Ola from Arizona!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The master closet contains her stash

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

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

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

Sew where do you keep your UFO’s?


January 23, 2012, Inspiration Travel
Word Quilts

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

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

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

So here’s the beautiful new couple:

And here’s the quilt:

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

Waukesha County Technical College – Quilting Classes

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

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

I’m also offering these one day workshops:

Fabric Silhouettes 

Saturday, Feb. 11

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

Irish Chain – Friday, Feb. 24

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

Simply Dynamic – Saturday, March 10

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

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


January 16, 2012, Appliqué Inspiration
Good Poof

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Italy

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


January 8, 2012, free motion
Leftovers Revisited

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

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

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

So, how do you use up your leftovers?

Merry Christmas!

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


December 11, 2011, Inspiration Piecing
Quilt Exhibit

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

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

Tumbles the Cat by Sharon Rotz and Chris Lynn Kirsch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 14, 2011

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

October 10 – December 1, 2011

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

December 3, 2011 – January 14, 2012

Wisconsin Historical Society,816 State Street

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

December 8, 2011 – January 25, 2012

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

December 10, 2011    1:00 – 2:30 pm

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

December 19, 2011 – March 4, 2012

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

January 13 – March 4, 2012

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

January 14, 2012       1:00 – 2:30 pm

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

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

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

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

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

About Forward Theater Company

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


December 4, 2011, Travel
Leftovers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 and put them in the mix.

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

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


November 27, 2011, Piecing UFO
Opinions Please!

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

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

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

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

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

Compass Creations

Compass Capers

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

Create a Compass Your Way

Journey With a Compass

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

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

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

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

 


November 20, 2011, Uncategorized
Magic Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

You’re invited to join Wendy Rieves and I on our next quilting adventure:

When: October 19 – 27, 2012

Where: Rome, Florence, Siena, Tuscany

What will we do: delight in the scenery, be amazed by the history, enjoy the cuisine, revel in the shops, do a bit of stitching and ????

Who: you and a quilting buddy, husband or non-quilting friend

This will be our 7th Sew We Go adventure and it promises to be one of the best! Wendy and I, along with our incredible travel leader – Peggy, are loading this trip with many special touches not found in your average tour:

¤ We will be staying in a 4 star Hotel just a stone’s throw away from the Vatican in Rome and

¤ a luxurious Tuscan Villa in the hills outside of Siena.

¤ We will enjoy a cooking class at a private cooking school.

¤ We’re working on a get together  with Italian quilters!

¤ We will have our usual pre-trip party and project along with friendship exchange blocks in a Tuscan Sun theme!

¤ There will be stitching time most every day to create a lovely and useful momento of the trip!

¤ This will be a very unique and memorable adventure you won’t want to miss, so………..

delve into all the current details, pertinent web addresses and pictures on the “Trips” page of my website: www.chrisquilts.net/trips .


November 7, 2011, Travel
Label the Old

After enjoying Eileen’s story about her antique quilts last week and having the opportunity to present my antique quilt lecture in Manitowoc, I decided it was a good time to recommend putting labels on our family heirlooms. I’m always encouraging students to label their quilts – and this goes for the vintage ones you own, even if you didn’t make them yourself.

I have some wonderful antique quilts. Some are from my family and others I have collected. No matter how I got them, I always appreciate knowing their story. I truly wish some of them could talk, so I’d know the who, when & where. But alas, very few older quilts are labeled. It’s a shame because it can increase their value immensely. So label them! If you have their entire history – great! If not, put down what you do know, even if it’s just that you own it and how you acquired it.

The easiest way to create the label is to:

1. Cut a piece of freezer paper the size you desire the label to be and draw parallel lines with a Sharpie™ marker,  1/2″ apart,on the dull (paper) side

2.Iron the shiny side of the freezer paper onto a piece of muslin (this view is of the lines showing through to the muslin side).

3. Write the label information on the muslin with a fine line fabric marker (I prefer the Micron Pigma™ marker, size 01), using the freezer paper lines as guides to keep your writing straight.

4. Remove the freezer paper, turn under the edges and appliqué the label to the back of the quilt.

Creating labels on a computer and printing them onto colorfast printer fabric is another good option.

What information should you include? Who made it. When. Where. For whom. Who owns it. When. Where. Anything else you’d like someone to know when you’re no longer around to tell them.

Remember to label your current quilts too. They may not be around 100 years from now, but if they are, someone may want to know about you :-)!


October 30, 2011, Labels Vintage Quilts
Old Frame, New Life

I met my friend, Eileen Rozumialski, when she signed up for our Sew We Go trip to Ireland. She was a fairly new quilter at that time and a delight to get to know. She has recently retired and shared a story with me about her new quilting studio. It was a story and an idea I think you will enjoy.

I often run into quilters who have inherited quilting frames from a relative. They usually are not sure what to do with them. I now have a suggestion and here’s Eileen’s tale in her own words and pictures:

“You might remember I mentioned some time ago having my grandmother’s quilting frame.  I would guess it must be 100 years old.  We finally figured out how to mount it on the wall so I could use it for displaying quilts.  3 of the boards are up and currently holding a quilt my great Aunt Ida hand pieced and quilted around 1940 using flour sacks and the maternity tops my mother wore while carrying my brother and myself.  I was actully unaware of them until my Mother passed some years ago and the quilts were found folded up and “stuffed” in pillowcases!  I learned she (my mother) had always been afraid to use the quilts as they were so precious to her.  Am hoping with hanging some of the creases will disappear.  As you can see on the picture the friend who figured out how to hang the frame figured out new pegs so I can raise or lower the horizontal piece.  We then used the 4th board in my new work studio (also in my basement).  I am thrilled beyond measure to be using the frame (and to now have a studio to sew in).

I know the frames were left unused in the rafters of a garage for probably 50 or 60 years before I figured out what to do with them and had a place to do it!  They were a piece of my family history I wasn’t ready to throw out and am so glad now I hadn’t.”

I’m so pleased Eileen cherishes all these pieces of her family history and thank her for allowing me to share them with you. Has anyone else found a new use for an old quilting frame?


October 23, 2011, Uncategorized
Quilting In the Desert

What could be more appealing than Arizona in January? How about a quilting retreat in Arizona in January? I’ve been blessed with the delightful opportunity to teach at this exciting event with many other inspiring teachers and wanted to let you know all about it!

Quilting in the Desert is held in Phoenix at the InnPlace Hotel Phoenix North.  Check out the website for all the details: http://www.quiltcamp.com/

Please consider making the trip for 5 days of quilts, classes, sunshine and fun!


October 16, 2011, Travel Uncategorized
Let’s Face It!

My latest quilt has a very odd outer edge that I wanted to face, rather than bind. After a bit of noodling I came up with a way that worked great! It would work for any quilt with a curved or unusual outer edge (scallops, double wedding ring, grandmother’s flower garden, etc.). I can’t show the front of the quilt because I plan on entering it in a major show and don’t want to have it shown publically yet. So here’s the step by steps along with a full shape picture from the back :-). I hope you enjoy them.

1. Layer and quilt the quilt. Then, with water soluable thread on top and a thread that contrasts the backing fabric in the bottom, stitch through all layers on the exact line that will be the outer edge of the quilt. Cut away all layers 1/4″ from this line.

2. Lay quilt, right sides together, on a piece of  facing fabric which is slightly larger than the quilt itself . Pin all the way around.

3. Stitch through all layers (with regular thread on top now), exactly on the previous stitching line, all the way around.

4. Trim even with quilt and clip all “inny” angles.

5. Trim facing fabric 1″  away from stitching, all the way around.

6. Fold facing to back of quilt and match facing raw edge with quilt raw edge.

7. Fold facing completely to back and pin in place.

8. Hand stitch the facing to the back of the quilt and – Voila – you’re done!

If any of the water soluable thread shows along the edge, just get it wet and the problem will be solved (or disolved :-).

Also – This past week Laura Krasinski and I hung a joint exhibit of our work entitled “Make a Joyful Noise” in the lobby of the Waukesha Civic Theater on Main Street in Waukesha (just 2 doors down from Frank’s Sewing Center). Please stop by if you’re in the area!


October 10, 2011, finishing Uncategorized
Flange in Photos

Natalie commented that she’d like more instructions on inserting the flange from last week’s blog. So here goes…and with pictures 🙂

1. Cut a strip from contrasting fabric 1″ x the length of each side for a ¼” wide flange or 1 ½”  x the length of each side for a ½” flange.

2. Press these strips in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together.

3. Lay a flange along one side of the the quilt top, keeping all raw edges even and pin in place. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Repeat for the remaining 2 sides.

Here’s a close up of the “keeping the raw edges even” part:

5. If you’re adventurous, you may leap to step 6. If you’re cautious, you may stitch the flanges in place with a basting stitch, all the way around. Use a seam allowance that is shy of ¼” so these stitches won’t show later.

6. Border quilt as usual.

By basting the flanges in place in this way, the flanges look as if they are just a narrow border.

It is “legal” (remember – there are no quilt police) to just tuck the flanges into each border seam as the borders are sewn on without cutting them to fit and basting them in place, but  then you get a different look as in this tumbling blocks quilt:

This look isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

One warning with flanges – they lay on top of the quilt and extend into it ¼” or ½”If there are triangles pieced to the edge, the flange will lay over them and the points will be lost. So they work best on non-pieced outer edges or between plain borders.

Flanges may also be added just before binding.

If you’ve never tried a flange – I highly recommend you do :-)!


October 2, 2011, finishing Piecing
Pleasing separation

This past week a student inquired about adding a very narrow border to her quilt to visually separate the quilt center from a wider border. Piecing in a 1/4″ border can be tricky and so I had some alternative ideas to share:

If you’ve ever done counted cross stitch, you are no doubt aware that once the crosses are completed, most patterns have the different color areas outlined with a line of black backstitches. Even though this line is very narrow, it adds a lot of interest and definition. Sometimes this is a good option for separating borders…and even bindings.

One simple way to do this is to sandwich piping (purchased or homemade) into the seam between the quilt center and the border

Another idea that has been very popular recently is to fold a 1″ strip of contrasting fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and slip this into the seam. I like to refer to this as a flange and it can add a lot of punch for a small amount of fabric and effort.

One additional idea is really simple and can be done after the quilt is finished and bound – couch a piece of yarn or cording on top of the seam! Couching simply means to lay the yarn/cording in the “ditch” of the seam and stitch on top of it with a zig-zag or serpentine stitch. It can be done in invisible thread or something decorative.

And now for an example to show how helpful this effect can be:

I made the following quilt for a “Tea” challenge through the Milwaukee Art Quilters. All of the fabrics were dyed in tea and I quilted the different areas as a sampler of quilting designs.

For some reason I bound the quilt in a similar color fabric to the rest of the quilt and it seemed to look like the quilt never ended when hung on a light colored wall. So I couched a brown chenille yarn along the binding and was very pleased with the results.

That simple addition made the quilt a success in my mind :-).

On a completely different note, there is still room in many of my local classes at MATC in Watertown and WCTC in Waukesha. Please scroll down to my August 4th post and simply click to register on line or call the number next to the class to register by phone.

And something new: I will be teaching the following  quilting classes in Hustisford, WI on Saturdays this Fall.

Beginning Fast Patch – Oct 15th & Oct 29th 8:30am  -1:00pm: Learn many quick and fun quilting techniques while making this wall hanging. It may be made in any color scheme you like (Packers fabric is optional :-).

Paper Pieced Project – Nov. 19th – 9:00AM – 1:00PM. Learn to piece “Flying Geese” and “Square in a Square” blocks on a paper foundation while creating this lovely small wallhanging. It’s a fun technique that yeilds accurate results (once again, fabric and color themes are up to you :-). 

For more information, or to sign up, contact Cindy Fitzsimmons at:


September 26, 2011, Embellishing finishing
Easy Threading Needles

Two weeks ago I posted a warning about a set of quick threading needles I had purchased which were a huge disappointment

Since then I have learned that the original Spiral Eye Needle™ is a much better product and is made in the USA!

I ordered a set of three needles (one each in sizes 4, 6 and 8) through the website: www.spiraleyeneedles.com. When they arrived I couldn’t wait to give them a try and I’m pleased to relate that they are quite easy to thread. So I tested them for appliqué, beading and, most importantly, tail burying. Here’s what I discovered:

As you probably know, hand needles are sized rather illogically, the smaller the number the larger the needle. So the size 4 is quite large and strong. It might be good for mending a tent, but it’s thickness made it drag through cotton fabrics.

The size 6 is still quite thick, but it worked fine for burying the dreaded tails as I demonstrated in my March 27th post entitled “Loose Ends”.

The size 8 worked even better than the size 6 for hiding tails and I found it to be acceptable for stitching down the backs of my bindings with a slightly longer invisible appliqué stitch. I don’t do a lot of fine hand appliqué, and  I think it would be a bit clunky for that.

The website did not recommend using these needles for a rocking type quilting stitch because the spiral eye weakens the needle.

When it comes to beading with larger beads, they would work fine, but I couldn’t get the size 8 through a bugle bead or average seed bead.

So my final analogy is that I give the size 8 Spiral Eye Needle a thumbs up for tail burying. If I had it to do over again I would skip the “popular set of 3” and just order three size 8’s.

So, how many of you actually bury the thread tails when you machine quilt :-)? 

PS I posted about my upcoming WCTC classes in my  August 4th blog (scroll down for pictures). There are still a few openings in the Lone Star workshop, the Beginning Quilting class, Doggie Christmas Stockings and the Open Lab that begins October 13th. Please sign up soon!  


September 18, 2011, Notions
What a Great Show!

I’ve just returned from teaching at Quilt Expo in Madison, WI and it was a spectacular show. My classes were filled with enthusiastic and eager students. The aisles of the vendor mall were filled with willing shoppers and the overall atmosphere was charged with excitement.

This show has really grown from it’s beginnings and has become a national level event. They even added 30 vendors since last year!

This year I was truly blown away by the quilts in the show. Even though there were entries and prizewinners from all around the country, the number of very talented entries from Wisconsin was amazing. I spent a lot of time admiring the intricate designs and stitching in the handquilted entries and then had to come back the next day to absorb all the inspiring creativity of the fiber art.

Since my latest passion is to make the machine quilting take the quilt to higher and higher levels, I was amazed to see all the new designs and innovative placement in these fascinating quilts.

That being said, I’m sure I’ll be hearing comments from friends and students saying there were too many art quilts and not enough for the average quilter. I’d like to share my perspective on this:

Quilt Expo is a juried show and each piece was chosen from pictures sent in by the maker. Many quilts didn’t make it in and therefore the ones that were accepted had to be a step above average to be chosen. I feel the fun of a juried show such as this is to see the “what ifs” and “I could nevers” so that we may all be inspired to try something new. The quiltmakers who were represented are not your average quilter and, as a viewer, we need to keep this in mind.

This is why we need to attend the smaller, local, non-juried shows and fairs as well as the big events. Most local shows are not juried and normal quilters can go there and see things that they may actually be able to make, as well as a few “jaw-droppers”.

So don’t be too quick to criticize the big shows for the lack of simple or traditional quilts, but enjoy each show for what they are and attend as many varied shows as you are able :-).

Well, that’s my opinion, what’s yours?


September 12, 2011, Inspiration Travel
Support Your Local Quilt Shop

Happy Labor Day to all!

I’ll be teaching at Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo this week and have been very busy making up kits for my  classes. When I realized how full the classes are (praise the Lord :-), I did a bit of panicking because kit making can be a bit overwhelming. My first thought was to just rush to my local Joann’s because it’s close and easy.

Then I gave myself a good mental shaking because:

1. I use quilt shop quality fabric in my quilts and should do no less for the projects my students will be making!

2. If we don’t patronize our local shops, we’ll lose them!

So I’d like to get on a soap box and take a stand for quilt shops. One of my favorite shops in the Milwaukee area was Fabric Fusion. It had an artsy personality and was owned by a hard working and creative couple. A friend recently related that quilters would go to Fabric Fusion, choose fabrics they liked, and write down the bolt information so they could go home and order it online for less. How disappointing. And this is a contributing factor to why Fabric Fusion is no longer with us :-(.

So, support your local quilt shop! It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to run a shop and it’s a tough business to keep finiancially profitable. Shops also provide many helpful services. We quilters are very tactile and neeeeeeeeeeed to touch fabric when we buy it.

