found most interesting was the pictures from my previous posts that were pinned the most often. By far my most popular one was my technique for turning a block on point (the blue/black star repeated many times in the screen shot above). You may visit that very popular post (Praise the Lord!) at:, or continue to read this post, as I’ve re-pasted the instructions at the bottom.

Woo Hoo! I’m a teacher at heart and I’m thrilled to have my blog posts be a help to others. I wonder what other ways my blog is getting around.

Would you like to know how to use Pinterest (be careful, it can be addicting and the hours will fly by)? Just go to: sign up and jump in. Once you’re signed up, please feel free to “pin” any of my posts/pictures you find helpful! This would help me to share with even more quilters, and I thank you in advance 😀 .

Do you do Pinterest? What do you like best about it? Any suggestions or recommendations?

Turning a Block on Point

1. Square up the block. Then place a square ruler over the block as in the picture:

turning a block on point

The diagonal line of the ruler is lining up along the vertical center of the block, and the upper corners of the block are at the same measurement along the rulers edges (mine are at about 6 1/4″).

2. Add 2″ to this measurement and cut 2 squares of your chosen corner fabric this size (mine were cut 8 1/4″). Cut both these squares on 1 diagonal.

turning a quilt block on point

This will yield 4 triangle with the bias on the long, diagonal edge. By cutting the triangles this way, the outside of the block being created will be on the straight-of-grain.

3. Place a triangle, right sides together, along one side of the original square. To center it, make sure the point of the triangle is on the center seam of the block. If your block doesn’t have a center seam, press it in half in both directions, and line the point of the triangle up with your creases.

turning a quilt block on point

4. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance and press the seam towards the triangle. There will be portions of the triangle not stitched down on the sides.

5. Repeat for the opposite side of the block.

turning a quilt block on point

6. Repeat for the remaining 2 sides. This time the seam will go the entire length of the long edge of the triangle.

turning a quilt block on point

7. Square up the block to the desired size.

turning a quilt block on point


January 3, 2016, Computers and Quilting
A New Twist on Fleece Scarves

I’m posting this message from a motel room in Portland, OR. I had a lovely Christmas celebration with my Wisconsin family yesterday. This morning (Saturday), I got on a plane to pick up my grandchildren, Hanna and Willy, and bring them back to Wisconsin for 9 days of fun!

I usually post on Sunday but, since tomorrow will be a very busy day (everybody wants to see the kids as soon as we get back!), they’re helping me get this out tonight.

HandW 12-15 blog

So here it is …

Shortly before Christmas Mike’s brother and family from Iowa let us know they were going to be able to come for a quick visit between Christmas and New Years. I decided, rathScreen Shot 2015-12-23 at 11.29.50 PMer last minute, that I wanted to make something for the kids. Not knowing what they needed, I said to myself “kids in the midwest can always use a fleece scarf”. (Stay tuned for a slick trick using the June Tailor Shape Cut™ ruler).

Kallie’s winter coat is dark purple, so I chose a pretty, light purple fleece with a hand-dyed look. Kade is a huge Milwaukee Brewers fan, so his was a no-brainer. But Kyle is a freshman in college. That was going to be a little tougher to choose. After a bit of noodling, an idea hit – look up his school colors. He’s going to Iowa State and the Cyclone’s colors are red and gold. Of course, I couldn’t find any fleece in that color scheme, so further noodling was required. JoAnn’s did have fleece in each of the needed colors, so I bought a 1/4 yard of each and:

Rotary cut them the exact same size, pin together and stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance along one long side:

fleece scarf, college colors scarf

Turn 5″ from an end:

fleece scarf college colors

Stitch to the opposite long side and repeat:

fleece scarf college colors

Place the Shape Cut™ ruler on top of one end of the scarf, with the cross seam at the bottom of the tear drop openings in the ruler, and the “O” slot along the left side of the scarf:

fleece scarf, college colors, Shape+cut ruler

Cut in the 1″ slot, and repeat every inch to make fringe:

fleece scarf, college color scarf, Shape cut ruler

Next I cut a large “I” from freezer paper and ironed it to the scarf (see second picture below for placement). I stitched along the edge of the paper,

college fleece scarf

removed it and repeated this process on the other end of the scarf. With a sharp scissors I trimmed the red fabric away from inside the “I” on one end of the scarf, and the yellow fabric away on the other:

college fleece scarf, scarves team colors

This was a simple and quick project that I feel turned out quite well. The kids will get their scarves tomorrow, so I’ll try to remember to take a picture and post it next week.

I wish I had been able to post this idea a month before Christmas, in case some of you might have wanted to make these for your high school or college age kids. Oh well, it’s never too late to start thinking about next year  😀 !

December 27, 2015, Uncategorized
Crazy Quilt Christmas Stocking

My daughter-in-law recently texted me this picture with the message “something seems to be missing :-)”.

crazy quilt christmas stockings

Well, the empty hook belongs to Trey and, since this is his first Christmas, grandma needs to get busy! I made Brad, Betsy and Sommer’s stockings using my own drawing of a stocking and “crazy piecing”, without all the thread embellishment typical of Crazy Quilting. The year after Sommer’s was made Betsy asked me to teach her how to do this, so she could make bone-shaped stockings for their dogs. She’s a quick study!

I thought some of you might like to know how to “crazy piece”. Here’s my version:

  •  Choose your favorite stocking pattern and cut out the basic shape, to size, from muslin or some undesirable fabric (like this pink stripe I attempted to snow dye in blue, with lousy results. It will be completely covered, so it works well here). I then gather up fabric scraps and leftover “pieced units” in appropriate colors.
  • To begin, pin a scrap or “pieced unit” with an odd shape and an odd number of sides to the fabric base – like the black/green/red “pieced unit” below. Lay a new scrap along one edge, right sides together, and stitch in place: CQS begin 1
  • Fold this new piece open and press. Since this process will be repeated many times, I like to use a wallpaper roller, instead of keeping an iron hot for the duration.crazy quilt stocking
  • Repeat this along all sides of your shape. Strips can be used, but it also adds interest to attach triangles and odd shaped pieced.Crazy quilt stockingCrazy quilt stocking
  • When edges get long, select a “pieced unit” again, or feel free to sew some smaller chunks together into “pieced units” and then add them to the crazy quilting. CQS adding pieced unitCQS pressing pieced unit
  • Continue in this manner until the base fabric is covered.
  • There may be times when things look a little ragged. Then just grab a long, wide strip, CQS adding cleaner upper 1lay it over everything and stitch, lay it over everything, fold back and press. crazy quilt stockingWhen you’ve covered a portion of an edge, it’s a good idea to stitch from the back, close to the outer edge of the base fabric, crazy quilt stocking

and then trim the excess away.crazy quilt stockingContinue until the base pattern is covered.

crazy quilt stocking

7.  Cut out a reverse pattern from backing fabric and two linings also (one and one reverse). Because mine has a cuff, it needs to be sewn between the stocking and lining pieces. The crazy quilt is sewn to one lining piece, and the backing fabric to the other.

crazy quilt stocking

8.  Then these pieces are put right sides together and sewn all the way around, leaving a 3″ opening somewhere in the lining for turning.

9.  Turn it right side out, stitch the opening closed, push the lining into the stocking and press. Add a hanging loop and you’re done!

#crazyquiltstocking, #crazyquilt, #stockingTrey’s stocking is now hanging with all the others – ready for Christmas.

crazy quilted christmas stockings, #Christmasstockings, #crazyquilt



Each year I spend time focusing on the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus, the Savior of the world, who came to earth in human flesh to save humanity from the curse of sin. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16. What an awesome gift! It gives meaning to everything else in our lives. My Christmas wish for you is that you may know Him as your Savior. Merry Christmas!


PS Here’s just one last picture to make you smile:

Sommer cookies for web

December 20, 2015, Piecing
Cookie Nana and the Seven Tree Skirts

This is a Christmas story I think you’re going to love! It may be a little long, but it’s worth taking the time to read 🙂 !

Connie came to my Open Lab class with a unique project idea. She had inherited a huge bin of handmade doilies from her husband’s grandmother – and she had a plan!


She wanted to make them into tree skirts, but didn’t have a pattern. I started by asking her the story of the doilies. She told me the story of:

“Anna Yersin” Cookie Nana

“Anna Yersin’s hands were never idle. Her days were filled with the duties of wife and mother. In the evening she crocheted or tatted, for many years by the light of an oil lamp. Hand crocheted whole table cloths have been passed down to family members through the years. The crocheted doilies, dresser scarves and table runners used in these tree skirts were found in the homes of her and her children. While Anna may not have made all of them, certainly the bulk of them were her handiwork.

strudelScreen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.43.34 PMAnna was also a great cook and baker. Her chicken and dumplings with apple strudel for dessert were family favorites. It was, however, her cookies that inspired her oldest Great Grandson Michael Scott to call her “COOKIE NANA.” At the age of 3 he had no idea how appropriate the name was.

During WWII Cookie Nana sent cookies to service men, not a simple task since sugar and butter were rationed. She continued this practice even after the war, always supporting those who served. Her children, now married with families, always had cookie jars in their kitchens filled with her cookies. Her cookie baking was especially prolific at Christmas. She began her baking after Halloween.   Not too early when you understand that she baked 25 to 35 different types of Christmas cookies, many of which were decorated and intricately done. She also doubled and tripled many of the recipes. The cookies were packaged for mailing and sent all over the United States to family and friends. She filled large sturdy department store gift boxes with cookies for her children and grandchildren. This was her Christmas gift to her family. In turn, we never had trouble deciding what to give Cookie Nana for Christmas or Birthday gifts. We gave her flour, sugar, butter, postage, nuts, chocolate, the list was endless.

Cookie Nana gladly shared her recipes, loved to share her secrets, but, no one in the family has ever been able to exactly duplicate her cookies. She was blessed with a gift, and we are blessed to call her our “Cookie Nana.”

The story continues with Connie’s memories:

The process of designing and sewing the tree skirts triggered many of my own memories of Grandma Yersin, “Cookie Nana.” When I married Bob, Grandma gave us a wedding gift that I came to realize carried great meaning. I was now a Yersin, and every Yersin household had a Kitchenaid mixer. Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.19.00 PMIn 1970 Kitchenaid was not sold in department stores. It was purchased through the Hobart Co., maker of heavy duty commercial mixers. At the time I wondered what I was supposed to do with this tall machine sitting on my counter since it didn’t fit anywhere else. Forty five years later it is still on my counter. It has never been repaired and is continues to be the workhorse of my kitchen.

When I was pregnant with Jill(1973), I spent one whole very hot summer day at Grandma’s house learning how to make strudel. She gave me a special table cloth to be used when I “pull” the dough. Yes the dough is pulled from the bottom and stretched until very thin, later to be used in the layers of the pastry. “You have great fingers for pulling the dough” she said, but, though I may have great fingers, I didn’t have her stamina. I never again made strudel by pulling the dough, not after I learned about phyllo dough!

I fondly remember, The Farm. Cookie Nana and her husband Anton bought 6 acres of land in Franklin, WI on 35th and Puetz Road in 1945. The 2 buildings built closest to the road were summer homes for Adolf and Philip. The lower building close to the pond belonged to the senior Yersins. There was electricity, beds, stoves, and sinks, but no Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 9.24.26 PMrunning water and no bathrooms in these buildings. The outhouse was centrally located on the land. While most of the acreage was grass, large gardens were planted every spring. Many of my unforgettable memories were from the frequent summer picnics on a 20 foot long picnic table housed in a large screen house. We never knew how many relatives, friends, or neighbors would stop by.   Cookie Nana came from the old country where the women were the cooks and the men always came first. The Yersin women were all outstanding cooks and always made plenty to share. These wonderful meals were then followed by card playing and baseball games.  

In closing Grandma’s house I chose 3 things that are currently used in my home.   I have Grandmas cake decorating kit. I absolutely love it. It is made of stainless steel, with interchangeable decorating tips. I use it every Christmas for my decorated Christmas cookies. I also have her oil lamp. Phil always told me it was the lamp he used for studying before they got electricity. It is displayed on an antique Singer treadle machine in our entryway. I also have a glass basket. It had a paper taped to the bottom, “Wedding Gift from Mama 1912.” Inside the basket, I have placed her tatting tool with about 18” of tatting. It was labeled the last tatting Grandma was working on. I found the tatting in the box of crocheted items used in the tree skirts.”


After a bit of brain storming, Connie decided to make the tree skirts “dresden plate” fashion and to place a doily at the rounded end of each “blade”, whether they were round or not.”

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

Now the question was, how do you attach the doilies and keep packages from catching on them. The answer: cover each blade with tulle (sparkle tulle added to the Christmas charm), layer and quilt.

doily tree skirt

Once they were quilted, she sewed them together with the “reversible quilt as you go” technique I’ve shared previously (click here to read about it).

doily tree skirts

Then she finished the outer edge by attaching lace with a facing.

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

Connie set a goal that she’d have them all done by Thanksgiving – and she did it!

doily tree skirts

She printed the story shared above on labels she has lovingly handstitched to the back of each tree skirt. What wonderful Christmas gifts her children have to look forward to!

doily tree skirts, #doilies, #treeskirt

Great job Connie! Thank you so much for sharing your talents and your family story with us!

If you enjoyed Connie’s story as much as I did, feel free to comment to this post. I’ll make sure she receives any and all comments 😀 !

December 12, 2015, Inspiration
Turkish Textiles

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 1.00.57 AM

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


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

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

Pamuk is the Turkish word for cotton.

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 1.07.59 AM

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

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

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


December 6, 2015, Travel
Faux Piped Binding

faux piping

I recently learned a very easy way to get the look of a piped binding, with a lot less effort than the traditional method (it’s the little sliver of blue, next to the binding in the quilt above). The best part is that it is all done by machine – no hand finishing! I’m posting it for my friend Laura, who hasn’t seen it yet, and for any of you who are in the same boat 🙂 .  Here it is in 5 easy steps.

  1. Cut binding strips 1 3/8″ wide (one and three eighths -sorry, the blog font looks wierd in odd fractions). Cut enough to go around the entire quilt and piece together, end to end. Cut piping strips 1 5/8″ wide (one and five eighths), and piece together as you did with the binding strips. It seems a little wierd that the piping strip is wider than the binding strip, but trust me – it works!
  2. Sew the binding strip (black) to the piping strip(blue), with a ¼” seam allowance.faux piping
  3. Press the seam towards the binding strip,faux piping then press the strip in half, wrong sides together.faux piping
  4. Align the raw edges of this binding unit with the outer edge of the quilt, on the back of the quiltpiping side up, and attach with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  5. Turn the binding to the front of the quilt and pin or clip in place, mitering the corners. Stitch in the ditch between the binding and the piping, in a color thread to match the piping.faux pipingVoila! A great look with only a little extra effort. Please let me know if you use this technique – and what you think!

November 29, 2015, finishing
Fiber Art Earrings

Greetings from snowy Wisconsin (I couldn’t resist including a picture – large pre-Thanksgiving snows are not that common here)!

snow 11-15


Before I get to my new “topic of the week”, I wanted to thank everyone whocloset clean mags gone commented on my “Closet Clean-up” post a few weeks ago. Many of you expressed a concern that recycling the magazines might deprive others of their value. You will be happy to know that someone did claim them and Mike was  kind enough to “dumpster dive”, and put all the loose ones into boxes for me to deliver 🙂 .

Then Judy sent me an email about her own Closet Clean-up adventure which involved a trip to the container store and a clever way of labeling. Here’s what she wrote:

“Chris: I really wanted to tell you how much I admire and am always searching for those  perfect solutions to sewing room organization.  Last year, I was able to move my sewing room into a bigger space thanks to my really awesome husband.  That space came with an enormous walk-in closet!!  I wasn’t sure how to organize my stash, so one trip to The Container Store and voila!!  Men’s shoe boxes from The Container Store are the perfect size for your stash!!  I then bought chalkboard fabric and labeled each box.  They are also the perfect size for projects.  Here’s a picture to share.”

