Back from the Long Arm Magician

A UFO back from the quilter

A UFO back from the quilter

This quilt was started several years ago and then went into hibernation until last fall when it went along to a retreat, where the blocks were pieced incorrectly repeatedly.  After some time with the seam ripper, determination set in. This one was for my bed. It has tried out its final destination and has moved back to the sewing room to be bound.

Meanwhile my friends are working on curved seams. Carol has hers finished:


Donna is getting close to finished:


Joyce is getting closer:


Joyce did this exactly as instructed in the book, but as I look at it I wonder if there was an easier way. She had to be so careful getting her seams matched to make perfect circles. Could she have just appliquéd, by machine or by hand, the circles in place?

Others are making progress, but I did not get pictures of their efforts.

Of course, most of us have more than one project in the works. This one was shown and snowballs always give the illusion of curved seams. This would be the perfect size as a throw pillow cover:


There are some in the quilt world who consider red a neutral and it works perfect here.

This quilt uses the snowball pattern very uniquely.



Carol bought it as a kit while traveling in Texas. She and I also discovered (like Dorthy) there is no place like home.  Iowa has an abundance of quilt shops but we still like to look for them when traveling.

Sharon likes to have baby quilts on hand ready to be given as gifts:



Sherry made this one patch where the fabric does all the work.  I think she said her sister sets up at a Farmers Market.


My current other project was a “Quilt-As-You-Go” that I started a few years ago. My original goal was one block each week or so.  Somewhere along the way it got side stepped.  When I got it out and did the last two blocks I realized that I had been getting rather good at it, but I was back to square one in my machine quilting skill.  Now I stayed on task and also did the borders.

The technique comes from the book Cotton Theory from a gal in Wisconsin.

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Sewing the blocks together went rather smooth, but when it came to assembling the rows, things deteriorated. This is when one thinks ‘I will give this to a non-quilter as they don’t know the difference.’

At this rate I might as well do all the binding by machine. You might like to try it.  First attach the binding to the back, so you have better control as to how the front will finish.  Use a walking foot and a stiletto. Or if you cannot find your, use a dull seam ripper.


I do take the time to tack the corners so they will go smoothly through the machine.

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For this binding I cut the fabric on the bias as I thought the stripes would do well that way, but I may have stretched it as the quilt doesn’t lay perfectly flat now.

I am just happy it is done and I am moving to something that has yet to go wrong.

Iowa Quilt Museum

Winterset, IA

Winterset, IA

Iowa now has it’s own quilt museum with thanks to Marianna Fons, the city of Winterset and many others. The building is right on the town square and in between two quilt shops. What more could you want?


The first exhibit is Red and White and what a great choice as these two color quilts are always so striking.


My friend, Virginia Berger, is a co-curator for this first exhibit.  The below photo is that of a Sunflower Variation. c 1945- 1955.


It is well worth the drive and the small admission fee. The building at one time was a

J C Penny store and much of the charm, like a tin paneled ceiling, is still intact.


The below quilt is a Melon Patch Variation made in 1901.  It was one of my favorites at museum.

There are fun coffee and lunch spots also in this rural town. It is the original home of Love of Quilting. What quilter is not familiar with this magazine?


This next quilt is for all the current rage for “hexies”.


And for those who like “modern quilts” how about this one?  This baseball or Drunken Path Variation was made about 1880s-1890s as a wedding gift.


A quilt I own is also in the display.  I purchased the hand pieced quilt top at an antique show.  I hired the Methodist church ladies of Anita, IA to hand quilt it.  I did do all the marking and the binding.  I rounded the corners as the fabric there was fraying badly.  By seeing it at the exhibit I learned that the pattern is a Single Wedding Ring.  There are a couple stains on the quilt, but I am afraid to wash it as red likes to travel to the while in old quilts.

IMG_3666The Feathered Star quilt below is the oldest quilt of the exhibit.  1849 is stitched right onto the front of the quilt.  Why are we hesitant to put our name and date on our quilts?  We love it when we find some information with quilts.  This one traveled from the east coast just for this exhibit.


