Harrahs for the Red White and Blue

IMG_6848The last time my small group met was Flag Day.  I had been cleaning out some quilt magazines and had spotted this Uncle Sam.  I thought it an appropriate project for the day.

IMG_6847The one hand is cleverly put in to hold the flag.  I have a narrow wall that I can hang this on, so I made three of them:

IMG_6845 (1)

Do you ever get to the finishing of a project and think, “If I was doing this again, I would….”?   I liked that I dressed the Sams differently, but I might have liked the center one reversed to balance the wall hanging.  I could have changed it, but I was to lazy to take it apart.  I will just imagine that they are marching in formation.

It will be fun to see what the other gals did.  We are also doing a different basket block each month.  It has been easy to plan as there are so many basket patterns out there.

Some of us went to the Minnesota State Quilt Show in June.  It was in Duluth and was a fun city to visit.  I found this fun pattern at one of the vendors:

IMG_6853 (1)

The blue plaid was once a very nice pair of wool dress slacks of mine.  Alas the fabric has a new use as I could no longer wear the pants.  I will say that it has been hard to hand buttonhole stitch these kids as there as so many fine curves to get the facial features.  It will have to be enjoyed from a distance.

At our last gathering Sharon shared a patriotic Quilt of Valor she had finished and was delivering that day to a former co-worker who had served our country in the military.  It would be a surprise to him and it will be fun to hear about it at our next gathering.

IMG_6759While at the Walnut Iowa Antique Show I found a child’s set of blocks and patterns.  One of the grands has had a fun time working with them.

Recently a quilt has come back to me from a group of hand quilters, Sacred Heart Quilters of WDM.  They did a fabulous job.

IMG_6825The appliqué is actually opportunity blocks produced by a company that copied a historical quilt that was discovered several years ago.  I happened to see the original quilt on exhibit, so could not resist purchasing the cheater blocks.  I did do some “stuff work” on the fake appliqué blocks.  I laid batting behind the block.  Then used water soluble thread to machine stitch around each figure.  Lastly I trimmed the batting away where I did not want the stuff work.  I asked the hand quilters to put quilting stitches very near my machine stitches.

Once I had the binding attached, I soaked the entire quilt in cold water in my washing machine.  I added a couple color catcher sheets to the water.  After 20-30 minutes I used the spin cycle to remove the water. (I did not use the agitation of the machine.)  After the spin cycle I laid the quilt out to be sure all blue marking had been removed by the water.  Once this was confirmed, I put the quilt in the dryer for 10 minutes.  Then I laid it out on table covered with bath towels.  Over night the quilt finished drying.  Now all the quilting really showed!


For the batting I used 100% wool.  Hand quilters love to work with it and it really shows off their hard work.

I trust that you enjoyed a great patriotic celebration with family and friends, marge


Cheaters and Honest Quilters

Barbara Beckman posted an article yesterday about cheater fabric; fabric printed to look like quilt piecing. Some quilters think it is a new thing. Barbara is so good at documenting the truth. I am sharing news prints that she used to prove that “cheater” fabric has been around for a long time.


This is one that I happen to own:

45 inch square quilt backing

Barbara showed this same print.  And this was her report on it:

Printed patchwork, about 1880.  Probably from the Cacheco Mills.

Below is the front of the quilt. It is very nice, but I mainly purchased it for the backing.

Front of Antique Quilt

A friend and I discovered this piece at an antique flea market.  While we were holding it, a lady finally asked if we planned to buy it.  We have learned that if you are thinking about making a purchase, keep it in your hands.  If you lay it back down, someone else might grab it. We answered that we were just determining which one of us was making the purchase.

Barbara also posted this ad from 1910 and it is actually called “cheater” fabric.  This one is dated 1910.

America's Textile Reporter 1910

Now for the real thing.  While I was in France the only cotton fabric I saw was at a linen store. I purchased a different 100% cotton printed napkin for each member of my small group. Then I purchased additional napkins of more solid colors. I cut these up and the gals were given two inch strips of these. They were challenged to do something with them. They could add one other fabric. They had three months to do this. I am not sure when each of them started, but I started very early ……..the morning of the meeting day.