And here’s the picture:

Judy Fox storage pic

Chalkboard fabric! What a great idea! It looks so much better than my taped on “scrap paper scribblings”, and the labels are easy to change. Thanks Judy!


And now for my “topic of the week”:

I have a new pair of hand made, fiber art earrings – and I love them!

Earrings by Sher

I receive many compliments every time I wear them. Here is a little about the earrings:

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.01.44 PM

Now, let me tell you about their maker. I met Sharon Rotz when we taught together at a retreat in Central Wisconsin. We hit it off right away and have become good friends. I’ve mentioned Sharon in a number of previous blog posts because we’ve had the chance to exhibit our work together, and I’ve been inspired by her books and techniques. We’ve also collaborated on 4 quilts together: “Tumbles the Cat”,

tumbles the cat quilt

“Two Friends Monkeying Around”,

Quilt - Two Friends Monkeying Around

“The Rose of Chris and Sharon”,


and “Goyne Round in Circles”.

Goyne Round in Circles

Sharon is an incredible talent and It’s been a joy to quilt together. Now she’s on to a new adventure with her hand-made jewelry and, like everything else she does, it is incredibly creative and well done. Please visit Sharon’s website:  to see her wonderful work.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 9.03.53 PM

I highly recommend clicking on her jewelry page, you just may need to own a Sharon Rotz original!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all !!!


November 22, 2015, Uncategorized
The International Quilt Study Center and Museum

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

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

walsh blog

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

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 1.52.43 PM

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

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

Lincoln Ardis collection

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

Lincoln quilt house

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

Lincoln African

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

Lincoln Michael James

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

Lincoln war quilts

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

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

Lincoln needles

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

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



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

Lincoln FA2

Lincoln FA3

Lincoln FA4

Lincoln FA1

Lincoln trees

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

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


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


Sew We Go Adriatic, #sewwego, #quiltadventure,

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

Adriatic Cruise

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

Norwegian Jade

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

So what ports of call will we be visiting?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Send the completed form

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

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

(Do not send credit card information via email.)

Questions? 262-786-6763 or

November 7, 2015, Travel
Closet Clean-up

Two years ago I wrote a blog post entitled “Magazine Issues” in which I shared my frustration with my “collection” of old quilting magazines. My system was to put them in boxes and shove them in the bottom of the closet. From there I started just stacking them on the boxes:


(to read that post click here!). Many quilters responded to that post with great suggestions on how to organize my mess, but as of 3 days ago it still looked like this photo, plus 2 more year’s accumulation! Ugh!

A few months ago we had a professional organizer speak to our guild. She helped me face the fact that I hadn’t looked at a single one of these magazines after they found a dark home in the closet. Obviously I don’t need them. What I do need is space! I’ve cleaned and organized most areas of my sewing room a time or two in the 11 years we’ve lived here, but THAT closet had not been cleaned, in fact, it just kept getting more and more stuff shoved into it. I finally reached the point that no more would fit, and I had new stuff piling up in the rest of the studio with no place to put it. Since I just finished my 5 month long competition quilt, and the room was closing in on me, I decided enough was enough. Now what did that professional say I should do???

Oh yeah! Pull everything out of the area you want to organize (that way you can’t quit half way 🙂 )

cleaning my sewing room closet

I didn’t think to take the picture until after I had folded my medium/large quilts and re-filled a shelf with them – progress already!

I emptied the closet during the kid’s naps last Thursday. When Trey woke up I went upstairs to get him, that’s when Mike came home – looked at my studio – and asked me who I was mad at (it was a fast and furious mess). I guess the answer would be me, for letting it get so out of hand.

Since I hadn’t looked at a single old magazine, I decided it was time to “release” them. Most of my friends already have a lot of magazines of their own, so I “bit the bullet” and dumped them in the recycle bin. Actually, there were so many, and they were so heavy, that half will have to wait until next recycle day (the boxes in front of the bin).

closet clean mags gone

The recycling doesn’t get picked up until Thursday. If anyone wants them, let me know and I’d be happy to pull them out for you to pick up.

Well, yesterday I had an entire rainy, “non-babysitting” day, and this is what my studio looked like after one trip to the store for bins, and before Mike took me out to dinner to celebrate a hard day’s work:

cleaning my sewing room closet

And here’s the pile of stuff that’s going to my guild’s rummage sale:

cleaning my sewing room closet

There are still a few odds and ends to be put away, but many of my closet bins now have breathing room in them. Ahh! Next, I need to clean up the rest of the room once again. I think I’ll take a week off. And, oh yeah, there’s another challenge quilt I was thinking of making  😀 !

Cleaning does make one feel virtuous, but a person can only clean so much before they deserve a reward!

PS I still love quilting magazines. So, for a short while now, I’ve been much better about what I do with my new issues. I read them, copy anything I want out of them, and place the issue on the “share” table at my next guild meeting. This way I don’t have to “clean it up” later, and my friends benefit.

November 1, 2015, sewing space/studio
Best Pumpkin Seeds Ever!

This past week I finished the quilt I’ve been working on since May. I’m so excited to share it, but the timing isn’t right because I want to enter it in a competition. So…

Occasionally I put a “non-quilting” post on my blog – if I think it will appeal to many of you – and I think this one will! But before I get started, I need your help. My Mom was going through stuff recently and gave me an envelope full of pins, needles and sewing “odds and ends” from a distant Aunt. There were two very unique needles and I wonder if any of you know what they were used for. The top is brass color and the rest is a metallic blue (they look more silver in the picture). They’re flat and 2 ¾” long.

weird needles

Any ideas??? There was also one odd pin. The head is a large ball, about the size of the yellow head on a quilting pin, and it was hollow with 4 openings where it attached to the shank. The shank is 1 ¼” long. Anyone seen one of these?

weird pin

Thanks in advance for any information you can share.


Autumn is my favorite time of year!

So why would a quilter blog about pumpkin seeds? Because these are truly the best I’ve ever tasted. My son told us about a nearby farm that sells a medium sized pumpkin, orange with green speckles, that has hull-less seeds.

kakai pumpkins

This pumpkin variety is called Kakai. The seeds are fat and green.

Best Pumpkin Seeds Ever

My Sister-in-law gave me a recipe a few years back that requires no washing of the seeds. Her recipe makes crisp and yummy seeds from regular pumpkins, but when combined with the Kakai seeds – DELICIOUS!

pumpkin seeds cooked

Mary Sue’s Pumpkin Seeds

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin into a large bowl (should have enough to make a single layer on a large cookie sheet – the picture above was from all 3 Kakai pumpkins). Pull off as much fiber as you easily can, but do not wash the seeds. In a microwave safe bowl melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in ½ to 1  tablespoon salt (depending on your taste), a dash of garlic powder and a dash of Worchestershire Sauce. Mix together and pour over seeds. Stir until seeds are covered. Spread in a sided cookie sheet and bake at 300º for 1 to 1 ½ hours (until crisp).


Now I’d like to leave you with a few Autumn smiles. Happy October everyone!

Autumn Sommer Sommer leaves Autumn Trey

Trey pumpkin

October 25, 2015, Uncategorized
Creativity Studio

This past week I had the opportunity to stop by Wendy’s Monday quilt-in. Wendy Rieves is my “quilt adventure traveling partner”, co-teacher and all round dear friend. She is the manager of Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, plus she teaches at WCTC, and each Monday she invites any interested quilters to drop in to her Creativity Studio, which she holds at her church, and sew for a while.

Wendy's Creativity Studio

She provides encouragement, help with project problems, and home-made soup and bread  😀 !

Wendy's Creativity Studio

The ladies love it! Many of the quilters who were there are regulars, but she has many others stop by when they have quilting questions, or just want to have a little stitching and socializing time.

I’ve heard about this for years, but never attended until this week. I had a quilting “emergency” and it was Wendy to the rescue! I’ve been working on a challenge quilt for months and have a deadline of November 2nd. I realized that the words I wanted to add to the quilt would work best if cut with one of those new-fangled machines. Wendy has a Brother Scan-n-Cut, so I called Frank’s to ask Wendy about it and place my order. The problem was that it wasn’t going to arrive in time, so she offered to bring hers with her on Monday for me to use.

While the smell of simmering vegetables wafted through the air, I began to learn how to use the Scan n Cut.

Wendy scan n cut

It was amazing. I programmed in the letters I wanted, put iron on fusible on the back of my fabric, attached it to the cutting mat, and fed it into the machine. A few short minutes later I had fusible letters, in just the size and font I wanted! Removing the letters from the mat was a bit tedious

Wendy scan n cut letters

but well worth the effort. By the time I had all 5 pages cut and moved to fabric for transport home,

Wendy scan n cut letters2

lunch was ready and I was invited to stay. It was delicious – and the company was delightful!

You’ll have to wait to see what I’m doing with all those letters. I can’t wait to share this new project with you once it’s done.

If you would like more information about Wendy’s Creativity Studio, you can contact her at:

Thanks to Wendy and her Monday ladies for a fun, yummy, and very productive morning!


Also, here’s another opportunity for those of you living in Southeastern Wisconsin. My quilt guild, Patched Lives in Wales, along with Crazy Quilters in Mukwonago, are hosting Mickey Depre as our speaker and teacher in November. Mickey is a very talented and entertaining quilter and you’re welcome to be a part of this event. Here’s the information:

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For a picture of the workshop project and the supply list go to:

For more information, or to sign up for the workshop, contact Kathy Frye:

Mickey’s books were recently reviewed on –

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To read the rest of the article, go to

October 18, 2015, Uncategorized
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 – and 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  😉 . 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 Repliqué 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 Repliqué 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  🙂 )

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
Elegance in Stitches

Last week I shared pictures of the Milwaukee Art Quilter’s Color Wheel Opposite exhibit at the Madison Quilt Expo. One of the other special exhibits was entitled “Elegance in Stitches” featuring the work of my dear friend Joanie Zeier Poole.

Joanie Poole quilter

Joanie and I have been friends since the late 80’s, when we were both members of the Prairie Heritage Quilt Guild and helped to hang the Sun Prairie Quilt Show together each year.

It’s been a joy to watch Joanie find her place in the quilt world and she has become a machine quilting wonder. Her Heirloom Machine Quilting is beautiful and award winning.

Joanie Poole quilter

Joanie Poole quilter

Joanie Poole quilter

She has written a number of books and teaches many great lectures and workshops.

Joanies fan Joanie Poole quilter

Information for all of the above can be found on her website:

Joanie Poole quilter

She recently also launched her blog where she shares loads of tips and techniques:

Joanies blog pic

If your guild is looking for a knowledgable and engaging speaker/teacher – I highly recommend her!

Congratulations on a wonderful exhibit Joanie!


October 4, 2015, Uncategorized
Madison Quilt Expo 2015

I think this year’s Expo was better than ever! They say attendance was up 4% over last year and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. It has really become a national level quilt show.

I headed to Madison the day before the big show began to hang a special exhibit of quilts by the Milwaukee Art Quilters. As I pulled into the parking lot I saw the Ducky car. It’s here every year and lets me know the fun is about to begin!

Ducky Car

The Marq exhibit was entitled “Color Wheel Opposites” and the quilts looked great (if I do say so myself  🙂  ).

Expo 2015 marq1 Expo 2015 marq2

From there I checked into my hotel room and set up a mini-studio.

Expo 2015 Clarion

I spent the afternoon happily stitching away on my latest challenge quilt. I don’t tend to get much quantity/quality quilting time while watching 2 small children, so this was a treat. My husband is amazing – he had Sommer and Trey all to himself for three days and did a great job – while I ran away to the Quilt Expo. I’m very blessed!

Wendy arrived late in the afternoon and set up her machine. We had a lovely evening of eating, sewing and giggles.

The next day the show began. I presented my Great Finishes lecture each morning of the show and then taught a class I call “Quilt, Slash, Create” in the afternoons. This class is a crazy way of playing with fabric that turns 4 fat quarters of fabric into 2 reversible art quilts! The students were fantastic! Here are a few pictures of the fun:

Expo class2 Expo class3 Expo class4 Expo class5 Expo class6 Expo class7

Expo class 1

The quilts in the show were very inspiring, the Fall Challenge quilts were delightful,the vendors were enticing, spending time with friends was the best, and … I can’t wait for next year!

Did you make it to Expo this year? What was your favorite part?

September 27, 2015, Classes
A Lunch Bunch Quilt – Part 3

Binding an Inside Corner

Every so often a quilt comes along that has an odd outer edge – the question is “how do you bind it?” This was a problem I had to overcome in the Lunch Bunch quilt I’ve been sharing with you. Because the quilt was done “quilt as you go” style, in columns, I ended up with an interesting bottom edge.

in corner 1 - whole edge

All the corners are right angles. The “outside” corners are easy – they miter like the corners on a square or rectangular quilt. The “inside” corners are a bit trickier, but not too bad if you know the “tricks”.

1. Begin by stay-stitching, inside the seam line, about 2″ from both sides of the inside corner “pivot point”.

in corner 2 stay stitch

2. Clip to the stay-stitching “pivot point”, stopping a few threads from the stitching.

in corner 3 clip 3. Attach the binding down one side of the inside corner, stopping with the needle down at the binding “pivot point”.

in corner 4 sew side 1

4. Leave the needle down, lift the presser foot, and pull the quilt straight (the clip will allow you to do this). Lay the binding strip even with this new edge and continue stitching the binding to the quilt.

in corner 5 sew side 2

5. The binding will be standing up on this corner.

in corner 6 miter 1

To create the miter on this first side, fold one side flat, as in the picture:

in corner - miter 2

Then fold the other side until a 45° miter is formed.

in corner 9 - miter 4

Pin or stitch this side of the miter to secure.

6.  Turn to the other side and fold this new miter – fiddling until it looks good. Repeat to pin all inside corners and then stitch the binding to this side of the quilt, using your preferred method.

in corner 99 - frontIt really is quite simple and the effect is worth the effort!

And now (drum roll please!) Here is the finished Lunch Bunch Quilt!

Scrappy Log Cabin Quilt

Almost 20 years in the making – and finished! It was even juried in to be featured at the in the Fine Furnishing Show held this weekend in Wauwatosa, WI. It was hung in the entry to the show and I was very pleased – praise the Lord!

Lunch Bunch quilt at FF show

So, are you considering sending me a picture of your blocks? I hope so!



September 20, 2015, finishing
A Lunch Bunch Quilt – Part 2

This past weekend was the Madison Quilt Expo. It was a great show! I’m inspired, and exhausted 🙂 . I’ll post about that soon, but this week I want to continue the lunch bunch quilt story:

Last week I introduced you to my Lunch Bunch blocks and the idea for using them in a bed-sized “Log Cabin Quilt With Attitude” (if you’re new to the blog this week, please click here for the original post). Once I made all the wonky log cabin blocks, I stitched them into columns, and decided it would be a great idea to layer and quilt these columns individually, rather than make and quilt the entire top.  It was so enjoyable quilting the long skinny pieces!

Lunch Bunch Quilt column

Once all the columns were quilted, I connected them with the “Reversible Quilt as You Go” technique I used in my grandkid’s quilts. (click here to read that post).

I decided to use 2 different backing fabrics on the columns, this made the back of my quilt quite interesting.

Lunch Bunch backYou may remember that the blocks were all squared up to 10 ½” in width, so that they’d fit together into the columns, but the lengths were all different. As you can see, this left me with a very unusual lower edge. Sharon showed this bottom edge effect in her book, and I like it! But how does one bind such a quilt? That will be the “topic of the week” next time. I’ll show you the finished front then too.

Don’t Forget the Block Stack Challenge!

I’ve had 2 pictures of exhange blocks sent in. Others emailed that they didn’t know if they’d have time. There is no time limit and no one seems to have an abundance of time. So, if you are at all inclined, please send a picture of your blocks. It may be a ways off into the future, but you just might get yours together and win. Here is the challenge once again:

Do you have a stack of exchange blocks just waiting to become a quilt? I’d like to challenge you to send me a picture of your stack of blocks (feel free to arrange them any way you like – thrown all over the room, or in one tall stack, or artistically draped, or… ???). I’ll then post the pictures (without naming names) and challenge each participant to put them in a quilt. The first one to actually make their blocks into a quilt will get their name and photo in the blog, along with a wonderful prize of my choosing!!!

