Fall Retreat at The Abbey 2013


There was a lot sewing, lots of smiles and a lot of fun this past weekend as quilters descended on The Abbey in Lake Geneva. With the added bonus of an extra sewing day, it was just non-stop sewing from morning till night!


The Sewing Smiles!

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We made our annual stop at The Stitchery in Delavan for wine, cheese and of course shopping!


A popular vendor, Christa from Thirty-One Gifts, brought us the latest in bags and organization.

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We were all quite productive! Here are pics of some of the most popular and complicated projects from the weekend.

*More pics can be seen on my FaceBook Page*

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And as always, the time flies by and there are always more projects left to complete. So we will do it all again in January. Happy Fall!


Off to The Abbey!

003We are off to The Abbey this weekend in beautiful Lake Geneva WI – 50 quilters, including 28 who have taken advantage of our extra sewing day on Thursday! Fifty happens to be a record attendance for the FallRetreat.  Everyone is always so excited for the get-away and look forward to entire sewing weekend. In addition to our annual trip to The Stitchery in Delavan on Friday, two vendors will be set up in the sewing room, That Quilt Shop, Woodstock IL and Buttons and Bolts from Salem, WI. And if that’s not enough shopping, we have Thirty-One gifts and bags visit on Saturday.

With the retreat weekend approaching, I promise to get back to the quilt blog. It has been way too long since I’ve written – I know . . . so long, considering my last post was at the end of June. Since then, I had a little surgery with a little recuperation time, followed by my trip of a lifetime to Italy.


Here we are at the Vatican!

And we also have a baby on the way (parents-to-be are my son and daughter-in-law from Step To The Altar quilt)!  So since June I’ve been working on baby quilts, of course . . . and fall retreat prep. More on the baby and the quilts upon his arrival but for now, it will be Fall Retreat 24/7. Next post will be lots of pics from the event!photo

Off to The Abbey!

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Quilt Show in the Garden 2014 – the Food!



I am so fortunate to have wonderful friends who helped me out this year for the quilt show. They hung quilts, donated prizes and made desserts! Thanks to Maria, Barb, Darlene, Maryann and Bernice for the treats, Megan Melendez (Thirty-One Gifts), Shannon Roberts (Wildtree) and Darlene Votzmeyer, Sew Busy Quilting for the door prizes and Darlene and Maryann for hanging the quilts. You are all awesome!


Each year, I share some of the recipes with all of you.

Buttercream Bars are a favorite in my house. I’ve been making these for years, the recipe came from a friend of my moms. They are super easy and so delicious!

Buttercream Bars

  • 1 17-oz box Dromedary pound cake mix
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 8-oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Combine pound cake mix, melted butter and 2 eggs until well blended. Beat one minute. Pour into greased 9×13” pan. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the other 2 eggs and vanilla to the cream cheese. Set aside ½ cup of powdered sugar. Beat the rest of the powdered sugar into the cream cheese mixture. Pour over batter in pan. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan. Cool 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar.

The other two desserts that I made came from Pinterest, one of my favorite places to find new ideas. I’m always on the lookout for something new each year for the quilt show. Check out my Pinterest Board and you’ll see lots of great ideas for a summer garden party. Here are the links to the  recipes for the other two desserts- Pink Lemonade Cupcakes and Strawberry Shortcake Tiramisu. And don’t forget the Tequila Sangria, its always a hit, I serve it every year!


Tequila Sangria

  • 2 bottles Red Wine (not Merlot) 750 ml each
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup Tequila
  • 1/4 cup Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Sliced lemons, limes and oranges
  • 2 cups 7-Up or Sprite

Mix wine, triple sec, sweet vermouth and lime juice in container of choice. Add sliced fruit and refrigerate for a few hours, just so your alcohol picks up the fruit flavors. You can also add slices of apples and grapes. After mixture is thoroughly chilled Serve over ice and add sugar and Sprite/Seven-Up to taste.

And one more, Pecan Pie Bars, everyone’s favorite!

Pecan Pie Bars

  • 2 cups unsifted flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 (6 oz) pkg toffee chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for glass dish). In medium mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut inbutter until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Press firmly on bottom of 13×9″ baking pan. Bake 15 minutes. In medium baking bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla. Stir in chips and pecans. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool thoroughly, cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator.