This last quilt I am sharing is so special as the story of the quilt is documented.  A man of rural Iowa appeared as a clown in local and nearby towns for their various celebrations.  Then he got married.  When the wife became pregnant, she cut up the clown outfit and said, “No more clowning around.”  The fabric was placed in the red and white quilt in 1922.  How fun is that!  I am sure the Pinwheel Quilt will stay in this family for many more generations.  What a reminder to all of us to put the story with the quilt.


Curved Seams

Most of us quilters were at one time clothes makers. We put sleeves in garments. We sewed collars onto blouses and dresses. We did curved seams. But have never thought of curved seams in quilts. My small groups current project is curved seams. We are all working from the same book, but each one picked their own pattern.

Joyce''s curved seams

Joyce”s curved seams

This retired teacher printed up worksheets for the gals to plan their project. They first set a goal as to when the quilt would be finished and ready to go to a long arm. These ranged from 3 -12 months. Once the date was set they determined how many weeks that included.

Sharon's curved seams

Sharon’s curved seams

They were to subtract one week for adding any border and doing the final border. Subtract another week for sewing the blocks together. Looking at the pattern they were to determine how many blocks they would need to make. Divide that number by how many weeks were left. Now they had a goal set for each week.

Sherry's curved seams

Sherry’s curved seams

Some only had to make one block each week while others many and that was fine as it was their own goal.

As it has turned out each one has met their goal each month as we have gathered or they are ahead of schedule.

If they were on target with their goal each time we gathered they each received a few more pieces of fabric to build a house. This is where we currently are on home building:

reward houses

reward houses

Meanwhile, I have set some goals for this year. I am to make two quilts that use up patterns that have been chosen and fabric that has been purchased over the years. I have a number (to embarrassed to share how many) project plans packed in those neat totes.

Marge's goal project

Marge’s goal project

The panels of fake appliqué are reproductions of a quilt someone found a number of years ago. I had seen the original so bought the panels when they arrived on the market.

I should also confess that I am like many other quilters. I read the pattern instructions, but focused on the pictures and missed a step of borders. I now have to adapt the project each step of the way. It all becomes a numbers game. I now have to see if the parts will fit together.


As for the HST, I did the math. I took the total number needed and divided it by the number of fabrics I had chosen to use. Then I cut the paper sheets accordingly. It worked well as a mundane sewing time to go with mundane moods.

May your sewing include the mundane and a balance of exciting to match where our brain is working.

sewin theraphist

Spring Has Arrived in Iowa! Yea!

Spring calving

Spring calving

For my husband spring (starting in late February) is calving.

Spring does not start that early for me. I like to think of Easter as the beginning of spring. I made a table topper to honor the event.


Another sign of spring is the wildlife on the move.


This one passed my window during morning coffee.

My quilting friends found winter a productive time for piecing. Here are many of their protects:

This first one is fun as you let the stripped fabric do all the work for you!



This quilt came from a quilt show where various vendors offered block kits for Quilts of Valor.


Sherry did the below quilt from scraps from another oriental fabric collection quilt.  The darks and lights are reversed on this one.  It now covers her bed.  And her husband said he liked it!









show-n-tell at small group

show-n-tell at small group

I had given the gals the pattern for Jacob’s Ladder which is a great scrap user. Here is some of their progress:



Linda got out a UFO from a Jo Morton class and finished it up.


Linda also cheered herself up on a dreary winter day by making this very small quilt. She used all vintage fabric.


Carolyn did some beautiful hand embroidery to trim out this quilt.



Our current project together is curved seams. As the leader of our group, I thought I should struggle with the concept first. Mine has moved on to the quilter.


I only captured a few of the beginnings of the groups projects. You will see more later as the leader had them list goals for each month on this project. Everyone reached their goal on month one.

The first one was all made with vintage fabric.  Some of which was feed sack fabric.  The advantage of the low thread count helped make the seams fit well!



curved seams

curved seams

It will be fun to watch these projects progress.

May you enjoy being outside again now that spring is here, while still catching  a few moments to sew!