September 13, 2015, free motion
A Lunch Bunch Quilt

Before we get to this week’s topic, I just have to share a picture of three quilts. After last week’s post about baby Caleb’s quilt, Eileen emailed me this message:

“Hello Chris, Delighted to hear more Mom’s are going for the “jungle theme”!  I made these three quilts (my own design) for my Goddaughter’s baby boy.  Couldn’t settle on which animal she might like.  As it turned out she went with elephants for much of her theme in the baby’s room.  Whew – glad I made one!!  But she got all three and seems to love them.  Little too early to tell which one Baby Bennett will like!”

Eileens animal quiltsWhat a lucky little boy – to get all three! I think Eileen may have to market her designs – those animals are adorable. Thanks Eileen!

So – what’s a “Lunch Bunch” quilt?

Back in the late 90’s I belonged to a local guild, Common Threads, that met on Wednesday mornings. One of the great things about this larger guild, was that it had smaller sub-groups called “Bees”. These smaller groups allowed us to get to know some of the members one-on-one. There was a “Scrap Bee”, “Charity Bee”, “Miniature Bee”, and an “Appliqué Bee”, just to name a few. Each “Bee” had a “Queen Bee” who ran that group and chose the time and location for the bee. All of the bees were kept organized by the “Beekeeper”. It was a great idea!

The “Bee” I joined was called the “Lunch Bunch Bee”. We met at a different restaurant for lunch after the meeting each month, and exchanged 4″ blocks. We chose a different block theme each month. There were 7 of us in the group,

lunch bunch quilt makers

Sally Boaz, Pat Smith, Mary Camacho, Joan Wilson, Elrid Johnson, Ann Wanke and me

which meant we needed to make 7 identical blocks each month and we did this for 8 months. We kept them in fabric covered boxes we covered in a guild class. Joan is holding hers in the picture above, and here’s a close-up of mine:

Lunch Bunch box

I didn’t think to photograph all the blocks before making a quilt with them, but I did take pictures of some of my favorites after the quilting was done (these were placed together as you see them here in Photoshop, you’ll need to wait to see how they fit into a quilt):

3d board

3-D Blocks

bird board

Bird Blocks

heart board

Heart Blocks

flower board

Flower Blocks

basket board

Basket Blocks

tree board

Tree Blocks

leaf board

Leaf Blocks

star board

Star Blocks

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You can order one on her website:

These blocks sat in the box for a long, long time! Then my friend, Sharon Rotz, wrote a book called Log Cabin Quilts With Attitude.

I decided my 4″ block collection would make great centers for these crazy log cabin blocks.

It was so much fun, I wanted to make more blocks and came up with additional centers.

Lunch Bunch Quilt wonky block2

I cut each block to finish 10″ in width, but I let the length be determined by the wonky strips added to each one. I then sewed them into long columns. Because the blocks were the same width, they all fit together into the column, but the columns themselves ended up being a variety of lengths.

Since this quilt is one of my bigger ones, and it took many years to create, I’ve decided to make this a series post. Next week you’ll find out how the columns were quilted and  put together. The following week will have information on a slick binding technique – and a picture of the finished – yes, I said finished – quilt!

A Block Stack Challenge

Do you have a stack of exchange blocks like mine, just waiting to become a quilt? I’d like to challenge you to send me a picture of your stack of blocks (feel free to arrange them any way you like – thrown all over the room, or in one tall stack, or artistically draped, or… ???). I’ll then post the pictures (without naming names) and challenge each participant to put them in a quilt. The first one to actually make their blocks into a quilt will get their name and photo in the blog, along with a wonderful prize of my choosing!!!

September 6, 2015, Piecing
Coordinating a Baby Quilt

My niece, Rachel, is expecting in October and this past weekend was her baby shower. Three weeks prior to the event I realized I hadn’t made a quilt (the story of my life lately). I went through my stack of crib sized UFO’s, but nothing seemed right. Rachel was registered at Buy Buy Baby, so I went to the store registry listed on the invite and discovered that all the nursery items had a jungle theme and are from the Lambs & Ivy® Peek-a-Boo Jungle collection (please visit their website: – their designs are delightful!). The jungle animals on the crib sheets and room decor were adorable. I thought it would be fun to make a quilt that coordinated with them.

Now I need to add a disclaimer. I made my own versions of these designs for my own personal use, to go with the other pieces purchased for baby Caleb. Please be aware of copyright!

I used my Repliqué technique to create the animal blocks. I added Caleb’s initial and set these squares with 9-patch blocks. What fun! Next it was time to quilt. About half way into the quilting I realized there was a problem. Can you find it?

Caleb quilt quilting - mistake

I decided to go with the Amish adage “Only God is Perfect”, and continued quilting. (In case you didn’t find it, one of the 9 patch blocks is turned)

While Wendy and I were in Portland last month we visited the Rose Gardens. They were spectacular.

Caleb roses 1 Caleb roses 2

In the gift shop we both had to purchase new “free motion quilting gloves” – so I decided to give them a try (can you believe some people actually use them for gardening?!?).

Caleb quilt quilting gloves

They are oh, so pretty, and they work great too!

I put fleece on the back of the quilt, and turned it to the front for the binding, just like I did for my granddaughter Rainee’s quilt. It really is soft and squishy – just right for a baby!

Caleb quilt back

Outline and spiral quilting from the back

I finished quilting it just as Trey got up from his nap.

Caleb quilt - Trey

I think he approves 😀 !

I presented the quilt to Rachel at her shower and she was very excited! It is such fun to give a gift we make ourselves. I just wish I’d taken a picture of her with the quilt. Maybe in a future post 🙂 !



August 30, 2015, Kids
Multimedia Creations

This past week I had the joyful opportunity to share my quilts, and my quilting journey, as part of the morning worship service at a church in Wales, WI. Pastor Petterson was a joy to work with. He even built stands for my quilts to hang from.

Sanctuary quilts

Once we had the quilts hung, he invited me to see a collection of fiber art hanging in the lower level, made by church secretary Heidi Schueller. To get there we needed to go down the cinder block staircase – and the decorations there made me smile:

Stairway umbrellas

Pastor Peterson called Heidi’s fiber art “Creation Panels”. She used many different media and techniques to create them. Then she hung signs next to each panel with the Scripture verse for that day on one side and a simple poem about each day for the children to read, on the flip side. They are fascinating!

Day 1 - Let there be light!

Day 1 – Let there be light!

Day 2 - Heaven in the midst of the waters.

Day 2 – Heaven in the midst of the waters.

Day 3 - every green thing that grows.

Day 3 – The land and things that grow.

Day 4 - the sun, the moon and the stars.

Day 4 – The sun, moon and stars.

Day 5 - Sea creatures and flying things.

Day 5 – Sea creatures and flying things.

Day 6 - Animals and man.

Day 6 – Animals and man.

Day 7 - Everything was very good!

Day 7 – Everything was very good!

They hang around a corner in a hallway, and really cheer up the hall!

Creation hallway

Here are a couple of close-ups, so you can enjoy the details, from yarns to buttons, and fabric to paper. There’s a little bit of everything put together in a delightful way!

Creation details Creation detail 2 Creation detail 4 Creation detail 3

I hope you found Heidi’s creations as appealing and interesting as I did!

It was a wonderful morning of worshipping the Lord, and fellowship! Thanks Pastor Petterson, Bonnie Morris and Jerusalem Presbyterian!

August 23, 2015, Embellishing
A Unique Set of Quilted Placemats

My dear friend Jean attends my Thursday Open Labs at WCTC. A few months ago she brought 36 Christmas themed split 9-patch blocks to class.

Jean pm sq on pt copy

We both puzzled over what she would do with them. Here’s what happened – in her own words:

“What is it about ½ square triangles? Somehow in the last few years I have accumulated a bunch of them, and had no idea how to use them. This year, in my efforts to reduce the number of UFO’s in my workroom, these pieces bubbled to the top.

First, I completed 36 Christmas-themed Split 9-patch blocks. They came from kits I purchased at the Lodi Quilt Academy from Mill House Quilts. I was stumped. Would it be table runners, a table topper or a throw? As always, when stumped, I head to the Quilt Labs at WCTC, facilitated by Chris. I have learned many things from her, but one of the most valuable skills is to just “play” with the blocks, arranging them in different patterns. This project was no exception. As we played, fun patterns began to emerge, and I decided placemats would be a nice wedding gift for my niece. The problem was, which block to choose? Too hard, so I decided to make each mat a different pattern. To feature just the block, I added the side panel, and, although Chris suggested quilting the words (I still don’t trust my free motion quilting), I opted to appliqué the “Noel” onto each panel. I quilted all of them the same way, figuring there was enough visual “stuff” going on. The final step was to do a self binding. This was a challenge. I had seen it on old family quilts, but couldn’t figure it out on my own. Chris to the rescue again. I’m pleased with the results. Not perfect, but a fun way to use those half-square blocks.”

And here they are:

quilted Christmas placemats


quilted Christmas placemat

quilted Christmas placemat

quilted Christmas placemat

quilted Christmas placemat


 quilted Christmas placemats

I hadn’t done a “self binding” like Jean mentioned for quite a while, and she inspired me to use it on the quilt I made for my granddaughter Rainee. I used it to turn the Minkie quilt back to the front,and it was the topic of a post a few weeks ago (click here to read all about it). Thanks Jean – the inspiration goes both ways  😀 !

I’d love to have you join us in our Thursday Open Lab classes. It’s a great group, and a fun way to get things finished! To sign up go to, or call: 262.691.5578

August 16, 2015, Piecing
Making Circles in Three Easy Steps

Curves and circles are a staple of quilt design. Quilts that include them really speak to me. A while back I decided to pull out all the quilts I’ve made with these designs and I realized they weren’t all made with a single favorite technique, but in many of these quilts, I had used different techniques. I do a lot of machine appliqué, and quite a few projects had circles done this way. This is the placemat from my book: Snuggle and Learn Quilts for Kids.
satin stitches circles

In another book, Compass Capers, many of the Mariner’s Compass quilts are made in a circle. In this one the fabric was pressed around a paper circle pattern and hand appliquéd in place.

Mariner's compass

A few years ago I came up with a really simple and fun way to make snowpeople faces:

Snowperson Topper - November 14, 2014

Snowperson Topper – November 14, 2014

I’d like to share that technique here! The fun part is that the faces you see are actually the “batting” between the quilt layers, and in this quilt I used white polar fleece. Prepare to do this by layering the quilt with polar fleece as the batting. Then cut a circle of freezer paper the size you’d like the face to be, and iron it in place on the quilt top, shiny side to fabric. Then:

1.  Sew around the circle in a color thread to match the quilt top.

2. With a sharp, pointed scissors, cut away the top fabric from the inside of the stitching, so the fleece shows through.

3. Satin stitch around the circle. Repeat for remaining circles.

Here are a few more circles and curves using many more techniques:


Fused Sheers in Circles and Rings

gradation lecture

Bias Covered Curves

Tuscan Sun blog

Appli-Pieced Curves

circles on quilts

Slash and Zig-Zag Circles and Curves

If you’d like to learn to do some of these techniques – and more, I’m teaching a class at WCTC this Fall, on September 18th, called “Creating Curves“. You’ll learn many ways to stitch circles and arcs into your quilts, while making samples of each technique, which will serve as a wonderful reference guide for future projects.

Besides my Thursday afternoon Open Labs, I’ll also be doing 2 more one day workshops:

Stacked Strips – October 10th: With a bit of simple foundation piecing, scrappy new strips can be made. These will be bordered to create an exquisite bed runner.

Quilting - Stacked Strips 304-617J-001

Stain Glass Trees – November 7: Layer Pretty scraps, cover them with tulle, stitch, cut and couch these triangle trees onto a base fabric. It’s simple and oh so pretty! A lovely Christmas gift.

Quilting - Stain glass trees 304-617K-001


Wendy has many offerings also. To sign up for any of these classes go to: (click on “course search” at the top, and type “quilting” in the “subject” box), or call registration at: 262.691.5578



August 9, 2015, Classes
A Winning Quilter

It’s possible to be an inspirer/encourager in many ways. I recently received an email from my friend Judy who wrote “Congratulations on being a Quilt Inspiration!”. This was followed by a link to this blog: (thanks Judy!). The sisters who write the blog explained on their “about” page: “We created Quilt Inspiration to pay tribute to the artists who inspire us with their beautiful works.” So I quickly scrolled down to see “Intragalactic Journey”, the quilt Evelyn and I made together a few years ago:

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.19.45 PM

You may remember the story of this quilt, and why I wanted to name it “Out of the Bathtub”, but if not, please click here!

What a lovely surprise! It is truly a blessing to be considered an inspiration – especially while having fun with your friends. This leads to this week’s “topic”.

In October of last year I did a blog post with a number of short “topics” in it. One of them, “mini topic #3”, was about the “Inspired by Libby Quilt Auction”. Libby Lehman suffered a stroke in April of 2013, and a number of her friends and fellow teachers made quilts to be auctioned off and help with expenses for Libby’s medical treatment and care (go to: for the original post).

Anne Nee is a friend of mine who has traveled with Wendy and me. She told me she read that post and immediately went to the site and then wrote a check to send for the Libby fund. She also admitted she hadn’t read any further and wasn’t really aware she had put herself into a drawing to possibly win a quilt.

Well, in February she received a call from Mary Ann Fons! Mary Ann told Anne she had won the quilt Mary Ann had made for the benefit auction.

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt

To say Anne was surprised would be putting it mildly. Mary Ann was ready to mail it right away, but Anne was leaving for Arizona. When Anne returned, Mary Ann was traveling, but in March the quilt arrived at Anne’s house. Her granddaughter, Celina, has made a quilt and loves quilting, so Anne waited until Celina could come over and help her open the box. She said it was so much more fun to share the moment with Celina.

The quilt was the perfect fit for Anne – she loves it!

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt

She was excited to show me the hand-made label.

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt

And the autographed copy of the magazine in which the quilt appeared!

Anne Nee wins Mary Ann Fons quilt Anne Nee mag inside

Anne told me she uses the quilts she’s made on her beds, but this was the first one she chose to throw over her favorite chair in the living room (like it is in the photo above), and she snuggles up under it whenever she takes a little rest.

She told me it was all because of me, that I inspired her to go to the blog. But I’d say it was simply a blessing for her, because of her generosity!

Thanks Anne, for sharing your quilt and it’s story with us!

I would also like to share a bit about Libby’s progress since her stroke. During Ricky Tims’ annual concert at the AQS show in Paducah this year. He called Libby on Facetime, live for all to see. She’s come a long way and it was a joy to see her smile. To watch that video go to:



August 2, 2015, Inspiration
Auditioning Quilting Designs

The project Wendy and I chose for our Sew We Go to Sister’s trip was a Seven Sisters table topper.

7 Sisters topper

We chose it because the English paper piecing preparation (folding the fabric around paper patterns), could be done quite easily while traveling. The hand piecing was a nice option to offer on the trip, and quite a few quilters did just that. For the rest, we shared how to put the blocks together by machine after the adventure was over.

Once my top was done, I had the fun of deciding what quilting design to use. Sometimes the choice is obvious, but this time I felt the need to do some auditioning. I began by drawing stars on a muslin quilt sandwich with water soluble marker.

auditioning quilting designs

Then I covered them with Glad Press ‘n Seal™. It’s clear, so it’s rather hard to see in the picture. The tacky side adhere’s well to fabric, you can quilt through it, and it tears away quite easily (I know a number of quilters who don’t care for it, but I like it for many applications – I recommend playing with it, and deciding for yourself)

audition press n seal

Next I drew a bunch of possible designs in a different color washable marker (here are just 2):

audition draw design 1 audition draw design 3

After drawing seven, I tried stitching some of them. Because there were many spots where quilting lines would cross/overlap, I decided not to stitch through the Press ‘n Seal™, and just free hand quilted in the stars.

audition stitched trials

I couldn’t decide which one was best. So I used them all!