Now this doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep my local Joann’s in business too. That store provides numerous jobs as well as a good price for non-fabric items that I need regularly. The hours are also quite convenient. Thus I really do like to spread my quilt shopping around.

On that note, I would like to share a recent lesson I’ve learned that would fit into the category “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”. On a recent trip to Joann’s I saw a product I found intriguing:

I’ve been doing a lot of “thread tail hiding” on my latest quilts, using the technique I illustrated in my March 27th post called Loose Ends: http://clkquilt.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/loose-ends/. I’m using the standard self threading needles and they work well, but sometimes they’re a bit tricky to pull the thread into. I decided I needed to try this “side opening design”, even though it was packaged as one of those “as seen on tv” deals. Please don’t waste your money! The needles were thick, dull, expensive and quite difficult to thread.

Well, as of today the kits are together (with help from my dear husband) and I’m anxious to finish packing. Nancy’s Expo is always such fun. Hope to see many of you there! 

UPDATE!

I just received a comment from Sarah B. informing us all that the original “Spiral Eye Needle” was designed by a woman named Pam Turner and is made in the USA. Sarah said that these needles are great, so I went to the website and ordered a set. I can’t wait to try them and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts in a future post :-)!


September 5, 2011, Fabric Notions
Birth Announcement

I’m so excited – my new website has just arrived!

 

Please click on the image of my home page above and enjoy!

The time had come for a change and my friend, Diahann Lohr, did a wonderful job of combining my passion for quilting with the beauty of the woods surrounding my home. Her web design business is called  Adunate Word and Design. Di is very creative, patient and professional and I would highly recommend her to anyone in need of graphic design help!

So, what do you think? Please be sure and visit the Gallery page. Diahann did all the stunning quilt photography.


August 28, 2011, Computers and Quilting
Italy Update

As many of you already know, Wendy and I are planning to take our next Sew-We-Go adventure in Italy.

The good news is that Peggy, our travel expert, has some wonderful ideas to make this trip very special for quilters. The bad news is that she has run into a few road blocks for a May, 2012 departure. We were so pleased with the unique quilterly touches Peggy arranged for us in Ireland (meeting with the Irish Patchwork Society along with numerous quilt shop stops, just to name a few) that we’ve told her we are willing to wait to have her plan the best trip possible in Italy.

We are now looking towards an October 2012 trip. Some of the highlights we’re planning are:

Tours of Rome,

 

including the Vatican and the Sistene Chapel!

 

 

 Tours of Florence & Sienna!

 

Staying in a villa in Tuscany complete with cooking lessons!

Meeting with Italian quilters!

 

 

and of course food, art, history, stitching and making new friends!

 

We’re hopeful that the wait will also gain us a cost savings. The airlines will not commit to pricing more than a year out, so we have to wait a little longer, but we’ll let you know the details the moment they’re available. We appreciate your patience and look forward to your joining us :-)!


August 21, 2011, Travel
Hand Quilting

I enjoy hand quilting, but this may not be apparent from the content of my blogs… until now :-)!

Even though I’ve been very passionate about machine quilting for quite a few years, I usualy have some type of hand work nearby. My current project is a wall quilt made up of carousel horses which were appliquéd from feed sacks (yes, real vintage feed sacks!)

The blocks were stitched many years ago during quilt week in Paducah. My roommates that year were Ginny Walters (my Mom), Wendy Rieves and Jill Koeppel. Each of us hand buttonhole appliquèd a pony block and now I’m slowly enjoying the process of quilting them. I’m currently cross-hatching by using masking tape as my guide.

I thought it would be fun to hear from the hand quilters out there in blogland. Do you like to handquilt? Do you machine quilt too? Hoop or no hoop? I’m looking forward to the response!


August 14, 2011, Hand Quilting Vintage Quilts
Tying Up Loose Threads, Pulling Up Bobbin Threads

I was blown away by all the interesting comments concerning our sewing machine collections. I learned a bit of history and discovered that I don’t win the ribbon for having the most machines :-). If you haven’t been reading the comments on any of my previous posts, it’s really quite simple: go to the bottom of that post,  and click on “comments”  (the word will be in blue)!

Also, if you want to comment on my post directly to me, you can just send me an email (and I thank those of you who do). I enjoy reading these, but I often wish they had been posted as a comment to that post so others could read them too. It’s easy to make a comment to a post: once again click on the word “comment” at the bottom of that post and scroll down until you see the “comment box”, type your comment and submit.

Now for the bobbin thread tip!

When I’m quilting on a large quilt and reach the end of a stitching line, I find it awkward and difficult to reach under the quilt and cut the bobbin thread. I do have a machine with a “cut” feature, but it leaves 1″ tails. I don’t like to have them hanging around and I really don’t want to go back and trim them all off later. If you struggle with this frustration too – here’s the answer:

1. Raise the needle at the end of your stitching line.

2. Raise the presser foot.

3. Grab the thread between the needle and the quilt and pull out a loop.

4. While holding the loop of thread, reinsert the needle in the hole the thread came out of (or close to it),

and then bring the needle back out. This works great if you can just press “needle up/needle down” on your machine to make one complete stitch.

5. While still holding the original loop, raise the foot again and pull the quilt away from the needle. The bobbin thread will pop up in a small loop.

6. Cut the bobbin thread loop and the top thread close to the quilt.

Voila! It’s almost like magic 🙂.

This also works when you want to pull the threads both to the top and knot them off for burying as was discussed in my “Loose Ends” post from March 27th (click on “Loose Ends” and scroll down for that lesson).

Try it! I think you’ll like it!


August 8, 2011, free motion
2011 – Fall Classes

It’s registration time for classes at Waukesha County Technical College, Madison College – Watertown and Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo! Here are the courses I’ll be teaching, along with dates, times, pictures and sign up information. I hope to see many of you this Fall!

WCTC

I have a quick correction to my first Open Lab class which was to begin on Thursday, September 8th. When I made out the original schedule I didn’t know that I would be blessed with the opportunity to teach at Nancy’s Notions Quilting  Expo once again. Therefore, the Open Lab will actually begin September 15th and run through October 6th. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m hoping many of you will attend the show in Madison instead 🙂.

By the way…Wendy’s classes are listed at WCTC too, so don’t forget to check them out :-)!

Quilting – Open Lab – Here’s your chance to finish those workshop projects, complete a UFO or two, or start something completely new! During this 12-hour course, students will learn a different aspect of finishing each week. Topics may include fitting and designing borders, sandwiching the quilt, methods and designs for quilting, binding and labeling. Thursday afternoons; 12:30 to 3:30; for three 4 week sessions:

September 15 to October 6 Offering #304-602A-004, CRN 11835

October 13 to November 3 Offering #304-602A-001, CRN 11690

November 17 to December 15 Offering #304-602A-002, CRN11691 

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Beginning Fast Patch  Offering #304-635H-002, CRN 11698 A class designed to teach basic quilting skills with an emphasis on rotary cutting, machine piecing and having fun! Students will construct a unique “Sampler” wall quilt while learning to strip piece, paper piece and so much more.  This class  will run on 2 Saturdays, September 17 & September 24;    9 – 2:30 each day.

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Lone Star Magic Offering #304-602I-003 CRN 11692 Create this ever popular traditional star pattern with all the diamond points aligning perfectly. The secret is to piece them on a Quiltsmart™ foundation. Everyone can have great results!  Friday, October 14; 9 – 2:30

 

 

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

Beginning Free Motion Offering #304-603A-001 CRN 11693Learn to drop your feed dogs and machine quilt your projects without fear. We’ll practice template designs, doodling fillers, arcing pieced blocks and more. Saturday, November 12; 9 – 2:30.

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

 

Doggie Stockings Offering #304-655-001, CRN 11696
For the true pet lover – create bone shaped, crazy quilted stockings for the canine kid in your life. Inspired by my daughter-in-law’s love for my granddogs, they’re fun to make and truly unique.

Saturday, December 3; 9 – 2:30

 

 

To register call:  262.691.5578 or Go to:    http://www.wctc.edu, click on “Class Search”, type “Quilting” in the Subject box at the bottom, click on “Submit” and choose the class you want to take!

MATC – Watertown

Beginning Fast Patch (pictured in WCTC classes above) Catalog #60306621, Class #40286

Learn basic quilting with an emphasis on rotary cutting, machine quilting and having fun. This small wall quilt would also be a great project for established quilters who want to improve their skills. Strip piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, quilting and binding will all be covered and a finished quilt will be the result!  (9 hours total) Monday, September 12, 19 & 26; 12:30 – 3:30

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-beginning-fast-patch

Tropical Breezes Catolog #60306621, Class #40285

Get away from it all on Monday afternoons while you create this lovely lap sized quilt. Made in the colors of sand, sea and palm trees, this simple “slap back triangle” technique is fun to do and makes blocks that seem to sway in the breeze. A great class for all skill levels.  Monday, October 10, 17 & 24; 12:30 – 3:30 (nine hours total).

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-tropical-breezes

Beginning Free Motion Quilting Catolog #60306621, Class #40289

Do you have unfinished quilt tops longing to be snuggled under? Then this class is for you. Learn the basics of dropping the feed dogs and doodling fun designs on your quilt. No degree in art is required and, with a little practice, you can enjoy finishing those tops! Saturday, October 8; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:  http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-beginning-free-motion

Beyond Meandering  Catolog #60306621, Class #40291   If you’ve been free motion quilting for a while and wonder if there is life after stippling and meandering, the answer is YES!  This class is for those who have done a bit of free motion quilting, but want to know more.  We’ll spend the morning practicing many new free motion “filler” designs. After lunch we’ll brainstorm which quilting designs to use where on quilt tops the students bring along!  Working with large quilts will also be discussed. Saturday, October 22; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:   http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-beyond-meandering

Quilt InA one day Open Lab!  Catalog #60306621, Class #40292  Bring in your projects that need to be finished and get them done! Whether your pattern is no longer making sense, you can’t remember how to miter a border or you can’t get the binding right, Chris will help you forge ahead and have success. A perfect day away from the pre-holiday distractions and a Christmas surprise will be part of the fun! Saturday, December 10; 9-11:30 and 12:00 to 2:30.

To register call: (608) 246-6210 or toll-free at (800) 322-6282, Ext. 6210 or click on:  http://programs.matcmadison.edu/programs/enrichment/quilting-quilt-in

Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 8-10
Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis.

I will be presenting a lecture at 8:30 daily called “Which Design Where?” -The top is done; now how do you quilt it? If you want to do it yourself, but don’t know where to begin, this lecture is for you. Learn simple ways to make your creation useful, beautiful and, above all, finished! Bring a top of your own to be “brainstormed.”

I’ll also be presenting a 3 hour hands on workshop from 1-4 daily
entitled “French Braid – Quilt As You Go”  

 

Add pizzazz to a traditional braid with chains of high-contrast squares. By stitching the strips together on top of quilt batting and backing fabric, the quilt is done along with the piecing. A table runner will be made in class but instructions for a lap size quilt will be provided.

Register Online: http://wiquiltexpo.com/?page_id=4 – click on “Advance Registration Guide”


August 4, 2011, Inspiration
Howe Many Machines Do You Own?

If you want to feel better about your sewing machine collection, read on. Up until recently I owned 6 (but one’s a treadle that’s being used as an end table, so I’m not sure it counts). I recently acquired #7…with my husband’s blessing, and I can’t wait to share. We were wandering through an antique store in Fort Atkinson, WI when this machine caught my eye:

For many years I’ve been presenting a quilt lecture about my collection of antique quilts entitled “But I Still Love You”. In it I share some sewing machine history, including information on Elias Howe, the “inventor of the sewing machine” (there were other machines invented in other countries, but his was the most user friendly and marketable, so he’s credited with it). There is actually a plaque on the machine with a bust of Elias Howe and the words “Elias Howe Jr; Inventor and Maker; New York, USA”.

The machine has been mounted in a case with a glass front and a light inside so that the mechanism underneath can be viewed when the crank is turned.

The case has a plaque that reads: “Inventor: Elias Howe; Patent #4750 Granted 9-10-1846; circa 1865-67; Restored by Carmon M. Howe; 1991”. I was able to contact Mr. Howe and he told me he is not related to the inventor. He found the machine on the 3rd floor of an antique store in LaCrosse, WI with about an inch of dust on it. When he saw the name – he had to have it :-). He said it won’t run because the bobbin mechanism was missing. We had a lovely conversation and he told me to enjoy the machine. I am already.

 After a bit of web surfing I found a photo of the same model machine as mine and it is indeed from 1867!  I searched for more details about the machine and found very little. I did find a wealth of information about Elias Howe and am anxious to share it in future lectures.

So, anyone own more than 7 sewing machines???


July 31, 2011, Uncategorized Vintage Quilts
Shrek on Quilting II

I was so pleased with the positive feedback on the quilt basting frame and I have a few more frame related comments:

1. I have 2 comments that would fall under the heading “leave your pins open”. The first is good advice when you take the pins out of your quilt as you’re quilting. I always toss them in a container open and store them this way. The downside is you get poked when pulling them out for the next use, but the upside is you don’t waste energy closing and reopening. It’s much healthier for your hands -ergonomically.

2. Next, leave the pins open as you baste the quilt. I do this whenever I pin a quilt in the frame by myself. It’s easier on the back to leave the pins open, remove the quilt from the frame and then sit in a comfy chair to close them all with a Kwik Clip or grapefruit spoon.

3. Storing the boards – you’ll want to keep the boards in a dry place so they don’t get damp and warp. I’ve found that stacking them in an I-beam in the basement keeps them out of the way, yet easily accessible. Wrapping a bungie cord around the I-beam near each end keeps them from tumbling down!

4. My final recommendation is that it is definitely more fun to “frame a quilt” with friends. Last week Ida was so sweet to come over as soon as I called. What a dear friend! Many years ago I needed to baste a quilt with a deadline and had mentioned it to Sharon and Carol early in the day. Mike was out of town and the kids were in bed when I finally set the frame up in the living room. We lived out in the country at that time too, so when I saw headlights coming up the driveway at 9pm, I was a bit concerned. What a delight to see my wonderful quilting friends walk up to the door – with chocolate! The quilt was quickly basted and a good time was had by all!!

So, how do you store your pins? Do you have a “quilting friends to the rescue” story?


July 25, 2011, Uncategorized
Shrek on quilting

Like ogres (and onions) quilts are made up of layers. Putting the layers together for quilting can be a daunting task…especially if it’s lap sized or bigger. I know many quilters who spread everything out on the floor but, as I age, that is harder and harder on my back and knees. My favorite way to layer a larger quilt sandwich (up to king size) is on a simple frame. I learned how to do this way back when I first learned to quilt and continue to use that original system. So, whether you’re going to baste your quilt together with safety pins or thread, or even if you want to tie it “comforter” style, this frame will work

The first problem we usually encounter is where to set up the frame because of the size. I find it best to set up the frame outdoors if the weather is nice or in the garage (sans cars) if it isn’t.

The supplies are quite easy:

Four 10 foot 2 x 2 boards (these tend to be straighter if you buy two 2 x 4 boards and have the lumber yard rip them lengthwise)

Four “C” clamps or bar clamps (I use to borrow my husband’s “C” clamps, but found the sliding bar clamps to work much better and I splurged on 4, which I now share with him 🙂

Four high back chairs

large head thumb tacks

Place the chairs as 4 corners on a square with the seats facing out and place 2 of the boards parallel across the chairs:

Place the remaining boards on top of the first 2 and parallel to each other:

Quilt Backing – I prefer to tear my quilt back so that the edges are straight and square. Then I mark the center of all 4 sides with safety pins. I have a pencil mark at center on each of the boards so I can line up the center pin with the center mark and thumb tack the backing – WRONG SIDE UP – to the 4 boards (notice that the edge of the backing is even with the outside edge of the board):

Next I tack the backing along each board at 8″ intervals, leaving the corners untacked:

 

Now comes the tricky part: beginning at any corner, pull the boards into a right angle on top of one of the chairs, keeping the edges of the fabric even with the outer edges of the boards. Clamp both boards and the corner of the backing fabric together (I like to have the long part of the clamp pointing up for easier adjusting):

Repeat for all 4 corners so that the backing is stretched square and taut:

Lay the batt on top of the back and smooth it with your hands. Then lay the quilt top evenly on the batt. For the next step it’s nice to have help, so invite a friend (thanks, Ida!). Stand, centered, at opposite sides of the quilt and “tug” the top so that there are no wrinkles between the 2 of you. Be sure the center of the quilt is lined up with the pencil marks on the frame and pin along the edge:

Work across from each other, placing pins at 8″ intervals (approx.) until those 2 sides are done and then repeat for the remaining 2 sides.

