Friday, September 30, 2011

This blog has a new home

When I started blogging, it was to drum up interest in a quilting business I was starting. But over time I've scaled back on the quilts I make to sell, mostly because it takes a lot of time to make something really special and most people just don't understand that and think they can get a hand-made quilt for $50 like they're picking up a bed-in-a-bag at a big box store.

So I'm turning my focus to selling a few, well-crafted items in a high end artisan shop, taking custom orders and making more quilts for myself and my friends and family. But I don't want to stop blogging. Quilting has a reputation for being a hobby old women have and that's not true at all. There's a growing number of young quilters and there are many of us who create works of art, not just bed coverings. I'd like to help change the perception of quilting through this blog.

To that end, I've moved the blog to You can follow along there to see what I'm working on, attend virtual shop hops, get quilting tutorials and join a quilting challenge (I've got a good one planned for 2012).

Thanks for following and I hope to see you all at the new location.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby quilt number one is done

 The first quilt I'm making for babies that are due next month is done. The shower is Sunday, so I'll post more photos that show more detail later, but here's a sneak peak at the finished quilt.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gender-neutral baby quilts are not easy

It seems like everyone I know is having a baby in October, which means I have three baby quilts to make this month.

I already shared one preview, now it's time for a second. This mom isn't going to find out the sex of the baby until the little one arrives, that means I need to make a gender-neutral baby quilt.

I've started one in pastel oranges, blues and browns from a charm pack and matching jelly roll I had in my stash, but now I'm not so sure it's going to work. Although the colors could work for a boy or girl, I'm worried the flower prints put it in the girl category. 


What do you think? Could this quilt work for a boy or a girl or should I go back to the drawing board?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quilting with the Donnas

I spent the weekend volunteering at the Fall Festival at Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. It was a cross roads settlement in Scott County, Iowa, in the 1860s and 18 period buildings have been preserved on the site so visitors can get an up close look at history.

A couple of times each summer the Mississippi Valley Quilters Guild volunteers at Walnut Grove events to demonstrate hand sewing techniques that were essential parts of everyday living in the not so distant past. We also dress up in period costumes. Yes, that is me in the above photo.

But my favorite part of the weekend was sewing and chatting with Donna Lanman, my quilting mentor, and Donna Furrow, who knows quite a bit about sewing history. Plus they're fun to spend time with. 

I always learn something new from Donna Lanman every time I see her. This weekend it was about a simple, but stunning border quilting pattern. And I love watching Donna Furrow explain how the treadle sewing machine works to the kids who pass by, getting them interested in sewing.

Who inspires you to quilt?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby quilt preview

I've got a nephew due to arrive in October so I started a quilt for him. His parents are big Illini fans so it will be made of blue, orange and white solids. 

I can't share too many photos just in case my sister-in-law looks at this post, but I can tell you that it's made of 1 1/2-inch squares and I'm going to need a design wall to put it together.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sewing room redo

I spent all day yesterday in my sewing room, but I didn't sew a thing. I was cleaning and reorganizing everything.

The closet, all my tubs and storage bins, even the bookshelf. I still have a little work to do before the transformation is complete and right now there are several piles of laundry on the floor that need to be finished before I can take photos.

But I will share one very cute part that I added to create a place to display some of the antique notions and pin cushions I've collected. I found this shelf at Goodwill for $9. It wasn't in the best of shape, but a little dusting and elbow grease had it looking good as new.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Paper piecing is great for beginner quilters

I taught my first quilt class last Saturday on paper piecing.

I love this quilting method because it allows you to get really sharp points without templates or insanely accurate quarter-inch seams. It's kind of like sewing by numbers and its really easy once you get the hang of it.

I was teaching the class because I'm in charge of designing a tree for the Festival of Trees. It's going to be filled with ornaments made from fabric. The hope is that if more people know how to make paper pieced Christmas ornaments, hopefully I won't have to make them all myself this November.

Here's the blocks my students came up with. They did a great job for beginners.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to use saved searches on ebay

I love ebay. It's a great place to find just about anything you're looking for including antique quilts and sewing notions.

But what I don't love is browsing through pages of listings for items that may, or may not meet my criteria. Enter the saved search, which sends new listings directly to your e-mail in a daily digest so you'll never miss out on an awesome purchase.

Here's how to set one up: Search for the item you're dying to have. Make it as specific or general as you want. Then hit the "Save search" link, which is circled in red on the image below.

A new window will pop up that will allow you to name the search and have new listings sent to your e-mail once a day.

