Dots of Clean-Up

Another Christmas present is done! Or at least the quilt top is done and it has an appointment with a great long-arm gal.

Love N Mariage

Love N Marriage

These are T-shirts that my daughter brought me with much enthusiasm a few years ago. I did not share her enthusiasm. T-shirt quilts do not excite me. It took three years to come up with an idea. She loved the polka-dot quilt, but it was already spoken for. It was finished and there was still a box of polka-dot fabric.

Finishing the border

Finishing the border

If you have the space, you occupy it, I finished this quilt up in the lower level large family room. There were polka-dots from one end of it to the other!



The big box became a medium box!

Fortunately, there was the final pressing. I like to spray the quilt with Magic Sizing and walk away for it to have time to soak into the fibers. Then I press it. I walk away again to be sure the fabric is dry and cooled down before I shift the quilt to the next part to be pressed.

During these minutes away I began the clean-up and packing away of scraps large enough for another project. My friends might notice in the background that some tiny pieces actually got cut into squares.


I had created my own block of the month plan for 2014. I had three new quilts that I wanted to make and they are all pieced! They are all currently getting quilted and should be finished by the end of the year.

Polka Dots

Polka Dots

This is the last of the three Block of the Month projects. Yes, there are 12 blocks and it is not December yet. The inspiration to finish it was that each month when I got out the fabric to cut a new block, I had forgotten the little tricks to make it work. Such as one month I traced the pattern on the backs of the fabric. Thus the point is no longer at the top of the block! Thus I decided I just needed to keep at it so as I would not have to press the fabric every month. I could cut out multiple shapes at one time…..

I learned so much with this quilt. For one thing, the center circle covers a lot of sins, but not all of them. You can see that not every spoke is the same size. I also learned that this is the style of quilt my adult children would enjoy. One actually asked to have her name put on it! That has never happened!

like my dots


Inspiration from Sisters, Oregon

Inspriration always comes from other quilts. The above are a couple pictures I found on the internet.



The above quilt won a red ribbon at the IA State Fair 2013 and went on to earn a blue one at the DM-AQS Show.

Quilt Shows are where I get most of my inspiration. Last year at the Iowa State Fair I saw two polka dot quilts. I began shopping for polka dot fabric immediately. I started studing patterns for the dots. Patchwok Fundamentals is where I discovered the pattern I wanted to imitate. Later, I realized that I could have ordered the pattern!

Patchwork Fundamentals

Patchwork Fundamentals

 Below are a couple of my favorites from this year Iowa State Fair and they are both medallions. My friends know that I love medallion quilts.

Best of Show at Iowa State Fair!

Best of Show at Iowa State Fair! – Pieced

I love the colors of this one!

Blue Ribbon winner at the Iowa State Fair

Blue Ribbon winner at the Iowa State Fair – Mixed Technique

One more Ribbon winner. I would love to visit this imaginary farm.

blue - Iowa State Fair

Blue Ribbon – Iowa State Fair

Below is another quilt I have ready for the quilter. The fabric line is Little Black Dress II. And the pattern is Mezmerized.


My adult children are into more modern and I thought this might appeal to them. Instead they surprised me with love of the polka dots.

Our adult children have provided us with fun batch of grandchildren. Two of them are starting kindergarten this year. One of them has another grandpa who started school in Germany. There is a tradition there of giving a child a Schultuete on their first day of school. It is so cute and big! It is filled with things you might put in a Christmas stocking. Our little guy was so excited!

A first day of school Schultuete

A first day of school Schultuete

As a former school teacher I get rather nostalgic at this time of year. May all the little ones have a successful year.

Small Group Gathering

Clarene's medallion

Clarene’s medallion

My small group has been meeting for over five years. Clarene joined us for a brief time.  She and her husband love to travel so she could not commit for the long haul. The above quilt has just been finished.  It is hand quilted!  She and friends worked on it at her winter home in Texas. Years ago, we had each been challanged to make a medallion one border at a time. Clarene finished piecing hers on schedule and then waited for the opportunity to have it hand quilted!  It is lovely and worth the wait.

embrodery kit

embrodery kit

Five years in the making: Clarene had bought this kit years ago at a sale. She persevered to finish it! She hand quilted it on a lap hoop. Kits like this usually had the quilting lines, along with the embordery pattern, all printed on the fabric.  Many have been started, but fewer finished.