Once the quilt is completely pinned into the frame you may safety pin baste it, thread baste it or tie it! The great thing about this frame is that when you can no longer reach areas comfortably, it can be rolled. To roll the frame:

Along one of the “top” boards remove both corner clamps (while standing inside the “bottom” boards and keeping your hips against them so they don’t move in and lose the side tension). Also remove the first few thumb tacks along the side (bottom) boards only, so they don’t impede the rolling:

Now roll the “top” board so that the quilt edge rolls around the outside of the board, while pulling on the board just a bit to keep the “front to back” tension even. Continue to roll until the unpinned area reaches the board and then reclamp both corners:

Repeat for the opposite side and pin away! On larger quilts you may need to roll more than once. It’s better to roll and pin comfortably than to reach and strain, and possibly knock the whole kaboodle off the chairs!

Once the basting/tying is done: remove the clamps, unroll the quilt and take out the tacks.

It’s just that easy :-).

Next week I’ll have some tips for pinning, storing the frame and enticing others to help.


July 18, 2011, Quilting Preparation
Corner Labels

This past week I came up with a really simple way to label a quilt and I can’t wait to share! It’s a variation of a quilt hanging technique I’ve used for years that works great on small quilts. To simply hang a small quilt: fold 2 squares of fabric in half diagonally and place them in the top corners of the quilt before binding. When the binding is attached, a dowel, cut the width of the quilt, fits inside the corners for easy hanging without a sleeve.

So here’s the exciting label variation:

Cut a 6″ square of a light, solid color fabric and iron the shiny side of a 6″ square of freezer paper to the back. Crease it in half, diagonally, to mark the fold, open it flat and draw a few diagonal lines, on the freezer paper, with a thick black marker (these lines will show through to the front and act as guidelines for your writing)

Turn to the fabric side and write all your information on the bottom half using a fine, permanent fabric marker.

Remove the paper, fold the label wrong sides together and pin into a bottom corner of the quilt before binding. Once you bind the quilt, 2 sides of the triangle will be secured and the folded edge can be left open or handstitched down.

I’ve found a new labeling trick I really like! Hope you like it too!


July 10, 2011, Labels
U Rah Rah Guilds

Thanks for all the positive comments about the spiral quilting on my recent project. It made me want to keep at it. This got me to thinking about how valuable encouragement from others really is, especially in our quilting. It can come in many forms: friends, family, classes and guilds (just to mention a few).

That led me to thinking about the quilt guilds I’ve belonged to and I decided it was a topic I wanted to expound on. So I’ve put on my cheerleader personna to get everyone excited about  guilds (yes, this was scanned straight out of my yearbook and I’m not telling the year!) 

Guilds are a great way to socialize, problem solve, be inspired and encourage each other! I feel that quilt guilds are also a great bargain. I currently belong to 2 guilds, but at one time I was a member of 5! The average yearly dues typically run between $20 and $30 and can include up to 12 meetings a year. Some have sub-groups where quilters can really get to know each other and many do charity projects. Most have at least a few speakers each year and to attend similar lectures at a quilt show would probably cost more than the yearly dues. What a bargain – and that doesn’t begin to cover what I think is the real value! My favorite part of each meeting is Show & Tell. I am always inspired by seeing what others are doing. In the Milwaukee Art Quilters we often use our S & T time to ask for critiques or help on current problem projects. This is something I greatly appreciate and it could be done in a sub group if your main meeting is too large.

Patched Lives (my more traditional guild) has 2 pot luck meetings a year that really focus on sharing ideas and getting to know each other. Good food and good friends, who could ask for more? We also have challenges and exchanges that inspire us to do different things and stretch skillwise as well as creatively.

I could go on and on, but I won’t :-). This brings me to a subject that is dear to my heart. It takes a lot of effort to have a great guild and many hands make light work. So if you belong to a guild, make sure you don’t just sit back and enjoy, but you do your part. I’ve found being on the board of my guilds has extra benefits. As President I found I got to know more members outside of my immediate circle. As program chair, I was able to bring in the teachers I wanted to learn from. When working on committees I experienced the satisfaction of being a part of the good things that were going on.

A number of years ago Wendy Rieves and I got the idea to write a book called Guild Builders. Our hope was that it would give loads of ideas to new boards so that they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel once they were elected and it would encourage everyone to get involved. The subtitle was going to be “How to Get That Quilter in the Second Row Off Her Fat Quarter and Helping”! We haven’t succeeded in having it published yet (actually making quilts is more fun), but it’s still a possibility. Wendy and I are always willing to share our Guild Builders ideas with anyone interested and are always looking to add to our stockpile of helpful ideas.

In conclusion I would recommend that, if you don’t belong to a guild – do it, and if you do….well…..you just read that “fat quarter” thing (hee!hee!).

Go Guilds!


July 4, 2011, Uncategorized
Hurry Up or Wait

While reading an issue of Irish Quilting Magazine I came across a comment I spent some time contemplating: “never be in a hurry to finish a quilt”. Now, my first response was that it was good advice, but I soon discovered that there are times the opposite can be true. Let me explain :-).

The article went on to say that “most of the time when we’re in a hurry, mistakes happen”. This can certainly be true and I decided I agreed. A day or so later I realized it was time to do a bit of tidying up in my studio and ended up staring at one of my recent (I use the term loosely) projects. It is my version of a mariner’s compass on drugs. About a year ago I started drafting a bevy of amoeba shaped compasses that interconnected, and I was pleased with the design. I had it enlarged and then agonized over a color scheme. Once that problem was solved the piecing was great fun. It turned out so well I decided I needed a truly wonderful quilting design and began to ponder what I could do that would take the quilt over the top – I didn’t want to rush into anything.

The top has been hanging on my design wall since March :-(. I was telling myself it was marinating, but now its simply frustrating. No amazing quilt design has materialized and I’ve gone way past the stage of rushing into something!

So, while staring at this piece that used to make me smile I realized that there is a happy medium for everything and at that moment my own advice, which I often share in my Beyond Meandering class, resounded in my ear:

When choosing a quilting design don’t say to yourself “a judge would appreciate feathers”, but rather “what would be fun to do today?” I was looking for the perfect design and it wasn’t forthcoming…. so I made the decison at that moment that my favorite free mo design is spirals and they’d be more fun then cleaning so I set up the machine and had a ball! I’m not ready to show the whole thing – and there’s more quilting left to be done – but I’m back to excited again. Here’s a picture of some of the fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, don’t rush, but don’t let the moss grow on your quilt either. The perfect quilting design is the one you are in the mood to do today!


June 28, 2011, finishing free motion
Find a Fabric, Find a Blog

Blogging was something I feared for quite awhile, but since being encouraged by my friend Di, I’ve discovered that blogs are a wonderful teaching and sharing tool. Recently Laura shared a few quilt blog directories with me that I have now linked to. I’m hoping we’ll get more quilters reading this blog, so the sharing and learning can increase!

I was especially excited about a site I found through Quilter Blogs.  Many of my students have asked about sites for finding fabric that they’ve run short of. This one is great! You simply click on:   http://www.findmyfabric.com/images/add/, upload a picture of your fabric (they make this step easy) and they’ll send you information on shops that carry your fabric or something similar to it!

Quilt Qua not only has a directory for blogs, but a listing of quilting teachers also

Quilting Blogger is a directory that finds bloggers, shops and guilds by location. An excellent resource if you are doing a bit of traveling!

I hope you find these sites helpful :-).


June 20, 2011, Computers and Quilting
Foundation Piecing

Thanks to everyone who commented or sent me input on the best tear away stabilizer. I enjoyed reading all about it and still want to try the EQ paper.

While teaching this weekend at the Sewing and Quilting Expo in Platteville, WI, a student in one of my classes said that she recently foundation pieced a pineapple log cabin quilt using a wash away foundation and she was pleased with the results. I asked her to send me the name of the one she liked and I will pass it along to you. Do you have any thoughts on wash aways?

Since we’re on the subject of foundation/paper piecing, I thought I’d share a new gadget I was introduced to in a workshop I took in Paducah with RaNae Merrill. RaNae foundation pieces amazing Spiral Mandala quilts. One of the problems brought on by the flood in Paducah this year was that the church where the classes ended up being held didn’t have the right electric set up for multiple irons. Therefore, when RaNae introduced us to pressing with wall paper rollers, it was a hit.

She said the little, wooden “finger irons” had a tendency to stretch the fabric, but the roller didn’t. I’ve tried the finger iron and I didn’t find it worked that well.

 

But I really like the roller! Using it at home is sure to save me a bit of money on my electric bill – irons use a lot of juice! I purchased the one in the picture in class. They’re high quality and available on her site: www.ranaemerrillquilts.com/

The picture shows the correct way to hold it to reduce stress on the neck of the roller and the arm of the quilter too :-).

 

Do you have any favorite foundation piecing tips or tools?

PS Jeanie sent me a fascinating site about a design proposal for the  XXII Winter Olympic Games. Click here for some great quilt designs: http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/follow-up_xxii_olympic_winter_games.php


June 12, 2011, Notions Piecing
Tear Away

I’m not a huge fan of paper (foundation) piecing, but for some projects its a must. I typically choose it when I want great accuracy in my piecing.

Most often this is when I’m working on a Mariner’s Compass quilt, because I’ve discovered a way to draft compasses any shape and any size with simple paper folding techniques.

For this I use newsprint. “Roll ends” of newsprint can be found at most newspaper offices for very little expense (yielding a good amount of large paper!).

I find the newsprint tears off easily after stitching.

While I was in Paducah I purchased a pack of EQ Printables. The sheets can go through a printer and are supposed to be easy to tear away. Have you tried it? What do you think?

There are currently so many options I haven’t tried: other tear aways, wash aways, heat aways. I don’t have the time (or inclination 🙂 to try them all, so help me please!

What’s your favorite?

Any you would avoid?


June 6, 2011, Piecing
Do Your Blocks End Up Too Small?

Recently I’ve been working on a project that requires very accurate piecing. It got me thinking about the best way to get an accurate scant 1/4″ seam allowance (sa). The reason quilters strive for a scant 1/4″ sa is because we often press our seams to the side and this pressing takes up a thread or two (about 1/16″) to accomplish. When using an exact 1/4″  sa this small amount may not seem like much until it’s mulitiplied by 8 seams across the block. Now the block is 1/2″ too small and that is a problem.

The trick is to use an index card with 1/4″ lines. Cut the bottom of the card on the last line. Place it under the machine and lower the needle into the card so that the left side of the needle just “kisses”  the next line.

Now you simply need to place a piece of tape along the edge of the card, being careful not to tape over the feed dogs.

Remove the card and use the edge of the tape as your guide.

An added benefit is that this technique can yield identical seam allowances on different machines! Let me explain. There are times when I stitch on the same project on 2 different machines (like when taking a class). I can take the card with me, place the needle on the school’s  machine in the hole and tape next to it.

Voila – it works no matter what foot is on the machines. 

This is also a very handy way to keep group projects accurate. If you’re having a “sew in” at guild and many people are making blocks for the same quilt, use the same card to tape everyone’s machine and the blocks will fit together!

Do you have a different way you like? Is the foot for your machine a scant 1/4″? Please share any thoughts :-)!


May 30, 2011, Piecing
The Big Picture

 Thanks for the positive response to my method for creating a Celtic quilting design. If my ideas inspire you to create a design of your own, please send me pictures. One of the comments mentioned using green thread. Actually – I did, the picture just didn’t show it. Here’s a new one:

And a view of the entire quilt (please ignore the binding clips :-):

Now for something completely different :-). This week’s topic concerns making pictures or patterns larger and then printing them easily. I often need to do this. For example, when recreating a picture in appliqué using my Repliqué technique, an enlargement of a photograph is needed to make the pattern. Another instance where this is necessary is when I draft Mariner’s Compass patterns using my paper folding techniques. Sometimes I draft them the size of a sheet of paper and then need to make them bigger (for descriptions of both of these techniques, scroll down to the Architectural Repliqué and Mariner’s Compass Simplified descriptions on my website at http://www.chrisquilts.net/lectures_and_workshops.htm). You can probably think of instances in your quilt life when this would be helpful too.

In the past I’ve enlarged pictures at my local print shop; and I’ve made patterns bigger with the help of an overhead projector. Since the enlargements cost money and the overhead has to be used while I’m at work, neither is a particularly convenient option.

A while back I read an article in The Quilt Life magazine which recommended doing these enlargements using Microsoft Excel, along with a home computer and printer. It really works, so I just have to share! Here’s the step by steps:

1.  Open Microsoft Excel

2.  In the File Menu select Page Set Up; select Margins; set footer and header to “O” and set the margins to .5 on all 4 sides; select “OK

3.  In the View Menu select Zoom; change the magnification to 25%; select “OK

4.  In the Insert Menu select Picture; select From File and then find the drawing or picture you want to enlarge from your computer, click on it and then select Insert

5.  Your picture/drawing will now be in the upper left corner of the Excel document. Click on it and then place your cursor on the bottom right corner square; click and drag your picture/drawing to the desired size. Each rectangle in the Excel program represents an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper and when you press “print” it does …… and all the sheets fit together!

If you’re printing a photo onto printer fabric, the margins we left will provide enough space around each portion for seam allowance.

If you’re printing a drawing or pattern, the margins can be overlapped when the parts are taped together.

I hope this is helpful. If it seemed a bit confusing, open Excel and give it a whirl. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is!


May 23, 2011, Computers and Quilting
Design Your Own

During our Irish “Sew We Go” adventure many of the quilters signed and exchanged Irish Chain blocks. I pieced mine together into a friendship top shortly after we returned… and then it sat. This past week I decided it was time to quilt it, but how? It was easy to decide to do some straight line quilting through the chains. Then I felt a Celtic Knotwork motif would be nice in the signature blocks, but I didn’t have a stencil. I was pleased with what happened next and thought you might find it interesting and, hopefully, helpful.

I began by pulling out my June Tailor “Mix ‘n Match Templates”™. Each package contains 6 different sizes of a chosen shape. I’ve found them to be a wonderful tool and own all their shapes, but you can also find great templates at the Craft Store. Check out the kid’s foam pieces or wood cutouts there.

A few years ago it was suggested to me that quilts could be marked with Crayola Washable Markers™. I was very hesitant, but decided this would be a good time to try them. I did a test piece first and the marker washed out well. So, I used it to mark the entire quilt and, once the quilting was done, I threw the whole quilt in the washer and it came out great. I’d do it again, but I recommend testing it on every fabric it will be used on.

Sample block, templates and washable marker

Now I was ready to create a design. The packaged “feather” template, shown in the package above, didn’t work, but the small “leaf” template fit into the areas on the center of each side, so I drew them in. I could have connected them, but felt it needed a bit more. I couldn’t find a “tear drop” template, so I drew one of my own and cut it out. Then I traced around both templates until I was pleased with the placement of the shapes.

Celtic Designs usually are not made up of lines, but visual “tubes”, so I needed to “widen” my lines. I drew these free hand about 1/4″ away from the first lines inside each shape.

Next, I needed to connect them and did this free hand too. You’d be surprised how easy this is with only a bit of practice!

Taa Daa!

Drawn and ready to free motion quilt (except this is an extra block and I actually had to draw it in each block on the quilt).  Here it is quilted:

I had so many blocks to quilt that I decided I didn’t need to have the design look like it wove “over and under” at each intersection. Thus the entire block could be done as a continuous line by starting at any crossed line intersection on the pattern.

The best part about creating your own design this way is that you can make it fit your project whenever you’re ready. You never need to have the perfect stencil in your stash.

Have you done any of your own designing? Are there any tools that work well for you? If so, please share :-).


May 14, 2011, free motion Notions
Post Tripping

It took me most of Monday and Tuesday last week to unpack all the stuff I had taken to Paducah, do some laundry and catch up on mail, etc.. At that point I was left with the pile of new stuff I bought at the AQS show. It got me to thinking about quilters and shopping. I’m not sure if this will sound familiar, but there have been many years when I start packing for my annual pilgrimage to Paducah and unearth the complete, and untouched, pile of stuff I had bought there the previous year (a bit embarassing to admit to, but I bet I’m not alone :-).