Most of the gals did table toppers. My picture of one of them turned out very fuzzy, so I will have to try to get someone else’s photo. Here are the others:



French linens

The last photos are of Linda’s and she struggled just as I did. Her printed napkin did not harmonize with the 2 inch strips. She solved it by making two items; a tote bag and a clutch bag.  How clever and she did not break any of the rules.  She said she cut apart a paper gift bag to use as a pattern.

Linda’s challenge

I am so proud of all of them. Great Creativity!

They have also been working on other projects.  Show -N-Tell is always good.  I will share Linda’s first as you just saw her other creations.  She has been trying very hard to finish some UFOs and she even does the quilting on her regular sewing machine.

Carol has sent some of her quilts to Missouri Star to have the long arm work done.  She keeps busy doing binding.

The navy and cream quilt was worked on at a retreat.  She stayed on task but was disappointed she didn’t seem to be making a lot of progress.  She really was as this block pattern has a zillion pieces.  The quilter used a dark thread and it really enhances the quilt.  I was surprised.  When you think about it, a light thread on the navy would have probably been a distraction.  The Christmas quilt was a small group project a while back.  I love the way she used the strip border on a diagonal cut.  She did a lot of starching before she cut it.  She had enough fabric to do great intersections.  She explained that she started at the top, then did the right side, bottom, and left side last.  The last one would still be tricky as she had to match two corners.  Great Job, Carol!

Below are Sherry’s work completed. The first one is called “FQ Shuffle”  and requires 12 FQ.  She said that you use every piece of them.  We all buy those little treasures, but when do we actually use them?

The second one is made from a purchase at a show.  Most of us have seen the booth with a package of a yard of each of five fabrics.  They also provide you will a variety of patterns to use with the set.  And, Sherry got hers done!

The next photos are of what I have been working on.  It is a Di Ford pattern that appears in her new book, Primary Quilts…2.  She is an Australian quilter and designer.  This book is just arriving in the states.  I was privileged to take a class by her.  I purchased the needed fabrics, but later decided to make it a little longer.  When I went back to the local store to buy more of the red fabric, there was no more.  I had enough information to go on-line and hunt.  I found the right fabric line, but alas, they produced 3 or 4 shades of red.  I now have some of each one except the one I needed!    Instead I worked with every scrap I had and it will now fit on a full sized bed.

The pattern name is Jane’s Garden.

You are seeing the same border, cut two ways.  When it returns from the long arm magician you will see which way I choose to cut it.

Have a Blessed Easter!

Bunnies quilting. 1316547900_happy-animals-abc-6


The view from my sewing machine

The view from my sewing machine

Yes, that is the ocean in my view line. I love to sneak away from Iowa winter for a brief time each year. This year friend Carol is with me. We brought along our machines, folding machine tables, and many projects. You just never know for sure what you will want to work on. I also bring hand stitching as there is nothing better than doing it outside; seventy-four and a light breeze.

Do you recognize this sentence: A quick brown fox just jumped over my very lazy dog.

High school typing class, right?  I think I have it a little wrong as I do not see every letter of the alphabet. It was our warm-up activity each day in class. Sometimes I need a warm-up activity in my sewing room. This project makes for a good one. For some time now when I have had  Civil War fabric on the cutting board I try to remember to cut an eight inch square and put it into a container where I store them.


Years ago I saw this concept of marking the back of your cutting board. Use masking tape to mark where to place the eight inch squares. Use a Sharpie marker to mark the desired cutting lines. I numbered mine in the order I would be cutting them.


My Marking is for the Square In A Square block.  If you look close you can see that this technique cuts off the dog ears before you sew.


You can pair them up in sets of two fabrics for the traditional block.  Or you can use three fabrics for your blocks.  I guess you could have all four corners different if you wanted to.  I have chosen to go with three fabrics in each block.

Having come on my trip with the box of eight inch squares and the markings on the cutting board, this is my “quick brown fox…” warm up activity each morning.


This does give you a set of three blocks with a light, medium, and dark center each time.  I have played with laying them out on my bed and that is another fun activity until bed time.img_5884

There are multiple ways that  you could mark your cutting board.  I discovered this in the box so I must have tried that design also.  I think I have enough eight inch squares that I could play with both designs.