Star quilting designs audition 2 audition 3 audition 4 audition 5 audition 6 audition 7

When I was done, I wished I had more stars to quilt. It was great fun and Sommer seems to approve!

7 sisters with Sommer blog

July 26, 2015, Quilting Preparation
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  🙂 . 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
The Sisters Show

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

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

shop hop or

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

Stitchin Post Sisters

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

Stitchin Post

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

sis Thursday

And this was Saturday:

Sisters Quilt show

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

Sisters picnic

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

Sisters picnic Gees Bend quilters

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

Sisters quilt show 2015

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

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

Quilt Rescue Team

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

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

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


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

Rainee Gma quilt 7-15

July 13, 2015, Travel
Turned Binding

Our youngest granddaughter, Rainee, lives in Washington State, and she just turned 3. I decided she needed a new snuggly quilt (with only a short amount of time to make it). I asked Sommer to help me pick out “I Spy” type fabrics once again. This time I cut 9″ squares and pieced them together. I also thought it would be fun to Repliqué her initial in one of the blocks using the technique from my Snuggle & Learn book.

turned back to front binding

A number of friends have been backing their kid’s quilts with Minky fleece recently, and it sounded like the perfect choice. Sommer loved it’s softness! I also wanted to turn the back to the front for a soft edge, as opposed to a traditional binding. While backing and finishing the quilt, it hit me that this would be a good topic of the week, so here are some of the things that worked for me.

*  When laying out the Minky backing, I smoothed it on the work surface, but didn’t stretch it at all. In the past I’ve had pucker problems if I stretched it (even a little).

* I made sure the backing was at least 3″ larger than the quilt top, and I chose not to use any batting.

*I smoothed the top onto the wrong side of the backing and safety pinned it well. Then I free motion quilted it (this also helped to not stretch anything) – in my favorite spiral pattern.

turned back to front binding

* Once the quilting was complete, I trimmed the backing 1 ¼” away from the edge all the way around.

turned back to front binding

*Then the fun of turning began. Step 1. Begin on a long edge and fold the raw edge of the backing up to meet the raw edge of the quilt top. Then bring the fold up to the top and clip or pin.

turned back to front binding

2. Do this all the way off the next edge.

turned back to front binding

3. Bring the folded outside edge up to the raw edge of the quilt top, gift wrap style, creating a miter.

turned back to front binding

4. Fold the new raw edge of the backing to the raw edge of the quilt.

turned back to front binding

5. Then bring the folded outside edge up to the top and clip or pin.

turned back to front binding

6. Continue all the way around and then machine stitch in place with a decorative stitch.

TB miter stitched

Voila – a quilt with a snuggly soft back and edge!

turned back to front binding

The day Sommer helped me pick the fabrics for her cousin Rainee’s quilt, she noticed my fish bowl full of scraps. She hadn’t played with it for months and asked if I could bring it down off the shelf.


I’ve posted pictures previously of various grandkids playing with the scraps, and she had so much fun I had to post a few more! She had a blast pulling and throwing.

sommer scraps 6-15bWhen she tired of plopping them on her head, she took aim at me.

Sommer scraps 6-15c

Then she laid on the floor and did a bit of scrap swimming.

Swimming in fabric scraps

She’s big enough now to do a good job of picking up afterwards – so it’s fun for both of us!

July 5, 2015, finishing Kids
Dairy Breakfast

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

quilted barn

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

barn quilt

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

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

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

DB petting zoo dairy breakfast petting zoo

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

db eggs

DB pancakes

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

DB serving

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

DB cheese

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

DB eating

DB band

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

DB wagon 1

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

DB barn

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

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

DB the end

Next week I promise to include quilt content 😀 !


June 28, 2015, Travel
No-End Binding – a Great Improvement!

I have been using a no-end binding technique for years with great results. It is a fairly simple way to sew a mitered seam to attach the beginning and ending tails of the binding to each other, but this old dog has just learned a new trick – and I love it!

Once you have cut and sewn together all your binding strips (this works for a single binding as well as for a double/French binding), take your “beginning” end and cut it at a 45° angle. Press under a 1/4″ hem. Cut a piece of paper backed fusible web (Wonder Under™, Heat and Bond™, etc) 1/4″ x 2″. Iron this to the hem, leaving the paper in place.

fused no-end quilt binding

Begin to sew your binding to the quilt with a back stitch, leaving the angled “beginning” tail unattached for about 8″. Continue to bind, mitering the corners in your preferred way. When you get all the way around, stop stitching about 10″ from the beginning stitching, and backstitch once again. Remove the paper from the beginning tail,

fused no-end binding

and place the ending tail where it should go.

no-end fused quilt binding

Press with a hot iron for about 5 seconds, let cool and then open the original 1/4″ hem up to reveal the crease.

fused no-end quilt binding

Stitch in this crease and trim away the excess tail. Lay this pieced portion of the binding against the quilt and sew the last 10″ to the quilt. Finish as usual!

No more fussing around, trying to figure out which angle to sew and where. I hope you find this helpful. If you’d like more detailed instructions, Nancy Zieman has a great video on bindings. Click here to view it!

June 21, 2015, finishing
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 – in her own words – go 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
Driftless Fiber Arts

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

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

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

Pendarvis sign

There were sheep, lambs and alpacas,

Pendarvis alpaca

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

Pendarvis yarn

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

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

felted front felted back

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

Pendarvis roving

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

Pendarvis house

We are already planning our trip back!

Upcoming Classes at WCTC

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


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


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

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


June 6, 2015, Classes Travel
A Buried Treasure

For years my dear friend Nancy has been telling me about her daughter Jane, and Jane’s wonderful farm. I recently began following Jane’s blog and love to read about her Sheep and lambs. Her farm produces wool, meat and garden produce.

Recently Jane blogged about a “Soil Quilt”. A friend of hers sent her a square of white fabric and asked her to bury it in her garden.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.33.19 PM

To read all the details go to: .

Well, in Jane’s last post, she unearthed her square and I was surprised and impressed to see how the earth had “dyed” her fabric.

Soil dyed fabric

Please read all about that in her most recent post:

In case you missed it in Jane’s post, here’s the link to the other soil dying results:

It’s very interesting to see the variety of the different pieces. Kind of makes me want to dig a hole and bury some fabric in the back yard. Thanks Jane, for letting me share your soil quilt adventure!

Have you ever buried fabric? Or do you think you will now  🙂 ?

By the way – the Fiberistas painted an art banner to decorate Main Street in Watertown, WI again this year. Last year was the first time we participated (you can read about that adventure at: The art walk was this past Tuesday, and the banners look great! If you’re in the area, please drive by (or better yet, walk) to see them all. If not, here’s a picture of both sides of ours – its in front of Keck’s furniture store! (sorry for the picture quality, the sun was low and bright)

Art banner in Watertown wi


May 31, 2015, Dyeing
Multi-seam Centers

Recently I taught a Lone Star workshop for a delightful guild in Burlington, WI – the Chocolate City Quilters (don’t you just love that name?). We used the Quiltsmart™ interfacing method I shared about in my February 15th post (click here if you’d like to revisit that post). Twenty-two quilters participated in the class and the quilts they worked on were varied and gorgeous. I so wish I had taken some pictures. So here’s a quick request before I get to my “topic of the week”. If you’ve taken a Lone Star class with me, and you’ve finished your star, please email me a picture at: I think these quilts will make an exciting blog quilt show.

Now on to medallion centers. This is one of my Lone Star tops in which I used a Pointillism fabric for the background (I really need to border and quilt this one  🙂 ):

Lone Star with Pointillism background

When making a medallion style quilt, like a Lone Star or a Mariner’s Compass; or whenever a block has 8 seams coming together in one center point – it can be difficult to get the center right the first time. The biggest problem with this is that ripping and resewing can cause the fabric to weaken and the center to get worse instead of better. There is a slick trick for making this easier, and the ladies in the Chocolate City Guild class said they thought it would be a good one to share on the blog. So here goes. My sample was done on a  “Spin Star” block .

1. Once you have the 8 sections ready, sew them together in pairs (making quarters); and then sew the pairs into two halves.

2. Line up the halves, and pin into position along the entire seam.

3. Set the sewing machine for a long basting stitch and sew a short portion of the seam only, beginning 1″ prior to the center seam and ending 1″ beyond it (my sewing machine stitches didn’t show well, so I drew in the blue stitches to make it clearer).



4. Remove the block/top from the machine and peek at the center. If you got it right, set the machine for a regular stitch length and sew the entire seam. If it wasn’t quite right,

center seam off

remove the basting stitches, re-pin, and resew with basting stitches once again until you get it right, then sew the entire seam.

center seam block

In this way you only need to rip out 2″ of basting stitches if it isn’t correct, and not a long seam of normal length stitches.

Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend. I’m praying for all our service men and women, and their families, as well as our veterans. How blessed we are to have the freedoms we do, and how grateful I am for those who serve, and have served, to keep us free!


May 24, 2015, Piecing
Alternate Blocks

Mary Ann brought a lovely pattern to my Open Lab class at WCTC:


She wanted to change it a bit by adding alternate blocks. I don’t currently have a quilt building program on my computer, but I did take a class in Photoshop™ recently, so I thought I’d give it a try. I opened the cover picture from the pattern in Photoshop™, and then searched the web for a few simple blocks.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.43.45 AM

I was so pleased to figure out how to “plug” the squares into the pattern. The pictures aren’t perfect, but it was a good way to visualize. Here’s the photo I sent to Mary Ann with all 4 options (I recolored the blue “snowball” block to match the quilt better):

Mary Ann

It’s amazing how different the pattern looks in each quilt. I’m not sure which block  Mary Ann will choose, but I’ll keep you posted!


qmnNow I’d just like to share a blessing – a number of months ago I submitted a story for Quilter’s Newsletter’s “300 Words” feature and it was published in their latest issue. The topic was quilts and kids, and I wrote about my granddaughter Hanna’s first quilt. The article is on page 23! Praise the Lord!

And speaking of grandkids – I took some fun photos of Trey recently – he’ll be 3 months old this week. Grandpa and I are watching him and Sommer full time – and loving it. So I’d like to leave you with a shot of a very content sleeper, and a smile.

Trey sleeping 5-15

Trey Gpa sm

May 17, 2015, Design
Tips, Tools and Techniques

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered a number of small items I wanted to share. None of them were meaty enough for a “topic of the week”, but as a compilation, I hope you find some of them helpful.

scissor buddy

Scissors Buddy™ – at the AQS show in Phoenix my friend Joan spun the wheel of fortune at the Scissor Buddy booth and won. She shared her good fortune by giving both Evelyn and I our very own Scissor Buddy™. I love it! You simply attach a small pair of scissors to the rescissor buddytractable clip and stick it onto your machine in a convenient place.

I appreciate not having to fumble around for my scissors while sewing any more. You can get your own at their website:

AQS Hanging Sleeve Instructions I’ve been placing hanging sleeves on my quilts for years and I always try to add a bit of extra “pooch” so the quilt won’t curve around the rod at the top of the quilt. My method was not very precise. The past few years I’ve been using the method the American Quilter’s Society recommends for quilts entered in their shows – and I think it’s great! For a You Tube video of this technique go to:

Starch vs Sizing – and how to prevent starch flaking!

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.10.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.10.51 PM

I’m a member of the National Quilting Association. There are many benefits to belonging to this great organization and one of them is their magazine – The Quilting Quarterly. In the most recent issue there’s an article by Tom Russell comparing Starch to Sizing. I found it very informative. In essence, both products preshrink the fabric and lock the grain and biases into position, but sizing doesn’t prevent fraying and only has a temporary effect for stabilizing the fabric. Tom was definitely a starch guy, but he admitted that flaking is a problem with starch. His cure for this was an “aha” moment for me. He suggested laying the fabric on an ironing surface with a natural fiber cover (cotton). Spray the starch onto the fabric, turn it over and press from the back!

I tried it and it works – no flaking or build up on the iron! Thanks Tom!

Fabric Bleeding

I’ve seen many sad experiences of fabric bleeding on a finished quilt. It can be heart breaking. In the past, the best advice I’d been given was to not allow the quilt to dry, and then soaking it in room temperature water with Biz™. This has had mixed results.

In the most recent issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited (one of my favorite magazines!), Margaret Solomon Gunn wrote an excellent article on Blocking Your Quilt. I especially liked her hint about using a Laser Level to make sure things stay straight. But the portion I wanted to share was a side bar about bleeding fabric. Margaret quoted blogger and hand-dyer, Vicki Welsh’s advice. She recommended soaking the quilt overnight with Dawn™ Pure Essentials Soap and hot water! Yes – hot water! This is something I would never have thought of, but knowledgable artists are recommending it. So – if you’ve had trouble with bleeding fabric – you may want to visit Vicki’s blog:

That was rather a mixed bag of information. I hope there was something for everyone  🙂 !

Happy Mother’s Day to all!


May 10, 2015, Notions
Marker Dying

A recent magazine article taught a lesson on coloring fabric using Sharpie™ markers. I haven’t done much fabric dying – I’d rather buy beautiful hand-dyed fabrics from those who are good at it, but while Linda and I were in Paducah, we decided to give this technique a try. We purchased two different types of Sharpies™.


The first lesson we learned is that the “Stained Brush tip” markers on the left didn’t work for this process at all. The regular “Permanent Fine Line” markers are the way to go.

According to the article, you were to draw your design on card stock, color it in well, place it face down on bleached muslin (we used 2 layers), and then drop alcohol on the back of the card stock – allowing it to soak through. So we did just that, and ended up with less than great results (in large part because we used the wrong markers). Here are our first attempts:

Sharpie Chris draw and 1st Sharpie Linda 1st attemptIt was getting late and we weren’t in the mood to start over, so we heavily recolored the image directly on the fabric, with the permanent markers, and draped the colored fabric over an inverted tall glass in a sink. Then we poured alcohol over the whole thing (with the extra piece of muslin underneath).

Sharpie Linda glass

I did mine first and the results were better.

Marker dying

So Linda colored hers in even more elaborately – and we both really liked the result!

Sharpie Linda dyed

It doesn’t resemble her original drawing much, but the created fabric has potential.

Have you played with a technique like this? Any results you’d like to share?

May 3, 2015, Dyeing
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  🙂 !

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  😉 !

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

April 26, 2015, Challenges
A Two Women Show in Paducah

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

flying geese bridge

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

Fiber Art Exhibit Paducah 2015

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

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

Paducah 15 Tribeca front

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

Paducah 15 exhibit 2 Fiber Art Exhibit Paducah 2015

Paducah 15 exhibit 3

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

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

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

Paducah 15 market-finkel

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

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

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

Paducah 15 faces

April 19, 2015, Travel

Before I get to this week’s topic, I want to share my weekend adventure. I’m writing from the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI. This weekend I had the delightful opportunity to teach at/attend a retreat sponsored by Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc, WI. The Osthoff is
a spectacular facility! And what a wonderful group of 89 quilters/scrapbookers. These ladies know how to do a retreat! The theme was “I Love Mustache” (my stache)”, and all weekend long the play on words included mustaches.


Our Fearless Leader - Terrie Siefert

Our Fearless Leader – Terrie Siefert

Kathy and me stashe pic

Two of the retreat teachers – (we’re not sure who they are :-)!

stashe Kim

Kim’s mustache quote: “I love my stash and my stash loves me”


stashe Cindy

In case you missed the last line on Cindy’s – she does not share!

This retreat was a blast. So many fun quilters/crafters, so many projects being made, and a great time was had by all!

stash scrap quilt

I taught a scrap class (in keeping with the theme of using our stache), and as an aside I shared my new favorite technique for finishing the tails of a no-end binding. I learned it on Nancy Zieman’s blog and trust me – you need to know how to do this! For the step by step demo go to:

Now for my “topic of the week”:

A number of years ago I read an article about cutting identical portions out of two quilts, and swapping them. This intrigued me, so I decided to try it. I had been given a bag of leftover pieced squares in an art quilt challenge. I decided to piece them into a small square quilt. I then cut a piece of a beautiful hand-dyed fabric the same size. I layered both pieces separately, and quilted them identically. Once they were squared up, I stacked them and rotary cut a circle through both quilts. After separating the quilts, I swapped out the circles and ziz-zagged them into their new “home”. That was fun, so I stacked them and made another cut. This continued until it felt done, and I was quite pleased with the results!