This is rather guilt inducing and I truly dislike feeling guilty, so I’ve come up with a plan. Actually, my friend Laura and I brainstormed this idea 2 summers ago when we attended the Milwaukee Bead and Button Show. We walked out embracing our treasures and decided we couldn’t go back the next year unless we did something with 3 of our purchases! It ended up being a good challenge and we both were up to it. We used our 3 items in a short amount of time and felt quite virtuous.

So, here’s a photo of my Paducah 2011 “had to haves”:

You might notice a bit of fabric. Who can resist? There’s a few books and a bunch of embellishments, along with 1 tool I’ve already used. I’ll tell you about it in a future blog.

I believe this type of personal challenge will help you to not only alleviate the guilt, but inspire you to use that great stuff. One additional recommendation is to assimilate the stuff you don’t use into the stash so you avoid finding those pesky piles next year.

So………………..have you ever? What do you think of the 3 item challenge? Any additional suggestions?


Fancy Threads

Wendy and I made it home last night with loads of great memories of a great show. I still haven’t unpacked the purchases and sewing stuff. Posting to my blog seemed a bit less challenging.

I enjoy using fancy threads while machine or handquilting, and metallics are among my favorites. The problem is they can be difficult to work with. I recently watched an an excellant video on working with flat, hologram threads. To see it for yourself go to: http://www.superiorthreads.com/videos/thread-education-videos/glitter-hologram-flat-metallic-thread/

Superior Threads has an excellent email newsletter that you can sign up for at the above link. They share a lot of helpful information about thread and are more than willing to answer questions.

One more suggestion I’ve found very helpful: if you do everything from the video and you still have some breakage (it happens), try threading a thin polyester thread in a matching color through your machine with the fancy thread. Run them all the way through as if they were one and thread the needle with both together. The poly won’t show, but will lend strength to the more fragile thread.

What are your favorite fancy threads? Do you have any suggestions for dealing with fussy fibers?


Another Sunny Day

Wendy and I had the day open for fun and did some serious Vendor supporting. So many wonderful things that we didn’t own and really needed :-).

We were able to do our annual lunch at Grace Episcopal Church. This year it was a variety of “slider” sandwiches and salad with cupcakes for dessert – DELICIOUS!

The sweet lady on the right is Molly. She’s a Paducah native who truly loves her hometown and we enjoyed hearing her stories.

This evening Wendy had a class, so after dropping her off I headed downtown. The fiber art exhibit at the Yeiser Art Center was very good. This was the site I viewed upon exiting. The park across the street is where the carriage rides begin and a dixie land band was playing in the gazebo.

 The unique part was the angel “statue” right up front – she was dancing to the music, in between stiking various poses. What fun.

From there I walked to the Four Rivers Performing Arts Center to climb the outside stairs to the second story deck and see a bit of the flood over the wall.

One of the local shop owners said that the water was only up 1 1/2 feet on the downtown flood gate. It’s supposed to crest early next week and shouldn’t be as bad as they first expected here.

There was a large crowd lined up to see Ricky Timm’s performance tonight and as I walked by I ran into some quilting friends from Watertown. We agreed we were all having a great time.

Tomorrow’s the last day. We have some fun planned, including tear down of the show. This week has flown by and, praise the Lord, everything worked out quite well. Looking on the bright side – a lot of memories were made :-). I’ll get back to my “regular”  sharing posts on Monday. Until than I’d like to leave you with these pictures of where the Executive Inn used to be. They were taken Monday before the flood wall was closed off.

 


April 29, 2011, Uncategorized
Having a wonderful time!

Today the sun was shining, the birds were singing and thousands of quilters were enjoying a great event. Wendy and I have been busy doing all the normal Paducah things – praise the Lord! It really came together. The wall quilts and classes are all at First Baptist Church. It has a beautiful lobby:

And the wall quilts are displayed very nicely    (if I do say so myself 🙂 in the Great Room:

I took an excellent class from RaNae Merrill on Spiral Mandalas. She shared many good tips and techniques:

The problem with taking a class is that you don’t get to go out and enjoy the sunshine. We’ll make up for that tomorrow. We have nothing to do but hit the vendors, wander the artist district in Lo Town and have lunch at Grace Episcopal church. We are so blessed.

So tomorrow I’ll post some pics with sunshine, but in parting I’ll leave you with this picture of me with Quiltman at the National Quilt Museum reception (his sidekick, Bobbin Boy, didn’t make it into the picture).

Only in Paducah :-)!!!


April 28, 2011, Travel
The Quilts are up!

Hi again from Paducah!

Wendy and I are exhausted. We were at the Pavillion (marshmallow) at 8am and spent the morning hanging the Bed Quilts and placing the miniatures in their cases. At the same time many vendors were setting up their booths. We got that all together by early afternoon and headed to First Baptist Church to hang the Wall Quilts. That took us until around 7:30pm at which time we did run out for a quick dinner. We ended the evening helping to hang the Lancaster winners  and a few quilt challenges at the vendors malls located in the old Circuit City and Office Max buildings out by the Mall. Got “home” at 9:15!

It took so long because we were “reinventing the wheel” with each venue. All the spaces were different from usual and the hanging periphenalia had to find it’s way there too. AQS did an amazing job of making it all come together. We were so impressed by the way the Schroeders and their staff kept their cool under very stressful circumstances.  It’s a great show and the quilts are breathtaking!!!

The flood walls are up now and it was dry all day (with a huge cloud burst about 1 hour ago). The waters are rising, but shouldn’t crest until the show is over. Paducah is not under water and is really ready for the quilters.

Tomorrow Wendy is taking an all day class and I’m going to go back and actually see the show :-). Hopefully I’ll have some pics for tomorrow’s post.

PS Happy Birthday to Wendy! It was a unique way to celebrate a birthday and we both had a wonderful day!


April 26, 2011, Travel
Paducah News: the Show Will Go On!

After 27 years of a wonderful show, something very different is happening at the beginning of quilt week in Paducah. The rains have been unprecedented and the Ohio River continues to rise. This morning the city decided to install the gates in the flood wall. The problem is that the Convention Center, which was to hold the show, is on the wrong side of the wall!

This photo was taken Downtown. The next one is shot towards the convention center. If you’ve been to the show, the first thing you’ll notice is that the Executive Inn is missing. The Convention Center is in the distance (next to the lower man in orange) and the white dome on the left, through the wall, is the Pavillion (lovingly called the marshmallow).

But the show will go on! We were to hang it today, but plans changed, as all the new set up needed to be done. We will be hanging it all tomorrow and here’s the plan:

The bed quilts, large wall quilts and miniatures will be hung in the Pavillion (on the correct side of the flood wall), downtown. The other wall quilts and all classes will be at the First Baptist Church on 28th and Broadway. All remaining vendors will be in the vacant Circuit City and Office Max buildings behind the Kentucky Oaks Mall. The buses will be running, as usual, so that everyone can get where they want to go. Everything else should be normal. AQS has done an amazing job of reorganizing and we’re all hopeful it will go smoothly.

So, if you’re planning on coming to Quilt Week in Paducah – come! But bring your umbrella :-).


April 25, 2011, Travel
My Favorite Part of Spring

As I write this blog, I’m sitting in Paducah with my dear friend Wendy Rieves. We drove down on Saturday during patches of sunshine and areas of rain. The flowers in Athur, Il were beautiful:

We’ve converted our motel room into a temporary studio with 2 sewing stations, a cutting table and a pressing area.

 

We’ll find time this week to help hang the show, take classes, giggle, stitch, eat; catch up with old friends and make new ones. What a magical place during the AQS show!

Over the years I’ve been blessed to room with many wonderful friends, but for the past 13 Wendy and I have been a team. Whether leading Sew We Go adventures in Europe or heading here each Spring, She and I just travel well together. What a blessing!

It’s difficult to believe that this is my 22nd trip to Quilt City USA. In 1989; a year after I learned to quilt; Sharon Grieve  and Carol Carr invited me to travel to Paducah and help hang a quilt show. I responded “Where’s Paducah?” They explained and I kindly thanked them for asking while explaining that I couldn’t go away for 5 days and leave my family to fend for themselves. Then I went home and told my husband about their crazy idea and he said “have fun”. I don’t think he anticipated it becoming a yearly pilgrimage!

Up until last year I’ve been fortunate to have stayed at the Executive Inn each time. I have so many fond memories of staying there: the convenience of being attached to the convention center, the large rooms (big enough for 2 full beds and 2 roll aways during the “the more the merrier” years and for 3 quilters with machines and a passion to stitch in recent times). That all was torn down last year with the demolition of the Executive Inn. Things change, but thanks to Bill and Meredith Schroeder and so many dear, hard working people in Paducah, the fun continues.

I’ve been to many of the big quilt shows in the US and, in my opinion, this one is the best because the entire city rolls out the red carpet and makes us feel so welcome. I hope to show you a bit of why I’m crazy about Paducah each day. I’ll share a few current photos and throw in a few past pics just for fun. So, if you’re so inclined, please read along!


April 25, 2011, Travel
A Pressing Issue

Many years ago my quilting teacher, Sharon, taught me the ABC’s of quilting:

A is for accurate

B is for be accurate

C is for continue to be accurate

And then know how to fudge when things don’t work :-)!

Many quilters think that pressing is a relatively unimportant topic, but I disagree. We have wonderful tools for cutting extremely accurate pieces; then we strive to sew a perfect “scant quarter inch seam allowance” on our fantastic sewing machines; only to “iron” them with steam while stretching and smashing them all out of whack. So much for accuracy.

I’ve found that if I press (not iron) my seams – to the side – with a dry iron I can virtually eliminate the need to “square up”. In my opinion, if I rotary cut 100 squares and sew 50 pairs from them, then I carefully press each pair flat; I’ve handled them enough and I don’t feel like wasting more time recutting every one to the size I need. Life is just too short for the extra step if it’s easy to avoid. So how do I press without distorting?

1.  After sewing the seam, lay it down unopened and press the dry iron down at one end of the seam, lift, move and press again without sliding the iron. Continue until the entire seam is pressed. This sets the stitches and gives a crisper result.

2. Fold the top fabric down over the seam and finger press. Once it’s flat, place the hot, dry iron on top of it. Move your fingers down to the next portion, followed by the iron again and repeat for the entire seam.

It’s been working well for me. So………do you agree? If you haven’t tried it, please do and let me know what you think.

PS In my original posting of this blog message, my wording gave the idea that I press the seams open. I almost always press to the side and have made the correction above. Thanks to those who spotted it :-).

PPS I do use steam when the quilt top is done and I want to encourage it to be as perfect as possible :o).


April 17, 2011, Piecing
Ewe! Batts!

I couldn’t resist the word play for this week’s topic. It is, of course, wool batting :-)! I’ve heard the pun is the lowest form of humor, but I’m still chuckling (my Dad always said I was my own best audience).

Moving forward – thanks for all the feedback on batts last week. Sharon seems to be liking Fusiboo™ (fusible bamboo batting) and gives her thoughts about it on her blog:   http://sharonrotz.blogspot.com/.  Another friend told me it’s great in totes and bags. The bamboo batt I mentioned is not fusible, but it feels wonderfully soft. I think I’ll try it in a crib quilt and let you know the results.

Nancy commented that she likes the Hobb’s wool because of the warmth. I would agree. There are so many benefits to the new wool batts. Wool has always been warm and snuggly, but until recently it couldn’t be washed in a quilt without a lot of shrinking problems. Technology has overcome that problem and washable wool batts are delightful. The other attribute is that they give the poofiness of poly batts when quilted sparingly, the flatness of cotton batts when quilted more closely and, best of all, a trapunto like look when the quilting density is mixed.

What a blessing this attribute is when making fiber art. The texture is wonderful! And here are some examples to back it up:

 

This small wall quilt was free motion quilted using wool batt and 100 weight silk thread. Here’s a detail shot of how the wool gives a trapunto look:

The next quilt is one of my Parallelisms series and was created during our Alaskan cruise. It’s free motion quilted with poly neon thread:

And here’s a detail of the trapunto effect:

So far I haven’t found any negatives, so if ewe haven’t tried wool batts I highly recommend them!

PS I’ll be teaching a class I call “Beginning Fast Patch” at the Hustisford High School on May 7, 14 & 21 from 8:30 to 12:30 each day. Here’s the description: 
Make a lovely wall quilt while learning basic quiltmaking skills. There will be an emphasis on rotary cutting and machine piecing. The project is a sampler of different blocks and techniques with a hearts and flowers theme that even a more experienced quilter would enjoy making while brushing up on his/her skills.

Contact Cindy at  for more information. 


April 11, 2011, Batting Uncategorized
Going Batt-y

I’ve just returned from a wonderful quilt teaching adventure in Alabama! The sun was shining and the flowers were blooming, but the best part was the friendly quilters I met there. What a blessing.

While flying home and daydreaming, I began thinking about a project I just layered with the new Dream Green™ batt from Quilter’s Dream. I’ve used it in a number of quilts and have been very happy. It’s a 100% polyester batt made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s soft and has a wonderful drape. I give it a thumbs up.

So this week’s topic is batting. I’ve done quite a bit of research and have discovered that there is no perfect batt because we make quilts for so many purposes. Here are some of my favorites:

Typically I use Hobb’s Thermore™ for handquilting because it is very thin and easy to needle (I need all the help I can get to create small even stitches).

For table runners and some wall hangings I like Warm & Natural™ because it’s dense and lies really flat.

For quilts made to keep loved ones warm I usually use a 80% cotton/20% poly blend batt such as Hobb’s Heirloom™ because it has a nice drape and snuggles well.

If I want the look of trapunto – the new washable wool batts are wonderful. They poof where not quilted and flatten nicely in quilted areas.

I tend to find something I like and not look further, but there are so many great new batts out there I thought I’d ask for your input.

I have purchased the new Legacy™ Bamboo Blend from Pellon and it is incredibly soft to the touch, but I haven’t used it in a quilt yet. Have you?

I’d really like your opinion.

What batt is your favorite? Why?

 Please let me know which ones I have to try :-)!


April 4, 2011, Batting Uncategorized
Loose Ends

Before we get to the “topic of the week” I’d like to share a smile. In Thursday’s class Jean shared a new quilting acronym: SABLE. It stands for “stash accumulated beyond life expectancy” (I definately fit this one)!

Moving along :-)………..this week’s topic is about stops and starts when machine quilting. Coming from a garment background, my first inclination was to backstitch. This meant that each time I began I’d go a few stitches and then reverse over them. Then I would stitch forward over them one more time and an ugly blob would always result. I decided to stop doing that quite quickly.

Then I decided to try the lock stitch on my sewing machine and discovered in a hurry that it didn’t “lock” as well as I wanted it to.

My next impulse was to begin with a very short stitch length for the first 1/4″ and then to slowly lengthen the stitches until I reached the length I desired. I would end this way too and I still use this technique in most of my quilts. It works well for both machine guided and free motion quilting. The short stitches anchor quite well and are not too visable, but there are times I don’t want to be able to detect the starts and stops at all.

In these cases I use a tip from Sue Nickels for knotting off and burying the tails. The trick is to use “Easy Threading” needles.

When the thread is pressed into the “v” at the top of these needles it will pop into the upper hole. Thus no threading! When you’re doing a lot of tails, this is an incredible help that reduces eye strain

 

Leave 2″ tails on the top, pop both threads  into the needle, insert needle in end of last stitch and pull through to the back.

 

 

 

Tie a square knot on the back tight against the quilt.

Pop tails into needle once again, enter at end of stitching, run the needle between layers for about 1″ and bring tails back out to the  back.

 

 

Clip threads close to the back and repeat for remaining tails.

 ENJOY!

 

PS Cheryl Anderson sent me a great link for quilters who want to do something to help the people of Japan during this difficult time. The project is entitled: “Hearts and Hands for Sendai” and it involves making just one block. Please visit this blog for all the information: http://pinyoncreek.blogspot.com/2011/03/hearts-and-hands-for-sendai.html


Setting Blocks

Thanks to a number of quilting friends I’ve recently been enjoying a video of dancing quilt blocks: http://www.nfb.ca/film/quilt/?ec=en20110209. I especially liked the music since it reminded me of our last Sew We Go adventure in Ireland. The way the sampler all came together in the end was  delightful and, even though the set of the blocks was simple, it got me thinking about block setting.