Carol brought along several small kits.  That is another great way to travel.  She even did a lot of cutting before we left home.  She has her first two completed, while I keep changing projects and have nothing completed.  But we are both having fun.  Plus we have discovered that we can sit on our balcony and do nothing and feel no guilt.  That makes this even better than a quilt retreat.






New Quilt Project or Finish Ones Started?

New Years Day project

New Years Day project

Welcome 2017

Start a new quilt on New Years Day is a good omen for a new year.  I decided to do a very small one as there are so many bed quilts still in the works. This is to be a pillow cover and the kit was purchased a long time ago.

The picture is before I clean up the outer edge. Think about what I will have when I do square it up. ALL BIAS EDGES!  The pattern wisely suggested me to stay stitch the outer edge first. I once saw a bed quilt that finished like this and the maker wondered what to do. My first thought was, “What was the pattern designer thinking?” My second thought was, “Why did the pattern not provide a lot of advise to keep this a rectangle quilt without a ruffled edge?”

At our December small gathering the gals showed progress on the blended quilt projects.

Linda's Blended Quilt

Linda’s Blended Quilt

The body of this quilt is finished. Now Linda was dealing with the border fabric that was less than what she needed to finish it as the pattern suggested. She has the two opposite sides identical for a great start.  Cornerstones are helpful when this happens.  She could also not worry about the top and bottom being identical.

Another thought would be if the sides are cut on the length wise grain, should she cut the top and bottom on the crosswise grain?  It will be a lovely quilt no matter how she finishes it up.

Sharon's Blended Quilt

Sharon’s Blended Quilt

Sharon’s quilt is back from the long arm gal who did a great job with edge-to-edge quilting.  Do you like what she choose to use for the binding?  The next picture shows the choice of quilting pattern and thread.  Take time to discus both of these with the long arm gal.  Attach a written note to the quilt as it might not be worked on right away and we all forget things.


Joyce has an interesting border going on her Blended Quilt.


Notice how the inner border goes all the way across the side outer borders. She does not have to worry about matching flower clusters or perfecting a mitered corner.  What a great solution.

These two quilts were also part of our December Show-n-Tell.  The fishy one was finished and was to be a gift.  Now that the waters in Iowa are frozen, the guy recipient may be snuggled up dreaming of better days to come.  Is the second picture ‘Turning 20’ ?



Sharon chose the perfect setting fabric for this sampler.   The shop help actually guided Sharon to the fabric and that is what good store help should do.  They know what is on their shelves better than the consumer does.  If I remember correctly the blocks were left overs from a Penny Haren project.  Notice the binding is scraps from the quilt body and very appropriate.  When using the scraps diagonal joining seams allow for less bulk at the intersections.

The final photos are not quilts, but rather a homemade dress.  My sister made it for me when I was a child.  This is the only one that is still around.  When I was helping my granddaughter put it on, I explained that it was my Sunday dress.  I shared that I also wore dresses to school.  In the winter we wore slacks under the dresses for the walk to school and recess.  Those were the days!



Catching Up On 2016

Today is a New Year, but I am still catching up on 2016. Christmas is yet to go down. Since the family has left I have read, washed towels, read, washed sheets, read, vacuumed, read, made beds, read, cleaned up the left over food in three refrigerators, and did I mention that I have done a lot of reading?

Hexi potholder

Hexi potholder

Before Christmas I sent a few items to the families. Mainly potholders that I had cut out a couple years ago.  I really did some cleaning in the Christmas fabric suitcase.

Carolyn's Gingerbread potholder

Carolyn’s Gingerbread potholder

Friend Carolyn did a lot more work on her potholders.

I had purchased a kit for Santa and Mrs. Santa towels a few years ago at the Quilt Block. They were made and have gone to the family that still has Santa believers.

Last year (or some year) my group acquired the pattern for the Mug Mats and Linda got a couple done.


Joyce got busy and quilted a project we did at another Christmas gathering.  She did a great job, but confessed that she really does not like the project.  How is that for a “Get-r-Done” attitude?