Quilt Show in the Garden 2014


We could not have asked for a more beautiful day this year for the 4th Annual Quilt Show in the Garden. Each summer, I host a garden party to showcase the quilts and talents of those who attend my events during the year. As always, the quilts did not disappoint. There was a mix of traditional and contemporary, along with beautiful hand applique and embroidery. To add to the party, we also enjoyed some delicious desserts with friends!


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The winner . . . Jacque’s Butterfly!

For this post, I’ll concentrate on the quilts. All of the guests vote for their favorite from the quilts submitted. Thanks to Darlene Votzmeyer, the winner is awarded a gift certificate for longarm quilting from Sew Busy Quilting. Our 2014 winner was Jacques Butterfly, submitted by Cathy Tierney. This was Cathy’s very first quilt! Jacques Butterfly is a Block of the Month that I taught in 2006 with our Itasca Firehouse group. Cathy’s use of bright colors that she pulled from the border fabric showcases the many different sizes and types of blocks that make up the butterfly. And as a very first quilt, it was actually a very intricate design. Congrats, Cathy – amazing effort!

Now for more quilts . . .


Young at Heart Pet Rescue, Crazy Eights, Jacque’s Butterfly, Pink and Green and Savannah


Yellow Brick Road, Tulips In Bloom and Wild Goose Chase


Chocolat (background) and A Little Porch Time


Bluebird of Happiness and Flower Baskets



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Chocolate Cupcake and Quarter Cup

Sharing our quilts on a beautiful summer day is a wonderful way to celebrate the art of quilting. I hope some of you are already thinking of what you will show next year!

Next up: The Food




May Birthday Girls

My granddaughters, Madeline and Ava, were both born in May and celebrate with a shared birthday party. Madeline will turn 7 this week and Ava turned 3.


Turning 3 means her “big girl bed” will be coming soon. When Madeline turned 3 I made her quilt for the new bed.


Now that Ava is 3, her quilt is in the works. She LOVES purple and I’m sure you’ll recall that I’ve been working on Ava’s quilt (my last few posts). The pattern comes from the April 2014 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.


After selecting an assortment of fun purple fabrics and making LOTS of half square triangles, I started working on the blocks, though finding the time to sew when our weather finally has turned warmer is a bit of a challenge.

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All the HST’s!


Blocks and . . .

The flowers and garden were calling but I managed to get the blocks finished. Now time to put the blocks together and the pieced border.



Then off to be quilted!

 Happy 3rd Birthday, Ava – your quilt is on the way!


Connect the corners and more!


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Connecting Corners and More

Yes, it has been awhile since my last post . . . and . . . the promised Fast Flying Geese video. Due to some technical difficulties there has been a problem uploading my video to You-Tube. I am hoping to get that up soon but until then I thought I’d share a fun tip with all of you.

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HST’s for Ava’s Quilt

You may remember that I’ve been working on a lot of half-square triangle units for my granddaughter Ava’s quilt and also working on The Giving Quilt which I will be teaching in 2015. The Giving Quilt has a LOT of connecting corners. “Connecting Corners” are typically constructed by sewing a square onto the corner of another square so it appears that a triangle was sewn on the corner.

 A quick tutorial:

1. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong side of the square to be placed in the corner.

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2. Place the square in the corner, sew on diagonal line.



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3. Cut 1/4″ away from the cut line, Press toward the corner.


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My tip for today:

1. When drawing your diagonal line on the square, draw an additional line 1/2″ away from that line.


2. Sew diagonal as in Step 2 above and sew again on the 2nd drawn line.


3. Trim between the two lines, 1/4″ from main diagonal.


5. And press . . .


You will have your connecting corners and more – a half square triangle unit perfect for a mini!!!

When I teach connecting corners, I NEVER let my students throw away the trimmed pieces. You never know what you can use those HST’s for.

Here is a mini I made from the leftovers from my Ruby Slippers quilt – SO CUTE!

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And one more thing, even if you forget to draw that second line, you can still sew those triangles together. But if you plan ahead, that mini will be finished in no time.