Clarene's Grandma's flower garden

Clarene’s Grandma’s flower garden

Clarene has the personality of if you start something, you finish it. Many of us quilters could learn from her. Her Grandmother’s Flower Garden is an excellant take along project. She does a lot of it while her husband is driving the motor home.  She claims that she did not know she was supposed to frame each flower with white.  We all love the result!  The stunning color goes with Clarene’s personality.

Of course we discussed the options of the best way to bind this special quilt design. Sharon is also nearing this delema.

Sharon's progress

Sharon’s progress

I find this pattern of quilt tops often at antique shows. Many women struggle with the finishing of this pattern. How do you quilt it? Do you quilt in every Hexy? How do you bind it? Do you make all those 60′ turns? Yikes!

Donna's first wool work

Donna’s first wool work

We go from very challanging to very relaxing. Donna look a class on wool work and fell in love! No ‘needle turning’. This makes another great travel project. Donna also winters somewhere in a warmer climate. This is also an easier project to finish. Put it in a frame!

Carolyn was working on hand quilting a darling house quilt, but I missed the photo op. Most women find real peace in handwork. I also think we are programed not to have our hands idle.

Our Christmas project

Our Christmas project

Joyce has not been idle. She has the Christmas project ready for a border! Others have also worked on theirs.

Sandi's finished project

Sandi’s finished project

Sandi even did the quilting on her finished project. You might not be able to see it, but part of the top is raw edged. The pattern has you use pre-cut charms and some of the pinked edges are exposed.


Today’s color scheme was a little challenging. Double Split Complimentary: your favorite color does not even get to be in the block!


Double Split Complimentry

Double Split Complimentry

I can enjoy both the pure color block and the subtle Civil War fabric block. That is our goal in this color study:sometimes try some different colors. At least add a surprise color to your favorite comfort zone of colors.

This block also provided a mini lesson on pressing.  We often hear “press towards the dark”.  but there are often times when you need to press the way the fabric wants to go.  HST and flying geese have a mind of their own.  Don’t fight them.  Let them determine how the entire block gets pressed.  On this block the top and bottom rows determine how the rest must go.  Turn the rows upside down and press accordingly.

Carolyn really enjoyed the design of the block; Sister’s Choice. She went wild making the block this past month!  May your small group also encourage you to go wild in your sewing room!

Carolyn's color blocks

Carolyn’s color blocks

SHOW TIME and Quilt Traditions


Its that time of the year when quilt shows and meetings really thrive. Last week-end I traveled to Topeka, KS for the MOKA (Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas) quilt study group. Every thing about it was so fun. Friday night we met at the local museum for wine and cheese. We got reacquainted with past friends. Then we saw their quilt display that created a time line of quilts that represented some of the different trends in quilt making.

old prairie town

Saturday’s session was at pictures Old Prairie Town. The flowers were all in bloom and it was a lovely setting to study quilts.

The focus of the day was red and green quilts and we enjoyed seeing part of the Poo Collection with the guidance of Lori Lee Triplett. Her presentation was fun and informative. Unfortunately I cannot share any of the pictures of the Poo Collection.

Susan Martin's quilt

Susan Martin’s quilt

Susan Martin showed one of her antique quilts on the theme of the day.


photo 2
Susan is also an avid maker of reproduction quilts and sells some patterns.

Of course we stopped at quilt and antique shops going to and coming from Topeka. No great finds came home with us, but it is always fun to look and get out of the car to stretch. At least that’s my story!

All Iowa Shop Hop Banner

All Iowa Shop Hop Banner

Adel Quilting and Dry Goods recently had their quilt show they call Little Sisters as it is an outdoor show and very charming.



When you visit the show you have the opportunity to vote for your three favorite quilts.

And the winner is!

And the winner is!

I think this years winner was the above appliqué quilt done by Cyndi Craigmile.

upgrade of the race quilt

upgrade of the race quilt

The 12 quilts that get the most votes will be featured in the 2015 shop calendar. It is a fun competition.