Years ago I purchased a crib quilt top at our guild fund raiser. It has hung nicely in a closet since then. I finally realized that if I added another border(black with colored dots), it would be large enough for a lap quilt. I have a 9 year old grand who loves any pond creature. He also loves the furry fleece that is not as popular as the regular fleece. (probably because it is more expensive and you cannot leave the edges raw.)   If I backed the quilt with the furry stuff it would be a win-win gift. I should clarify that I am a piecer, not much of a machine appliqué person, and not a machine quilter. This project was a skill stretcher.  The frogs had all been ironed on but needed to be machine appliquéd in place.  I did so to the inner parts of the frogs.  But the outside of the frogs I machine appliquéd with the backing in place.  That way they would pop-out more and I did not have to repeat the stitching around the creatures.

I had heard that it was wise to add a batting of plain muslin when doing a fleece backing. I did not do the wise thing.  In the above picture it appears that I had a tension issue and black bobbin thread is showing. Not so. I used a thin bobbin thread.  What you are seeing is fur coming up with each stitch. Re-afirming the concept of no batting with a fleece back, but add a pre-washed muslin layer to prevent shadows and fleece wanting a front showing.

A couple granddaughters received picnic/beach blankets.  I will have to find a picture of them.


Now that Christmas is over us Iowans can expect a couple months of snow.  The above is the wool-work project I prepped so I would have some hand stitching to do.  It is getting close to finished!

Happy New Year to you.  Once I heard it was good luck to start a new quilt on January 1.  I have a box I placed on a shelf when we moved ten years ago.  It is yet to come off the shelf. I think I am going to get it out and hope I at least added a picture of what I was thinking of.


Thankful for “Quiltie” Friends

At this time of year we do think of being more thankful. And I am thankful for all of you. You inspire me to try something new or to just get into the sewing room and get working on something that has lost its original excitement.

I have a small group that meets at my home each month. They cause me to get in gear and prepare for them. Then they bring show-n-tell that inspires me to be more creative.

Joyce's Blended Quilt

Joyce’s Blended Quilt

Above is our current project of ‘blended Quilts’. I know we are a little slow on this fad. It appeared early in the 2000s by Marsha McCloskey and Sharon Evans Yenter. They were inspired by antique quilts and their soft, comforting look.

two of the books on blended quilts

two of the books on blended quilts

Almost a year ago I attended a quilt show in Texas and one vendor’s booth just drew me to it. I am sure you all have experienced that exhilarating moment. I liked every sample quilt they had on display. I left the booth with a book and a lot of fabric.

Donna's center part

Donna’s center part

For all of us this project has been a challenge to our thinking and shopping. Donna’s is above and most of us would want to “organize” things differently, more balanced. But it is what makes the quilt attractive and one really wants to study the quilt and each block. I love your brave spirit, Donna.

Carol's blended quilt

Carol’s blended quilt

Carol made shopping easier by purchasing from one line of fabric. Her struggle was that she bought the fabric prior to selecting a pattern. She ran out of some and did not use others.

Linda was not present for this show-n-tell as she was working an election station. She also bought one line of fabric for her quilt. And she likes her quilt but feels that she missed some of the learning experience. (She sent the picture so she could earn her reward.)

Linda's quilt top

Linda’s quilt top

Once again, we each set our own goal of completion date and then worked backwards as to what had to be accomplished each month. All are on target so far.

Carolyn's blocks

Carolyn’s blocks

Carolyn did not have to fabric shop so far. Instead she went to her stash and found some fabrics that had been moved to storage for a while. They now were perfect for this project.  The top, left side, block is traditional :  light -medium -dark.  The rest are the fun different combos.  I love your braveness, Carolyn.

For our last project there were rewards for staying on our goal charts. We each got to build a house. When we completed the project, the village came together. Here are some of them.



Of course there is also show-n-tell at our monthly meetings. These are some of the treasures shown:




As I must get ready for church this Sunday morning, I will have to share my other thanksgiving of quilting friends on my next post.

Meanwhile, there are a few that got away!


