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
Thank-you Quilts

Last month, while teaching in Door County, WI, I met a quilter named Laurie who showed me a delightful butterfly quilt and shared it’s story with me. She related that she’d been the treasurer, membership chair and newsletter person for their guild for 10 years and when she finally let others take on those positions, the members of the guild made her thank-you blocks. Miriam was the one to choose the butterfly block (a rather unique one for a friendship quilt) and she organized the block making/collecting. Here’s a picture of the delightful quilt! Miriam is on the left and Laurie on the right.

Laurie's butterfly quilt

Each block is signed, and when I told Laurie how impressed I was with the way they were set with raw edge appliquéd wild flowers, she told me that she and her husband “parent” monarch butterflies. A few year’s ago I noticed a monarch chrysalis attached to a potted coleus in my driveway. It was such fun to check it each day and watch as the butterfly inside grew, emerged, climbed to the top of the plant, dried it’s wings and then flew away. Laurie and I had a nice chat about butterflies and I realized that the blocks were a truly thoughtful gift.

Laurie allowed me to photograph the graph paper drawing of the quilt (I was so glad she’d brought it along.

butterfly draft And here’s a detail shot (note the 3D monarch):

butterfly detailI’m so grateful to Laurie for sharing her quilt and it’s story with us.

Over the years I’ve held offices in many guilds and have received two thank-you quilts. I really cherish them. This first one was a collection of “Indian Hatchet” blocks from the members of Mad City Quilters in Madison, WI. Thanks to Carol for organizing the collection. As soon as we’d moved to our new home, I put the blocks together and quilted my lovely friendship wall hanging. I still have great memories of the members who’s name grace it.

autograph quilt Mad City

A few year’s later I was president of Common Threads Quilt Guild, in Sussex, WI, and Valeria not only organized the making and collecting of the blocks, but she had taken my Mariner’s Compass class and chose to make a compass for the center. If that weren’t enough, she added prairie points around the edge and handquilted this lovely lapsized quilt.

autograph quilt Common Threads

I think you can see why these quilts mean so much to me. Have you ever received a thank-you quilt? Please send me a photo, I’d love to share it on the blog.


August 10, 2014, Uncategorized
An Amish Adventure

You may remember my mentioning that Mike and I were in Philadelphia over the 4th of July. We decided to drive there and, to make the journey more enjoyable, we chose to take our time (3 days out and 3 days back) and stay in Bed and Breakfasts along the way. Mike used to absolutely refuse to stay in B&B’s, but after a number of years of my politely requesting we try it, he gave in and it was such a good experience – we’ve stayed in many since. Prior to this trip I did some on-line research into B&Bs in the area we’d be traveling through, and things couldn’t have gone better.

In Somerset, PA we stayed at Quill Haven. I was truly excited when I first found them on line, only to realize it wasn’t Quilt Haven (the owner, Carol, has a thing for hedgehogs :-).

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But in their lovely home Carol had quilts on the beds, made by her Mother. She and Rowland also had beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, chickens and … goats who liked oatmeal cookies (and their goat’s milk fudge was delicious).

Philly goatsWe enjoyed the surroundings and conversation so much, we stopped for another night with them on the way back to Wisconsin also.

Further down the road on the return trip we stayed at the Big House in the Little Woods near Shipshewana, IN. Once again, the owners were warm and friendly and their home was charming. This was obviously in Amish country and Gail not only made a scrumptious breakfast (with Dave’s help), but she’s a quilter. There were once again quilts on all the beds,

Philly bed quilts

as well as the walls

Philly wall quilts Philly crib quilt

and windows. Gail said she adjusted a table runner pattern to make this valance. I apologize for the poor quality photo – the colors were really lovely)

Philly valance

A real highlight was when Dave asked if we’d like to go for a buggy ride. He called his neighbor, Ben, and within the hour we were touring the Amish countryside in a horse drawn buggy!

Philly mk buggy

Riding with Ben and Missy (the horse) was a real treat.

Philly Missy

Ben has a wonderful sense of humor (he has 11 children, all of them boys except for 9), a wild sense of color (he chose the interior for the buggy without any help from his wife),

Philly buggy

and a real gift for conversation. Mike was in the back and did the photography (with permission from Ben).

Philly shadow

Ben Borntreger holds two quilt/rug/craft auctions every year at his farm in Millersburg, IN. The auctions are held on the 2nd Saturday in April and the 3rd Saturday in September. The address is 4110S 1000W, Millersburg, IN 46543. You can call him for more information (they have a phone by the road and they check their messages often): (260)593-2640. I hope to get to one of his auctions in the near future. It would be a great opportunity to visit Ben, Dave and Gail once again!

August 3, 2014, Travel
Problem Solved

I’ve been doing a lot of quilt related stuff lately and find myself in the wonderful position of having many blog topics just waiting for a week to be posted. I’m grateful to have so many fun things to share. This week’s post is from an email I received a while ago. I think you’ll find it quite interesting:

Hi Chris,
I was told that if you want to hang a small wall hanging all you have to do is pin the corners onto the wall.  I decided to try that with my 30s flower wall quilt.  Obviously, my 26″ X 30″ piece was too big because after several months it began to sag in the center.  I am sure the added weight of the applique added to the problem.  I knew I had to add a sleeve and dowel but since that is not one of my favorite things to do I just left the quilt on wall for a few more months.  The sagging got worse!

I finally added a proper hanger but of course that did not solve the problem.  I tried starching the back and ironing it, that didn’t help.  I laid it on a table, put a cutting board on top and weighted it down with heavy objects for several days, hoping to get it to flatten out, but that didn’t help.  I didn’t know what else to do.  I just resigned myself to the fact that I had ruined my wall hanging and would never just pin a piece on the wall again.

Then I read your January blog, “Wash and Pucker?” and decided to try your method of blocking the quilt.  Here is the result!!!!

Lorrianes flat quilt

Thank you so much for your wonderful article!  I can now go downstairs and enjoy my wall hanging again! Lorraine Bahr”

I was thrilled to received Lorraine’s email and to see the results on her beautiful Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I’ve used blocking to fix minor problems with many of my quilts and I hope you found Lorraine’s adventure helpful. In case you missed the instructions for my blocking technique, go to:

Do you block your quilts? 

Also, this past week Natalie sent me this photo of a quilt she began in one of my classes.

Natalie Rockley Fiber Art QuiltHere’s what she had to say:

“Hi Chris, You taught a “Parallelisms” workshop on Oct 18, 2014 in Hendersonville, NC and this is my finished quilt from that class. Thank you so much for a fun class! Pattie Votruba helped me put the finishing touches by teaching me how to embellish with beading.”

What a happy quilt!

Thanks Natalie and Lorraine!

Speaking of beading, this leads me to one more item I’d like to share. My friend Sandy Hendricks (who taught me about thread painting faces), has an exhibit of her beaded floral quilts on display at Eclectica Bead shop in Brookfield.

beaded fiber artHer work is wonderful and the shop is truly a bead adventure. Here’s the contact information, in case you are able to stop by:

Eclectica & The Bead Studio
Galleria West Shopping Center
18900 West Bluemound Rd., Ste #148
Brookfield, WI 53045

July 27, 2014, finishing
Upcoming Events! Pat Sloan and Me

The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

I’m thrilled to announce that in August I’ll be teaching two classes at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 11.09.06 PM

The date is Saturday, August 23rd. In the morning I’ll help students to realize that “quilting the quilt can be as much fun as making the top” in my “Beyond Meandering” workshop.

free motion quilting

The afternoon workshop is called “Threaded Borders” and in it quilters will learn how to take simple shapes and designs, combine them with high contrast threads and take their quilts to a whole new level of excitement.

quilt borders in thread

One class flows nicely into the next and you would be welcome to take either one … or both! (there is a discount if you sign up for both).

For all the information please go to:

Pat Sloan in Wisconsin

You are invited!

Three Milwaukee area quilt guilds: Crazy Quilters (Mukwonago), West Suburban (Brookfield) and Patched Lives (Wales), are teaming up to bring nationally known quilter, speaker and teacher, PAT SLOAN, to Wisconsin for a 4 day event!

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On Wednesday, September 10th, Pat will kick off her visit with a lecture at the Richard T. Anderson Center on the Pewaukee Campus of Waukesha County Technical College, 800 Main St, Pewaukee, WI. The lecture is entitled:

An Evening With Pat Sloan – “Quilting with Expresso …. Quilts, Creativity, and Fun!” 

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You are invited to this event! It is open to everyone. The fee for the evening is just $10 (there is no charge for members of the three sponsoring guilds).

Then, on the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Pat will be presenting two different and exciting workshops – and we have a few openings left:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.04.55 PM

Wild and Free – create quilts with personality (this workshop is being offered twice!) – Thursday, September 11, and Saturday, September 13, 2014; 9 – 3:30

The second workshop is:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.06.06 PM

“The Magic of EASY Machine Appliqué” – draw, cut, machine stitch, so easy anyone can do it! – Friday, September 12, 2014; 9 – 3:30

We’ve created a website about the event with loads of information about Pat and all the details on the event. Please click on: to read all about it!

There are a few spots left in the workshops, and they’re going fast. If you’re interested in signing up you may contact Kathy Frye:, (262)424-4477 cell, (262)679-1798 home.

Hope to see you soon!

July 20, 2014, Classes
A Student’s Quilts

After a wonderful trip to Philadelphia (to watch the fireworks on the Delaware River with a group of my cousins!), Mike and I returned home with enough time for me to get a good night’s sleep, repack and head up to Door County for a teaching engagement with a lovely guild named the Trillium Quilters. A bunch of us had a lot of fun on Thursday playing with color, fabric and design in my “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art” class. Whenever I teach this workshop I invite students to send me pictures of the projects they create with the techniques.

A few month’s ago I taught this same class for a guild in Iowa City. One of the quilters emailed me afterwards – with pictures!!! What a joy for me as a teacher :-). Here’s what she said:

“Chris, I’m Karen Miller (aka Anastasia) from your workshop at the Old Capital Quilter’s guild in Iowa City.  I have been playing with the parallelism technique you taught us.  I have been having so much fun with it.  Several years ago at one of my small quilt groups we played with the paint sticks and stamping on black fabrics.  I had three pieces when I finished.  I brought them home and laid them on a piece of rust batik that I had.  I liked the combination but couldn’t figure out what to do with them.  After I had your class I decided I was going to use those black painted fabrics using your technique.  What fun!!!!
I am sending you pictures.  I have added teal batik and some black and tan strip fabric from my stash.  I also did beading, but it doesn’t show up very well in the picture.  I will find a place in my home to hang these.  The tape on the finger worked really well when I was doing the beading.  The first and the third pictures are my favorite.  I am anxious to show them at the next guild meeting.
Thanks again for coming to Iowa City.  Karen”
And here’s the photos she sent to me:

Karen-FA1 Karen-FA2 Karen-FA3What a great way for Karen to use the surface design fabric she had created with Paint Stiks! Over the years I’ve played with a number of different techniques to add surface design to fabric. They haven’t always turned out great, but I kept them – of course. maybe I just need to cut them up and use them in something new. Perhaps it’s time for me to dig into that pile of opportunities and play!

Do you have a pile of your own surface design fabrics that are calling to you right now?

July 13, 2014, Design Uncategorized
Quilt Magazine Fun!

Just a bit of inspiration, before I share the “topic of the week”:

A friend recently sent me a link to a web site which features “satellite photos from Digital Globes in an attempt to change the way we see our planet Earth” These pictures are truly amazing and I saw quilt inspirations everywhere. Here’s just one.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.03.46 AM

I highly recommend visiting the site:

Now for more “Quilters in Denmark” excitement:

We just received information on this article which will appear in Kludemagasinet, the quarterly publication of the Dansk Patchwork Forening (guild).   []  The issue (#3) is not yet available for sale on the website but here is the article on our visit, written by shop owner, Kirsten Ekdahl.

 Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 9.14.50 PM


Google translate offers this rough translation:

Letters from Readers

American Quilters By Kirsten Ekdahl, Kirstens Quilt 

Most quilters would like to visit the shops and meet other quilters when they are traveling. This applies when Danish quilters are traveling, but it is certainly also true of quilters who visit Denmark.   

On May 18, 2014, 48 U.S. quilters (including a few spouses) traveled to Denmark to participate in a Baltic cruise.  To start the trip, they wanted to meet some local quilters. This brought them to stop by Kirstens Quilt in Hedehusene, who arranged a delicious 3-course meal and socializing with Danish quilters. Charlotte Bergstrom was invited to show some of her amazing textile images, which were very much admired. Although guests were tired after a long flight and a tour that morning, the group enjoyed lively conversation and exchanged lots of experiences and opinions – both patchwork and quilt, but also about much else. 

As a special gesture, the group brought gifts – and a challenge – To all Danes. We offer’ fat eights’ (approx. 22 x 55 cm) with a call to sew something with the fabric and send pictures to Chris Lynn Kirsch. Thereafter, they will be posted online in a small gallery together with the creations of the Americans. All in all a great day for everyone, who went home with lots of inspiration.  


So, the fun of our Baltic adventure continues! What a blessing!

Wendy and I did pass out fat 1/8ths of fabric to the Danish quilters and those in our group. Everyone was asked to make some quilted item of their choosing with it and send me a photograph by October. These projects should be quite interesting and I’ll post a link on this blog to the photographs when it’s done.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

My most recent quilting creation was made from the autograph blocks we exchanged on the trip, and flag blocks of the countries we visited. The predomanent colors are red, white and blue, so I couldn’t resist leaving you with this photograph of my latest “patriotic” quilt (When I put a centerpiece over the flags, it really does look perfect for Independence Day :-).

autograph runner

July 5, 2014, Travel Uncategorized
Painted Quilts

A while back I did a post about the painted barn quilt I ordered to hang on our shed (click here to read about it). barn quilt My dear husband had encouraged me to paint it, but I was more than happy to purchase it from someone who was good at painting. “Give me a sewing machine, not a paint brush” was my motto. Well, not any more.

I live a few miles south of Watertown, WI. Watertown is a small city that lies midway between Milwaukee and Madison. We’ve lived here for 10 years and find it to be a friendly community with a lot of charm.

The Watertown Arts Council “was founded in 1964, and their purpose is to foster and encourage, coordinate, establish, and publish the performance and exhibition of the creative arts in Watertown, and to encourage, develop, strengthen and enrich the cultural life of the area; to further develop a general interest in the natural beauty of the city and to promote an interest in cultural landmarks and work for the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and natural beauty.” One of their projects has been to paint murals on our downtown buildings: Welcome to Watertown That being said, last year they put together a program where they made banners available to anyone interested, asking them to paint both sides for display on Main Street during the Summer. They were great! Some were made by individual artists, a number were made by groups of kids in the elementary schools, there was a lot of variety.

This year they chose to do it again and Kay, one of the members of our small fiber art group, decided we should make a group banner. She got the idea one week before the deadline – and we all said yes! We met for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon, brainstormed a different design for each side and started doing some painting (I was amazed at how quickly and well this came together – it’s a great group!). During the next week, three of the members took turns doing the rest of the painting – and we got it done before the deadline! The banners were coated for the weather and then hung on lampposts up and down Main Street.

Here are a few of my favorites. fish banner copy This one was made by the students at Douglas Elementary School: kids banner cow banner And then there is ours – side #1: 2014 banner2and side #2: 2014 banner1 I actually had the privilege of painting a portion of the Mariner’s Compass side and I discovered that painting a quilt is actually fun … and it goes faster than sewing it. Fiberistas 2014 banner 2I’m quite sure I won’t give up my Baby Lok for a paint brush, but I recommend stepping out of the box every once in a while.

If you’re looking for a nice driving destination, please come and visit our town. On Main Street alone we have family run shoe and furniture stores, two ice cream places (Mullen’s is my favorite), an old fashioned theater where first run movies are $4, and there are many other nice shops and restaurants throughout Watertown.

There are also some nice quilt shops out our way. If you’re coming from Milwaukee, you’ll definitely want to stop at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. Their fabric department is actually a large, high quality quilt shop. Plus their craft supplies and gift items are spectacular. Their website is:

After spending some time in Watertown, it’s a short drive south on Hwy 26 to Jefferson, where you’ll find a shop called Tea and Textiles at the corner of Hwy 26 and Hwy 18. Barbara has a great selection of fabrics and you’re always welcome to a cup of tea. For more information go to:

If you’d rather head north a ways, J & A Stitches, near Juneau is a very unique quilt shop. Take Hwy 26 north and then head west on Hwy 60 a short ways to Welsh Road. You’ll probably have to wait for the geese and peacocks to clear the drive before you can make it up to the farm house/quilt shop. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the adventure. You can find them on the web at:

June 29, 2014, Uncategorized
Thread Portraits

This week I’d like to introduce you to a very talented fiber artist and dear friend. When Sandy Hendricks joined the Milwaukee Art Quilters a number of years ago, she brought with her a portfolio of some of her work, and we were blown away. She’d devised a free motion machine embroidery technique to do portraits in thread of residents in a senior living facility. Sandy was kind enough to allow me to photograph some of these works. Even though I took these pictures rather quickly, and with my phone, I think you will still be amazed at Sandy’s ability to capture the essence of these dear people.

thread portraits sandy 2 sandy 3 sandy 4 sandy 6

When my Mother-in-law passed away, I asked Sandy if I could hire her to do a thread portrait of Johanna and her response was “you should do it”. I remember that I chuckled and repeated my question. That time she said she would show me how. Well, life got busy and I didn’t bring it up again for over a year.

Sandy and her husband Jon have traveled to both Italy and the Baltic Sea with Wendy and me. Here’s a photo of them with Wendy having breakfast at our villa in Sienna.

