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: http://www.wctc.edu/class-search/course-search-results3.php?code=304&num=617F&term=201405&credit=any&item=QUILTING&by=&delivery=any&session=any&coursenum=&itematch=&restriction=&avail=all&prereqs=any&startdate=all&where=class_search

Compass Capers – Friday, 7/12, 9-2:30

Mariner's Compass

Click here for all the information: http://www.wctc.edu/class-search/course-search-results3.php?code=304&num=608U&term=201405&credit=any&item=QUILTING&by=&delivery=any&session=any&coursenum=&itematch=&restriction=&avail=all&prereqs=any&startdate=all&where=class_search

June 23, 2013, Computers and Quilting
Name That Book 2!

I’m really anxious to share all about the new book I’m working on, but first a photo of another slice quilt!

Slice quilt

This picture was sent to me in response to last week’s post by Lucy Zeldenrust. It’s entitled ” The Rahn Mansion Panels” and here’s the story as told by Lucy:

“Chris…I’m pretty sure you saw this at The Rahr West Art museum when you were the  keynote speaker for our Ladies of the Lake quilt exhibit many years ago. This “slice” quilt is of Manitowoc’s Rahr West mansion and was completed and featured in 1994. Our picture of the mansion was an 8″ x 11″ sketch by local artist Doug Haag, which we cut into 8 slices. Each quilter had to increase the size of her own strip, by whatever means, to a final size of 8″ x 50″…hence the slightly off-kilter matching from slice to slice.  We call it character!”

This is another lovely example of a Slice Quilt. Thanks Lucy!

And now on to this week’s topic – Name That Book!

As many of you may remember, I self published my third book – Compass Capers – last year. One of the tough parts was coming up with a book title that was informative and catchy. Thus I asked for input from many of you. What fun that proved to be! I was amazed by the creativity you all put forth :-).

I am now in the midst of doing it again. I’ve had many students ask for a book on my beginning fiber art techniques. My classes on this are called “Parallelisms” because we play with skinny, parallel strips of fabric and a fun fusing technique (here’s just one).

Beginning Fiber Art


Over time I began creating “Concentricities” – playing with concentric shapes.

Beginning Fiber Art

The book will contain all of my tips, techniques and loads of pictures of quilts from both quilt series. My daughter-in-law Betsy, who is a graphic designer, is in on the project once again and the fun has begun. One of the big question marks is what to name it???

Here’s the description: This is a fiber art class for traditional quilters who aren’t sure they’re creative but want to try making an art quilt by simply playing with color, fabric and design.

So, what do you think? Beginning Fiber Art sounds a bit mundane. Parallelisms isn’t very explanatory.

What title for a beginning fiber art book would really make you want to pick it up and read on? Please send your ideas as a comment to this post. The winning suggestion will get a free copy of the book once it’s in print. I can’t wait to read what you come up with :-)!

June 16, 2013, Uncategorized
Slice Quilts

A lot of excitement has been arriving in my mailbox recently! First came the latest issue of Quilting Arts and an article about the Milwaukee Art Quilters and our award winning Jennings quilt (more about that to follow :-)). Then came the Summer issue of the National Quilting Association‘s magazine – “Quilting Quarterly” – and Wendy Rieves and I are cover girls! Our quilt, “Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden” is featured on the cover of the magazine!

Sunflower Quilt

We are thrilled and I have to give Wendy a lot of credit because those beautiful sunflowers are her creation. Thanks Wendy!

So, now for this week’s actual topic:

I’ve mentioned the Milwaukee Art Quilters in previous blog posts and during the AQS show in Paducah this year, a group quilt we made won an award. I believe the Jenning’s Homestead Quilt was the first project made by this group that wasn’t made for competition and it’s been winning awards in every show it’s traveled to – go figure :-).

Milwaukee Art Quilters Jennings Homestead

The Jenning’s Homestead quilt is an example of a slice quilt and here’s the story:

When Marq began we would hold our monthly meetings in member’s homes. As our numbers grew this became a bit difficult. One of our founding members, Suzanne Riggio, came to the rescue. Her daughter and son-in-law, Theresa and Paul Jennings, owned a business and made space available for us to meet. Over the years they never charged us anything for this privilege and Suzanne suggested to the group that we make a slice quilt of their beautiful, historic home as a “thank you”. Another member, Judy Zoelzer-Levine, had had some success with this technique and volunteered to enlarge a photograph of the home and divide it into 24 portions. All willing members were given a picture of the home (for color and continuity),

Jennings photo

an actual sized “cartoon” of their chosen section (this was mine),


And a mapped “cartoon” showing how the portions fit together:


We were allowed to use any techniques of our choosing and were asked to leave at least 1″ extra fabric all around our block to aid in putting things back together. Suzanne preferred the colors/theme to be early Spring so that the house would not be blocked by foliage. Once the blocks were completed they were assembled and the quilting was done by Terri Kirchner.

We invited Theresa and Paul to a meeting where we presented them with their quilt. They were stunned and overjoyed. Suzanne then informed them that she wanted to enter it in a show or two because it did turn out so well and … the rest is history!

Marq and the quilt were even featured in the most recent issue (June/July) of Quilting Arts magazine. It is such a blessing to be a part of this talented group!

Have you ever been a part of a slice quilt project? Please comment and tell us about it!

PS My daughter-in-law sent me this picture of Sommer at Discovery World on the lake front in Milwaukee. She seems to be reaching for the Calatrava designed Quadracci Pavillion at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It made me smile!

Sommer at Discovery World

June 9, 2013, Inspiration

After last week’s post about Mary’s well organized sewing room, Lorraine Bahr sent me this email message:

“Chris, Just read your blog about how your friend Mary organized the closets in her quilt studio.  Thought you would enjoy seeing how I resurrected an outdated cabinet, gave it new life and now use it to organize my studio.

card catalog repurposed

Several years ago the high school in the district where I taught was going “digital” and was sending the old card catalog cabinet to the dump.  I asked to have it delivered to my house instead.  I gave it a fresh coat of paint, labeled the drawers, and now have it as a conversation (as well as an organizational) piece in my quilt studio.  Enjoy the photos below.”

card catalog repurposed

Here’s a detail shot. Lorraine is not only organized, but has an exciting color sense! Thanks for sending the pictures Lorraine!

Lorraine Bahr cabinet close up

Mike and I love to go antiquing and have done a bit of repurposing of our own. We came up with my favorite quilt related project prior to my new studio being built. When I wrote my first book our desk top computer sat atop a big, old desk and the keyboarding was so awkward that I ended up with a pinched nerve in my neck and a mid-evil looking traction device for a few weeks (it attached to a door and no – I’m not including pictures :-)). We knew we needed a computer desk, but didn’t like any of the modern ones available. So we decided to go antiquing and see what we could find. At the Columbus Antique Mall we found a pretty 1940’s enamel table in good condition. It had 2 leaves attached to the inside of the table that pulled out and into position with an ingenious use of springs. I asked Mike if he could remove one of the leaves and permanently attach it at the right level to make an ergonomically correct keyboard platform. He figured it out and I’ve been pleased with it ever since.
repurpose old table new computer desk

Have you had any quilt related adventures in re-purposing?

The Saga Continues

It seems Quiltilly’s story hasn’t quite reached it’s end.

A short while after Evelyn and Quiltilly’s reunion, Chris received this message and some pictures from Evelyn:

“Poor Quiltilly was quite traumatized from her kidnapping ordeal, so we invited a new quiltsissy, Quiltimae, to keep her company.  They wanted to play with Blue Bunny, but she wasn’t in a playful mood.

May 3

So they went out into the sunshine, climbed the lilac bush, and listened to the birds sing.


They sat in the violet garden until Quiltilly felt much better.  She needs to stay here to make regular visits to her psychiatrist, so she won’t be going on the cruise to the Baltic.

Instead, Quiltimae will accompany Evelyn on her first traveling adventure.


She is very excited to be going to all the capitols of Scandinavia as well as stops in Germany, Estonia, and St. Petersburg, Russia. She will be keeping a journal and will have lots of pictures to share with Quiltilly when she returns.

Bon Voyage Quiltymae! Since this is a similar cruise to the one Wendy and Chris are leading next May, we will be very interested to learn all about Quiltymae’s first travel adventure.


June 2, 2013, sewing space/studio
Ladies of the Lake

I met Mary Van Grinsvin at a PTO meeting when our sons were in middle school and we decided to volunteer to be co-presidents. We soon discovered that we both were quilters. We enjoyed some fun times together, but then our sons headed off to different high schools after which Mary and her family moved away. She and her husband recently retired to a beautiful home on a lake in northern Wisconsin and she became connected to a quilt guild in Minocqua. As fate would have it she volunteered to co-chair the program committee with Glennes Youngbauer, another quilter I had known years ago through a guild in the Milwaukee area. I’ve run into both Mary and Glennes at quilt shows over the years and was so pleased when they invited me to teach for the Ladies of the Lake quilt guild last weekend. It is a very talented and friendly guild and both workshops were a lot of fun (at least for me they were :-)). Silly me, I forgot to get my camera out during the classes, but Mary did send me a picture of some of ladies and the Mariner’s Compasses they made in class.

Mariners Compass quilt classNot only were the classes a blessing, but I had a wonderful time staying with Mary and Greg. Their home is lovely, but what blew me away was her studio.

quilt studio

What wonderful natural light and everything is so neat (she did admit to picking up a little before I arrived). Mary is an organizational genius and after seeing her storage closet, I knew I had a blog topic to share.

quilt studio

She had her shelves built with 8″ between them and she places each of her projects in a bin. She found these bins through a medical supply company and had to order 100 of them. She has used 64 so far and sent one home with me. Doesn’t this inspire you to get organized? It certainly has given me the organizing bug.

After class each night we had a bit of time on the lake. A ride in Greg’s new boat was a joy on Saturday and on Sunday Mary and I chased a loon while kayaking. What fun!

kayaking quilters

kayaking quilterThanks Mary for a delightful weekend!


The Quiltilly Conclusion

To refresh your memory – last week Quiltilly ran away and got into some mischief. Upon her return she decided to hide because she knew Chris wasn’t too happy about her nose ring!

While Chris looked high and low for that naughty Quiltilly, Quiltanna felt it her responsibility to expose her hiding place (the fishbowl of scraps):

KK-P13q-fishbowlAfter climbing out everyone talked it through and the Quiltsissies were back to having fun. So much so that they were found hanging from the rafters.

L P13q-rafter-hangingIt was at this point Chris realized how much Tilly’s missing hand hindered her and she decided to do something about it – a cup hook fit the bill handily!

M P13q-new-handAll too soon this little adventure was reaching a conclusion. Evelyn was heading to the Baltics for an exciting cruise and she really wanted to take Quiltilly along. Chris invited her to lunch (Wendy wasn’t able to be there) and Evelyn arrived with the ransom in hand. She was a bit reticent to hand it over, but Chris was happy to take it:

R-P13-paying-ransomOoooh! Diamonds!


Joy only a Mom can display!


But Evelyn wasn’t too sure about the hook!

V-P13-a-hookThe Quiltsissies served a yummy lunch and afterwards Chris sent this note to Wendy:

“Diamonds! And they’re batiks! We’re rich! Evelyn and Quiltilly were happily reunited and excited about their trip to the Baltics next week. Only wish you and Quiltina could’ve been here. All’s well that ends well!”

and they all lived happily ever after.

The End

PS Chris received this note a few hours later:

“We had to drive thru almost  blinding rain but Quiltillie and I are safe at home.  Quiltillie cried all the way.  She has been thru such an ordeal.  I was so glad to rescue her from the clutches of her kidnappers.  I’ll probably have to take her to a psychiatrist.”

Perhaps not everyone lived happily ever after :-(.






May 26, 2013, sewing space/studio Travel
The Strip Stick and Quiltilly Saga part 3

I’m always on the lookout for new notions, gizmos or gadgets that work – and I’ve found a new one. Last year while in Paducah I watched a vendor demonstrate a pressing tool called the Strip Stick. It looked intriguing, but I had that ever popular thought: “I bet I can make myself one for less”. So I went home and forgot all about it. This year I watched the same demo, thought the same thought and the next day walked right back to the Strip Stick booth and bought one! I’m so glad I did! First of all – it works. Secondly – it is a great idea and I need to support those who developed it. Thirdly – it is well made, the price is fair and now I don’t need to try to make one :-).

The Strip Stick

Here’s the scoop: the Strip Stick is a narrow padded pressing stick used to crisply press seams open or to the side without distortion to adjacent seams. This is especially helpful when sewing many strips together into “strata”.

To press seams open they need to be ironed from the back.

Strip StickWhen pressing seams to one side, it can be done from either the the front or the back of the block.

Strip Stick to the sideWhat I really like about this tool is that when I press the seams to the side the edge of the seam allowance underneath is “over the hump and out of the way” and therefore I don’t get shiny lines on the right side of the fabric (a problem I have struggled with in the past).

To order your own Strip Stick go to www.thestripstick.com.

and now:

The Saga of Quiltilly, Part 3

In this week’s installment, Tilly is feeling better and settling into life in her temporary home.

Quiltilly and Quiltanna are enjoying this extra bit of time together. They are quite a mischievous team and Annabelle doesn’t seem to be enjoying their antics quite as much as they are:

Quilt dolls and dogAfter teasing the dog they decided to chill in the birdbath and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather:

Quilt dolls in bird bathThey even snuck in a slide down the banister:

MM P13q-bannister

Later that day Quiltilly went missing. Quiltanna and I looked all over the house to no avail and then I spied her out the window, sitting on the bird feeder:

J P13q-scaring-birds


By the time I got out the door she had disappeared. She didn’t return until morning and what a shock – she had a nose ring (a Swarovski crystal no less)!


I wasn’t sure what to do and sent a message to Evelyn:

“You may want to come up with that ransom soon. QuilTilly snuck out last night and got her nose pierced. I’m afraid she’s a bad influence on my little QuiltAnna! Ps she’s also started wearing makeup!”

to which she responded:

“I’m gathering up the diamonds.  Can’t schedule the exchange until next week.  She will be grounded forever for the nose piercing.  I’m sure it was Quilt Anna who put her up to it.”

Please return next week for the conclusion of this high flying adventure :-)!


May 19, 2013, Notions
A Tribute and the Quiltilly Saga – Part 2

The Milwaukee Art Quilters is a very talented group of artists and I am honored to be a member. Recently we had a showing of a group of our quilts that were made as a tribute to a dear member who passed away in 2011.

Nancy Kimpel was not only a skilled quilter, but her many talents also included knitting, and dyeing of fabric and yarn. She was a great inspiration and encouragement to the group. When she died her dear husband John and close friend, Mary Ellen Heus, decided to divide up her hand dyed fabrics/threads into 40 bags, bring them to a meeting, and challenge members to create a piece of fiber art from the contents of the bag for an exhibit to be called “Inspired by Nancy”. We all clamored for a bag.

The fabrics and hand dyed perle cottons in my bag were lovely and I decided that I didn’t want to add anything to them. They were interesting enough to stand alone. I’d always wanted to play with overlapping geometric shapes in a positive/negative fashion and the patterns in one of the pieces of Nancy’s fabrics gave me a great place to start. So I began drafting and drawing until I got a design I liked, used my Repliqué technique to appliqué the top and then had a lot of fun quilting it all.

kirsch-chris-lynn-inspired-by-nancyI was pleased with the effect of extending the designs from the center into the border with the quilting.

The resulting group of quilts were amazing. If you missed the exhibit at UWW, you can still see the quilts on our blog: http://milwaukeeartquilters.wordpress.com/.

The Saga of Quiltilly, Part 2

As you may remember Quiltilly, one of the Quiltsissies, has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. We will begin with Evelyn’s cryptic response to the ransom note: 

“I’m sorry.  How high is the ransom?  Hummmm.  I’ll have to check my stash.”

The kidnappers quickly realized she hadn’t actually read the note and gave her a bit of instruction:

Click on the first picture above to read the ransom note!”

This was her next unsatisfactory response:

“Sorry I haven’t learned how to download to my computer and could only read about half of the ransom note.  I was able to read the tattoo.  Sounds like you two are having way too much fun since we left.”

To which the impatient kidnappers replied:

Can you tap on the picture and then reverse pinch on the screen?  Remember we are the kidnappers, do not humor us. Tilly is in good company. No suffering…….yet

At this point she caught on and sent this message:

“Wow. The kidnappers even have to educate the victims.  Okay, will diamonds do? I’ll do anything you say to get my Tilly back.”

To which they messaged back:

“Any unmarked jewels wrapped in a brown paper bag. Just make us happy.” 

So the kidnappers and the Quiltsissies had an enjoyable ride back to Wisconsin with time to climb a tree:

zz P13-Quiltsissies-2

And a cultural stop too!

F P13-Quiltsissies-1 From there began the long portion of the ride back to Wisconsin and the stress and excitement were a bit much for poor, little Quiltilly. This message and photo were sent back to Evelyn:

“Not traveling well. She threw up”

FF P13 carsickWhat will happen when Tilly gets to her new home? Will she behave? Be here next week for the continuing adventures of the Quiltsissies!



May 12, 2013, Challenges
Big Stitches and an Exciting Saga

A few weeks ago at the Sun Prairie Quilt Show I was stopped in my tracks by a pieced, blue ribbon winning quilt called “Conceived in Liberty” and made by Patty Roost of Fort Atkinson, WI. What grabbed me was that the quilt was quilted with “the Big Stitch” and it really worked!

Big Stitch quilting

Typically hand quilting stitches are supposed to be even and small, with prize winning stitches smaller than 12 stitches to the inch. With the Big Stitch a larger thread is used (perle cotton) and the stitches are meant to be about a 1/4″ long so that they show (for a blog with instructions for the Big Stitch click here).

Big Stitch detailI found this quilting method very effective on this quilt and while I was smiling and staring at it, the white glove lady nearby informed me that she was Patty. I complimented her work and asked if I could feature her as a topic of the week. She obviously agreed – thanks Patty!

I’ve mixed the Big Stitch with free motion quilting in one of my smaller art quilts and really enjoyed doing it. Plus I felt it added some pizazz to the design.

Concentricities fiber artPatty’s quilt show’s how effective it can be in a traditional quilt.

Have you used the Big Stitch? Please tell us about it.

On a completely different note – I’d like to share a story in parts over the next few weeks in hopes it will make you smile:

The Saga of Quiltilly

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 friend Quiltanna for Chris. These Quiltsissies joined the quilting cruise in France. They brought along a third friend, Quiltilly. While on the cruise a contest was held and the winner, Evelyn, was awarded Quiltilly as her prize.

Since then the Quiltsissies have been on many delightful adventures and they were reunited this past April in Paducah when Evelyn and her sister Hazel came to stay with Wendy and Chris. Here they are getting reacquainted in the kitchen/studio:

Quiltanna, Quiltina, Quiltilly

Quiltanna, Quiltina, Quiltilly

When Evelyn left to fly to Wisconsin she left poor Quiltilly behind. Upon realizing her error she texted this message:

Look after Quilt Tilly for me.  Hazel says you should drag her through the mud because she has been lost and abandoned.”

Wendy and Chris found Quiltilly stuffed in a tote bag and when they pulled her out they noticed that her left hand was missing, her feet were both hanging by threads and she looked a bit neglected and worn out by all her travels (she’s been all over Europe and even to Bali!). They were very concerned and wanted Evelyn to know how valuable she was, so they tied a knot in her stump of a hand and decided to write a ransom note :-)! This picture was texted to Evelyn:

Quiltilly and the ransom noteQuiltilly wanted to send a message and picture of her own:

“Mom, how could you? Aunt Wendy (she makes me call her that) tattoo’d my butt! They said you told them to drag me through the mud! But they feed me chocolate, take me to art galleries and doctor my damaged left arm. Maybe this isn’t so bad, but if you love me, you’ll pay the ransom. Love, Tilly

Quiltilly's tattoo

National Quilt Museum logo tattoo

To find out Evelyn’s response please join us next week for the continuing Saga of Quiltilly!

May 5, 2013, Hand Quilting
Paducah Glimpses

Paducah dogwood in the rain

Another year’s pilgrimage to Paducah is but a memory. In spite of a lot of rain and the coldest temps I can remember during quilt week, it was a wonderful trip with many highlights. The dogwoods were at their blooming peak! The quilts were stunning and inspiring! My classes were filled with delightful, enthusiastic and talented students! The vendors were way too tempting. Fun times were spent with good friends! And there were many giggles along the way. I wasn’t as good as I should have been about snapping pics, but here are some special times I did capture:

Wendy with Quiltman and Bobbin

Wendy’s birthday lunch at Grace Church with a special rendition of Happy Birthday by Quiltman and Bobbin!

Paducah Lunch at Grace

Yummy, good times!


Quilting on the back of the Best of Show quilt by Renae Haddadin and Karen Kay Buckley.

P13 HEC-Etcetera

Hanging around with dear friends Hazel and Evelyn after a “Bubble Tea” at Etcetera.

Jennings QuiltHanging the Milwaukee Art Quilter’s group entry: The Jenning’s Quilt and

Milwaukee Art Quilters winAccepting the third place award from Bonnie Browning with fellow Marq member Judy Zoelzer-Levine.

Kirchoff Bakery

P13-Kirchoff-1Watching a very enthusiastic employee at Kirchoff Bakery doing the “basket dance” while waiting for our delicious sandwiches.


Dinner with friends at JP’s.


Making good use of car time on the ride home with the Quiltsissies observing (more on them in a future post :-))





April 28, 2013, Travel
It’s Paducah Time!

A big hi y’all from sunny Kentucky!

Wendy and I began our adventure this morning


and for the first time we traveled to Paducah via Chicago so we could make a stop at Troy Fabric’s Fabriganza. Troy is a fabric manufacturer and distributor and this weekend they were hosting a big warehouse sale. There were shelves and tables full of beautiful bolts of fabric.


Wendy shopped for the kits for her “Block of the Month” at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha.

P13-Troy-checking-outThen a nice man helped us load the bolts into an already full van.

P13-loading-and-already-full-vanAs evening neared we knew we were getting close when we crossed over the river from Illinois to Kentucky via the “Flying Geese” bridges. Here we’re approaching them.


And here the geese are flying overhead.


Upon arrival we hoofed all our things up 25 stairs to our B&B above a Mexican Restaurant. We were then able to set up our studio in an area some people refer to as a kitchen 🙂

P13-kitchen-studioTomorrow we’ll help hang the quilts in the 2013 American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show and Contest.

We are very excited to be here and we are also very excited to share that we have some updated information about our May 2014 Baltic Cruise.

We’ve finalized the cruise details: dates, inclusions (daily shore excursions and a pre-trip extra night in Copenhagen!) and prices. You can find all the information at www.chrisquilts.net/trips. We still don’t have pricing for the airfare, but we do want to be sure we get enough cabins reserved. This is your chance to visit the site and reserve your spot now!

Stay tuned! Next week we’ll have pictures from Quilt Week!

April 21, 2013, Travel
Best Part of Spring!

To me, the best part of Spring is that it’s quilt show season. Last week was non-stop overcast and rain – perfect weather for being inside at a show. And last weekend was also filled with opportunities in our area.

The Crazy Quilter’s show in Mukwonago, WI is always a treat. The variety and quality of quilts was inspiring and the vendors were chock full of temptations! I had the pleasure of being one of the judges this year and it was a real blessing to be a part of such a well run show. My only regret was that I forgot to take my camera :-(.

This same weekend was also the date for the Sun Prairie Quilt Show. This is a unique show in that it has been run by the same person, Klaudeen Hanson, in the same location for 39 years! Amazing! I’m sure that’s a record! I have been a part of her group, the Prairie Heritage Quilters since I began quilting in 1987. This year we added a special exhibit of quilts by the 3 teachers in the group: Klaudeen, Joanie Zeier Poole and myself. We also each did some free demonstrations for the attendees on Sunday and were blown away by the response – standing room only. What a joy!

I did bring my camera and would like to share a few pictures of the show. This one is of the teacher exhibit. A few of my quilts are on the right, Klaudeen’s bright piecing graces the center and Joanie’s amazing heirloom quilting is to the left.

Sun Prairie Quilt Show

My dear friend and traveling companion, Wendy Rieves, won a Founder’s award for her latest block of the month quilt which she teaches at Frank’s Sewing Center in Waukesha, WI.

Wendy Rieves flower quilt

This room contained some of the smaller quilts and quilted items. My dear friend, Ida Porzky, made the flower table runner.

Sun Prairie Quilt ShowI was very proud of a student in my Open Lab. Louise Sundquist is fairly new to quilting and recently jumped into creating her own art quilts. I had to twist her arm a bit to get her to enter her sunflowers quilt (lower right), but doesn’t it look delightful?

Louise's quilt

There were great vendors at this show too. What a lot of inspiration for one weekend!