Show Time at the Iowa Museum

The Iowa Quilt Museum opened a new exhibit as we moved into October.  It is a fun one as it’s focus is the all time favorite of quilters: STARS.  Not all quilters like to make stars but everyone likes them in quilts.


Wow did some ladies like to add the sparkle of color to their quilts.

The above  one is dated 1890.  Have you ever heard, “Old quilts are so drab.”?

Here are some more drab color combinations from the same time period.


The fun thing about this quilt is that only one of the nine blocks is pieced correctly.  It happens to be Quilt Week in Des Moines Iowa with AQS in town.  This fun quilt would not have earned a ribbon at a show, but it is still a winner and has been preserved longer than mine will probably be.

The curator for this show, Virginia Berger, reproduced a smaller version correctly for the American Quilt Study Group a few years ago.


The one below comes from 1930.  Pink has gone in and out of quilt styles.  It really faded out about 1890 -1920.


This one really accomplished a quilter’s desire:  first you admire it from a distance and then you are drawn up close to enjoy the details.  Pink was definitely a 20s-40s thing.  but this quilter must have had some darks from earlier times.  And she used them wisely.


What I like about this museum is that it provides for a lesson through time.  It even appreciates us who like to reproduce quilts from the past.  The one below was  done by Liz Porter.


The pattern for this quilt was available in Fons and Porter magazine.

The Iowa Quilt Museum also appreciates the quilt patterns being created today.  The next photo is a pattern designed by  Barbara Cline in Simply Triangles.  I pieced it a few years ago.


I thought that I was so cleaver to flow the stars into the side borders.  It was not that way in the pattern.   Isn’t that a new idea?


The last quilt I am sharing was made in 1930.  That is 90 years ago!


You will be able to see these and many more if you make the trip to Winterset, Iowa.  Fall is a great time to drive the winding roads that way.  Plus Winterset also hosts the John Wayne Museum.  And the Covered  Bridge Festival this this coming week-end.



Get it done! It’s Show Time

AQS is coming to Des Moines this week! Des Moines Area Quilt Guild also has their show as part of the festivities in the same location in downtown
Des Moines, Iowa.

I was the first to drop off their quilts for the local show. It was not because I am so punctual, rather because I was leaving town to watch grandsons play soccer.

I found myself doing my own “quilting” on a wall quilt. Do the rest of you use spray adhesive? Do you protect the area around the project?

layering for quilting

layering for quilting

It had been a long time since I had done any quilting. I went with straight lines and a walking foot.

My attempt at doing quilting

My attempt at doing quilting



Meanwhile my new BFF went beyond the call of duty to have this done in time.  When it was 3/4 done her machine started giving her trouble.  It went in for repairs.  When that did not solve all the issues, she picked up a new part at 6:30 in the morning. How many of us retired people are out of our PJ’s at that time of day?

The back side of my quilt

The back side of my quilt

She really did a great job. I hope it keeps the eye focused on the quilting and not my points. I had all the point strips finished before I started assembling the quilt. That is when I discovered they did not join neatly.  I decided there was a pattern error. Alas, as I got out the pattern, Crazy Curves Continues by Elsia Wilson, I remembered that I had drafted the point section myself. We are always learning and the next project awaits us.



Meanwhile my small group has been getting to the finish line also. What a great show-n-tell we had the last time we gathered.

Linda's top finished

Linda’s top finished

Linda had taken this class years ago at the Adel Quilting and Dry Goods. The top in now finished!

carol's color value lesson

carol’s color value lesson

We had swapped blue strips some time ago to do this ‘oldie but goodie’ pattern by Evelyn Sloppy. Carol’s has returned from the Missouri Star quilting shop and the binding is on. “Done” is such a grand word.


Joyce's projects

Joyce’s projects

At our December gathering we often begin a Christmas project. They rarely get finished for that Christmas. But Joyce is getting caught up on hers. She does her own quilting on her domestic machine. She was getting our input on how to finish the stars.

How to border?

How to border?

This quilt also was one of our swaps. We had done HST the paper way, which is ideal when doing a swap.  It helps having all HST identical is size. This is an Edyta Sitar Pattern. The question now was how to border.