Sandy, Jon and Wendy

While on this last cruise I brought up the subject again. Sandy said she was serious and she’d be happy to teach me how she does her portraits. So, last week I finally took her up on her generous offer!

I brought an 8″ x 10″ photo of my Mother-in-law to Sandy’s home

Mom V small

and we began by tracing some of the details of the picture onto tracing paper. Then she helped me pick out a variety of threads from her substantial collection and encouraged me to do a bit of practicing with the threads to decide which ones would work (after posting this picture I realized that the practice piece on the right looks like some sort of weird modern art).

sketch and practice

Sandy does her portraits on a product called Lutradur. It’s a stiff material that seemed to me to be a cross between paper and fabric, that comes in different weights. I did my practicing above on a medium weight sheet.


Next I traced Mom onto the Lutradur – and began stitching in the lines. Sandy’s advice was not to overdo, and my first attempt was a bit heavy handed. At that point I thanked her and headed to Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc for some Lutradur. I went home, began again, and I was fairly happy with the results this time.

Johanna in thread

I think the piece needs to have some areas shaded in more, but I don’t seem to have the right variety of flesh toned thread – at least thats my excuse!

God has truly blessed Sandy with a wonderful talent and she is very humble about it and so generous to share. Thanks Sandy, for a fun morning!

I’ll leave you with something Jon told me that just might make you smile. He came home while I was stitching and when I asked him where he’d been he said he was having breakfast with the Romeo’s. When I questioned him about it he responded that it stands for “real old men eating out”. Too funny!

One more thing I just need to share :-)!

When we had dinner at the quilt shop near Copenhagen, a Danish quilter named Kirsten, dined at our table with us. Here’s the picture from a previous post (Kirsten is in the center).

dinner shot1During our conversation she told us she was very excited because she was planning on attending the IQA Quilt Show in Rosemont near Chicago this month. This past Thursday Nancy (next to Wendy on the left) sent me this email:

“Hi Ladies, I just had to tell you the neat thing that happened today.  I was at Rosemont for the day.  I knew that Kirsten from the quilt shop in Denmark was going to be there, so I was watching for her–and I found her!  Had a nice chat with her, and then we found Kristi and Pam.  Since Pam drove down, they were able to have dinner tonight with Kirsten. Isn’t that great?  Just had to share.”

What a delightful continuation to our Sew We Go adventure, but it gets better! Saturday morning Kristi called everyone who had been at that table, to tell us that Kirsten was taking the bus from Chicago to Milwaukee. Kristi was going to pick her up and take her to Patched Works Quilt Shop and out for lunch. She invited us along. None of us was able to make it, but we were able to meet up with them a little later at Kristi’s home for a lovely time of conversation, snacks and eventually – pizza! (all except Lisa, who had to work 🙁 )


This was a special, and unexpected, treat for us all. Kirsten took the bus back to Chicago that night, and Monday morning she flies to LA to meet up with her 3 daughters. The plan is for them to rent a car,  and tour California, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota (I may have missed a few). We wish her safe travels and count ourselves very blessed to have had the chance to get to know this sweet quilter from Denmark, just a  little better :-)!


June 22, 2014, free motion
Tallinn, Estonia

A quick addition to last week’s pictures from Rostock, Germany. I didn’t want you to think I was the only one hugging German men. Wendy found two (Reinhard, and Klaus – the tour guide):

Wendy and 2 men

And Kristi (our fantastic travel planner) rated a kiss!

Reinhard and Kristi

Speaking of Kristi, she arranged for a phenomenal trio of classes while we were in Tallinn, Estonia. Estonia holds artists in very high regard. We began with a stop in a handicraft type shop. This shop had quite a variety of items (from hand knit sweaters to wooden trivets and so much in between). They were all made in traditional Estonian style.

Tallinn handcrafts

In the back room of the shop was an exhibit of fiber art. The artist’s made wall art inspired by jewelry (the jewelry was displayed in shadow boxes next to the art).

Estonian fiber art

This reminded me of a recent Milwaukee Art Quilters challenge called Bead Inspired (click here to see the quilts in that exhibit).

Many artists are trained at the Universities in Estonia, and the old town of Tallinn is filled with shops and studios featuring these very creative individuals. A short walk from the handcraft shop we discovered more fiber art for sale:

Tallinn Estonia fiber art E Tallinn-Estonian fiber art3 E Tallinn-Estonian fiber art5

What a feast for the eyes. But this was nothing – Kristi had scheduled our travelers to take classes with a group of Estonian artists! Our next stop was the studios of the Katariina Gild.

Here is a picture of the members of this “Gild” from their website: (I highly recommend visiting their site! It starts in Estonian, but if you scroll down a ways it’s in English! Be sure to visit all the pages 🙂 )

Katariina Gild Estonia

We broke up into smaller groups and some of us took a class in Patchwork, making an embroidered and quilted bag:

E Tallinn-artist workshop-patchwork2 E Tallinn-artist workshop-patchwork3

Others took a Fiber Art class, and made broaches from yarn and other embellishments.

E Tallinn-artist workshop fiber broach3 E Tallinn-artist workshop-fiber broach

and there were even workshops in Leather Art. I found that intriguing, and the instructor, Pille, was very talented and very inspiring. In the first photo Jerrie and I are making business card wallets. In the second we’re posing with Pille and our finished creations. It was an interesting process, and I did buy one of her handmade books (on the shelf behind us).

E Tallinn-artist workshop-leather2

E Tallinn-artist workshop leather-JerriePelleMe

It was a wonderful day of inspiration and learning. I didn’t take any photographs of the finished projects (the patchworkers actually placed their projects into a packet and stitched it closed for the trip home – so none of the rest of us got to see them), but we’re having a cruise reunion in July and I’ll be inviting everyone to bring what they made for show and tell. Watch for pictures in a future post.

I wish we could have had another day in Estonia – what a wonderful place to explore!


June 15, 2014, Travel
Blaudruck and Handdruck

Blaudruck, is a German word translated Blue Print. It is a dyeing method in which a white pattern is formed on a blue background. It uses what is called “reserve pressure” in which the fabric is printed with a resist (called a “Papp” in German) and then indigo dyed.

Handdruck is a German word that can mean “hand printing”.

We were able to experience both first hand on our tour in Rostock, Germany. We began the tour on the outskirts of Rostock, just down from St. Peter’s church, on what looked to be a residential street.

Blaudruck outside1

What a delight to discover we were heading to this shop:

Blaudruck Rostock Germany

On the first level of Christine and Reinhard Haase’s home we were treated to a demonstration of Handdruck, and a display of both Handdruck and Blaudruck created by the Haase’s. Note the logo to the right on the sign above – Haase is German for hares!

Reinhard is a delightful, bearded man with a great sense of humor, who didn’t speak a word of English – and yet we all thoroughly enjoyed his demonstration! They use very traditional German methods for their art, and he had a book showing how they still do it the old fashioned way. Then he jumped right in!

Handdruck demo in RostockHe demonstrated how he loaded the dye onto the traditional blocks, lined up the design, and printed a table runner before our eyes.

Haase Blaudruck Rostock GermanyThe Handdruck “direct printing” demonstration was easy to understand and he made it look quite effortless (I’m sure practice has a lot to do with it!). A Blaudruck demonstration would have been more difficult to do as the Papp (a resist made of the sap of birch trees and clay – if I understood our guide correctly) would be applied with the “blocks”, dried, indigo dyed and then washed in a special solution to remove the Papp. After the demonstration we were able look more closely at some of the shop samples and make some purchases.

blaudruckhanddruck I’m so pleased to own a blaudruck runner and egg cozy from Reinhard’s shop. I’m also happy that he agreed to a hug and a photograph!

Blaudruck Reinhard and me

What a delightful and educational visit!

And here’s an interesting addition to last week’s post. I ended with a picture of Sew We Go making our mark on Copenhagen:

Sew We Go

I just found the photo I’d taken of the description of the “Happy Wall”:

Happy Wall Copenhagen

For more information and a fascinating tour into the art of this very creative man, go to:!about1/cnk1 

June 8, 2014, Dyeing Travel
Sew We Go to the Baltic Sea

Wendy and I have returned from our quilting adventure on the Baltic Sea – and it couldn’t have been more wonderful. We traveled with a warm and friendly group of 51, including quilters, non-quilters and 5 men! Sew We Go Each and every one was a blessing to Wendy and me. Our event planner, Kristi, of Journeys and Gatherings, was able to join us on the trip, and she kept everything running oh, so smoothly. We visited 6 countries in 12 days and the weather couldn’t have been better (they say it is only sunny 60 days each year in St. Petersburg and we got 2 of them :-)! The Norwegian Star cruise ship crew did a fantastic job of keeping us comfortable, entertained and well fed.

I’m planning to share the quilt/fiber aspects of the trip over the next few weeks. Kristi did a great job of fulfilling our wishes for special excursions that would appeal to quilters and fiber artists, and these stops were mixed well with tours of the important things every tourist in that area would want to see. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about what quilters and fiber artists are doing in other countries. We’ll begin in Denmark :-)!

We flew into Copenhagen very early on a Sunday morning. After a visit to the Viking Museum (which included a typical Danish lunch) we checked into our hotel for a bit of a rest (we’d flown through the night) – and then it was on to Kirsten’s Quilt in Roskilde. Yes – a real live quilt shop just outside of Copenhagen! And it is a large and well stocked shop. kq That would have been exciting enough, but then Kirsten and her group of Danish quilters served us a fantastic meal in the upstairs classroom and then we all ate together and got to know each other. I bet you can’t tell the Danish quilters from the Americans! dinner shot2dinner shot3 dinner shot5 dinner shot1 Kirsten gave each of us a placemat pattern of her own design: Sew We Go After dinner, Wendy and I made a little presentation of some things we brought to share with the Danish group. I gifted copies of my 2 most recent books and Wendy shared the story of Quiltina, w giving qt sm and then gave Kirsten her very own Quiltsissie! Kirsten WCWe also brought fat 1/8ths of a lovely green/blue fabric which we gifted to all of the Danish quilters in hopes they will join us in a: challenge Next we went downstairs to do some fabric shopping, Kirsten Quilt and admire an art quilt display by Charlotte, one of the Danish quilters. To see Charlotte’s work, please go to her website: It was a delightful evening of quilts, food and friendship. If you’re ever in Denmark, I highly recommend a visit to this shop. And that was just the beginning of our Baltic adventure.

The final day of our trip we spent in Copenhagen once again. This time a number of us set off on our own for a train ride into the city and we discovered the Happy Wall. It is a large black wall with hinged, rectangular, colorful “doors”, that passersby are invited to flip, thus creating words and designs. We couldn’t resist making our mark: Sew We Go CopenhagenHere’s a distance shot, so you can get some perspective: Sew We GoWhat fun! Next week I’ll share what we learned about Blaudruck fabric printing in Rostock, Germany.

And one more thing :-): I have a free motion quilting class coming up on Friday, June 13th, called Beyond Meandering. In it I share how to make quilting the quilt as much fun as making the top.

free motion quilting

The class needs a few more students in order to run. If you’re interested, please register at Thanks!

June 1, 2014, Travel
Sew We Are – in the Baltics


I will not be blogging for the rest of May because Wendy Rieves and I are on our most recent Sew We Go Adventure – leading a quilting cruise on the Baltic Sea. It promises to be a great adventure and I’m sure I’ll have lots of fun, quilty news to share when we return. Thanks for stopping by!

May 16, 2014, Uncategorized
Ugly is in the Eye of the Beholder

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

ugly fabric challenge

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

ugly swiss cheese

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

ugly fabric challenge stars ugly ss2 ugly ss4

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

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

Antique 8 pointed star quilt

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

ugly tablecloth above

ugly tablecloth

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

Blog Update

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

May 11, 2014, Challenges
The Queen of Quilting

I learned to quilt while living in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and I was blessed to immediately become a part of a group called the Prairie Heritage Quilters. This group puts on a quilt show in Sun Prairie every Spring and it has the distinction of being the longest running show, headed by the same person for 40 years! The leader of this group of quilt lovers is Klaudeen Hansen, and I’m very pleased to be able to say she’s a friend of mine.Prairie Heritage Quilters 40th AnniversaryAt this year’s show there was a special room filled with memorabilia from the past 40 quilt shows. It was in this room that we had a photograph taken of the current Prairie Heritage Quilters group. A Madison area art quilter, Marlene, made the crown Kaudeen is wearing, and dubbed her the Queen of Quilting.

queen of quilting

Klaudeen has been a positive influence in my quilting career and I thought it would be a good idea to do a tribute to her as this week’s blog post.

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 3.05.02 PM

Klaudeen started teaching sewing for Madison Area Technical College in the early 70’s. Somehow that transitioned into teaching quilting for them as well. We’re quite sure she was the first quilting teacher MATC had.

The Prairie Heritage Quilt Show started basically as a show and tell display in 1974, so all of her students could see what the others were creating.  The first year or two this was held at St. Chad’s church.  It moved to St Albert’s as it grew and was held in the lower level. The first contest was in 1977 and it had 66 entries. The show moved upstairs and included vendors in 1979. This is a picture of some of the original members in their quilt aprons at a show in the early 80’s (Klaudeen is on the right).


The show has always been on a Monday, and then it grew to add Tuesday (they couldn’t start on Sunday because the show was held in the sanctuary of the church and thus, the quilts were hung on Sunday afternoon). These are unusual days of the week for a quilt show, but it’s worked well in Sun Prairie. Our group would have to move out all the chairs (assisted by some husbands, sons and brothers) and move in the quilt racks. Then the hanging of the quilts would begin.

Over the years the show has become very popular. There was a time 11 tour buses brought quilters to the show in one day! and … one year a TV show called PM Magazine (like a local entertainment tonight) filmed their show from our show! Quilted ribbon toppers were first created by Arlene Statz in 1983, and were hand quilted by her! We believe we were the first show to ever make them, if not the first anywhere, definitely the first in our area.

I joined the group in the late 80’s and this photograph was the first one I have of the group (I’m bottom row center, next to Klaudeen).

Klaudeen Im a PHQ

In going through my photos, I came across a quilt I entered in the show in the early 90’s, called “The Sidewalks of Sun Prairie”. It was the first quilt I made using my Repliqué technique and it won 2 of Arlene’s ribbons! A First in wallhangings, and a special Originality ribbon too.


Klaudeen (and the Prairie Heritage Quilters) have also been a big part of the American Quilters Society’s history (AQS). She met Bill and Meredith Schroeder in Bell Buckle, Tennessee at the National Quilting Association Show, over 30 years ago. The Schroeders owned a publishing company that published Collector Books. They decided quilting was an up and coming past-time and wanted to put on a show, but weren’t sure how to go about it.  They were introduced to Klaudeen and she helped write the rules for the AQS show. She also hand typed the show book for them for years! Quilts were entered by slides, full size and detail, those were logged by Klaudeen to be sure they were entered in the right category, etc.. Then two slide projectors were set up side by side, in Sun Prairie, to view the quilt entries. Klaudeen and the Prairie Heritage Quilters juried the AQS show for the first several years. They also made the Viewer’s choice boxes (still in use at the Paducah show) and hung the quilts at the AQS show as well (we still help with the hanging of the show every year).

Klaudeen ribbon topper

The dogwood ribbon toppers for the AQS show have been hand made by the Prairie Heritage Quilters all these years. Klaudeen’s daughter Janell is an active part of the PHQ and was the ribbon maker one year. She, along with Jean Sessions (one of the original members and our unofficial historian), shared information and pictures for this post with me. The above topper was made by Jean. Judging of the AQS show was Klaudeen’s responsibility. She does not judge the show in Paducah, but is the one to convey the expectations to the judging staff.

Klaudeen is also the editor of the AQS Quilt Art Engagement Calendar. These wonderful desk style calendars have a beautiful quilt featured next to each week of the year, and – each year at the Paducah show an Autograph party is held at which many of the quilt makers are invited to attend so that purchasers of the calendars can have the pages autographed. It’s a fun, free event to attend at the show!

Klaudeen calendar

Klaudeen continues to work every AQS show, along with her husband Merv, and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all! Besides her work on the various shows, she is a teacher, lecturer and quilt judge. If your group is looking for a speaker with a wealth of experience and a delightful enthusiasm for our craft, I can garauntee you’ll enjoy Klaudeen. You may contact her at: Klaudeen Hansen, PO Box 253 Sun Prairie, WI 53590;  608-837-2298


May 4, 2014, Uncategorized
I Spy – a Beginning

Well, this past week just flew by – and it was a wonderful Quilt Week in Paducah! The quilts and vendors were very inspiring, the weather couldn’t have been better, and Wendy, Emily, Katherine and I even got to catch up with Quilt Man at the Grace church luncheon on Friday (his sidekick “Bobbin”missed it because he has a day job :-).

Quiltman in PaducahLater that day I came upon the Statue of Quilterly (my name, didn’t know what else to call her) posing near the gazebo on Broadway … only in Paducah!!!

Statue of QuilterlyHere are some non-documented, but interesting statistics we heard from a dear man in a van who gave us a ride to the Convention Center one morning. The city of Paducah has a population of about 26,000 and around 40,000 quilters descend upon the city for 1 week!

There is so much to do! Besides the AQS show, classes, and vendors, there are many lovely antique and specialty stores downtown, and almost all of the empty storefronts fill up with vendors. There is an antique quilt display and more vendors at the Rotary club every year.

This year we also did an evening stroll, called Parlors and Porches, that wound through the Lower Town area.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 3.00.22 PM

A number of years ago Paducah came up with an artist relocation program where the old, deteriorating homes in the downtown area were sold, at a great discount, to artists who would then renovate them and move their studios there.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 2.58.01 PM

Caryl Bryer Fallert was one of the artists who relocated there (although she built a new home/studio in the area).