Then there’s just one more “show” I have to mention. It’s actually a Milwaukee Art Quilter’s exhibit taking place at UWW called “Inspired by Nancy”. Nancy Kimpel was a dear friend, talented fiber dyer/artist and marq member who passed away a few years ago. Each member of Marq was given a bag of her fabric and asked to make a small wall quilt for this exhibit. It is a wonderful collection of quilts. Here are just a few photos (but they really don’t do the exhibit justice):

The piece on the left of the kite on Milwaukee's lakefront is one of Nancy's quilts

The piece on the left of the kite on Milwaukee’s lakefront is one of Nancy’s quilts

Inspired by Nancy

IBNancy-3Inspired by NancyIf you would like to see them in the cloth, here’s the information:

MArQ “INSPIRED BY NANCY” QUILTS • FINE ARTS GALLERY • 1500 N. University Drive, Waukesha • Gallery open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; Friday: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m., 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Through April 29.

This coming weekend Wendy and I will be packing up the car and heading for Paducah! I can barely wait. So next week I’ll be blogging from Quilt City USA!  I’ve already started packing for my classes – I just love Spring!

Does your guild have a Spring show? Are you a part of it? Do you have a photo you’d like to share? Please email them to me at clkquilt@gmail.com.

PS Registration has begun for Summer classes at WCTC. All of the information can be found at wctc.edu. To find Wendy’s and my classes click on “Course Search” in the bar at the top; type “quilting” in the “Title/Subject” box and click on “submit”; Then click on each class for the details. Here’s a sneak preview:

Beginning Free Motion Quilting 6-14-13 (sorry, no picture)

Quilt In 6-28-13 (sorry, no picture here either) – this class is a one day Open Lab where the students work on whatever project they choose and I’m there to help in whatever way I can and I’ll provide a surprise or two also :-).

Mariners Compass

Compass Capers 7-12-13

logs and chains

Logs and Chains 8-9-13

Wendy's T-Shirt Quilt 6-4-13

Wendy’s T-Shirt Quilt 6-4-13

Wendy's Dresden Tree Skirt

Wendy’s Dresden Tree Skirt 7-13-13

Wendy's Stars of Fortune 8-10-13

Wendy’s Stars of Fortune 8-10-13


April 14, 2013, Travel
Diamonds, Gangsters and Quilts???

The diamond is a fascinating shape when used in a quilt. I’ve enjoyed playing with the lone star pattern:

lone star quiltand the tumbling block (in a little less than traditional way):

tumbles the cat quilt

But I have a different sort of diamond story to tell in this week’s blog. This story has been passed down by my husband Mike’s Mom, Johanna, who was 10 years old when it happened. I hope you’ll find it interesting, even though it has nothing to do with quilts (pretty clever segue – huh? :-)).

My husband is from Mason City, IA and his Great Grandfather, Furman Stephenson, was a prominent citizen during his career in the brick and tile industry.


One morning, in March of 1934, Grandpa Furman (who was 76 at the time) went into the First National Bank of Mason City to transact some business. He was wearing a 1 carat diamond tie tack that he had received in payment for a car. While he was in the bank Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and the gang showed up to rob the bank! They took all the cash and then grabbed a bunch of hostages to line up on the running boards of the cars as a human shield and make their getaway.

Grandpa Furman was one of the hostages and as one of the gangsters pushed him up against the car he asked “what do you want with me? I’m an old man and I’ll only slow you down.” The gangster agreed and pushed him in the dirt … with the diamond tie tack in plain view! After the gang departed Grandpa picked himself up, dusted himself off and went about his business. That night during dinner a neighbor called to ask how Furman was doing. When Grandma Sadie asked why, the neighbor told her that he had been in the bank that morning when the Dillinger gang robbed it. The family story goes that facing the gang was nothing compared to facing Grandma’s wrath for not having mentioned it to her :-)!

The diamond was passed down to Mike’s Grandfather who had it made into a ring and Mike inherited the ring when his step-father passed away a few years ago.

Well, I’ve heard this story many times and my Mother-in-law was always a bit disappointed after sharing it because it had never been documented. When she passed away in January, we took her ashes out to Mason City to be buried next to Dad and during her funeral I shared the story of the ring Mike was wearing with an acquaintance. After hearing it he told me that a few years back the Globe Gazette, Mason City’s newspaper, had begun holding a reenactment of the bank robbery every March and he thought they would be interested in the story. We contacted the paper and 2 weeks later the story Mom had shared for so many years was finally documented on the front page of the Globe Gazette with this picture of Furman, Sadie and the ring:

Furman-story4If only we had thought to do this while Mom was still around to see it in print. I hope you enjoyed the story and promise to get back to a more quilt related topic next week!

April 7, 2013, Uncategorized
Bead Inspired 2

Back in September I posted about a recent Milwaukee Art Quilters challenge called Bead Inspired (click here to read the original post and my quilt’s story). As the name implies, we were each to choose a single button or bead and make a small art quilt that was somehow inspired by it. The button I chose was a Czech Aurora which is stitched to the center of the quilt:


I originally made the quilt round (unusual shapes were allowed in the challenge rules) and it was a bit tricky to hang. I actually inserted a length of 1/4″ wide plastic tubing into the binding from behind, that went all the way around, and it held the quilt in shape quite well. The problem was that none of the other quilts entered were unique in shape. When mine was one of the 8 selected to go to the Ultimate Guild Challenge contest in Grand Rapids, I decided to place it on a quilted background square so that the group would look more unified and this is how Czech Aurora looks now.

czech-aurora-with backgroundWell, our challenge quilts took third place in the competition – Praise the Lord! The problem is that only 8 of the 19 quilts were ever seen outside of our group. It’s a fascinating exhibit of fiber art (if I do say so myself). To see all of them please go to the Milwaukee Art Quilters blog: http://milwaukeeartquilters.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/bead-inspired-quilts/

So here’s where you come in. I’ve been looking for venues to share these exciting quilts. Does your guild have a quilt show that might be interested in hanging Bead Inspired? Is there an art museum or gallery in your area that might be a good fit? I’d really appreciate any ideas you have. Please send me the contact information for any possibilities and I’ll take it from there. Thanks!


March 31, 2013, Challenges
An Alternative to Fusibles
Snowfolk Friends by K.P. Kids

Snowfolk Friends by K.P. Kids

The students in my Open Lab class at WCTC are always bringing in interesting projects to work on! This semester June Puls chose to create a winter quilt from the book: Snowfolk Friends by K.P. Kids (I did a web search and the book is out of print 🙁 ). The quilt contains rows of delightful snowpeople and winter designs that are meant to be created using fusible web appliqué. In brief: each little piece needed to be traced onto fusible web, fused to the correct fabric, cut out and put together on the background fabric “jigsaw puzzle” style. There were so many tiny parts to the snowpeople row June was a bit overwhelmed:

Snowfolk Friends pattern piece

Snowfolk Friends pattern piece

So I suggested using Repliqué. Repliqué is the technique from my first 2 books: “Repliqué Quilts” and “Snuggle & Learn Quilts For Kids”. I know that many of you own one of these books, but perhaps you hadn’t thought of using it for this type of project! In brief: the pattern is traced full size, each part of the design is stitched directly onto this tracing from the pattern side, turned to the fabric side, trimmed close to the stitching and then the raw edges are covered with with a satin stitch finish. June seemed skeptical at first, but is now a believer!

Junes-snowpeople-3She’s a very talented quilter and she did an amazing job! Everyone in class was very impressed:

Junes-snowpeople-4All of the other rows in the quilt are much simpler (she tackled the tough one first). Some are pieced, but June says the other appliqué rows will also be Repliquéd!

Just about any pattern written for fusible appliqué can be Repliquéd. Also, photographs and children’s drawings can also be recreated in fabric with this technique. And one of the best benefits is that the quilt keeps a soft “hand” because there is no added stiffness from the fusible web.

Have you used Repliqué in a unique way? I’d love to hear about it!


March 24, 2013, Appliqué
Sew We Go to the Baltics

Sew We Go jpg logo

Wendy and I now have the information for our eighth Sew We Go adventure. We would love to have you join us in May of 2014 on a Norwegian Cruise Line tour that will take us to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Estonia and Germany. We’ll spend ten days seeing amazing sights, indulging in delicious cuisine, creating a memorable project and enjoying the company of other quilters. Here’s all the details:

Baltic Cruise logoNorwegian Cruise logo

We are so excited to announce our destination for 2014!  You will see places you may never have thought about visiting but you will be so glad you did.  This trip will feature a great variety of cultures, historical treasures, and wonderful food.  All without packing and unpacking!

As always, we will have many special extras planned including a pre-trip project, a cruising project, visits to local fabric and needle art shops, and loads of sharing of information via our Sew We Go blog prior to our grand adventure.  Remember – all projects are optional and non-quilter traveling companions are more than welcome to join us!

We will be sailing on the Norwegian Star which was built in 2001 and completely refurbished in 2010.  It is a smaller ship with a capacity for 2,346 guests.

Where are we going?  Check out this itinerary!

Day One - Copenhagen, Denmark

Day One – Copenhagen, Denmark

Day Two - Rostock (Warnemunde), Germany

Day Two – Rostock (Warnemunde), Germany

Day Three      at sea

Day Four - Tallinn, Estonia

Day Four – Tallinn, Estonia

Day Five and Six - St Petersburg, Russia

Day Five and Six – St Petersburg, Russia

Day Seven - Helsinki, Finland

Day Seven – Helsinki, Finland

Day Eight - Stockholm, Sweden

Day Eight – Stockholm, Sweden

Day Nine        at sea

Day Ten         Return Copenhagen

This ship features Freestyle Dining so you can dine wherever you want, whenever you want (of course, we hope you will join in the group meals we plan). How about this for variety: 11 restaurants, 9 bars/lounges; 2 pools (1 indoor lap), kids’ pool, 6 hot tubs, casino, shops, theater, library, internet café, spa, fitness center, sport court, golf driving net, walking/jogging track, teen club & youth center!

There will be loads of entertainment, too, including magic, music, comedy, murder mystery and more.  NCL offers entertainment from names you know – Second City, Shout!, Elements – no amateur talent shows here!

The Cities We Will Visit

Copenhagen, Denmark   In a country rich in Viking history, grand castles and lush green countryside, Copenhagen is a charming city of 17th- and 18th-century buildings, beautiful parks and gardens, pretty promenades along canals, and ancient winding streets made for walking.  Outdoor cafe-sitting and outings to the magical Tivoli Gardens are highlights.  Old Copenhagen is a warren chock-a-block with galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and antiques galore.

Rostock/Warnemunde, Germany   The fine old Hanseatic red-brick town of Rostock and its neighboring seaside resort, Warnemunde, are best known as the jumping-off points for Berlin, which is three to five hours away by train.  In Warnemunde, you’ll see rows of ancient, timber-framed houses, sleepy squares, and boats galore. Ice cream stalls and hundreds of screeching seagulls complete the seaside feel.  Medieval Rostock feels small thanks to miles of undulating countryside and forest around the town.  Although some of the city’s magnificent, old buildings were destroyed in World War II, you can still see grand marketplaces, bridges, city ramparts and gates.  Like many places in Germany, the city still brews excellent beer.

Tallinn, Estonia   Tallinn features a remarkably restored, medieval Old Town and still feels a part of the 1400s because of the cobblestone streets and medieval architecture. Walk the winding streets on cobblestones, past medieval towers and the old city wall, and you’ll feel like you’re taking a step back into a medieval storybook, with striking towers and historic brick buildings.  Tallinn is artsy and a delightful place to hang out and people-watch.  The shops, galleries, and antiques venues serve up some interesting finds such as elaborate weavings from cloth artists and modern art from local painters.

St. Petersburg, Russia   The beautiful city Peter the Great founded in 1703, in what was then swampland, has unbelievably sumptuous Czarist-era palaces, onion-domed churches and the lovely Neva River. Peter was inspired by London, Paris, and Vienna and carefully developed the city by plan, creating canals and passageways.  Most of the design remains intact today.  It is a fascinating place with a lurid past that’s fit for a romance novel.  St. Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia from 1712 to 1914 and remains Russia’s cultural capital.  The city itself is like a living museum. You are likely to find yourself oohing and aahing at the architecture art is a key attraction. Visit the Hermitage, home to significant collections of Matisses, Picassos, and Rembrandts.

Helsinki, Finland  Helsinki is a city with a strange mélange of identities.  Maybe it’s the Russian influence.  Maybe it’s the strong appreciation of contemporary design (the city is home to Marimekko, Kalevala, and Iittala). Or it could be the dark, cold and snowy winters that last half the year.  One can find both the historic Helsinki (founded in 1550) in its monuments and cathedrals or the sleek Helsinki at the avant-garde museums of art and design.

Stockholm, Sweden   Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia, was founded in 1252, and comprises 14 islands.  The premier tourist attraction is Gamla Stan (Old Town), one of the largest neighborhoods of 16th-century buildings in Europe.  Cobblestone streets and arms-width alleys criss-cross Gamla Stan. There, you’ll also find the 18th-century Royal.  Offsetting the city’s bustle and buildings are large swatches of green space. The Ekoparken, or eco-park, curves for six miles through a couple of the busiest islands and along one side of the downtown business district.

The Details

The cost for this trip will range from $2,300 to $3,000 per person, sharing a cabin, depending on which cabin category you select, plus airfare.  This ship features inside cabins, outside cabins with a picture window, or a balcony cabin with floor to ceiling balcony doors.  All cabins have one queen bed which can be separated into two twins.

Our trip package will include cruise, port fees, cruise taxes, airport transfers in Copenhagen, prepaid mandatory service charges onboard, soft drink beverages (incl. tax & gratuity), and private shore excursions for our group.

Airfares will be announced this summer but we expect them to be around $1,000.

Additional expenses will be personal optional services (spa, internet, etc.), alcoholic drinks, shopping expenditures, and any pre- or post-stays you may decide to add to this dream vacation. 

Our travel agent is Kristi Mirocha. Please contact Kristi via email, phone, or mail to be placed on the list for additional information and registration forms as the details are finalized:

Kristi Mirocha · Journeys & Gatherings · 2060 Hawthorne Drive, Elm Grove, WI  53122 · 262-786-6763 · kristi@journeysandgatherings.com

Kristi's logo

For a printable version of this information click here:  SWS Save the Date Flyer (1)

March 17, 2013, Travel
Talking Quilts

Do your quilts talk to you? I’ve discovered mine do and when I don’t listen, they usually don’t turn out as well. This is the story of a conversation I had with a recent quilt. A few weeks back I was piecing a quilt top for an upcoming class at WCTC. I’ve discovered that any class that involves some variation on Log Cabin will be popular, thus I need to make one of these every so often. Once the top was finished (and made totally from my stash :-)), I couldn’t decide which fabric to use for the border.

bordering quiltsI was really leaning towards the plaid (just because I think it’s pretty and I’ve been wanting to use it). I laid the fabrics out around the top and the quilt virtually screamed “use the paisley”!

bordering quiltsI, of course, asked “are you sure”? The quilt answered “yes”, so I decided I needed a second opinion and took it to Open Lab where the class  unanimously voted for the paisley. Well, I gave in and added a 5″ paisley border with a 1/2″ dark green flange tucked into the seam for drama (if you’re unfamiliar with adding a flange, click here! This was a topic of conversation at my WCTC Open Lab this week :-)).

Go figure. The quilt was right!

quilt bordered

Do your quilts talk to you? Have you had an experience where you refused to listen? Please tell us about it.



March 10, 2013, Piecing
I’ve Got a Notion to Chain Piece

Every so often I need to do a gadget post because I’ve found a new one I want to share. This one was a Christmas gift from Judy Rosynek, a friend of mine who’s a regular student in my Thursday Open Labs at WCTC. Judy is talented, prolific and very generous. You can usually find her working on charity quilts for children and these strip pieced projects typically require a lot of chain piecing. The tool she shared is called a Chain Ripper. It is an ingenious device that is made up of simple components and acts as a third hand.

I recently was making a log cabin variation quilt that just happened to be chain pieced:

chain piecing

While sewing all these squares and strips together I remembered Judy’s thoughtful gift. It consists of a seam ripper, a wooden spool and a heart shaped piece of wood which is velcro’d to the spool.

chain ripperTo use it you simply take the protective cap off the ripper, grasp 2 of the chain pieced blocks and pull the threads between them into the sharp area on the ripper, continuing until all the “chains” have been cut:

chain rippingIt really simplifies this tedious step. The Chain Ripper is sold by Tracy at Oak Tree Quilts. You can order one from her by going to her website: www.oaktreequilts.com.

I’ve shared some other favorite notions in previous posts. Click on any of the following to read about them: The BestThe Best II, and Favorite New Notions.

Do you have a new notion or gadget you find helpful? Please tell us about it and where to get it. Thanks!



March 3, 2013, Notions Piecing
A Future Quilter

My granddaughter, Sommer, is almost a year old and growing fast. She is a joy and a very easy baby to care for, which is a blessing since Mike and I still watch her 5 days a week! About a month ago she was playing with toys in the middle of the studio and I was choosing fabrics for a quilt. When I had settled on just the right ones I left them in a pile near my stash and went to answer the phone. Sommer was just starting to do a bit of crawling at this time and when I turned around she had crawled over to the fabrics and was reverently petting them one by one as if to say “great choices grandma”!

Well, she caught onto the crawling thing quite quickly and a few days later I just happened to have the camera nearby when she decided to do some exploring. She’s really into “open” and “close”. I hope you’ll indulge me:

“Sommer, whatcha doin?”

Future Quilter

“Grandma, I think there’s fabric in there!”

Future Quilter

“Oooooh pretty!”

Future Quilter“Just look at it all”!

Future Quilter“Gotta touch it …………….. and there’s more over there!”

Future Quilter“Flannel and fleece!”

Future Quilter“It’s so soft. Wanna feel it Grandma?”

Future QuilterAnd I did, so the photo shoot was over. Do you have any pictures of your kids or grandkids enjoying fabric that you’d like to share? Please email them to me at clkquilt@gmail.com. I’d love to see them and it might be fun to share them on a future blog.


February 24, 2013, sewing space/studio
Tradition With a Twist

I recently received an email from Ellen at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison. She asked me to pass along information about a program coming up this week (see below). My connection with Ellen led me to a brand new lecture. Here’s the story:

Last winter I had an exhibit of my work at the Museum  (click on the purple writing to read about it :-)). I worked with Ellen and the Museum on hanging a group of my contemporary quilts (some made in collaboration with Sharon Rotz and Wendy Rieves) which were made as innovations of traditional patterns. I was also able to present a lecture to go along with the quilts. The talk was a hit, and it led to a treasure hunt. Mike and I like to go antiquing and I decided I wanted to collect vintage versions of my modern quilts. After an enjoyable search I have a new collection of old quilts and a new lecture tying them all together. The lecture is called “Tradition With a Twist” and in it I share the old quilts, the stories of their acquisition and patterns and my modern versions.

Here’s a picture of my pair of Bow Tie quilts, just to pique your interest:

Bow Tie quiltsIf your guild is looking for a program that offers something old and something new, please contact me!

And now for the Museum information:

History Sandwiched In: Civil War Quilts and Stories
Feb 19, 2013   12:15–1 pm
Quilts have changed in purpose and style over the generations. Some quilters make quilts for the main purpose of making art. These artists choose to use fabric as their medium instead of using paint, wood, metal or paper. Another purpose for quilts is to honor and remember. Whether big or small, quilts can make an impact in the lives of people. Join quilter Pat Ehrenberg as she shares her knowledge of the stories of quilts during the Civil War.

The museum will present this program in conjunction with the Dane County Regional Airport exhibition, “Wisconsin Folks: Masters of Tradition,” organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Tandem Press and the Wisconsin Arts Board. The exhibit, which runs through March 2013, highlights the Arts Board’s Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.

Click  for more info on the Wisconsin Folks: Masters of Tradition series at the Museum:



February 17, 2013, Classes Vintage Quilts
A UFO Who’s Time Had Come

Back in the late 80’s, at the start of my quilting life, I participated in my first Round Robin Challenge. For those of you who are not familiar with this term: A number of quilters get together (usually 3 – 5) and they each begin with a block of their choosing. They exchange blocks and put a border on the one they get. Blocks continue to be exchanged and bordered until everyone has worked on each block once. Than the block originator gets hers back.

Well, my block in this first exchange was done in rusts, browns and greens, to go in my then living room. Here’s the top I received back and I had every intention of finishing it because I liked it!

round robin quiltFast forward 24 years. While my Mom and I were making Christmas cookies this past December, my stand mixer died (the second one in 36 years of marriage). Mike encouraged me to get a “good” one and for Christmas he bought me a KitchenAid! The model I chose came in 4 colors: red, blue, silver and black; none of which went in my rust and green kitchen (can you feel what’s coming?). I loved the red.

mixerBut it didn’t really go in my kitchen. Neither did it fit in my cabinets, and I didn’t want it to get dusty either. So…..I dug the ancient UFO out and it was just a bit small. In my stash I still had the remainder of a beige fabric I used in the original block (are you really surprised?). I added the border, quilted it with no batting, took in a few tucks, stitched on 2 buttons and …

stand mixer cover

It is ready and waiting for the baking mood to strike. That happens a lot less often than the quilting mood, but I must admit the first batch of peanut butter cookies were delicious!

Have you come up with a unique project for a UFO? Please comment and let us know!


February 10, 2013, UFO
Life Lessons

Let’s start with a quick smile:

Hanging in ThereI saw this on Facebook from Wish Upon a Quilt! Too funny! I commented to ask for a pattern and haven’t heard back. I guess the life lesson would be to “Hang in There”.

A few months ago I presented my lecture entitled “Quilt Tales” for the It’s a Stitch quilt guild. In this talk I show quilts, stories and stuff from my life as a quilter/teacher and then share the lessons I’ve learned along the way. One of the members said she’d like a list of these lessons and I responded that it might make a good blog post. I promptly forgot all about it. Lorraine recently emailed me and I was so glad she did :-)!

I will be doing this talk at the W.O.W. Gallery in Wittenberg, WI next Sunday (Feb. 10th at 1pm) and would love to have you join me. If you can’t make it, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned with a few shortened stories and pictures thrown in:

1. We all have to start somewhere!

first quilt

 My first quilt circa 1974 (the solid green squares are wool – thus the puckering). Now don’t you feel better about your first quilt?

2. Don’t Take Yourself To Seriously. And When You Succeed – Praise the Lord!

3. Encourage Your Inner Child and Encourage the Children Inside Your Friends Too!

My Inner ChildI made Elyce in a class with Eleanor Peace Bailey and my dear friend Mary Camacho made her adopted sister. You’d have to hear the talk to get the rest of the story :-).

4. Your Work Has Value!

5. Never Say Never!

I never planned to quilt, teach, create fiber art or write books:

My First Two Quilt Books

God had plans I couldn’t imagine. I can’t wait to see what He has in mind next!

6. Life Is Attitude – Have Fun!

7. Let Your Joy Be Your Inspiration!

God Is LightArtists are inspired by many things. My faith is a huge part of my inspiration and this quilt is called “God Is Light and In Him Is No Darkness At All”. It’s from my Crossings Series. It was made in four pieces and beaded back together along the horizontal and vertical axis. I feel the beads cross the gap and hold the broken pieces of my quilt together as my faith in Christ holds the broken pieces of my life together.

8. Laughter Is Good For the Soul!

9. Quilting Friends Are the Best Friends!

And lastly, my most personal message because it’s been such a blessing in my 36 year marriage to my wonderful husband Mike:

10. Loving Each Other Is More Important Than Being Right!

Do you have a Life Lesson and story you’d like to share. I’d really be interested in hearing about it and encourage you to add it as a comment to this post. Thanks!

February 3, 2013, Inspiration
Threaded Borders

Sometimes a single, solid or tone-on-tone border is all that’s needed on a quilt, but when it comes to the quilting it might be nice to add a little pizazz. By using a contrasting color thread, simple shapes and a bit of stippling, an interesting border can be fairly easy to do. This quilt is one example. It was made from friendship blocks Wendy and I exchanged with the travelers who joined us on our Danube Cruise a few years back.

Threaded-border1I first drew the “leaf” shapes in a chain around the quilt (you’ll notice I didn’t even try to make them meet in the corners :-)). I stitched on these lines and then stippled inside in a high contrast thread. Next I marked a scalloped line 1/2″ from the outside of the stippled shapes and free motioned lines that were somewhat perpendicular to the outside edge.

quilt borders in threadI didn’t actually mark each of the “perpendicular” lines, but used my favorite marking tool – a sliver of soap – and marked a line perpendicular to the outside edge about every 3″ along the edge. This was just enough to keep me from tipping while free mo-ing. I angled the lines in the corner so that they continued smoothly. It was fun to do and it gave me the opportunity to play with those neon threads I just had to own.

Speaking of free motion quilting (what a segue!) I’m going to be doing a lecture and 2 workshops for the Darting Needles Guild in Appleton, WI in February. There are a few spots available in my workshops and they’ve decided to open it up to quilters outside of the guild. Here’s the information:

Beyond Meandering & Threaded Borders: Monday, February 18; 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.;  First Methodist of Appleton located at 325 East Franklin St, Appleton

free motion quilting

Quilting the quilt should be as much fun as making the top! If you’ve been free motion quilting for a while and wonder if there is life after stippling and meandering, the answer is YES! This class is for stitchers who are already comfortable with the free motion technique. This 6 hour class will be filled with loads of “no mark” designs to learn and practice along with time for students to bring in unfinished tops and have the group brainstorm design ideas. This free motion quilting class has a twist for the machine quilter who has been honing her free motion skills. By combining our imaginations with contrasting threads, wonderful borders and illusions will take ordinary quilts to a new level of excitement! Supply list available upon request.

