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.

.basket of flowers

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.

Winter Retreat 2014


Our Winter Quilt Retreat began in the middle of a very snowy Midwest winter. We all were settled in the hotel (Westin Chicago Northwest Itasca) by the time the next snowstorm started on Saturday. What better way to spend the weekend, sewing and working on unfinished projects, catching up with friends, and looking out on the Winter Wonderland.


In addition to sewing, people could be found using up scraps, making pillowcases, laying blocks out on the floor and even having a hand massage.



My sister Carol Keyser, owner of La Bellissima Salon in Schaumburg, was on hand to give hand massages, glycolic peels and masks to soothe tired and dry hands.

We also enjoyed some wonderful treats. Back again were the Pennsylvania Dunkers, made by Vikky. Also Therese treated us to some goodies, Seven Layer Bars with a few new layers and some Energy Bites. Here are the recipes:

Energy  Bites
1  cup dry oatmeal
(I  used old fashioned)
2/3 cup toasted coconut
1/2  cup peanut butter
1/2  cup wheat germ
1/2  cup chocolate chips
1/3  cup honey
1  tsp. vanilla
Stir  all ingredients. Let chill in frig for 1/2 hour roll into balls.  I used a  teaspoon.  Store in frig for one week(they won’t last that  long);)
7  Layer Bars
(well  mine have a few more)
1  stick butter
1  2/3 cup graham crackers crushed
sm.  bag coconut
Heath  English Toffee Bits
Peanut  butter chips
Milk  Chocolate Chips
Caramel  Bits
1  can sweetened condensed milk
1  cup chopped nuts
Melt  butter in a 9×13 inch pan.  Do not mix but add ingredients in order given. I put  just enough bits and chips to cover the coconut generously. Press down all  ingredents. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 mins.. Loosen from sides of pan right  out of the oven.  Cool before cutting.


Another great weekend that went by went too fast – lots of awesome projects complete, too!

Next up: Show and Tell -The Quilts


Frozen in Chicago – What to Do?


Frozen in Chicago AND staying in! That is what’s been happening this week, as well as preparing for the 13th Annual Winter Retreat that starts on Friday.  This event cannot come too soon for us as we’ve been cooped up for the last few days in the frozen tundra known as the Midwest. Not that I’m complaining OR have nothing to do . . . there are MANY projects waiting in the sewing room. So I thought I’d give you a run down of what I’ve been doing this month:

1. Preparing my Breakfast Club Project IMG_2370

Our Breakfast Club, a great group of ladies that I’ve known for years, chooses one hand-sewing project to work on for the year. We start each month’s block at our meeting and hope to finish it that day. This year we are doing Woolen Sheep and 12 Monthly Blankets from Buttermilk Basin though I don’t think any of us are doing the sheep. This will be fun to change each month and it is always fun to choose the wool, fuse and BEGIN!


I happen to be very messy when I start these projects which brings me to the next item on the list.

2. Reorganizing the Wool Stash

The stash needed to be organized as I’ve had a few projects going lately and I NEVER throw away any pieces of wool, not even the smallest piece. So the smallest little “schnibs” (I think my friend Reggie coined that word) went into the ball jar and the rest was organized by size. photo

3. Retreat Pre-Sewing

I like to do some pre-sewing and fusing so I’ve been zig-zagging the baskets and leaves on “Flower Baskets Quilt”. As this is a UFO retreat, I am trying to pick something out of the “project basket”. This one has been in the basket for a long time, purchased probably in 2003-2004 at The Stitchery in Delavan at one of the fall retreats. Time to get it done!


4. And finally, the Final Prep and Packing!

IMG_3613 IMG_2376

Stay warm everyone! IMG_3586

My Top Five Posts of 2013!

Thank you, WordPress, for being a rockstar and telling me which of my posts were the biggest of 2013. Thanks to all of you for enjoying them, especially #2, which you have been enjoying for years! Happy 2014 from Patches & Prints.

Happy New Year!

This December, I read two books, both by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Chaiverini. The Christmas Quilt and The New Year’s Quilt were both about “Master Quilter” Sylvia Compson and featured flashbacks to her childhood with many memories of her Christmas and New Year’s family traditions at Elm Creek Manor. Jennifer Chaiverini’s very first novel, The Quilter’s Apprentice introduces us to Sylvia and Sarah McClure as they meet, form a friendship and a business through their love of quilting. I really enjoyed reading the two holiday books as it tied together so much of the original story with the stories of Sylvia’s past.


I want to share a quote from The New Year’s Quilt as a young Sylvia describes quilting as an art form to some of her mother-in-law’s friends:

"If all that matters was keeping warm, we would buy our coverlets too. The women
of my family - they quilted - as a matter of choice, not necessity. We each had
our own style, our own favorite colors and patterns, our own unique way of
arranging the pieces - even if two of use chose the same pattern and templates,
the quilts we made would be as unique to us as our faces and our voices."

This sentiment describes all of us, how we all have our own distinct style and our bonded by our love of the art of quilting, as we look forward to the new year with new projects, finishing old ones, checking out the latest fabric lines, reorganizing the sewing room and relaxing with our favorite quilt magazine.

Happy New Year – Happy 2014!


The final two holiday projects . . . Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet December continues with my final two holiday projects. Both of them needed to be quilted . . . by me! As some of you know, I rarely quilt my own quilts because I am not good at free motion. I’m very good at straight lines and can pretty much follow markings but I could never get the hang of free motion with the dropped feed dogs. A note about my sewing machine, a Pfaff Quilt Pro that I have had since 2001 - I LOVE this machine, especially the dual feed which is a built-in walking foot! This is great for me and my straight line quilting and no klunky walking foot.

Back to the final two projects – first, a block from the Seasonal Silhouettes by Laundry Basket Quilts. I  fused the pieces, zig-zag stitched with invisible thread and added two borders.


Also ready for quilting, Home for Christmas, a block of the month wool applique from Primitive Gatherings. My Breakfast Club quilt group has been working on this all year.


I used fusible batting for the quilt sandwiches.

As I mentioned, I’m really good at straight lines. I did a diagonal line design (using a water soluble marker) on the lantern and also a little echo quilting around the applique. IMG_2241 IMG_2248

I even got fancy in two corners with the holly.


With Home for Christmas, I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and stitched an “X” through the pieced blocks. I didn’t want any quilting in the wool blocks. IMG_2232

Again, I got a little fancy with some stars in the border.


Now that the quilting is finished all that is left are hanging sleeves and binding – ready for Christmas. . . and my next post!