Thank-you Quilts

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

Laurie's butterfly quilt

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

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

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

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

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

autograph quilt Mad City

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

autograph quilt Common Threads

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


August 10, 2014, Uncategorized
An Amish Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

Philly bed quilts

as well as the walls

Philly wall quilts Philly crib quilt

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

Philly valance

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

Philly mk buggy

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

Philly Missy

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

Philly buggy

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

Philly shadow

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

August 3, 2014, Travel
Problem Solved

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

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

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

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

Lorrianes flat quilt

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

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

Do you block your quilts? 

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

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

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

What a happy quilt!

Thanks Natalie and Lorraine!

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

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

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

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

The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

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

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

free motion quilting

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

quilt borders in thread

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

For all the information please go to:

Pat Sloan in Wisconsin

You are invited!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second workshop is:

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

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

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

Hope to see you soon!

July 20, 2014, Classes
A Student’s Quilts

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

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

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

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

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

July 13, 2014, Design Uncategorized
Quilt Magazine Fun!

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.03.46 AM

I highly recommend visiting the site:

Now for more “Quilters in Denmark” excitement:

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

 Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 9.14.50 PM


Google translate offers this rough translation:

Letters from Readers

American Quilters By Kirsten Ekdahl, Kirstens Quilt 

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

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

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


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

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

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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

autograph runner

July 5, 2014, Travel Uncategorized
Painted Quilts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 29, 2014, Uncategorized
Thread Portraits

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

thread portraits sandy 2 sandy 3 sandy 4 sandy 6

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

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

Sandy, Jon and Wendy

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

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

Mom V small

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

sketch and practice

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


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

Johanna in thread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


June 22, 2014, free motion
Tallinn, Estonia

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

Wendy and 2 men

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

Reinhard and Kristi

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

Tallinn handcrafts

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

Estonian fiber art

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

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

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

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

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

Katariina Gild Estonia

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

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

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

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

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

E Tallinn-artist workshop-leather2

E Tallinn-artist workshop leather-JerriePelleMe

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

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


June 15, 2014, Travel
Blaudruck and Handdruck

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

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

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

Blaudruck outside1

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

Blaudruck Rostock Germany

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

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

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

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

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

Blaudruck Reinhard and me

What a delightful and educational visit!

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

Sew We Go

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

Happy Wall Copenhagen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

free motion quilting

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

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


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

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

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

ugly fabric challenge

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

ugly swiss cheese

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

ugly fabric challenge stars ugly ss2 ugly ss4

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

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

Antique 8 pointed star quilt

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

ugly tablecloth above

ugly tablecloth

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

Blog Update

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

May 11, 2014, Challenges
The Queen of Quilting

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

queen of quilting

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

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

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


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

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

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

Klaudeen Im a PHQ

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


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

Klaudeen ribbon topper

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

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

Klaudeen calendar

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


May 4, 2014, Uncategorized
I Spy – a Beginning

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 3.00.22 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 2.58.01 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 4.18.58 PM

I’ll keep you posted as things progress.


April 27, 2014, Uncategorized
Happy Easter From Paducah!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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









April 20, 2014, Uncategorized
Dangles that Tangle

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

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

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

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

Do you have any clever ways you store your jewelry?

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




April 13, 2014, Uncategorized
Snipping Bobbin Threads on Top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quilting With Kids Revisited

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

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


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

kids quilting

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

kids quilting

She then poked out the corners.


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

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

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




April 6, 2014, Uncategorized
Free Motion Fun

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

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

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

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

free motion quilting made easy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

free motion fun

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

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

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


And the Winner is…

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

Oconomowoc raffle quilt

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

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


Have you ever won a raffle quilt?


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

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

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

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

Mariner's Compass class

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

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

quilt lectures

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



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

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

Thanks to everyone who made this past week so enjoyable!

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



March 16, 2014, Uncategorized
Snow Dyeing 2014

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

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


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

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

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

snow dyeing

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


So here are the before and afters:

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

snow dyeing







Me (left) and Lori:

snow dyeing

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

snow dyeing

snow dyeing






Ida (left) and Helen:

snow dyeing


snow dyeing

snow dyeing





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



Here’s Liane’s:

snow dyeing


Her variety and intensity were quite interesting!snow dyeing

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

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

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

quilt quick card trick

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

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

March 9, 2014, Uncategorized
Margit and her Quilts

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


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



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


What a whimsical and clever tumbling block display!