The above quilt was made from the block contest at last years Dallas County Fair. It was auctioned off this year at the fair. Fund raising has always been a part of the quilt world.

Generational Quilt

Generational Quilt

Another part of quilt history is the fun stories of a partial quilt that gets handed down through generations and then finally get completed. The above photo is one of those treasures. Marci Jenson finished up this one her grandmother, Grace Pickering, pieced. Another part of quilt traditions is that it was hand quilted by a church group of ladies as a fund raiser for their church.

Pineapple Quilt

Pineapple Quilt

The above is a pineapple quilt. I have taught a class on the pineapple block several times and ladies always enjoy it. There were other lovely quilts but it was a very windy day and not all my photos turned out.

My value quilt

My value quilt

Another tradition of quilters is meeting in small groups in homes. The group that comes to my home is awesome. The above is a swap project that we worked on for almost a year. We were to get into our scraps and stashes and find blues of various values. A little purple and green could also be included. We cut the strips various widths and made rough blocks about 9 inches. Each month a different value was assigned. We swapped the blocks and then squared them up ourselves. The pattern comes from an oldie but goodie book by Evelyn Sloppy: Strips and Strings. Hopefully this will get finished up in time for another quilt show!


My small group met again and we always have such a good time and inspire each other to better things. Of course my teacher instint always kicks in and I make them learn or try something new. We have lately been studying the color wheel and getting out of our comfort zone.

color wheel lessons

color wheel lessons

I did let them start by selecting their favorite color. Wasn’t that nice of me? The top row going acrosss is Monocromatic. Tints and shades of the favorite color. The columns belong to the different gals. The first two columns are using pure colors. However, most of us don’t use the pure colors very often so I allowed them to use what tones they liked. The first colomn with the black ground really shows off the pure colors. The second one with the poka-dot ground allows me to make a kid quilt when the lessons are finished.

First Row: Monocromatic
Second Row: Analogus going clock wise
Third Row: Complimentary
Fourth Row: Split Complimentary
Fifth Row: Triads. This was the new lesson and they cut their squares to take them home and make the block.

Carol's blocks

Carol’s blocks

We meet for the day and bring sack lunches so we get a lot done. In January I presented my self imposed Christmas block of the month. Several of the gals decided to join me.

Sharon's blocks

Sharon’s blocks

We all are tempted to buy Christmas fabric in November and December, but when do we have time to sew it up? Our goal is to dig in the Christmas box and see what we can do.

Donna's blocks

Donna’s blocks

It has been good as each month we have reviewed ways to make standard blocks: flying geese, Square-in-a-square, mirror images, etc.

Joyce's blocks

Joyce’s blocks

Joyce’s is so fun as she loves pink and can make it work to be Christmas and fit into her home decor.

Carolyn's Santa

Carolyn’s Santa

Friend Carolyn joined us for the day and brought some show-n-tell. She is making Santas all year long to sell in a bazaar this December.

Sharon's Christma

Sharon’s Christma

Sharon is the only one who has finished piecing our Christmas project from back in December. We all need a reason to get up each morning and one of mine is to see what happens in the sewing room! I sometimes surprise even myself!

Donna's quilt top

Donna’s quilt top

Other Show-n-tell was Donna’s quilt top. She selected the fabrics herself. She thinks she struggles with this, but didn’t she do great?

Sharon's Grandmother's Flower Garden

Sharon’s Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Sharron likes to have a sit down project and her current one is Grandmother’s Flower Garden. Seeing her progress brought up the issue, whether our children will understand our quilts and appreciate them. I think Sharon need to add a note of hours required to make a quilt like this one.

Sandi and Helen have had to miss a couple of our meetings for health reasons. I trust that they have found some comfort as Sharon does in hand stitching.


When I was growing up in the 50s, three yards of fabric could make about anything, garment wise. I remember standing by my mom at the local Anthony’s store when she would always say, “three yards, please.”

child's skirt from the 50s

child’s skirt from the 50s

This very wrinkled skirt is all I have now of those cotton skirts she would make for me. Later I made them myself. I so wish I had some of the other things she made for me, just as I wish I had kept a few of the things I sewed for my children.

This cotton is still so nice that I am thinking of taking the skirt apart and using it in a quilt!