Compass Capers: Sunday, February 17; 9:30-4pm; classroom TBD

Mariner's Compass

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.  Supply list available upon request.

Here is the lecture information too!

Quilt Tales: Darting Needles Guild Meeting; Monday, February 18; 7:00 p.m; First Methodist of Appleton located at 325 East Franklin St, Appleton

A quilter’s life is full of creative exploration, experiences and mishaps! Here’s a lighthearted look at one quilter’s journey as her love affair with fiber continues to evolve. Chris will be “formally” attired when she pulls quilts and other intriguing items from her overflowing suitcase. Listen on, as she spins tales of the quilts and what she’s learned from each of them.

Details: Classes are $40.00; if a quilter takes both classes they get a $5.00 discount on the 2nd class making it $35.00; Monday night lecture is $5.00 if a non-member. Contact Marie at:  thull@fvtc.edu for more information!

January 27, 2013, Classes free motion
Quilter Jim

This past September I taught my Mariner’s Compass technique at the Madison Quilt Expo. I had full classes all 3 days and I enjoyed the show immensely. Two months later I received an email from one of the 2 men who had taken my class at the show. Jim had completed the compass from the kit in class, but he had had some trouble with the outer edge:

Jims compass 1I was able to give him an alternative method for appliquéing the compass to a background fabric. Some time went by and then I received another email from Jim with a picture of his compass on the background and with a border. I was so pleased. He asked me about additional borders and suggestions for having it long arm quilted because he had never quilted anything before. At this point I encouraged him to quilt it himself (many of you will not be surprised by this :-)). We exchanged a few more emails and then I didn’t hear anything for a while.

This past week Jim sent me this photograph:

Jims mc 2Don’t you just love his smile ……. and the quilt?!? Here’s what he wrote:

“Hi Chris, I have just completed my Mariner Compass Quilt and have it hanging in my Florida Living Room. I wanted to share the image with you as I feel proud of the final quilt. You were quite right I was able to do the quilting myself and the use of the tape was very helpful.”

I was tickled and wrote right back to ask for permission to share his story and his quilt on my blog. His response:

“I would be proud to have you post my story and pictures on your blog. Maybe they will help others like myself to take the leap like I did. I really appreciate the time you took to explain how to do the tape method – it worked beautifully.”

This is what makes teaching so much fun. In case you’re curious about the tape method, it’s a simple way to mark the lines to be quilted by placing the edge of a length of masking tape along the line to be quilted, stitching along the tape and then removing the tape to be used again on the next line.

I’d like to share just one more quote:

“I made a great deal of use of your book “Compass Capers”. The book allowed me to complete the compass as your directions were quite clear and concise.”

Thanks, Jim, for letting me share your story, quilt and picture.  You are certainly an encouragement to me!

PS Thanks for all the kind words and prayers concerning the loss of my Mother-in-law. I’m writing this blog from a motel in Mason City, IA. Mom was from here and the family has brought her back for the funeral on Monday. She was a dear lady and will be missed.

PPS I can’t resist posting just one photo from my trip to Washington. Here’s Grandma with Hanna, Willy and Rainee Lynn:



January 19, 2013, Uncategorized
A Short Break

I returned home last night (Sunday) from a 5 day visit with my grandchildren in Washington State to find that my dear Mother-in-Law had passed away. She had been suffering with Parkinson’s Disease for many years and is now out of pain and with the Lord.

I think I need to skip a week on the blog, but will return with a new topic next Monday. Thanks, Chris

January 14, 2013, Uncategorized

The Milwaukee Art Quilters and Sharon Rotz (a dear friend and very talented quilter, click on her name to visit her blog) will be having a combined gallery show at the Walls of Wittenberg Gallery (W.O.W.) in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, beginning January 18th! It’s called:



The town of Wittenberg is lovely with delightful murals painted on many of the buildings. I featured the murals in a post last year. This is the back of the WOW:


Click here for a a visit to my previous post with more murals or go to the Walls of Wittenberg website for a delightful slide show of all the murals.

As you may have read above, Sharon and I will both be doing lectures in Wittenberg in conjunction with the show.

Here’s the press release from the gallery:



The Walls of Wittenberg is pleased to present “Stringing Along,” the fourth annual quilt show, featuring the work of the Milwaukee Art Quilters and Sharon Rotz, Mosinee. The show opens Saturday, January 19, 11am-3pm, and continues Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am-3pm, through February 10 at the WOWSPACE, 114 Vinal Street, downtown Wittenberg. Free Admission.

MARQ’s “Connecting Thread: A Line of Design” was the 2010 winner of the Ultimate Guild Challenge in Knoxville, TN. The challenge had exacting standards. Each quilt is 36 inches square and a string of red cording must run through each quilt, exiting or entering the piece either 12 inches from the top or bottom, ultimately connecting all the quilts when displayed. Of the quilts on display, the work of eight artists was chosen to go on to Knoxville: Terri Kirchner, Cecelia Rotter, Nancy Linz, Roberta Williams, Kasia, Jane Wolton, Nancy Kimpel and Linda Reuss Benson.

The Milwaukee Art Quilters (MARQ) was organized in 1992 to exchange information about contemporary art quilts, pursue exhibitions and competitions and to share artistic critiques of one another’s work. More than 40 members from various backgrounds come together to advance their work as quilt artists.  To quote MARQ, “Art quilts are part of the fiber art field of highly collectible artwork. They are meant to hang on the wall like an oil or watercolor painting. The quilted surface brings a dimensional depth to the artwork that paint alone cannot.”

To continue the theme of “strings,” Sharon Rotz, Mosinee presents her collection of “String Quilts.”  Strings are those leftover bits of fabric that could have been thrown out; however, thrifty quilters make use of even their smallest bits of fabric. These strips of fabric are sewn together to cover a foundation, cut into shapes and used in quilting patterns. Sharon has used her stash of “strings’ to add spontaneous color and pattern to her contemporary art quilts. Not made for utilitarian purposes but for the joy of the viewer, Sharon’s quilts delight the eye.

Visitors to the WOWSPACE are familiar with the award winning work of Sharon Rotz. She has successfully competed in national and state competitions; her work as a commissioned textile artist is displayed in private collections and public venues; she writes quilting books, creates quilting patterns and has more than 20 years experience conducting workshops or giving lectures to quilt guilds and others.

A boutique of books, patterns and smaller quilted pieces allows the visitor to purchase an addition for their own quilt collection.

Sharon Rotz, Mosinee, will discuss “Diet Quilts” on Saturday, January 26, 1 PM, Wittenberg Community Center, 208 Vinal Street. Door Prizes! Suggested donation is $5.

Chris Lynn Kirsch, Watertown, will present “Quilt Tales,” on Sunday, February, 10 1 PM, Wittenberg Community Center, 208 Vinal Street. Door Prizes! Suggested donation is $5.

Don’t miss these opportunities to see some exquisite quilts and learn from 2 expert quilters.


I hope many of you will have an opportunity to visit Wittenberg during the show!

PS Just in case you can’t make the show and you’d like to see my Line of Design quilt, “Risen”, here it is:



January 6, 2013, Travel
Have You Ever Made a Double Wedding Ring Quilt?

The past few days I’ve been getting back into some creative stitching by starting on a “small challenge” quilt through the Milwaukee Art Quilters. The challenge is called Objet D’arc and each participant was given a vintage double wedding ring (DWR) arc from a rummage sale find and asked to do something with it.

Double Wedding Ring arcs

I’m not ready to unveil the plan for my quilt yet, but part of it involves making a traditional DWR block with modern fabrics. The problem is I don’t enjoy curved piecing. I have a garment background and am capable of doing it, but it’s just not my favorite technique. I do however enjoy coming up with ways to avoid curved piecing! First I needed a pattern, so I did an image search, cropped a block out of a quilt photo, printed 4 copies, and outlined the arcs with a black marker.

I then cut out the curved strips and paper pieced them from my fishbowl of bright scraps!

At this point I decided to appliqué the curved edges, so I wet the seam allowances with liquid starch and a q-tip and pressed over the edge of the paper (be careful not to get the paper wet).

The next step involves clear thread. Be sure to use a good quality polyester invisible thread (not nylon – I prefer Superior or Sulky). At this point I’d like to insert a few tips on machine stitching with this thread.

1. If your machine warns you when the bobbin in nearing empty, it may not read low levels of the clear thread and thus stop you from sewing long before you reach empty. To avoid this, wind a bit of a cotton thread on the bobbin first and then wind the clear thread over the cotton thread.

bobbin filling

2. This is a very thin, strong thread and it winds very tightly on the bobbin. I’ve seen bobbins actually break from the pressure, so it’s a good idea to only fill them 1/2 to 3/4’s full.

working with invisible thread

Now back to appliqué. I pinned the arcs in place on the background fabric and stitched them down with the invisible thread and a very narrow zig zag (set stitch width and length at 1).

machine mock hand applique

This looks best when the needle pierces the appliqué piece as it swings left (in the picture above) and goes into the background only when it swings right, thus capturing the folded edge. I appliquéd all of the arcs in place this way and here’s the block:

double wedding ring

Then the paper needed to be removed by cutting away the background fabric:

It worked quite well. I don’t think I’ll ever do a bedsized DWR quilt this way, but it was fun in one block.

Have you ever made a DWR quilt the traditional way? I’d love to know how many of you enjoy curved piecing. Please comment and let me know.

December 31, 2012, Challenges Piecing Vintage Quilts
What a Wonderful Time of the Year!

A white Christmas has certainly arrived here, with over 10″ of fresh, beautiful snow!

Add today’s sunshine and it is breathtaking!

What a blessing! I’ve been counting my blessings a lot lately and this is certainly a season for doing just that. While putting up my Holy Family quilt I realized I wanted to share some Christmas thoughts with you.

Christmas is a time for many things: cherishing our families, exchanging gifts, doing things for others, eating, singing and so much more. For most of my life these were what defined Christmas. But 15 years ago my family went through some very difficult times. During those years Christmas was hard. I wanted to have the perfect “photo greeting card family” and I didn’t and I was so sad. That was when the Lord saved me. He made me realize that this is an imperfect world and that’s why he had to be born as a man. So that he could live a perfect life, pay the price for sin and return to heaven to prepare a place for all who accept His greatest gift – Salvation!

Ever since that time Christmas has new meaning for me. It’s about celebrating the birth of my Savior. He was a servant – which gives the concept of doing things for others so much more meaning. He is the best gift, so even when life isn’t picture perfect, we have the peace and joy that comes from knowing Him.

From my home to yours – I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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

December 23, 2012, Uncategorized
Find Fabric and Take a Class!

It’s not uncommon for quilters to be in need of a fabric they’ve run short of. This comes up fairly often in my classes. I’ve just learned of a website to help with this problem: findmyfabric.com. This is the description from their “about” page:

“FindMyFabric.com is a fabric and quilting & sewing supply search engine. Search for products offered by hundreds of online stores to find exactly what you are looking for. Simply type your search term into the box provided. You can also search by uploading a photo.”

I’m bookmarking this page for future reference :-).

I thought this week’s post would be a good time to share some of my upcoming local classes (with apologies to those who don’t live in southeastern Wisconsin).

Waukesha County Technical College

Quilting classes are held at the downtown Waukesha Campus. Wendy Rieves and I are the quilting instructors. To register for one of my classes or see the list of Wendy’s, please go to www.wctc.edu, click on Class Search, type “quilting” into the subject box and then click on Submit (to see a picture of the project simply click on the class title).

This semester  I’ll be teaching three Thursday afternoon Open Lab four week sessions. The dates are: January 10 to January 31, February 14 to March 7 and March 28 to April 18 and the classes go from 12:30 to 3:30. This is a great opportunity to finish up UFO’s, Get help starting a project your struggling with, layer and pin a finished top and so much more. I also do a brief demonstration each week on some pertinent aspect of quilting and finishing.

I will also be doing 2 Friday workshops: Black, White and Bright (1-18-13) is a bed sized quilt that combines simple strip piecing of black and white prints with paper pieced flying geese in a very modern looking quilt.

modern quilt class Playful Gradation (2-8-13) creates a bargello effect in a quick and easy way by using a printed gradation fabric. My project is wall sized and has fused sheer embellishments, but other finishing methods will be brainstormed in class.

modern bargello quilt

A few weeks ago I taught a new class at WCTC that was a lot of fun. It’s title is Snowpeople Table Topper and here is my sample:

Snow person table runner

Its a “quilt as you go” style project and the faces are actually created by using a reverse machine applique technique that allows the batting (we used polar fleece) to shine through! Couching and machine embroidery from behind were other techniques used.

Here’s Barb Jordan’s finished quilt!

Snowman quilt

Darlene Allen’s is done and on a table (yes, because they’re quilt as you go, they got done!)

snowman quilt

Thanks Barb and Darlene for letting me share your quilts!
I’ll be teaching this class on Saturday, Feb. 23rd, at Ben Franklin Crafts in Oconomowoc. I will also be teaching my Beginning Fiber Art class (formerly called Parallelisms) there on 2 consecutive Wednesday nights – March 20 & 27, from 6-8:30. This is a fiber art class for traditional quilters who don’t know if they’re artistic, but want to try! Each student will make their own unique art quilt. This is one of my Parallelism quilts, just for example:

art quilt

You may register by calling Ben Franklin at 262-567-0271.

I will also be teaching a one day class at Hustisford High School (Community Ed) called Spinstar. The project is a table runner that is made of stars created using a “Stack n Whack” type technique where a large print is strategically cut to yield kaleidoscope stars.

quilted runner

For more information contact Cindy Fitzsimmons at ce@hustisford.k12.wi.us.

I am blessed with many opportunities this coming year to share my lectures and workshops with guilds around the country, so I hope to see many of you in the very near future :-)!

December 16, 2012, Classes Fabric
Floor Quilts

A few weeks ago I posted about some of the amazing tile floors we saw in Italy and what wonderful quilt patterns could be found there. Two quilters wrote back on the subject. Lois Jarvis, a very talented quilter, quilting teacher, and  dear friend from Madison, WI, sent the following pictures of floors she saw on a trip to Venice (we, sadly, didn’t get that far north).

I found this floor very appealing and a much easier pattern than some of the floors I photographed. I can just see beautiful batiks alternating with the checkerboard blocks.

The 3 dimensional qualities of this one are intriguing.

If one could get the values right in this next one the effect would be stunning!

You can learn about Lois on her website: http://www.loisjarvisquilts.com/.

Terri Mattingly sent this picture of a quilt from Norah McMeeking‘s book “Bella, Bella Quilts”:

Terri then wrote me with this message and picture:

“Hi Chris, This is my own design.   This was inspired by an article in one of the quilting magazines I was getting.  I think Norah McMeeking was the subject of the article.  I studied pictures in the magazine and on websites and created this. Terri Mattingly”

Doesn’t this just make you want to do a “floor quilt”? I’ve had a few students in my Open Labs use patterns from Norah’s book also. They are rather labor intensive, but so beautiful. Thank you Lois and Terri!



December 9, 2012, Design Inspiration
Have You Ever?

First, I’d like to thank everyone for the kind words about the Featured Quilter article on the NQA website. You are all such a blessing to me.

Now for this week’s topic:

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself because you missed a self imposed deadline? I was in that situation last week. I wanted to have the Tuscan Sun autograph quilt completed for the post, but I didn’t get the outer border quilted. I was annoyed with myself, but decided I had done enough quilting on it to complete the post. Now I realize that not finishing the quilting and posting it in it’s unfinished state was a blessing. Would you like to know why :-)? Here’s the story:

The last night Wendy and I were together in Rome (7 of us stayed a few extra days) I realized I hadn’t gotten signatures from our tour guide and one of our travelers. So, Wendy took 2 of my blocks on the bus to the airport the next morning to have them signed, and I promptly forgot all about it.

After posting last week I received a message from Wendy saying that she still had those 2 signature blocks. Because I hadn’t quilted the outer border, I was able to remove 2 blank blocks and sew Rudi and Ruth’s blocks into place.

The new blocks are in and, even though I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to quilt it, I’m sooooo pleased I didn’t finish the quilting on that border!!!

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself because you hadn’t finished a quilt only to find that it was a fortunate occurrence? Please comment and let me know.


December 2, 2012, Uncategorized
Feel Good Quilting

It’s Tuesday and I’m adding a short extra bit of information before you read about Feel Good Quilting. I have the great honor to be this month’s Featured Quilter on the National Quilting Association website. The NQA is a wonderful quilting organization. They put on a great quilt show each year and do much charitable and educational work in the quilt world. Please go to: http://nqaquilts.org/ to read all about it, then return here for the rest of the post :-)!

So now for “Feel Good Quilting”

Last summer I was very excited about purchasing my new HQ Sweet Sixteen mid-arm machine. I’ve since found that watching an infant 5 days a week really decreases time for quilting. This weekend I decided I just needed to make time …. and I did! Prior to our trip to Italy Wendy and I held a class for making a “Tuscan Sun” block and everyone was given instructions for autograph blocks to be exchanged on the trip. Well, I bordered my sun with the blocks, pinned the layers together and was ready to go. I really was in the mood for free motion fun, so I looked at the top and asked myself “what do I feel like stitching today?”

My first urge was to stitch some feathers, which I chose to place in the rays of the sun.

Then I was in the mood to “bubble” the sun’s interior.

So now how to quilt the background behind the sun? Add more rays! I took a ruler and a sliver of soap (my favorite marking tool) and I drew lines on the background that radiated from the center of the sun and then I used those lines as a guide to keep the rays shining. It was even more of a good time than I imagined it would be and because I was enjoying the process it was done almost too soon.

For the first border I decided to play with a design I hadn’t tried before. Laura Wasilowski refers to it as ME ME quilting (because it sort of looks like M’s and E’s) and it was a blast! Once again I marked some boundaries with the soap and I was off and running.

The MEME’s went through the center of the inside border, so what to do around it? I decided straight lines in yellow would work (remember I don’t need a good reason, it’s all about what feels like fun at the moment :-)). Now my Babylok with a  walking foot does a much better job of straight lines then I do in free motion, so I changed the feet and jumped in using my “3 pin technique” to prevent puckers. I’ve covered this in a past post. Click here to read about it.

All that’s left now is the outer border. How would you quilt it?

I’m not sure what I’ll do and the Packer game is about to begin, so this post will remain a cliff hanger until next week. Go Pack Go!!!

It’s All in a Name

While in Florence we went to the Academy of Arts to see Michelangelo’s David. As we walked through the gallery leading up to this amazing work, we were treated to 4 of Michelangelo’s sculptures that were never completed. They are large blocks of marble with portions of the intended subjects carved into them and they have been titled the Prisoners because the figures look like they are still trapped in the marble. Photographs were not allowed, but I found this one of the Apostle Matthew on line and wanted you to see what one of the Prisoners looked like:

Our guide was very passionate about her subject and shared that for a long time the art community wondered why Michelangelo never completed these sculptures, even though they were begun early in his life. From this I had a revelation – Michelangelo had UFO’s! Our guide then went on to explain that over the years it has been postulated that he left them in this state intentionally because it is up to the imagination of the viewer to release them from their prisons. So…………we may need to change the way we look at our UFO’s. Are they nagging, unfinished projects that we should feel guilty about? Or are they works that are complete within and we are purposely leaving them in this state so that future viewers have the opportunity to envision them finished in a way that releases the quilts from their fabric prisons?

I do believe I prefer to think of my UFO’s as Ultimately Fabulous Opportunities and not Prisoners, but there’s a good chance some of them may remain prisoners forever.

Don’t you feel better knowing you have something in common with Michelangelo? Do you have Ultimately Fabulous Opportunities or Prisoners?


November 18, 2012, UFO
Quilts and Inspiration in Italy

As our group of quilters descended upon Italy we were anxious to partake in all that this beautiful country had to offer…….and we were hoping to discover a quilt shop or two along the way. Well, quilt shops in Rome, Florence and Sienna are not a common sight. We did find some wool to please the knitters among us and there was a fabric store in Florence that catered to garment designers with prices that were astounding (the first bolt I pulled out was 240 Euro/meter!!!)

Towards the end of the trip we spotted a quilt in the small, mid-evil village of Cortona.

But, upon closer examination, I’m pretty sure it was a pre-printed panel. Still it did look picturesque hanging in the narrow street.

So, what was there to tickle the fancy of quilters? Plenty! You may have already heard (or experienced first hand) the beautiful quilt designs on the floors of the cathedrals in Italy. In this we were not disappointed and here are just a few of my favorites:

If that was a bit too intricate how about this:

And just one more:

The landscapes and art work were all very inspirational, as was the architecture. While staring in awe at the dome of the Pantheon Wendy remarked that it reminded her of log cabin blocks.

This dome was built about 2000 years ago and is still standing! The oculus in the center is open and when it rains the rain comes in. It was one of my favorite sites.

While winding our way back to the bus after our visit to Cortona one of the group pointed out this empty storefront and commented that there was an obvious lack of quilters and supplies in central Italy and perhaps I should open up a shop and teach beginner classes.

I’ll have to talk it over with Mike :-)!

Have any of you made a quilt inspired by the cathedral floors in Europe? The art or scenery?? I’d really enjoy hearing about it and would love to have you email me a picture: clkquilt@gmail.com

November 11, 2012, Inspiration Travel
Adventures in Quilting

Our “Sew We Go” trip to Italy ended up being even more of an adventure than some of us had anticipated! Wendy and I departed with 21 quilters (and friends) for Rome on October 19th. We began our journey with wonderful weather and a delightful guide named Rudi. We toured and ate our way through central Italy and had a wonderful time. All too soon Wendy and 14 of the group had to head back home. I stayed on with 6 of our travelers for what was meant to be an extra 2 days in Rome, but hurricane Sandy had other ideas. Instead of flying home Monday, our flight was cancelled and we weren’t able to return until Friday night. We were forced to endure an additional 4 days in Italy :-).

I had intended to share insights and inspiration from the trip in this week’s blog, but I’m only half unpacked and haven’t yet begun to go through my pictures. This is probably just as well because there is another topic I’m anxious to share this week.

In a previous post I mentioned that I had been invited to be the Featured Quilter at the Slinger Quilt Show put on by the Ties That Bind quilt guild this past Saturday. Well, when I realized I wouldn’t be home until late Friday I had a problem – all 25 of the quilts I had promised to display at the show were in various and sundry locations throughout my home. So I sent my husband an email from our hotel in Rome asking if he would be willing to collect them up and deliver them on Friday. He had already been babysitting our granddaughter full time while I was away and yet he kindly agreed. All I had to do was show up on Saturday.

The guild did a wonderful job of hanging my quilts and my dear friend, Rita Rehlinger, was kind of enough to send me these pictures.

It was very exciting to have so much of my work exhibited in one place and a joy to be able to share some of my quilt’s stories. Praise the Lord!

There were many great vendors and so many wonderful quilts in the show. What an honor to be a part of it all!

I was able to talk with so many people and I enjoyed meeting each one. Thanks to everyone at Ties That Bind!


November 4, 2012, Travel
Fabric Flowers

When my friend Linda had heart surgery I wanted to bring her something special. A few years earlier I had created a fabric flower bouquet for a fundraiser auction at my guild. I decided a fabric bouquet might be just what she needed to cheer her. I stitched some free form flowers, added buttons and beads, attached them to pipe cleaners and – voila – a bouquet!


I was blown away by how much this meant to her. She liked the flowers so much that when Deb, a mutual friend of ours, was ill she wanted to do the same for her. Linda told me she didn’t want to give her bouquet away, so she made a new one for Deb and included one of my flowers in Deb’s arrangement. What a great idea! Deb sent me this picture of her bouquet.


Then, this past Tuesday, I was invited to the 30th Anniversary party of the Log Cabin Quilt Guild in Muskego, WI. They sent invitations to all the past presidents, so Wendy and I were both there (Log Cabin is where Wendy and I met :-)). It was a delightful celebration and the members went above and beyond in providing a great event. Rita, their historian, gave a wonderful talk about the guild’s history and had 16 photo albums of activities through the years. There was a quilt show of past challenges and workshops, yummy snacks, tributes to long term members and each attendee got (you guessed it) a yo-yo flower on a stick out of the entry bouquet! Rita was kind enough to send me this picture.

It seemed obvious at this point that fabric flowers were going to be this week’s blog topic! Have you ever made any posies that won’t wilt? Have you ever received any?


This coming Friday Wendy and I, along with a delightful group of quilters (and friends), will be leaving the US for sunny Italy. We are very excited. I will not be posting for the next 2 weeks, but promise to have plenty of pictures and ideas to share from the trip when I return. Arrivederci! Chris



October 14, 2012, Uncategorized
Quilt Fests Galore

This past weekend was the Quilt Fest at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. If you’re not from the area, then let me fill you in! As I understand it, Ben Franklin was originally a dime store chain, but now each store is independently owned and they are very different, one from another. The store in Oconomowoc has an amazing collection of crafting supplies, a lovely gift deck, a full service framery and a quilt shop quality fabric department. The employees make the store what it is and the fabric department crew is great! Terrie Siefert, the manager (and a dear friend), gave me permission to take some pictures for this blog, so please …. enjoy!