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March Madness

Its that time of year, March Madness for college basketball and what seems like March Madness, quilt related, for me.

I typically start a project and follow through to the finish before starting something new. For some reason, this month, I have been working on a lot of different things at once. That is why I’m calling it March Madness.

So here is what I’ve been working on:

Lots of cutting! With this never-ending winter in Chicago, I’m hoping to have all my projects cut and ready for sewing. That means more time outside when the weather FINALLY gets warmer.


My granddaughter Ava is getting ready to move from crib to her “big girl” bed. She wants purple! I’m working on the cover quilt from the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. I made a test block which I’m very happy with and now making ALL of the half square triangles.


I also finished the binding on my Basket of Flowers Quilt, ready for the Quilt Show in the Garden in June.

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Looking ahead to 2015, I’ll be teaching The Giving Quilt (based on the book by Jennifer Chaiverini) to our Firehouse Group. All the pieces are cut and there are more HST’s to be made.


I finished stitching the March block for our Breakfast Club project. So far, this one is my favorite.

Making a lot of flying geese and preparing for a program for the Algonquin Quilter’s Guild. I’m showing them flying geese three ways: traditional, fast flying geese and using Open Gate’s Fit To Be Geese Ruler. Hopefully my flying geese YouTube video and post will be finished too.


Finally, I finished one of my favorite quickie patterns, with more geese – The Flying Geese Panel quilt. Here’s a sneak peak, can’t show you the final picture as its a surprise!


Happy Belated National Quilting Day!


Happy BELATED National Quilting Day! Apparently I missed that over the weekend. To make up for that I thought I would share a really quilting tip from one of the Winter Retreat ladies . . . AND then take you back to National Sewing Month with my Top Ten List.

We were talking about quilting magazines (and all magazines for that matter) because we had a “Swap-A-Rama” table set up at the retreat. Anyone could contribute quilting items that they no longer needed or wanted and all those attending were invited to take whatever they wanted. There were many quilting magazines on the swap table. One of our retreat regulars suggested that after reading the magazine, scan whatever articles or patterns that you want to save and digitally save on your computer – genius! I can’t tell you how many magazine pages I have cut out and filed and never referred to. And how many of us have endless ARCHIVES of quilting magazines! This is such an awesome idea I just had to share. After scanning you feel free to pass the magazine on to a friend, donate to a library or elementary school or just recycle. No papers for the landfill!

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My Magazine Archives

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Ready for the scanner!

So how about you? Do you have another idea for the quilt magazine collection? Or maybe another great tip for me? Please share with all of us!

Here is a look back at my National Sewing Month post from September.

Currently I’m working on a You-Tube video for Fast Flying Geese – coming soon!

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February, My Birthday Month!

It has been quite awhile since I wrote a post, almost a full month since I posted photos from my annual Winter Quilt Retreat. February has come and gone. February happens to be my birthday month so I decided to put aside the to-do list  (like clean out some drawers, my Oz room and things like that) and just do fun stuff. Even if we’re a little off track with all things quilting, here is what I did in February.

1. Super Bowl Sonny
We begin on Super Bowl Sunday, the final day of the quilt retreat. A great excuse to just hang out and watch TV all day. Here is my puppy, Sonny, dressed up in his Rufferee shirt, ready to go to sleep after that boring game.

2. Snow Sewing
Snow and cold continue to define our Midwest winter so what better time to sew more fun things. I worked on my Jitterbug and Log Cabin quilt. Jitterbug is a jelly roll quilt that I started at the retreat. I’ve now got all the blocks done, the sashing and borders made. Now to put it all together.


Jitterbug Quit components

My Log Cabin quilt blocks are made up entirely of red and cream scraps, 30 blocks! I’m making myself promise to have this done by Christmas and then possibly take the holiday decorations to the next level upstairs. I purchased three awesome reds for the borders (see below #9)

Log Cabin Blocks

Log Cabin Blocks

3. Book Club
My book club meeting was at my house this month. We read Call Me Irresistable by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day. I even baked heart shaped cookies – and if you know me, I do not enjoy baking. Luckily we had the dough frozen from Christmas, all I had to do was cut the hearts out and frost them.