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 3.04.43 PM

On Friday night we purchased a wristband and then were treated to tours of studios and some of these renovated homes. It was great fun. Some were so lovely, some extravagant and one oddly fascinating.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 2.58.26 PM

We ended the evening with “Bubble Tea” at Etcetera.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 2.59.16 PM

I highly recommend you experience a Lower Town tour for yourself during next year’s show!

And finally, here’s the “I Spy” portion of this week’s post:

Last week I shared a picture of the kitchen studio Wendy and I set up in our Paducah abode. We actually did do quite a bit of stitching during Quilt Week. This year I brought along the components for two “I Spy” quilts that I’m making for my older grandchildren. Prior to the trip I collected 6 inch “I Spy” squares. Then I cut enough backing and batting squares for two twin sized quilts. Here are some 6″ squares for Hanna’s blocks (white batt, various “I Spy” prints and flannel squares in yellow and “Hello Kitty”, which will alternate on the back of the quilt):

I Spy beginningsWhile in Kentucky, I layered and quilted all of Willy’s squares (the back of his quilt is flannel too, and will alternate between blue and “Spiderman”)


I got over 3/4’s of Hanna’s squares quilted also


I hope you can see that Willy’s are quilted with a free motion “W” and Hanna’s with an “H”.


Now it’s time to do some unpacking. Then I’ll finish Hanna’s squares and hopefully get started on putting both quilts together using Sharon Pederson’s “Reversible Quilts” technique.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.18.58 PM

I’ll keep you posted as things progress.


April 27, 2014, Uncategorized
Happy Easter From Paducah!

The AQS quilt show is this week and the quilts will be hung on Monday. So, Wendy and I decided to drive down yesterday (Saturday) and spend Easter Sunday together! The drive was sunny and pleasant, and it was such a joy to see the trees leafing out part way through Illinois. As usual we looked forward to going over the “Flying Geese” bridge that spans the Ohio river just before we arrived in Paducah.

Paducah-14-fg-bridgeWe stay downtown in a B&B that takes up the entire second floor above a Mexican restaurant. So, the first order of business was to haul all of our stuff up the very steep staircase.

Paducah-14-stairsAt that point we needed a break and decided to take a walk by the river (stopping briefly to take a picture)

Paducah-14-friendsThat done, we couldn’t put off the “studio set up” any longer.


Paducah-14-studio2Then it was time for a dinner of Fajitas downstairs and a bit of stitching before heading to bed.

This morning we attended a joyful Resurrection Sunday service at the church which hosted part of the quilt show during the year of the flood. What a blessing.

While driving we were overwhelmed with the beauty of all the blooming things.

Paducah-14-bloomingThe dogwoods are at peak and the prettiest we’ve seen them in years.

Paducah-14-dogwood-2This afternoon we did something very unusual for us on Easter. We went to a play. Our place is right across the street from the Market Street Theater and they were performing a matinee of Steel Magnolias. It was very nice and the walk home was short (this is the front of the theater and the arrow in the tree is pointing at the windows of our abode :-).

Paducah-14--theaterTomorrow we’ll help to hang the quilts and then the excitement of quilt week in Paducah begins.

Just a little aside. Wendy’s birthday always falls during quilt week. This time it is the day we’re heading home. Prior to the trip I was trying to come up with something special to do for my dear traveling friend – then the idea hit. We not only do Paducah together every year, but we lead tours in the US and Europe together under the name “Sew We Go”. So, as a remembrance of our journeys together, I made her a “Sew We Go” pillowcase.

Paducah-14-pillowcase-stripsComplete with project fabrics from some of our previous adventures.


It was a joy to make and I hope Wendy enjoys many good nights resting her head on it!

Happy Easter, one and all! And may the weather be warm and sunny, wherever you are!









April 20, 2014, Uncategorized
Dangles that Tangle

It seems every so often I just have to share a post about jewelry. I came up with a unique way to store dangly earrings and I hope you find this helpful (or at least interesting). I enjoy wearing artsy earrings, but there’s a problem:  most artsy earrings dangle and when stored – dangles tangle!

While untangling one morning I got to thinking that the inside of the vanity door beneath my sink could be put to use. I went out and bought a couple packs of cup hooks and then smiled sweetly at Mike. He fell for it and headed to the shed to get his drill. About 10 minutes later my problem was solved!

hanging dangly earringsIt works great! They’re right where I want them when I’m getting ready and they’re not at all in the way!

dangles-2The best part is, there’s plenty of room for more cup hooks :-)!

Do you have any clever ways you store your jewelry?

Oh, here’s one more quick pic – the charity quilt I was having free motion fun with in the last few posts!




April 13, 2014, Uncategorized
Snipping Bobbin Threads on Top

Have you ever been quilting a large quilt on your domestic machine and needed to cut the bobbin thread? Climbing beneath the mass of quilt can be a miserable act of contortionism. Here’s a simple way to cut the bottom thread from the top!

1. Sew a number of tiny stitches close together and stop:

cutting bobbin threads on top2. Raise the needle, and pull the quilt away so you can grab the top thread:

free-motion-fun-snip23. While holding that thread, place the needle back in the same hole (close is good enough):

free-motion-fun-snip34. Raise the needle again, then tug on the thread you’re holding. You may need to grab the thread above the eye of the needle with your other hand and tug on both threads. The bobbin thread should pull to the top:

cutting the bobbin thread on top5. Pull the quilt away from under the needle while holding onto the threads. Continue to tug on the threads until about a 1″ loop of bobbin thread comes to the top.

free-motion-fun-snip56. Cut all 3 threads that are coming out of the hole (the top thread and both ends of the bobbin loop.

free-motion-fun-snip67. The top thread will now be cut even with the quilt top, and the bobbin thread is now severed, with no tail on the back. Here’s a picture of the loop of bobbin thread cut off:

free-motion-fun-snip7It really works! Try it, you’ll like it!

This week I’d like to share a second topic. I hope you’ll enjoy:

Quilting With Kids Revisited

This past week, my nephew’s 7 year old daughter, Lily, came for an overnight visit because she wanted to learn to quilt. She had seen the quilts her cousin Hanna had made and wanted to make a quilt too (click here to read about my granddaughter, Hanna’s, quilting adventures).

Right after a breakfast of Uncle Mike’s waffles, we had to head to the studio (she didn’t even want to change out of her jammies). Lily is very bright … but she’s always moving, so I thought this might be a bit of a challenge (here’s a typical shot of her :-)):


She did great! I had her pick out 12 charm squares from my box of 6″ squares, in order to make a doll quilt. She arranged them in a 3 x 4 set and the sewing began. She listened well and was very careful.

kids quilting

Once the top was pieced, she chose a piece of flannel for the back, layered it with batting, pinned all around, and sewed – leaving an opening for turning.

kids quilting

She then poked out the corners.


And quilted 1/2″ away from the outer edge and with an “X” through the middle. She sewed every stitch herself!

kids quiltingThen she wrapped a dolly in it and said “can we make another one?”

Lily-with-dollBy this time Aunt Chris decided we all needed to take a walk in the woods :-)! It’s so much fun to share your passion with the younger generation!




April 6, 2014, Uncategorized
Free Motion Fun

I recently completed a challenge quilt I’d been working on since the beginning of the year and it was time to do something easy. Months ago I’d picked up a kit to make a charity kid’s quilt while at my quilt guild – Patched Lives. This is a very generous guild and I’m proud to be a part of it. Our wonderful charity quilt committee recently wrote in the newsletter that since they began working on the committee, the guild has donated 207 quilts! The fabric in the kits is donated, and the kit I picked up was especially cute. It contained a pre-printed panel, borders and backing. This proved to be the perfect simple project for my mood. I added the borders and safety pinned the layers together. As I began to think about the quilting, I thought it might be fun to share my process on the blog.

First, I like to do a bit of machine guided quilting to hold things together. Since I hate to stitch in the ditch, I chose to quilt 1/4″ from the seam using the walking foot and my “3 pin technique“. When quilting long straight lines it’s not uncommon to have the top layer shift a bit by the end of the line, resulting in puckers, even with a walking foot. To prevent this I sink the needle into the quilt at the beginning of the line, then place 3 straight pins, about 1 1/2” apart, in front of the needle.

walking foot quiltingI pull the pins out as I sew up to them, and when I reach the third pin, I re-pin once again. It may seem a bit tedious, but I get great results!

Next, it was time to free motion quilt. I moved to my Sweet 16 and positioned the quilt in my Quilt Float. When I was teaching Beyond Meandering at the FVTC Quilt Expo recently, I explained the quilt float to the students and told them I’d put a photo on the blog. Here it is:

free motion quilting made easy

If you’d like to know how to make your own (and it works great with a domestic machine too!), just click here.

I recently received a delightful email from Sheila about the Quilt Float. She gave me permission to share it here:

“A little late for starting to use a Christmas present.  A busy schedule and a knee replacement didn’t help me start using my Christmas gift from my husband.  I had shared with  him the description in one of your blogs showing a plan for hanging a quilt sandwich in a way that made the quilting easier to do on my “regular”  Viking machine (floating with the poles and clamps).  So he purchased the needed supplies for the project as my Christmas gift.  Was I ever surprised that he remembered my sharing your blog with him so long ago.
Today we set up the equipment and I started quilting a sandwich that I plan to give to his grand-nephew and bride at their June wedding.   I had a wonderful afternoon with the floating process.  The system made it so much easier to move the quilt sandwich through my machine.”

When I asked Sheila if I could quote her she said “I hope others enjoy the system like I do”.  Thanks so much Sheila, I’m really glad it’s worked so well for you!

As I had stated previously, the kit was made up of a panel, so how should I quilt it? Well, if I stitch on the lines of the design, I will need to stay on the lines – ugh! It would be much more fun to stitch 1/8″ away (or there abouts – notice how I used thread to match the background so it wasn’t obvious if my 1/8″ wasn’t consistant?).

free motion funIt was fun, and I had the center quilted in no time. Then I got to the plain, peach borders and, without much thought, decided to “spiral”. This is my “default”, because I love to “spiral”. I put in a matching thread and got the machine humming. After a while, Mike walked by and I stopped and said “have I thanked you recently for buying me this wonderful machine?” (that was a story from last year  called “Sweet 16” – click here to read about it :-))

He walked over, looked at my quilting and said: “how do you keep the spacing between your lines of stitching so even?”

free motion fun

I jumped up and gave him a big kiss! Sometimes he says just the right thing. And the answer is… practice! And aren’t charity quilts the perfect place to get that practicing done?

I have one more trick that came in handy on this quilt, but this has gone a bit long, so I think I’ll save it for next week. Stay tuned for a slick way to cut your bobbin thread from the top!

And just one more thing! I continue to be very busy traveling and teaching. I had the privilege of judging the Evergreen Quilters Show in Green Bay, WI this weekend. It’s a wonderful guild and the show was great. I’d like to share a picture of the Best of Show award winner, Toni Bergeon, and her quilt: “Reverie”. It was spectacular!


And the Winner is…

ME! Last Fall, while teaching at Quilt Fest in Oconomowoc, WI, I purchased raffle tickets from the Oconomowoc Quilters Guild for their first ever raffle quilt. In January I got a voicemail saying “you’re the winner of our raffle quilt”. On the message Hilda, the guild president, held out the phone to the group and everyone was yelling “yea” and “hooray”. I wish I could have answered in person :-). I called Hilda back and we arranged for me to pick my prize up at the February meeting – which ended up being cancelled due to freezing rain :-(. This past week there was no snow or ice, and I had the wonderful privilege of accepting my quilt in person from all these dear ladies. I copied this off of their website:

Oconomowoc raffle quilt

It’s gorgeous! Many members pieced the blocks, appliqued the borders and worked on finishing this beautiful quilt. It was machine quilted by Dawn Thurow with lovely swirls and feathers. I am so grateful to each of these dear quilters and amazed that I won!!!

I took it home and immediately snuggled up with Sommer under my rainbow of stars.


Have you ever won a raffle quilt?


March 23, 2014, Uncategorized
On the Road Again… and Again… and Again!

In the past 8 days I’ve taught in 3 states and packed and unpacked suitcases 3 times! I’ve met so many wonderful quilters and my quilts have enjoyed getting out and being seen. I’m so blessed to be able to do what I love and have the energy to do it :-)!

In Princeton, IL I presented my lecture: “Journey With a Compass” and the following day they chose the Mariner’s Compass workshop. We found a large, oval platter in the church kitchen where the workshop was held and these 4 talented quilters really made great progress towards getting them done.

Mariner's Compass class Kate did it all with her hand in a cast (I was impressed)!

Mariner's Compass class

From there I stopped home for a day to regroup and then traveled to Iowa City for a Threads Untangled lecture and a Parallelisms workshop. What a friendly and fun group. The fiber art created in class was delightful, but I was remiss and totally forgot to take a few pictures :-(.

I then returned home for 2 days to pack up for the Fox Valley Technical College – Sewing and Quilting Expo in Oshkosh, WI. I taught an all day Free Motion workshop on Friday, and on Saturday I did 5 lectures in 8 hours – Whew!

quilt lectures

The toughest part was packing 7 bags and loading them in the car. I’m so glad I have an SUV that can hold it all.



The students were interested, and interesting, and there was so much information to share and many beautiful quilts to see. It really was great fun, and I slept very well last night :-).

One of the interesting things I learned was in the evening lecture with Karen Kay Buckley. She highly recommends serrated scissors for cutting out fabric. They enable you to cut through many layers without having things slip around. She has them available on her website: Her quilts are wonderful (you’ve probably seen them on the cover of a magazine or two), so do spend a little extra time checking out the gallery section of her site.

Thanks to everyone who made this past week so enjoyable!

Did you attend the Expo? Did you learn anything you’d like to share?



March 16, 2014, Uncategorized
Snow Dyeing 2014

A few years ago I had a dyeing adventure which I shared on the blog. It began with a baby shower for my daughter-in-law. We tie dyed onesies and diapers/burp cloths, and I ended up doing a bit of snow dyeing. To read those blogs click here and here :-).

At our Fiberistas meeting last week, our group of Watertown fiber artists decided to try our hand at snow dyeing (we certainly have enough snow around here!). We did it simply, and used a Tie Dye kit from JoAnn’s. Mike was kind enough to clear a space for us in his heated shed. We just had a bit of warm weather, followed by freezing rain and a dip back into bitter cold, so the snow was crusty and hard. Mike to the rescue! He dug up some loose snow with the bucket on his tractor and dumped it right outside the door.


It didn’t seem right for him to be dumping snow on an area he’s had to scrape snow off of almost daily for months! But he did – and it was very convenient.

We each brought a bin with a rack in the bottom (cookie rack or whatever we could find), to keep the fabric out of the melting snow. I’d read that it’s a good idea to get the fabric wet and freeze it prior to dyeing. Lori did so, but only crumpled her fabric slightly  before putting it in the freezer and it worked quite well (smart girl). The rest of us squeezed our wet fabric into tight balls, then froze. Not a good idea. We needed to thaw them a bit to get the fabric to lay out in our bins. Once that hurdle was past, we shoveled snow on top and made “sno cones”.

snow dyeingHere’s a picture of a few of us happy snow cone makers (Annabelle is standing in for me :-):

snow dyeing

The snow began to melt in the barn while we went inside for Show & Tell and socializing. Everyone took their bins home. We were to dump them when the snow had melted and rinse the fabric. Only Lori remembered to take a picture of the melted mess before dumping (gorgeous in her red bin).


So here are the before and afters:

Kay (her before picture is “making sno cones” above):

snow dyeing







Me (left) and Lori:

snow dyeing

I began with unbleached muslin (2 pieces) and Lori started with white:

snow dyeing

snow dyeing






Ida (left) and Helen:

snow dyeing


snow dyeing

snow dyeing





Ida didn’t use as much dye, so hers are softer in hue, while Helen began with a “white on white” print, which added extra interest.



Here’s Liane’s:

snow dyeing


Her variety and intensity were quite interesting!snow dyeing

Each month our group plays with some different type of surface design or embellishment and we’re learning a lot. I highly recommend this type of play for your group!

Also, Last week, when I shared Margit’s quilts, I wasn’t aware she had a website. To see even more of her exciting work, please go to: I mentioned the Mavericks Art Quilt Group and they also have a site that I’m sure you’ll enjoy:

One last item! I have a fun, fast, piecing class coming up at WCTC. The pattern is called Card Trick. It’s a wonderful design for showcasing pretty fabrics and the pattern is for a lap sized quilt, but it would be easy to make it smaller or larger to fit your need. There are still a few openings.

quilt quick card trick

A Quick Card Trick – April 11; 9-2:30: Learn this strip piecing twist on the traditional card trick block. A background fabric and four contrasting “card” fabrics are required to make 13 ten-inch blocks set on point in this eye-catching quilt.

To sign up for a class on-line: go to, click on “Course Search” in the top bar, type “quilting” in the “Subject/Title” box near the bottom and click on “Submit”. Click on the class you’re interested in and then click on “Sign up for a class” under “Getting started” in the sidebar on the right.

March 9, 2014, Uncategorized
Margit and her Quilts

I met Margit Kagerer the first time I visited Evelyn in Arizona. Margit is a member of the Maverick’s Art Quilt Guild and I’m delighted to call her my friend. On my recent visit she was kind enough to invite a group of us to her beautiful home. We were treated to breathtaking views from every window


as well as a “gallery tour” of her art and home. I thought you would enjoy seeing some of her inspiring work.



Don’t you love the way the quilt fits the architectural detail of the fireplace?


What a whimsical and clever tumbling block display!

Margit has won many awards for her quilts and she shared her collection of miniatures with us.