I put together a sampler top recently and wanted to do more with the blocks than just sash them in horizontal rows. After a bit of playing I determined that alternating them with hour-glass (quarter square triangle) blocks made the quilt much more interesting.

So here’s the topic: whether you’ve made a stack of the same star block or a sampler of stars (or anything else), how do you decide the best setting? I have a number of suggestions.

1. If you already have the blocks made, just lay them out! I like to start with a horizontal set and snap a digital picture. Then I move them around (on point, leave gaps to represent sashing, etc.) and snap another picture. After I’ve photographed a few options, I download them to my computer and put all of them on one page so I can compare. It’s much easier than just moving the blocks around while trying to remember which way you liked the best.

2.Use a computer program like Electric Quilt. It’s amazing how quick and easy this step becomes. You simply choose a block (or blocks) from the program library, choose a setting (horizontal, on point, sashed, etc.) and with the click of a mouse you get a great visual of what the quilt could look like. Then, with a few more clicks, the blocks can be rotated or the colors changed. It’s amazing, but there are disadvantages: you need to own the program, you need to know how to use the program and it can “eat” time out of your day.

3. If the block is still just a PIMM (project in my mind) or you’ve just made one block and want to see if you like it in a whole quilt without buying a computer quilt program, make copies of the block on a printer and lay the copies out as in step one.

Any other ideas???


March 21, 2011, Uncategorized
Test Drive II

I received a comment to Monday’s post from Pat concerning what I had planned to share in today’s update on “Test Drive”. She sent it to me via email and I couldn’t have said it better – so I wanted to share it here:

Chris I use Glad Press-n-Seal™  for auditions. I place it over the area/block that I am interested in. I draw with a washable crayola marker over the block–you get a better idea of whether it will work or not. If it is something  that you want to reproduce accurately just take the Press-n-seal™ off the quilt top and put it over computer paper or card stock and cut the shape out. Now you have your own stencil“.

Thanks Pat. I would like to add, if the design works and it is simple, you can quilt right through the Press-n-Seal™ and then tear it away along the stitching line!

Thanks also to Sarah for commenting about the plexiglas sheet she uses to audition designs. Another great idea!

On another topic……the Milwaukee Art Quilters have just hung an exhibit of our “Common Objects” challenge at the fine art gallery of UW Waukesha (University Drive, next to the Field House). It’s a fascinating collection of fiber art pieces with each one being inspired by a common object. Our opening reception will be this Monday, March 14th at 8:30pm. My common object was a votive candle and I call my quilt “Let You Light So Shine”:

This small piece is part of my “Crossings” series where 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. The “candles” are beaded onto the “flames”. One of the rules of the challenge was that the quilt had to have some non-fabric portion, so I used mylar for some of the flames and dripped wax all down the candles. Great fun!

I’m leaving tomorrow to visit my daughter in Washington, so I’ll be taking a week off from posting. Thanks for being part of my blog! Chris


Test Drive

Thanks for all the encouraging words about my “Willy” quilt. It’s good for us to try new things. Who knows where they could lead :-).

While I contemplate that I need to move on to a new topic of the week: trying out quilting designs. This isn’t about the designs themselves (this time), but I’d like to share some of the ways I audition designs.

I believe the big question of “what design will work in this quilt?” keeps many quilters from quilting their tops themselves, and keeps the long armers in business. If they could just preview a few options to see which one looks best, doing the quilting might not seem so intimidating.

Here’s one simple idea: take a picture of the quilt top and print out 3 or 4 copies. This should be done in color, but the lowest quality print setting will use less ink and work just fine. If you are computer savvy enough to put 4 pictures on one page before printing – all the better:

Then you take a pencil and begin to imagine. My basic direction at this point is to ponder what would be fun to quilt at that moment: straight lines, free motion swirls, or ???

Once an idea pops into my brain I begin to draw it on the first print out. For this one I thought I might like to do simple straight lines with the walking foot. Let’s zoom in to see it:

That was a bit boring. How about a mix of straight lines with a template heart?

I don’t really care to do template designs. Would free motion swirls with repeats in the borders be interesting?

Not bad, but maybe it’s a good day for spirals:

I’m not sure if any of these will be the one I’m in the mood for on the day I do the quilting because this is not that day (it’s actually 11pm). I hope you noticed that I didn’t have to draw on the entire quilt to get the feel for how well the design was working. On Thursday I’ll share another way I use to make these often challenging decisions. Do you have any favorites?


Mischievous Blues

The latest Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge is entitled “The Blues”. The quilt needed to be 31″ square, at least 1/2 blue and fit the theme. My grandson Willy has the most beautiful blue eyes, so my subject matter was simple. However, creating him in fabric was truly a challenge. I have done very little in the way of faces, so this was a great learning opportunity. I used a mixture of Repliqué  and my version of Caryl Fallert’s Appli-piecing technique, all accented with thread painting.

So here’s the picture of Willy with big sister Hanna:

 

and here’s the quilt:

As you can see, the real Willy’s a whole lot cuter than the quilt Willy, but overall I’m pretty happy with my first attempt and have learned a lot. We all need to try new things :-).

The one part I was pleased with was his hair and that (along with his eyelashes) was my thread painting adventure.

I used a fabric which contained areas of all the right values of golden red to brown, appli-pieced chunks of it together and then the fun began. I changed thread often and truly scribbled horizontally all over. It was freeing and almost fool proof! A great technique to have in your bag of tricks. I hope you have the chance to try it!


March 3, 2011, Challenges free motion
Thread Painting

Way back in 2000, when I was developing projects for my first book, I stumbled onto a technique called thread painting. I wanted to make the cones on my Coneflower quilt spikey. I decided to try dropping the feed dogs on my machine, threading it with a variegated thread, stitching in a “cone-ish” way and seeing what developed. I was very pleased with my first effort and was excited that it was beginner easy!

A few years later I had the chance to take a class with Nancy Prince. She’s an award winning quilter and  excellant teacher. Her method in her Quilt Savvy book  requires so much thread that she often makes her motifs on a separate fabric with stabilizer and then cuts them out and stitches them to her quilts. I made this tree in class and was pleased with her wonderful technique.

 

The stabilizer is still under the stitching, waiting to be washed away. I haven’t done any more of it yet, but it’s stored in my bag of tricks, waiting for just the right project :-).

Ann Fahl is another teacher who does great thread painting. In many of her pieces she adds the thread to the quilt top before quilting. She then quilts around these areas allowing them to puff a bit and not have the flat look that occurs when the threadwork is done in the quilting step.

I’ve just finished my latest project and………SUPRISE!……….it contains some thread painting. I’ll share the new quilt along with some detail shots in Thursday’s posts.

Have you any adventures in thread painting to share?

 


February 27, 2011, Embellishing free motion
Friendship Exchanges II

Thanks to everyone who responded! I appreciate all the great suggestions. Now Wendy and I need to do a bit of brainstorming and share our ideas with the Irish quilters. We’ll let you know what we come up with :-).


February 25, 2011, Challenges
Friendship Exchanges

I’ve recently begun a delightful email relationship with one of the quilters I met in Ireland on our Sew We Go trip last October. Sandlin and I have been sharing stories about our families, faith and quilting. She’s currently making a quilt using Replique for her grandson. It’s delightful and really makes me smile.

You can visit her guild’s blog at: www.westernips.blogspot.com

Wendy and I are hoping to put together some sort of friendship exchange/challenge with our Irish travelers and the Galway branch of the Irish Patchwork Society. We haven’t come up with the details yet and I was wondering if any of you have done long distance exchanges that were successful.

I did one in the early 1990’s that was great fun. I was living in Madison, WI and belonged to Mad City Quilters. A group of quilters in Freiburg, Germany contacted us for a challenge and also invited a group from Bern, Switzerland. The German quilters chose 3 fabrics (1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green print) and sent 20 packets of the 3 fabrics to us and 20 to the Swiss quilters also. We, along with 20 German quilters, were to each make a small wall quilt using the fabrics. That was it! The resulting quilts were delightful! Here’s mine:

The most exciting part was that we were able to send them all to Freiburg and have all 60 hung in their town hall. Then all 60 came here and were displayed at the Civic Center on State Street in Madison. Lastly the quilts were exhibited in Bern before we each got ours back. This quilt has been many places I haven’t.

The added fun of this Irish exchange is that we’ve met the quilters from Galway. Now to come up with the perfect challenge (perfect is a relative term :-). Any suggestions? I’m really hoping for some helpful input from all you talented folk! Ta ta til Thursday!


February 21, 2011, Challenges
Well Behaved Beads II

Trying to pick up tiny beads, with a tiny needle, which is tethered by a thread to your work can be aggravating. A few years back I came up with a way to make those beads behave and the magic tool is clear mailing tape! It’s really quite simple:

1.  Wrap a piece of mailing tape, sticky side out, around the forefinger of your non-dominant hand (left, if you’re right handed).

2.  Pour the beads onto a flat surface and dip your taped finger into them.

3.  Knot your thread and bring it up through the quilt where the bead needs to go, pick a bead off the tape with the tip of the needle, attach the bead and repeat.

Voila! Beading can be done in the doctor’s office, at kid’s sporting events and even in a moving vehicle. One of the best advantages of this technique is that the beads are close to the work area and so, as the thread gets shorter, the beads are easy to reach.

Have fun beading!


February 18, 2011, Embellishing
Well Behaved Beads

 

Sometimes quilts need a bit of extra sparkle and beads can be just the right touch.  Here is a quilt I call “Confetti” with detail shots of the beads:

 

 

 

 

 

Bead shops are almost as much fun to wander through as quilt shops, but how do you make beads work on a quilt? I’ve discovered my own ways and will do a bit of sharing. Even though these pictures don’t do the tiny beads justice, I hope you get the idea :-).

Typically I don’t use beads on bed quilts, but they can really add something on wall hangings and quilted accessories. The first time I attempted to add beads to a project was during a crazy quilting phase. This Christmas stocking has only a few beads, but they were a nice addition:

Years ago Sharon Rotz gave me a crazy quilt pillow which I still treasure. She did a great job of embellishing with beads.

Her latest blog topic is “pillows”. To read all about it go to: http://sharonrotz.blogspot.com/ 

And speaking of other blogs. Cheryl Anderson takes beading to a whole new level in her crazy quilts. She shares a lovely beaded ornament on her blog:

http://cheryls-chatelaine.blogspot.com/2010/07/class-on-beaded-ornaments.html

In 1997 I made a Green Bay Packers quilt to celebrate winning the Super Bowl. It was made as a sample in a Fast Patch Sampler class I was teaching at the local tech college (watch here – it may be taught again :-). Beads added to the festive feel. We’re enjoying this quilt all over again with our recent win!

The beads adorn the streamers along the right panel of the quilt and also attach some of the buttons. In addition, I’ve used beads on small purses:

 My “Crossings” series quilts are where I’ve really gotten into beading, but that’s a topic deserving it’s own post.

In Thursday’s post I’ll share my favorite way to make beads behave while attaching them to your quilt. In the mean time, do you have any quilts with beads you’d like to share, or maybe a favorite technique for attaching them to your quilt??? 


February 14, 2011, Embellishing
Spirals

I’m so glad many of you enjoyed “Leah Day’s 365 Days of Free Motion Designs”. She has really inspired me!

I mentioned in Monday’s post that I find the quilting process to be so much more fun if I’m quilting a free mo design I like doing. I have many “favorites” (and there are so many left to try :-), but so far the design I enjoy the most is spirals. The secret to good spirals is:

#1 – Practice!

#2 – Make them fun sized! So often we think everything has to be “stipplelike” tiny. Most normal quilters don’t do projects that need tight and tiny designs and making your designs a bit more open often yields a more pleasing effect.

#3 – Leave yourself an out! Begin by starting a circle the size of a quarter or even a half dollar. As you spiral in make sure you leave the channel opening double the size you want the actual channel to be.

#4 – Circle out down the center of the channel opening and once you reach the “exit”, continue around the outside until you feel like branching off and starting another spiral.

#5 – Be careful. With a little practice these can become addictive!

For those of you in Wisconsin; next Saturday, February19, I’ll be teaching Beyond Meandering for the Hustisford Community Ed Department. Hustisford is a small town on Hwy. 60, north of Watertown. This is a workshop for quilters who have tried a bit of free motion quilting and are already tired of stippling or meandering. There are so many fun designs to try and we’ll play with a bunch! The class will run from 9 – 3 at Hustisford High School. To sign up please contact Cindy Fitzsimmons at 920-349-3261 ext. 228 or . For more information feel free to contact me. Thanks and happy quilting :-)!


February 10, 2011, free motion
Free Motion Fillers

All you need to be a good free motion quilter is practice. With enough of it you may reach the point where quilting the quilt is as much fun as making the top. I’ve reached that point and truly enjoy learning new designs. In case you missed a recent comment from Johanna, I’d like to share the site she recommended. It’s http://www.daystyledesigns.com/365project.htm. Leah Day is a quilter who has challenged herself to come up with a new free mo design each day for a year. She’s close to completing this challenge and, by going to her site, you can not only see the day’s design, but watch a short video on how she does it. The best part is that all of her designs are at your fingertips with just a click of the mouse. I truly admire Leah’s creativity and have enjoyed playing with some of her designs.

The one that has intriqued me the most so far is called Fiery comet:

and Angles and Circles is a close second:

Angles and Circles by Leah Day

 They are a great leaping off point for me to make a variation of my own. What I find makes quiting fun is choosing a design that I feel like doing that day. I always tell my students that if you choose a design because you think a judge might feel it’s the right one, you probably won’t enjoy the quilting and the end product won’t be your best effort. Instead, decide what you feel in the mood for that day and go at it with abandon. Things turn out better when you want to do them and they actually get done!

On Thursday I’ll share my favorites. What are yours?

PS It’s 3:30 on Super Bowl Sunday – Go Pack!


February 6, 2011, free motion
Effort or Blessing

We all have talents as well as struggles, but I watched something recently that made me realize how minor my current struggles seem to be when it comes to quilting. I’ve never shared a You Tube video with you before, but this one was so inspiring I thought you’d all enjoy it. Thanks to Barb J. for sending it to me. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lfaSmDxVZQ]

As I watched the beginning I was inspired by Diane Rose’s sense of humor, positive attitude and perseverance in the face of what appears to be a great handicap, but as the video continued it was obvious that she has a special joy and quilting is a big part of that. Her quilting is not an effort, but a blessing.

My thoughts meandered from her story to some of my friends who create beautiful quilts in spite of a variety of handicaps: arthritis, fibromyalgia, back surgeries and the list goes on. Most of these quilters are not complainers, but rejoicers. Many have a strong faith, which I believe we all need to face life’s challenges, and they use their passion for quilting to take their focus off of their troubles. In so doing they can overcome them, at least for a while. I’ve also noticed that these friends often tend to be involved in quilting for others. Doing for others is such a blessed way to take our minds off of our problems.

After all this deep thinking and reflecting, what I really realized is how blessed I am to have this gift for quilting, the ability to create brings me such joy and the friendship of other quilters is so special. I’m grateful for my blessings as well as my struggles. They are all a part of my journey through this life. One of the reasons we’re here is to encourage each other. Thanks to so many of you for being an encouragement to me!


January 30, 2011, Inspiration
Simple Cable

Nancy was right. I’ve practiced to the point where I really enjoy free motion quilting and so I’d rather do some fancy quilting in a border than fancy piecing:

But, as I’ve been told, not everyone feels about free mo as I do. So, what do you do if you want to add a little more zip than straight line quilting? Years ago I learned a slick way to do simple cable borders. The marking is easy. The machine guided stitching is easy. The cables will fit your border. And, since you’re along the outside edge, it can easily be done on a large, bed quilt!

1. Cut out a piece of freezer paper the size of the border area you want to fill along one side and without including the corners. This strip will work for all 4 sides on a square quilt. For a rectangular quilt you’ll need to cut 2 freezer paper strips, one for the width and one for the length.

2. Fold a strip in half, quarters, etc. until you get to a size that would make a nice single cable (my sample was folded quite a few times and will make a chubby cable). If you’re doing a length and a width, try to get both to about the same folded up size (close is good enough). You may need to do thirds instead of halves when folding one of the strips to get them even.

3. Make a mark 1/2″ from the bottom on the left of the front fold and 1/2″ from the top on the right. Draw an “S” to attach them.