Beginning at the front door there are quilts! These were made by one of this year’s  featured artists, Juleen Jaeger.

Along the back wall, and in full view from the front door, are quilts by Laura Krasinski, the other featured artist at this year’s show.

There is a Viewer’s Choice quilt show hanging in the aisles!


I was very pleased to see that a number of my students had quilts entered in the show!

My “Gradation Play” talk was very well attended by a smiling, happy group of quilters!

And, of course, I always enjoy an opportunity to share my quilts and my passion.

There is another Quilting Event coming up in November that I’m quite excited about. The Slinger Quilt Show will be held November 3rd and they’ve invited me to be their featured artist. What a blessing and an honor. I’ve even been invited to be there and talk about my quilts (I didn’t need to be asked twice :-)). Please go to: http://slingerquiltshow.org/ for all the information about the show!

And, one more bit of information for you quilt show enthusiasts – the Wandering Foot Quilt Guild’s show is rapidly approaching. It will be held Oct 20 and 21 at the American Legion Post in Oak Creek, WI. Their website is: http://wanderingfoot.com/About_Us.html/

October 7, 2012, Travel
Bead Inspired

Our latest challenge in the Milwaukee Art Quilters guild is entitled Bead Inspired. We were to create a small wall quilt that was inspired by a single bead or button which had to  be attached to the quilt. About 20 of our members participated in the challenge and 8 of those quilts were entered in the Ultimate Guild challenge at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, MI ….. and we won third place! To see a video of all of the winners in Grand Rapids click here (our quilts are about 4 minutes into the video ).

I chose a button called a Czech Aurora which I purchased at the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee a few years ago. I researched the history of this type of button and put this information on the label: North Bohemia has been a European glass-manufacturing center since the 13th century. The vast majority of glass buttons made in the 20th century owe their existence to the craftsmen of this area. Almost all glass buttons require a significant amount of handwork. Glass button craftsmen typically work at individual stations furnished with a small furnace, a quantity of glass canes, and scissor-like button molds in which one button at a time is hand-pressed from glass drawn from a semi-molten glass cane.  Intensely colorful fired-on iridescent lusters on these buttons are called “auroras”.”

While staying (and shopping) with my friend, Evelyn, in Arizona last January I found a striped fabric that was just what I needed to begin working on my challenge quilt. Evelyn is quite skilled in the use of Shiva Paintstiks™ and she encouraged me to use them in the quilt (click here for my post on how to use Paintstiks). I did just that plus some intense fussy cutting of the stripe to create my design. The button is at the center of the quilt and the Paintstiks create the outer 3 rings and the “half moons” inside the gold ring.

We will be posting pictures of all of the Bead Inspired quilts soon at www.milwaukeeartquilters.wordpress.com.

Have you used beads or buttons on a quilt? If you have, and you would be so kind as to email me a picture at: clkquilt@gmail.com, I’d be happy to include it in a future blog!

An FYI for Wisconsin Quilters!

This weekend is the Quilt Fest at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc, WI. The featured quilters this year are Laura Krasinski and Juleen Jaeger. The display of their quilts is amazing! The Fest includes a Viewer’s Choice quilt show in the aisles, a wonderful fabric department with many good sales and free demonstrations/lectures all weekend. Here’s the schedule for those interested:

Saturday, October 6

10:00-10:45 “Gradation Play” by Chris Lynn Kirsch

11:30-12:15 “Perfect Half Square/Quarter Square Triangles” by Caren Zimmerman

1:15-2:00 “What’s New!?” by Pam See

2:45-3:30 “Journey of a Needlefelter” by Tricia Anderson

Sunday, October 7

11:30-12:15 “Conquering the T-Shirt Quilt” by Sheryl Schwochert

1:15-2:00 ““Mastering Raw Edge Fusible Applique” by Laura Krasinski

2:45-3:30 “Fast & Fun Tips with Freezer Paper” by Kathy Frye

Hope to see you there :-)!

September 30, 2012, Challenges
It’s Hip to Be Square

I’d like to begin with a quick aside: you can see all the winners from the Madison Quilt Expo at: http://wiquiltexpo.com/quilts.html :-)!

Now to the topic at hand. A few weeks back Pat emailed me asking for information on squaring up blocks. This is a great topic – it’s an important step, even if it is tedious and putsy.

We are so blessed to have tools and equipment to help us get great accuracy when quilting. Rotary cutters allow us to cut at precisely the right size. Sewing machines have feet that help us to get that perfect scant 1/4″ (if yours doesn’t please visit this previous post for a simple way to get accurate seams). Pressing with a dry iron keeps things from getting distorted (click here for more pressing information). And still there are times that things don’t fit together. When this happens we need to square up. If you make sure things are square every step of the way – flatter quilts are almost guaranteed.

The first place to check for the necessity of squaring up is the squares that make up the block. When making a bunch of half square triangles – measure to be sure they are all the same size before putting them into a block. Some quilters like to make these squares a bit larger intentionally so that they may be trimmed to the right size and never end up too small. Rebecca came to class this past Thursday with just such a project and was kind enough to let me photograph the squaring up for this post. Her block contained half square triangles and four patches on point.

The half square triangle block does not have an obvious center and is therefore a bit easier to square up:

1. Place a ruler on the block with the 45° line along the diagonal seam.

2. This square is supposed to be cut at 3 1/2″, so the ruler needs to be slid down close to the 3 1/2″ lines. Then the top and right sides can be rotary cut.

If the opposite sides are exactly along the 3 1/2″ lines, you’re done. If those uncut edges need a little attention, turn the block 180° and trim off the remaining edges.

The 4 patch on point blocks have a definite center and thus must be trimmed on all 4 sides.

1. First we need to determine half of the cut size – half of 3 1/2 is 1 3/4. Place the 45° line of the ruler on a diagonal seam, with the spot that is 1 3/4″ from each edge directly on the center of the block.

2. Rotary cut along the top and right side of the ruler.

3. Turn the square 180°, align the freshly cut edges with the 3 1/2″ lines and cut along the top and right edges of the ruler once again.

Here is the block laid out with all the squared up portions in place and ready to be sewn together. Since all of the squares are the same size it should now go together quite easily.

This type of squaring up is often not the last time it needs to be done. I like to be sure my blocks are square before I attach them one to another and I also find it helpful to square up the quilt top before adding borders. This may seem a bit excessive, but a flat quilt top is worth the extra effort.

Do you prefer to make your blocks oversized or do you strive for accuracy every step of the way to avoid the squaring up step?

Just a quick note for local quilters. My Railroad Tracks class at WCTC on Friday, October 5th needs a few more students to sign up so it can run.

Choose a lovely large print that is too pretty to cut into small pieces, then cut it into large squares and frame them with colorful, strip-pieced sashing. This quick and easy quilt features a surprise three-dimensional element.

If you’d like to join in the fun, please do so on-line or call registration at (262) 691-5578. The offering is #304-604U-002 and the CRN # is 11706.

Thanks, Chris

September 23, 2012, Piecing
Quilt Blocking

When my quilts are meant to hang on a wall or go to competition, I really want them to be square and lay flat. This doesn’t always come naturally, so blocking is a good way to do some fine tuning. It won’t correct major ripples or wobbles, but it can work wonders for minor issues. Please be aware that I use this technique with cotton batts. Polyester batts may flatten due to melting from the heat of the iron. Be careful too that the colors in your fabric will not run when wet and the fibers are not too fragile for the heat of the iron.

I always quilt my quilts before I attach the binding. I feel this allows me to quilt any fullness out to the edges and then square things up prior to binding, yielding a truly square and flat quilt. So, once the quilting is done I do the square up step.

This is my method of choice:

1. Choose a carpeted, out of the way area and cover with a layer of towels a little larger than the quilt.

2. Place the quilt on the towels, back side up, and mist with water.

3. Turn the quilt to the right side and mist again.

4. Place a large square ruler in a corner and pin the quilt into the carpet along the ruler, keeping the edge of the quilt top even with the ruler. A bit of tugging and encouraging may be required.

5. Butt 2 long rulers up to the top and left edges of the square ruler. This is called “piggy backing” and creates a large square. Keeping the rulers aligned, continue pinning the quilt into the carpet.

6. Continue moving the rulers around the quilt, pinning as you go. Some areas require a bit more encouraging than others :-).

7. Once the entire perimeter has been pinned. Place a pressing cloth over an area and place the iron in the corner for a count of about 5. Move the iron to an adjacent area and repeat until the whole quilt has been pressed.

I then leave everything as is for at least 24 hours. This allows for thorough drying. Once the pins are removed, rotary cut around the now square outside edge of the quilt and bind!

Do you block your quilts?

September 16, 2012, finishing
Whirlwind Teaching

I’ve just returned home from teaching 7 classes/lectures in 4 days – and all on Mariner’s Compass! What a joy and blessing, but I have to admit to being a bit exhausted. Thanks to everyone who took my classes! Wednesday was an all day class with a wonderful group, the Pine Tree Needlers in Wautoma, WI. I used to teach at their annual retreat and so it was very nice to reunite with past friends. I only wish I had thought to snap a photo or two. Thanks to Patty B. for her kind hospitality.

From there I headed to Madison, WI to meet up with my dear friend and roommate, Laura Krasinski. We were both on the faculty at Quilt Expo (it was Laura’s first year and she did a great job!). This was the Expo’s 8th year and it just keeps getting better. The crowds were big, the quilts were amazing and the Vendor Mall was as good as it gets. I believe a good time was had by all. My lectures and workshops were all well attended – Praise the Lord – and on the last day I did remember to use my camera. This was my Saturday morning class – a very talented group (even Maria who was hiding behind her machine :-))!

I found the show quilts to be very inspiring. There were quilts from Wisconsin, all over the US and beyond. Being a juried show, the competition was intense. I’ve mentioned this in my blog before, but I think it bears repeating. When a show is juried, the quilts need to catch the jurors attention to be chosen. This means that many wonderful quilts may be turned down. Typically these are the regular type that most quilters make. They can still be found in abundance at local quilt shows and county fairs and are so much fun to view, but when attending juried shows I recommend going with the attitude that you just want to be wowed and inspired!

That being said, I enjoy the excitement of entering juried shows because I make quilts that like to be seen. I have had many quilts accepted into juried shows and quite a number of times I’ve been turned down. That’s just the way it is. This year I was blessed to have the 2 quilts I entered accepted. In the following photograph 2 viewers are really examining one of them: Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden (third from the left). This is a project I made with my dear friend, Wendy Rieves, and it was featured in a previous post. Please click here for a better picture and more information.

What a joy it was to actually win a second place ribbon. Wendy and I were thrilled!

I have one more photo to share. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the entry hall still filled with happy quilters, even on the last afternoon of the show.

Quilt Expo has really grown to be a National Level quilt show and the city of Madison has a lot to offer as well. I highly recommend marking your calendars for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday following Labor Day weekend next year!

Were you able to attend Expo? What was your favorite part :-)?

September 9, 2012, Travel
Sheer Illusions

Happy Labor Day! We had houseguests all weekend, so I’m a little behind, but I hope you’ll find this week’s topic interesting. Tina emailed me this past week asking how I attach sheer fabrics to my fiber art and it struck me as a great blog topic.

I enjoy incorporating sheer fabrics into my quilts because they add an interesting level of transparency without a lot of effort. Plus, these shiny, shimmery, specialty fabrics are fun to buy! Netting, tulle, organza…. so many choices – and around Halloween and Prom time the selection gets really exciting. Sometimes, to get the right effect, I just sew the sheers in place, but most often I fuse! This became an option with the introduction of Steam-a-Seam™. Prior to that the paper backed fusibles that were available had to be ironed twice – once to the appliqué fabric and the second time when ironing the appliqué to the background. Trying to iron the fusible to the sheer was a real exercise in frustration.

There are 4 types of Steam a Seam™ and my preference when working with sheers is Lite Steam a Seam (with no #2 after the name). It is made with a thin weight glue and has the pressure sensitive adhesive on just one side (thus there is paper on just one side). Here’s how it works with sheers:

You’ll need a piece of a sheer fabric, a piece of Lite Steam a Seam™, and a Teflon™ pressing sheet or parchment paper (or the release paper from the fusible).

Peel the fusible web from the release paper. The side that was against the paper will be “sticky”.

Place the sticky side of the fusible to the wrong side of the sheer (some sheers have a right side and others don’t) and finger press to the sheer. It may be helpful to place a quilting ruler on it and apply even pressure so it will stick evenly.

Cut out your desired shape.

Position on your quilt top.

Cover with the pressing sheet/parchment paper and press using a cool iron (many sheers melt very easily) for about 5 seconds to start. Now comes the difficult part! Wait until the pressing sheet is cooled before removing. If you don’t allow it to cool the melted glue will go through the holes in the sheer, temporarily attach to the pressing sheet and produce long, skinny strands of glue. Once cooled the sheet may be removed and there will be no residual glue wisps. If it didn’t adhere, try again a little longer or with a hotter iron.

Here are a few of my Parallelisms quilts that incorporate sheers:

Concentricities IV: Spheres uses fused circles.

Parallelisms II has a variety of spirals, circles and stars.

Parallelisms IV contains sheer triangles.

I hope this is helpful. Please note that fused sheers will not hold up in a quilt that will get a lot of wear and washing, but for those projects you hang on the wall – they are delightful.

If you would like some hands-on sheer instruction it will be covered in my Beginning Fiber Art class at WCTC this Fall.

Have you used sheers in your projects? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?


September 3, 2012, Embellishing
Making Faces
In my teaching at WCTC it’s necessary for me to come up with class ideas 2 semesters ahead of when they’ll be taught. This can be a bit daunting, so I often make up a class name and description without really knowing what the quilt will look like (it adds excitement and mystery to my job :-)). This Fall I made up a class I called “Snowperson Topper”. When the time came to actually stitch something I decided a scallopped hexagon shaped table topper with snowman faces would be fun.
I used some tried and true techniques and came up with a few innovations too. It was fun giving a unique personality to each of the snowpeople. I got to go through my button collection to find just the right pair of eyes for each face, did some hand stitching on the felt noses and free motion embroidery of the mouths.  Once the faces were made, the sections needed defining and I decided a bit of couching was in order.
Couching means to attach a yarn or other fiber to the top of the quilt by laying it on the surface and stitching it down with an additional thread. This can be done by hand or machine. When it’s done by machine a zig zag or some other decorative machine stitch is usually used. Years ago my dear friend and traveling partner, Wendy, showed me a simple alternative couching technique that’s as easy as:
1.  Wrap the yarn around the needle and backstitch one stitch to secure it –
2.  Stitch forward 5 to 7 stitches (use a matching thread, mine is contrasting so you can see it) –
3. Cross the yarn in front of the needle –
4.  Stitch over the crossed yarns and repeat –
A finished line should look something like this:
The Snowperson Topper is just one of a number of classes I’ll be teaching this Fall. There will be my usual 3 sessions of Thursday afternoon Open Labs. Here’s the information for my 1 day workshops:

304-604T Goose Tricks: Learn to create flying geese blocks that float and swirl across your quilt. Paper piecing and bias strips make this project appealing, easy and fun! Saturday, September 15, 9-2:30

304-604U Railroad Tracks: Choose a lovely large print that is too pretty to cut into small pieces, then cut it into large squares and frame them with colorful, strip-pieced sashing. This quick and easy quilt features a surprise three-dimensional element. Friday, October 5, 9-2:30

304-604V Quilting – Beginning Fiber Art (also known as Parallelisms) Are you a traditional quilter who secretly would like to try a bit of fiber art, but don’t know where to begin? Then this class is for you! Learn simple fusing techniques to play with fabric, color and design. Discover your inner creativity. Saturday, November 10, 9-2:30.
304-604W Quilting – Snowperson Topper: Create an adorable table topper filled with personality, just in time for Christmas. Plus – the snow theme can be enjoyed all winter long! Friday, December 7, 9-2:30

You may sign up by calling 262.691.5578

or on line at www.wctc.edu. Once you’re on the home page click on “Class Search”; choose the Fall semester and type “quilting” in the “Course/Subject” box and click “Submit”. All of the quilting classes Wendy and I are teaching this coming semester will pop up.

And now to end this week’s post with a response to last week’s post in which I asked if any of you have made a quilt inspired by someone else’s art. Gloria emailed me with pictures! When I asked if I could share her pictures on the blog she was more than happy to agree. Here’s the front of her quilt and her email:
“Hi Chris, I would be happy for you to use my quilt – that’s why I sent the pics.  I made the quilt for my college friend going through chemo this spring.  We adopted a purple bean bag frog one evening and “Floyd” has been our mascot ever since.  We are a group of 6 roommates and have continued our friendship over the years.  My inspiration was a ceramic frog climbing a wall in a cute restaurant in St. Pete’s Beach in Florida.  The other side of the quilt is a history of who we are and where we have been:). (We are the Sixth Street Convent Gang because we lived in an apartment with more rules than the dorms had in 1970, it was nearly cloistered!)   Gloria Knipschild”
Here’s the back of the quilt:
I really enjoyed the quilt and the story. Thanks Gloria!

August 26, 2012, Embellishing

As quilters we often make quilts inspired by the creativity of others ….. we do so love all our patterns and books! This is a great system because designers have ideas to share and many quilters are not into making up their own designs.

My daughter-in-law, Betsy, is a professional graphic artist and Sommer’s mommy. In 2009 I was in a creative rut and I began asking her about her work. After an exciting discussion she agreed to loan me some of her pieces. My hope was to create fiber art that didn’t reproduce her work, but was inspired by it. This became an adventure we call KirschArt.

We’ve had our work shown in a number of different venues. Our first joint exhibit was at a restaurant in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. We shared exhibit space with my talented friend, Laura Krasinski.

We currently have pieces hanging at the Brickhaus Café in Jefferson, Wisconsin, and this is one example of our collaboration – Betsy’s photography and my fiber art.

The Brickhaus Cafe has a beautiful garden area for outside dining and great food. Tea and Textiles, a wonderful quilt shop, is just a block away. I’d love to have you stop in if you live nearby.

Since then Betsy and I have collaborated on a completely different project: Compass Capers! She did all of the illustrations in my book and then taught me how to use Adobe InDesign while putting it all together. She is a very talented young woman and such a blessing to me.

So – have you ever created a quilt which was inspired by someone else’s art? If so, I’d really enjoy hearing about it. Please comment to this post or, if you’re so inclined, email me a picture :-)!

PS I really enjoyed reading all the comments about your favorite notions. Thanks to everyone who responded. Most of them I already have on my “fav” list, but I hadn’t heard of the “touch n brow”, so I stopped at Sally’s Beauty Supply the other day and …WOW… this is a great tool! Thank you Cindy!


August 19, 2012, Inspiration
Favorite New Notions

It’s time to revisit a previous topic: what’s your favorite notion? The last time this topic came up I shared my favorite and received some really good suggestions from many readers. Click here to read all about it!

Since then I’ve acquired even more quilting notions and I have a new favorite:

I recently received a Current Catalog and I always enjoy looking through the greeting cards, wrapping paper and clever gadgets they feature. This time I was especially glad I picked up the catalog because I found my newest “favorite notion”. It is called Peel and Stick Ruler Tape. The concept is simple: make a “real” measuring “tape” by printing 12″ rulers on yellow adhesive tape. When my order arrived I was thrilled to find it worked as well as I had hoped.

I placed it all the way along the lip of my sewing machine cabinet.

Then I decided I needed it along the edge of my mid-arm machine cabinet too.

I was on a roll (no pun intended) and quickly placed some along the desk in front of my computer keyboard. It is soooo handy!

No matter where I’m working I have a quick and convenient way to measure.

Mike is a bit concerned about where I’ll be placing the next length :-).


You may order your own roll on line at: http://www.currentcatalog.com/607153.html?AS=1&keyword=ruler+tape.

Sew………..what’s currently your favorite notion? Please share – I’d really like to know :-)!

August 12, 2012, Notions
Fishbowl Quilts & Pet Beds

A while back I posted about fabric storage and I shared a picture of the fishbowl I keep my smallest scraps in:

I’m currently in the midst of designing a project for the Spring semester at WCTC and it is in part a “fishbowl quilt”. The quilt is called Black, White and Bright and there are going to be numerous brightly colored, paper pieced, flying geese (perhaps I should call them flying fish) strips in it. I pulled all the bright hunks out of the bowl and have actually used some of them up!!!

As I cut off pieces too small to save I put them in a bag under my sewing table

and when I’ve filled enough bags, these schnibbles will all be sewn into an old pillowcase and donated to the local animal shelter as a pet bed. No waste!

I shared another fun use for the fishbowl scraps in a post over a year ago. If you need a smile, please click here :-).

Do you keep your schnibbles in a fishbowl? Do you have a better option?


August 5, 2012, Uncategorized
Feeding Needy Children

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone had a vintage Burgoyne Surrounded or Pineapple Log Cabin quilt they might be interested in selling because I’m in need of those patterns for a new quilt lecture I’m putting together. I already had a sample of Mariner’s Compass and Rose of Sharon, but I was thinking I’d like a better example of those too – if I could find them.

Well, I decided to do a bit of searching on-line and I found a gorgeous Rose of Sharon top on a site called Buckboard Quilts, and it was in my price range! I contacted the owner, Judy Howard, purchased that top and conversed about the other quilts I needed. During those emails, she said she would send me information about a project that is dear to her heart. It’s a quilt contest to raise funds to feed children.  I decided I wanted in and I completed a small “Parallelisms” quilt I had in my UFO pile. It’s called Chasing Butterflies and the idea was that children should be concerned with childish things like chasing butterflies and not about hungry tummies. Here’s a picture of my quilt:

As a thank you for donating the quilt to the contest, Judy sent me a copy of her wonderful cookbook and I just knew I needed to share this information with you. I asked Judy to send me something to put on the blog and here it is. Enjoy!

22”Quilt Contest/Exhibit Feeds Needy Children

The overwhelming need to feed needy children inspired Buckboard Quilts to sponsor the “Food for Body and Soul Touring Quilts Contest and Exhibits.” The exhibits are touring the U.S. for three years with all proceeds from the $100/week-end exhibit rental and accompanying 1905 Cookbook—Food for Body and Soul going to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

     See http://www.heavenlypatchwork.com/food_for_body_and_soul.html for quilt photos, entry and rental forms, calendar of shows and sample recipes and stories.

   These two hundred-fifty 22×22” and larger touring quilts capture the essence of pioneer cooking, ethnic customs, vintage kitchen collectibles, passion for food, family, celebrations and holiday traditions, food stories from the Bible, fighting hunger; feeding hope–anything and everything food or anything that feeds your soul like quilting, grandkids, music, art, gardening, etc.


 It’s not too late for you and your children to enter your 22” quilts to receive a free copy of the 1905 Cookbook–Food for Body and Soul with each entry, free advertising on the story label and a chance to win $2500 in prizes and 33 rosette ribbons.


     Please mail your 22” quilts ASAP to 12101 N. MacArthur, #137, Oklahoma City, OK 73162. Reserve your exhibit today by emailing  or calling 405-751-3885. Displayed in as little as 20 feet, sixty 22” quilts can be hung in 40 minutes displayed 3 up, back to back, or spread out for maximum effect. Drop-down labels feature heart-warming stories.

     Judy Howard’s new cookbook for cooks, foodies and historians is based on recipes from pioneer days in central Oklahoma. 1905 Cookbook: Food for Body and Soul will inspire today’s cooks regardless of age or sophistication. Recipes like Molasses Drop Cake and Delightful Biscuits or Delicious Chicken Pie and Roast Beef with Oyster Dressing entice the taste buds and make you want to keep this book within easy reach to satisfy your body and soul. In addition to this amazing and often amusing collection of 300 epicurean delights, Howard’s book is flavored with 200 turn-of-the-century photographs, 1905 merchant ads and stories of the 89er/pioneers who compiled the original cookbook found at a flea market. This cookbook will complement any cook’s recipe collection and is the perfect gift at discounted price of $12.95 if ordered on http://www.heavenlypatchwork.com/1905%20Cookbook.htm.

     Enter your 22” Food Quilt today to help feed needy children. And reserve the $100 exhibit for your next show.


If you’re looking for some quilting fun this week. I’ll be teaching at the UW Platteville Sewing and Quilting Expo. For all the information go to: http://www.uwplatt.edu/cont_ed/sewing_expo/index.html

July 29, 2012, Challenges
Parallelisms in England


One of my favorite workshops to teach is called Parallelisms. The above quilt is entitled “Joy” and it’s just a small sample of this fun technique. Parallelisms is an art quilt class for traditional quilters who would like to try creating a piece of fiber art, but aren’t sure they can. My answer is absolutely “yes” and I’ve had a lot of fun proving it. A few years ago I taught this class at the AQS show in Paducah and one of my students, Doreen Davis, had traveled all the way from England for the show (not just to take my class :-)). After returning home she emailed me to ask if she could teach my technique to her quilting friends and I was honored to be asked. She recently sent me pictures of a class with this message:

“Hi Chris, We had a wonderful day yesterday at the class, the ladies had the most fab time, they were all a bit hesitant at first cos I think they were all used to being told you must do it this way and that but after I had stressed onto them that this is a fun workshop and not to be stressed over, they all let their hair down and thoroughly enjoyed every minute as I hope you can tell.”