I was impressed with all of her work, but I was particularly intrigued with her current creative use of men’s neckties. I guarantee you haven’t seen tie quilts like these before :-)!

necktie quilts


necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer

She even creates small landscapes completely from the ties!

necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer


For a virtual tour of more of Margit’s work, go to:

Thank you Margit, for a lovely visit and for your kind permission to share your work on my blog!

Has anyone else done something unique with neckties???

March 2, 2014, Uncategorized
A Chihuly Inspired Quilt, an Upcoming Event, and a Survey!

There’s a little something for everyone in this week’s post. Please read all the way to the end because I’d really like your input on our Sew We Go survey!

A Chihuly Inspired Quilt:

Last week I shared the pictures of Dale Chihuly’s work because I saw so much quilt inspiration in it. Deb K emailed me about a quilt by Melissa Sobotka that took first place at the Houston Quilt Festival this past year, and it was an amazing fiber reproduction of Chihuly’s work! Here’s a picture from her website (yes, it’s all done in fabric):!art-quilts/c3c1


An Upcoming Event:

The Kattywampus Quilters in Randolph, WI, are hosting a community event in March to celebrate National Quilting Month (Randolph is a small community located about an hour north of Madison). I will be one of two speakers and my presention is entitled: Tradition With a Twist. I will also be teaching a Mariner’s Compass workshop. There are still a few openings in the workshop, so please consider joining us! The following is from the flyer for the show:

Revival Of Quilting into the 21st century

Saturday, March 22, 2014; 9-12:30

Randolph Community Center, 248 West Stroud Street, Randolph, WI

This is a community event to celebrate National Quilting Month. It’s for anyone who has an interest in quilting, just likes quilts, or is thinking about becoming a quilter – beginner  to experts.

8:30 Registration for door prizes, free will offering

9:00 Speaker – Lois Levenhagen, presenting: Not Your Grandmother’s Quilting

10:15 Bed Turning – Examples of many quilts from 21rst century

11:00 Speaker – Chris Lynn Kirsch, presenting:  Tradition with a Twist

12:15 Door Prizes

Tradition With A Twist : Take tried and true quilt patterns, add a few modern techniques, mix in a bit of imagination and you have Tradition With a Twist. Be entertained and inspired as Chris shares her “new” collection of vintage quilts, a bit of history about each, and their contemporary variations!


Chris’ love of quilting is matched only by
her knowledge of the craft, which she
enthusiastically passes along to you in
her classes, trips, books and blog.

Lois Levenhagen is  well known quilt teacher who has taught many different aspects of quilting across the country and locally through her long association with Nancy’s Notions. She is an excellent instructor and has introduced many people to the tools and tricks of the 21st century.

In between and after  sessions there will be displays and demos available of: quilting techniques, EQ7, quilting tools, guild quilts

Compass Capers Workshop with Chris Lynn Kirsch 

Traditional mariner’s compass quilts are beautiful, but can be difficult and time consuming to piece. This class will change that! Learn to draft a traditional compass using only a pencil, ruler and paper folding techniques. Then sew directly on the pattern using paper piecing – no math or templates! Once the technique is learned, compasses can be made any shape and any size.

When: March 22 1-4 pm

Where: Randolph Community Center, 248 West Stroud Street Randolph, WI

Registration: $20.00 members of KW, $25.00  for nonmembers, make checks payable to Kattywampus quilt guild (No refunds for cancellations, class limit 20 people). Send name, telephone number and check to Sue Reifsnider, W9555 Zimmerman Dr., Beaver Dam, WI 53916 (for more information contact Sue at

A Sew We Go Survey:

As many of you know, Wendy Rieves and I lead quilting adventures in the US and Europe under the name “Sew We Go”. We are very excited about our upcoming cruise on the Baltic Sea in May, but we’re also looking ahead to our next adventure (it never hurts to be prepared, plus it’s a lot of fun to think about).

We are thinking of hosting two very different destinations in 2015 and we’d love to have your input.

The first adventure would be traveling with a group of quilters to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. This is a one day show (7/11/15) but we would combine it with other stops that would appeal to quilters.

Next up would be a dream cruise on the Adriatic in September.  It would most likely be a round-trip cruise from Venice, Italy with stops in Croatia, Greece and Turkey.

So here’s the survey, and by saying you’re interested, you are not committing to anything:

1. Would you be interested in flying to Oregon to see the Sister’s annual quilt show in July, 2015?

2. Would you be interested in cruising the Adriatic with other quilters in September/October, 2015?

3. Is there another destination you’d like to visit with Sew We Go adventures?  We are always open to suggestions!

You may respond to the survey by clicking “leave a comment” below or emailing me at:

February 23, 2014, Uncategorized
Inspired by Chihuly

If you’ve been to the Milwaukee Art Museum, I’m sure you’ve been amazed at the glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Here’s a bit of information I found about it on a blog.


To visit that blog go to:

The first time I saw the sculpture at the museum I was blown away. Well, while in Arizona I had the delightful opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens with Evelyn, Hazel, Eddie, Joan and JoAnn


to see an exciting exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s art. It was entitled:


What a feast for the eyes! We arrived shortly before sunset. These photos are courtesy of Evelyn because her pictures were much better than mine. They may not be as good as seeing the gardens in person, but I do hope you’ll find them inspiring non-the-less.

C-boat C-orange


C-night-spirals C-orange-ball2 C-purple2 C-yellow-night-2In this last photo Evelyn caught me enjoying an explosion of blue!

C-blue-profileIf you’d like to watch a video about the artist and how his glass is created, go to:

Whether you are a traditional quilter, a fiber artist, or anywhere in between, I’m sure you are able to appreciate the beautiful use of color and design in these photographs.



February 16, 2014, Inspiration
Quilts and Sunshine

This week I’m very pleased to be writing from sunny Arizona. In January, 2012, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit my friend Evelyn in Mesa, meet many delightful quilters, and do a number of lectures and classes. It was a great time and you can read all about it at: You may remember that Evelyn stored her unfinished quilts (UFO’s ) in the master bathtub!

UFO bathtubDo you see the orange/black/yellow piece? Well, back in 2012, I pulled it out and discovered it was a “circle of illusion” ring Evelyn made in a class with Andi Perejda. I loved it and told her she needed to do something with it. She said “ok” and handed it to me, saying “your turn”. The challenge was on. I took it home to Wisconsin and chose to piece a mini Mariner’s Compass for the center. Next I appliquéd the whole thing onto a brown batik and shipped it back to Arizona. Evelyn added a “dragon’s tail” of flying geese. We both participated in the quilting and decided to enter it in the first AQS Quilt Week Phoenix. As soon as Evelyn was notified of it’s acceptance she invited me back to AZ! What a great place to be, especially this winter!

our quilt at AQS Phoenix

It was a joy to stand together in front of our quilt and a lovely opportunity for the Quilt Sissies to have a reunion (If you missed the saga of the Quilt Sissies, it all began with this post: ).


They joined us for frosty Coke’s on the sunny patio (much more enjoyable than the frosty stuff back home)!


And Joan D. is here from Wisconsin too, to add to the fun!


Every room of Evelyn’s home is actually a gallery of her beautiful fiber art. I thought you might enjoy a bit of a tour. This is her living room:

Evelyn's quilt galleryThe dining room/class room:


And even the bedrooms:


e-gallery5 e-gallery4

Here’s the artist in her office:

Evelyn's quilt galleryIt’s a real treat to stay in Evelyn’s lovely home and to spend time with her family and friends! I’ll close with a picture of a clever storage idea from her studio. She’s created a pressing/cutting station at chair level by placing a long, fabric covered board across a large number of stacking drawer units.

E-studio-counterIt’s really quite convenient, and I know because I’ve spent a little time stitching here (when I can pull myself away from the patio 🙂 )

I hope you’re staying warm, wherever you are!

PS I have to add a little aside, because it made me laugh out loud. Last winter my husband was in the Caribbean on business while I sat home during an ice storm. He sent me a picture of a cold drink on a patio, overlooking the ocean, with the caption: “we’re having icy issues here too”. I didn’t find it all that funny. So yesterday I sent him the photo of the frosty Coke with the Quilt Sissies above, with the caption: “We’re having problems with frost”. His response -“They can’t reach their frosty drink. You all should be reported for cruelty to stupid quilted figures”. I just had to laugh!

February 9, 2014, Travel Uncategorized
The Dark Side of Sewing

While teaching at a recent Sewing and Quilting Expo, I had a very interesting conversation with a trio of women. These dear ladies were staying in the same motel as I was and at breakfast they were analyzing the jacket of the commentator on tv. I, of course, couldn’t resist getting in on the conversation, which led to my asking them if they were there to attend the Expo. They answered yes and told me they were garment sewers. They then asked me and I told them  I had a background in garments, but that I currently focused on quilting. They knowingly looked at one another and one said in a low voice: “she’s gone to the dark side”. I laughed. Quilting? The dark side of the sewing world??? What made garment construction so light??? Have you heard this expression before?

I thought about that conversation many times during the Expo, and on the ride home I began thinking about the portion of my life in which I made garments. I began sewing when I was 7. My mother taught me to make a sleeveless dress (which I, alas, no longer have). I liked sewing right away and began taking Home Ec as soon as I entered Middle School (Junior High was the correct term at that time :-). During High School I made many of my own clothes and continued my sewing education all the way through a tailoring class my Senior year. I loved to sew! I’ve made clothes for many members of my family over the years.


When I got home from the Expo, I began digging through closets and drawers, and discovered that my pack-rat tendencies may finally prove to be a good thing!

Nautical themed fabric bell bottoms? Got it! Green fringed poncho? It’s there!

Halter Dress? But of course (it was the 70’s)! Oh – and I made Mike’s sport coat and vest too. Matching plaids was an adventure!

DS Mike-plaid-and-me-halter

Purple and yellow plaid wool blazer? Who wouldn’t hang onto that? (sorry the photo is B&W)


Puzzle Costumes? (kind of scary, isn’t it?).

puzzle costumes

A quick tour of closets and the attic yielded the inspiration for a new lecture: “Gone to the Dark Side”. I began pairing up these interesting (and often “laugh out loud”) garments with quilts, and have been having a very entertaining trip down memory lane.

I not only have old clothes and quilt stories to share in the talk, but I’m putting together a slide show of “vintage” pics showcasing myself and various family members actually wearing these garments long ago (you only got a sampling here). I’m also including quite a few modern quilted garments that combine both these old and new skills. If you’re a child of the 70’s, a past garment sewer, or you just want an evening of chuckles and entertainment, I think you may find this new lecture interesting. I would be so grateful to have you share my contact information with the Program Chairpersons in your guild. My email is: Or better yet, please send them to my blog!

February 2, 2014, Uncategorized
Foiling Fun!

Before we get to the “fun” topic, Lynn emailed me a sad, quilting problem: “Hi Chris, I used a black fabric sharpie on my quilt and it ran.  Has this happened to any of your readers?  Thanks, Lynn”

I haven’t had this experience. Has anyone else? Do you have any suggestions for removing the marker? This certainly makes me hesitant to use Sharpie™ markers on any future quilts. I usually use Pigma Micron™ markers and have had no problems with them. What type of permanent markers do you prefer to use when needing to mark on your quilts? Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions you have to share.

Now, on to our topic of the week!

I’m currently working on a challenge quilt and one of the rules is: “there has to be some piece or pieces of metal on it, or it it has to have fabric that could represent metal”. I’ve used some woven cotton/metallic fabric from my stash, but I wanted to create the brightness of sunshine and was stumped on how to do this for a while. Then I remembered I had purchased a “foiling” kit years ago. I’d played with it a little, using the thick adhesive glue that came with it, only to knock the jar on the floor and splatter the glue on everything. As you might guess, I haven’t had the urge to foil anything since. But time has passed, and I saw a foiling demonstration by Laura Murray in which she used fusible web as her adhesive. That’s a lot less messy – and I have it on hand. So, I went to Laura’s website and found the information I was looking for: You can purchase the supplies through the on-line store on her website.

I decided to make a sample piece, to learn the technique – and it was just what I needed! Here’s how easy it is:

1. Draw your design on the dull side of paper backed fusible web (Wonder Under™, Steam-a-Seam™, etc.). Here’s a treat – – – your design does not have to be reversed! Cut out the fusible web on the drawn line.

foiling on fabric

2. Place it on your fabric, cover with parchment paper or a Teflon™ pressing sheet, and fuse the web to your fabric following the manufacturer’s directions.

foiling on fabric

3. Cool and remove the paper.

foiling on fabric

4. Place the foil over the entire web design, shiny side up. Using a dry iron on the cotton setting, place the edge of the iron on the portion of the foil nearest you and “burnish” the foil onto the web by dragging the iron edge, away from you, across the surface of the foil, over the web. Make sure you burnish over the entire area to be foiled. Then let it cool. (My foil is silver, but it looks odd because it is reflecting the wooden shelf above)

foiling on fabric

5. Carefully remove the foil sheet.

foiling on fabric

That’s it! Once again, the foiling on the fabric looks dark, because it is reflecting the shelf above. It is actually a bright silver, but before I realized how the picture turned out, I was off doing something else to the “sun” in my quilt. Here’s a little sample I did   so you can see how truly reflective it is!


This was so much more fun than using the adhesive. Although, Laura does achieve some pretty cool effects by using the adhesive glue with rubber stamps.

One more note, the foil comes in many different colors and even some patterns.


Oh, so many different techniques to play with and explore!

I hope you’re curious about my challenge quilt. Stay tuned for more about it in future posts.

January 26, 2014, Embellishing
Wash and Pucker?

To prewash or not to prewash – that is the question! This week’s blog can be filed under the “Learn From My Mistake” category. I made a small, quilt-as-you-go, reversible table topper a few years ago. It’s been carried to many classes as a sample for two-sided-binding, as well as having topped my table each Autumn and Winter. During a Christmas gathering in my home this year, something was spilled on it. I didn’t ask myself: “has this been washed before?”, or even  “did I pre-wash the fabrics?”. No … I just threw it in the washer AND the dryer, without thinking! It came out a shriveled wad :-(.

I was so mad at myself (and never even considered taking a picture of it – probably for the best). Instead I decided it is never too late to block a quilt and that’s what I did.

pucker-postwashInstructions for my favorite way to block a quilt can be found at:,

It worked and my little topper is now back on the table – winter side up (and considering it’s snowed everyday for the past 2 weeks – it’s quite appropriate :-)!

quilt blocking


January 19, 2014, finishing
Kathie’s Lone Star

This week I’d like to share the story of a truly beautiful quilt and a very talented quilter. Kathie Boucher is a fellow member of the Milwaukee Art Quilters who is willing to do as much piecing as it takes to make her quilts showstoppers! She posted this photo to Facebook a few months ago and it overwhelmed me. Kathie's Lone StarThe pieced squares in the background of her broken star took it to a whole new level of interest. And then – she added half Mariner’s Compasses to the corners! I just had to contact her and ask her about it. I was thrilled when she said I could feature the story on my blog. So, here it is, in her own words: “I’m always hoping to convey to people that original quilt design is not out of reach. How I’d love to see more quilters less dependent on someone else’s patterns…. This quilt began its life in a very informal Lone Star class, led by Cheryl Gerbing of Waukesha, WI.  Cheryl’s design would have yielded a 72 inch square quilt. The setting squares and triangles would need to be quite large, and for me this was way too much empty real estate. So my first decision was what to do with those huge squares and triangles. My initial idea was to appliqué them, which caused a lot of hilarity among my friends. They know I don’t like appliqué and have mostly managed to avoid it throughout my quilting career. My friends were right—I found myself thinking up reasons not to work on the quilt, and the eight star points languished in a box for many months. The Lone Star seemed destined to become a Christmas quilt for my bed. I decided to piece eight large setting squares, in order to grow the 72 inch Lone Star into a larger quilt. I worked up some ideas in Electric Quilt, and finally chose a design of Variable Stars and Irish Chain blocks for the setting squares. setting blocks Geometry reared its head. Once the setting squares were constructed and sewn into place, star in progress the quilt needed eight more big Lone Star diamond sections to encircle the main star. This necessitated a mad shopping scramble in order to find more of those Lone Star fabrics. It was now about two years since the original star had been made, so shopping was a challenge. Fortunately I was able to find all but one of the original fabrics. outer diamond ring With the addition of these new star points, I still needed four large corner sections to build the quilt out to its final square shape. I turned to Electric Quilt once again, and drew a sunburst–a quarter of a Mariner’s Compass. I took my drawing to a local office supply store and had it blown up to the huge size needed.compass pieces I paper-pieced eight sunbursts to make the four sunburst corner sections. May I say that it was the least enjoyable paper piecing I’ve ever done? Working on such a large scale really challenged my visualizing skills, and there was a fair amount of ripping, re-sewing, and bad language. But at this point, there was no choice except to grit my teeth, push through, and get it done. The quilt was long-arm quilted by Marge West of Whitewater, WI. Her suggestion of a fairly tight allover quilting pattern nicely complemented the design, the fabrics, and produced the antique look I wanted. It’s all very pleasing to me. lone star top But like I tell everyone—it’s hard to go wrong with this color scheme.” The color scheme is great – but Kathie’s creativity and skill are what makes it so wonderful! Did you notice her shadow in the last picture? Her head is right over the center star. How delightful! Thank you Kathie, for sharing your quilt with us.

January 12, 2014, Inspiration Piecing
Handwork – Lacy Hearts

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you probably can sense that I’m quite sentimental. This was most obvious in my November 24th post about the jewelry wreath I made from family treasures. I have a quilting class coming up this month, at Waukesha County Technical College, that also includes bits of family history and it’s sort of a rarity in my classes, because it’s all about handwork – even the quilting!