January In Iowa

After a major snow

After a major snow

Welcome to Iowa. In January it means snow and lot of it. A couple of my grandson’s had a fun time in it.  I do not.  I have a long driveway which has a hill and a couple curves. Of course stranded at home can have some real positives; undisturbed sewing time.  I can do it in my PJ’s as no one will be coming to my door.


In an election year, January in Iowa means politics.  It is always a meaningful event to attend ones caucus.  I always appreciate my country and its freedom when I participate.

What I want to share today is a couple quilt projects “Go’ng to the Quilter”. (think of the tune of Going to the Chapel)  The first quilt is not mine.

Mary Martin's Blue Ribbon Quilt

Mary Martin’s Blue Ribbon Quilt

This was an entry in the Des Moines Area Quilt Show by Mary Martin.  It earned a blue ribbon and my attention.  “I want to do something like this.”  I actually shopped at the show’s venders with that in mind.

A quilt for the newest grandson

A quilt for the newest grandson

January provided the stay at home time to play with the concept. I ran out of letters and characters so that I could not do it quite as centered as Mary’s.  I also had to be realistic to make it baby size. It was fun to play with the block planning on quiet days in January.


My guess is that I am not the only quilter who accidentally discovers UFOs when hunting for something else.  When I discovered this in a closet, I could not recall it at all.  It was shorter than it is now as you see it. It was about the size of a baby quilt, but it isn’t baby style.  What was I thinking?  I went to the brown fabric box.  Could I find more of the two brown fabrics? Yes!  I had to do a little piecing of the triangles, but I was able to put together enough to make it my ‘snuggle on the sofa’ size.


Then I faintly remembered some border fabric that had some cheddar in the color way, and I did some more hunting. There was not enough to do miter corners and I really didn’t want to try to get the paisleys in the right spots.  Making cornerstones took about as much time, but they didn’t take as much brain power as mitering does.

I should mention that it is a scrap quilt and I try to make one each year.  Do I have 2016 covered?  Or should it be a past year’s?

If you do go out in Iowa in January you better dress warm. My small group made these scarves at our Christmas party. I happen to wear mine at the fabric shop where I had bought the fake fur.   Two clerks asked me if I had made it and wanted to know how! How fun!

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Now it is February and I can foresee another month of a lot of sewing. Yea!

I So want to be Sewing


However this is what I am doing:



I am washing Nick-Knacks.  How boring.  Every Nick-Knack and a lot of wall pictures come down for Christmas decorations.  I love the festive look, but the tear down is not fun.


I know I make it more work than is should be, because it is when I do Spring/Fall Cleaning.  Do you remember those days in your past life.  I was a good farm wife.  The whole house got scrubbed twice a year.



Now it never all gets done, but a lot happens in January after Christmas gets all packed up.  Every nick-knack, or should I say “Collection” as to sound less junky, gets a good washing.  All wood furniture gets a good lemon  oil treatment.  Every picture frame also gets a clean up.  It really looks nice when it is all done.  But it takes so much longer than it did 20 years ago.


It could be worse as I remember my childhood and the storm window/ screen switch.  I had five brothers so at least one of them had to help.  There was a lot of scrubbing taking place twice a year.  In fact when we were first married we did this.  Thankfully windows gradually got replaced in the old farm house.


My mom told stories about the spring wallpapering.  The old furnaces produced enough smoke that a lot of wallpaper was replaced each spring.  Actually it was just covered up as they did not strip off the old paper.  I learned this lesson in the old farm house as I once started tearing off wallpaper and plaster came with it.  You just added another layer and it helped with the insulation issue.

I have shared this all to make myself thankful that housekeeping has really become easier over time.  It also has been a great procrastination as I still have work to do in our lower level.


This is were my large design wall is and I covered it with red and white quilts for Christmas.  You might also notice some Nativity flannel graph on the wall.  I get it out for the grands to play Sunday School while here. I add this picture so this quilt blog will have a few quits in the post.

Now I get to go into my sewing room!  I have pillow cases to iron as I finish up cleaning up the guest rooms.

May you enjoy some sewing moments this winter.