Marq grab bag challenge

A few years went by and I got the urge to play with this technique again – with very different fabrics!

Quilt, Slash, Create 2

Well, it was kind of addicting.

Quilt,Slash, Create 2

The fun part was that I put interesting pieces on the backs, and they ended up being reversible.

qsc geese back

qsc brown back

It takes a bit of courage to cut up a quilted quilt, but it can be quite entertaining. If you’re feeling adventurous, but you’re not sure about jumping in on your own, I’ll be teaching a class on this adventurous technique called “Quilt, Slash, Create!” at Waukesha County Technical College on Friday, May 1st. You can register at, or call the college at (262)691-5566.

April 12, 2015, Design
She Made it Herself – Twice!

A few semesters ago, Sue came to my Open Lab class. This was her story:

“My first quilting project was a queen sized quilt. I saw the Amish quilt pattern in a Good Housekeeping magazine in 1977 and fell in love with it…probably for two reasons. The photo showed the quilt in reds and blues and those are my favorite colors so it caught my eye immediately. Also, the name of the pattern is “Lancaster Country Rose” and since I grew up in Lancaster, WI, it seemed like it was meant for me to make. As I mentioned, I had never quilted before, so I pieced the quilt by following the directions of the pattern and then quilted the entire quilt by hand on a large oval hoop quilting frame. My journey into quilting had begun. You can imagine my disappointment when, after only a few years, the quilt faded.

Lancaster Rose Quilt

Unable to part with it after so much work, I stored it away.

I retired several years ago and began quilting in earnest. I decided that I had learned a few tips and tricks over the years and maybe I could find an easier way to make this pattern again. I like trying new techniques and wondered if I could make this pattern using the “quilt-as-you-go” technique. (This technique is often called the “reversible” quilt technique.) I signed up for Chris Kirsch’s open lab class at WCTC and took my pattern, fabric and questions to the class. Chris assured me that I could make the quilt using the “quilt-as-you-go” technique. So I forged ahead – this time making a king-sized quilt. I used some new applique techniques that I had learned over the years and I did all of the quilting on my sewing machine. Thirty-seven years after making the first quilt, I still love this pattern and I am very happy with the results.

Susan Maresh”

And here are the pictures of Sue’s new “old” quilt!

Sues new app quilt2 Lancaster County Rose quiltI was very impressed! Making this quilt once would have been a respectable fete, but to do it again 37 years later – what a great story! Sue’s workmanship is wonderful, and she is a quick study when it comes to learning new quilting techniques. I’m so pleased to have had a small part in this beautiful quilt. Thank you so much for sharing your quilt and it’s story with us Sue!

Have you ever remade a quilt? What was your reason? We’d love to hear your story!

A blessed Easter Sunday to you all!

April 5, 2015, Appliqué Vintage Quilts
Getting Random Quilt Blocks to Fit Together

Grand Canyon for blogI’ve returned from the sunshine of Arizona to the freezing rain of Wisconsin. It was a wonderful trip and the beauty of God’s creation is truly awe inspiring.


I’m glad to be home and excited to be back in quilting mode. So, here’s the quilty post I promised  😀 !

If you’ve ever won a stack of blocks at a guild meeting and wanted to put them together into one quilt, but found they were not all the same size – read on! I often see stacks of blocks like this brought into my open lab classes. I must admit, I’ve had two projects of my own – “block of the month”stacks,  that were supposed to become a sampler quilt, but they didn’t all match up. I’ve tried a number of solutions, and this one is my favorite. It uses a technique I shared in a blog post a few years ago (, and I’d like to revisit it now. In essence, each block is turned on point, and these added triangles make alternate hourglass blocks.

Making quilt blocks measure up

Another advantage to this technique is that your quilt doubles in size from the area covered by the initial blocks.

Turning all the blocks on point

1. Square up all your blocks (they will be different sizes, but that’s ok – they just need to be square).

2. Choose two fabrics to be the “hourglass” corners.

3. Find the largest block and place the ruler as in the picture (diagonal line on vertical center of block, and even along both edges – mine are at 6 1/4″).

turning a block on point

Add 2″ to this measurement and cut out two squares of one “hourglass” fabric this size. Cut both squares on one diagonal, and sew to all four sides of your block. This will turn the block “on point” (for the more detailed instructions from my previous post, please click here and scroll down to the blue/black star block).

turning a quilt block on point

You’ll need to cut 2 squares (yielding 4 triangles) for each block from one “hourglass” fabric. Half of the blocks will be from one fabric, and the other from the second fabric. In this way you’ll be able to “checkerboard” your blocks, by alternating the hourglass fabrics, when you put the top together.

4. Square all the blocks up to the size of the smallest.

5. These blocks may now be sewn together into a lovely quilt, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they need to be put together on the diagonal. If you don’t know how to do that, I found wonderful instructions on this site: The measurements given are for an exact fit. Since I like to give myself a little margin for error (and I like a bit of float around my points), I would add 1″ to the cut sizes for the squares.

Modern Quilts

A few weeks ago I invited readers to send pictures of their modern style quilts. Mary Ann and Juleen did just that, and I know you’ll enjoy them. Mary Ann’s is a crib quilt she’s been working on in my Open Lab class. She finished it since our last class and sent this lovely photo:

Mary Anns modern crib quilt

Juleen sent photos of two of her recent projects. Both are delightful!

modern quilt - Jaeger1Juleens modern quilts

Thanks ladies!


March 29, 2015, Piecing
Howdy From Sedona

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

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

blog Sedona 2

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

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

blog flagstaffThen we journeyed back to Sedona for more hiking,

blog sedona 3

And the sunset in Sedona was breathtaking!

blog Sedona 1

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

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

blog Sedona 4


March 22, 2015, Travel
My First Modern Quilt

My first attempt at a modern quilt was the one I just finished for our new grandson Trey Michael.

trey and his quilt 2

Mommy had chosen navy, green and brown for the nursery colors, and she likes a more clean, modern look. So I decided to give it a try.

I chose a tan for the background, to match the walls, and began cutting out circles of the fabrics I’d used for the curtains. I added some other circles that fit the look, and stitched them in place using Sharon Schamber’s Piece-liqué technique.

Treys quilt layout

I decided to “poof” the circles using a faux trapunto technique (perhaps a future blog topic 🙂 ). And did some really fast, simple and fun echo quilting.

Trey quilt close up

Then I realized the trapunto poly batt circles weren’t anchored, so I did some quilting inside each circle too. Each circle was quilted, but the “wagon wheel” in the brown circle and the spiral in the green circle are the most visible.

Trey on his quilt 1

I also quilted in his initial, the year, and signed the quilt on the front with contrasting thread. It was an easy and enjoyable process, and Trey seems to really like it!

When the top was done and it was ready to baste, I had an “aha” moment. I like to safety pin baste my quilts in a frame (it really helps to prevent puckers on the back). I did a blog post on this many years ago (click here to read about it). My problem has always been that my boards for the frame are king sized and it’s such a pain to use them when doing a smaller quilt. So Mike and I made a trip to the lumber yard and purchased four 60″ boards for under $6. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Well, it works great, and I can easily put the frame up in the dining room, because I don’t need a 12′ open area.

quilt basting frame

This project was a joy. I don’t think I’ll become a “modern only” quilter, but I’m sure I’ll try another one soon.

Are you a modern quilter? Would you like to share one of your quilts with us? If so, please send me a picture at:

And on a personal note –

This past week Trey turned 3 weeks old and Sommer turned 3 years old. We had her birthday party this weekend and grandma made her a princess cake (Belle) to go with the party theme. It was fun, but I think I’d rather work with fabric than frosting  🙂 !


March 15, 2015, Appliqué
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   😀 ! 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 🙂 .

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’t take a “floss” shot, so I’ve included a detail of the embroidered portion)

An embellished wall hanging
(sorry I didn’t take a “floss” shot, so I’ve 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
Eureka! A Mariner’s Victory!

Two years ago I put together a lecture called Tradition With a Twist. In it I share antique quilts in traditional patterns, and the modern variations I’ve created. Collecting the antique quilts for the talk was a big part of the fun. By the time I presented thCompass-Capers-to-Die lecture for the first time I had found antique versions for all but one pattern – Mariner’s Compass. This was particularly frustrating because I’ve made so many unique Mariners variations – and even written a book about it!


Fast forward to this past January. Our life has taken a new direction because Mike retired on December 31st. This change has presented many new things to deal with, and one was to adjust our cell phone/internet plan. As many of you may know, there are tons of options out there, and it’s all so confusing! As a part of this adventure, we spent one night “trying out” a new WiFi possibility. In the midst of this Mike told me to just “surf the web” and see how the speed of the connection was (silly man 🙂 ). I don’t surf often, but when I do, it’s usually to try to find an antique Mariner’s Compass quilt in my price range (a seemingly hopeless plan). Well … a lovely quilt in white, orange and yellow popped up, and 12 hours later it was mine!!!

Vintage Mariner's Compass quilt

I’m thrilled! I had really wanted a medallion style Mariner’s quilt, and I love yellow and orange. But this one really tickled me – and here’s why!

Mariner’s Compass quilts tend to be rare because of the degree of difficulty involved in the traditional template method for piecing them. Those long skinny points require a lot of patience and skill. I didn’t get into making this pattern until I discovered that compasses could be made with paper piecing. This made accurate blocks attainable for average quilters.

MC vintage center

Now, look closely at the above picture of the central medallion from the quilt, and prepare to be impressed. Those points were not foundation pieced, they were not even template pieced… they were hand appliquéd!!! It’s a bit easier to see on this picture of one of the small corner compasses.

MC vintage detail

The quilt is hand quilted also. The stitches are not the finest I’ve ever seen, but they have kept the quilt together through much wear and numerous washings. Oh how I wish it could talk and tell me who made it and when. That’s why I’m always telling students to label their quilts!

So, would you like to see this quilt “in the cloth”?

TWT pub webI’ve been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to be one of the keynote speakers for University Days 2015, at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art in Cedarburg, WI. This event takes place May 1st and 2nd. I’ll be presenting Tradition With a Twist on Saturday morning at 9am. University Days is an exciting event with a lot of great activities. For all the information go to:


Then, on a personal note – Sommer has a new baby brother!!!

Trey Michael Kirsch was born this past Friday night, February 20th.

Trey and gma2-21 blog

Brad and Betsy (our son and daughter-in-law),Sommer Trey for blog are doing well. We’re all thrilled and Sommer loves her “bay brudder”.

February 22, 2015, Vintage Quilts
A Great Lone Star Technique

The Lone Star is a very old, traditional, and much loved pattern. I’ve taught it as a strip piecing class, but I’ve discovered a modern twist that makes matching all the intersections quite a bit easier. Before I share the details, Here are a few pictures of student quilts made in some of my recent classes. The project was a 38″ Lone Star.

Virginia sent me this picture. She uses her pretty red star as a tablecloth.

Virginia's Lone Star quiltHere’s Barb’s lovely wallhanging!

Barb's Lone Star

Ida cut her original pieces a bit too small. She often brings more than the required amount of fabric to class, so when we realized the problem, she was able to recut all the pieces for the diamonds and chose to use the “wrong” pieces in a beautiful border.

Ida's Lone Star Sue has made two delightful Lone Stars this size.

lone star Sue Ehlens2 Lone star Sue ehlen

Thanks ladies, for sharing your quilts and sending me the pictures in time for this blog! Great job!!

So, do you want to know the trick? The answer is Quiltsmart’s interfacing method! Quiltsmart is a company out of Oregon, with a lot of great ideas. You can find them at: On their website you can order the printed interfacing, and instructions for this great project.

Because of copyright, I’m not able to post pictures and step by steps (of course), but I’d like to share a brief description of the process to pique your interest.

1.  Quiltsmart has printed all eight of the large diamond bases on fusible interfacing in an ingenious way. These are cut apart and pieced one at a time.

2. Rectangles are cut from the appropriate fabrics for all the small diamonds. These will make up the big diamonds.

3. The first rectangle is put in place on the interfacing, right side up, and the second one is placed right sides together, at a specific angle to the first.

4. A diagonal seam is sewn, the second piece is folded down, “sew and flip” fashion, and pressed in place. This is repeated to create each row of small rectangles/diamonds.

5. Once all the rectangles are pieced into rows of diamonds, the rows are sewn together – interfacing and all, resulting in 1/8th of the star.Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.55.05 PM

If you’d like to watch a video of the originator of the technique demonstrating it, click here! (the demo is for the 58″ lone star, but the process is the same for any size)

I highly recommend giving it a try and, if you live in Southeastern Wisconsin, I just happen to have a class coming up on this very technique at Waukesha County Technical College on Saturday, March 7th from 9 – 2:30. The course is called Quilting Workshop: Lone Star (CRN 20793). You can register on-line at, or by phone at 262.691.5578!

Floss Frenzy Reminder

The deadline for the floss challenge is February 28th! Please send good quality pictures of your finished project to me prior to that date at:

Quite a few photos have already arrived, and I’m very excited about all the creativity I’m seeing!

February 15, 2015, Classes Piecing
Decking Out the Nursery

I’ve been doing more sewing than quilting lately. Sommer’s baby brother is due February 26th, and Betsy is in nursery preparation mode. The color scheme she’s chosen is navy blue, kelly green and brown. She asked me to make the curtains …

nursery curtains

bumper pads, and a hanging diaper holder.

nursery diaper holder

I’m continually being amazed by my daughter-in-law’s abilities. She’s a loving wife and mother. She’s done the design work on two of my books. But I never realized what a talented painter she is, until now. Here’s a picture of Sommer with their two doggies, Moseley and Nershi (Sommer is quite an artist herself – and two fisted).

Sommer painting 1-14aAnd these are the pictures Betsy painted recently for the baby’s room:

Nirshy painting Mosely paintingDidn’t she capture them well? The finishing touches on the nursery will be completed this weekend, and I put the final stitches into the baby’s quilt this past week. So, he can come any time now 😀 ! I’ll send pictures once he’s arrived!

Yo Yo update!

I recently received an email and photo from Lorraine about her yo yo project. I just had to share:

“Hi Chris,
A few weeks ago you talked about yo yos on your blog and asked for pictures of our yo yo projects.  Here is my story:

When I bought my first yo yo maker I decided to make a vest.  I spent several evenings making yo yos and after I had a big pile of them I decided I had enough to put the vest together.  I took a vest that fit me well, laid it on the floor and began arranging my pile of yo yos to duplicate the front panels.  My big pile of yo yos did not come close to finishing the front panels!  I had to spend many more evenings making many many more yo yos in order to finish the front panels and then do the back of the vest.  Although it took much longer than I thought and many more yo yos than I anticipated I like the finished project and get lots of compliments when I wear the vest.”

IMG_0084Lorraine, It is lovely! Thanks for sharing!


February 8, 2015, Uncategorized
Sisters – From a Number of Angles

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

seven sisters in sisters


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

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.08.06 PM

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.07.51 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.09.46 PM

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

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

7 sisters 1 7 sisters 2

7 sisters 3

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

Here’s the good news:


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

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

For all the details go to:

then call Kristi at: (262)786-6763

And I couldn’t resist this parting picture:

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

February 1, 2015, Travel
New Products

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

Product #1 – Aurifil Nylon Monofilament Thread

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

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

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

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

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

invisible threads

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much Diane!

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

Product #2 – Chrome Needles 

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

Chrome plated needles

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

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

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

Upcoming Event – for your information!

NQA Quilt Show 2015

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

January 25, 2015, Notions Travel
Hanna’s Patchwork

You may remember when Hanna and Willy were here for Christmas, Willy finally got his turn to sew and he made a doll sized quilt for his stuffed animal (to read that post click here). While he was sewing, Hanna was planning her next quilt (that’s my girl!).

