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

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!


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!

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.

IMG_3781 (1)

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.

IMG_3780 (1)

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