Lacy Hearts quilt handworkThe hearts are made from a variety of fabrics: satins, cotton prints, tone-on-tones, laces and … parts of old hankies! In the heart below, the purple and white embroidery was on a well worn hankie of my grandmother’s. I was able to strategically cut this portion from it.

lacy hearts quiltThese hearts were hand blanket stitched to muslin using embroidery floss. Then the fun of embellishing began. The next one was overlaid with lace, and pearls from a broken necklace filled the lace’s openings (The silver clasp from this necklace embellishes the purple embroidery heart above!)

Lacy hearts quilt

A locket from my other grandmother adorns yet another heart.

lacy hearts quilt

Many of the hearts feature buttons, but the piece that may put a smile on your face is the dangling heart in the lower right square:

lacy hearts quilt

It is an earring of mine that lost it’s mate. And here’s how I fastened it from the back:

lacy-hearts-earring-backQuilting is just such fun!

There is still room in this class, so if you live nearby and would like to learn a few new techniques while doing handwork and chatting with other quilters, please sign up at

What a wonderful season for handwork. I certainly don’t want to be outdoors in 20 below zero! Do you have a winter handwork project in progress?

January 5, 2014, Embellishing Hand Quilting
Fresh Start

While working on my Christmas projects, I could hear my machine start to grumble. I was making the microwave hot pads which required stitching with the batting against the feed dogs. This means lint! Time for a bit of cleaning and oiling – and even a new needle! It hadn’t been that long ago – really! (Why do we put this off?)

So I opened things up and … ugh:

lint1I learned years ago to clean these areas with a cotton swab that has a drop or two of sewing machine oil on it. This will collect the lint and leave a thin coat of lubrication:

lint2So I swabbed around and:

lint3This is actually a bit embarrassing – it’s amazing how quickly that link can build up, but I’m hoping it will encourage some of you to check things out in your bobbin area.

Now my machine is humming and I got all my projects done in plenty of time. Perhaps its time for you to give your machine a little tender loving care so that it’s fresh and ready for a new year of quiltmaking.

Have a safe and Happy New Year’s celebration!


My upcoming classes at WCTC – for those of you who live in Southeastern Wisconsin, here are some of my upcoming classes at Waukesha County Technical College. I’d love to have you join me and Wendy has some great classes scheduled also!

Quilting-Lacy-Hearts-webLacy Hearts – January 21; 9-2:30: In this hands-on class, learn to buttonhole stitch nine delicate hearts and then embellish them with lace, beads, buttons and treasures to create a lovely wall quilt (the on-line schedule has Wendy as the instructor, but it’s me).

spin star quilt

Spin Star Runner – February 14; 9-2:30: Create a four block table runner by combining a large print, multicolor fabric with creative cutting techniques resulting in star blocks that visually appear to “spin”.

quilting replique your home

Repliqué Your Home – February 21; 9-2:30: By using this technique from Chris Kirsch’s first book, learn to recreate any photograph into an accurate fabric replica using machine appliqué. No fusibles, templates or degree in art required! In the first half of class, learn to Repliqué on a sample block; in the second half, complete blocks while the instructor works one-on-one with individual quilters to determine fabric placement and appliqué order for specific pictures.

quilt quick card trick

A Quick Card Trick – April 11; 9-2:30: Learn this strip piecing twist on the traditional card trick block. A background fabric and four contrasting “card” fabrics are required to make 13 ten-inch blocks set on point in this eye-catching quilt.

To sign up for a class on-line: go to, click on “Course Search” in the top bar, type “quilting” in the “Subject/Title” box near the bottom and click on “Submit”. Click on the class you’re interested in and then click on “Sign up for a class” under “Getting started” in the sidebar on the right.



December 29, 2013, sewing space/studio
Merry Christmas 2013!

Christmas joy

Recently I’ve been contemplating how wonderful it is to be able to end each year with the “joy” that is Christmas! No matter what is going on in our lives, we can focus on the birth of our Savior and what He did for us.

Then I began thinking about the little blessings I’ve enjoyed this Christmas season already. When we had our first snow, Sommer and I tried to build a snowman. There wasn’t much snow and she didn’t want to wear her mittens or touch the unusual white stuff, but once I had put the little snowman head on the body, she couldn’t resist picking it up! I call this picture: “Grandma, snow is cold!”

snow is coldThis past week my friend Sharon and I kept our 10 year tradition alive and “rang and sang” for the Salvation Army. It is one of my favorite Christmas activities. The ringing is fun, but the singing makes it pure joy (even if we’re not always on key). This article was in the Watertown paper last year .


Sharon and I looked pretty much the same this year, so I thought our silliness in this picture might bring a smile to your face. I recently read a blog post entitled: “10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You to Know”. Please click on the title to read it – I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.

Another favorite tradition of mine is baking cookies with my mom. We’ve done it together every year since I was old enough to help. The men hang out in the living room and offer to be the taste testers. Over the years the kids have actively helped when they were around. This year Mike was out of town, but Dad, Mom, Brad and Sommer all were here. Here’s my mom making Spritz cookies (a family tradition) with the “new” old cookie press I found on eBay to replace my grandmother’s (which broke), along with Dad, who’s taking the taste testing part seriously.


And this one is of Sommer doing a bit of decorating. She got more on the tray than the cookies, until daddy tossed a candy decoration in his mouth. Then she got most in her tummy!


There’s one more blessing I’ve really been contemplating. Quilting certainly brings me a great amount of joy. What a blessing to be able to do what I love. Teaching is another happy part of my life. Each of you who take my classes or read my blog posts are a huge encouragement to me and I’d like to take this time to send you a great big THANK YOU!

From my family to yours – MERRY CHRISTMAS!



December 22, 2013, Uncategorized
A New Bead Adventure

Last month I had the opportunity to take a class with Betty Pillsbury. She is a crazy quilter from Albany, NY. Oddly enough, this particular workshop was not about quilting, but in it Betty taught the peyote stitch to attach a cabochon to a cuff bracelet. A cabochon is a flat backed stone or bead that has no hole to attach it with. I’ve always wanted to learn how to attach a stone in this way, hoping to use it in embellishing my quilts. I didn’t think I’d get hooked on this type of bead work. But I did! I’m now on my second bracelet with visions of #3 dancing in my head. I think I will use it in future quilts, but for now I’m dabbling just a bit in jewelry. Wanna see :-)?

Here is a front view with the cabochon attached. For a first effort, I’m pretty pleased.

beaded cuff bracelet

Once the cabochon was placed in the center, Betty encouraged us to just fill in the rest of the space. She had many samples and I had a blast choosing beads and filling around them. The bracelet was done in just over a week.

Here’s one side view:

beaded cuff bracelet

and the other:

beaded cuff bracelet

The base of the bracelet is called an aluminum blank. These come flat, are bent to shape and then the inside is covered with fabric. The original blanks from class had 90 degree corners and were a bit wider, the ones I just purchased are rounded.


The beading is done on a thick interfacing. Here’s my second bracelet in progress. Instead of one cabochon, there are 5 (chosen to match a new holiday outfit!).


And here’s the back:


Once the entire piece of interfacing is beaded, it’s glued to the cuff and then it’s all stitched together around the outer edge with more beads.

I’m not sure I needed one more addiction, but beads are such fun to collect and I’m really excited to see how this will meld into my future quilting projects. Do you bead?


One additional note. Back in April/May I wrote a number of posts about the Jenning’s Quilt. This was a group quilt made by the Milwaukee Art Quilters that has won many awards. It was a winner in this year’s AQS show in Paducah, KY. While at the show Judy Levine, Toni Mitt and I were part of an interview and it has just been posted by AQS.

Click on the picture below and you’ll be taken to the AQS website with the interview. Scroll down and simply click on the arrow in the center of the video box to watch it.


Judy did the lion’s share of the work on the quilt and I think she did a great job of speaking for the group in the interview.

December 15, 2013, Embellishing Uncategorized
Christmas Gifts

In last week’s post I asked to see pictures of Christmas projects you were making and Nancy sent me these:




Delightful! Thanks Nancy!


A few quilters in my Open Lab class at WCTC have recently made variations on the “microwave bowl holders” that are so popular right now. The idea behind them is great! You place your bowl of soup (or whatever) in the holder and put it in the microwave. Once the cooking is done, the bowl can be removed by holding the pad without burning fingers. It can also be used to keep your fingers warm when eating ice cream :-)!


I decided I wanted to make some as gifts and my friend, Barb, shared the web address for a blog with great instructions. Click here to visit that blog and learn how to do it:,

I made a few and loved using them. One addition I would make to Karen’s instructions on her blog concerns the quilting of the sections. She recommended just quilting with an “X”.

On mine I also quilted a circle a little larger than the bottom of the bowl in the center of each piece. In this way I knew where to end my darts … 1/4″ from the quilted circle!


I highly recommend pinning along the 4 lines the darts will be sewn on  and then setting the bowl in place before stitching, to make sure it will fit. Adjust as needed.

Here are a few pictures of the ladies making them in the Open Lab class.

bowl pads2

bowl pads3

bowl pads4

We had a good time and the pads were lovely!

bowl pads 1


Just one more Christmas gift suggestion that was made by Barb M.  on Facebook  a few days ago (she was the quilter I wrote about in my November 3, 2013 post, who finished the quilt her Aunt Jeanette had started on my first cruise).

Barb wrote: “I NEED a Chris Kirsch style quilt float–it would make quilting this quilt so much easier! Oh why didn’t I make one sooner. May have to take a break from quilting (when the fog lifts) and make a trip to Home Depot for the necessary components. Chris Kirsch, you may want to consider reposting the instructions for making your quilt float in one of your upcoming blogs. There may be others that would like to request the components for Christmas!”

quilt float

So, if you are planning on quilting a crib quilt or larger in the near future and someone is asking you what you want for Christmas; the needed supplies and assembly instructions can be found in 2 past posts. Just click here for part 1, and here for part 2!


December 8, 2013, Uncategorized
Quilted Christmas Projects

During a guild “Show & Tell” last year, a member showed a quilt that grabbed me. My immediate reaction was “my daughter-in-law would love that!” I asked about the pattern and ordered it right away (you can find this pattern at:


Last week Betsy asked me to show her how to make Christmas covers for her throw pillows. We went shopping for the fabric, giving me insight into the colors she prefers. I was pleased to realize that the colors she chose were almost identical to those on the pattern (I guess I can guess her tastes pretty well :-)). So this week I found the pattern (under a pile in my studio!) and began tracing all the swirls onto fusible web, ironing them to the appropriate fabric, cutting them out and fusing them in place:


Here’s a quick “learn from my mistake”  tip – I knew I should use a press cloth of some sort when pressing the pieces onto the background. So I grabbed an older piece of parchment paper, not realizing it had some fusible residue on it, and pressed away. I ended up with unpleasant marks that wouldn’t come out. I was able to cover them with white fabric paint, but it would have been much easier if I had used a fresh press cloth!

Once the swirls were fused, it was time to secure them. The pattern included a number of methods for stitching them down, but I was looking for S-I-M-P-L-E, so I decided to sandwich the quilt layers together and cover it all with white netting!


This part made me smile because I’d saved the white netting from Brad and Betsy’s wedding. Betsy and her mom did a beautiful job of draping and swirling the reception hall in yards and yards of it. While we were cleaning up afterwards I rescued the netting before it hit the trash!

I then pinned the layers together, checking as I went for bits of thread and/or dog hair, which I removed from under the netting with a tweezers:


Next I free motion quilted in white thread along the edges of every swirl, completing the background with quilted spirals. It was so much fun that I made a second one for my daughter in Washington.


What Christmas projects are you working on??? I’d love to see pictures. Please send them to me at:


Travel Opportunity!!!

Wendy and I are anxiously anticipating our Baltic adventure this coming May. We will be taking a group of quilters (and a few non-quilting companions) on a spectacular cruise and we have an opening we wanted to make you aware of:

Roommate needed to share balcony cabin on the Norwegian Star!

Sailing the Baltic Sea 17 May-29 May 2014

$3439 ($3314 if paying with cash or check)

Includes: cruise (incl. taxes & fees), pre & post stay (one night each) in Copenhagen, group airport transfers in Copenhagen, soft drinks and all meals on board, tours in Copenhagen before and after cruise, group excursions and free time in each port (Rostock, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden), visits with local fiber artists, hands on classes and lectures on board, gratuities for ship staff, and loads of fun!

December 1, 2013, Appliqué
Jewelry Wreath

This post may not focus on quilting, but there are “pins” involved :-)!

When my mother-in-law passed away this past January, I inherited a jewelry box filled with costume pieces not claimed by any other relatives. There were many clip earrings and a lot of things I would never wear, but I couldn’t part with because they were mom’s, and some pieces were from her mother and grandmother!

A friend said she was collecting costume jewelry at rummage sales in the hopes of making a wreath. I found that idea very appealing and did a quick Pinterest search for jewelry wreaths. A few pictures came up and the one that grabbled me was done in mainly white, gold and silver. So, I called my mom and asked if she had any old jewelry she would be willing to part with. She had pieces of her own, plus jewelry from both of my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers and a great aunt!

Next I went through my own jewelry box and unearthed charm bracelets from years ago. I hadn’t worn them for years, so into the wreath pile they went. I then raided Mike’s jewelry box and found the ID bracelet I gave him when we were dating, and both our class rings. He also had many tie tacks, award pins collected over his flight career, and a few treasures that had belonged to his father.

I was excited. At JoAnn’s I found a straw wreath, thin florist’s pins, and a couple of spools of wide satin ribbon. I wired a hanging loop to the back, wrapped the wreath in ribbon (and a bit of leftover lace) and let the fun begin! Are you ready to see it :-)???

jewelry wreathThe locket hanging at top, center belonged to Mike’s great-grandmother. It is rather chunky and ornate, and we were assured by a jeweler that it’s value was only sentimental. Still, it makes a lovely focal point. Here are a few close ups of the rest of the wreath:

jw-ringsThe zebra pin in the next photo was my maternal grandmother’s. I remember being allowed to wear it on special occasions when I was a child.

jw-zebraMike’s father had been a naval aviator and the tie bar below was his.

jw-shipSome of my memory charms dangle over Mike’s volunteer firefighter badge on the right side of the wreath.

jw-leafA variety of pearl necklaces and chains are wrapped liberally around the wreath.

jw-clkThis project was a joy and resulted in an heirloom my family will hopefully treasure for generations.

November 24, 2013, Uncategorized
Turning a Block On-Point

Before we jump into this week’s topic, I would really like to share the creative gift my dear friend, Wendy, made for my birthday. As many of you know, Wendy and I lead quilting adventures, and our upcoming trip will take us to the Baltic Sea in May. We’ve been working on project ideas for the trip and both of us have been stitching Russian Nesting dolls that don’t nest :-)! These are Wendy’s:

Baltic felt-dolls

I appliquéd mine to a shoulder bag:


They are such fun to make and we’re sure they’ll be a hit with the hand stitchers on our cruise. So, Wendy took this a step further for my birthday and used her amazing skills with wool to make me new mittens!

Baltic mittens

I’m hoping they won’t be needed on our trip, but I love them and will enjoy wearing them all winter long here in Wisconsin!

Now for this week’s topic!

Last week I taught a class at WCTC called Scrap Happy. The idea behind it was to use up all the “orphan” blocks, strips and scraps leftover from previous projects.

scrap happy quilt  by Chris Lynn KirschOne of the techniques we used in class was to enlarge a block by adding corners to it, and thus turning it “on-point” (as in the Sun block in the upper left and the house block in the lower right). It struck me this would make a good blog topic! When I’m turning blocks I like them to have a bit of “float” around the original square. By adding this extra fabric at the block corners, there is no danger of chopping them off. I’ve discovered that I don’t like to go to the effort of turning these blocks to an exact size, so I make them a bit larger and square them back to the size I want. It’s a “non-math”, “seat of your pants”, method and I hope you like it.

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

I find this a simple way to turn a block and I hope it was helpful.


November 17, 2013, Uncategorized
Magazine Issues

I enjoy magazines! They help me keep in touch with what’s going on in the quilt world. They place beautiful pictures and great patterns at my fingertips. They often have heartwarming stories. They are a wonderful resource, but there is another side to it.

A while back Kris made this comment to one of my posts:

“I have piles of quilting magazines and am looking for some suggestions on how to store them. I am trying to go more digital and am thinking about scanning the patterns I like. I just don’t know how I would organize them once scanned. Saw an ad for a program called Paperport. Has anyone tried this?”

I want to thank Kris for bringing this topic up. I have my own magazine issues (no pun intended). In fact, I blogged about this in October of 2010. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t made much progress. Here’s my system as written in that post:

“Here’s my storage system: I leave many scattered around the house and then put them in boxes with the pages I like dog-earred. Then I seldom ever go back through the boxes (I didn’t say it was a good system :-)) .  A dear friend helped us move into this home 6 years ago and at one point, a lid fell off the box of quilt magazines he was carrying. When he realized what he was lugging, he set the box down and said he was happy to help, but he drew the line at old mags! That should have been a hint, but I’ve continued to pack them in boxes anyways.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to my many old boxes, but I have a new plan for future arrivals:

When I’ve finished with a new issue I’ll copy those articles I’m interested in and donate the entire magazine to my guild or give it away in my classes. That way no quilter will be disappointed by  missing pages (thanks Char!). It sounds good, now to actually put it into practice.”


Re-reading that post was a bit disappointing. I’m still dog-earring, but now I just pile them on top of the boxes we moved 9 years ago! UGH!!!


Actually, as I was taking this shot I began to feel a little better that there was still room in this area of the closet. Perhaps it’s not that bad. Then I remembered that I recently had begun placing my Quilting Arts and Machine Quilting Unlimited on the bookshelf in the hall (well, at least they’re neat).


Just so you don’t think I’m completely hopeless, the one change I have made since the writing of that previous post is – whenever I finish a magazine and there are no dog-ears (rare – I must admit), I put it in my guild bag and give it away at the next meeting – I really do :-)!