Speaking of quilts, the first time I bought fabric in a quilt shop, the clerk asked how much would I like her to cut. She was a little startled when I said, “three yards, please.” It was a reproduction of a childs print from the 30s! What was I going to do with three yards of it?

Now that I am a quilt maker for some time, I can say less than three yards, but cannot seem to say more than three yards, like the 5-7 needed for a quilt backing.

Back for a Christmas quilt

Back for a Christmas quilt

Thus my quilt backs look more like the above photo. I just cannot say, “Five yards, please.” However, I will confess that while spending a couple days putting this back together, I kept thinking about all the pretty quilt tops I want to piece. Why am I wasting time piecing a back! I am sure my long arm friends also think, why did she piece this back. Now I have to get it on the frame just right. Then I have to deal with all this extra thread and seams! I will say that when I do this I do try to have the last lap of fabric a print and about 10-12 inches wide so that it is less obvious if it doesn’t quite get on the frame perfectly.


Here is the front of the quilt and the two pieces went to the long arm yesterday! Yea! It is gone and I can work on something else!

I have already shared the five year quilt with you. I said I was going to tie it rather than invest the money in long arm work. I taped one side of the quilt down to the table. I topped it with batting and then the other side of the quilt. I crawled all around on the table to make the ties of serveral colors of matching yarn to make them inconspicuous. I am sure it was not a pretty sight, but I was alone!

When I untaped the quilt and turned it over I was so disappointed. The bottom side did not lay flat. Apparently I had streached the fabric when I taped the one side down. Now it bunched up. I wanted it to turn out nice so now I was going to quilt it myself. The bobbin was a thinner thread of a neutral that would fade into the quilt. The top thread was a dark color to blend in with the top.

Dark thread on light fabric

Dark thread on light fabric

The dark thread blended in nicely, except for on the light fabrics. Since my quilting pattern is Gig and Jag rather than smooth curves, the dark thread on light fabric had to come out! Hello seam ripper.

Side one

Side one

This also meant knotting every thread as it went back into the dark fabric. If you do not own self threading needles, buy them! There are times they come in handy.

side two

side two

Once I had the reversible quilt all edge to edge quilted in my unique Gig-n-Jag style, I was ready for the binding. No, I am not going to take the time to do a two fabric binding. Surely there is one fabric that will work on both sides.



It was worth all the time in making the quilt for such a deserving gal. This week-end she placed first in National Talents for Christ. Along with the learning experience comes a nice college scholarship. Congrats to Megan!

Flag Day and Pineapples

Last week was small group time and one of the gals had a flag for Show-N-Tell. It was perfect for the season. On my next post I will direct you to the pattern source.

Flag another way!

Flag another way!

Yesterday was so fun as I was able to watch a sweet group of quilters make pineapple blocks.

Scrap Pineapple

Scrap Pineapple

It is often thought of as a scrap quilt, but most of these ladies had other plans and they turned out so charming!



batics even work for this vintage block.



bold will also do.


Civil War pinks and browns

Civil War pinks and browns

Two gals were working with Civil War prints. Of course I loved them.


More modern fabrics choices

More modern fabrics choices

A couple gals were more into the modern fabrics. I enjoyed all the fabrics and creativity of these gals.

It was a fun day for me and I trust the Williamsburg ladies went home as pleased as I was. The technique for this block is not paper pieced and not hard. The squaring up the block is a little tricky to start, but after a few rounds these gals were spinning the block around and trimming it perfectly!

My small group was here and we did several fun things. We tried the Disappearing Pinwheel. It is a u-tube by The Missouri Star.

Carol showed a couple projects she has done using the Missouri Star patterns.



The one above has some raw edges! It will be interesting to see it when washed.

Seeing what others are doing is what gets us all back into the sewing room, doesn’t it? It is a rainy day here and I look forward to going there very soon!




ROSIE represents the women of WWII. They inspired one another to keep the home front going.



They inspire me.  I have been outside digging holes and moving bushes.  I can do it!