She’s definitely interested in quilting and during their visit she accompanied me to a guild meeting, and ran my computer slide show while I presented a lecture for Common Threads quilt guild.

lecture with HannaOne afternoon, at the beginning of their visit, we took my fishbowl of scraps off the shelf and the kids had a blast causing it to “rain scraps” in my studio (I’m one of the kids  😀 ).

h studio fun4

But in the next picture I realized that examining the scraps was more fun than throwing them for Hanna (Willy’s moving so fast, he’s just a blur behind Sommer).

h studio fun 3 wheres Willy

She touched, chose, arranged, and chose some more while Willy was quilting, and when he was done she asked if she could have a turn. She laid her chosen scraps in an arrangement that pleased her and then started sewing. It was a crazy quilt sort of way to do it and every so often I would rotary cut the edges straight so she could continue. She made a number of “chunks” from her favorite scraps.

Hannas patchwork 1

But time wasn’t on her side and all too soon, it was time to return to Washington. I told her we could put her pieces in a special place and she could work on it again on her next visit. She said she had a better idea – I could finish it for her!

On the long plane ride back from taking the kids home, I came up with a plan. Last year grandpa and I bought the kids Kindles for Christmas. They brought them on this trip, wrapped in a kitchen towel. Hanna’s birthday is on January 21st, and I decided a quilted Kindle sleeve would be the perfect place to use her pieces. I made an outside rectangle from the majority of the pieces, and the inside was made up of leftover flannel from the bed quilt I’d previously made her, with more of her pieced units in the “flap”.

Hannas patchwork 2The layers were quilted, then it was folded and stitched into a sleeve.

kindle holder inside

Lastly, a button and loop for were added for closing it up.

kindle holder It’s ready and in the mail to Hanna for her 9th birthday!

kindle cover finishedWilly’s birthday is in March. I’d better get going on a sleeve for his kindle too!

A Yo Yo follow up!

After last week’s post Eleanor sent me this picture:

Eleanor yo yo flowersHer guild made yo yo flowers for the centerpieces at a quilting luncheon (thanks for the picture, Eleanor).  This reminded me of a post I did a few years ago about fabric flowers and I thought I’d share that link, just in case you’re interested:

January 18, 2015, Kids
Yo – Yo’s

Mike and I were out antiquing recently and I found an absolute treasure! We do a lot more looking than buying (our home is getting full), but occasionally I just can’t say “no”. Here’s the story:

Fabric Yo Yo’s have always been popular with quilters. In my collection I have 2 antique coverlets (they’re not called quilts because they do not have the traditional “3 layers, held together with stitches”). This first one is put together with “squares” framed with a purple “sashing”.

Antique Yo Yo coverlet

I love this piece. The placement of the yo yo’s is rather unique and the “grape” clusters look wonderful hanging down the sides of a bed.

The other one is quite different. I was looking for a vintage quilt with a dog on it for one of my lectures and this one barked right out at me:


What makes it unique is that the yo yo’s are attached to a muslin back with tufts of wool yarn. The doggie is stuffed and has 3-D ears. They just don’t make em like this any more  😀 !

Clover came out with wonderful yo yo makers a few years ago and there was a big surge in popularity at that time. On our Sew We Go project, when we cruised through France, we used the yo yo maker to create a cluster of grapes on a quilter’s arm chair caddy.

yo yo armchair caddy grapes

It was Wendy’s idea … and very clever!

About ten years ago I adopted this clown from an antique store in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. His body is all yo yo’s and I just couldn’t resist him. He’s been sitting on a shelf ever since.

yo yo boy

This brings me up to my latest find. A yo yo girl!

yo yo girl

Isn’t she delightful? I think all of her yo yo’s are made from men’s silk neckties, and where the clown has pom pom hands and feet – she has bells. I just knew they were perfect for each other!

yo yo couple

They now share a shelf in “Sommer’s room”, and they’re a sweet couple of yo-yo’s!

Do you have any unusual yo yo items? Please send me pictures – I’d love to share them.

And just a quick reminder – the Floss Frenzy challenge is due February 28th. Here in Wisconsin, we are enjoying the perfect weather for sitting and stitching under a cozy lap sized quilt! So you have over a month to do just that and send me a picture. Remember – there will be a blog quilt show of these pictures – with prizes!!!



January 11, 2015, Vintage Quilts
Spinning Stars

Fussy cutting motifs from fabric is a technique that has been around for generations. It was made incredibly popular about 20 years ago by Bethany Reynolds (click here for her website). At that time I was intrigued by Bethany’s quilts and started playing with my own style of cutting identical triangles from large print fabric. To begin, I chose a teapot fabric with a lot of thin lines and curves.

ss teapot fabric

I found a traditional star block I liked, and devised a fun way to piece it.

ss teapot top

Isn’t the variety of stars amazing? And the fun part is, if I had cut the triangles just an inch away from where I did, every star would be different from these. I must admit, it’s addicting. I showed this quilt to friends and students, and my Spin Star class was born. It has been extremely popular over the years and I think the appeal lies in the fact that each star is a surprise! The down side is that it makes “swiss cheese” out of your fabric:

ss teapot holes

My stars begin as four stacks with 8 identical triangles in each. Here’s a portion of a Jane Sassamann fabric that worked great, and just one triangle stack:

ss sas fabric

ss sas triangles

This one stack of triangles can be put together 2 different ways – with the top right point at center:

ss sas star2

or with the lower left point there:

ss sas star

Here they are together so you can see how much variety there is in just one stack of triangles.

ss star compare

I think it’s time I sew those stars together!

These are the blocks I made from a Christmas poinsettia fabric:

ss poinsettia

Did I mention this is addictive?

During one class I decided to make stars from a fabric printed with adorable children.

ss kid fabric

These blocks have never been stitched together because, even though the star is pretty, it bothers me to see cut up kids swirling around:

ss kid star

If this type of play is of interest to you, I’ll be teaching my Spin Star class at WCTC on Saturday, January 17th, and we need 3 more students to sign up for the class to run. Please consider joining us! The deadline is this Wednesday.

Have you had fun with fussy cutting? Please send pictures. Oh, and those of you who have taken this class – I’d love to get photos of your star creations. Perhaps it would be fun to do a virtual quilt show on a future blog. Send pictures to me at:

January 4, 2015, Piecing
A Hera on My Quilt

One of the things I’ll remember about 2014 is this was the year I made bed sized quilts for three of my grandchildren. During this “quilt-making fest” I found a use for an old notion that I’d like to share.

A Hera is a traditional Japanese tool for marking and creasing fabric. They’re typically used for marking sashiko designs onto indigo fabric and the high-end models are made of bone. I’ve had a plastic one in my notions stash for years, and I mention it in my “Make Your Mark” lecture.

hera marking

It makes a crease in straight or gently curving lines, and the creases eventually flatten out and disappear. I usually prefer to mark straight lines with masking tape. So, I don’t tend to use my hera too often. But recently I found it to be very helpful!

It was time to quilt the borders on Sommer’s quilt and, as in Hanna and Willy’s quilts, I wanted to quilt a hand written message around the border. I only needed to mark a baseline to write on. I wasn’t planning on washing the quilt, so I didn’t want to use a washout marker. And the border was white, so soap wouldn’t show. Hmm. Tape would get in the way when I wanted to write below the baseline. That’s when I pulled out the hera. Because of the batting in the quilt sandwich, I was able to make a deep crease, along each border on the quilt.

marking with a hera

I marked one border at a time and each line lasted until that side’s quilting was done. Because I was quilting white on white, its difficult to see the quilting in the picture. There is quilted writing to the left of the needle and the arrow makes the crease easier to find on the right side of the needle (it was actually quite easy for me to see while I was quilting):

hera crease with arrow

I wrote the message tone on tone, and in cursive, so it will be something my grandkids will have to search for. The special message from Grandpa and me for each of them to have in their quilt is a slight variation on the following (depending on the child):

“We love you; not because you’re pretty, smart or kind (even though you are), but because God made you unique. There is no one else like you and we are so grateful you are our grandchild”. Then I signed and dated it right in the border – no label required!

Using writing as your quilting design truly personalizes your quilt – and the hera can help to make the task easier!

l Sommers quiltPS Sommer’s response when she opened her quilt was to wrap it around herself and exclaim “I love it!”


Upcoming Class Corner

Every so often I like to share information on my blog about classes you may be interested in. The following are the workshops I have scheduled for the Spring semester at WCTC. Wendy Rieves is also offering some wonderful workshops. Please go to, or call 262-691-5578, and sign up today!

304-621E Quilting – Spin Star

Saturday, January 17; 9 – 2:30

By combining a large, multicolor print fabric with creative cutting techniques you get star blocks that visually appear to “spin”. Create a four block wall hanging or table runner.

Example of project to be made in this class

304-621M Quilting Workshop: Quilt, Slash, Create

Friday, January 30; 9 – 2:30

Come for a day of fiber play. We’ll make 2 small quilts, stack them, cut geometric shapes through both, swap the pieces and sew them back together. Enjoy exploring your creative side!

Example of project to be made in this class

304-602I Quilting Workshop: Lone Star

Saturday, March 7; 9 – 2:30

Create this ever popular traditional star pattern with all the diamond points aligning perfectly. The secret is to piece them on a Quiltsmart© foundation. Everyone can have great results!

Example of project to be made in this class

Quilting – French Braid Runner

Friday, March 27; 9 – 2:30

Use a gradation of color or value to create a 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.

Example of project to be made in this class

A happy and blessed New Year to you all!!!

December 28, 2014, Notions
Merry Christmas and Quilts

This week has been an exceptional blessing for me. I flew out to Washington on the 13th to bring my oldest grandkids back to Wisconsin for a Christmas visit. Hanna (8) and Willy (6) are a joy to be with and we are having so much fun! Just before they arrived I finished Sommer’s quilt – and it’s wrapped and ready for her. This is the front:

Sommer's modern quiltAfter last week’s post, I chose to quilt the rest of it with different sized circles and spiraled around all of them. Then I “wrote” her a special message in the borders. Here’s the back (the “I Spy” side):

I Spy quilt backCan’t wait to see her response.

Once Hanna and Willy arrived, Willy reminded me that it was his turn to make a quilt. He was definitely wigglier than his sister, and grandma had to pay close attention to where his fingers were when sewing, but he picked out all the fabrics himself and stitched every stitch. Boy – was he pleased, and grandma was too!

Willy's quiltHe wanted to show the back too!

quiltmaker Willy back blog

Hanna and Willy helped Sharon and I “Ring and Sing” for the Salvation Army this year. We made a lot of people smile.

ringing and singing 2014 blog

We’ve been reading the Christmas story with the kids every night – and Willy is quick to shout “Happy Birthday Jesus”. This is the real reason for the season. Knowing that our Savior lives and is preparing a place for us in heaven is the greatest gift of all!

Today (Sunday) is the day we celebrate Christmas with all the Wisconsin relatives and tomorrow I take the kids back to spend Christmas with their family in Washington. What a blessing (and a very busy time!)

Wishing you a blessed Christmas, from my family to yours!

Kirsch Christmas 2014 blog



December 21, 2014, Kids
Quilting a Sommer Quilt

As most of you know, Mike and I watch our granddaughter, Sommer, full time. She is a joy, and next year we’ll be doubly blessed because daddy and mommy are expecting her baby brother in February. During breakfast a few weeks ago, I asked her what we should name her baby brother and she responded “Minnie Mouse sticker”. We smile a lot around here  🙂 !

Sommer will be moving into a big girl bed after Christmas, so grandma Chris needed to make her a quilt – of course. Her bedroom colors are pink, gray, black, white and teal – and the decor is very modern. A “modern” quilt would be ideal, but Sommer really loved the I Spy quilts she helped me make for her cousins. What to do? Back the modern quilt with an I Spy quilt!

Once both sides were finished, the sandwich was layered and it was time to quilt. The modern side has one wide, vertical band of a pink gradation fabric, and 6 different, wide, horizontal bands. I quilted around each of these areas with a walking foot first, and then the fun began. I made a curved template from card-stock to mark lines in the vertical band.

curvy template

I originally thought I would keep the curves lined up, but after a bit of experimenting, an hourglass shape seemed best. I marked the lines with a sliver of soap and continued to use the walking foot:

marking curvy quilting lines

This design simply hollered for circles to be added. I cut a bunch out of freezer paper, keeping the circles and the holes they were cut from, and ironed them to the quilt top.

freezer paper templates

I free motion quilted around the outside of the paper circles, and filled the empty holes with posies.

quilted flowers fill the freezer paper holes

And here’s the quilted vertical band:

vertical quilting full

You may have noticed that I personalized the simple “modern quilt” pattern. The owl is from a canvas Sommer’s Mommy painted for her room.

Sommers owl

and her doggies, Nirshey and Mosely, just had to be a part of the fun!

Next, I’m quilting around a variety of freezer paper circles and filling in around them with spiral designs. Stay tuned for a photo of the finished quilt.


Even Stitch Length – by Hand and Machine

When stitching by machine with the feed dogs, keeping a constant stitch length is easy, because the machine is in charge. When free motion quilting without the feed dogs – an even stitch length becomes much more difficult to obtain. Using a stitch regulator is one way to handle this problem, but if you don’t have a machine with that feature,  I’d like to share my two favorite tips:

Tip #1: Slow down the motor speed to about half (if your machine allows for this). Push the foot petal all the way to the floor, and adjust your hands to match this slower machine speed. The advantage is you don’t have to think about what your foot is doing and can concentrate on your hand movement.

Tip #2: Practice, practice, practice!

When hand quilting or embroidering, keeping the stitch length even can also be difficult. Once again, practice will yield better and better results. Tiger Tape™ can be helpful. It’s a 1/4″ wide tape with regular marks on it. You simply stick it onto your quilt top, and stitch along the edge of the tape. It can be reused quite a number of times.

Tiger Tape

Tiger Tape may be purchased at:

And one last suggestion that I found delightful! I stumbled upon this slick trick while surfing the internet and have to share. A picture is worth a thousand words:

Even Stitches

Don’t you love it? Simple and yet so helpful!!! I tried to find where this picture came from, but the facebook page the search engine sent me to was in Italian and I couldn’t find the picture anywhere on the site. I’d really like to thank whomever came up with this wonderful idea. I can’t wait to try it – and if you do – please let us know what you think!

December 7, 2014, Hand Quilting
Barn Quilts – When You Don’t Have a Barn!

Happy December! Let’s kick it off with a very unique December Barn Block  🙂 !

Mickey Miller was in a recent Mariner’s Compass workshop. She sent me an email after the class and here’s what she said:

“Thank you again for teaching the class yesterday, I had a great time learning. I didn’t finish my quilt block but I did use your compass method for my December barn board. Earlier this year I asked my husband to make me a small barn out of plywood. Each month I paint a new block for the barn. I am very excited with my December block.”

This picture shows Mickey’s innovative “barn”:

Mickeys barn

Here’s her painted December block:

Mickeys December barn blockAnd here it is hanging in all it’s December glory:

Mickey Miller compass barn quilt

Thanks so much for sharing your “barn” and blocks with us, Mickey!

Obviously these pictures were taken a few weeks ago, because we are now covered with a blanket of early snow. So, I’d like to close with a December picture of my barn block.

Winter barn blockHope you’re warm and finding lots of time to quilt those Christmas projects. I so love this time of year!


November 30, 2014, Uncategorized
Virtual Quilt Show – A Danish/American Challenge

Often I share things in my blog posts that pertain to places and events in southeastern, Wisconsin. I’m well aware that many of you live in other States. While putting together this week’s post about our Baltic cruise challenge, it occurred to me to mention that both of our upcoming Sew We Go adventures are currently priced without airfare. Our travel planner, Kristi, will work with each traveler to find them the best airfare possible and… since we’re not doing a “group flight”, she can help you arrange for flights from wherever you live!!!

(click here for Sisters, Oregon, July 8-13, or here for Europe October 9-19).

And now the quilts!

While on our wonderful cruise of the Baltic Sea, Wendy and I passed out “fat eighths” of a lovely blue/green batik, and asked our travelers, as well as the quilters we met at Kirstin’s Quilt in Roskilde, Denmark, to make something with it.