4. Cut along the line through all the folded layers.

5. Open and press the shiny side of one of the strips onto one border along the inside edge (set the matching strip aside).

6. Stitch along the curved edge of the paper, being careful not to stitch through it. Remove the paper.

7. Press the same freezer paper strip over the stitched border, but along the raw edge this time (be sure to leave space for the binding).

8. Stitch once again, remove the paper, repeat for remaining borders and then use your imagination to connect the lines in the corners.

Please give it a try and let me know what you think :).


Border Quilting

Often after piecing/appliquéing the blocks of a quilt I lose steam and want to get the border on simply and quickly. Then, while  layering and quilting I’m so busy dreaming about the next PIMM (“project in my mind”) that I miss the “fun” of borders! Actually, I’m trying to talk myself into thinking of this as fun because I often fizzle out at this point.

Sometimes I can get excited about doing a bit of appliqué out there on the edge, and maybe a prairie point or 2, but seldom do I do a lot of border piecing. I once read that it takes about as many blocks to border a bed sized quilt as there are in the center. Whoa! Once I realized that was true it made the task even more daunting.

We all need to know ourselves and go from there. I enjoy piecing, but must admit I’m a bit odd in that I reallllllllly enjoy machine quilting. So……….. I’ve discovered I’d rather add simple borders which are plain enough to be able to be made extra special with stitching. We’ll get to more of that on Thursday :-).

When students reach the point of just wanting to get some borders on, my simplest advice is to add 1, 2 or 3 borders of different widths, making sure the widest is made from one of the interesting fabrics from the inside of the quilt. Typically it looks best if the widest border is the last one (these are generalities and don’t always work on every quilt).

Here’s a simple little Christmas quilt with 3 borders:

Now for the quilting. I still contend stitching in the ditch is the most difficult way to quilt because if you don’t stay in the ditch it looks lousy and if you stitch a set distance from the ditch, and parallel to it,  it’s easier to do and adds interest to the overall design. 

But I have a warning. If your outside edge is the least bit wobbly, quilting straight lines, parallel to the borders, can cause stretching and more wobble. By quilting “piano key” style lines perpendicular to the border some wobbles can actually be calmed down. These lines can be evenly spaced, but uneven spacing can add some interest too. They don’t need to be rigid either (please ignore the spiral quilting in the corner):

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I have a few ideas for adding some extra punch to simple border quilting and plan to share them on Thursday. Until then: do you love to piece intricate borders? Is there anyone out there who likes creating borders as much as making the center? Do you have a favorite plan of attack for quilting borders?


What’s a Land Cruise?

In previous posts you’ve read about the Sew We Go cruises Wendy and I have led in the US and Europe, but you may not have heard about the Land Cruises (click for web site) we’ve been involved in.

Barbara Vallone and her crew put on a delightful and imaginative “trip” in Racine, Wisconsin every March.

2011 will mark their 15th year of great classes, fun events, delicious food and much more at the Radisson Inn, Racine, on March 4, 5,  & 6! The philosophy behind a Land Cruise is that some quilters can’t take a traditional cruise, but would still like to participate in a “cruise-like” getaway. Barb’s group provides a fun conference where quilters are pampered while having fun and learning new things.

The theme this year is “Landscape Quilts” and Natalie Sewell, Wendy Rieves and I are just some of the teachers involved. I’ll be teaching my Repliqué technique for turning favorite photos into quilt blocks as well as a child’s version (with a Repliquéd playground scene) of the backpack made from placemats and men’s neckties which was our project on the Irish adventure.

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Barb’s chocolate salad, so please make plans to attend!

Visit the website: www.quilterslandcruise.com or contact Barb at: 262-639-8185/  for more information.


January 16, 2011, Travel
Project Creep

After posting the pictures on Monday I pulled everything off the shelves/counters and decided to really clean and organize. In class yesterday at WCTC, Cindy shared the expression “Project Creep” (referred to as PC from now on :-). She said this is when you begin doing something small (fix sewing table) and it escalates step by step into lots of work and, usually, a fair amount of unplanned expense. BINGO! She hit the nail on the head. Then Jean added that the good part is we feel so virtuous once it’s done. I’m almost there :-)!

Mike did a wonderful job repairing my table. We took the old tv to the recylcing center and in it’s place I now have a 19″ flat screen that weighs almost nothing and has a great picture, but it needed to be elevated. So Mike and I had to go antiquing (one of our favorite pastimes) and we found a great “explosives” crate with dovetail joints. It was only $25. Do I hear “project creep”? Its a handy place to keep all the essentials close at hand and provides space under the tv I didn’t have before.

But the tv was still too low, so I raised it up on an old wood case my dad (a retired dentist) inherited with his first practice. It was meant to hold the plastic teeth used to make dentures, but I discovered its a perfect place to keep my button collection! Now the tv is at the right level and I’m much more organized!

Next………threads!

My threads had been in “Matchbox Car” cases and I used to love the organization they provided, but I found I was always opening, closing and flipping boxes to find what I needed. Thus, I had to hit the store for a plastic drawer unit that went where the microwave had been. I love the ease of finding threads now! More “PC” expense, but that virtuous feeling is making it all worthwhile.

The microwave is now at the end of the counter, the counter and shelves are dusted and organized and I’ve only got that small (relative term) pile of stuff left in the middle of the room I really don’t know what to do with.

I plan to have that gone by lunch. I wonder if it’s going to cost me any more “PC” cash??? 

Thanks to Cindy and Jean for their input. Anyone else have a great organizing/storage tip they’d like to share?

(a 2pm addition to the original post)

Eureeka!!! The pile’s gone, the carpet’s vacuumed and it’s only 2 hours past lunch. Talk about feeling virtuous. I think I need a cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate :-)!


January 14, 2011, sewing space/studio
Housekeeping

While taking the photograph of my “3 Pin” technique for last week’s blog, I broke the gate leg on my sewing machine cabinet. My dear husband was kind enough to attempt a repair, but that required pulling everything out and flipping it over in the middle of the room.

This allowed me to view all the dust bunnies that were hiding behind the machine and a new adventure began. Here’s the way my studio looks now:

And another angle with Mike hard at work :-)!

Now don’t you feel better about the condition of your space?

The problem with projects like this is that one thing leads to another and there are some cleaning/reorganizing things that just need to be done. Like…………….

 

The tv that sits next to my machine is old, big and still has a dial that clicks when you change channels. It has to go! So now I need a new, small flat screen tv and I’ll have to find some sort of extra storage to go beneath it (reorganizing always seems to have a price tag attached). While purchasing the tv I was informed that the microwave (just to the right of the tv) shouldn’t sit next to it, so I’m pulling everything off the counters and shelves and hope to come up with some great new studio set up ideas. Hopefully Thursday’s post will prove quite interesting.

Any suggestions while I’m at it???

 PS This really isn’t helping the fact that the latest Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge deadline was moved up and I’m only at the designing stage. That’s what keeps life interesting :-)!


January 9, 2011, sewing space/studio
Pucker Less

I hope the puckers in my last post made you smile. But, I must admit, puckers in my quilts never make me smile.

Even if you safety pin baste your quilt sandwich together well (every 3 or 4 inches) and use a walking foot, those pesky puckers still tend to sneak in. So what’s my favorite tip for avoiding this frustration? I call it my “3 Pin Technique” and it’s actually quite simple.

1.  Put the needle down at the beginning of the line you wish to quilt (I plan to quilt between the light and dark purple areas on my fabric).

2. Place a straight quilting pin (mine have yellow heads in the picture) perpendicular to the quilting line and about 1  1/2″ from the needle. Place the second straight pin 1 1/2″ further down the line and repeat for the third pin.

 

3.  Stitch along the line to the first pin, and then remove it. Continue this way to the second and third pins.

4.  Repin ahead of the needle as in step 2 and continue along the entire line.

Although this may seem a bit tedious, you can really get into a rhythm and the “easing” action of the pins will make pucker problems a thing of the past. The feedback from my students has been great!

 


Puckerless

Happy New Year! The tradition of kissing your sweetie at midnight on New Years gave me the idea for my topic of the week :-).

A kiss involves puckering and that can be a good thing:

But sometimes its better to pucker less:

This is especially true when machine quilting! Even if you use a walking foot those pesky puckers have a way of sneaking in on the top and on the back too.

Puckers appear when the 3 layers of the quilt sandwich shift under the pressure of the presser foot. Free motion quilting is one way to avoid some of the problem as the foot is not pressing down and thus things aren’t as apt to shift. But free motion quilting is not the answer for everone. So what can be done?

I’ve come up with a number of ways to minimize this problem. The first comes in on the pinning step. When layering your quilt, be sure the back is taut but not stretched. I’ve found the best way to do this on a small quilt is to use masking tape to secure the back to the table or floor (clamps along the edge of a table work well too). Once the back is taut, the batting and top may be smoothed on top and the pinning may begin. I’ve found this very helpful, but be careful not to stretch the back since this can cause the quilt to shrink up when the tape is removed and will lead to puckers on the front.

When pinning a larger quilt I prefer to use a simple frame made of 2 x 2’s, 4 chairs and 4 clamps. The frame is a great back saver. I may have to share pictures and directions for that in a future post, but if you’ve been in my open lab classes you already know how well this works :-).

Using a walking foot (sometimes called an even feed foot) for machine guided quilting is a must. This foot moves the top of the quilt along while the feed dogs move the bottom and this prevents a lot of the shifting, but it’s not always the complete cure.

I’ll share my favorite pucker prevention technique in my Thursday post. Until then do you have any suggestions to share?

PS Thanks to my family for humoring me in my pucker contest. I’m not telling whose pictured above, but it did provide a few giggles on Christmas Eve.


Gallery Opening

You’re invited to the following event! I’m very excited to have a collection of my quilts (and 2 pieces which I made in collaboration with Sharon Rotz) on display at this prestigious Milwaukee Gallery. I would be honored to see you at the opening!

                                                                  

Quilts: Story Material

January 8-February 19

Quilts, hangings and other quilted pieces by artists including: Juleen Jaeger, Chris Lynn Kirsch and Judy Zoelzer Levine.

Artists’ Reception  

Saturday, January 8, 1-4 

Artists’ Talk at 2 pm

St. Johns on the Lake

Uihlein Peters Gallery:

Monday-Saturday: 10-5

1840 N. Prospect Ave. 

 


December 31, 2010, Uncategorized
Quilting, Kids and Giggles

Thanks to everyone who sent me advice concerning picture quality on my blog. The general concensus was that I need to get a better program to work on my photos and so I’m asking Santa for Photo Shop. Jan’s suggestion about visiting:   http://thepioneerwoman.com/photography/ was especially interesting.

I have a number of quilting technique topics I’ve been wanting to share, but will wait until I’m able to send clearer pictures. That being said, I would like to share a delightful moment in pictures. I think they’re clear enough to make you smile.

One day when Hanna and Willy were here I needed a bit of quilting time and they, of course, wanted to help. I took down my fish bowl full of scraps and put it in the middle of the floor in the hope that it would entertain them. Hanna began picking out 1 piece at a time and sorting them into piles while Willy just watched.

 

I told him he could take things out too and that led to a joyous explosion of fabric.

 

Then they got a little carried away :-)!

Even the dog got into the act! And grandpa couldn’t resist grabbing the camera once the commotion started.

These kids loved rolling in fabric! Their grandma must be a quilter.

Admit it – you’d love to roll around in fabric too :-)!

I’ve decided I’m going to take a break over the holidays and my blog will hopefully return new and improved in 2011. Have a blessed Christmas everyone.


December 16, 2010, Uncategorized
Christmas Quilts and Photography Questions

This was the post I intended to upload last Thursday:

To keep with the theme of quilting for Christmas, I’d like to share some of my students projects. In my Open Lab class at WCTC this past week Marie brought in a very cheery tree skirt.

 

The past few weeks I’ve been sharing some Christmas project patterns with the students in this class. Here are the coasters Judy brought in for show and tell:

 

Last week in class we printed favorite photos onto fabric and made ornaments. Here are just a few of the ornaments made by this talented group:

Making Christmas gifts for family and friends can bring us such joy. Since it’s snowing again here, I plan on staying home and doing just that for the next 2 days. What a blessing to have the time to do what we enjoy. I hope you’re finding some joyful stitching time too!

But I didn’t post it then because I’m so disappointed with the quality of the pictures I upload to my blog. I’m hoping some of you technologically savvy quilters might have a suggestion or two.

When I download pictures from my digital camera to the computer – they look great and I can print them out with very good results. In the beginning of my blogging I just uploaded them, was disappointed, and let it go because I’d rather quilt than deal with techy stuff, but recently it’s really been bugging me. Since then I discovered that I can save the photos in a web ready format using Microsoft Picture It Publishing. It allows me to save a picture at 320, 440 and 600 pixels. I’ve tried all three, plus the way they come from my camera and the results are crummy every time. Any suggestions??? I think I may need to break down and take a class.


December 12, 2010, Photography
Christmas and Quilts

What a beautiful season! Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I so enjoy all the lovely quilted projects made to decorate our homes at this time. My favorite Christmas quilt is a lone star I made as a class sample, with fabrics from my stash, many years ago. I ended up liking it so much that I hand quilted it with the names of each family member in the corners and I can’t wait to hang it up every year

A while back I designed a small Holy Family quilt using Clover Quilt Bias™ for a stained glass look. I taught it as a class many times and it was quite popular :-).

Recently I saw a lovely photo that I just had to recreate in fabric. I contacted the owner for permission and made one of these small quilts for many in my family:

Do you have a picture of a favorite Christmas quilt you’d like to share? I would be happy to add it to my blog so others can enjoy it too. Please send it to me via email: .


December 7, 2010, Uncategorized
Quilting Kid

Thanks to everyone who gave suggestions for quilting with kids. I decided the best way to start with Hanna was to open up my box of 6″ squares (from various exchanges) and watch her reaction. She had to feel every square. She’s really grandma’s girl :-).  She chose her favorite 12 and they were mostly Christmas prints.

I then set my featherweight up on a bench, with Hanna on a stool and she was off. She listened carefully and did just as I instructed. I was very pleased and impressed. It was hard for her to step on the pedal with the ball of her foot, but her heel worked great! She drove and grandma helped guide (along with a thick layer of masking tape).

While pressing the seams we both held the iron together (with Hanna’s free hand on her knee – to prevent burns). She stitched the blocks into a doll quilt set 3 x 4 and then we layered it with flannel and stitched almost all the way around. Hanna turned it right side out and helped pin the players together. We did some straight quilting lines and, less than 2 hours later, it was finished!

 

Her response: “let’s make another one”! She’s definitely grandma’s girl :-).


December 2, 2010, Uncategorized
Quilts and Kids

Snuggle & Learn Quilts for Kids, my most recent Replique book, was all about making colorful, cuddly and educational quilts for kids.  

It was written for adults to create these gifts of love for the special children in their life, but there’s another aspect to quilts and kids – teaching them to sew!

Over the years I’ve taught sewing to a number of different groups of kids. My daughter’s girl scout troop was among the first. They made vests to showcase their merit badges  – and this was before I learned to quilt. After I became addicted to quilting I taught my daughter to quilt, but it wasn’t exactly her thing.

A few years later I decided that my 5th grade Sunday School classes could make charity quilts as a way of doing something for others in need. The boys especially enjoyed the “accelerator” on the sewing machine and all the kids seemed to like stitching. 

This week I’m hoping for some helpful advice. My granddaughter Hanna is almost 5 and I’d like to plant some quilting seeds :-). Do you have any suggestions regarding quilting activities geared toward this age? The kids I’ve taught have always been older and I’d rather not reinvent the wheel. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!


November 28, 2010, Uncategorized
Anything Goes

The most unique challenge I’ve participated in is among my favorites. A number of years ago the Milwaukee Art Quilters discussed doing a “round robin” sort of challenge as Sarah explained in her comment (thanks Sarah). The theory being that one person makes a block or row and passes it to another who adds whatever the challenge rules dictate and after 3 or 4 additions the originator gets it back. The problem was that fiber artists seem to really dislike rules. So, we did an “Anything Goes Round Robin”. Each participant put something in a bag (block, piece of fabric, or whatever – no rules) and the next person could do anything they wanted to it! After 4 rounds the originator got it back and could finish as desired. The only real rule was that you couldn’t be upset about what anyone did to your item along the way.