Christmas 2015: Done

Yes, I did finish one Christmas quilt:

My Christmas Table Topper

My Christmas Table Topper

Actually I made two of them as one went to my Mother-in-law. And it went a couple weeks before Christmas. When I clear a path in the sewing room and find the pattern I will share the name and source.

My small group had the assignment of cutting out wrapping paper for our November meeting. At the meeting we cut out the ribbons. Everyone went home with a good start. At the December gathering, three gals had finished projects. Isn’t that a benefit of a small group: motivation!  Or should we say “pier pressure”?

Friends table toppers

Friends table toppers



It is fun to see the same pattern with different fabric choices.

I also made a few gifts.  This idea came from the Ladies of the Lake Retreat.


I used the Halloween big bags.  For the backs I used fabric and placed the zipper there.


We will see the durability of these bags as three grandsons got them.  As I was being thrifty I got into a box of old zippers.  My mom was having kids during the Great Depression.  She recycled everything and I tend to keep lots of stuff just as she did.  I just don’t always get it used up.

My small group talked about cutting off the end of zippers to make them the correct size.  Be sure to add a lot of stitches near the cut off.


This was going to be a neat bag.  Front and back were wrappers and it was lined with cute fabric.

The key to cutting off a zipper:  Have the pull at the part you are keeping and not the cut off section.


May you enjoy a Blessed 2016 and enjoy your crafty side.  marge

Ladies of the Lake Quilt Retreat




Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Fall seems to be the season for quilt retreats. This year three of my friends went with me. We had a grand time. The above photos are of me getting ready!

First I hunt through my UFO’s. If that is all I take, that is what gets done. I selected a Snail Trail Block.

Next I determine why I quite working on it. I had wanted this to be very scrappy and I got tired of cutting out. So cutting out is what I had to do. This is such a plus about retreats. You are motivated to get stuff in order.

Packing up all your stuff is not a plus. But it is worth it. You also know that if you forget something, someone else will have it. I should have taken a picture of the back of my car! I take a table, chair, and this time the big board to put on top of an ironing board.

We set up our stations and go to work. We all have our projects cut out and get at the sewing. Sherry was wise as she had some big block projects. She got to see the finish line.


Sherry's finished tops

Sherry’s finished tops

Linda brought along a project we had worked on in small group. She had missed several sessions, so determined this a good time to work on it.  She did not finish it at retreat, but had it put together for our next gathering.

Linda's Christmas Quilt

Linda’s Christmas Quilt

Carol was determined at the machine. Her project had a zillion pieces in each block. She came with them all cut out. Most of them got put together.  I know we will soon see a finished quilt top. She did bring a finished project to show us as it would be soon  leaving as a gift.

Carol's Baby Gift

Carol’s Baby Gift

Meanwhile, what did I get done. A lot of sewing only to discover that chain piecing is great as long as you do it correctly. Repeating an error 25 times is not fun.

One small slip up

One small slip up on the left- correct on the right

I moved on to a different block. When I got home and was worn out, it was a great time to sit in the easy chair with my trusted friend: THE SEAM RIPPER.



If you finished something you got to put your name in the hat for some final day prizes. Sherry won the grand prize: 15 Fat Quarters!

Grand Prize Winner

Grand Prize Winner

I took pictures of some of the projects other gals were working on. They will appear in another post. One thing that will not appear is the picture of us four. Another recommendation for retreat: Take a team picture on the first day when you look energetic!

Lastly I have to share a couple pictures Barbara  Brackman posted.  I am not the only one to struggle with the snail trail.  At least I spotted my error a little sooner than these gals!


Some drunk Snails

Some drunk Snails


is a favorite week for quilters in our town. Oh the vendors! They are most gals favorite part of the show and for good reason. The vendors have worked hard to prepare the newest samples.

However….my favorite part of the show is the Des Moines Area Quilt Guild annual quilt show. I love seeing what my quilting friends have made in the past year. I get so motivated!

One of my favorites

One of my favorites

The above quilt did get me to shop the vendors! I want to make something like this! Mary Martin earned a blue ribbon with this wall quilt. What I really liked about it was the quilting was “edge-to-edge” quilting. Most of us cannot afford to have our quilts custom quilted all the time.

