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:

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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:

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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


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.




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.


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!


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.


Iowa State Fair Quilt Winners

Last night was pre-view night at the Fabric and Threads department at our fair. If you submitted an entry you are welcome to come and view the quilts. I will go back and study them some more.

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A T-Shirt quilt made from past fair t-shirts earned a Blue Ribbon. The saying, “Nothing Compares to the Iowa State Fair” is so true. It was a great design.

Best of Show by Mary Shotwell

Best of Show by Mary Shotwell

Best of Show and purple ribbon goes to Mary Shotwell of Des Moines.

Lucy Boston pattern

Lucy Boston pattern

Someone had a Lucy Boston quilt finished! I am trying to decide if Carole Lingingston appliquéd the blocks down or if she paper pieced the border in place. Either way it is attractive and DONE!

Caole's LeMoyne Star quilt

Caole’s LeMoyne Star quilt

Carole has been busy as she also finished a LeMoyne Star quilt. When my small group met this week, we tried a technique that is currently floating around on the internet. I think we could make this block, but not as small as Carole’s. Hers were 4 or 5 inch blocks.

Best Wall Quilt

Best Wall Quilt

Another pattern that my ‘neck-of-the-woods’ has been fascinated with also appeared and won Best Wall Hanging. It was done by Betty Whitson.

My quilt top finished

My quilt top finished

Maybe next year this quilt will get entered at the fair. I did finish it with many frustrations and it has gone to the long arm gal.

May you enjoy going to some of the fairs and shows in your area.

Lucy Boston, No Thanks

We go through so many trends and fads in quilting. Lucy was a little slow catching on in my part of the country, but she is alive and very well right now. If you are not familiar with Lucy Boston, she was an English quilt maker and made many lovely quilts. The one she made doing English Paper Piecing using the honeycomb shape has made her name quite common in the quilting world.

A Lucy Boston block

A Lucy Boston block

For a couple years I have seen the blocks and have been tempted, but have refrained until recently. When I bought all the supplies and made my first block with a group of friends.

I love my block and was thinking I would join this group and do one block a month just for the fun of it. I could chat and cut it out and begin basting at the meeting. Before the next one I would have my block completed. As a quilt takes 48 blocks, I would have enough in four years. I could live with this as I have several other projects in the works.

At the gathering of Lucy fans it was mentioned that you should do the framing of each block as you go or you will regret it when you want to put the blocks together. I read the instructions. It takes 16 background honeycombs for each block.

On the drive home, I thought about this. 48 X 16 = 768. Yikes! Selecting fabric for each block is fun. Fussy cutting is fun. Seeing a block come together is fun. Doing 768 honeycombs of the same solid fabric = BORING!

Castle Wall

Castle Wall

Facebook has a group of fussy cutters. It is so fun to scroll through it and see what others are doing. I fell hook-line-sinker for a quilt being done by a lady in the southern hemisphere. I love the internet!

Above is a picture of my first block. I hunted for a fabric similar to her centers. Go ahead and call me copycat. I can take it.

Look at the edges of the block. It is a square! There are no shapes needed to set the blocks. I have done the math. 48 blocks/ 3 blocks per week = 16 weeks or four months. I have already booked the long arm gal for this quilt.

I am not EPP these blocks.  I cut the templates with no seam allowance.  So when I am marking the fabric I am marking the stitching lines.  I guess the 1/4″ SA when I cut the pieces out.  I am hand piecing the blocks and find it rather a pleasant activity.

Yes, I had already set my goals for 2015 and was not going to get side tracked, but this is a hobby. Give me a break.

Sherry's quilt

Sherry’s quilt

My friends are staying focused if I am not. Above is a quilt Sherry has made for a daughter. It will be delivered next week right on schedule.  The fabric of choice is Oriental.  The appliqué was done my machine and is a first for Sherry.

Carol's quilt

Carol’s quilt

Carol’s 2014 get-r-done project was the above quilt. She just needed a little bit of 2015. Not only did she piece it, she also did the quilting. The center was done on a long arm and the boarder with her regular machine. She used a paper pattern for the boarder and did not mind tearing off the paper when finished.

I am liking the diagonal movement of both quilts as well as the quilting.

Making the blocks for the Little Black Dress II was a winter goal for Carol. She got it done and had the blocks attached by spring.


Carol teaches a class in her home. They have tried several patterns from Missouri Star.

Raw edge pinwheel

Raw edge pinwheel

One thing the Missouri Star is known for is leaving some raw edges. If you use pre-cut fabric you have pinked edges and can take advantage of them.

“Really Want To Make” project

I am working on my Really-Want-To-Make quilt. I am not certain if I am on schedule with it, but I am staying on the task.  I will say that I like the look of the clam shells, but I am finding this a boring task and would not recommend it.  In addition EPP the curved shape is tricky and not always a smooth curve when I do it.

I will end this post with some thoughts on what our quilts are worth. I have some of mine appraised as I want my children to at least appreciate the value if not the quilt itself. Appraisals will show what it would cost to buy all the materials and hire someone to make the quilt. The truth is that the market value of the quilt is often half of that.

All this being said, I quilt because I love to do it. It is my hobby. Doing so gives me pleasure. Hopefully it often gives pleasure to the person I give the quilt to.

Recently I went to the quilt show in Kalona, Iowa. There are two requirements to have a quilt in this show: 1. It has to be hand quilted. 2. It has to be for sale.


Would you or could you make the above quilt and sell it for 400$? My thinking is that quilters do not buy at the show as they are there to appreciate the work and be stimulated to do their own creations. Non-quilters also appreciate the quilts, but have no concept of the materials and labor.


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.