My finished Anything Goes quilt is entitled “Puzzling Spumoni” :

It began as 3 hexagon log cabin blocks from a failed 1995 workshop where the teacher discovered half way through that the blocks wouldn’t fit together and the class ended. The fabrics were dated and I had no need for the blocks, so in the bag they went.

The first person chopped 2 of the blocks up and sewed them back together into a long strip. The second person thread painted a peacock feather on a light pink background and bordered it with the pieced unit. The third chopped again and added a bunch of stuff from her scrap bag. She then cut this new “fabric” into puzzle pieces and threw them in a bag. The fourth artist stacked them into a pile on a black background and put a cherry on top. This is how it was returned to me. I put it in a dish and added the spoon.

It is an odd shaped and humorous piece which I love, even though it really doesn’t go in my living room. I learned a lot working on the other quilts and feel its a good excercise in creativity. I challenge you to try it in your own group!


November 27, 2010, Challenges
Challenges

I enjoy taking on a quilting challenge! Please understand, I don’t mean that I like it when I’ve sewn an entire seam right side to wrong side and I’m challenged to do 40″ of unsewing! A challenge made by other quilters is what excites me. Whether a fabric is chosen and a variety of stitchers are asked to do something original or an organization comes up with a contest, I can’t resist jumping in.

Last week the program chair at Wandering Foot Quilt Guild (thanks Jody) challenged the members to put a UFO in a brown paper bag, along with all it’s components, and exchange it at their next meeting. Each member was asked to complete the UFO they picked up and it would be their’s to keep. Doesn’t it sound like more fun to finish someone elses project than  one of your own that’s hit a dead end? I’m intrigued. (to read more about UFO’s click on that category in the right hand column)

I’ve also been challenged in other ways by some of you through this blog. I’m still thinking about my Liberty of London fabric thanks to the challenge from Pat. That one is in the “marinating” stage :-).

What’s the most interesting challenge or contest you’ve participated in? I’ll tell you my favorite on Friday!


November 23, 2010, Challenges UFO
But I Still Love You Too

My lecture in Amery was a delight! A fun group of quilters and a lovely visit with my cousin Kathy.

I’d like to welcome some new readers to the blog. I not only shared my antique quilts up north on Monday, but Tuesday night I presented a talk about  my “Sew We Go” adventures with Wendy to a guild in Oak Creek (south of Milwaukee) and Wednesday morning I did the same talk for a guild in Fox Point (north of Milwaukee). Many of the quilters I spoke to gave me their email addresses and I’ve added them to the list. I’d just like to mention to them or any one else who’s new to the blog that by scrolling down through the blog or clicking on the archives you can read about some of our past topics. From photographing your quilts, to UFO’s (ultimately fabulous opportunities) and many topics in between, there’s been a lot of great information shared :-)!

Now to get back to antique quilts. Thanks Barb, for sharing your quilt’s story. I’d like to share a quilt and it’s story from my lecture. I don’t know the history of many of my quilts, but this Sunbonnet Sue quilt has a story I do know and it’s worth telling:

 

A few years ago I presented “But I Still Love You” to a historical society and one of the women present asked me if we could meet for lunch. Her name was Vivian and at the restaurant she showed me this quilt and told me it’s tale. It was made by a friend of Vivian’s grandparents for her when she was a baby (I have all the names and dates – hooray!). She snuggled with it while she was growing up and then packed it away. When Vivian was married and expecting her first child she unpacked it and showed it to her husband. When she told him the pattern was called Sunbonnet Sue he responded that if they had a girl they should name her Sue – and they did! Sue snuggled with it while she grew up just like her mom.

Well, since then Sue had moved to California and Vivian and her husband were struggling with some health issues. They had decided to sell their home in Wisconsin and move to California to be near Sue. Vivian came across the quilt while packing and called Sue. She told her mom she really didn’t want it :-(. Vivian couldn’t talk her into it and so she decided to offer it to me after seeing my talk. I was honored. She said she wanted it to be well cared for and appreciated. So I’m pleased to share it in my lectures and here with you.

If you have a quilt with a story to share, please send it as a comment to this post. Most quilter’s I know have a warm spot in their hearts for antique quilts and the stories that make them special.


November 18, 2010, Vintage Quilts
But I Still Love You

I just finished packing up my collection of antique quilts to take with me tomorrow as I head to Amery, Wisconsin to do a talk for a guild there (its not far from the twin cities). It was a happy coincidence that I have a cousin who also lives in Amery. What a great opportunity to share my love for quilting with a new guild and spend time with Kathy too. Once again I just feel so blessed :-).

The lecture I’ll be doing shares the same name as this post. In it I wear a Civil War era dress and hoop skirt that I made to go with the lecture. Most of my quilts are not museum quality, but I love them and enjoy sharing their stories. I’ve probably presented this talk more than any of my others and it is one of my favorites. The best part is even non-quilt groups (historical societies, Christian women’s groups, etc.) want to hear it and so I’m able to share my passion for quilting with  some people that aren’t yet adicted!

Do you have a quilt that’s a family treasure or just a vintage piece with a delightful story? I feel most quilters enjoy hearing about these bits of our history and I’d be so happy to hear about yours.


November 14, 2010, Vintage Quilts
Beautiful Enough to Use!

What great comments. I especially liked the expression “shopping your stash”. Thanks Cindy. I think many of us could make wonderful quilts without ever making a trip to the quilt shop.

I was very convicted by Pat’s challenge to use my Liberty fabrics and they’re hanging on the design wall now just waiting for the right idea to grab me. (this may happen after the holidays – we’ll see)

While I was writing the “Too Beautiful” post I came to realize that I actually had reached the point a few years ago that when I buy a fabric I really love I allow myself to use it as inspiration for something new right away. The blendable, “tone on tones” go into the stash, but when the new, jaw dropper, makes my fingers start to itch I’ll often just ignore the guilt of that project I’m in the middle of (which isn’t as exciting as when it was first begun) and indulge in playing with the exciting stuff.

Another method I’ve found helpful lately is to put the new gorgeous stuff in the stash just until the next time I’m ready to take a new challenge or I need to come up with a new class project. Then I grab that inticing piece and allow it to be the impetous for this new endeavor. This usually helps to get the ball rolling. Picking out other fabrics to go with the exciting one is always such fun for me.

The only problem with this system is that the great fabrics from my “petting and not using” days are still in the stash. So, thanks to Pat, I’m going to focus on some past loves. Who knows, some of them may look great together.

Perhaps I should step away from the computer and fondle some fabric :-). Blessings, Chris


November 11, 2010, Fabric
Too Beautiful

Mary Beth made a comment last week that inspired this week’s topic. She said she had received a piece of fabric in an exchange with a quilter in Africa and it was too special and unique to cut into. Haven’t we all been there? In 1989 my husband and I vacationed in London. Liberty’s of London was at the top of my list of destinations because I’d heard so much about their fabrics. They were beautiful and had a lovely silky feel. My husband was indulgent and I purchased a meter of 3 different yards and a few scraps from a bin. For years I would take them out and pet them and then put them right back in the purple plastic Liberty bag (duh!). That’s where I found them today.

This reminds me of a quote from Ricky Tims: “If you never use it, you’ll never use it”. I used to love it. Now I don’t. What a waste.

Admit it. You’ve done the same. Please let me know your philosophy on this issue by commenting at the end of this post and I’ll have a few comments on Thursday :-).


November 8, 2010, Fabric
Foreign Exchange

I’d like to share an interesting story concerning quilters in other countries. My first book, Replique Quilts, is out of print, but I have an attic full of them. I offer them for sale through my website and over the years I’ve had a few inquiries from other countries. The problem is I don’t take credit cards or do PayPal. This means both the other quilter and I are disappointed.

Six months ago a dear lady from Kamloops, British Columbia emailed me for a copy of the book and I came up with a rather strange proposition for her. I told her I would send her an autographed copy of Replique Quilts if, in return, she would send me something of equal value from her area that she thought a quilter in the US might enjoy. This idea was very exciting to me …… and she liked it too! A week later I received a lovely book about Kamloops which I devoured page by page.

The following week she emailed me asking for my address again because she wanted to send me an autographed copy of a book about a fiber artist in Nova Scotia! What a blessing.

 

I’m now awaiting a package from a quilter in New South Wales, Australia :-). This is a lot more fun than cashing a check!

Have you done any interesting exchanges with a quilter in a foriegn land? I highly recommend it.


November 3, 2010, Travel
International Quilting

The top ‘o the morning to you! (to which I now know to respond “and the rest of the day to yourself”)

What a wonderful time we had in Ireland! It is a truly beautiful country! Wendy and I, and a delightful group of quilters, non-quilters and 1 charming (and somewhat brave) husband visited the Emerald Isle by motorcoach. It was our first non-cruise trip and we’ve discovered there are plusses with both types of travel. One of the best parts of traveling by land was the flexibility we had with the schedule.

Peggy Anderson, of Travel Leaders, did an outstanding job of finding quilt related stops. We visited 3 lovely shops and did our fair share of spending, even though there’s no such thing as “Irish” fabric that’s made in Ireland (we’ll have an easier time finding that here around the middle of March).

My favorite part of the entire trip (and that’s saying a lot) was getting to know some Irish quilters! A group of members of the western branch of the Irish Patchwork Society met us for tea at our hotel. We shared show and tell and had time to make many friendships.  

On the last day of our trip we were the guests of honor at the October meeting of the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society in St. Anthony’s Hall in Dublin. Both groups were warm, friendly and very talented.

A dozen years ago I had the opportunity to meet with a group of quilters in England. It was a blessed time of sharing and the ladies were delightful, but I was surprised at how dated their fabrics and patterns were at the time. This is no longer the case. The shops in Ireland were very up to date in their inventory and the quilts were spectacular. I bet the internet had something to do with this :-)!

Do you have a connection with a quilter from another country? What are your observations about the similarities and differences? I’ll share additional thoughts on Thursday :-). 


October 31, 2010, Travel
Snuggle and Learn Update

Just a quick note as I do my final packing for Ireland.

My current book: Snuggle & Learn Quilts for Kids is available through Martingale & Co. and can be purchased in quilt shops and on line. I have a trunk show of quilts from the book that has traveled for almost 2 years and is coming home for a rest. If you know of someone who owns a shop and would be interested in displaying the show, please pass along my blog address. There is no charge for hosting the show and a fun 4 step demonstration of my Replique technique is also included.

Thanks!


October 16, 2010, Appliqué
Adding Color to My World II

Years ago I made a quilt for a challenge entitled “Name That Tune”. Can you guess the title of my quilt? 

 

I was a teenager in the 70’s, so if you didn’t get it, you probably weren’t <g>. The name is “Color My World”. It was a slow dance song by Chicago. It may be difficult to see on this photo, but in the void under the world I hand quilted the Creator’s hands in metallic thread so the sub title is “He’s God the Whole World in His Hands!”

I thoroughly enjoy choosing colors/fabrics for my quilts. I’m not much of a cook, but when I start pulling bolts and come up with a good mix I sense that it “tastes good”. This may sound a bit weird (I’ll accept that :-), but I actually begin to salivate when I feel the color combination coming together. It’s the only way I can describe it!

I think “drooling” over fabric is more common than you might think! If this version of quilting excitement has passed you by, here’s a suggestion for getting your taste buds tuned up:

I’m often inspired by color combinations in nature. What a wonderful week to be conversing on this topic! The trees (many maples) in my yard have finally turned. This hasn’t been the most colorful Fall, but I have some pictures from past Autumns and here’s one of my favorites:

My recent trip to Alaska provided some great shots. This mushroom was growing in Hazel’s front yard!

Or how about the phenomonal hues God’s paintbrush created on the Kenai River:

 

If you have a picture, but aren’t quite sure how to pull the colors from it there is a great website for doing just that. Go to: http://kuler.adobe.com/. On the right side under “Welcome to Kuler” click on “Adobe TV” for a short and simple tutorial. They’ll show you how to upload your image and choose a color scheme from it in a way that’s easy, quick and fun 🙂.

PS I will not be posting for the next 2 weeks, as Wendy and I will be taking a group of quilters to Ireland! I’m sure I’ll bring back more photo inspiration and I’ll be anxious to share some with you when I return.


October 13, 2010, Color
Adding Color to My World

Students often tell me they are not good at choosing colors for their quilts. I don’t believe they are truly bad at it, I’m convinced these quilters just need a bit of confidence boosting and encouragement.

When a painter begins a new project he/she has only individual colors to start with, whereas quilters are blessed with many wonderful fabrics that talented designers have already created for us and these fabrics provide a good jumping off point. By picking a multicolor print that is appealing, a good color scheme has already been chosen for us. Pull colors from this print and good results are almost a given!

 

 A color wheel is another safe way to choose good color combinations. There are many great quilting books available on this subject and they cover the different color wheels much better than I could.

I’ll share my personal ways of choosing colors on Thursday. Until then, please let us know how you deal with this topic. Do you stay within manufacturer’s fabric lines? Do you ask for help at the quilt shop? or do you just buy kits so you don’t need to deal with it :-)?


October 10, 2010, Color
A Good Read II

I enjoyed reading everyone’s magazine choices and was a bit embarassed that there are so many quilters who are better organized on this topic than I am.

The 3 subscriptions I currently receive are Quilter’s Newsletter (I like the variety of information), American Quilter (high quality photos and I enjoy seeing all the winning quilts from their many shows) and Machine Quilting Unlimited. This last one is fairly new, but I have found many informative and helpful articles in each issue. I truly devour them cover to cover :-)!

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.


October 8, 2010, Notions
A Good Read

The topic of the week is actually “magazines”.

There are many good ones out there and they’re hard to resist. There’s so much great information available from this wonderful resource and they can be added to the list of something else we love to collect. I know quilter’s who are running out of space in their studios, but can’t bring themselves to part with a single back issue of Quilter’s Newsletter….not one out of all ten boxes! Ok, so they are habit forming.

So here are the questions:

Which one is your favorite and why?

Do you keep them, and if so, how do you store/organize them?

If you don’t keep them, what do you do with them?

I’ll share my thoughts in Thursday’s post and as a bonus today I’ll share my best advice when it comes to quilting magazines:

Don’t read them right before bed. The inspiration will keep you from ever getting to sleep (I speak from experience :-)!


October 3, 2010, Notions
Intermission

Hi! Thanks for checking in for this week’s blog of the week. Due to some difficulties in my “non-quilting/real life”, I’m not going to be able to do a full post this week. Hopefully things will be more manageable by next Monday.

Blessings,

Chris


September 28, 2010, Uncategorized
Which Ruler’s Rule II

Thanks to everyone who left a comment! Rulers are definately an important part of our quilting :-). There were a few mentioned I now need to try and Alice touched on my pick for favorite specialty ruler: the Add-a-Quarter™ by CM Designs!

A simple, but very helpful ruler when it comes to paper piecing. It comes in 6″ and 12″ lengths, as well as an Add-an-Eighth™ style for making  miniatures. This ruler has a 1/4″ lip along the bottom which allows you to trim in such a way that knowing where to align the next piece of fabric is easy. Get the 12″, you won’t regret it!


September 23, 2010, Notions
Which Rulers Rule?

Time for another true confession. I not only own every marking tool ever made, but I collect quilting rulers too. Some are essential, some are not worth the money I paid for them, and some are just really nice for special times. My choice for essential? If I could only own one ruler (how awful that would be!) it would be a 6″ x 24″. I’m partial to Omnigrid™, but would take any that don’t include that pesky added 1/2″ (6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″). I like to have the freedom to measure from both sides of the ruler and that extra 1/2″ really drives me crazy.

#2 would have to be a 6″ square. These are my bare bones choices and I’m really grateful I don’t have to stop there. Bigger squares and other rectangles just make quilting easier. What about you? Which is your #1 choice?

 My third choice, hands down, would have to be the June Tailor Shape Cut™. I find this ruler great for beginners as well as seasoned quilters. I use it often! The size of it holds the fabric stable and the slots make cutting multiple strips and shapes a breeze. For a number of years I was blessed with the opportunity to do consulting work for June Tailor™. I would travel around the country demonstrating their products. It always amazed me how many people owned this ruler and didn’t know all it could do….. and with great accuracy! Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.

We haven’t even touched the surface of the specialty ruler domain. These are rulers that are helpful for one particular pattern or technique. I have a favorite here too, but want to save it for my Thursday post. Do you have a favorite specialty ruler? Please share if you do!