These were the “rules”:

Danish - American Quilt Challenge

And these were the fabrics:

Danish American Challenge fabric

The shop owner in Roskilde, our hostess Kirsten, designed a placemat pattern for our group – and even translated it into English for us. It was a very thoughtful gift:

Kirsten's pattern


Thanks to everyone who participated.

Here is our Virtual Quilt Show!


Mary Beth Weeks SWG placemats

by Mary Beth Weeks – “Attached is the project I made using the fabric you passed out to us on our (great!) Baltic cruise in May. I also included a very similar piece of fabric that I already had. I’m sure you recognize the place mat pattern as the one Kirsten gave us. I had only enough fabric to make two sets but my husband and I are using them now and enjoy the bright spots on our table.”

by Louise Sundquist - "I made four placemats using the challenge fabric and three other fabrics I purchased in Kirsten's shop."

by Louise Sundquist – “I made four placemats using Kirsten’s pattern, the challenge fabric, and three other fabrics I purchased in Kirsten’s shop.”

Ilse Jessen-Denmark

by Ilse Jessen – “I have always wanted to try this block. Now I had a chance to do it. Looking forward to seeing the other quilting items.”

by Eileen Diercks - "From the Danish/American challenge fabric I made a zippered pouch for my Kindle and its charging cord.   I used some of the “fancy” stitches on my machine, using a variegated green, blue and yellow thread which I had on hand, for the quilting.  For the lining I used a lime green batik fabric which I had in my stash, and the green zipper was also from my sewing supplies.  So it did not cost me anything extra for this handy pouch. Thanks for the challenge."

by Eileen Diercks – “From the Danish/American challenge fabric I made a zippered pouch for my Kindle and its charging cord. I used some of the “fancy” stitches on my machine, using a variegated green, blue and yellow thread which I had on hand, for the quilting. For the lining I used a lime green batik fabric which I had in my stash, and the green zipper was also from my sewing supplies. So it did not cost me anything extra for this handy pouch. Thanks for the challenge.”

Rostock, Germany

Nancy Hansen challenge piece

by Nancy Hansen – “The first photo is a border detail at Rostock Cathedral. The second is my attempt to replicate it.”

Margie Abbott Umbrellas

by Margie Abbott – “I just finished my challenge quilt. It is 46″x55”. It’s called “Dancing Umbrella” and was designed by Edyta Sitar. I used a brown batik in all but four of the blocks, where I used the blue challenge fabric to showcase the blue fabric. I enjoyed participating in this challenge and am anxious to see all the other entrants’ works of art.”

by Christina Yun - "Attached is a picture of my fabric challenge.  I used the challenge fabric for the top and the bottom of my smock cushion.  And, the remainder of the fabric I used as a ribbon for the doll's hair.  I had a lot of fun doing this challenge."

by Christina Yun – “Attached is a picture of my fabric challenge. I used the challenge fabric for the top and the bottom of my smock cushion. And, the remainder of the fabric I used as a ribbon for the doll’s hair. I had a lot of fun doing this challenge.”

by Karen Moore - A photo/Map memory quilt (note the addition of the pins she collected along the way)

by Karen Moore – A photo/map memory quilt (note the addition of the pins she collected along the way)

by Pam Merklein - "I used the fabric you gave us for the top portion of my “Oak Park Bag” and for the tabs and loop. The button was purchased in Tallinn, Estonia. I had a charm pack at home that provided the squares and the balance of the fabric was left from a senior HS gift quilt for my grandson. I look forward to using it and being reminded of our wonderful trip."

by Pam Merklein – “I used the fabric you gave us for the top portion of my “Oak Park Bag” and for the tabs and loop. The button was purchased in Tallinn, Estonia. I had a charm pack at home that provided the squares and the balance of the fabric was left from a senior HS gift quilt for my grandson. I look forward to using it and being reminded of our wonderful trip.”

Had a lot of fun making this table topper.   Have fond memories of the cruise. Thanks,  Jan Arndt

by Jan Arndt – “Had a lot of fun making this table topper. Have fond memories of the cruise.”

by Lisa Giesfeldt - Lisa made this small purse and said she "even used the ribbon that was wrapped around the fabric.  It's my zipper pull. The color worked with my batik choices."

by Lisa Giesfeldt – Lisa made this purse and said she “even used the ribbon that was wrapped around the fabric. It’s my zipper pull. The color worked with my batik choices.”

by Chris Kirsch - "I also made a tote. The fabric was mixed with many others is a tote pattern designed by a mutual friend, Kathy Frye. I used Wendy’s faux batik method to create the words “Sew We Go” for the front pocket of the bag."

by Chris Kirsch – “I also made a tote. The fabric was mixed with many others in a tote pattern designed by a mutual friend, Kathy Frye. I used Wendy’s faux batik method to create the words “Sew We Go” for the front pocket of the bag.”

"I also used the batik technique to put our logo on the pocket on the back of the bag. Kathy’s pattern is meant for a travel bag and this pocket has Velcro at the bottom, so the bag can be placed over the handle of a wheeled suitcase!"

“I used the batik technique once again, to put our logo on the pocket on the back of the bag. Kathy’s pattern is meant for a travel bag and this pocket has Velcro at the bottom, so the bag can be placed over the handle of a wheeled suitcase!”

And one more “non-challenge” picture! While in Helsinki we were treated to a visit to Marimekko Fabric. Nancy Hansen found a beautiful polished cotton and made it into a lovely jacket. She wore it to Patched Lives Quilt Guild this past month and it was stunning. She was kind enough to pose for a picture:

Nancy Hansen's jacketThanks Nancy!


November 23, 2014, Uncategorized
Quilts on the Ceiling?

I’d like to begin with an apology to Cindy Gillingham. Last week I shared pictures of 2 beautiful silk landscape quilts made by Cindy, but I mistakenly changed her name to Sue. I’m so sorry Cindy. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful quilts.


Just when you think you’ve heard it all – someone proves you wrong. While packing up my car after a workshop in Janesville recently, I got into an interesting conversation. I was asking Pat Burtness about her quilted jacket and found it was her own creation.

pats jacket

While I admired it, she asked me if I’d like to see the headliner of her SUV. She and her husband had covered the old, drooping headliner with a beautiful pre-quilted fabric!

Pats headliner

even the visors were covered (she had to un-quilt the fabric to make it work)

pats visor

My car’s only a year old and the headliner is fine, but this idea just tickles me, and has me dreaming…. thanks for sharing Pat. What a creative and talented lady you are 😀 !


Class Update

Friday, December 5th, I’ll be teaching a 5 hour workshop at WCTC called “Woven Star Stocking”. The stars are literally made from fabric tubes which are woven together (they’re not pieced!).

304-621K Woven Star Stocking

I got to thinking that this is a technique that’s fun to learn, and the strip of stars would be delightful in a placemat too. I haven’t actually stitched one yet, but here’s a virtual version I created in photoshop:

woven star placematThere’s still room in the class, and both the placemat and the Christmas Stocking instructions will be included. To sign up, please go to:

*****************************Dark Side quilt lecture

And one last bit of information to share. Tomorrow, Monday, November 17th at 7pm, I’ll be presenting my lecture entitled “Gone to the Dark Side” for the Community League of Menomonee Falls (for a lecture description click here).

The address is W152 N8645 Margaret Drive, and guests are welcome!

November 16, 2014, Uncategorized
Pyramids, Neck Ties, and Floss – Oh my!

Once again I seem to be collecting recent pictures of quilts and projects that are too good not to share. This week’s grouping of short “post-ettes” (mini-posts 😉 ) may be a little eclectic, but I hope you’ll enjoy the variety.

To begin, I taught a somewhat unique class this past week at WCTC. The project was called an “E-Reader Pyramid”. A while back, Jean brought a catalog picture to Open Lab of one of these unusual devices for hands-free reading on your E-Reader. I thought it would make a great Christmas gift for my grandkids (since we gave them Kindle Fires for Christmas last year), and I jumped into designing my own version. It ended up being a different sort of class for me. It was a fun group of pyramid builders, and we had a great time creating together:

pyramid makers

Here’s the one I made for Hanna:

Nancy Drew e-reader pyramid

I couldn’t resist making it out of “Nancy Drew” fabric. She may be a little young for these mysteries now, but I’ve decided that I’m going to gift her one of my cherished, vintage issues along with her pyramid.

For Willy’s, I didn’t have enough of any one fabric that seemed to fit, so I took some of the leftover fabric from his I-Spy quilt, and made each side different:

Willy pyramid 2*************

Last year I introduced you to my friend from Arizona, Margit Kagerer, and her amazing quilts. You can revisit that post at: I was especially intrigued by her necktie quilts. She does small photo snapshot quilts and larger innovative pieces. Here’s just one of the larger tie quilts:

necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer

Margit sent me a copy of her new book.

Margits book

It’s filled with beautiful pictures of her fiber art and a bit of her own thoughts on each. You can contact her at:


Cindy Gillingham makes photo snapshot quilts from men’s neckties too. She recently sent me pictures of her very creative art:

Cindy Gillingham necktie quilts

Cindy Gillingham necktie quilts2



Aren’t they delightful? I found her bindings especially effective in framing the quilts.


Moving on to a completely different style of quilting – I recently taught my Mariner’s compass class for a guild in Galesburg, IL. Joyce Kneer sent me a photograph of the project she completed from that class. Very impressive!

MC Joyce Kneer - Gaylesburg, IL


The next few pictures are of projects embellished with embroidery floss. With my floss frenzy challenge in full swing, I thought they might provide some inspiration. Plus – they’re just fun to look at.

Barbara Byron sent a picture of her embroidered barn quilt:

barbara byron emb barnsPatti Votruba has made some “girly purse” blocks using floss:

Patti emb purse blockAnd in this one she “fringed” the floss along the bottom edge for a really sweet effect:

patti emb purse block with ef fringe

Thanks to everyone who shared pictures this week!

And last, but certainly not least –

A SEW WE GO Update! 

Our 2015 adventures may seem far away but the details require months of planning.  We are quickly approaching some commitment dates with our vendors so we want to be sure we make arrangements for everyone interested.  If you want to participate but haven’t registered yet, please let our travel coordinator know by November 25!

You may email Kristi at   or phone 262-786-6763.

Our 2015 travels will take us to Sisters, Oregon July 8-13 (click here for details) and to Europe October 9-19 (click here to for details).

We always have loads of fun, please join in!

November 9, 2014, Inspiration
Biscuits Anyone?

Louise is a student in my Open Lab class at WCTC. She recently began making a biscuit quilt. I’d seen pictures of this style of quilt, but had never seen one “in the cloth”. It was fun to watch Louise’s progress.

Louise and biscuit quilt

She began with a cute, flannel teddy bear print, and cut out 4 1/2″ squares – fussy cutting each one so a bear was centered in it. She also cut some solid blue flannel squares this size, to create a pattern in the quilt. The backing squares were cut at 3 1/2″. I wasn’t quick enough to think to get pictures of Louise making biscuits, so I tried my own. Here are the supplies for one biscuit:

biscuit quilt

To make each biscuit she would pin the corners of a teddy bear square to the corners of a backing square, wrong sides together:

biscuit quilt

pleat each side, pin the pleats to three sides of the backing square:

biscuit quilt


and sew with a 1/4″ seam along the three sides:

biscuit quilt

She would then stuff a clump of fiber fill into the biscuit:

biscuit quilt

and machine stitch the fourth side closed:

biscuit quilt

She really got into a rhythm and we were amazed at how quickly she had made enough for her crib sized quilt (I now have my first biscuit made, and am on my way to my own biscuit quilt 😀 ).

Next, Louise sewed the biscuits together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, placing the blue biscuits in a pattern among the bears.

Louise biscuit quilt detail

Once the top was made, borders were added, and this past week she layered it with a pretty backing fabric and a thin layer of batt to give the whole project a bit of stability.

Louise biscuit quilt edgeMy picture of the entire piece didn’t turn out too clear, but it gives you a feel for the finished design.

Louise biscuit quilt entire

The quilt layers are pinned together and Louise is now tying  the layers together at each biscuit intersection with blue pearl cotton. She’ll do a bit of tying in the borders, and finish the edge with a binding.What a lucky baby!

Have you made a biscuit quilt? We’d love to hear your stories!


November 2, 2014, Uncategorized
Sew We Go to the Sisters Show

Sisters pic

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

Sisters pic2

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

Here are all the details from our brand new flyer:


Sew We Go to Oregon title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Payment Schedule:

Upon reservation: $300 per person

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

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

May 11:………………. Balance Due


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

January 25 until March 10 $500 per person

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

May 11 or after ……………… 100%

Journeys and Gatherings

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

PDF flyer button

October 26, 2014, Travel
A Little of This, A Little of That, and Chocolate

There have been a number of things this past week I’ve wanted to share – so I’m putting them all together into one post.

Mini Topic #1: Floss Frenzy Challenge Update

The response to last week’s challenge was great and many skeins have been sent off to quite a few different States. I still have plenty left, so if you’re still inclined, please email your snail mail address to:

Mini Topic #2: Quilts, Bees and Honey – But What Does That Have to Do With Chocolate?

Things associated with bees and honey have inspired quilts for years. There are patterns named “honeycomb”, “honey bee”, and “honey bee in the garden”. I’d like to share two of my bee related quilts. The first one is a placemat I made for a challenge when I belonged to a group called the Quilty Bees. Our leader was my friend Evelyn (of Quilt Sissy fame 😉 ). She has a thing for bees and even wore a bee costume in one of her quilt lectures. Here’s our Queen Bee (I hope these make you smile – thanks for the pics, Evelyn):

Evelyn bee 2 Evelyn bee

And here’s the placemat (complete with a pocket for silverware):

quilted bee fabric placemat

In the next quilt I used honeybees as part of the quilting design:

sewing bear quilt

I even have a vintage quilt from my husband’s family that is made in the grandmother’s flower garden pattern, which is also called the honeycomb:

vintage grandmother's flower garden quilt

I’ve been thinking about honey and bees lately because Mike, Sommer and I just made a trip to a delightful place called Honey Acres.

Honey Acres

Honey Acres is just north of Ashippin, Wisconsin on Hwy 67 (not far from Oconomowoc). They have a “Honey of a Museum” there, and it’s a great place to take kids. But, my favorite reason for going there is because they’ve recently gotten into the gourmet candy business, and their dark chocolate mints are fantastic. Since many quilters like chocolate too – I couldn’t resist sharing this information.

honey candy bag

These incredible candies have only three ingredients:

honey candy ing

No processed sugar, no gluten, and they’re delicious!!! If you’re a fan of dark chocolate, I highly recommend you give them a try. You can order them from the Honey Acres website:

Mini Topic #3: Inspired By Libby Auction

As many of you know, quilt teacher, artist, and judge Libby Lehman suffered a stroke in late April of 2013. A new video is up on the web containing pictures of 34 quilts made by many of Libby’s friends and fellow teachers. These pieces are being auctioned off to help cover the medical expenses for Libby’s care. They will be exhibited in both Houston and Paducah. To see the quilts and get in on the bidding, go to:

Mini Topic #4: Steam-A-Seam is Back, but …

I posted a few weeks ago about the Warm Company making an official Steam-a-Seam production update. I was very excited that it would be available soon. Well, they just announced that “Steam-a-Seam 2” is back.


I must admit, I’m very disappointed  🙁 . You see, I use this product to adhere sheer fabrics to my art quilts. Of the 4 original types of Steam-A-Seam, Lite without the “2” was my favorite, because it was pressure “sticky” on only one side and that allowed it to work great with sheers. Any time there is an adhesive that sticks without having to be heated, it tends to gum up the needle while quilting. When there are two layers of this type of adhesive, it gums up the needle twice as fast – ugh! I know that I can wipe off the needle with alcohol on a cotton ball, but that’s a pain.

So, the company has decided to only make Steam-A-Seam 2 and Lite Steam-A-Seam 2. I was so disappointed that I called the Warm Company and politely requested they put Lite Steam-A-Seam (sans the 2) back into production also. If you agree, you may want to give them a call at the number in their ad above  😀 .