If you ever need to edit your saved search preferences, just go to the saved searches portion in "My ebay." That's all there is to it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quilted placemat tutorial - Part 2

This video was originally produced for the Home Rookies blog, which Stephanie writes for her day job at a daily newspaper.

For fabric requirements and part 1, click here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quilted placemat tutorial - Part 1

This video was originally produced for the Home Rookies blog, which Stephanie writes for her day job at a daily newspaper.

Fabric requirements
1 fabric panel with square images measuring at least 6 1/2 inches wide for the placemat center*
1 1/4 yards of white fireworks fabric*
3/4 of a yard of dark blue and red star fabric*
1 3/4 yards of flag stripe fabric*
3-by-4-foot piece of batting*
* Makes four placemats
For each placemat, cut:
1 - 6 1/2-inch square from the panel
2 - 3-by-6 1/2-inch rectangles of white fireworks fabric
2 - 3-by-11 1/2-inch rectangles of white fireworks fabric
2 - 1 1/2-by-10-inch strips of blue and red star fabric
2 - 3 1/2-by-10 inch strips from flag stripe fabric
1 - 2 1/2-inch strip by the width of the blue and red star fabric
2 - 1 1/2-by-14-inch strips of blue and red star fabric
1 - 18-by-24-inch piece of batting
1 - 18-by-24-inch piece of flag stripe fabric

2 - 2 1/2-inch strips by the width of the white fireworks fabric

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Looking for a quilt shop? There's an app for that

Quilter's Club of America and Fons and Porter have released a new app that helps you find quilt shops based on your location.

I've tested it out around home and when I was on vacation last week and I love it. I used to spend time researching quilt shops on the Internet before going on vacation. I'd bring detailed notes with me about their hours, locations and directions from my hotel to the quilt shop. Now I can find out all that information on my phone.

Here's how the app works: 

In theory, the app senses your location using GPS technology. I say "in theory" because the feature has never worked on my phone. But you can search by city and state or zip code as well, which is what I use. 

The app then takes you to a map of the area with the quilt shops highlighted with a dot. When you touch the dot, the name, location and phone number appears. You can also view the quilt shops in a list organized by distance from your location.

There are a few bugs in the app besides the GPS sensor not working properly on my Andriod phone. Normally you can call a telephone number listed in an app or online just by touching it, but this app reads it as a web page and you get an error message. Also, you're not able to get directions from your current location to the quilt shop you want to go to within the app, but you can follow the map in the app the old fashioned way. Finally, while more than 2,500 quilt shops are listed with the app, not every quilt shop in the US is in the system. So far I've found two that are not in the areas I've visited.

But bugs aside, this is a great app for the traveling quilter and it's free. So make sure to download it before your next trip.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'True Love Quilting Club' makes quilts sexy

I was not expecting such a steamy book when I picked up "The True Love Quilting Club" off of my grandmother's shelf. But once I started the book, I couldn't put it down until I finished it.

While there is a decent amount of quilting in this book, it is primarily a love story, and a sexy one at that. Some of the scenes were so hot, they made me blush.

The story follows Trixie Lynn Parks, who has changed her name to Emma, and has found herself back in Twilight, Texas, to perform in a community play after she kneed a Broadway producer in the family jewels when he propositioned her with an inappropriate deal to jump start her career. 

Thinking her acting career, which had never amounted to much anyway, was effectively over, she runs into her high school sweetheart, Sam Cheek, who is recovering from the death of his wife and raising her son who hasn't spoken in a year.

The courtship of Sam and Emma is just as sweet as it is sexy. Author Lori Wilde develops full characters that you find yourself rooting for. And while it takes 173 pages for them to kiss, the scene is so hot, that it's worth the wait. 

Besides the romance, the book features a 30-year-old learning to quilt, a group of women who support each other through difficult times and celebrate the good ones, honoring veterans with war memorial quilts and a very touching scene that involves a memory quilt. 

So while this book at its heart, is a romance novel, hopefully it also will teach women that quilting is both an art and a form of therapy not just for those who make the quilts, but also for the recipients.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Virtual shop hop: Quilting Divas in Green Bay, Wisconsion

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is visit quilt shops. I love seeing what's popular in other areas of the country.

Last week I found Quilting Divas Sewing Boutique in Green Bay, Wis., an amazing shop were sassy meets quilting. Take the store's mascot for example, a life-sized stick figure quilter made out of sewing notions. Yes, those are pin cushions for breasts.

The store has a wide variety of fabric, including landscape prints that I've always heard about, but have never seen. The bolts are laid out nicely according to collection with space to stand back and see how the collection would work together in a quilt. You know, as opposed to the quilt shop that packs so much fabric into a small shop with low ceilings that you feel like you might suffocate.