September 20, 2010, Notions
Making My Mark

Not many comments. Hmmmm, you must all be anxiously awaiting my response (ha!ha!). I seem to be trying to own every marking tool on the market and I think I’m accomplishing just that. For this post though, I’m going to narrow my collection down to 3 favorites. But, before I name them I want to stress that you should always test your method on the fabric in your quilt before using it. Even if your favorite silver pencil has always come out….don’t count on it (do I sound like I speak from experience?)

For medium to dark value fabrics my marker of choice, hands down, is a sliver of soap. Straight from the shower (don’t let anyone slap it onto the new bar when it reaches sliver stage), it goes on easy in a nice thin line and can easily be removed by gently rubbing with a damp piece of muslin. The line lasts longer than chalk and its incredibly inexpensive. In this age of liquid soap and super sizing, my poor husband has not been allowed to bathe with anything but travel sized bars of soap since I became a quilter. They become the perfect thickness much more quickly than the regular sized bars.

For light fabrics I tend to use the blue, washout marker most often. But be careful! If the line is heated in any way it can become permanent. Also, the ink is a chemical and if you only “spritz” to remove it, it can remain and cause mischief. I’ve had the color of my fabric change permanently where the lines were drawn in 2 different quilts. Therefore I alway submerge the quilt in cool water when the quilting is done. That being said, it is easy to put on, easy to see and usually easy to remove!

My other “favorite” is a product commonly found in the kitchen called Glad Press ‘n Seal™. It’s a transparent film which can be pressed around the rim of a bowl to create a watertight seal. This is very helpful in quilting. If my design is printed, I can tear off a piece of the film, finger press it over the paper and trace the design. The film can then easily be “stuck” onto the quilt. If I need to create my own design, I can finger press the film directly onto the quilt and draw on it to perfectly fit the area needed. I usually use a fine Sharpie™ marker, but a quilter in one of my lectures said she did this on her long arm and the permanent ink wiped onto her quilt. I haven’t had this problem, but will most likely use a removable marker from now on (which I’ll test on my fabric, just in case :-). Once the design is quilted, the film can simply be torn away. I find it tears quite easily from straight, gently curved or single crossed lines. Areas with many crossed lines are a bit more of a challenge. The best part about this method is that you can see the fabric below for placement and the way it sticks to the fabric helps to prevent puckers when quilting .

In my lectures at Nancy’s Notions Sewing Expo there was some wonderful sharing and a number of quilters recommended a few markers I hadn’t tried. So far I’m liking them. Here are a couple for you to experiment with:

Bohin™ white mechanical chalk pencil (rubs or washes off) – a very fine line. One quilter commented that some of the color “leads” were harder to remove than the white.

Clover™ white marker (irons off) be aware that the mark doesn’t show right away and you need to wait for at least 10 seconds. When it does appear it is quite visable and irons off easily.

Graphite (rub off with a damp piece of muslin). I found this in the Morton Hoops™ booth at Expo. It fits in the soap stone stylis and can be sharpened to a fine point.

If I’ve missed your favorite or you have any comments to make about mine, please let me know. Happy marking!


September 17, 2010, finishing
Make Your Mark and Erase it Too!

I’ve spent the past 3 days teaching at Nancy’s Notions Sewing Expo in Madison, WI. What a great show and a wonderful teaching experience! Three days in a row I presented a lecture with the same title as this blog. The best part was how much I learned from the quilters attending. It went so well, it just seemed appropriate to share this with all of you.

I dislike the marking step when making my quilts. It takes time to make the marks and then they have to be removed. All necessary, but time consuming non-the-less. When free motion quilting I really enjoy designs that don’t need to be marked, but sometimes it just has to be done. As far as I’m concerned, marks need to be easy to put on and even easier to remove.

So, from the plethora of products available, what is your favorite method of marking your quilting design on both dark and light fabrics? I’ll share my favorites with you on Thursday, along with some of the new things I’ve learned!


September 12, 2010, finishing Notions
Quilting in Alaska
What a wonderful adventure! Quiltina and I met Evelyn at the Madison airport on a Tuesday afternoon and we arrived in Anchorage after 10pm (it was still light out!). Evelyn’s sister, Hazel, met us there and drove us to her home in Soldatna – 3 hours away. Needless to say, it was a late night :-).
 Hazel and Eddie generously opened their beautiful cabin in the woods to us and made me feel like part of the family.  

My residence was in an “apartment” they’ve built over the garage which consisted of my bedroom, bath and the living room which is Hazel’s quilting studio. The three of us actually spent many happy hours there stitching :-). 

During the next 12 days we shared fun, fellowship, good food, beautiful sites and a lot of quilt related activities. It is so wonderful to visit a new area with friends who live there

I had the blessed opportunity to teach 4 different classes. My Mariner’s Compass class, held for a quilting group which meets at a church in Soldatna, went so well that they invited me back the following week to teach Free Motion Quilting. 

I taught 2 Replique classes. One at a friendly quilt shop in Seward called Sew ‘n Bee Cozy. A lovely shop and a great class!

The other Replique class was taught at the Eagle’s Roost Lodge. The owners, Ken and Patty, even treated us to a boat ride up the Kenai River. What fun!

Thanks to everyone who made these classes possible and to the students – who were not only fun, but taught me a lot.

I’m finally unpacked, so that I can begin to repack for 3 days of teaching at Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo in Madison, WI. I hope to see many of you there!

PS I was able to spend 3 days at the end of the trip visiting my grandchildren in Washington. Hanna, Willy and I had so much fun that I couldn’t resist this final picture of our day at a children’s museum. What a blessing!


September 6, 2010, Travel
On the Road Again

This Tuesday Quiltina and I will be flying to Alaska with my dear friend Evelyn Link. Her sister, Hazel Robinson, has arranged for me to teach a few classes there. What a blessing these 2 quilters are to me! Hazel has graciously invited us to stay with her for almost 2 weeks. There’ll be time for sightseeing, stitching, giggling and really getting to know each other. What a delightful opportunity. I’m very excited :-). 

So, I’ll be unable to blog, but I’m hoping to come up with some good topics to share when I return.

By the way, if you’re wondering who Quiltina is I’d be happy to introduce her. You may have heard about “Flat Stanley”. He’s a cardboard cut out schoolkids take/send all over and then write about his adventures. Well, Wendy Rieves and I lead quilting tours in the US and Europe. Prior to our last trip I mentioned to Wendy that we needed a quilterly version of Flat Stanley to accompany us on our travels and her fruitful imagination created Quiltina:

Here we are beneath an olive tree in the South of France! This fall Quiltina will be joining us in Ireland. God is so good!


August 15, 2010, Travel
Sewing On a Mountain II

Years ago I wanted to quilt a king sized quilt and I didn’t have a large sewing table so I improvised. This works quite well when you only need to set it up occassionally. I used a portable banquet table, a card table and a tv tray. The 2 tables are placed in an “L” with the tv tray in the inside corner. Place the machine on the tv tray with enough magazines under it to bring the bed level with the tables. Voila! It’s that easy!

Beth G shared a website for another slick way to create an inexpensive and  more permanent arrangement at: http://www.squidoo.com/sewingtable. Thanks Beth!

I hope many of you found this helpful!

I’d like to squeeze  in one last note about my first Open Lab class this semester at Waukesha County Technical College. It’s a four week class that was scheduled to begin on September 9th. I’ll be teaching at Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo in Madison, WI on that day and so the class has been changed and will begin on September 2nd. We’ll skip the 9th and continue the remaining 3 weeks after that. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do sew soon :-)!


August 12, 2010, sewing space/studio
Sewing On a Mountain

No, I’m not talking about stitching at your cabin in the woods, but a way to make quilting easier :-). My definition of “sewing on a mountain” is when your machine is perched atop a desk or table. This way of quilting is bad for many reasons:

First – its too high, so you need to either raise your chair (which, if you’re vertically challenged, makes it difficult to reach the foot pedal) or just grin and bear it. Ergonomically this is hard on your body. The desired position when machine quilting, is to have the bed of the machine at elbow level so that when your arms are bent at a right angle your forearms are parallel with the work surface.

Second – the flat, usable portion of your machine is small. This makes it hard to piece and even more difficult to quilt.

Third – when working on a larger quilt you are constantly fighting the weight of the quilt as it falls off the machine bed. Plus, it’s easy to get safety pins hooked on the corners of the machine bed when machine quilting.

So, what to do?

Often I’m told that an extension table that fits around the machine is the answer. These do improve conditions when piecing, but many of the same problems persist when machine quilting a larger quilt because there is still an edge where the weight of the quilt drops off and pins can get caught.

A sewing cabinet or custom made table is the ideal option. If you don’t have one, I’m giving you permission to get one, and soon! I own a Tracey’s Table. Mike Spangler, the son of my dear friend Diane, makes them. He is located in Wisconsin, but he sells his cabinets and tables throughout the US. I highly recommend them. The quality is excellent and the price reasonable!

If a table is out of the question at this time, I have some rather clever suggestions to share (if I do say so myself), but I think I’ll save them for my Thursday post. Stay tuned :-)!


August 9, 2010, sewing space/studio
The Best II

Welcome to a little corner of my world!

Just of some of my favorite notions.

I enjoyed reading about yours. I own many of the ones recommended, but there were a few I don’t have and I’m anxious to try. Several of them were up there with my choice for favorites. If we were going for most used – I’d have to agree with Kathleen’s suggestion of the seam ripper.

Since I had to pick just one, I’ve chosen my Machingers™.

They are lightweight, breathable machine quilting gloves and I find they really do help to move the quilt more easily. This reduces body stress and makes free motion quilting more fun.


August 5, 2010, Notions
The Best

As quilters, we all have loads of tools and notions. I can’t resist having the latest gadget any more than you can and I’d hate to be missing out on owning your favorite :-). Therefore my topic of the week is more like a question of the week: What’s the best quilting tool you’ve bought for under $10?

After pondering this a while, I found it difficult to narrow it down to the best quilting notion. There are so many! However, my favorite sewing notion came to me quickly:

This “bodkin” is easily available, inexpensive and the best one I’ve found for turning hanging sleeves right side out or filling casings with ties or elastic. The end with teeth grabs whatever you’re trying to move and the ring holds the bite tight. I’ve tried many a bodkin and this one’s a keeper.

I’ll save my quilting favorite for Thursday. Please share the one tool you can’t live without :-)!


August 2, 2010, Notions
Inspiration Time II

Thanks to all who shared their inspirations. It just proves that there’s inspiration all around us. Sometimes it hits us right between the eyes and other times we have to look for it … and what better place to look than in a class? I like to encourage quilters to take classes in techniques that are outside their comfortable box so they can learn and grow. You never know what untried technique or pattern will become a new and exciting direction for you. On that note, my tech school classes will be starting up again in the Fall. If anything sounds interesting, I hope you’ll sign up and see where it takes you :-).

I teach on Monday afternoons from 12:30 – 3:30 at Madison Area Technical College, Watertown Campus. The quilting classes are held in the old gift shop at Bethesda.

The first 6 Mondays of this semester my 2 project workshop will include my 2 most popular classes: Mariner’s Compass Simplified and Replique.

We’ll spend 3 weeks drafting a traditional Mariner’s Compass block using a pencil, a ruler and paper folding techniques. Then the compass will be foundation pieced. It’s so simple anyone can do it!

The second 3 weeks you’ll have the opportunity to recreate a picture of your home in fabric using the Replique technique from my first book. We stitch directly on an enlarged photograph, so there are no templates, fusibles or degree in art required :-). Everyone will begin by making the little sample house on top in the picture above and then move on to their home once they know how its done.

The second 6 weeks in Watertown I teach a class I call Quilting: Open Lab. In this class students work on any project of their choosing and I’m a resource person to help with problems and encourage finishing! I also demonstrate a helpful technique each week.

At Waukesh County Technical College I teach three 4 week long Open Labs on Thursday afternoon.  I also teach a number of 1 day workshops on a variety of projects. This semester they will include:

Spinwheels – Friday, September 17, 9:00 – 2:30

Mini Lanscapes – Friday, October 8, 9:00 – 2:30

Doggie Stockings – Friday, November 12, 9:00 – 2:30

Please comment if you have any questions on how to sign up. I hope to see some of you this Fall!

PS Just click on the names of the schools above to be linked to the registration page on their websites.


July 29, 2010, Uncategorized
Inspiration Time

Quilters can be inspired by so many different things – nature, books, patterns and even blogs. The possibilities are just about limitless. Art quilters have many different sources of inspiration. Much of my fiber art is inspired by my relationship with Jesus. Last year the quilt I made for the Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge: “Portals” was an example of my faith being the inspiration for a quilt.

It is entitled “The Narrow Gate” and represents a portal to heaven through the cross. The leaves on the tree are printed with Scripture verses explaining this amazing gift. Portals won first place in the Ultimate Guild Challenge at the AQS show in Knoxville last year!

What inspires you? I believe many of you are often inspired by taking classes because that’s how we met. On Thursday I’ll touch on some of the exciting, new classes I’ve planned for the Fall. Until then I’d enjoy hearing about your inspirations! Please click on “comment” and share.


July 25, 2010, Uncategorized
Time Eater II

This past Spring our local PBS station decided to have a judged quilt contest entitled “Quilting As Art”. Awards were given to the winning quilts and all of the entries were then put in the channel 10 Great TV Auction to raise funds to support the station. My quilt, Strange Brew (made for a “tea” challenge), won 3rd place – praise the Lord! I was thrilled, but so much more than the support of PBS and a bit of prize money came out of it.

My local newspaper did a very nice article about Strange Brew and my quiltmaking. A neighbor, whom I had only met once, saw the article and sent me a lovely letter commenting on the article and my website and adding that she was a beginner quilter. Well, we just had to get together for a cup of tea!

Diahann Lohr is a very talented graphic artist who has her own business, Adunate Word and DesignShe creates blogs and websites for others. This led to a delightful, old fashioned barter. She guided me in the creation of this blog and I helped her make a lone star quilt. To see her beautiful quilt and read more about our successful bartar, please visit her blog at: Adunate Blog.

All this led to this week’s topic and I thank everyone who commented for their input and suggestions. I’m taming the “time eating beast” dilemma the same way Di is, by doing my “social networking” at night when I would otherwise be watching tv or puzzling over Sudoku. This way I feel I’m doing something constructive with my late night time (my husband’s already asleep by then) and I truly do enjoy it. If you need a website or blog and are not a night owl who enjoys being on the computer – you may want to contact my new and dear friend Diahann!

 

PS I belong to a very talented group called the Milwaukee Art Quilters. We just found out that 8 quilts from our latest challenge: “Connecting Thread – a Line of Design”, won first place in the Ultimate Guild Challenge at the AQS Quilt Show in Knoxville. This is the second year in a row we’ve won a blue ribbon there and we’re all very excited.

Briefly, the rules stated that each quilt had to have a red line enter on the left, do something in the middle and exit on the right with enough line left to attach to the next quilt. My quilt, “Risen”, was not one of the 8 that traveled to Knoxville, but is one of 17 in the challenge which we hope to exhibit often in the future. “Risen” is pictured above and the red “line” outlines the Celtic Knotwork. To see all the challenge quilts and read the rules, please visit our brand new blog: www.milwaukeeartquilters.wordpress.com.


July 21, 2010, Uncategorized
Time Eater

Quilting has been my delight since 1987 and the joy of teaching entered my life shortly thereafter. About 8 years ago I discovered that the internet would be a great way to exchange information about the classes and lectures I offered. I decided I needed to hire someone to teach me how to be the keeper of my own website and, thanks to Peter Queen, www.chrisquilts.net was born. It has been a real blessing to me. Besides class/lecture info I have descriptions and supply lists posted that can easily be “copy and pasted”, which saves me time, printing and postage. With the passing of time I realized what an exciting opportunity my website provided in getting the word out about the “Sew We Go” adventures Wendy Rieves and I lead throughout the US and Europe. Thus I felt I was really on top of the quilt/web connection.

Since then a whirlwind of change and uses for the internet has occurred and I was left in its dust. I had no intention of blogging, but the Lord had other plans :-). I’ll share that story in my Thursday post.

The big downside I’ve discovered with the computer is that it quickly eats time out of my life!!! I do enjoy writing my blogs and reading those of others, but that’s time I could be spending with my Babylok! How do you deal with this dilemma??? Keeping them close to each other in the studio helps, but I really need more :-). Help!


July 19, 2010, Uncategorized