Doreen procured permission for me to share a few photos on the blog, so here they are. First a few of Doreen’s quilts (I’m so impressed that she has had such fun with the technique!):

And now WIP’s (works in progress) by Linda, Carol, Ruth, Eve and Liz:

It certainly looks like they were having a bit of fun. Thanks ladies!

I will be teaching Parallelisms for Quilter’s Plus quilt guild in Illinois on August 30th. If you think your guild would be interested in a “let your hair down” kind of art quilt class, please let me know!

July 22, 2012, Design Travel
No End

I believe a good binding can really make a quilt. There are so many ways to bind and I’m quite sure I’ve tried them all. The best way I’ve discovered to connect the beginning and end tails is really quite easy. I often demonstrate this in my classes and workshops, but a number of students have asked me to post a step by step demo with pictures ……. so here it is!

Depending on the size of the quilt, it is quite common to have to join a number of binding strips together to make a strip long enough to go around the entire quilt. I like to join these strips in a diagonal or mitered seam (trimming off the extra triangles after the seam is sewn).

This results in a relatively unobtrusive seam in the finished binding.

So here are the steps for a no end finish that looks just like the above:

1.  When you begin to stitch your binding to the quilt, leave an 8″ tail that is not stitched to the quilt and do a back stitch to secure. Bind all the way around the quilt and then end your stitching with a back stitch 10 -12 inches from the beginning back stitches. Leave at least 8″ of ending tail unattached to the quilt.

3. With a single binding (as above) the strips are a flat, single layer. If you are doing a double binding, the next steps need to be done with the binding opened to a single layer, as in the sample below.

Mark a 45 degree line towards the end of one of the tails and cut it off.

4. Pull back this end and lay the opposite end against the quilt. Then lay the diagonally cut end back on top of the other strip and mark the diagonal cut.

5. Pull away the cut tail and mark a 45 degree line 1/2″ away from this line. This is the way to add the seam allowance, so be sure you add it to the side of the line that makes the strip longer. Cut on this second line.

You should now have a 1/2″ overlap of the 2 tails.

6.  Pick these ends up and place them right sides together as in the picture for joining binding strips at the beginning of this post. The bulk of the quilt will need to be pulled inwards to create a bit of play in the strips.7.  Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

8. Lay the quilt flat so the binding strip lies back against it and finish sewing the binding strip to the quilt.

Once the binding is turned to the back and stitched down you will not be able to tell this ending spot from any of the other strip joinings as in the picture above step 1. So it is truly “no end”!

Is this something you already are doing? Did you find it helpful? Do you have a way you like better? I love to hear from you, so please let me know.

PS I’ve learned a neat trick to see a close-up detail of any of the pictures above on my PC. While you are looking at the chosen picture, hold down “ctrl” and click the “+” sign. This will zoom in on the picture. You may do it repeatedly for more zoom. “ctrl” and the “-” sign will zoom the picture back out, and holding down “ctrl” while clicking “0” (zero) will cause the page to go back to normal :-).

July 15, 2012, finishing
Labeling Vintage Quilts

JoLynn recently wrote me with an antique quilt story:

“I found this old quilt this last month in the middle of the hwy in Texas. It is a grandmothers fan quilt pattern. It needed a lot of repairs so I washed it and I am taking it apart and restoring all of the damaged fan blades. I love how you would not think to add such non matching colors together. I went to the store and bought some of the same colors to replace the ones that were damaged. I have no clue how old this quilt is but it was all hand done. I myself make quilts but I use the sewing machine. :) I am wanting to come up with some type of lable for the quilt but dont have any ideas. If you have any ideas please let me know. Thanks……. Oklahoma Self”

I did a blog post last October with instructions for creating simple labels for vintage quilts. You can click here to read all about it (be sure to read Lucy’s excellent instructions for making labels with the computer). JoLynn’s request made me realize that often we don’t know the quilt’s previous history – so does it really need a label? And if so, what should be on it? My answer would be yes because every quilt has a story we do know: who currently owns it and how they acquired it. JoLynn’s quilt has a wonderful story of adoption and caring and it should be on the label, along with her name, place and date.

Taking the time to label vintage quilts, especially if you have a collection, may be the difficult part. I was guilty of this for years and than a dear friend, Maggi Gordon, wrote a book entitled Vintage Quilts. She was interested in including a number of my quilts. Before I could give them to her for photography they needed to be labeled and now I’m so grateful to have them in the book and the labels done!

This is a wonderful guide for identifying and pricing old quilts and can be obtained through Maggi at: http://www.maggigordon.com/

And now for a plea. I’m currently putting together a new lecture called “Tradition with a Twist”. It will include vintage quilts and modern interpretations. I’ve been collecting the older quilts for a while and find there are still 2 patterns I don’t have. I’m looking for an old (30 years or older) Pineapple Log Cabin and a Burgoyne Surrounded. It you have either of these you would be willing to part with, please let me know and we can talk about it :-). Thanks!

PS I had a wonderful visit with my daughter and grandkids in Washington. I can’t resist sharing a few pictures. Here is Rainee Lynn at 2 weeks old:

and her sister and brother, Hanna and Willy:

Short Intermission!

Thanks for stopping by my blog this week. I will not be doing a quilting post as my daughter in Washington just had a little girl and I’m heading west to do a lot of hugging. I’ll be posting something quilty next week (and maybe a picture or 2 of Rainee Lynn- she and cousin Sommer are only 3 months apart :-)).


June 29, 2012, Uncategorized
Creativity Showcase

As I’ve stated before, I love all aspects of quilting. From the antique bed covers that kept our ancestors warm, to traditional versions of those designs right up to modern or artsy projects, I’m always on the lookout for new and fun ideas in the quilt world.

A few months ago I received an interesting email from Joanne Grimes. She is a self taught quilter with a very unique approach to quiltmaking. She purchases her fabric at thrift stores (this includes all sorts of garments and the fiber content is unimportant). She then creates her own designs from the inside out, using her own common sense, color sense and piecing techniques. Here are two of her quilts:

I think the intricacy of her designs is truly amazing and I told her so. She then sent me a picture of her most recent work in progress:

 Here’s what she said about it:

“I just finished the piecing part. I stopped counting pieces after the total of the stars went over a 1000 pieces.Thrift store for the fabric which includes a Packer t-shirt, some hospital scrubs, skirts, shorts,  shirts, pants and other t-shirts, but I did have the colors mostly decided before I went shopping.”

AMAZING! Atta girl Joanne. Keep innovating and thanks for the pictures.

I also want to share a quilt begun by Barb Setzer in a recent Compass Capers class I taught at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. She took the round class project to a whole new level and just sent me a picture of her compass creation. I so enjoy sharing what others are doing with my technique :-):

She never put the 4 quarters of that compass together, but instead she made 4 additional oval compasses and used the original quarters at the sides. Very creative! The class was last month and it’s quilted and bound! Quite impressive.

Thanks Barb and Joanne!

PS you may email Joanne at: mgrimes@new.rr.com

Quilters are Ubiquitous

U-biq-ui-tous (adjective) – existing or being everywhere.

As many of you know, our upcoming Sew We Go adventure will be to Italy in October. We’ve been searching for quilty things to do while we’re there and Wendy suggested checking out Quilting Bloggers to find Italian quilters. I thought it was a wonderful idea. There were 62 Italian quilt blogs listed so I decided to surf through them and glean the ones that would be of the most interest to our travelers. Here’s the best part of the story:

After going through 6 pages of potential blogs for our list I was getting a little punchy and just randomly picked one on the last page. It was http://roxyquilt.blogspot.com/. This quilter’s name is Rossana, her blog is in English and 3 posts in I discovered that her daughter, Anna, is going to be a foreign exchange student this August in Waukesha, WI.  Wendy and I teach in Waukesha and a number of our travelers are part of the Crazy Quilter’s Guild which holds a quilt show in Mukwonago where Anna will be attending High School. I found this a pretty amazing coincidence :-) ! Rossana and I have been emailing back and forth ever since and I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to meet at some point.

So, if you’re planning a trip to another State or another Country, you might just want to go to Quilting Blogger.com and check out what the quilters are doing and saying in that area. You never know what might come of it!

Oldies But Goodies 2

As promised in my last post, here are a few more links to past posts.

I had the delightful opportunity to lecture and teach for 2 guilds in Illinois this past week and I promised the students I’d share the link to a recent post on my Quilt Float system for free motion quilting. It’s done in 2 parts: supplies and set up.



July 18, 2011 – Making a Quilt Sandwich – Another older blog that many quilters seemed to find helpful contained step by step directions for basting the layers of a large quilt together. My frame is made from simple materials, sets up wherever there’s room (garage, outside, ???) and will get you off your knees!



January 9 and 16, 2011 were a pair of posts about reorganizing my studio. I came up with some storage strategies you might find helpful. Part 1 was called Housekeeping and Part 2 was called Project Creep.




Oldies But Goodies

I just realized that I began blogging 2 years ago! The time has flown by. Since the beginning I’ve covered a lot of topics. There were quite a few that received great feedback and I got to thinking that some of you who joined my list recently may never have read about these topics, while others may want to refer back to some of that information. Navigating to just the topic you’re looking for might be a challenge, especially since my blog address has changed, so here’s a list of some of those lessons along with a link to get there. Just click on the colored words and the magic of the internet will take you to just the right spot – and in a new tab so you can get back to this post easily. Isn’t technology amazing?!?



June 2, 2010 my initial topic was about Stash Storage and showed what works for me.




June 23, 2010 was about Photographing Quilts with a simple “point and shoot” camera.



September 20, 2010 was entitled Which Rulers Rule. I gave my opinions and there were many other ideas in the comments section.



January 2, 2011 – for a good laugh you need to go to this post! It was entitled Pucker Less and in it I shared my favorite tip for avoiding puckers when you’re machine quilting with feed dogs. It was written in 2 parts the first was the chuckle and the second,  Pucker Less II , had my favorite tip with pictures. Please be sure to visit both.


April 17, 2011 was entitled A Pressing Issue and in it I shared a simple way to accurately press seams.




There were a few more I’d like to revisit, but I think this will keep you busy enough for this week. Next week I’ll provide links for a couple more of my favorites.

Your feedback is very helpful to me. Is there a past post that was particularly interesting to you. If so, I’d love to hear about it. Thanks!



June 10, 2012, Computers and Quilting
And the Capers Continue

I recently received an email from Cindy Frese and here’s what she had to say:

“Hi Chris, I was searching for patterns to piece flowers for the border of a quilt I’m currently working on. I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for so I used your folding method from Compass Capers to create what I wanted. It worked great for all of them including the tulips. Thought I’d let you see how they turned out. Thanks, Cindy”.

Here’s the picture of her blocks:

My response to her email was: “WOW”! It is such a thrill for me as  a teacher to see students take something from my class and make it truly their own.

I asked her for a few more pictures to see what she was doing with the blocks. Within a day she had the blocks on the quilt and sent the pictures my way, saying that this is a queen size quilt and the blocks were meant to anchor each corner of the quilt because they looked a little plain. Here’s the whole quilt top:

And a close up of a corner:

A very clever border idea!

Another example of this was sent my way a few months ago by Michelle Costen.

This is a very creative piece. What a blessing it is to me to know that I played a part in these wonderful quilts. Praise the Lord – and thanks so much Cindy and Michelle.

When Wendy Rieves and I made our quilt, “Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden”, for the National Quilt Museum’s New Quilts From an Old Favorite contest, I wanted to piece a variety of “sunflowers” into the background to compliment her wonderful raw edge flowers. Some of the background “sunflowers” were made like traditional Dresden Plates, but others were compass variations – including the Sun!

If you have made a unique compass using my technique, please let me know…or better yet – email me a picture please :-).

If you would like to learn how to draft your own compass blocks, you may purchase my book, Compass Capers, by clicking on it in the sidebar at the right or email me at clkquilt@gmail.com.



June 3, 2012, Design Piecing
Sweet 16

I’d like to share a short story about my dear husband, Mike. We met in High School and were dating when I was “sweet 16”.

This past Tuesday we celebrated our 36th anniversary! The time has flown by.

Well, a few months back Mike came home from work rather excited because he had received a bonus for the first time in 4 years (the economy and a brief trial run at retirement were the reasons). The next thing he said was “what do you want to buy?” – What a nice guy!!!

I thought for a moment and actually responded that I really had everything I needed and he came back with “don’t you want one of those long-arm things?” – That took me by surprise. After a few seconds of contemplating this I explained to him that the bonus was not big enough and he’d have to empty all his stuff out of the barn so I’d have room for it. That took him by surprise and he replied that that was not an option. Then he asked if there was something somewhere in between…and I immediately thought about a mid-arm. My concern was where to put it and he said if I could figure that out – I should get one. It didn’t take me long to decide the “where” part and I made plans to test drive all the mid-arms I could find at the quilt show in Paducah.

The Quilting Connection is a shop not far from me in Elkhorn, WI that carries long and mid-arm machines. I usually try to buy local, so I visited them prior to my Paducah trip and did a test drive. I was very pleased to realize that, after looking over the competition in Paducah, the Handi Quilter Sweet 16 from the shop in Elkhorn was the one for me. It was delivered on our anniversary and I quilted a small quilt on it by the time I went to bed that night. What a joy and a blessing!

I’ve positioned the new machine just to the left of my regular sewing machine so I just have to swivel my chair to use it.

I’m very pleased with the way the head is situated, the bright lights and the stitch quality.

It is easy to set up and easy to use and I’m hoping my quilting will really improve :-).

I’m especially pleased that I could buy locally. Not only does it help the economy, but I have a technician nearby and that is worth a lot!

Do you quilt on a home sewing machine or do you have something bigger? If you have a quilting machine, would you recommend it to others? What do you love about it? Any complaints?

PS I guess I now have to admit to owning 8 machines. This was a topic of discussion in my July 31st post entitled “Howe Many Machines do You Own?”. It was inspired by the purchase of an 1867 Elias Howe sewing machine. To read all about it go to: http://clkquilt.wordpress.com/category/vintage-quilts/ and scroll down.

May 27, 2012, free motion
Scraps, Value and “Beautiful Buts”

Thanks to everyone who responded to my survey about quilt classes a few weeks ago. It was interesting to see how many of you like scrap quilts and it got me thinking about a technique I developed for sorting my scraps by value. Value is the relative darkness/lightness of a fabric and it can make or break many quilt patterns. I came up with a value  sorting technique when I was making a quilt I called Almost Charming.

I had been in my guild’s 6″ square exchange and decided to use those squares  in the Friendship Star pattern and this ended up becoming a very popular class. A true charm quilt has only one piece of each fabric used. Because I cut each square into triangles, there are two pieces of each fabric and thus it is “Almost Charming”.

When sorting scraps for a quilt, some patterns require just lights and darks, with the mediums needing to be removed for the pattern to work. Other patterns need lights, darks and mediums, but if there isn’t a clear delineation between the values, the pattern can get lost. The Friendship Star uses darks in the stars, lights in the background (which becomes the diagonal lattice when the blocks are set together) and mediums in the remaining “on point squares at the corners of each 9 patch star block.

I grabbed a bunch of 6″ squares (even after making this quilt I still have a box full – I think they multiply in the dark like bunnies)

Step 1 – quickly and without any deep thinking, divide the fabrics into 2 piles: lights and darks (there are no wrong answers, so just do it)

2. Using the same quick method, take the dark pile and divide it into 2 piles: light and dark (remember value is relative to what’s being sorted)

3. Now do this for the original light pile.

4. Here’s the tricky part (remember not to overthink anything) – of the four piles before you, set the dark/darks and the light/lights aside. Now sort the medium/dark pile from step 2 into 2 piles: dark and light; and sort the medium/light pile from step 3 into 2 piles: dark and light. This will give you 4 medium piles.

5. By removing two of these piles there will be a definite difference between the darks, the mediums and the lights. The pile on the far left and the pile on the far right above need to be removed. The two center piles will be combined to form the “mediums”.

So here you have it all. The 3 piles along the bottom of the picture are the dark, medium and light piles. The 2 piles at the top of the picture are the ones set aside for use in a future quilt.

So what are “Beautiful Buts”?

I wish I remembered where I learned this expression, but the concept has stuck with me. There are some fabrics printed with an equal amount of dark and light in them. They are usually “beautiful – but” they are not dark, light or medium. They are Beautiful Buts and they often don’t work well in scrap quilts and will need to be set aside. Here are just a few:

I hope you found this helpful. Do you have any helpful tips for sorting by value?



May 20, 2012, Fabric
Evelyn’s Quilt

Evelyn finished her Window View Challenge quilt and it’s a delight! Last January I spent 2 weeks with her in Arizona and wrote a few posts from her lovely home. You may remember the story about storing her UFO’s in the bathtub??? If not, click here to read all about it. I slept on the day-bed in her studio and this is the view from her studio window. She sent this picture as her inspiration for the challenge:

And here’s the quilt that view inspired:

She said she challenged herself to play with some new techniques. The window is actually a wholecloth quilt with oodles of stitching. I was particularly intrigued by the attached sewing machine. Too clever! Thanks so much Evelyn for sharing your view and your quilt!

This got me to thinking about how photographs can inspire us. That train of thought led me to think about some photo play I’ve been doing lately. My friend Di invited me to join a photography blog she runs for a group of friends. The idea is to take a picture every day and strive to improve your camera skills. She posts a calendar each month with a theme for each day (yes, we try to post a photo a day!). I’m really enjoying the challenge and I feel my skills are improving. I’d like to share my three favorite photos from the past few months to see if they might inspire you to do a little photo play of your own.

The first one is a winter scene from the beginning of March. We had 2 geese take up residence in our pond.

As the snow began to melt, I got this up close shot of the ice melting on the creek.

This next one was taken more recently. Mike and I went for a canoe ride just before sunset and the temperatures dropped enough to cause a mist to rise off the water. It was beautiful!

I can’t resist just one more – my most recent picture of Sommer Elizabeth (Grandpa and I are not only surviving daycare, but loving it!).


Have you taken any shots you’d like to share? Please email them to me and I might just share them in a future post!

PS Just a note on our Sew We Go Italy adventure. We have 21 people signed up and one of our quilters is looking for a roommate to share the fun. If you were thinking about joining us, but didn’t have someone to travel with, please let me know.


May 13, 2012, Challenges Photography
A New Look For My Blog & a Quick Miter Tutorial

Welcome to my new blog look!

Diahann Lohr, of Adunate Word and Design, inspired me to create my blog over a year ago. I then hired her to design my website, now she has integrated the two. I’m thrilled and I hope you enjoy the change!

The address for my new blog is: www.chrisquilts.net/blog. It’s shorter and simpler than my previous blog address, and the good news is that if you usually access my site by clicking on the link in my emails, you can continue to get here the same way. Please feel free to offer feedback by clicking on the word “comment” at the end of this post.

This week’s topic is about my favorite way to miter a border. Once you have sewn on the border strips, stopping both seams 1/4″ away from the corner to be mitered, it’s as easy as:

1. Fold diagonally through the quilt while aligning the border strips on t0p of each other (right sides together), and lay a ruler along the fold with the 45° line along the stitching.

2. Draw along the edge of the ruler on the border strip, remove the ruler and pin.

3. Sew on the line!

I’ve been doing a bit of mitering lately because I was designing a new Attic Window project for a Summer class at WCTC in Waukesha. If you live in southeastern Wisconsin I’d love to have you sign up for a class or 2. Here are my upcoming Summer classes:

Attic Windows – Use this three-dimensional style block to showcase your favorite “too-beautiful-to-cut” fabrics. Learn how to make the windows different sizes to accommodate whatever you choose to set in them. It’s also a great pattern for setting a printed panel scene “through the window”, finishing up a collection of  embroidered blocks, or even showcasing leftover blocks from previous quilt projects. Thursday, July 12, 9 – 2:30.

Threaded Borders – In this advanced machine quilting class you’ll create delightful borders and illusions using only free motion quilting techniques and contrasting thread. This class is for those comfortable with free-motion quilting who want to advance their skills. Thursday, July 26, 9 – 2:30

Compass Capers – Using the steps from my new book, learn easy paper folding techniques to draft a Mariner’s compass block. Begin with a traditional round compass, then learn to create compasses of different shapes and sizes. From there, select a favorite design and and learn how to paper piece it. Thursday, June 21, 9 -2:30

Great Finishes – Bindings are nice, but there are so many exciting variations and options for finishing the edge of a quilt: piped, ric rac, bias, curved, couched, faced, and even continuous prairie points. Make samples of each in class to keep for future reference.

To register on line go to: www.wctc.edu; click on “Class Search”; check Summer semester and fill in “quilting” in the Course Title/Subject Box; Click “Submit” and all the summer quilt classes will appear. Then follow the site directions to register.

Quilting Fun in Paducah

Wendy and I have just returned from a wonderful time at the AQS show in Paducah, KY.

The quilts were amazing, the vendors exciting, and the weather beautiful with no floods in sight. I have a few thoughts, a great tip, and a good laugh I’d like to share.

We used to stay at the Executive Inn, but that is gone now and, after last year’s show Wendy and I decided we wanted to find a way to stay downtown once again (instead of at the Baymont by the Interstate). I did a bit of checking and we ended up at the 1857’s Bed &Breakfast on the second floor of a downtown building. It was delightful! Here’s our front door.

Our suite included a living room (which we turned into a quilt studio),

kitchen, sitting room and 2 bedrooms. All across the brick street from the Yeiser Art Gallery. What a blessing! We certainly had some fun nights of sewing here.

Hanging the show as part of the Prairie Heritage Quilters from Sun Prairie, WI, is always a joy. After the quilts were up we had the rest of the week to be inspired, shop, eat, take classes and………I was blessed with the opportunity to teach too!!! My first teaching assignment was to do a demonstration at the All Star Review on Tuesday afternoon. In the past the teachers each had a table and repeated their demo numerous times as the students moved from table to table. This year they had the teachers do their demo on a stage just once for everyone. This was especially nice for the teachers as we each got to see what the other was showing. The crowd seemed to really enjoy all the learning and after my time I was interviewed by a reporter from the Paducah Sun. It was so exciting to get the paper – complete with picture – ta da!

I hope you got as good a chuckle from it as I did. The camera that is filming my hands is not in the best of spots, but at least you can see Wendy’s face as she gracefully holds up a quilt :-).

So what was one of our favorite tips??? In a class Wendy took with Libby Lehman she learned that it is a good idea to begin attaching your binding at the top of a wallhanging because the bottom edge is usually closer to the viewer (or judge) and will be the area seen first. I’d never thought about it like that. Makes sense.

To see a You Tube video of the winning quilts go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31nuxmYKxQM&feature=youtu.be

The Quilt Show set up video is quite interesting also (with a cameo appearance by Wendy).

The AQS show in Paducah is my favorite show every year and if you haven’t been there I highly recommend putting it on your calendar for next year!

April 30, 2012, Uncategorized
My View Quilt

Greetings from Paducah! Wendy and I arrived this evening and we’ll be helping to  hang the show tomorrow. God is good :-)!

I decided I needed to do a bit of follow up on my window view challenge. I haven’t received any pictures of quilts from those who sent me view pictures, but I did get my snowman quilt done. We haven’t had a flake of snow since 3 days after this picture was taken.

So, I decided I’d better share it now before summer is upon us.

I decided to try a number of new techniques. To begin with I chose a vintage damask napkin for the background with the idea of creating the scene as a wholecloth on it.

Step 1 – I reversed the image on the computer and then enlarged it on the computer using the instructions in my May 23rd post.

Step 2 – I ironed Decorbond ™ stabilizer to the back of the napkin and pinned the enlarged picture to the center of the stabilizer.

Step 3 – On the paper pattern side I free motion stitched around all the trees, the snowman and the snow drifts using bobbin thread to match each area.

Step 4 – I turned to the napkin side and colored in the trees and shadows with watercolor pencils. Then I took a damp q-tip and blended the colors.

Step 5 – I thread painted everything from the napkin side (this is how the paper side looked after the thread painting).

Step 6 – I removed all the paper and layered the napkin with batting and backing.

Step 7 – I quilted around the main objects and the border (frame of the picture) and then bound the edges.

Step 8 – I couched yarn over the picture frame and inside the binding

and Voila! A fun experiment and a unique quilt!

Stay tuned – next week I’ll bring you the inside scoop on Paducah!

April 22, 2012, Challenges Design
Compass Capers

I’d like to send a big thank-you to everyone who commented on last week’s blog post with opinions on classes. I was very pleased with all the suggestions and will really take them into consideration when planning new projects!

Now for my exciting news:

Compass Capers – Create Your Own Unique Mariner’s Compass Quilt is now in print and available on my website!!!