I hope you found something of interest in this week’s post.

October 19, 2014, Uncategorized
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 – “From one fine thread a work of art is born”. With that in mind – here’s the challenge (with a tiny bit of pre-story  😀 ):

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 🙂

3.  Make something with it! Anything you choose! No size requirements! No real rules at all 🙂 ! 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
Facing a Quilt

I’ve discovered a great way to face quilts – giving the look of no visible binding on the front. I found it in an article by Kathleen Loomis, in American Quilter magazine 7 years ago.

It’s not uncommon for a faced quilt to end up with bulky corners, but Kathleen’s way eliminates that problem with a slick trick for trimming out the excess.  I’ve used her facing technique for many of my quilts and have always been pleased with the results. Here are a few of my faced quilts. All three of these quilts are clearly art quilts and I felt a binding would have detracted from the finished look of the quilt.

Risen - an experiment in celtic design using red rayon rat tail to outline all the elements.

Risen – an experiment in celtic design using red rayon rat tail to outline all the elements.


Interchange - made for a challenge called "Color Wheel Opposites"

Interchange – made for a challenge called “Color Wheel Opposites”

Vanishing Point - made for a challenge called "On-Point"

Vanishing Point – made for a challenge called “On-Point”



Kathleen has a great tutorial for facing quilts on her blog (with lots of clear pictures) . She’s refined her technique a bit since I first read about it, and she’s eliminated the curved corner pieces on the back, but the essence is the same. Rather than my having to redo the instructions, I think you’ll enjoy getting it from the originator. Please click on this link for the step by step instructions:

Give it a try and then remember to “bookmark” her site so you can find it again (although the link will always be on my blog and you can find it by typing “facing” in the search box on the upper right of my blog page).

Sommer Sews!

Sommer and I had a sewing adventure this past week and I just have to share. She came over wearing pants that were about 1 ½” too long. Grandma decided she needed to do a quick hem job and Sommer was fascinated watching me thread the needle. She climbed up in my lap and really examined each stitch I was taking. After a few she said “I do it” and tried to take the needle from me. I told her it was too sharp and she should just watch. My next thought was: “I wish I had an old fashioned sewing card for her”, then: “where can I buy them nearby”, and this was followed quickly by “you own a paper punch – go find some cardboard”  😀 ! In a short amount of time she had colored on her card, I wrote her name on it and then found an old rainbow colored shoe lace. I took a video as she stitched, and you may click here to watch it. Here are a few pictures of Sommer sewing!

Sommer Sews 1

Sommer Sews 2

Sommer Sews 3

She loved it, and sewed, and re-sewed the card three times. She sure is grandma’s girl!

October 5, 2014, finishing
Quilting in the Northwoods

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

Barn with lone star quilt block

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

NEI retreat NEI retreat2

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

NEI Sue quilt

Here’s a detail shot:

NEI Sue quilt detail

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

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

NEI Aurora NEI Sabrina and Valeria

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

NEI para class1 NEI para2

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

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

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

Lansing color

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

Horsfalls Variety, Lansing, IA

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


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



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


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

Horsfalls 5.5

and quilt batting (if you can reach it).

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

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

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

Horsfalls news

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

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

Lansing bridge

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

Ferrysville Amish

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

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

September 28, 2014, Travel
Sew We Go 2015

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

dinner shot1

Watching Reinhard create German Blaudruck fabric in Rostadt,

Handdruck demo in Rostock

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

E Tallinn-artist workshop fiber broach3

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

Sew We Go Copenhagen

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

class time at sea

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

So now we’re planning our next BIG AVENTURE!

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

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 11.53.22 PM

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 3.03.24 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Events

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

Scrap Happy - October 11, 2014

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

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.22.16 AM

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

Snowperson Topper - November 14, 2014

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

Woven Star Stockings - December 5, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willys rqayg first stitching

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

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

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

I Spy - quilt as you go

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

Hannas quilt back

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

Here’s Willy’s from the front:

Willy's I-Spy Quilt

And from the back.

I-Spy back

His checkerboard is better, but still not perfect.

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

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

New quilt Hanna New quilt Willy

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

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


September 14, 2014, Kids Travel
Madison Quilt Expo 2014

I’ve just returned from teaching at the annual Quilt Expo in Madison, WI. I believe it is the biggest quilt event held in Wisconsin and I’m always grateful to be a part of it!

Wisconsin Quilt Expo

The students in my lectures and workshops were a delight and, as usual, I think I learned as much from them as they did from me  🙂 !

This show seems to get better every year. The quality and number of vendors is incredible – and then there are the quilts! I just happen to have a few photos of some of my favorites from this year’s show to share.

You may remember a story I told in a post this past February about a collaboration quilt I made with my friend Evelyn, named “Intergalactic Journey” . It involved a UFO (Unfinished Object) found in her bathtub (if you’d like a refresher on the story, click here). We entered it in the Expo and just had to have our picture taken next to it at the show.

Expo 14 Bathtub

It’s such fun to create a quilt with a dear friend (although I still think we should have titled it “Out of the Bathtub”). The large circle was the UFO that started it all and Evelyn made it in a class named “Circles of Illusion” which was taught by Andi Peredja.

So, it was exciting to discover this next quilt a few aisles down at the show.

Expo 14 time to flyMade by Brenda Roach of Bloomfield, IN this lovely quilt is titled “Time to Fly”. Here’s her description:

“I was inspired by workshops that I had taken with Andi Perejda (“Circles of Illusion”) and Gail Garber (“Flying Geese and Swirling Designs”). I had also learned about designing with butcher paper and piecing with freezer paper. I began with the “Circles of Illusion” and designed the quilt from there.”

It was exciting to see the wonderful quilt Brenda created from her “Circles of Illusion”.

Two other quilts that tickled my fancy in the show were inspired by the same photograph. Lori Schloesser is a friend and fellow Fiberista member (our Watertown fiber art group). Her most recent project was inspired by a photo and here’s her description:

““Almost Peonies” is the result of a personal challenge to make something floral. My work is generally geometric and I’ve never done flowers. I chose peony buds because they were the most geometric flower I could think of. It was a fun challenge, and I managed to make the piece more linear than I thought was possible.” And here’s the quilt:

Expo 14 Lori

A bit farther into the show I was delighted to find a quilt made by Vicki Quint. Vicki is a Watertown quilting friend who moved away a few year’s ago. This is the description of her piece:

““Peonies Year ‘Round” – Lori Schloesser of Watertown, WI had shown me her photograph last fall of these peonies. She told me about her plans to make a pieced wall hanging. I asked her if I could have the pattern so I could needle-turn appliqué it. We both completed our versions.”

Expo 14 Vicki

How interesting to see the same photo recreated in piecing and appliqué! These are two very talented quilters.

I hope you find this last quilt/story interesting also. “From the Outside Looking In” was made by G Wong of Wellesley, MA, and she says:

“This quilt was inspired by the PBS documentary “The Amish”. The front of the quilt is the traditional Amish center diamond block which portrays a non-Amish person peering into the lives of Amish living. The back of the quilt is from the standpoint of an Amish person looking into the non-Amish world, as busy and full of noise.”

Expo14 AmishI think one of the best parts of the show to me was getting to see so many friends and students, to share a quick smile and a hi, or even stop for a few minutes to chat. Quilting friends are the best friends.

Floss Update

I’m still contemplating all of the great suggestions I received about what to do with my recently acquired, sizable, vintage floss collection (click here to read that story, just in case you missed it).

So far I did send 2 vintage boxes with a mix of colors to the American Quilt Study Group in response to Laurie Magee’s comment: “American Quilt Study Group is holding our annual seminar in Milwaukee at the Crown Plaza Hotel Sept 10-14. This is a group that supports research into the history of quilts, etc. Some of your vintage thread would be a wonderful addition to our silent auction.

This was a time sensitive suggestion, so I sent it right out and hope the floss finds a good home and provides some needed funds for this worthy organization.

The other comment that I wanted to share was from Karen. She wrote:

“This reminds me of mission I was on back in the eighties. I was doing counted cross stitch at the time and decided I needed all the colors. I’d stop on the way home from work once or twice a week buy a few skeins, and spend a bit of time wrapping each one around a little card designed just for that purpose. I ended up with about 6 plastic boxes with all the floss lined up in numerical order. I still have them and don’t need more! Good luck figuring out what to do with your great find.”

Well, Karen was a volunteer at the Expo and I was blessed to have her help in my room during a lecture. She told me she had used some of that floss to make a color wheel. This intrigued me and I asked if she would send a picture. She not only did that, but brought it in to my lecture the next morning and said I could share it on the blog (thanks Karen!)

Expo 14 Karens floss color wheelIt was even more beautiful in person! Thanks Karen! I’m not sure if I’ll make my own, but I certainly do have the floss to do it  🙂 .


And one last item I’m really excited to share. If you have taken my Parallelisms class (from my book: Where Do I Start With Fiber Art). You know that I talk about using a product called Steam-a-Seam™, from the Warm Company™, to fuse sheer fabrics to quilts. A little over a year ago Steam-a-Seam™ disappeared from the marketplace because the company that made the release paper went out of business. Well – I have great news – I went to the company website and it looks like we need only wait til the end of September. Here’s what I found:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.30.20 PM

September 7, 2014, Inspiration Travel
A Pony Quilt – 18 Years in the Making!

This week I have exciting news to share – well, at least it’s exciting to me! A quilt I began over 17 years ago, and chose to hand quilt, is finished!

Let me tell you the story and then unveil the quilt :-).

Quite a few years ago my husband gave me a pattern for a civil war era hoop dress and the hoop skirt to go with it.  He had been at a Civil War reenactment, found these items, and thought I could make a costume to wear when I lecture. This was the inspiration for my first lecture about antique quilts entitled “But I Still Love You”.

Vintage Quilt Lecture by Chris Lynn Kirsch

In planning an introduction for this lecture I came up with an idea that required me to have a vintage dog quilt and a vintage pony quilt. I acquired the dog quilt shortly after coming up with the intro idea, but there were no pony quilts to be found. I had planned to give the lecture for my own guild, Patched Lives, first. So I did my intro and asked the ladies in my guild to imagine that they were looking at a pony quilt (ha!ha!).

A few days later I received an envelope in the mail from a guild friend (thanks, Johanna). She sent me a pattern for a carousel pony block and a note saying that perhaps I should make a pony quilt. What a great idea! I grabbed my small pile of vintage feed sacks and took them along to Paducah with me. That year Wendy, Jill, my Mom and I were all spending quilt week in Paducah together and I conned them into making pony blocks. They each chose the fabric they liked and hand buttonhole appliquéd a pony onto a piece of muslin.

pony blue pony green pony pink pony yellow

Upon arrival home I stitched the top together, bordering it with orphan bow tie blocks which were given to me by my friend Barb.

At that point I decided the quilt needed to be hand-quilted, but couldn’t talk my Paducah buddies into doing the quilting on their blocks. I enjoy hand-quilting in small increments, and typically worked on this crib sized piece while traveling to Paducah each year (Wendy never did give in and offer to help). This past April I actually did do quite a bit of the quilting during our AQS adventure, so I decided to take it along when Mike and I drove to Philadelphia last month. I really worked in earnest on that trip, because I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. It only took me one evening of quilting after our return to actually finish the quilting. Putting the binding on was a joy!

carousel pony quilt

I love it!

I used the corners of a vintage hanky for the saddles, the same black trim from my dress became the poles, and embroidery floss (go figure), was used for the tails. They’re adorned with a few old beads and buttons.

Do you have a quilt that has taken you over 18 years to go from start to finish? Would you like to share your story?


This week I’ll be heading to Madison, WI for Quilt Expo! I’ve been blessed to teach there every year since the beginning. This year I’m doing “Sit and Sew’s” on free motion quilting, and lectures on many different ways to add circles to your quilts. It’s always a wonderful show. I hope to see some of you there!

Needle Wars

I’d like to begin this week’s post with a big THANK YOU to everyone who responded to last week’s Floss Frenzy post. There were so many great suggestions, and there is so much floss, that I’ve decided I’m going to divide it up to use it in a number of different ways in order to benefit as many as possible. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve recently been made aware of what sounds like a change for the better in the sewing machine needle industry: color coding of needles. When a student mentioned this to me I did an internet search and discovered this information on the Schmetz site:

Schmetz color coded needles

Used with permission from Schmetz –

My reaction: what a great idea!!! Even with a magnifying glass, I find it difficult to read the print on a needle.

According to the Schmetz website:, they are just beginning to faze in this new improvement. So I’m going to watch for the Top Stitch, Quilting and Jeans needles (my favorties) to come out with color coding.

At this time I am using a method for identifying needles that has worked well for me most of the time. I have a divided pin cushion that I’ve marked with the needle sizes I use. When I’m changing needles, and the used one still has life in it, I stick it in the appropriate place in the cushion. I then put a fancy headed pin in the section that represents the needle I’ve just placed in the machine. That way I always know which type and size is being used.

sewing machine needle organization

While getting ready to share this blog, I received my most recent e-newsletter from Superior Threads. I enjoy getting their newsletter and highly recommend it (you can sign up at Well, the newsletter began with an article about color coding needles, and this is what it said:

Superior Threads on color coded needles

Used with permission from Bob Purcell,

Elizabeth’s suggestion for color coding needles is another clever idea.

I must admit, I’ve used Schmetz needles for years and find them to be very good quality needles. Superior Threads has great titanium needles and I use those too. It’s a personal preference which you prefer, and I think we need to be aware of what’s out there and try them all until we find what works best for each us.

By the way – there is a hilarious video on the Superior site called Quilters Anonymous. Watch it if you need a smile!



August 24, 2014, Notions
Floss Frenzy

In my blog post from August 3, I mentioned staying at the Quill Haven B & B in Somerset, PA. Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.48.41 PMRowland and Carol were wonderful hosts, and during one of our many conversations, I mentioned I was a quilter. Rowland said to me, in a rather excited tone: “do you know about floss?” I answered “yes, I’m also a dental hygienist” (groan). He did laugh politely, but then told us about a very large box he had in the attic of his barn. His sister-in-law had passed away a few years previous and she had at one time owned a needlework shop. They were still trying to find homes for some of her things and they hadn’t yet figured out what to do with this box full of embroidery floss! Then he asked if I wanted it. I of course said “yes”!

So Mike made room for it in the trunk of the car and I didn’t allow myself to open it until we were home and unpacked. What an adventure opening that box was! It contained 237 boxes of DMC floss!!

DMC Embroidery Floss

The back of each box is stamped “Made in France”, and they look to be quite a few years old. I did an internet search to learn about DMC. The company got it’s start in 1746, and you can read the history at: . There is more information about the company today on the “about” page of that same website.

So, I pulled out all the boxes and arranged them by number.

Vintage DMC Floss

237 is a lot of boxes of floss. Each box originally contained 24 skeins of the same color floss. There were only about 7 colors that had multiple boxes and a majority of the boxes were full! I thought I’d open a few so you could get a better feel for the amount of floss I had been generously given.

Vintage Embroidery FlossThe problem is – I don’t do that much embroidery. So what to do with all this floss?!? The first thing I decided I would do is keep one skein of every color for myself, so I pulled these from their boxes and laid them out in numerical order.

Lots of Embroidery FlossWOW (an understatement)! What a feast for the eyes! I was amazed at how often colors switched in this line up.

So here’s where you come in. I’m looking for suggestions on what to do with the rest of the floss.

Should I keep the collection together? If so, who would want it?

Should I take it to my quilt guild and have a give-away floss frenzy? (after you get first dibs – Barb J 🙂 )

Should I have some sort of a “winner take all” contest on the blog?

What would you do with it?

Perhaps everyone who comments to this post should win a box :-)!

Please let me know. I look forward to your input!

And a quick reminder

Saturday, August 23rd is rapidly approaching and there are still a few spots left in my free motion quilting workshops at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art. Click here for the descriptions and a link to sign up!

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

August 17, 2014, Notions