I’m sure there are many of us who need a better system. I’ve thought about getting my subscriptions on line, but I don’t really enjoy doing all my reading on the computer (I like the feel of holding a magazine and my favorite place to read is still the bathtub – difficult to do with a computer). This “Paperport” sounds interesting. Has anyone tried it?

Helpppppppp! How do you handle magazines? Please comment and let us know!


And here’s a “parting picture” of a fiber art piece from Debra Crivello, she writes:

“I finished my first wall hanging from your class in Madison.  I get lots of positive comments from those that have seen it.”

fiber artThanks Debra!


November 10, 2013, Uncategorized
Quilting in Outer Space

It’s a bonus week! My actual weekly post, “Tropical Breezes”, follows this one, but I decided to add an extra post because this is something I wanted to share as soon as I saw it.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.11.21 AM

Karen Nyberg, NASA Astronaut, actually quilted on the Space Station. She talks about the adventure of stitching without the aid of gravity (something we take for granted). It’s fascinating. Just click and enjoy:


November 4, 2013, Uncategorized
Tropical Breezes – A Quilt’s Story


The very first time I led a quilting cruise was a trip to the Caribbean in 2000. We actually brought Singer featherweight sewing machines along as our carry-ons (it was pre-September 11!) and we sewed on them while sailing between ports. I designed a pieced quilt as our project and called it “Tropical Breezes”. One of the dear ladies who traveled with me was a garment sewer and “not a quilter”. Jeanette was a great sport and decided to try the project. She did join Wendy and me on our Mississippi Riverboat Cruise the following year, but she never mentioned what had become of her Tropical Breezes “quilt”.

Well, a few years went by and I received this email in February of 2011:

Dear Chris,

My aunt, Jeanette Richter was on your quilting cruise to Cozumel in April 2000. She did not finish the quilt “Tropical Breezes” during the cruise and last year, after a major medical set-back, she gave me the fabric from the quilt to “finish” for her. Being a new quilter, myself, it looked overwhelming to me, so I set it aside while I worked on other projects to get a feel for quilting. I am now (I hope) ready to make her quilt, but as I was going through everything she gave me, hoping to read instructions and figure out what to do, I was dismayed not to find any instructions for piecing the blocks.  I am wondering if you might still have any instructions for this particular quilt and if so, could I get a copy? I would like to get the quilt pieced in the near future so that I have time to send it out to a professional quilter and be able to present it to my aunt for Mother’s Day (nothing like short notice, right?) I do have the lay-out pattern for the finished blocks, but just need to know how to piece the blocks.


I was thrilled and offered to help Barb in any way I could. In April of 2011 she sent me another email saying she had finished the quilt:

“I love it, it’s perfect (well, not really, but it’s perfect!) Amish folk lore says no quilt should be perfect because only God is perfect and we aren’t to compare ourselves with God”. So, to my aunt, it was as perfect as it was allowed to be–if you get my drift. She loved it and I am so blessed just by watching her joy in receiving the quilt. It has been a very beautiful day! Her response – “I couldn’t wait to see it finished, but is it really for me?””
Jenette with quilt


Two years passed. A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak to a guild in Janesville, WI and Barb was there – with the quilt!

caribbean quiltand label


I asked her to tell me the rest of the story and here it is:

“When I gave my aunt the quilt, we took pictures of her with it and chronicled her reactions. Jeanette (or Aunt Net to me) was a very special lady who gave so much to others, I couldn’t say no to finishing her quilt for her. Now that she is gone, I feel so close to her each time I see or handle her quilt. I felt honored to finish the quilt for her and blessed when I received the quilt back after she passed away. I am also so very grateful to you for your help in completing this project. You are awesome!”

Here’s one more picture of Jeanette with her quilt, and the pillows Barb also made. After the cruise, I made quilt labels for everyone with the picture of the group “photo-transfered” on them and Barb placed this label on one of the pillows!

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 8.43.54 PM

What a blessing it was for me to hear the story and see the pictures of Jeanette and her quilt. Thank you Barb, I’m so pleased to have been a part of this heart-warming story :-)!


I’ve received some interesting pictures lately of quilts that relate to recent posts, and this seemed like a good place to share them.

When I was visiting Evelyn in Arizona a few years ago, I taught a few “Parallelisms” classes  (this is the class that morphed into my latest book: “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art?”). Margit is a member of the Maverick’s fiber art group and she was in one of the workshops. She is a very talented and award winning artist and I was so pleased to have her in class. She recently sent me this note and picture:

“I just wanted to share a little project. I ‘borrowed’ your technique of Parallelisms for a small Christmas wall hanging. It was quick and fun. The wall hanging is for a bazaar to support our local library. I am a volunteer at this library. Hopefully someone will fall in love with the piece. I am so glad that I took your class.”

Christmas fiber art quilt

Adorable! Thanks for sending the photo Margit!

Dorothea sent me some pictures also. These were in response to the Flower Pounding post and here’s her message:

“Hi Chris, I have been a fan of your blog ever since you came to speak at Mad City Quilt Guild .  In one of your recent blogs on flower pounding I became excited because I had done some a few years back with my two sisters–a special Sister Weekend with that being our project.  It took a couple of years to make a quilted project of my poundings but thought you might like to see the results.  By the way, we did treat our fabric to keep it more colorfast with washing soda.”

flower pounding DM1

flower pounding DM2

flower pounding DM3Dorothea certainly was successful with her poundings! Thanks Dorothea!

I hope you enjoyed all the stories included in this week’s blog as much as I enjoyed posting them! I’d like to leave you with information on a local gallery show the Milwaukee Art Quilters are exhibiting in:

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 9.01.20 AM




November 3, 2013, Inspiration Uncategorized
Heat Away?

After I posted last week about Flower Pounding, I received many questions concerning the color fastness of the poundings. I too was concerned about this and a number of the comments had some good suggestions (please scroll down to last week’s post and click on “comments” to read them). Then I did an internet search and the answers tended to all be the same – flower pounding is not colorfast. This site: seemed to me to have the best insight into what to do!

This week’s post is about the Frixion™ pen I used when marking my quilting designs in my Memorial Quilt post from a few weeks ago. I did a posting about my favorite marking tools in 2010. To read that article click here. The Frixion™ pen is fairly new to the market. My biggest concern with marking my quilts is getting the markings off and making sure there is no residual effect. I have had 2 different quilts damaged because the marking method wouldn’t go away as promised.

The Frixion™ pen is supposed to come out with heat, so I drew a heart on a sample of the fabric in the quilt:

Frixion-1and ironed it with a cotton setting. The mark came out beautifully:

Frixion-2But was it really gone? I had heard that the mark comes back if you put the quilt in the freezer. So I put the sample in the freezer for 1 minute and …


there it was :-(. I am quite uncomfortable with marks that remain in the fabric because they could actually cause the fabric to deteriorate. So I decided to washed the sample and see what would happen. After washing it, I ironed it dry – so far so good – and then put it in the freezer again.

frixion-4There was the slightest hint of the line at the left side of the point, but it’s barely there. I’m pretty sure that if I washed it again and used Orvus soap, it wouldn’t return. But I’m not positive. Then Joanne sent this comment to the “Memorial Quilt” post:

“Nice job with the memories. On a side note though. The last quilt meeting I attended (some months back) here in Appleton, WI the speaker told us a horror story about that frixion pen. A quilt was made using the frixion pen, lines were ironed out, quilt looked beautiful, sent north in winter to a quilt show, quilt arrives at show with all lines visible, quilt rejected, quilter devastated. So…the pen works but temps must remain above freezing or above whatever temp causes the lines to reappear. I guess I wouldn’t be so harsh as to completely get rid of the frixion pen, but I certainly wouldn’t use it anywhere that won’t be covered completely.”

Thanks Joanne. That was really some food for thought! Especially if you’re making fiber art with no intention of washing it.

Have you tried the Frixion™ pen? What are your thoughts?

What is your favorite marking tool? (mine is still the sliver of soap :-))




October 27, 2013, Notions
Flower Pounding

It seems I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately and this past week was no exception. A year ago, while in Paducah, I met a dear quilter named Patti. She invited me to teach for her guild in North Carolina. I just returned from that wonderful trip. The Western North Carolina Quilters were delightful! They were so welcoming and the students in my “Parallelisms” class were very creative :-)! I so enjoyed getting to know Patti and Ed, and when I wasn’t teaching, we visited some very interesting sites – like Looking Glass Falls –

NC-LG-falls-with-PattiIt’s fun to spend time in someone else’s studio, and Patti’s is amazing. Ed has built most of the cupboards and tables, and her studio is a perfect place for this very creative quilter to play.


Thank you Patti, Ed and all my new friends in North Carolina!

Now on to this week’s topic:

The Fiberistas (our new Watertown, fiber art group) were at it again last month. This time Kay had suggested we play with flower pounding. What a hoot! (actually we sounded much more like woodpeckers than owls :-)).We decided to do it here – in Mike’s shed (the one with the quilt block hanging on it), because everyone else has neighbors nearby and we didn’t want to be annoying. We all gathered flowers, leaves, branches and ferns still left in our yards, Kay brought the wide masking tape and everyone was armed with a hammer. The process is quite simple – and very noisy!

1. Choose an item to pound (ferns, arbor vitae, coleus, geraniums and pansies were some of my favorites).


2. Place it on your pre-washed muslin, spreading out the thicker, denser areas to make them thinner, and cover completely with masking tape.

flower pounding3. Choose either the tape or the fabric side and let the pounding begin:

flower pounding

Liane was really getting into it here:

flower poundingIt seems we did as much selecting and taping as hammering!

flower pounding

And Mike had a good time taking pictures!

flower pounding

And here’s my finished piece.

flower pounding

I’m not sure what will become of it, but it certainly was fun to create. Kay said she and her daughter had done this on t-shirts!

Have you ever done any flower/leaf pounding? I’d love to see pictures of the results!

Speaking of pictures, over the past few weeks I’ve posted pictures of Mariner’s Compass quilts which were finished after I taught a class in Janesville. Many in that group have finished their compasses and I so appreciate receiving these pictures (I hope you enjoy seeing them too). Nancy Acker just sent me a photograph of hers and here’s what she said:

“This little quilt came about because I joined the guild in Monroe and they had a project underway.  The project was called “flat ostrich”.  You picked 5 elements from a jar and had to use 3 of them in a quilt.  My elements included paper piecing, flying geese and a 1″ border.  Perfect for my mariner’s compass.  I also included 3 other elements, 4 patch (my background), embellishment (rick rack) and appliqué (goose).  It was fun.  Monroe is a much smaller group than Janesville and now I will enjoy both of them.  It’s wonderful to be retired and have so much time to devote to quilting.  Thanks for that great class, Nancy”

mariner's compass quiltShe really took this piece to another level. I especially like the rick-rack around the compass and the 4-patch background. WOW!

October 20, 2013, Embellishing
Turning a Quilt

I’ll get to the topic at hand in a moment, but first, I received some lovely responses to last week’s post about the memorial quilt.  Please go to the comments on that post to read about them. There are so many ways quilts can be used to comfort and show love. Laura Krasinski reminded me of the memorial quilt the Milwaukee Art Quilters made for Margot (one of our members), who’s sister passed away. Each member made a floral block. Here’s Margot with the quilt.

memorial quilt

This week Nancy sent me a photo of the memory quilt she made for her mother who is struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease. Here’s what she wrote:

“Dear Chris,I enjoyed your recent Blog about Memory Quilting.  I have done a lot of Memory Quilting and enjoy this process of keeping the past alive.  It was a helpful tool for me, also, when grieving the loss of a much loved family member.  I have attached two photos of a quilt I made for my mother who is living with Alzheimer’s Disease.  It has photos of her as a child, young adult, young mother and wife.  She has it on top of her bed and continues to tell me that “it is the best gift I have ever received”.  She looks at the photos and occasionally it triggers memories from the past.  Thanks for highlighting this quilting format.  Nancy”

This is Nancy’s lovely quilt:

memory quilt

My Father-in-law suffered with Alzheimer’s and he passed away a few years ago. In his memory I decided to make a small quilt for Ami Simm’s Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. She has raised a large amount of money to fight Alzheimer’s in honor of her mother, by auctioning off small art quilts (8″ x 11″). Harold Von der Linde, my dear FIL, was a passionate gardener, so I called his quilt “Memory Garden”. It sold for $75, what a blessing!

memory quilt

Then yesterday I received an email from Marie with this message:

“Chris, I enjoyed your blog on memorial quilts.  My grandmother passed away over 10 years ago and I was fortunate enough to get her stash.  She had scraps left over from toys and quilts she made the grandkids.  As I was going through the fabrics, I found several patchwork blocks and partial pieces from a double wedding ring.  This year for our family reunion I decided it was time to put them to good use.  Here are a couple of pictures of the wall hangings I made combining the pieces.  The family members who received them were just thrilled and I felt good about passing on a bit of my grandmother’s legacy.”

These are the pictures she included in the email:




They’re lovely Maire, thanks for sending the pictures!

So, on to “quilt turning”. Not as in “a bed turning of antique quilts”, but a simple technique for finishing small quilts, sometimes referred to as the “envelope” technique. This is my favorite way to do it and it’s really quite easy!

1. Square up your small quilt and cut a piece of batting the same size. Cut a piece of backing the same width, but add 1″ to the length measurement.

2. Sew a 1/4″ seam in the back (this will take up some of the extra length), leaving a 3″ opening in the stitching, and back stitching on both sides of the opening . Press the seam to one side, and cut the fold at the opening in the stitching. Trim the length to the same measurement as the quilt top.turning a quilt 3. Layer the pieces: batting, quilt top (face up) and then quilt back (right sides together). Stitch all the way around with a 1/4″ seam (no need to leave an opening along the edge).


4. Trim off the corners of the seam allowance and turn the quilt right side out.

turning a quilt

5. Push corners out and press.


6. Stitch up the opening in the back and quilt as desired!


The best part of doing it this way is that the opening is easy to stitch together on the back and you don’t need to stitch up an opening along the outer edge of the quilt. The ones I’ve done that way always seemed to wobble a bit.

Another way to do a “non-binding” finish on the outer edge of your quilt is to face it. If you have an oddly shaped outer edge, you may want to refer to my previous post on that topic by clicking here.

October 13, 2013, finishing Uncategorized
A Quilted Memorial

I’ve been on the road again this week. This time to teach at the AQS show in Des Moines, IA. It was a great show – over 1600 quilts and loads of great vendors! I went with my dear friend, Linda, and we had a wonderful time. Here we are in front of one of my entries entitled: Cherry Baskets.


I made this quilt with my rather large collection of cherry fabrics and it really makes me smile. Here’s a second floor overview of the show with a big finger pointing at my quilt (just for fun :-))!


Now that your up to date on my latest travels (it’s been crazy :-)), here’s this week’s topic:

A few months ago I received an email from Lynn, a neighbor who lived behind us when we lived in Dousman. This was her message:

“My mom passed away 4 months ago and the hospital gave our family a quilt.  There are 4 siblings and one quilt, which is the dilemma.  Can you help me or direct me to someone that could?  My thought would be to have the quilt divided into 4 pieces, however I’m not experienced at all, in how to do that.  Thank you in advance for your time, I truly appreciate it. I look forward to hearing from you.”

And here was the picture she attached to the email:


I called her and said I would be happy to help. We both agreed that cutting the quilt into quarters wouldn’t be the best option.

Because it was only tied, I recommended she cut the knots, un-sew the binding (it was actually the back of the quilt turned to the front), take off the borders, and then we could get together and discuss the next step. She brought the disassembled quilt over and we sat on the floor brainstorming.

Since it was made of 8″ squares of Christmas fabrics, I suggested we take the quilt apart a little further and resew the squares into 4 table runners. She liked the idea! Here are the runners pre-borders (only one white square needed to be added to the original 15):

memorial quilt remakeNext, the borders were attached. There was enough fabric from the original borders to do one in the light green and two in the dark. Praise the Lord, I had the same green fabric in my stash for the border on the fourth runner:

Memorial Quilt remake

Next they were layered with batt and backing (there was enough from the original for all 4). I decided to turn them, rather than using binding (this will be the topic of next week’s post :-)). Once they were turned, I machine quilted them 1/2″ from the edge and in the ditch around the blocks (even though I greatly dislike “ditch” quilting). Then I chose to quilt hearts in the squares. I used a heart shaped “Mix and Match Template™” and traced around it with a sliver of soap in the red and a “Frixion™” pen in the white.

memorial-marking-1I’ve been wanting to try the Frixion™ pen for awhile and was pleased with the ease of marking. These pens are made by Pilot™ and were created for use on paper. The ink disappears with heat, like the friction from erasing on paper. The quilt world discovered them because the ink disappears with the heat of ironing! I was a little concerned about the long term effect of using this tool. I did a bit of testing and will share my results in a future post.

So – on to the memorial runners:

The free-motion quilting of the hearts was a joy and the table runners were finished quite quickly.


I hope Lynn and her siblings will be pleased.

Have you created a memorial quilt? Have you received one? Have you ever needed to make one quilt into more than one? We’d love to read your story!

PS I received pictures of quilts made by quilters in the Mariner’s Compass class I taught in Janesville a few week’s ago and I thought you might like to see them. This one is from Peggy Nelson:

mariners compass quilt

And this table runner is by Valerie Cook:

Mariners Compass quilted table runnerGreat job ladies! Thanks for sending pictures!

October 6, 2013, Piecing Uncategorized
Where Do I Start With Fiber Art?

I’m very pleased to announce that my new book is in print!!!


Thanks to everyone who commented on the cover choices. I had over 80 responses to my request for opinions and the vote was overwhelming for the above cover (only 14 for the the otter, which did make it on the title page).