Sherry was the first to have her Curved Seams quilt totally finished!

Sherry's quilt finished

Sherry’s quilt finished

The leader did not even have hers back from the quilter.  We all have the same book, but we each selected which pattern we would do.  It is so fun to see the results.  I had made up goal sheets for this project.  Each gal determined at what date the quilt would be ready to go to the quilter.  They then worked backwards to determine what had to be completed each week.

If they came to the next gathering current on their goals they received a kit to build a house.  At our next gathering they will be planning their village as we are ready to move on to another project.




Quilt classes at sea

When I travel a lot of stuff goes into my suitcases in zip-lock bags. They are light weight. My make-up bag is even a zip lock. I label them with sharpie markers like, Shower.

It was natural that all my fabrics also were in zip-locks and marked which class they were for. For a light weight tote to get them to class I used a simple fabric tote:

lite weight tote

lite weight tote

For me traveling is all about that 50# weight limit and how to get back home with added purchases.

I thought my bag looked nice and then I saw a gal with this bag:


Now I get to my Di Ford class and all the gals have these neat small totes for their hand stitching supplies.:



The gals gave me the source of the pattern and mentioned that they found the pattern a little tricky to figure out.  But it is worth it with all the different slots to sort the supplies.

organized storage

organized storage

Meanwhile all my plastic bags are sliding off the table onto the floor.

For a break we would slip into one of the other two classes to see what they were doing.  I showed you the carry-on suitcase of one of the gals in my last post. I missed getting a photo of her purse, but this is her sewing tool tote:




Day 3 of classes I decided to have some fun and not have my plastic bags sliding all over the place:


Yep, this wash tub was my tote of the day and I showed it off with pride! I also bragged of the price. $2.33

I also explained all the travel uses. The main one is doing hand laundry especially on a cruise ship with tiny sinks. What’s more, I leave it behind when packing for home along with grubby PJ’s and other throw away clothes.

If you are interested in making one of the totes, I did find the pattern after returning home.




Happy organizing for your fall retreat!


Do you remember that line from the movie, Pretty Woman? The leading female actress was playing the part of a street walker and was hired by a very wealthy man. He gave her money to buy a cocktail dress. At the first shop it was suggested that she leave as they would have nothing for her.

The next day the man took her to another store and bought her a new wardrobe. On the way back to the hotel she stopped at the original store. That is were the fun line was stated, “Remember Me? Big mistake, Big mistake.”

First I need to share just how many quilters got off the ship on a free day in Crete.

fabric fanatics

fabric fanatics

Now you may view the fist shop sites as we got off the ship.

floral shop

floral shop


The second photo was taken through the door of the closed shop. Big Mistake, Big Mistake.

We were all hungry for fabric! This was our last port!

Earlier on our trip, our guide to Florence took us to a beautiful fabric shop.

me touching fabric

me touching fabric

Yes, thats me touching very expensive fabric. Like 65-85 eros/meter. I am standing by the men’s shirting. There was also 100% ladies cotton very similar to Liberty of London fabric selling at 65 eros/meter.  We had all walked out of this shop empty handed. We concluded it was an Italian shop for custom tailoring.

On my last post I shared about one of the instructors, Di Ford. On the cruise I was introduced to two other instructors of the needle and my range of stitch thinking has been majorly widened. First I was introduced to Reiko Kato from Japan.

At St Paul, France

At St Paul, France

Reiko has been stitching since she was 4 years old.

Women were wise to take her classes. First because she is so inspiring. Second because she brought kits!  Unfortunately I did not get photos of her four different projects. The below picture is of one of the students progress.

parcial project

parcial project

Now for a photo of how she inspires her students from the past. This gal needs to learn English so that she can become an instructor. Her daughter was traveling with her to do the interpreting for her.


Yes, you are looking at a carry-on sized suitcase. We all thought it needed a covering of some type just to preserve all the tiny details. This over-the-top stitcher had taken apart a suitcase and put it back together with this wool/cotton work on it.

As blogs are to encourage one another in our passions, I will share a photo of my carry-on.

Yup, that's duck tape holding it together!

Yup, that’s duck tape holding it together!