Another part of WWII was MAKE DO, USE WHAT YOU HAVE, OR DO WITHOUT.  I have made do with a scrap quilt.  Unfortunately I did have to buy all the setting fabric.  I must have cut something in error as the binding is made of 2-1/4 x 18″  strips.  Thats a lot of piecing!

pieced binding

pieced binding

USE WHAT YOU HAVE has also applied to a recent binding issue.  When you do not have enough of the desired fabric, make a two-fabric binding.  You only need 1″ of the front fabric and 2″ of the back fabric.  That gives you 2-1/2″ binding.  I prefer 2-1/4″ binding so I use 7/8″ of front and 1-3/4″ of back.

Two sided binding

Two sided binding

A plus for this technique is that you can match both sides of the quilt!


D-DAY has become a slogan we often use when we are faced with a difficult task or just one we do not enjoy.  Yesterday was a D-day for me.  Bindings got placed on quilts and I began the hand sewing.  Actually it turned out to be a pleasant late afternoon activity after a busy day here on the home front!








Today is a good day to give pause and thanks to what has become known as the GREATEST GENERATION.  The young adults of 1944 understood what it means to sacrifice for ones country.  Their parents did likewise.

Patriotic Quilt made from a kit.

Patriotic Quilt made from a kit.

The quilt above is one I recently purchased.  It was made from a kit and might have been made in the 1930s rather than the 40s, but it is my way of honoring the families mentioned at the beginning of this article.   Some young women also joined up, but most of them went to work at the jobs left behind by the men.

Molly's WWII quilt

Molly’s WWII quilt

This would change the status of women in America forever.  A lot of women sought comfort during this anxious time by making quilts.  There are a lot of WWII quilts.   Sue Reich has a large collection of them and has written a book about her collection.  I have seen her collection several times and it is worth a drive to have the opportunity.  The above quilt is one I designed and made for the American Girl Doll , Molly.  It is my V is for Victory quilt.

Victory Quilt Book

Victory Quilt Book

Above is Sue’s book, World War II Quilts.

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

Today I will celebrate my freedom, in the same way  most of the vetrans did.  They came home, went to work, and went about establishing homes and families.  In so doing we celebrate America!



Last time I posted about a five year quilt.  This time it is a seven year quilt but for a different reason.  This quilt has been in the making for seven years.

Quilt that matches my bedroom.

Quilt that matches my bedroom.

It is a monster as it is for my king sized bed.  And it is not finished yet!  I will have over 400 inches of binding to add.  I guess it is a longtime until next winter when we will need a quilt.  I should mention that the cream corner squares will disappear.  This is to be a T-quilt as I have bed posts.  The cream squares were there just to make it easier for the quilter.

IMG_6626 IMG_6625

Great quilting and a little fussy cutting

Great quilting and a little fussy cutting

I am showing you a few blocks so that you may appreciate the fussy quilting and the block technique.  The quilt blocks come from a class I taught years ago: Penny Haren’s Pieced Appliqué.  I made a shop sample and then taught the technique three times for Adel Quilting and Dry Goods.    For each class I made new sample blocks.  One set is still in a box.  There is a plan for them…….someday.

nice quilting on the geese

nice quilting on the geese

The layout includes the flying geese as I wanted to do something different this time around.



This is the quilt that inspired me to use the geese, but I could not get myself to make so many.   I believe the above quilt was done my Mary Shotwell.  Hers turned out much nicer as my geese have blunt stops and hers flow.

back of my quilt

back of my quilt

The backs of my quilts often get the left over fabric and the fabrics that weren’t quilt right for the front.

Label quilting into the quilt

Label quilted into the quilt

I also got the label right into the quilt back.   This quilt was my “Get-R-Done” project for 2013.  It did leave my house before the end of 2013.  I have yet to start working on my ‘Get-R-Done”  for 2014.

Penny Haren Pieced Applique

Penny Haren Pieced Applique

The above quilt is the original Penny Haren quilt and was made to match the book cover.  The one below is the one done using blocks from both books one and two.

Penny Haren's books 1 and 2

Penny Haren’s books 1 and 2

I am enjoying sitting on my porch as we begin this holiday week-end.  I hope to do a lot of it!  And maybe move some flowers from flats to the ground!  Enjoy your time of remembering those who sacrificed so that we may enjoy our free country.

The beginning of Memorial Day

The beginning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.