Thanks to all who sent suggestions for the book name or voted for their favorite in the previous post. This title was the winner that made the front cover with a good majority of the votes:

Compass Capers - Create Your Own Unique Mariner's Compass Quilt

The runner up book name was one of my husband’s suggestions and it made the back cover:

Compass Capers book, back cover

Inside you’ll find instructions for drafting compasses any shape or any size. It’s not difficult because it’s done with paper folding techniques and there are pictures every step of the way. Then learn to paper piece your creation with clear step by step instructions and loads of pictures once again.

There are also photographs of many of the Mariner’s Compass quilts I’ve created over the years.

Most Mariner’s Compass books limit the pattern options. Compass Capers is different. By letting you decide on the shape and size of your blocks, the pattern options are endless. Your imagination is your only limitation!

To order your own autographed copy, click here!

April 15, 2012, Inspiration Piecing
What’s Your Opinion?

In teaching at WCTC, I’m always interested in which classes are popular and why. I enjoy all aspects of quilting and especially like to teach new twists on traditional patterns.

One thing I’ve noticed is that if a class includes “log cabin”, in just about any form, it will fill quickly. I guess we all love that traditional standard.

I tend to prefer teaching technique classes rather than specific projects, but I’m really interested in your feedback. What are you looking for in a class:

Traditional patterns?

Variations on traditional?

New techniques?


Sampler blocks?



Fiber Art and exploring creativity?

Modern Quilts?


Machine Quilting?

Do you like to be challenged to try something new?

Is there a pattern or technique you’ve wanted to learn in a class, but haven’t found it available?

I really appreciate your opinions and feedback.

Now for a little housekeeping:

My website is under construction and should be up and running again very soon. If you tried visiting it for information on our Sew We Go to Italy adventure, I have all the details on a page on this blog. Click here to read all about it!

The deadline for our window view challenge is coming soon (April 15th). I need to get myself motivated back into it and thought some of you might need a reminder too :-)!

And, just in case you were hoping for a new picture of Grandma and Sommer, here it is:

Thanks in advance for your quilt class opinions!

April 8, 2012, Challenges Inspiration
Quilt Floating 2

Last week’s post explained what quilt floating is and the supplies required. This week’s post is about putting it all together so quilting the quilt can be as much fun as making the top! (for those who missed last week’s post, just scroll down to read all about it)

There are 2 different ways to construct the frame, depending upon your machine/table set up. Both are described here.

Side Mount: If your table/cabinet is less than 6’ wide and more than 1½’ deep you’ll want to place the clamps on the sides. To do this clamp the Slide Clamps to the table/cabinet on each side about 1½’ behind the sewing machine.

Attach the aluminum slat to the holes in the clamps with bolts and wing nuts.


Back Mount: If your table/cabinet is more than 60” wide and less than 2 feet deep, you’ll want to place the clamps along the back. To do this clamp the Slide Clamps to the table/cabinet along the back – about   3 1/2’ apart.

Then slide the metal rod through the holes in the clamps (this is shown 2 pictures down).

Attach one chain to each Spring Clamp by opening an end link, inserting it through the hole in the clamp and closing the link.

Place the end of one chain over the top bar and Bull Nose clip the chain to itself so the Spring Clamp is at a good height (this can be easily adjusted depending on the size of the project). Repeat for the other chain/clamp.

Place the quilt under the sewing machine needle in the area you want to begin quilting.  Be sure that you have the bulk of the quilt behind the machine.

Grab a bunch of the quilt even with the right side of the machine and about 3’ back on the quilt, raise it up and grab it with the right clamp.

Repeat behind the left side of the machine with the left clamp and you’re ready to begin quilting. As you progress across your quilt simply unclamp and reclamp as seems necessary.

I hope many of you will find this helpful and will let me know how it works for you. Please feel free to share this information and/or forward my blog to your quilting friends!

Quilt Floating

Free Motion machine quilting a large quilt on a home sewing machine can be a bit daunting. A few years ago I developed a system that makes free motioning a bit easier. I’ve been sharing it with my classes, but decided now to share it on my blog so that more quilters might benefit. I call the process Quilt Floating and it’s my way of suspending the weight of the quilt instead of fighting it!

There’s quite a bit of information to share, so I’d like to do it in two installments. This week I’ll be sharing the concept, supplies and basic information. Next week’s post will include the specific set up instructions for all who are interested.

Here’s a picture to give you an idea of what Quilt Floating looks like:

Before we get to the actual frame, there’s a few tips I’d like to share. If your sewing machine is in a cabinet – great. It is also helpful to have some support to the left of the machine. If you don’t have any, placing an adjustable ironing board there is a good solution.

If you don’t have a cabinet you will want to find a way to avoid “sewing on a mountain”, ie: with the machine perched on top of a table or desk. Even table extenders don’t solve this problem with a large quilt because pins and folds of quilt get caught on the edges. My best suggestion is to place a card table in an “L” against your kitchen table or a banquet table. Then set the machine on a tv tray in the inside corner with enough magazines to make the bed of the machine flush with the tables.

Now you’re ready to float the quilt. All of the supplies can be purchased at your local hardware store *.

2 Lengths of Chain (approximately 18” long – links should be 1 ½” long)

2 Bull Nose Clips (3/4”)  These can be found with office supplies. They are inexpensive and will clip and unclip the chain together very easily (not in the picture).

2 Slide Clamps (36” long)  Both the old fashioned “C” clamps that screw to tighten or the deluxe new ones that pump tight will work. Choose the best quality clamps you can afford. I took my husband shopping and thus I own the Cadillac of clamps, but at least I waited until they were on sale. They are very easy to use! It’s important to have a hole in the bar at the non-clamp end for a rod or bolt to go through.

2 Spring Clamps (6” long) These are plastic, fairly inexpensive and have holes in the handle ends. They squeeze to open.

1 Top bar 6’ long or long enough to fit the width of your table/cabinet. You’ll want the “Quilt Float” positioned about 1 ½ feet behind the sewing machine. Depending upon your space, you’ll need to choose a “top bar” option:

1. If your table/cabinet is less than 6’ wide and more than 1½’ deep you’ll want to place the clamps on the sides. For this arrangement you’ll need: 2 bolts and 2 wing nuts that will fit through the holes at the ends of the Slide Clamps and a 6’ piece of aluminum slat with holes at even intervals along the length.

2. If your table/cabinet is more than 60” wide and less than 2 feet deep, you’ll want to place the clamps along the back. For this arrangement you’ll need to buy a ¼” diameter Steel Rod (4’ long)

*If you quilt in a basement with exposed rafters you will only need the chains,  bull nose clips, spring clamps and a couple of nails!

Next week we’ll put it all together!

Window View Challenge Deadline Extension!

On another note – I’m having a lot of fun playing with new techniques on my “Window View” challenge. I’m thinking it would be a good idea to have an extra week or 2 to “get ‘er done” and so I’m changing the deadline from April 1st to  April 15th. I’d appreciate getting a picture of your finished project by then for posting on that week’s blog.

If you haven’t checked out the pictures of the current views, please click here. If you were thinking of participating, but needed more time, send me a picture of your view and jump on in!

Welcome Sommer!

Last week’s “snowman in the window” picture is but a chilly memory, considering we’ve had temperatures in the 70’s here for over a week. That is not just odd – it’s unbelievable for March in Wisconsin. Many are speculating as to the reason, but I have my own theory – my granddaughter was born this past Monday and her name is Sommer Elizabeth. So Sommer is here  :-)!

6 lbs 15 oz and 21″ long, with lots of dark hair ……. we’re all thrilled! Thanks for letting me share our joy.

So what does the view from my window look like today?

Quite a change, but I am still excited about making a small quilt from the picture with the snowman. I’m thinking of thread painting the entire scene on a vintage white damask napkin. I’ve never thread painted an entire scene and I think it will be quite challenging. I think this challenge should be  about trying something new.

A number of you responded to the challenge, and  so far 3 have sent me pictures which have been posted to the Window View Challenge page on this blog. Click here to see them.

I’m looking forward to  receiving more pictures and there is still time to get in on the fun. The quilts can be any size, from  a post card on up.  The prize will be an autographed copy of my new book: Compass Capers (which should be available for purchase through my website very, very soon). So send me a picture of your view at clkquilt@gmail.com, and join in on the challenging fun!


March 18, 2012, Challenges
Are You In?

The weather in Wisconsin has been unique this year. A week ago Friday we had a very wet snowstorm that left 8″ of beauty all over the woods. After clearing the driveway Mike invited me out to build a snowman. It was dusk and the scene was lovely!

By Sunday the temps were heading up into the 60’s and I discovered snowmen can’t do backbends.




So what does this have to do with quilting? Well, this was the view I enjoyed through the window above my sewing machine while quilting on Saturday.

I had an overwhelming urge to create a quilt about it. Then I got to thinking that many of you probably have inspiring views from windows in your home too. This led to the idea of holding my first blog challenge! I hope many of you are up for this. It’s quite simple.

1. Email a picture of your view to me at: clkquilt@gmail.com by next Sunday, March 18th.

2. I’ll post them to a “Challenging Views” page on this blog for all to see.

3. Then make a quilt inspired by your view, any size, any shape, any technique (small is good). You could repliqué the picture, but there are many other ways to be inspired by it: create a traditional pieced pattern using the colors of your picture, pick any item in the photo as a theme for your quilt or ……..any other direction you care to go.

4. Send me a picture of your finished small quilt by April 1, 2012 to be posted on the blog (that’s the deadline – its not a lot of time, but the project is small – and you’d just put it off until the week before anyways :-).

5. The following week’s blog we’ll have a viewers choice vote and the winner will get a wonderful prize!

Here’s a sample to get you started thinking. This is much more involved than our simple challenge, but it is the only other time a window view has been my inspiration.

When we lived in Sun Prairie my husband and kids built me a wonderful “aviary” post with bird houses and feeders hanging from it.

It stood outside my kitchen window and I delighted in watching the birds each morning. When we had to move I couldn’t take the post with me, so I made this quilt which was inspired by it.

Perhaps you’ll think of this as a chance to try a new technique or just play with fabric. I can’t wait to see what you come up with :-)!

March 11, 2012, Challenges Inspiration
Friendship, Travel and Autograph Quilts

Quilting friends are the greatest and traveling with quilting friends is an absolute joy! When Wendy and I lead our Sew We Go adventures we always have a “pre-trip” project and a “take along” project. The pre-trip projects for the past 5 tours have included autograph blocks that we exchange while traveling. They’re a wonderful way to preserve memories just like the Album Quilts our grandmothers used to make.

Each trip we choose a block and all those who desire to participate make enough blocks to exchange, as well as enough extra blocks to complete the chosen pattern.

Our Danube Cruise block was paper pieced in shades of blue and green to evoke memories of gentle waves. 

This type of piecing guarantees all the blocks will fit together .

On our Holland Cruise we had everyone make “flying geese” that could be put together into a Dutchman’s Puzzle block.

I also had my geese fly between the other portions of my quilt.

While floating through the south of France we exchanged Indian Hatchet blocks (that’s the block’s name, I didn’t make it up).

I chose to make my blocks into a tote bag.

The Irish Chain pattern was an obvious choice for our trip to Ireland. There are 2 blocks in this quilt: each quilter made checkerboard blocks and background blocks out of batiks and we signed and exchanged only the background blocks.

This is such a lovely pattern!

Wendy and I are so excited about our next Sew We Go adventure. We’ll be traveling through Italy this coming October and here’s a preview of the design for our Tuscan Sun friendship quilt. We’ll sign the middle rails in the rail fence blocks:

Rome, Sienna, Florence, the Vatican!

Art, Sights, Food, Wine!

It promises to be a wonderful trip and there are still a few spaces available. Click here for all the information!

Do you have any special autograph quilts? Please send pictures to my email, clkquilt@gmail.com, and I’ll post them in a future blog!

March 4, 2012, Piecing Travel
Simply Dynamic

Here’s an easy way to have a little design fun. Choose a simple 6″ block that has a strong diagonal, and make it in 2 high contrast fabrics. The possibilities will be even greater if you make positive and negative versions of the block. These are the 2 blocks I started with:

I made 24 blocks – 12 light and 12 dark.
Now the fun begins. Let’s start with the blocks set side by side and in the same orientation. I’ve put all the darker blocks in the arrangement on the left and all the lighter ones on the right.
Sweet, but not very exciting. Let’s try alternating the dark and light blocks while still keeping them in the same orientation:
Now we’re getting somewhere….but what if we divided the darks and lights up once again and butted the 2 halves together….while turning every other block?
Now let’s go a bit crazy!
At this point I think I need to double the number of blocks and try playing a little more with the symmetry:
That’s my favorite so far! Here are a few more I came up with:
Sew many options!
To help in my decision making I took a picture each time I tried something new and then pasted them onto a page on my computer screen to compare them all and glean out the best (I didn’t show the klinkers :-). That’s where I got the idea for this post.
Any block with a strong diagonal can be played with in a similar fashion. Have you used similar blocks in a unique set? If so, please send pictures!

February 26, 2012, Design Piecing
Oh No – No Snow!

I received a number of responses to last week’s post from readers in areas where there is no snow. Then I ran into a friend locally who had the same concern and I realized the problem … I live in the woods and, even though we’ve had a mild, warm, low-snow winter for Wisconsin – our trees are keeping me in plenty of snow to snow dye. I guess I hadn’t really noticed the lack of snow all around (duh). Here’s the current view from our deck:

This is the field across the road and my friend (and website designer) Di’s beautiful farm:

It’s hard to believe the contrast.

If you have no snow, do not despair. There is such a thing as “Freeze Dyeing”. Just go to the Milwaukee Art Quilters blog: http://milwaukeeartquilters.wordpress.com/page/2/ and scroll down to the directions in the September 25th post.

Just in case you’re dyeing to see the results from last week’s adventure – here are the burp cloths:

Plus Daddy and Mommy’s shirts and baby-to-be’s onesies and bibs:

The tie dyeing was a hit and the results were such fun!

Now I’d like to share my snow dyeing saga and what I learned along the way.

1. I waited until the snow was almost completely melted:

2. I dumped the bins onto the snowy yard:

3. I removed the bins:

4. and hung everything to drip and dry in the warm shed:

5. Then it was off to the laundromat for 2 cold water washes (with Color Catchers™ to absorb the excess dye) and a ride in the dryer.

And here’s the snow dyed results:

I was really quite pleased, but I didn’t like the way the fabric sat in the “muddy” water at the bottom of the bin while the snow melted. Thanks to Johanna for her comment about elevating the fabric with an old oven rack or cookie rack. Other suggestions were inverted deli containers along the bottom of the bin or even leftover chunks of pvc pipe.

I’m anxious to try this out on some of the leftover hunks of light value fabric in my stash. New life for old fabric! But I’d better get at it before the snow’s all gone!

February 19, 2012, Color Dyeing
Tie Dye Baby

Today I threw a baby shower with a twist for my daughter-in-law Betsy: she invited her girlfriends and we tie-dyed onesies, bibs and burp cloths. We even did t-shirts for Daddy and Mommy. What a blast!

The original idea came from Kathie Boucher with inspiration from Laura Krasinski (both friends from the Milwaukee Art Quilters). I purchased tie-dye kits from Joann Fabrics. Grandpa Mike was kind enough to make room in his barn. We covered the floor and tables with plastic and then the fun began.

Above center is Betsy and my granddaughter to be 🙂

Artists come in all sizes.

The girls did a great job, but they didn’t get to see the finished product yet (it’s all still damp and under plastic).

After everyone left I decided it was time to try my hand at snow dyeing. So I mixed up a few new bottles of dye, removed my old, stained sweatshirt, grabbed a few pair of bamboo socks for the grandkids in Washington State and phase II began.

1.   I misted everything with water and bunched it in the bottom of 2 bins.

2.  Grandpa shoveled the bins full of snow.

3.  I patted down the snow and “made snow cones” (Annabelle is watching and wondering what I’m doing).

Theoretically the dye melts into the fabric and wonderful designs occur. So here’s the before:

Next week I’ll post the pictures of all the “afters”!

Have you had any group dyeing adventures?

February 12, 2012, Color Dyeing

I returned home from Arizona last Monday night and Tuesday the sun shone bright and it reached 47 degrees. Unusual temperatures for Wisconsin in winter – and I’m not complaining!

So, what’s the “WOW” for? Well, “Walls of Wittenberg” of course.  Wittenberg is a lovely, small town in north/central Wisconsin.

Due to my friend Laura Krasinski’s kind suggestion, I was invited to present my “Challenged Mind” program there this past Saturday in conjunction with a quilt show that is going on at the WOWSPACE Gallery.

Not only was I able to share my quilts and their stories with a lovely group, but seeing the Gallery exhibit was a special treat!

From the tin ceiling to the stain glass windows, it is a delightful space for an exhibit of quilts and Fiber Art!

The Best of Show winning quilt was  made by another dear friend, Sharon Rotz (please enjoy the pic of Sharon and her quilt and disregard the beautiful, bright sunshine coming in the window).

Sharon was kind enough to hold up quilts during the talk (and then invite me for a slumber party at her home that night).

After enjoying the quilts we drove around and took in the amazing murals that are painted on many of the buildings in town:

I just had to share a few of my favorites. This fascinating, 3-D mural is on the back of the WOWSPACE Gallery (I think it was my favorite):

With just a 1/4 turn to my left I was able to catch this photo of the back of the bowling alley (quite an interesting shot with the evergreen trees and remaining snow).

Then there was the grocery store:

The Post Office:


and the Middle School:

Many thanks to Susan Hanson and Miriam Nelson (and Elaine too) for all their efforts concerning the exhibit and the presentation.

The quilt show will be hanging for one more week and the murals are always there :-). If you live far from Wittenberg, I hope you enjoyed this short photo-journey and if you live close enough to make a visit, I know you will not be disappointed.

February 6, 2012, Travel
A Touch of Paintstiks

I’m once again writing from Mesa, but will return to beautiful, snowy Wisconsin tomorrow! While here Evelyn and I have spent some time working on quilting projects (big surprise) and her inspiration was just the touch I needed to get a great start on my quilt for the current Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge: “Bead Inspired”. The idea was to choose a single bead or button to be the inspiration for a quilt and then to attach it in some way to the finished piece. Finding the button was the easy part and the ideas have been percolating for months, but I hadn’t been ready to take that first step until now.

The first day I was in Arizona we went to a quilt shop named “Quiltz” and I found the perfect fabric to get me started, but I knew my background fabric needed some creative work and that’s when Evelyn suggested Shiva Paintstiks™. I’ve played with them just a bit in the past, but Evelyn has taught classes with them and her expertise (and supplies) were just what this project needed. Here is just one example of a project she made using them:

The motifs in the blocks were made using a freezer paper stencil. Here’s a detail:

It worked so well on my piece that I wanted to share a little bit of what I did with them. These are sketchy instructions at best, but my hope is that they’ll be enough to make you want to take a class or buy a book and try them 🙂!

Paintstiks are oil paint and can make a mess, so wear old clothes and cover your work surface. A tarp or garbage bag over a table works as does ironing a piece of freezer paper to your ironing surface. My supply list included the Paintstiks, freezer paper, a small knife, stencil brushes, rubbing plates and paper towels plus Goo Gone™ for clean up. 

First, the Paintstiks have a “skin” of dried paint that forms with time. I chose the color I wanted and removed the skin by scraping it off with a knife. If I had used the Paintstik recently and the “skin” was thin, I could have just rubbed it off with a paper towel.

I wanted circles of shaded color on my background fabric, so I marked a piece of freezer paper with the proper placement of circles and cut them out, thus creating a stencil. I ironed the shiny side of the freezer paper in place on my fabric (practice on a scrap first to be sure you like the color and effect). I wanted to start light, knowing I could always make it darker, so Evelyn suggested I color a circle of paint around a cut circle and brush it into the center with the stencil brush. This proved to be lighter than I wanted, so I drew a “crescent moon” directly on the right side of the fabric circle showing through the stencil and used the brush to drag some paint over the remainder of the “moon”.

crescent moon / brushed over / brushed from paper

Here’s the results with the paper removed:

crescent moon / brushed over / brushed from paper

The center shaded circle was just the effect I was looking for and I proceeded to add an entire ring of them around the center of my quilt. Next I wanted to create bands of irredescent color on my background fabric, so I cut the desired bands in the shape and size I needed out of freezer paper and ironed the shiny side to my fabric. I could have just colored this in with the brush as I did the circles, but I wanted more texture. Evelyn suggested using one of her rubbing plates (she has all the right equipment). Many things can be used for texture, but these plates are so easy and fit the bill. I tried 2 different ones on a sample:

and decided the small, speckled pattern worked best.

Evelyn’s suggestion for clean up was simple – squirt a bit of the Goo-Gone™ in a small dish, swish the brush around and brush on the paper towel. Repeat until no The brush will remain a bit discolored, but it isn’t a problem.

Now for the bad news – I’m not quite ready to show the challenge quilt yet. Isn’t the suspense intense? I promise to post it as soon as it’s fit to be shown.

In the mean time, if you want to do a bit of playing with Paintstiks, you can find loads of information at: http://cedarcanyontextiles.com/, but please do check your local quilt shop for these wonderful products because we need to keep our local merchants in business! Any thoughts from Paintstik users out there?

PS Thanks for everything Evelyn!

January 30, 2012, Challenges Embellishing Notions
Ola from Arizona!

Greetings from warm and sunny Mesa! My dear friend Evelyn Link invited me down south to enjoy the weather, see the sights, spend time with friends, visit quilt shows and shops and do a bit of teaching too. What a blessing!

The past week has been a whirlwind. Joan and Patty (from Wisconsin) and  Evelyn’s sister Hazel all jumped into the car with E and I and headed to Tucson. Our first stop was the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

 I’ve never seen so many cacti and Quiltina had her picture taken with just about every one.

From there we went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum where we saw even more cacti, plus birds, animals and beautiful scenery.

The Tucson Quilt Fiesta was a wonderful show and the quilts were great! We even found time to do a bit of shopping.

Now we’re back in the Phoenix area and I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of quilting groups – dear friends and inspiring show and tell. I was  even invited to present a trunk show for E’s art quilt group – the Mavericks! Their show and tell was incredible.

Evelyn is a fantastic quilter and I’m quite sure you’ll find her studio and stash amazing and inspiring.  So here are a few pictures. The first is of my bedroom. It is the master bedroom and happens to be her studio. It’s almost difficult to fall asleep with all the quilterly fun surrounding me. 

The master closet contains her stash

and the tub is where she keeps her UFO’s!

Considering I like to read in the tub at night, this was a bit disconcerting. Fortunately she has a tub in the second bath too.

For the past week E, Joan and I have had a great time being roommates. Joan will be returning to Wisconsin on Tuesday, but I get to stay for Quilting in the Desert and a lot of other fun adventures. My husband says it’s been snowing back home, so I’m REALLY enjoying every moment.

Sew where do you keep your UFO’s?

January 23, 2012, Inspiration Travel
Word Quilts

Last week I posted about free motion quilting around appliqués and this week I’d like to tell you about that quilt. My niece Kaitlin was married on December 30 and back in November my Mom and I had a shower for her. While planning the event Mom mentioned that it would be nice to hang a banner from the loft (we live in a log home and our bedroom overlooks the living room). I thought about printing one on paper, but then inspiration hit ….

I appliquéd each letter of Kaitlin and Marty’s names on a quilt block, using my Repliqué technique (from my second book: Snuggle & Learn Quilts for Kids), and hung them from a clothesline.

Then I made those blocks into a cuddly lap quilt as my wedding gift to them!

So here’s the beautiful new couple:

And here’s the quilt:

It was an enjoyable project and I even found matching flannel for the back!

Waukesha County Technical College – Quilting Classes

The new semester is just underway and I wanted to mention a few of my upcoming classes (Wendy is teaching some great classes too and all the information can be found at www.wctc.edu ; click on class search; scroll down and type “quilting” in the “Course Title/Subject” box and click on submit)

My “Open Lab” classes are a great place to get quilts finished while spending time with a wonderful group of quilters on Thursday afternoon. There are three sessions this semester and each one is four weeks long.

I’m also offering these one day workshops:

Fabric Silhouettes 

Saturday, Feb. 11

Learn to create silhouettes in fabric with this fun, free motion satin stitch technique. The class project will be a floral design, but we’ll also discuss how any picture – a grandchild at play, a friend’s profile, a cherished pet, etc. — could be created using this simple technique.

Irish Chain – Friday, Feb. 24

Create a charming, traditional double Irish Chain quilt, with simple strip piecing techniques, in plenty of time for St. Patrick’s Day!

Simply Dynamic – Saturday, March 10

By using just two different fabrics and a simple block, create an amazing variety of quilt designs. The only challenge is deciding which arrangement is your favorite! This course is designed for quilters of all levels.

Beyond Meandering Friday, April 13 Students will learn spirals, leaves, stars, snowflakes and so much more! Make quilting the quilt as much fun as stitching the top. Bring along a quilt top and we’ll brainstorm how to quilt it.

January 16, 2012, Appliqué Inspiration
Good Poof

Happy New Year!