Best of Show long-arm quilting

Best of Show long-arm quilting

However, custom quilting is awesome at this show. It certainly has its place in our craft. Debra Kimball earned the purple ribbon on this creation. Deb Treusch was the long-arm quilter. She had done the work for many of the ribbon winners.

Best of Show bed quilt

Best of Show bed quilt

The above quilt was also made by Debra Kimball and earned a purple ribbon. Deb T. did the long-arm work on it as she did the next quilt photo.

best of show wall quilt

Best of Show wall quilt

Mary Shotwell earned the above purple ribbon. Our guild certainly has great appliqué workers.

The next winner was hand quilted, pieced, and appliquéd by Karen Woten. She deserved the best of show hand quilting.

Best of Show Hand Quilting

Best of Show Hand Quilting

Karen was inspired by a quilt at the New England Quilt Museum.

Blue Ribbon with an Edyta Sitar pattern

Blue Ribbon with an Edyta Sitar pattern

Every quilter is wowed by Edyta’s designs, but this one is a real challenge! Christine Rounceville took on the challenge and did it well enough to earn the Blue Ribbon. She even did her own quilting. I was so impressed.

I had five entries and one of them earned a blue ribbon. I was so pleased as I had been periodically working on it for four years.

My ribbon winner

My ribbon winner

Jessie Ziegler had done my quilting. Her work is awesome!

I will try to show you some of the AQS part of the show.  These quilts had to be juried in.

May you enjoy your October.


Getting Caught Up

Quilt Week in Des Moines Iowa starts tomorrow!

It is well worth the drive. There are actually two shows at the same location. The Des Moines Area Quilt Guild has their annual show and it is included with the AQS Quilt Show.

The umbrella is actually a large shopping bag in disguise.

The DMAQG does a lot of volunteer work for AQS to make this happen. Many members have been busy already with the judging and hanging of the quilts. Today the vendors move in. Those of us that volunteer for a few hours during the show attend free that day. I select volunteer time in the middle of the day as a break.

beautiful appliqué work

beautiful appliqué work

The above quit top appeared at our small group last month. It was discovered while cleaning out the quilt stuff in dear friend Sandi’s home after she died. It is a result of a kit from the 1940s or 1950s. The dots to mark the quilting are still visible. We enjoyed seeing it and offered many suggestions as what to do with it.


The lime green makes me want to say 1950s.

The lime green makes me want to say 1950s.

The above quilt top also appeared and looks like the same time period. This one might be made into a table cloth.

hand quilting

hand quilting

I had found an old quilt top at a flea market and had hired a church group to hand quilt it it. I have a deep respect for old quilts and those that did not make it to the finish line. I would love to know why, after all the work, did it not get finished. There are some great quilt stories untold.

The spot isa light shadow, not a stain.

The spot isa light shadow, not a stain.

My issue now is the binding. Where will I find fabric to match? I am thinking of a tiny red piping and then muslin binding. The red will be too small to see that it doesn’t match and it will separate the muslins to hide a mismatch.

I should also say that red and white quilts are hard to date as they have always been a favorite.

We were finishing up our Penny Haren blocks and each of us was to share what they would be doing with them.

Donna's project

Donna’s project

Donna had already used some of hers and made a wall hanging or table topper.

marge's quilt top

marge’s quilt top

I had made each block in multiples to make one of Penny’s designs. It is now at the quilters.


Joyce had missed most of our gatherings while we did the PH project so she worked on a ‘really want to make‘ project. She earned a prize for a finished top! This pattern comes from Love of Quilting by Fons and Porter.

boy's room thank-you

boy’s room thank-you

After making two complicated quilts I was ready for some relief in easy sewing. Our son and his wife had hosted all of the family in their home for July 4 week-end. It was not an easy task. Eight adults and ten children. They did a great job with sleeping accommodations and meal planning.

adorning gray walls and bedspreads

adorning gray walls and bedspreads

Stan and I took over the girls bedroom so I made some shams and throw pillows to decorate their beds. I have yet to decide which I like least; ruffles or piping. I do know that I enjoy quilt making much more.