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


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

necktie quilts


necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer

She even creates small landscapes completely from the ties!

necktie quilts by Margit Kagerer


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

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

Has anyone else done something unique with neckties???

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

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

A Chihuly Inspired Quilt:

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


An Upcoming Event:

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

Revival Of Quilting into the 21st century

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

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

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

8:30 Registration for door prizes, free will offering

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

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

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

12:15 Door Prizes

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


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

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

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

Compass Capers Workshop with Chris Lynn Kirsch 

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

When: March 22 1-4 pm

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

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

A Sew We Go Survey:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 23, 2014, Uncategorized
Inspired by Chihuly

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


To visit that blog go to:

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


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


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

C-boat C-orange


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

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

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



February 16, 2014, Inspiration
Quilts and Sunshine

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

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

our quilt at AQS Phoenix

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


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


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


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

Evelyn's quilt galleryThe dining room/class room:


And even the bedrooms:


e-gallery5 e-gallery4

Here’s the artist in her office:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

DS Mike-plaid-and-me-halter

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


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

puzzle costumes

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

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

February 2, 2014, Uncategorized
Foiling Fun!

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

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

Now, on to our topic of the week!

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

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

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

foiling on fabric

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

foiling on fabric

3. Cool and remove the paper.

foiling on fabric

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

foiling on fabric

5. Carefully remove the foil sheet.

foiling on fabric

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


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

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


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

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

January 26, 2014, Embellishing
Wash and Pucker?

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

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

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

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

quilt blocking


January 19, 2014, finishing
Kathie’s Lone Star

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

January 12, 2014, Inspiration Piecing
Handwork – Lacy Hearts

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

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

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

Lacy hearts quilt

A locket from my other grandmother adorns yet another heart.

lacy hearts quilt

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

lacy hearts quilt

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

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

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

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

January 5, 2014, Embellishing Hand Quilting
Fresh Start

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

So I opened things up and … ugh:

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

lint2So I swabbed around and:

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

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

Have a safe and Happy New Year’s celebration!


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

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

spin star quilt

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

quilting replique your home

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

quilt quick card trick

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

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



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

Christmas joy

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

From my family to yours – MERRY CHRISTMAS!



December 22, 2013, Uncategorized
A New Bead Adventure

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

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

beaded cuff bracelet

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

Here’s one side view:

beaded cuff bracelet

and the other:

beaded cuff bracelet

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


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


And here’s the back:


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

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


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

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


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

December 15, 2013, Embellishing Uncategorized
Christmas Gifts

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




Delightful! Thanks Nancy!


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


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

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

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


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

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

bowl pads2

bowl pads3

bowl pads4

We had a good time and the pads were lovely!

bowl pads 1


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

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

quilt float

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


December 8, 2013, Uncategorized
Quilted Christmas Projects

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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


Travel Opportunity!!!

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

Roommate needed to share balcony cabin on the Norwegian Star!

Sailing the Baltic Sea 17 May-29 May 2014

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

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

December 1, 2013, Appliqué
Jewelry Wreath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltic felt-dolls

I appliquéd mine to a shoulder bag:


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

Baltic mittens

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

Now for this week’s topic!

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

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

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

turning a block on point

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

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

turning a quilt block on point

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

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

turning a quilt block on point

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

5. Repeat for the opposite side of the block.

turning a quilt block on point

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

turning a quilt block on point

7. Square up the block to the desired size.

turning a quilt block on point

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


November 17, 2013, Uncategorized
Magazine Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

fiber artThanks Debra!


November 10, 2013, Uncategorized
Quilting in Outer Space

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

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.11.21 AM

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


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


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

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

Dear Chris,

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


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

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


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

caribbean quiltand label


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

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

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

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 8.43.54 PM

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


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

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

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

Christmas fiber art quilt

Adorable! Thanks for sending the photo Margit!

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

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

flower pounding DM1

flower pounding DM2

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

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

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 9.01.20 AM




November 3, 2013, Inspiration Uncategorized
Heat Away?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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




October 27, 2013, Notions
Flower Pounding

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

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


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

Now on to this week’s topic:

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

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


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

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

flower pounding

Liane was really getting into it here:

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

flower pounding

And Mike had a good time taking pictures!

flower pounding

And here’s my finished piece.

flower pounding

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

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

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

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

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

October 20, 2013, Embellishing
Turning a Quilt

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

memorial quilt

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

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

This is Nancy’s lovely quilt:

memory quilt

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

memory quilt

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

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

These are the pictures she included in the email:




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

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

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

2. Sew a 1/4″ seam in the back (this will take up some of the extra length), leaving a 3″ opening in the stitching, and back stitching on both sides of the opening . Press the seam to one side, and cut the fold at the opening in the stitching. Trim the length to the same measurement as the quilt top.turning a quilt

3. Layer the pieces: batting, quilt top (face up) and then quilt back (right sides together). Stitch all the way around with a 1/4″ seam (no need to leave an opening along the edge).