This book is based on my “Parallelisms – Beginning Fiber Art” class. Many students have asked that it be made into a book some day – and some day is now. It is written for traditional quilters who think they’d like to try making an art quilt, but don’t know where to begin (or even if they can :-)). I’ve included loads of pictures, and simple, step-by-step lessons for fusing a variety of strips and shapes as well as instructions for working with sheers and some of my favorite beading techniques. Many people have asked how I bead my “Crossings” quilts together – and that’s one of the techniques included (for info about my “Crossings” series please go to this previous blog post: , and scroll down to #7).

Peg O’Donnell took my Parallelisms workshop at the Madison Quilt Expo this month and she gave me permission to post a comment she emailed to me about the class:

“I LOVE the new book.  Very helpful and inspirational information for the beginner. Plenty of clear to understand information to get anyone excited about trying fiber art.  You prove you are only limited by your imagination. I really enjoyed your class last Thursday.”

Thanks so much, Peg!

Sommer found the cover intriguing!

Fiber Art - Sommer PSclosed

And she seemed to like all the helpful pictures :-)!

Fiber Art - SommerPS

So, if you’d like to have your very own copy you may click here to get to the “books” page of my blog; then click on the “add to cart” button at the bottom of the book description, and you’ll be taken to a site that’s administered by PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account to purchase a book through this site. You can safely and securely purchase the book using a credit card or you can use a PayPal account if you have one.

If you’re not comfortable ordering on line, I’d be happy to have you send a check made out to me, for $22 to: Chris Kirsch, N7568 Ceasar Road,  Watertown, WI 53094. I will put a signed copy in the mail as soon as I hear from you.



September 28, 2013, Uncategorized
Interwoven Globe


I began this past week with my last day in New York and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maggi and I “met at the Met” and toured the opening day of an amazing exhibit. “Interwoven Globe” -a 300 Year Survey of Textiles at the Met – features a fascinating collection of vintage textiles from around the world (click on the exhibit title to be taken to the New York Times review).


I took a number of photos of the entrance to the Met for this blog. When going through them, the gentleman with the sandwich board duct taped to his shirt, caught my eye and, upon zooming in, I was able to read what his sign says: “Hi friend, I’m looking for a wealthy lady to be my wife. My name is Robert – single – never married – “. It made me laugh out loud (hope no one is disappointed that I couldn’t quite read his phone number or email address :-)).

After pouring over and enjoying the amazing examples of embroidery and needlework, Maggi and I had a lovely lunch. Then I decided to walk home – from 86th Street to 26th Street – through Central Park, Times Square and the Garment District. It was a great way to see New York and do a bit of people watching. What a memorable trip! Thanks to Maggi and the Empire Quilters for showing me such a good time.

I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon, and pulled the quilts out of the suitcase, but I didn’t have to put them away because I was off to Janesville, WI to do a Mariner’s Compass workshop on Saturday. Another delightful group of quilters and some beautiful compasses in the works:

mariner's compass class

As we near the end of a compass workshop I enjoy lining up everyone’s “work in progress” – so we can all ooh and aah!


Today I had the joy of driving to the library in McHenry, IL to present my “Tradition With a Twist” lecture. This lecture contains vintage, traditional quilts along with my modern, innovative variations. I’ve even created a jacket from some leftover, antique double wedding ring arcs to wear during the presentation. Fun, fun, fun!

This is proving to be a very “quilty” month and I’m loving all the places I’m seeing and quilters I’m meeting. September does seem to be the kick off month for quilting events and the beginning of the year for many guilds. What have you been up to, quiltwise, this month???

Quiltina-miffedPS Quiltina insisted I confess my neglect. While in New York, Wendy texted me to ask how Quiltina and I were enjoying ourselves. It was then I realized I hadn’t brought her along. If that wasn’t bad enough, I unintentionally left her hanging around the studio while traveling this weekend too! As I was piling the quilts up after today’s lecture (to be put back in my magic quilt storage box :-)), she jumped atop the pile, with her hands on her hips and made me promise to take her to Des Moines in October. I’m ashamed of myself for forgetting her and will keep you posted about our next adventure.


September 22, 2013, Travel Uncategorized
New York, NY

This week’s post is filled with more travel fun! Last week I was teaching in Pella, IA and Madison, WI and this week I’m writing to you from Manhattan! Thanks to my dear friend, Maggi, who moved from Wisconsin to New York, I was invited to share my Mariner’s Compass techniques with the Empire Quilters!

I flew in on Friday morning and took a taxi to my hotel in Chelsea only to discover that my room wasn’t quite ready. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, so I headed to the High Line. My friend, Chiyoko, had recommended it and it was only a few blocks away. It’s an old elevated rail line that has been converted into a garden walkway with trees and plants (growing amongst the rails),


interesting art,


and fascinating views (like this one of the Statue of Liberty).


From there I walked to the City Quilter – a wonderful quilt shop a block from the hotel! And I just had to buy a few yards of New York fabric :-):

City Quilter

After lunch at a typical New York deli, I found my way to FIT – the Fashion Institute of Technology. In their beautiful gallery space they had an exhibit called Retro Spective. It included fashions from many different decades and “explored fashion’s relationships with it’s own history”. Being that I’m also I garment sewer, I found it fascinating.


By then my room was ready – on the 24th floor – and this was the veiw:


What a blessing, and I’d only been here a few hours! Once I got situated I hopped on a subway and headed “uptown” to visit with Maggi. We had a great time of tea and conversation.

The next morning I rolled my bag of quilts about 4 blocks to a lovely old church where the guild meeting was being held. The quilters began arriving as I prepared my quilts.

Empire QuiltersWhat a lovely group! I shared my Mariner’s Compass quilts along with their stories and even did my “I can draft a compass in under 5 minutes” demonstration.

drafting a mariner's compass


Today was a Mariner’s Compass workshop. Another fun day with wonderful quilters. The group shot from class was too fuzzy to post :-(, but I do have a picture of my new friend Mary. We have gotten to know each other over 3 delicious dinners and she has graciously shown me around the city. Thanks Mary!

I gave myself an extra day here and have some wonderful plans for tomorrow, but that will have to wait for next week’s post. I do however have one more thing I’d like to share. If you’re interested in taking my “Mariner’s Compass” class, or the free motion quilting class I call “Beyond Meandering”, I will be offering both next month at the AQS quilt show in Des Moines, IA (another great travel adventure to look forward to :-)).

AQS Des Moines

It promises to be a delightful show and you can get all the information, as well as register on their site at:

I’d like to close with one last New York picture – the view out my window right now! The Empire State Building is lit up so beautifully at night!

New York at nightPraise the Lord!

September 15, 2013, Travel
Travel Fun

Before we get to the topic at hand, I’d like to add one more bit of information to the topic that was covered in the last two weeks of blogs. The wool batt I was using in the wedding quilt was a new type called “washable wool”. These batts have only been around for a few years. Prior to that wool batts had to be treated very carefully.

I realized I needed to address this part of the wool batt discussion when Jackie made this comment (and I’m putting it here because not everyone reads the comments :-)): “Thanks for the heads up on the shrinkage.  I have 3 wool batts that were given to me.  They come from her sheep and she had the wool turned into batting.  I have been afraid to use them because I’m not sure how to.” 

This was my response: “Jackie, Wool that has not been processed for washing will shrink a lot!!! Typically quilters do not hand or machine quilt those types of batts. Rather they are used in what’s called a duvet. It’s like a bed sized “pillow case” that the wool batt is smoothed into, and then it is tied and ready for use. That way, when the quilt (actually a comforter) becomes soiled, the ties can be cut, the wool batt removed and re-carded, the duvet washed and then it can be put back together again.”

I hope that was helpful. I didn’t want to lead anyone astray!

Now I’d like to share some pictures and thoughts on a wonderful week of quilting travels…

My week began the day after Labor Day when I had the delightful opportunity to lecture and teach for a quilt guild in Pella, Iowa. On the way there I stopped to have lunch near Madison with my dear friend Evelyn (of Quiltilly fame :-)). We had a quick meal, happy conversation, and exchanged a collaboration quilt she and I have been working on (more details to come about that quilt in a future blog!). From there I continued on a sunny, 4 1/2 hour ride that took me just south and east of Des Moines.

The ladies of the Pella Quilt Guild were delightful! They invited me to join them for a delicious dinner at a local golf club, followed by my dressing up in “tails” for my “Quilt Tales” lecture. The next day a bunch of us had fun making houses using my Repliqué technique in an all day workshop. It was a very enjoyable 24 hours, and the time I was there went by much too quickly. As we were cleaning up after class the ladies asked me if I’d seen the Pella windmill. We could just view the top of one of the arms from the window and I couldn’t resist a short side trip to the downtown area before I left town. The community is very proud of its Dutch heritage. Notice not only the full sized, working windmill downtown, but the oversized yellow, wooden shoes in the doorway.


The downtown area is charming, with beautiful tiles around many shop windows and interesting murals painted along an arched pathway off of the main street.


I only wish I had had some time to explore all the antique and specialty shops! But, I needed to return to Madison, WI for an 8:30 lecture Thursday morning at the Wisconsin Quilt Expo. This show is a joint venture of Wisconsin Public Television and Nancy Zieman Productions and it has become a National level quilt show. I’ve been blessed to teach at this event every year since it’s inception and it just keeps getting better and better.

The crowds were huge (and the floors were shiny :-)):


The quilts were breathtaking, inspiring and sometimes humorous (I apologize for the fuzzy picture, but you get the idea – I laughed out loud).


The vendor booths were a bounty of temptations. And just being around quilters was such a joy! In this photo I ran into Arleen and Grace from Quilter’s Plus quilt guild in Glenwood, Il. I met them when they invited me to visit their guild last year and we had such a nice time getting to know each other. We were all ogling the fabric in Wendy Richardson’s booth when I spotted them.


A big HI goes out to everyone I ran into in Madison!

My dear friend, Laura Krasinski, was my roommate this year and we had a wonderful time together. Laura is also a teacher and her lectures on thread painting are very popular. You can learn more about her at her blog:

My daily lecture was about playing with fabric gradations and one of the quilts in the show just stopped me in my tracks:


What an amazing use of the black/gray gradation fabric in the border! Plus, the appliqué and quilting were superb. The quality of the entries was so great I just couldn’t decide on a viewer’s choice (a rare thing for me).

I also taught two workshops on beginning fiber art – called Parallelisms. Those of you who have been reading my past blogs know that this is the topic of my latest book and it is now in print! I picked up the first batch on the Friday before Labor Day 🙂 (it will be available on line soon – I just need a bit of time to add it to my website – here’s hoping I remember how to do that!) I’m so excited to share it with you, and I promise to do so very soon!!!

The students were great and we all had a lot of creative fun! I tend to get so into my classes that I forget to grab my camera, but I remembered to snap a few photos with my phone in my last workshop on Saturday. These ladies were playing with fabric, color and design, and I’m quite sure they were having a lot of fun!


I have two more pictures from that class that I


just have to share. There was a man sitting in the back of the classroom when class began. I wasn’t quite sure why he was there, but I chose to just proceed. It turns out that his two daughters, Karen and Jan, were in the class and he was there with them. When I asked him if he wanted to participate in the class he said “no”, but he told me he was a quilter. Then he very proudly said that his wife had been a quilter and he had made two bed sized quilts which he quilted by hand! He then pulled two pictures from his shirt pocket and just beamed when I asked if I could photograph him. This is Ken Drake and his quilts (did I mention he is 87? I was very impressed!):


Thanks Ken, for letting me share your story!

2013expo-josie's-horse-and-meOh, and guess who else had a quilt at the show? Josie! She had entered her horse in the youth category. Shortly after having this picture taken I ran into her and her mom in the parking lot. They were there for the youth presentation and I was tickled to have time between classes to see her hold her quilt up on the stage:



2013-mad-ex-josieIt was so nice to talk to Josie again, and to meet her mom. What a wonderful show and a very full week of quilting fun!

Were you at Expo? What was your favorite part?

I’d like to leave with a closing shot of the rubber duckie car for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of seeing it driving around Madison. Too funny!


September 8, 2013, Travel
Wool Batt and Border Quilting

In our last episode :-):Brianne Scott

Brianne and Scott were married, the wedding quilt was given as a gift and they are now on their honeymoon (no word as to their response about the quilt).

I had written about a portion of my quilting journey on their quilt in last week’s blog and will now continue …

Once the center of the quilt was done, it was time to quilt the borders. The border fabric is quite busy and I was sure any design would end up being seen as mainly texture. I have found “writing” in borders to be a delightful and fun way to finish this process. So I put in a dark green thread and began by writing “Scott and Brianne Trevorrow” across the bottom border.

(here is where I have to apologize and add a “learn from my mistake” portion to the blog. While working with the pictures I took of the border quilting in Photoshop Elements, I neglected to save them while in progress and the program closed down unexpectedly. Photoshop doesn’t do regular saves – and I should have – and the pictures were lost :-(. Since I no longer have the quilt, I couldn’t just snap a few more pics, so I’m hoping your imagination will fill in the blanks)

Next, starting at the lower left corner of the side border. I quoted Matthew 19:5-6 up the left side, across the top, down the right side, and ended with their wedding date in the lower right hand corner of the side border. The words were rather inconspicuous, and it was easier to see them from the back of the quilt, but they are there and I’m hoping it will be a special surprise to them some time in the future.

Once the quilting was done it was time to bind. I did this in the same flannel I used on the back – in keeping with the snuggly theme. I attached the binding first by machine to the back of the quilt, then I folded the binding to the front and secured it on the front with a zig-zag stitch in a matching thread. I typically sew the binding to the front and then hand-stitch it to the back because I find the quilt edge lays best this way, but again, since the quilt was meant for cuddling, I went with this quick way and then attached the label (did I mention I finished attaching the  label the morning of the wedding???)



I made the label on the computer and printed it on a colorfast printer fabric. This was the first time I included washing instructions on a label, because I felt the wool batt required it.

Next was the scariest part of the adventure. Since the majority of my quilts are made to hang on a wall, I strive for smooth and flat results. I have used washable wool batts in some of my wallhangings for the faux trapunto effect – with very good results, but the difference is I never planned to wash those quilts. This time I’d marked the circles and hearts with a water soluble marker that needed to be removed, and I wanted to see how the “washable” wool batt would react to washing, so I threw it in the washer (front loader) and washed with cool water on a gentle cycle. Then it went into the dryer on very low heat. I had not washed the fabrics in the quilt top or back, because I knew the batt was going to do a bit of shrinking and puckering (even with the cool temperatures), but when I pulled it out of the dryer I noticed immediately that it did shrink up even more than I expected.

So, I took a breath, wrapped myself up in it, and it was VERY SNUGGLY! I then laid it across a chair and got used to the  new effect.


I like it! Different can be good! I would do it again! I feel this was a good experience and hope it was helpful for some of you.

I can’t wait to hear from the newlyweds … and you too! Do you have any wool batt stories to share?

August 31, 2013, Batting free motion
Wedding Quilt

First of all, I must begin with a huge thank you to everyone who responded with opinions concerning the cover for my new book. I was blown away by the number of responses and grateful for all of the thoughtful comments. I did not take that decision lightly and feel good arguments were presented for both covers. That being said, I’m not telling which way I went yet :-)! “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art?” is now at the printers and should be ready for my classes at Expo in Madison next month. It will be available on my website shortly after that.

Now for this week’s topic. My August 11th post began with a picture of me basting a quilt in the driveway. I was making it for my niece’s wedding and Brianne and Scott were married this past Friday. They are a very sweet and special couple and their day was beautiful! It was such a blessing to celebrate this joy filled time with family and friends.

Brianne and Scott

Quilting and finishing their quilt was an adventure for me and I’d like to share some of the things I tried and the results. It was actually made for a class sample last semester and as soon as I got the top together and decided on a border (click here for that story :-)) I knew it was the one I wanted to finish for Brianne and Scott. The colors are bright and modern, and I could just picture them cuddled up under it.

When it came time to layer and quilt it, I chose to use a washable wool batt to make it extra snuggly and, while basting it in the frame, I had a thought: I’m always telling my students that quilting the quilt should be as much fun as making the top. So, how should I quilt it?

Sparingly was the answer. No tight and tiny filler designs this time! I didn’t want to flatten the nice poofy wool. I also didn’t want to drive myself crazy with a lot of marking and planning. This quilt wasn’t going to competition, it was meant to keep 2 people I love warm. Here’s what I did:

1. Gridded the quilt on the diagonals, through the dark squares, with a walking foot.

grid quilting

2. Prepared to make fast and fun feathered wreaths by marking a circle around an embroidery hoop,  straight pinning up to the circle and removing any safety pins that were in the way.

quilting simple feathered wreath

3. I began by free motion quilting the marked circle and then “feathering” around the outside. I’ve found feathers to be much easier since I took a class with Diane Gaudynski and she taught that a feather is half of a heart. I doodled loads of hearts when I was a young girl, so I had the shape down. She also showed us how it was easier to “draw” a half heart from the indent at the top, around to the point at the bottom. Here is my first “outside the circle” feather. I’ve come back up from the point and am at the top of the bump which will be the second feather.

quilt simple feathers4. As you can see – my feathers are big. Once I made all of the feathers around the outside, I stitched a second circle inside the first to create a “spine” and then I feathered the inside.

quilt simple feathers

5. They were a joy to make and the wreath was done so quickly I couldn’t wait to start the next one. Here’s a view of a wreath from the top:

quilt simple feathers

and from the back:


Notice how the feathers are not consistent in size or shape and yet they look good when all were done? Don’t agonize over each little stitch – revel in the finished effect!

quilting a large quilt

I did the free motion quilting on my HQ Sweet 16 and I used my “Quilt Float” system to lift the quilt and keep the weight of it from dragging me down. Quilts can be floated with a domestic machine also. For info on the “Quilt Float” from 2 previous posts, click here and then here :-).