The shop, which opened last fall, features a new quilting diva each month in the form of a trunk show. This month the shop owner's parents Bernice and Eugene Hermsen are the honorary shop diva and divo. 

They've made some impressive quilts for their seven children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, including a cathedral window and a grandmother's flower garden. Both patterns must be entirely hand pieced and often remain unfinished.

I highly recommend checking out Quilting Divas the next time you're in Green Bay.

Friday, August 12, 2011

On the border

I finished piecing the top of my sister's signature quilt from her wedding. I think it needs a border. I've got an idea about what I want to do, but would welcome suggestions. I have a lot of the white fabric left, a little of the light pink and not much of the dark pink.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Virtual shop hop: Willow Creek in Kalona, Iowa

If you find yourself in Kalona, Iowa, you must visit Willow Creek Quilting and Gifts.

This shop has hundreds of bolts of fabric that are all neatly organized so that shoppers won't get overwhelmed. The shop has the largest supply of Civil War and 1930 reproduction prints that I've ever seen in one location.

There also is an entire room dedicated to baby quilts. And if modern fabric is your style, they've got that too, although most of the prints have a country feel.

Be sure to check out their supply of kits and vast collection of wool fabrics. It also is the only place I've been able to find a pair of Machinger quilting gloves, and I've been searching since last Christmas when the dog chewed a finger off of mine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kalona quilts continued

The Kalona Historical Village put together an exhibit just for the Iowa Illinois Quilt Study Group that featured quilts with a family story. The quilts are absolutely remarkable and I'll them speak for themselves.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Amish quilts: Striking solids

The Iowa Illinois Quilt Study Group was held at the Kalona Historic Village, which features a nationally known quilt and textile museum.

There also is an Amish population near Kalona, Iowa, so the museum has a gallery dedicated to traditional Amish quilts. I love the look of Amish quilts. The solid colors are so simple on their own, but when they're put together the quilts come alive.

What is even more remarkable, is the women who made the antique Amish quilts didn't have an education past the eighth grade and no training in geometry.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Family stories in quilts

I went the the Iowa Illinois Quilt Study Group for the first time last weekend. The study topic was family quilts.

The only family quilts I have are ones that I'll make and pass down to my children someday. And I hope that these hypothetical children will cherish these quilts so that they don't end up at an estate sale or on Ebay when I'm gone.

That's where appraiser and lecturer Janette Dwyer purchased
many of the baby quilts she brought to show as part of her lecture, "Baby Quilts: A blanket with a heartbeat."

As you can imagine, antique baby quilts in good condition are rare since most of them received several washings and were used until they were worn out. Many of the surviving examples we have came from wealthy families who could afford to make more than one baby quilt.

Some of the most adorable quilts Janette brought with were quilt kits from the 1950s of embroidered scenes such as bears, babies and animals.

Janette's advice for deciding when to buy an antique quilt is: "If I want it or I don't have it. ... Also if you touch it twice, then buy it."

One thing that was emphasized over and over again was to get as much information as you possibly could about a quilt from the seller when you buy it. But take the provenance with a grain of salt, because sometimes oral histories are not correct and the information garnered from the fabric and pattern put it in a different time period than family history places it.

I'll be writing more posts about the Study Group later this week. It was pretty neat, and I have lots of pictures of some really amazing quilts.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Christmas in my mailbox

I'm the lead designer for the Mississippi Valley Quilters Guild Christmas tree for the Festival of Trees this year.

For those of you who aren't in the Quad-Cities, the Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for Quad-City Arts in which artists design Christmas trees, stockings, wreaths, hearths and entire rooms with Christmas decorations of their own creation. Then the Christmas decorations are auctioned off to benefit arts programing in the Quad-Cities.

Part of my duties include making a Christmas tree skirt. Quilting By-You, LLC., is the benefactor for the tree, and
co-owner Charlene Thode suggested Judy Niemeyer's Christmas Celebration Tree Skirt pattern. I loved it and today it arrived in my mailbox.

I'm so excited to dig into all these paper pieced points and curved seams. I know, I'm a gluten for punishment.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blue ribbon quilts from the fair

I went to the Mississippi Valley Fair this week and spent some time looking at the quilts entered for judging. There were some beautiful quilts and for the first time, I felt like my skills are pretty comparable with some of the ones on display.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm good enough to win a blue ribbon. But I'm definitely good enough to enter and not feel embarrassment when my quilt is hung next to the other entries. So next year my goal is to enter a quilt in the fair. We'll see how I do.

The fair is going on through Sunday in Davenport. Check it out if you want to see the quilts in person.

Popular Posts