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

turning a quilt

5. Push corners out and press.


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


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

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

October 13, 2013, finishing
A Quilted Memorial

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


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


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

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

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

And here was the picture she attached to the email:


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

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

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

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

Memorial Quilt remake

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

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

So – on to the memorial runners:

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


I hope Lynn and her siblings will be pleased.

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

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

mariners compass quilt

And this table runner is by Valerie Cook:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thanks so much, Peg!

Sommer found the cover intriguing!

Fiber Art - Sommer PSclosed

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

Fiber Art - SommerPS

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

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



September 28, 2013, Uncategorized
Interwoven Globe


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


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

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

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

mariner's compass class

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


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

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

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


September 22, 2013, Travel Uncategorized
New York, NY

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

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


interesting art,


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


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

City Quilter

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


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


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

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

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

drafting a mariner's compass


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

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

AQS Des Moines

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

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

New York at nightPraise the Lord!

September 15, 2013, Travel
Travel Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


I have two more pictures from that class that I


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


Thanks Ken, for letting me share your story!

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



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

Were you at Expo? What was your favorite part?

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


September 8, 2013, Travel
Wool Batt and Border Quilting

In our last episode :-):Brianne Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

August 31, 2013, Batting free motion
Wedding Quilt

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

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

Brianne and Scott

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

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

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

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

grid quilting

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

quilting simple feathered wreath

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

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

quilt simple feathers

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

quilt simple feathers

and from the back:


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

quilting a large quilt

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


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

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

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

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 8.59.56 AM


Book Cover Opinions

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 10.23.31 AM

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

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

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



August 17, 2013, Design
Really 3D Quilts

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

quilt basting in driveway

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

My Objet D’Arc

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

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

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

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

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

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

double wedding ring quilt variation

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

double wedding ring quilt

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


And this one is from the left:


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

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

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

Madison Quilt Expo

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

August 11, 2013, Challenges
Josie’s Quilt

This week I have a very uplifting story to share!

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

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


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



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

And began with the Lion’s Corn roast.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Quilting Expo

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

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

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

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




August 4, 2013, Travel
Pictures and Acronyms

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

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

Barn Block

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

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

Wooden quilt blocks

Thanks Barbara and Carol for sharing your blocks with us!

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

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

Mariner's Compass quilt

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

Mariner's Compass variation

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

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

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

quilt abbrev

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

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

HQ (“Happy Quilting”), Chris




July 28, 2013, Uncategorized
The Fiberistas at WMQFA

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

But let me back up just a bit:

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

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

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

Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Art

The Fiberistas at the WMQFA

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

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

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

Fiber Art

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

fiber art

And just one more photograph:

fiber art

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

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

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

July 21, 2013, Uncategorized
Barn Blocks

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

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

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

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

Kathy's barn quilt

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

Another Compass Caper

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

barn quilt

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

barn quilt

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

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

Have you driven the routes of any quilt block trails?

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

An Exhibit You Won’t Want to Miss!

First Fiber Arts Biennale:  Wisconsin State of the Art

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



July 14, 2013, Uncategorized
A Quilting Cousin

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

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

quilting kid

Hanna with her dolly’s quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quilting kid

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

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

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


July 7, 2013, Uncategorized
Slice Quilts Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

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

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

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

Milwaukee Slice Quilt

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

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

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

6-30 parade

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

June 30, 2013, Challenges
Word Patterns

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

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

To Create a Word Pattern:

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

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


Your Text Here

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

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

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

stretched word

To Reverse the Image:

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

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

3d rotation options

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


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

ready to print

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

Upcoming Classes

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

Logs and Chains – Friday, 8/9, 9-2:30

logs and chains

Click here for all the information:

Compass Capers – Friday, 7/12, 9-2:30

Mariner's Compass

Click here for all the information:

June 23, 2013, Computers and Quilting
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

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:

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 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

PS Registration has begun for Summer classes at WCTC. All of the information can be found at 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:

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'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:

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 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: 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: This is the description from their “about” page:

“ 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, 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

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:

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: 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:

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: 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:

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

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:, 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: :-)!

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