When all the wreaths were made it was time to fill in the open areas. I did this with free motion hearts.

The adventure didn’t stop there, but the post is getting a bit long. Next week I’ll share my thoughts on border quilting and working with a wool batt.

Oh – just one more thing. I’ll be presenting a program at the library in McHenry, IL in September and I wanted to share their flyer in case you can make it!

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 8.59.56 AM


Book Cover Opinions

A few posts back I asked for your help with a name for the book I’m currently working on. I recieved over 25 suggestions and really enjoyed reading them and contemplating my choice. Thank you to everyone who responded.

What I decided I wanted to get across on the cover was that this is a book for the traditional quilter who is interested in trying fiber art, but doesn’t think he/she can. The title that best got that across was suggested by Judy Rosynek – “How Do I Start With Fiber Art”! Judy is a regular in my Thursday afternoon Open Labs and a very talented quilter.

There is also a second place winner because I felt a sub-title would be helpful and that idea came from Barb Mattheis – “Playing With Color, Fabric and Design” (plus I added “Beads”).

Thanks so much Judy and Barb! When the book is finally in print they will each receive a signed copy :-)!

So now I need you all again. My daughter-in-law, Betsy, has been playing with pictures of some of my quilts to come up with a cover and we have it narrowed down to two. The first uses one of my quilts entitled “Concentricities”. It is colorful, artsy and I think it’s quite appealing.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 10.23.31 AM

The second option adds a bit of humor by using a quilt I made for a challenge entitled “Self Portrait of the Artist as an Animal”. It is called “Otterly Immersed in Art Quilts” and I portrayed myself as an otter, relaxing in the tub and dreaming of my next fiber art adventure.

Where Do I Start With Fiber ArtSo, if you are a traditional quilter (or even if you’re not, but you have an opinion) and you are apprehensive about trying fiber art, which cover would entice you to look at this book?

Please click on “leave a comment” at the end of this post and send me your response along with any other thoughts you’d like to share. Thanks in advance for your help!



August 17, 2013, Design
Really 3D Quilts

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

quilt basting in driveway

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

My Objet D’Arc

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

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

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

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

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

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

double wedding ring quilt variation

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

double wedding ring quilt

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


And this one is from the left:


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

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

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

Madison Quilt Expo

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

August 11, 2013, Challenges
Josie’s Quilt

This week I have a very uplifting story to share!

My dear friend Linda works with young girls in 4H and a few weeks ago she called to tell me about Josie. Josie is 14 and very talented. She has entered the Waukesha County Fair in many different categories, but is especially good at quilting. This year she decided to make an art quilt of her own design and was planning to enter it, but when she was in the quilting stage someone had hinted that it wasn’t good enough. Her mother and Linda were looking for a way to encourage her so Linda brought Josie and her quilt to my house. I wasn’t sure what to expect and had put on my best “face of encouragement” when she brought out her truly amazing quilt. It was a pictorial quilt of  a horses head and when I asked her if she knew this horse she said only in her mind. Josie had used black and white prints in raw edge appliqué on a blue background with yarn embellishment for the mane. She had done a bit of quilting and was adding the borders “quilt as you go” with piping. The quilt was wonderful! There was a bit of what I’d call “poofiness”, but I was sure that would be remedied with more quilting, so we talked about how to quilt it and finish the borders. I then shared a lesson I’ve learned over the years: We shouldn’t make a quilt to win awards or please a judge. We should make quilts to please ourselves. She left with a smile on her face and I felt grateful to have met her.

Linda called me a while later to let me know that Josie finished her quilt and not only entered it in the County Fair, but won the grand champion award and it would go on to the State Fair. I was so happy for her and glad that she persevered! This past week my dear friend Sharon Grinyer and I went to the Fair together and we were delighted to see a merit award hanging on Josie’s horse quilt!


I can’t wait to see what she does next!



After enjoying the 4H exhibit we decided to “eat our way through the Fair” (a term we borrowed from a winning photo album in one of the exhibits)

And began with the Lion’s Corn roast.


I am a member of Patched Lives Quilt Guild and we sponsor 2 awards (non-4H) at the State Fair. So once we were sufficiently full we headed over to see the quilts. Our “small quilt – appliqué” ribbon was awarded to Nancy Gruenewald for her lovely hand quilted piece.

PL-winner-GruenewaldOur “small quilt – pieced” award went to Chris Motl for her delightful circular red and white quilt.

PL-winner-MotlCongratulations to all the winners. The entire exhibit was a feast for the eyes.

eye-feastFrom there we went to Oconomowoc to spend some time enjoying the Milwaukee Machine Quilting Show. The Milwaukee Art Quilters had an exhibit of our recent challenge quilts: “Objet D’Arc” hanging there. Each member was given a vintage arc that never grew up to be a Double Wedding Ring quilt and we all did something innovative with it. Sharon was enjoying the creativity.

Objet-DThe quilts and vendors were all very nice and we were glad we had made time for a visit to the show.

The next day I packed up to teach at the Sewing and Quilting Expo held this past weekend in Platteville, WI.

Quilting Expo

I even talked the ladies in one of my sessions into smiling and waving for you!

expo-2I was invited to present 4 different lectures on Saturday, so packing was an adventure. The students were great and I’m sure a wonderful time was had by all.

If you get to the Wisconsin State Fair be sure to look for Josie’s quilt :-)!

Did you get to any fun, quilt related events this past week?




August 4, 2013, Travel
Pictures and Acronyms

I’ve received some great pictures recently, inspired by previous posts!

In response to “Barn Blocks“, Barbara Laufenberg of Ripon, WI sent me this picture of her’s entitled Nell’s Star

Barn Block

Carol Slattery also sent me some lovely pictures along with this message:

“Hi Chris
This is our barn quilt, put up in 2009 the year we had the Portage County Dairy Breakfast, Rudolph, WI, over 3000 people attended. 
Barn Quilt
The pattern is “Clay’s Choice”. 
Barn QUilt
I made four – 14 inch quilt blocks for decoration for the Dairy Breakfast also. Carol”

Wooden quilt blocks

Thanks Barbara and Carol for sharing your blocks with us!

Recently I received pictures from another blog follower concerning Mariner’s Compass.

Leslie Thorkelson made this Compass in a class I taught in Brookfield, WI. It was made for her sister and she named it “Honor Flight”. Leslie finished it and said she didn’t want to part with it, but she did and her sister loved it:

Mariner's Compass quilt

Than she made a variation for herself which she called “Brazilian Sunrise”:

Mariner's Compass variation

I really like the bright colors and off center – center :-)!

I hope these quilts inspired you. The painted, 14″ blocks seem to me much more doable than the 4 foot square one hanging on my barn. Maybe the garage needs a matching one?!?!?!

I’m also thinking about other mariner’s shapes with off center, centers. Like I don’t already have enough PIMM’s. That’s an acronym for “project in my mind”. While on Facebook the other day I came across this list of clever acronyms from Handi Quilter. Some I hadn’t heard before:

quilt abbrev

I hope HQ (“Handi Quilter”) gave you a smile!

Do you know of any other clever quilting acronyms not listed here? I’d love to add them to my list.

HQ (“Happy Quilting”), Chris




July 28, 2013, Uncategorized
The Fiberistas at WMQFA

Today was the opening reception for a fascinating exhibit of fiber art. It’s a biennale event and it was open to all fiber artists in Wisconsin (think about what you’ll enter in 2015 :-))!

But let me back up just a bit:

A few months ago I had the wonderful opportunity to become part of a new fiber art group that is just starting up in Watertown. We currently have 6 members (and one member wanna be) and a name – the FIBERISTAS!

The idea behind our group is mainly just to encourage one another in our art. At our second meeting we were discussing an upcoming juried exhibit. The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg was inviting entries into their: “First Fiber Arts Biennale: Wisconsin State of the Art”. Three of us decided to enter and we each had two quilts accepted! We were thrilled to be a part of this landmark event. So, two weeks ago we took our quilts to the museum and today was the opening reception!

The museum is housed in a refurbished barn on a farm just north of Milwaukee. It is a lovely venue.

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

The Fiberistas at the WMQFA

The Jenning’s Quilt is one of the first things you see upon entering the Museum (along with a yummy opening reception spread and don’t miss the gift shop!)

Wisconsin Quilt MuseumThere were many unique and interesting pieces of fiber art on display.

Fiber ArtQuilts, garments, knitting, rug hooking, beading and more!

Fiber Art

The pictures really don’t do the show justice (the lighting worked much better in person), but I wanted to give you a little taste of the show.

fiber art

And just one more photograph:

fiber art

If you’re a Wisconsin quilter, you need to read the rest!

In talking to Curator Norma Klimpke, she was very pleased with the fiber art entered in the show and the attendance at this opening event. But she had something she wanted me to share – this was meant to be an all Wisconsin show, yet the majority of artists participating were from South Central and South Eastern Wisconsin. She asked me to get the word out that they’d like fiber artists from all over the State to enter in 2015.  So if you live in Western or Northern Wisconsin (or anywhere in between), go to their site:, sign up for their e-newsletter and start thinking about what you’ll  enter in the second biennale show!

I hope many of you have the opportunity to visit this delightful exhibit between now and October 13th. Cedarburg is a lovely community with a downtown area that just begs to be wandered through. I highly recommend spending a day there!

July 21, 2013, Uncategorized
Barn Blocks

As you may know, hanging large, painted quilt blocks on barns is all the rage!

According to the website: Heritage Barn “The history of barn decoration dates back to the mid 1800’s. Painting symbols on barns originated from traditional folk art passed along from the German and Swiss immigrants who settled the Pennsylvania Dutch region in southeastern Pennsylvania. Once these groups including Lutherans, Moravians, Mennonites and other Christian reformists, built their family farms and communities, they would paint small patterns on their barns to celebrate their heritage and bring good fortune.  Originally these patterns were simple stars, compass roses, or stylized birds from traditional folk art.  

Today’s barn decorating revival became popular with a woman named Donna Sue Groves, from Adams County, Ohio.  She wanted to honor her mother by hanging a colorful painted quilt square on her barn.  Instead of just one quilt square, she began a community project with twenty quilts being displayed along a driving trail to encourage visitors to travel through the countryside. This was the start of our first quilt trail in America. Quilt trails are now being organized all across the country. Barn quilts are displayed around communities and then mapped out for tourist to follow these amazing works of art.  They promote tourism and help draw visitors into our rural communities. Traditional stars and various quilt patterns are now being displayed on barns, homes, sheds and sides of buildings.  They are also put on posts and displayed in yards and parks.”

While walking with my neighbor (and website designer :-)) Diahann a few months ago I realized that a nearby farm had a quilt block on the barn. Hmmmmmm. Then my friend Kathy sent me pictures of the log cabin quilt she had painted on a piece of wood and hung on her shed (she did it all herself – I was impressed!).

Kathy's barn quilt

This all got me to thinking that Mike and I had an ideal shed/barn for hanging a block. So, while at the AQS show in Paducah this year I found a vendor who sold smaller (2′ x 2′) metal barn blocks ( and one of the block choices was the Mariner’s Compass! I went home armed with a flyer and presented the idea to Mike. He said “why don’t you paint a big one yourself?” Well my response was “I don’t want to – I’d rather work with fabric than paint!”. The next thing I know, he’s surfing the web and together we found “Heritage Barn Quilts”. We liked the blocks on the site so I contacted Karen and emailed her a photo of the cover of my Compass Capers book. She was able to match some of the colors to my satisfaction and created a 4′ square painted and framed barn block. It arrived a few weeks ago, is now hanging and I’m thrilled!

Another Compass Caper

Here’s a view from the road (with a candid of Annabelle and a self portrait of me as well):

barn quilt

and one more shot so you can see it from every angle:

barn quilt

Karen work is excellent and she has pictures of my barn block, along with many others, and a few short stories at this address: It was fun to see how and where others have hung their “quilts”!

Do you have a quilt block in your yard letting others know “a quilter lives here”?

Have you driven the routes of any quilt block trails?

Please comment and let us know or better yet, send pictures to me at

An Exhibit You Won’t Want to Miss!

First Fiber Arts Biennale:  Wisconsin State of the Art

Opens July 17 at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Chris Lynn Kirsch, an Art Quilter from Watertown, WI, will have two of her quilts exhibited in the First Fiber Arts Biennale at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.
Join us for an explosion of fiber arts from the four corners of Wisconsin.  The museum sought out exceptional examples of all media of fiber arts from Wisconsin for this special exhibit.   Wisconsin artists responded creatively – and enthusiastically to this invitation.  Some highlights from the exhibit include:
◊   Quilts from artists Marla Morris-Kennedy of Mequon Candy Flynn of Middleton,  Jeanne Pfister of Appleton area
◊    Hooked rugs made by Lyle Drier of Waukesha
◊    Bead embellished fiber artwork from Lisa Binkley of Waunakee
◊    Knitted work by Sara Gryske of DeForest
◊    Fashion creations from nine Pius XI High School students
There will be an artists’ reception on Sunday, July 21, from noon to 3 p.m.  The exhibit runs through October 13, 2013.
The museum is located at N50 W5050 Portland Road, Cedarburg.  Phone number is 262.546.0300.  Hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.  More information is available on our website:



July 14, 2013, Uncategorized
A Quilting Cousin

It was a wonderful 2 weeks! Hanna and Willy were a delight and Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed every moment of their visit. We boated, swam, saw a parade, visited the zoo and they got reacquainted with all their Wisconsin relatives.

One of the highlights was Hanna’s enthusiasm for quilting once again.

quilting kid

Hanna with her dolly’s quilt

The kids were last here 2 1/2 years ago. At that time (Hanna was almost 5) she really wanted to learn to make a quilt and when she finished one for her dolly she asked if she could make another one (to read that post click here!).

We ran out of time that visit, but it was one of her first questions after arriving this time. So I set up my featherweight once again and asked her what she would like to make. We had all just spent a day with her cousin Sommer at my parent’s lake cottage.

cottage-cousins-So she decided she wanted to make a quilt for Sommer. I pulled out my box of 6″ charm squares and she chose her favorite 24. Hanna pieced them all by herself and her 1/4″ seam allowance was pretty consistant :-).

quilting kidOnce the piecing was done, we layered the top with batting and backing and pinned it all the way around.

quilting kidThen she sewed around the perimeter, leaving an opening, and turned the quilt right sides out.

quilting kidWe marked the diagonals and she quilted the layers together by machine.

quilting kidOnce again she completed a project with a smile on her face (although this one took a little longer and she didn’t ask to make another right away).

quilting kid

The night before they went back to Washington she gave the quilt to Sommer and this was the thank you picture Uncle Brad sent us from Sommer that night.

quilting kidThe message read: “Goodnight! Thank you for the quilt Hanna and Grandma”.

What a joy! Willy was a bit put out that he didn’t get to quilt. There just wasn’t enough time. But I promised to help him make whatever he desired on their next visit. Should be interesting :-).


July 7, 2013, Uncategorized
Slice Quilts Revisited

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

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

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

After the three quilts were designed, I realized the quilts needed not only to be about community, but also the “look” of being made by the community. I presented the idea of a “slice” quilt to North Shore Quilter’s Guild and asked if they would be interested in participating. Even though it was a very ambitious project, I received an enthusiastic “Yes”.

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

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

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

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

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

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

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

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

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

6-30 parade

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

June 30, 2013, Challenges
Word Patterns

A few months ago I got a new computer and thus I needed to adjust to a new version of MS Word. In my second book, “Snuggle and Learn Quilts for Kids”, I use Word to create my word patterns. These patterns need to be a mirror image of the word so that they can be stitched using my Repliqué technique (which reverses the pattern). I know many of you have this book or have seen my demonstration on how to make these patterns. Here’s the problem: MS Word no longer allows us to type a word in Word Art and then stretch it to fit the page, nor can we use “flip horizontal” to reverse the image. Grrrrrrr.

So I decided I needed to try to find an alternative – and I have :-)! If you have my book, please copy and paste these new directions into a blank document, print them and place them in your book for future use.

To Create a Word Pattern:

1. In the Layout menu select “Orientation” and check “Landscape”.layout,orient,landscape

2. In the “Document Elements” menu select “Word Art” (the tipped “A”); select the simple outlined letter (mine is in the upper left).


Your Text Here

A Text Box should appear. Type the word or name you want in the box. If you attempt to type and it doesn’t work, highlight “Your Text Here” first and then retype the word.

3. Make sure your Name/Word is still highlighted and select “Effects” (the fuzzy “A”); select Warp square“Transform” and under the “Warp” menu cursor over the different options and click on the one that reads “square”.

4.  You may now stretch (warp) your word by “left clicking and holding down” the “handle” on the lower right corner of the text box then dragging it to the desired size for your pattern.

stretched word

To Reverse the Image:

1. Highlight the Name/Word once again (it may shrink back to it’s original size, don’t worry – just proceed).

2. Select “Effects” once again; select “3-D Rotation”; select “3-D Rotation Options” at the bottom of the menu box.

3d rotation options

3. In the new menu type “180” in the “X” box and click “ok”.


Your Name/Word should now be the desired size, reversed and ready to print!

ready to print

I hope this was helpful. These patterns may also be used for fusible web appliqué, but I would recommend Repliqué :-)!

Upcoming Classes

I have a few one day workshops open this Summer. If you are available I hope you’ll consider signing up.

Logs and Chains – Friday, 8/9, 9-2:30

logs and chains

Click here for all the information:

Compass Capers – Friday, 7/12, 9-2:30

Mariner's Compass

Click here for all the information:

June 23, 2013, Computers and Quilting