After a relaxing vacation, a family wedding and bringing in the new year – I’m ready to get back to blogging!

The past few days I’ve been busy free motion quilting and discovered a technique I’m anxious to share. Typically when I look at a freshly pinned, appliquéd quilt sandwich and begin brainstorming how to quilt it, I start with what I used to think was the “no-brainer” part: outline stitching around each appliqué. Then I quilt in the background with some fun filler design. The problem I often run into is little pockets of puckers that seem to develop near the appliqué.

This time I remembered reading an excellent article in the July 2011 issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine by Sandra Leichner entitled “Sophisticated Backgrounds for Appliqué Quilts”. 

In it she recommended doing the background quilting first (I hope you can see the large meander, in matching thread, around the printed dragonflies). This allows any pucker pockets to be pushed under the appliqué, resulting in extra poof where you want it. I tried it and was so pleased to find the outline stitching was easy to do after the meandering and the poof made the appliqué pop.

I highly recommend both Machine Quilting Unlimited and Sandra’s article.

One more tip: when your background fabric has unconnected motifs (like the dragonflies), challenging yourself to meander around the motifs without touching them is a simple and fun way to free mo these areas.

For the scoop on this “K” quilt, stay tuned for next week’s blog!


All of the details for our Sew We Go adventure in Italy are now available on my website: www.chrisquilts.net . If you haven’t been there yet, please visit soon! 

January 8, 2012, free motion
Leftovers Revisited

After the previous “Leftovers” post I received an email from Lucy Zeldenrust. Lucy is from Manitowoc, WI and she shared another great idea for using those coordinated leftovers:

Here is what I do with leftovers…after I have ‘overcut’ , I can sometimes get a small lap quilt or crib quilt out of the pieces, possibly with the additions of another fabric.  My favorite, however, is to put the leftover bits, pieces, strips and small amount of fabric from a project into a zip lock bag, and put them into my “leftover box”  When the church, senior center, Nature center, etc. need something for a raffle, it is a pretty quick job to whip out a pillow or two or three from these already matched/coordinated  pieces.  I’m attaching 2 photos of the front and back  of a ‘leftover’ pillow. (I make and quilt two small “quilts” then sew them together to form  the pillow )  I have even occasionally handed them out to my small quilt group (where we do whatever the monthly hostess passes out) and asked them to make a 14 or 16″ square from them(adding whatever they wish) for a future pillow.  Got some interesting and (mostly ) attractive results.

This was just so clever, I had to share it.  Thanks Lucy!

So, how do you use up your leftovers?

Merry Christmas!

I’ve decided to take a short “blog break” during this beautiful season. There is so much to keep me busy while celebrating the birth of the Savior and I know you are all busy too. So, I’ll get right back at it after January 1st. I wish you all a blessed Christmas, Chris

December 11, 2011, Inspiration Piecing
Quilt Exhibit

I am very pleased to announce a quilt exhibit entitled “New Quilts From Old Favorites” is currently hanging at the Wisconsin Historical Museum on the Capitol Square in Madison, WI. These quilts are innovative interpretations of a number of traditional blocks. Some of the quilts were made in collaboration with my dear friends Sharon Rotz and Wendy Rieves and others are my own. Samples of the traditional pattern of each are also included in the display.

Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden by Wendy Rieves and Chris Lynn Kirsch

Tumbles the Cat by Sharon Rotz and Chris Lynn Kirsch









This wonderful opportunity came to be because my friend Evelyn Link’s daughter, Gwendolyn Rice, is having the premiere of her play “A Thousand Words” preformed by the Forward Theater Company in Madison. She had the idea of involving a variety of artists in a number of unique exhibits to coincide with the play’s grand opening. I have also been invited to do a lecture at the museum on January 14th. I’m so grateful to have Gwen include me in this exciting collaboration and am including the press release so you can read all about it!

The Art of A Thousand Words –Photos and Fiber Art Inspired by Forward Theater’s World Premiere Play

Madison, WI — Forward Theater Company has partnered with artists throughout Dane County to present a series of art exhibits complementing the world premiere of the play A Thousand Words, by local playwright Gwendolyn Rice. The play, which will be presented in Promenade Hall at the Overture Center, January 19 – February 5, 2012, focuses on many types of art – from the stunning black and white photography of Walker Evans, to crude patchwork quilts from Kansas. It also poignantly explores the relationship between art and commerce, the power of photography, the role of museums in marketing and discovering artists, and the search for authenticity on both personal and artistic levels.

To engage in a broader conversation around these themes, FTC, in close collaboration with David Wells and the Terry Family Foundation, assembled several mixed media exhibits created by local artists, including professional photographers and quilters, and members of the Center for Photography in Madison, the Mad City Quilt Guild, and the Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists.

Author Gwendolyn Rice originally conceived the play A Thousand Words after reading a small article in the newspaper about the discovery of photos in a Key West, Florida, bar. The owner had stumbled upon a treasure trove of books, fishing gear, and personal effects from one of the bar’s most famous patrons – Ernest Hemingway. Among these items were a collection of black and white photos taken by Walker Evans. Rice stated, “This story fascinated me. Unfamiliar with the photographer or his work, I started researching Evans and studying his photos. He eventually became a main character in the play.”

When the play was added to Forward Theater’s third season, the staff began to think about ways to engage additional audiences and artists through visual art. “To me, this project is all about collaboration and being inspired to create something new,” said Jennifer Uphoff Gray, artistic director for Forward Theater Company, and the director of A Thousand Words, a co-production mounted by FTC and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. “Since the genesis of this play was a set of photographs, and evocative, compelling photos and quilts are explicitly discussed in the play, it seemed natural to involve artisans in those media. It’s been an amazing cross-pollination among artists.”

Rice concurred, saying “It’s really interesting to see how creative people in other fields interpret the images that led me to write A Thousand Words. It is my hope that the play – and the exhibits ‑ will encourage viewers to think about the nature of authenticity, the process of art creation, and the power of words and images.”

The collection of photos, quilts, embroidery, weaving, and fabric collages will be on display at several galleries in Madison, through March, 2012. In addition to these exhibits, the Wisconsin Historical Society will host two lectures complementing themes in the play, discussing antique and modern quilts. They will also display a group of original works by noted quilt artist and educator Chris Lynn Kirsch.

October 14, 2011

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Gallery Night, Orange Cone Studios presents Nick Berard’s black and white photos, inspired by the work of Walker Evans.

October 10 – December 1, 2011

Sundance Cinemas Gallery, 430 North Midvale Blvd, in Hilldale Mall
Photos and fiber art, inspired by the work of Walker Evans. Opening reception November 10, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

December 3, 2011 – January 14, 2012

Wisconsin Historical Society,816 State Street

New Quilts from Old Favorites Exhibit – Quilts by Chris Lynn Kirsch that re-imagine traditional patterns such as Mariner’s Compass, Dresden Plate, Sunflower, and Monkey Wrench.

December 8, 2011 – January 25, 2012

UW Madison Continuing Studies Building, 21 North Park St., 7th floor. A collection of black and white photos, inspired by the work of Walker Evans.

December 10, 2011    1:00 – 2:30 pm

Wisconsin Historical Society, 816 State Street – Trends in American Quilting with Curator Leslie Bellais; Why did quilting become so popular in America when it languished inEurope?  Why were there powerful national quilting trends, rather than a myriad of regional styles in the history of American quilting?  These are questions Leslie Bellais, Curator of Costume & Textiles at the Wisconsin Historical Society, will address in her presentation on the history of American quilting from the 1770s to the 1970s, with an emphasis on works of the Depression era.  Her talk will be illustrated with images of quilts from the Society’s collection. Suggested donation of $5 per person. Call 264-6555, email museum@wisconsinhistory.org, or visit shop.wisconsinhistory.org to reserve your space.

December 19, 2011 – March 4, 2012

Overture Gallery II, 201 State Street, 2nd floor. Photos and fiber art in the style of Walker Evans, inspired by the play A Thousand Words. Opening reception January 13, 6pm – 8pm

January 13 – March 4, 2012

Overture Hall Playhouse Gallery,201 State Street, lower level. Mini quilts by the Mad City Quilt Guild, inspired by the play and the theme “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words.” Opening reception January 13, 6pm – 8pm

January 14, 2012       1:00 – 2:30 pm

Wisconsin Historical Society – Contemporary Takes on Classic Patterns: A Talk with Quilter Chris Lynn Kirsch

Quilter, teacher, and author Chris Lynn Kirsch will discuss her original work in the exhibit New Quilts from Old Favorites. Hear Kirsch explain how the love for historic quilting patterns inspired her creation of vibrant, artful, decidedly modern quilts. Local playwright Gwendolyn Rice will also be on-hand to discuss her play A Thousand Words, which features antique quilts and forgotten women fiber artists in its plot. Cost to attend is $10 per person. Register by Monday, January 9th.  Call 264-6555, email museum@wisconsinhistory.org, or visit shop.wisconsinhistory.org to reserve your space.

A Thousand Words
For information about the play A Thousand Words, please visit forwardtheater.com. To buy tickets ($35-$37 for adults, $30-$32 for seniors 62+, and $25-$27 for students) please visit overturecenter.com or call (608) 258-4141.

A Thousand Words and the play’s complementary art exhibits are generously sponsored by the Madison Arts Commission (with funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board), Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Qual Line Fence, and Wegner CPAs & Consultants. Special thanks to David Wells and the Terry Family Foundation.

Forward Theater season sponsors include the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Distillery Marketing, The Gialamas Company, Isthmus, Wisconsin Public Radio, The Madison Concourse Hotel, and the Pleasant Rowland Great Performance Fund for Theater, a component fund of the Madison Community Foundation. 

About Forward Theater Company

Founded in 2009, the mission of FTC is: to create a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals that will expand the economic and cultural life of the greater Madison area.

December 4, 2011, Travel

I’d like to offer a huge “Thank You” to everyone who responded with votes and opinions for my Mariner’s Compass book title dilemma. I was impressed with all the creativity and I must admit the one that made me laugh out loud was “Origama-mama, Folding Your Way to a Mariner’s Compass”. I’ve made my decision, but you’ll have to wait until the book comes out to see which ones will be used :-)!

That being said, let’s get to this week’s topic: Leftovers!

Isn’t it more fun, when a project is completed, to start something new rather than clean up the leftovers? I think this is one of the reasons my studio gets so cluttered …… small, leftover project piles everywhere. Ugh!

When I do finally decide to clean it all up, there are always chunks and strips of coordinating stuff that I don’t know what to do with. If there are just a few portions of a few strips, I shove them into my  “light” and “dark” scrap bags, but sometimes I really overcut and, since I put a lot of effort into coordinating the fabrics, I hate to randomly throw them into the bags. So the piles sit.

Wait until you see what I came up with :-)!

There’s a new “Jelly Roll” technique making the rounds that is a lot of fun. The idea is to sew all the strips in the roll end to end until you have a verrrrrry long strip. Then you grab both ends of this long strip and begin to sew it together lengthwise until you meet at center. Cut the fold so the unit is half the length and double the width. Continue halving the unit in this manner until you have a strippy, scrappy quilt the size you want (this will really depend on how many strips you started with).

I decided to try this new technique on a pile from a bargello quilt I made a few years back. Those strips have been sitting out ever since – probably feeling very unloved and unwanted.

Sew, I laid out the leftover strips in value order. Then, before sewing them end to end, I realized I could take the leftover stripped units from the project and cut them into the same size strips

 and put them in the mix.

Once that was done I sewed them all end to end and the fun began!

I now have a lovely lap quilt, ready for borders and quilting, and no leftover strips! Hooray!!

November 27, 2011, Piecing UFO
Opinions Please!

I’m currently in the throes of writing my third book. This one will be similar to the others in that it’s based on a class I’ve taught many times and students have asked for it in book form. It will differ from the others in that I’m going the route of self-publishing. I’m very blessed in that my daughter-in-law, Betsy, is a talented graphic designer and we’re finding we make a great team.

We’ve reached the point of editing and I’m having a difficult time deciding on a title for the book. While riding in the car the other day I asked my husband to help me do a little brainstorming and he gave me a few good chuckles. Instead of helping me narrow down the options, he just gave me more. So, I thought I would get some feedback from quilters this time.

As many of you know, my technique differs from most of the other books out there in that the drafting is done using only a pencil, ruler and paper folding techniques. Because of this compasses can be made any size and any shape. They can then be accurately paper pieced.

With the other books on the market, the pattern you see is all you get, so there’s no opportunity for creativity.

So…. how do I get this difference across on the cover of the book? That’s where you come in. The following are the titles that have made the cut so far (in no particular order). Please read them over and let me know which one appeals to you. Thanks in advance :-)!

Compass Creations

Compass Capers

Not Your Mama’s Compass (this was one of Mike’s)

Create a Compass Your Way

Journey With a Compass

May the Compass Be With You (Mike’s favorite!)

Compass Capers – Create Your Own Unique Mariner’s Compass Block

Finding Your Way With a Compass  – Who Needs a GPS?

Getting Lost With a Compass (another of Mike’s)


November 20, 2011, Uncategorized
Magic Box

There are many options for storing finished quilts. Wallhangings which contain fusibles can be particularily difficult because folding can leave virtually permanent creases. When I was blessed with the opportunity to have my new studio built, I wanted to come up with a workable solution that wouldn’t take up a lot of space. After a bit of brainstorming my husband came up with the winning idea – the Magic Box! Think “Murphy Bed” hidden behind the design wall.

If you’ve been reading my blogs from the beginning, you may remember an early post about photographing quilts on June 23, 2010. In it I explained that my design wall is portable so I can take it outside for photography. This also frees up that wall space for the Magic Box (this is a narrow side view of design wall/magic box/wall).

The Magic Box is 6′ square and 7″ deep. Here’s how it works. When it is closed two large hooks on both sides at the top, hold the box against the wall. The bottom is held along the wall by a continuous hinge that isn’t visable. The design walls (2 large sheets of styrofoam covered with fabric) lean against it.

To lower the Magic Box I lean one design wall against the actual wall and perpendicular to it, on the right.

The other design wall leans against the closets to the left (and off the picture). Now the Magic Box is exposed and ready to be lowered.

To lower the Magic Box, I unhook the upper corners and let it down slowly until it rests on the floor.

My handy husband added the weights (pvc pipe filled with concrete and covered with free-motion quilting samples :-), ropes and eye bolts to make it easier to raise and lower.

The quilts are secured between two pairs of 1″ x 4″ boards, covered with batting. One pair is at the top of the box and the other half way down. One board of each pair is secured to the back of the box and has a large bolt sticking out at each end. Once the quilts are layered in the box, the other boards are placed over the bolts and screwed semi-tight with “handle-nuts”.

I can now unscrew the handles, remove the top boards, retrieve or add quilts, reattach the boards and then hook the Magic Box back into place against the wall.

It really works and I love it! Now to put a little time into clearing off all the junk hanging on my design wall – ugh – it’s always something :-)! 

November 13, 2011, sewing space/studio
Sew We Go to Italy!

You’re invited to join Wendy Rieves and I on our next quilting adventure:

When: October 19 – 27, 2012

Where: Rome, Florence, Siena, Tuscany

What will we do: delight in the scenery, be amazed by the history, enjoy the cuisine, revel in the shops, do a bit of stitching and ????

Who: you and a quilting buddy, husband or non-quilting friend

This will be our 7th Sew We Go adventure and it promises to be one of the best! Wendy and I, along with our incredible travel leader – Peggy, are loading this trip with many special touches not found in your average tour:

¤ We will be staying in a 4 star Hotel just a stone’s throw away from the Vatican in Rome and

¤ a luxurious Tuscan Villa in the hills outside of Siena.

¤ We will enjoy a cooking class at a private cooking school.

¤ We’re working on a get together  with Italian quilters!

¤ We will have our usual pre-trip party and project along with friendship exchange blocks in a Tuscan Sun theme!

¤ There will be stitching time most every day to create a lovely and useful momento of the trip!

¤ This will be a very unique and memorable adventure you won’t want to miss, so………..

delve into all the current details, pertinent web addresses and pictures on the “Trips” page of my website: www.chrisquilts.net/trips .

November 7, 2011, Travel
Label the Old

After enjoying Eileen’s story about her antique quilts last week and having the opportunity to present my antique quilt lecture in Manitowoc, I decided it was a good time to recommend putting labels on our family heirlooms. I’m always encouraging students to label their quilts – and this goes for the vintage ones you own, even if you didn’t make them yourself.

I have some wonderful antique quilts. Some are from my family and others I have collected. No matter how I got them, I always appreciate knowing their story. I truly wish some of them could talk, so I’d know the who, when & where. But alas, very few older quilts are labeled. It’s a shame because it can increase their value immensely. So label them! If you have their entire history – great! If not, put down what you do know, even if it’s just that you own it and how you acquired it.

The easiest way to create the label is to:

1. Cut a piece of freezer paper the size you desire the label to be and draw parallel lines with a Sharpie™ marker,  1/2″ apart,on the dull (paper) side

2.Iron the shiny side of the freezer paper onto a piece of muslin (this view is of the lines showing through to the muslin side).

3. Write the label information on the muslin with a fine line fabric marker (I prefer the Micron Pigma™ marker, size 01), using the freezer paper lines as guides to keep your writing straight.

4. Remove the freezer paper, turn under the edges and appliqué the label to the back of the quilt.

Creating labels on a computer and printing them onto colorfast printer fabric is another good option.

What information should you include? Who made it. When. Where. For whom. Who owns it. When. Where. Anything else you’d like someone to know when you’re no longer around to tell them.

Remember to label your current quilts too. They may not be around 100 years from now, but if they are, someone may want to know about you :-)!

October 30, 2011, Labels Vintage Quilts
Old Frame, New Life

I met my friend, Eileen Rozumialski, when she signed up for our Sew We Go trip to Ireland. She was a fairly new quilter at that time and a delight to get to know. She has recently retired and shared a story with me about her new quilting studio. It was a story and an idea I think you will enjoy.

I often run into quilters who have inherited quilting frames from a relative. They usually are not sure what to do with them. I now have a suggestion and here’s Eileen’s tale in her own words and pictures:

“You might remember I mentioned some time ago having my grandmother’s quilting frame.  I would guess it must be 100 years old.  We finally figured out how to mount it on the wall so I could use it for displaying quilts.  3 of the boards are up and currently holding a quilt my great Aunt Ida hand pieced and quilted around 1940 using flour sacks and the maternity tops my mother wore while carrying my brother and myself.  I was actully unaware of them until my Mother passed some years ago and the quilts were found folded up and “stuffed” in pillowcases!  I learned she (my mother) had always been afraid to use the quilts as they were so precious to her.  Am hoping with hanging some of the creases will disappear.  As you can see on the picture the friend who figured out how to hang the frame figured out new pegs so I can raise or lower the horizontal piece.  We then used the 4th board in my new work studio (also in my basement).  I am thrilled beyond measure to be using the frame (and to now have a studio to sew in).

I know the frames were left unused in the rafters of a garage for probably 50 or 60 years before I figured out what to do with them and had a place to do it!  They were a piece of my family history I wasn’t ready to throw out and am so glad now I hadn’t.”

I’m so pleased Eileen cherishes all these pieces of her family history and thank her for allowing me to share them with you. Has anyone else found a new use for an old quilting frame?

October 23, 2011, Uncategorized
Quilting In the Desert

What could be more appealing than Arizona in January? How about a quilting retreat in Arizona in January? I’ve been blessed with the delightful opportunity to teach at this exciting event with many other inspiring teachers and wanted to let you know all about it!

Quilting in the Desert is held in Phoenix at the InnPlace Hotel Phoenix North.  Check out the website for all the details: http://www.quiltcamp.com/

Please consider making the trip for 5 days of quilts, classes, sunshine and fun!

October 16, 2011, Travel Uncategorized
Let’s Face It!

My latest quilt has a very odd outer edge that I wanted to face, rather than bind. After a bit of noodling I came up with a way that worked great! It would work for any quilt with a curved or unusual outer edge (scallops, double wedding ring, grandmother’s flower garden, etc.). I can’t show the front of the quilt because I plan on entering it in a major show and don’t want to have it shown publically yet. So here’s the step by steps along with a full shape picture from the back :-). I hope you enjoy them.

1. Layer and quilt the quilt. Then, with water soluable thread on top and a thread that contrasts the backing fabric in the bottom, stitch through all layers on the exact line that will be the outer edge of the quilt. Cut away all layers 1/4″ from this line.

2. Lay quilt, right sides together, on a piece of  facing fabric which is slightly larger than the quilt itself . Pin all the way around.

3. Stitch through all layers (with regular thread on top now), exactly on the previous stitching line, all the way around.

4. Trim even with quilt and clip all “inny” angles.

5. Trim facing fabric 1″  away from stitching, all the way around.

6. Fold facing to back of quilt and match facing raw edge with quilt raw edge.

7. Fold facing completely to back and pin in place.

8. Hand stitch the facing to the back of the quilt and – Voila – you’re done!

If any of the water soluable thread shows along the edge, just get it wet and the problem will be solved (or disolved :-).

Also – This past week Laura Krasinski and I hung a joint exhibit of our work entitled “Make a Joyful Noise” in the lobby of the Waukesha Civic Theater on Main Street in Waukesha (just 2 doors down from Frank’s Sewing Center). Please stop by if you’re in the area!

October 10, 2011, finishing Uncategorized
Flange in Photos

Natalie commented that she’d like more instructions on inserting the flange from last week’s blog. So here goes…and with pictures 🙂

1. Cut a strip from contrasting fabric 1″ x the length of each side for a ¼” wide flange or 1 ½”  x the length of each side for a ½” flange.

2. Press these strips in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together.

3. Lay a flange along one side of the the quilt top, keeping all raw edges even and pin in place. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Repeat for the remaining 2 sides.

Here’s a close up of the “keeping the raw edges even” part:

5. If you’re adventurous, you may leap to step 6. If you’re cautious, you may stitch the flanges in place with a basting stitch, all the way around. Use a seam allowance that is shy of ¼” so these stitches won’t show later.

6. Border quilt as usual.

By basting the flanges in place in this way, the flanges look as if they are just a narrow border.

It is “legal” (remember – there are no quilt police) to just tuck the flanges into each border seam as the borders are sewn on without cutting them to fit and basting them in place, but  then you get a different look as in this tumbling blocks quilt:

This look isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

One warning with flanges – they lay on top of the quilt and extend into it ¼” or ½”If there are triangles pieced to the edge, the flange will lay over them and the points will be lost. So they work best on non-pieced outer edges or between plain borders.

Flanges may also be added just before binding.

If you’ve never tried a flange – I highly recommend you do :-)!

October 2, 2011, finishing Piecing
Pleasing separation

This past week a student inquired about adding a very narrow border to her quilt to visually separate the quilt center from a wider border. Piecing in a 1/4″ border can be tricky and so I had some alternative ideas to share:

If you’ve ever done counted cross stitch, you are no doubt aware that once the crosses are completed, most patterns have the different color areas outlined with a line of black backstitches. Even though this line is very narrow, it adds a lot of interest and definition. Sometimes this is a good option for separating borders…and even bindings.

One simple way to do this is to sandwich piping (purchased or homemade) into the seam between the quilt center and the border

Another idea that has been very popular recently is to fold a 1″ strip of contrasting fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and slip this into the seam. I like to refer to this as a flange and it can add a lot of punch for a small amount of fabric and effort.

One additional idea is really simple and can be done after the quilt is finished and bound – couch a piece of yarn or cording on top of the seam! Couching simply means to lay the yarn/cording in the “ditch” of the seam and stitch on top of it with a zig-zag or serpentine stitch. It can be done in invisible thread or something decorative.

And now for an example to show how helpful this effect can be:

I made the following quilt for a “Tea” challenge through the Milwaukee Art Quilters. All of the fabrics were dyed in tea and I quilted the different areas as a sampler of quilting designs.

For some reason I bound the quilt in a similar color fabric to the rest of the quilt and it seemed to look like the quilt never ended when hung on a light colored wall. So I couched a brown chenille yarn along the binding and was very pleased with the results.

That simple addition made the quilt a success in my mind :-).

On a completely different note, there is still room in many of my local classes at MATC in Watertown and WCTC in Waukesha. Please scroll down to my August 4th post and simply click to register on line or call the number next to the class to register by phone.

And something new: I will be teaching the following  quilting classes in Hustisford, WI on Saturdays this Fall.

Beginning Fast Patch – Oct 15th & Oct 29th 8:30am  -1:00pm: Learn many quick and fun quilting techniques while making this wall hanging. It may be made in any color scheme you like (Packers fabric is optional :-).

Paper Pieced Project – Nov. 19th – 9:00AM – 1:00PM. Learn to piece “Flying Geese” and “Square in a Square” blocks on a paper foundation while creating this lovely small wallhanging. It’s a fun technique that yeilds accurate results (once again, fabric and color themes are up to you :-). 

For more information, or to sign up, contact Cindy Fitzsimmons at:

September 26, 2011, Embellishing finishing
Easy Threading Needles

Two weeks ago I posted a warning about a set of quick threading needles I had purchased which were a huge disappointment

Since then I have learned that the original Spiral Eye Needle™ is a much better product and is made in the USA!