4. Valentine’s Day

February isn’t February without a Valentine’s Day celebration. Flowers, candy and dinner. I pulled out a lot of the red quilts, too. Sonny’s hanging out  with one of my faves, Stars Over Lundar Beach (Open Gate Quilts).


Sonny and Lundar Beach


Me and My Valentine!

5. Knitting Class

For my birthday month, I decided to join my friend Ginny and take a knitting class at Three Bags Full, a really awesome yarn shop. I’ve tried knitting on several occasions and never seemed to get the hang of it but I’m happy to say, class is going very well, we are learning a lot and hope to complete something awesome in the near future. For now, we are practicing.


6. Chocoholic Frolic

My daughter Michelle is on the radio in Rockford, “Midday Michelle” on 97ZOK! She invited me to accompany her to an event her radio station sponsored, the Chocoholic Frolic benefitting The Arc of Winnebago, Boone and Ogle Counties. She just happened to be the MC!


7. My Birthday and Eataly

For my actual birthday, my family went to Eataly! Yes, Eataly, not Italy, a new two-story café/marketplace in downtown Chicago filled with Italian food, wine, coffee and dessert. We had a lot of fun sampling Italian meats and cheeses and had great pizza, pasta and wine. It was an amazing birthday activity and even the little boys had a lot of fun!


My little girls couldn’t come to Eataly because Madeline had her black belt test, which she passed! Congrats to her, so they came by the next day so we could celebrate some more with a PupCake!


8. Breakfast Club

Birthday Month continued with our Breakfast Club, a little quilt group that has been meeting for maybe 12 years, WOW! Anyway, not everyone could make it but we had a fun time working on wool, chatting and talking to our missing members by phone. Here is a photo of all of us at Christmas.

9. Quilt Shop Visits

The birthday celebrations continued, once more in Crystal Lake with my two besties, Ginny and Pam. And we forgot to take a photo but we enjoyed the day with lunch and some shopping, which included Material Girl Fabric Shop and Welcome Stitchery in downtown Crystal Lake. I bought some adorable baby fabric, some purples and a white-on-white background for Ava’s big-girl bed quilt, coming soon. We also found pearl cotton for our wool projects at Welcome Stitchery.


The Purple Collection

I have to add two more shops I was able to visit in Rockford, Quilter’s General Store and Acorn, Etc. during my Chocoholic trip. I found my reds for the log cabin at QGS and bought an awesome kit and more purples at Acorn. I really enjoyed visiting with the owners of both shops. We all have mutual quilting friends and it was fun chatting with them.

Awesome Red Border Fabrics

Awesome Red Border Fabrics

Yes, February was cold and snowy ,  but it was also lots of fun.

Coming soon: Flying Geese

Show and Tell – Winter Retreat 2014

My retreats always conclude with a “Show and Tell” of projects we worked on throughout the weekend. This year was no exception. I will let the pictures tell the story. ENJOY!


Spools – for the sewing room


All ready for Christmas 2014


Warmer thoughts bring us to Hawaii


Sharon loves the brights!


As does Lori!


Therese accomplished a lot this year


Lots of blocks!


Cathy’s bluebirds give us hope for spring


Catching up on some UFO’s!


Brown Bear, Brown Bear


Love Ellen’s holiday quilt, made from a panel


A UFO mystery!


Always a lot of pillowcases completed


From another panel – such a fun quilt for a little guy!


Adorable Thimble Quilt!


A few applique blocks


Finishing the mystery


Not just quilting, some knitting too!


Beautiful applique


More for the holidays, Christmas cardinals!


Jari finishing something from a fews ago, gorgeous!


Awesome, square-in-a-square Valentine!


Laura’s quilt, front and . . .




Cute mini – made from what else? SCRAPS!


Sarah’s Sampler


Tiny blocks!


Flannel quilts to donate to the hospital for new arrivals!


Flower baskets, a long overdue UFO.


Kim is all smiles with her completed blocks!

It is always fun to share during “Show and Tell”. We all go home inspired with new ideas, patterns and of course, with all we have accomplished! Can’t wait till the next event in November.