I ordered a set of three needles (one each in sizes 4, 6 and 8) through the website: www.spiraleyeneedles.com. When they arrived I couldn’t wait to give them a try and I’m pleased to relate that they are quite easy to thread. So I tested them for appliqué, beading and, most importantly, tail burying. Here’s what I discovered:

As you probably know, hand needles are sized rather illogically, the smaller the number the larger the needle. So the size 4 is quite large and strong. It might be good for mending a tent, but it’s thickness made it drag through cotton fabrics.

The size 6 is still quite thick, but it worked fine for burying the dreaded tails as I demonstrated in my March 27th post entitled “Loose Ends”.

The size 8 worked even better than the size 6 for hiding tails and I found it to be acceptable for stitching down the backs of my bindings with a slightly longer invisible appliqué stitch. I don’t do a lot of fine hand appliqué, and  I think it would be a bit clunky for that.

The website did not recommend using these needles for a rocking type quilting stitch because the spiral eye weakens the needle.

When it comes to beading with larger beads, they would work fine, but I couldn’t get the size 8 through a bugle bead or average seed bead.

So my final analogy is that I give the size 8 Spiral Eye Needle a thumbs up for tail burying. If I had it to do over again I would skip the “popular set of 3” and just order three size 8’s.

So, how many of you actually bury the thread tails when you machine quilt :-)? 

PS I posted about my upcoming WCTC classes in my  August 4th blog (scroll down for pictures). There are still a few openings in the Lone Star workshop, the Beginning Quilting class, Doggie Christmas Stockings and the Open Lab that begins October 13th. Please sign up soon!  

September 18, 2011, Notions
What a Great Show!

I’ve just returned from teaching at Quilt Expo in Madison, WI and it was a spectacular show. My classes were filled with enthusiastic and eager students. The aisles of the vendor mall were filled with willing shoppers and the overall atmosphere was charged with excitement.

This show has really grown from it’s beginnings and has become a national level event. They even added 30 vendors since last year!

This year I was truly blown away by the quilts in the show. Even though there were entries and prizewinners from all around the country, the number of very talented entries from Wisconsin was amazing. I spent a lot of time admiring the intricate designs and stitching in the handquilted entries and then had to come back the next day to absorb all the inspiring creativity of the fiber art.

Since my latest passion is to make the machine quilting take the quilt to higher and higher levels, I was amazed to see all the new designs and innovative placement in these fascinating quilts.

That being said, I’m sure I’ll be hearing comments from friends and students saying there were too many art quilts and not enough for the average quilter. I’d like to share my perspective on this:

Quilt Expo is a juried show and each piece was chosen from pictures sent in by the maker. Many quilts didn’t make it in and therefore the ones that were accepted had to be a step above average to be chosen. I feel the fun of a juried show such as this is to see the “what ifs” and “I could nevers” so that we may all be inspired to try something new. The quiltmakers who were represented are not your average quilter and, as a viewer, we need to keep this in mind.

This is why we need to attend the smaller, local, non-juried shows and fairs as well as the big events. Most local shows are not juried and normal quilters can go there and see things that they may actually be able to make, as well as a few “jaw-droppers”.

So don’t be too quick to criticize the big shows for the lack of simple or traditional quilts, but enjoy each show for what they are and attend as many varied shows as you are able :-).

Well, that’s my opinion, what’s yours?

September 12, 2011, Inspiration Travel
Support Your Local Quilt Shop

Happy Labor Day to all!

I’ll be teaching at Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo this week and have been very busy making up kits for my  classes. When I realized how full the classes are (praise the Lord :-), I did a bit of panicking because kit making can be a bit overwhelming. My first thought was to just rush to my local Joann’s because it’s close and easy.

Then I gave myself a good mental shaking because:

1. I use quilt shop quality fabric in my quilts and should do no less for the projects my students will be making!

2. If we don’t patronize our local shops, we’ll lose them!

So I’d like to get on a soap box and take a stand for quilt shops. One of my favorite shops in the Milwaukee area was Fabric Fusion. It had an artsy personality and was owned by a hard working and creative couple. A friend recently related that quilters would go to Fabric Fusion, choose fabrics they liked, and write down the bolt information so they could go home and order it online for less. How disappointing. And this is a contributing factor to why Fabric Fusion is no longer with us :-(.

So, support your local quilt shop! It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to run a shop and it’s a tough business to keep finiancially profitable. Shops also provide many helpful services. We quilters are very tactile and neeeeeeeeeeed to touch fabric when we buy it.

Now this doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep my local Joann’s in business too. That store provides numerous jobs as well as a good price for non-fabric items that I need regularly. The hours are also quite convenient. Thus I really do like to spread my quilt shopping around.

On that note, I would like to share a recent lesson I’ve learned that would fit into the category “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”. On a recent trip to Joann’s I saw a product I found intriguing:

I’ve been doing a lot of “thread tail hiding” on my latest quilts, using the technique I illustrated in my March 27th post called Loose Ends: http://clkquilt.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/loose-ends/. I’m using the standard self threading needles and they work well, but sometimes they’re a bit tricky to pull the thread into. I decided I needed to try this “side opening design”, even though it was packaged as one of those “as seen on tv” deals. Please don’t waste your money! The needles were thick, dull, expensive and quite difficult to thread.

Well, as of today the kits are together (with help from my dear husband) and I’m anxious to finish packing. Nancy’s Expo is always such fun. Hope to see many of you there! 


I just received a comment from Sarah B. informing us all that the original “Spiral Eye Needle” was designed by a woman named Pam Turner and is made in the USA. Sarah said that these needles are great, so I went to the website and ordered a set. I can’t wait to try them and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts in a future post :-)!

September 5, 2011, Fabric Notions
Birth Announcement

I’m so excited – my new website has just arrived!


Please click on the image of my home page above and enjoy!

The time had come for a change and my friend, Diahann Lohr, did a wonderful job of combining my passion for quilting with the beauty of the woods surrounding my home. Her web design business is called  Adunate Word and Design. Di is very creative, patient and professional and I would highly recommend her to anyone in need of graphic design help!

So, what do you think? Please be sure and visit the Gallery page. Diahann did all the stunning quilt photography.

August 28, 2011, Computers and Quilting
Italy Update

As many of you already know, Wendy and I are planning to take our next Sew-We-Go adventure in Italy.

The good news is that Peggy, our travel expert, has some wonderful ideas to make this trip very special for quilters. The bad news is that she has run into a few road blocks for a May, 2012 departure. We were so pleased with the unique quilterly touches Peggy arranged for us in Ireland (meeting with the Irish Patchwork Society along with numerous quilt shop stops, just to name a few) that we’ve told her we are willing to wait to have her plan the best trip possible in Italy.

We are now looking towards an October 2012 trip. Some of the highlights we’re planning are:

Tours of Rome,


including the Vatican and the Sistene Chapel!



 Tours of Florence & Sienna!


Staying in a villa in Tuscany complete with cooking lessons!

Meeting with Italian quilters!



and of course food, art, history, stitching and making new friends!


We’re hopeful that the wait will also gain us a cost savings. The airlines will not commit to pricing more than a year out, so we have to wait a little longer, but we’ll let you know the details the moment they’re available. We appreciate your patience and look forward to your joining us :-)!

August 21, 2011, Travel
Hand Quilting

I enjoy hand quilting, but this may not be apparent from the content of my blogs… until now :-)!

Even though I’ve been very passionate about machine quilting for quite a few years, I usualy have some type of hand work nearby. My current project is a wall quilt made up of carousel horses which were appliquéd from feed sacks (yes, real vintage feed sacks!)

The blocks were stitched many years ago during quilt week in Paducah. My roommates that year were Ginny Walters (my Mom), Wendy Rieves and Jill Koeppel. Each of us hand buttonhole appliquèd a pony block and now I’m slowly enjoying the process of quilting them. I’m currently cross-hatching by using masking tape as my guide.

I thought it would be fun to hear from the hand quilters out there in blogland. Do you like to handquilt? Do you machine quilt too? Hoop or no hoop? I’m looking forward to the response!

August 14, 2011, Hand Quilting Vintage Quilts
Tying Up Loose Threads, Pulling Up Bobbin Threads

I was blown away by all the interesting comments concerning our sewing machine collections. I learned a bit of history and discovered that I don’t win the ribbon for having the most machines :-). If you haven’t been reading the comments on any of my previous posts, it’s really quite simple: go to the bottom of that post,  and click on “comments”  (the word will be in blue)!

Also, if you want to comment on my post directly to me, you can just send me an email (and I thank those of you who do). I enjoy reading these, but I often wish they had been posted as a comment to that post so others could read them too. It’s easy to make a comment to a post: once again click on the word “comment” at the bottom of that post and scroll down until you see the “comment box”, type your comment and submit.

Now for the bobbin thread tip!

When I’m quilting on a large quilt and reach the end of a stitching line, I find it awkward and difficult to reach under the quilt and cut the bobbin thread. I do have a machine with a “cut” feature, but it leaves 1″ tails. I don’t like to have them hanging around and I really don’t want to go back and trim them all off later. If you struggle with this frustration too – here’s the answer:

1. Raise the needle at the end of your stitching line.

2. Raise the presser foot.

3. Grab the thread between the needle and the quilt and pull out a loop.

4. While holding the loop of thread, reinsert the needle in the hole the thread came out of (or close to it),

and then bring the needle back out. This works great if you can just press “needle up/needle down” on your machine to make one complete stitch.

5. While still holding the original loop, raise the foot again and pull the quilt away from the needle. The bobbin thread will pop up in a small loop.

6. Cut the bobbin thread loop and the top thread close to the quilt.

Voila! It’s almost like magic 🙂.

This also works when you want to pull the threads both to the top and knot them off for burying as was discussed in my “Loose Ends” post from March 27th (click on “Loose Ends” and scroll down for that lesson).

Try it! I think you’ll like it!

August 8, 2011, free motion
2011 – Fall Classes

It’s registration time for classes at Waukesha County Technical College, Madison College – Watertown and Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo! Here are the courses I’ll be teaching, along with dates, times, pictures and sign up information. I hope to see many of you this Fall!


I have a quick correction to my first Open Lab class which was to begin on Thursday, September 8th. When I made out the original schedule I didn’t know that I would be blessed with the opportunity to teach at Nancy’s Notions Quilting  Expo once again. Therefore, the Open Lab will actually begin September 15th and run through October 6th. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m hoping many of you will attend the show in Madison instead 🙂.

By the way…Wendy’s classes are listed at WCTC too, so don’t forget to check them out :-)!

Quilting – Open Lab – Here’s your chance to finish those workshop projects, complete a UFO or two, or start something completely new! During this 12-hour course, students will learn a different aspect of finishing each week. Topics may include fitting and designing borders, sandwiching the quilt, methods and designs for quilting, binding and labeling. Thursday afternoons; 12:30 to 3:30; for three 4 week sessions:

September 15 to October 6 Offering #304-602A-004, CRN 11835

October 13 to November 3 Offering #304-602A-001, CRN 11690

November 17 to December 15 Offering #304-602A-002, CRN11691 

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Beginning Fast Patch  Offering #304-635H-002, CRN 11698 A class designed to teach basic quilting skills with an emphasis on rotary cutting, machine piecing and having fun! Students will construct a unique “Sampler” wall quilt while learning to strip piece, paper piece and so much more.  This class  will run on 2 Saturdays, September 17 & September 24;    9 – 2:30 each day.

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Lone Star Magic Offering #304-602I-003 CRN 11692 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!  Friday, October 14; 9 – 2:30



To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Beginning Free Motion Offering #304-603A-001 CRN 11693Learn to drop your feed dogs and machine quilt your projects without fear. We’ll practice template designs, doodling fillers, arcing pieced blocks and more. Saturday, November 12; 9 – 2:30.

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!


Doggie Stockings Offering #304-655-001, CRN 11696
For the true pet lover – create bone shaped, crazy quilted stockings for the canine kid in your life. Inspired by my daughter-in-law’s love for my granddogs, they’re fun to make and truly unique.

Saturday, December 3; 9 – 2:30



To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

MATC – Watertown

Beginning Fast Patch (pictured in WCTC classes above) Catalog #60306621, Class #40286

Learn basic quilting with an emphasis on rotary cutting, machine quilting and having fun. This small wall quilt would also be a great project for established quilters who want to improve their skills. Strip piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, quilting and binding will all be covered and a finished quilt will be the result!  (9 hours total) Monday, September 12, 19 & 26; 12:30 – 3:30

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-beginning-fast-patch

Tropical Breezes Catolog #60306621, Class #40285

Get away from it all on Monday afternoons while you create this lovely lap sized quilt. Made in the colors of sand, sea and palm trees, this simple “slap back triangle” technique is fun to do and makes blocks that seem to sway in the breeze. A great class for all skill levels.  Monday, October 10, 17 & 24; 12:30 – 3:30 (nine hours total).

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-tropical-breezes

Beginning Free Motion Quilting Catolog #60306621, Class #40289

Do you have unfinished quilt tops longing to be snuggled under? Then this class is for you. Learn the basics of dropping the feed dogs and doodling fun designs on your quilt. No degree in art is required and, with a little practice, you can enjoy finishing those tops! Saturday, October 8; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:  http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-beginning-free-motion

Beyond Meandering  Catolog #60306621, Class #40291   If you’ve been free motion quilting for a while and wonder if there is life after stippling and meandering, the answer is YES!  This class is for those who have done a bit of free motion quilting, but want to know more.  We’ll spend the morning practicing many new free motion “filler” designs. After lunch we’ll brainstorm which quilting designs to use where on quilt tops the students bring along!  Working with large quilts will also be discussed. Saturday, October 22; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:   http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-beyond-meandering

Quilt InA one day Open Lab!  Catalog #60306621, Class #40292  Bring in your projects that need to be finished and get them done! Whether your pattern is no longer making sense, you can’t remember how to miter a border or you can’t get the binding right, Chris will help you forge ahead and have success. A perfect day away from the pre-holiday distractions and a Christmas surprise will be part of the fun! Saturday, December 10; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:  http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-quilt-in

Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 8-10
Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis.

I will be presenting a lecture at 8:30 daily called “Which Design Where?” -The top is done; now how do you quilt it? If you want to do it yourself, but don’t know where to begin, this lecture is for you. Learn simple ways to make your creation useful, beautiful and, above all, finished! Bring a top of your own to be “brainstormed.”

I’ll also be presenting a 3 hour hands on workshop from 1-4 daily
entitled “French Braid – Quilt As You Go”  


Add pizzazz to a traditional braid with chains of high-contrast squares. By stitching the strips together on top of quilt batting and backing fabric, the quilt is done along with the piecing. A table runner will be made in class but instructions for a lap size quilt will be provided.

Register Online: http://wiquiltexpo.com/?page_id=4 – click on “Advance Registration Guide”

August 4, 2011, Inspiration
Howe Many Machines Do You Own?

If you want to feel better about your sewing machine collection, read on. Up until recently I owned 6 (but one’s a treadle that’s being used as an end table, so I’m not sure it counts). I recently acquired #7…with my husband’s blessing, and I can’t wait to share. We were wandering through an antique store in Fort Atkinson, WI when this machine caught my eye:

For many years I’ve been presenting a quilt lecture about my collection of antique quilts entitled “But I Still Love You”. In it I share some sewing machine history, including information on Elias Howe, the “inventor of the sewing machine” (there were other machines invented in other countries, but his was the most user friendly and marketable, so he’s credited with it). There is actually a plaque on the machine with a bust of Elias Howe and the words “Elias Howe Jr; Inventor and Maker; New York, USA”.

The machine has been mounted in a case with a glass front and a light inside so that the mechanism underneath can be viewed when the crank is turned.

The case has a plaque that reads: “Inventor: Elias Howe; Patent #4750 Granted 9-10-1846; circa 1865-67; Restored by Carmon M. Howe; 1991”. I was able to contact Mr. Howe and he told me he is not related to the inventor. He found the machine on the 3rd floor of an antique store in LaCrosse, WI with about an inch of dust on it. When he saw the name – he had to have it :-). He said it won’t run because the bobbin mechanism was missing. We had a lovely conversation and he told me to enjoy the machine. I am already.

 After a bit of web surfing I found a photo of the same model machine as mine and it is indeed from 1867!  I searched for more details about the machine and found very little. I did find a wealth of information about Elias Howe and am anxious to share it in future lectures.

So, anyone own more than 7 sewing machines???

July 31, 2011, Uncategorized Vintage Quilts
Shrek on Quilting II

I was so pleased with the positive feedback on the quilt basting frame and I have a few more frame related comments:

1. I have 2 comments that would fall under the heading “leave your pins open”. The first is good advice when you take the pins out of your quilt as you’re quilting. I always toss them in a container open and store them this way. The downside is you get poked when pulling them out for the next use, but the upside is you don’t waste energy closing and reopening. It’s much healthier for your hands -ergonomically.

2. Next, leave the pins open as you baste the quilt. I do this whenever I pin a quilt in the frame by myself. It’s easier on the back to leave the pins open, remove the quilt from the frame and then sit in a comfy chair to close them all with a Kwik Clip or grapefruit spoon.

3. Storing the boards – you’ll want to keep the boards in a dry place so they don’t get damp and warp. I’ve found that stacking them in an I-beam in the basement keeps them out of the way, yet easily accessible. Wrapping a bungie cord around the I-beam near each end keeps them from tumbling down!

4. My final recommendation is that it is definitely more fun to “frame a quilt” with friends. Last week Ida was so sweet to come over as soon as I called. What a dear friend! Many years ago I needed to baste a quilt with a deadline and had mentioned it to Sharon and Carol early in the day. Mike was out of town and the kids were in bed when I finally set the frame up in the living room. We lived out in the country at that time too, so when I saw headlights coming up the driveway at 9pm, I was a bit concerned. What a delight to see my wonderful quilting friends walk up to the door – with chocolate! The quilt was quickly basted and a good time was had by all!!

So, how do you store your pins? Do you have a “quilting friends to the rescue” story?

July 25, 2011, Uncategorized
Shrek on quilting

Like ogres (and onions) quilts are made up of layers. Putting the layers together for quilting can be a daunting task…especially if it’s lap sized or bigger. I know many quilters who spread everything out on the floor but, as I age, that is harder and harder on my back and knees. My favorite way to layer a larger quilt sandwich (up to king size) is on a simple frame. I learned how to do this way back when I first learned to quilt and continue to use that original system. So, whether you’re going to baste your quilt together with safety pins or thread, or even if you want to tie it “comforter” style, this frame will work

The first problem we usually encounter is where to set up the frame because of the size. I find it best to set up the frame outdoors if the weather is nice or in the garage (sans cars) if it isn’t.

The supplies are quite easy:

Four 10 foot 2 x 2 boards (these tend to be straighter if you buy two 2 x 4 boards and have the lumber yard rip them lengthwise)

Four “C” clamps or bar clamps (I use to borrow my husband’s “C” clamps, but found the sliding bar clamps to work much better and I splurged on 4, which I now share with him 🙂

Four high back chairs

large head thumb tacks

Place the chairs as 4 corners on a square with the seats facing out and place 2 of the boards parallel across the chairs:

Place the remaining boards on top of the first 2 and parallel to each other:

Quilt Backing – I prefer to tear my quilt back so that the edges are straight and square. Then I mark the center of all 4 sides with safety pins. I have a pencil mark at center on each of the boards so I can line up the center pin with the center mark and thumb tack the backing – WRONG SIDE UP – to the 4 boards (notice that the edge of the backing is even with the outside edge of the board):

Next I tack the backing along each board at 8″ intervals, leaving the corners untacked:


Now comes the tricky part: beginning at any corner, pull the boards into a right angle on top of one of the chairs, keeping the edges of the fabric even with the outer edges of the boards. Clamp both boards and the corner of the backing fabric together (I like to have the long part of the clamp pointing up for easier adjusting):

Repeat for all 4 corners so that the backing is stretched square and taut:

Lay the batt on top of the back and smooth it with your hands. Then lay the quilt top evenly on the batt. For the next step it’s nice to have help, so invite a friend (thanks, Ida!). Stand, centered, at opposite sides of the quilt and “tug” the top so that there are no wrinkles between the 2 of you. Be sure the center of the quilt is lined up with the pencil marks on the frame and pin along the edge:

Work across from each other, placing pins at 8″ intervals (approx.) until those 2 sides are done and then repeat for the remaining 2 sides.

Once the quilt is completely pinned into the frame you may safety pin baste it, thread baste it or tie it! The great thing about this frame is that when you can no longer reach areas comfortably, it can be rolled. To roll the frame:

Along one of the “top” boards remove both corner clamps (while standing inside the “bottom” boards and keeping your hips against them so they don’t move in and lose the side tension). Also remove the first few thumb tacks along the side (bottom) boards only, so they don’t impede the rolling:

Now roll the “top” board so that the quilt edge rolls around the outside of the board, while pulling on the board just a bit to keep the “front to back” tension even. Continue to roll until the unpinned area reaches the board and then reclamp both corners:

Repeat for the opposite side and pin away! On larger quilts you may need to roll more than once. It’s better to roll and pin comfortably than to reach and strain, and possibly knock the whole kaboodle off the chairs!

Once the basting/tying is done: remove the clamps, unroll the quilt and take out the tacks.

It’s just that easy :-).

Next week I’ll have some tips for pinning, storing the frame and enticing others to help.

July 18, 2011, Quilting Preparation
Corner Labels

This past week I came up with a really simple way to label a quilt and I can’t wait to share! It’s a variation of a quilt hanging technique I’ve used for years that works great on small quilts. To simply hang a small quilt: fold 2 squares of fabric in half diagonally and place them in the top corners of the quilt before binding. When the binding is attached, a dowel, cut the width of the quilt, fits inside the corners for easy hanging without a sleeve.

So here’s the exciting label variation:

Cut a 6″ square of a light, solid color fabric and iron the shiny side of a 6″ square of freezer paper to the back. Crease it in half, diagonally, to mark the fold, open it flat and draw a few diagonal lines, on the freezer paper, with a thick black marker (these lines will show through to the front and act as guidelines for your writing)

Turn to the fabric side and write all your information on the bottom half using a fine, permanent fabric marker.

Remove the paper, fold the label wrong sides together and pin into a bottom corner of the quilt before binding. Once you bind the quilt, 2 sides of the triangle will be secured and the folded edge can be left open or handstitched down.

I’ve found a new labeling trick I really like! Hope you like it too!

July 10, 2011, Labels
U Rah Rah Guilds

Thanks for all the positive comments about the spiral quilting on my recent project. It made me want to keep at it. This got me to thinking about how valuable encouragement from others really is, especially in our quilting. It can come in many forms: friends, family, classes and guilds (just to mention a few).

That led me to thinking about the quilt guilds I’ve belonged to and I decided it was a topic I wanted to expound on. So I’ve put on my cheerleader personna to get everyone excited about  guilds (yes, this was scanned straight out of my yearbook and I’m not telling the year!) 

Guilds are a great way to socialize, problem solve, be inspired and encourage each other! I feel that quilt guilds are also a great bargain. I currently belong to 2 guilds, but at one time I was a member of 5! The average yearly dues typically run between $20 and $30 and can include up to 12 meetings a year. Some have sub-groups where quilters can really get to know each other and many do charity projects. Most have at least a few speakers each year and to attend similar lectures at a quilt show would probably cost more than the yearly dues. What a bargain – and that doesn’t begin to cover what I think is the real value! My favorite part of each meeting is Show & Tell. I am always inspired by seeing what others are doing. In the Milwaukee Art Quilters we often use our S & T time to ask for critiques or help on current problem projects. This is something I greatly appreciate and it could be done in a sub group if your main meeting is too large.

Patched Lives (my more traditional guild) has 2 pot luck meetings a year that really focus on sharing ideas and getting to know each other. Good food and good friends, who could ask for more? We also have challenges and exchanges that inspire us to do different things and stretch skillwise as well as creatively.

I could go on and on, but I won’t :-). This brings me to a subject that is dear to my heart. It takes a lot of effort to have a great guild and many hands make light work. So if you belong to a guild, make sure you don’t just sit back and enjoy, but you do your part. I’ve found being on the board of my guilds has extra benefits. As President I found I got to know more members outside of my immediate circle. As program chair, I was able to bring in the teachers I wanted to learn from. When working on committees I experienced the satisfaction of being a part of the good things that were going on.

A number of years ago Wendy Rieves and I got the idea to write a book called Guild Builders. Our hope was that it would give loads of ideas to new boards so that they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel once they were elected and it would encourage everyone to get involved. The subtitle was going to be “How to Get That Quilter in the Second Row Off Her Fat Quarter and Helping”! We haven’t succeeded in having it published yet (actually making quilts is more fun), but it’s still a possibility. Wendy and I are always willing to share our Guild Builders ideas with anyone interested and are always looking to add to our stockpile of helpful ideas.

In conclusion I would recommend that, if you don’t belong to a guild – do it, and if you do….well…..you just read that “fat quarter” thing (hee!hee!).

Go Guilds!

July 4, 2011, Uncategorized