The Giving Quilt

The Giving Quilt 2Each month a group of quilting friends meet at a local firehouse for a day of sewing. We have gone by many names – Sew and Sews, Second Saturday Quilters, Block of the Month Group, and Firehouse Group. Obviously we meet on the 2nd Saturday of the month, every month and have been meeting for 12 years. Some of the faces have changed along with the names but there are a few who have been here since day one.

A little history of the group, we started as a spin-off from the Thimbleberries Club that had been meeting at my quilt shop. I believe this group started in 2000. Remember Thimbleberries? Quite popular line of pattern, books and fabric! I believe that Lynette Jensen, the brains behind Thimbleberries retired in 2012, along with her designs. But there are still lots of Thimbleberries fans out there, along with the merchandise.

Firehouse Christmas 2014 2

The group was all for continuing outside the store and met at my house for about 6 months. After that, we found this wonderful group of firefighters who were generous enough to let us use their training room once a month. The room is large and bright and has many tables so that we can bring our machines, irons and supplies and even lay out blocks on the floor. The most important thing about this group is the friendships that have formed. Each month we catch up on what’s been going on and twice a year enjoy a themed pot luck lunch. At the holidays we hold our annual Christmas party and began a Cookie Exchange in 2014.

Firehouse Christmas 2014

We’ve probably done everything imaginable for holiday grab bags over the years, fat quarters, ornaments, charm packs, and now none of us needs any more fabric! So this past Christmas, we all brought skeins of yarns to donate to our local children’s hospital. Many of the group have sewn pillowcase and knit IV covers for these kids. The yarn collection goes a long way throughout the year.

As we’ve evolved over the years, we have been a UFO group as well as offered various classes. Most of the classes have been Block of the Month but we’ve also had machine quilting, mini bags, tote bags, pretty much anything that is requested.

For 2015, I am teaching The Giving Quilt, a pattern based on the book of the same name by Jennifer Chiaverini and a part of the Elm Creek Quilts series. This pattern/kit/fabric line (Red Rooster Fabrics) actually came out in 2012. When we decided this quilt would be a great block of the month, some people purchased kits, some chose their own fabric. I made the sample and we began this January.

When I teach a quilt like The Giving Quilt, I like to re-write the steps, having everyone make the components of the quilt all at one time. This way when we work on these steps in class, they can got a lot accomplished and get a little assembly line going. When the components are finished and the quilt and blocks are ready for assembly, everything seems to just fall into place.IMG_4655

The ladies had instructions in December to do a large amount of pre-cutting before the official start of class. Labeling was key because there were many fabrics, many pieces and some similar fabrics to keep track of. They were also instructed to draw diagonal lines on all the half-square triangle pieces. Januaury’s class consisted of half-square triangle construction. All the HST’s are now complete and ready for block assembly. The center of the quilt is made up of two different blocks for classes in February and March.


I think you can see how the components are coming together. I have also scheduled some catch up time during the summer months as vacations take over.

Everyone seems to be enjoying the class and it will be so fun to see the different fabric combinations when the quilts are finished.

One more thing . . . today is National Quilting Day so have some fun with your quilting!


Little Black Dress

Wherever you live in this country, 2015 thus far been record setting as far as weather is concerned. In the Chicago area, there are many names for it – Chiberia, Snowmaggedon, etc. We have experienced record cold for the last two months. Today, finally, we are having a warm up! As bad as the weather has been, it has given me ample opportunity to complete some projects that have been on the list for awhile, AKA UFO’s. 2015 has also come to symbolize the year of the UFO, with many of those in my quilt groups.

Something that has been on the list for about a year is my LBD, Little Black Dress quilt. I found a great fat quarter pack online with 64 of the Moda Little Black Dress 2 fabrics.  These prints are a great combo of black, grey and cream, which just happens to be the new colors of my bedroom. (I’m hoping that the walls will be painted soon too). I LOVE this line!!! So with some inspiration from a few decorating catalogs, I created an easy – but large quilt, KING size to be exact. I was also able to throw in some odds and ends from my stash and a few that others were so generous to donate (Thanks Barb and Maria!). After some figuring, cutting and sewing, the LBD was born made up of only 7 inch (cut) squares and bordless. Doesn’t get any easier.

Here is a sneak peak when I laid the quilt top on my bed.

Little Black Dress Quilt

Also found an awesome backing online at Backside Fabrics, 108″ wide, perfect.


LBD is ready for the quilter. Can’t wait to finish it.



Now I’m off to make pillows and pillowcases to match!


2015 Resolutions Update

It is the middle of February and I feel like I’m making a dent in my 2015 Sewing Resolutions. I thought I would give you all an update, see #3, 4, and 5.

#3 – Finish Projects! 2015 seems to be the year of the UFO. Many of you shared that thought with me at the Winter Retreat. I finished two of the above mentioned UFO’s over the retreat weekend – Jitterbug, begun a year ago at the 2014 retreat AND Postcards, purchased at the Fall Retreat 2013. Anyway, the UFO stack is going down.





I’ve been working on a few more UFO’s with my participation in the All People Quilt UFO Challenge. As a review, readers have been challenged to complete 12 UFO’s this year, one each month. I started with Cupcake Party in January and Airplanes in February.

Quilt blog cupcake party

Cupcake Party


Cupcake Party is almost finished, just need some personalization on the two placemats. Airplanes was purchased several years ago, a true UFO. I changed out some fabrics and also did a little re-design. The top is finished and ready for quilting – YAY!

#4 No Buying – I have made a small purchase so far this year, just one. As mentioned in #3, I changed out some fabrics in Airplanes. I needed two more light fat quarters and an inner border. That is ALL I purchased, just $12, another YAY!

#5 Clean Out Room #4 aka The Sewing Room – This one was a biggie. I actually tackled this in early January, before the Winter Retreat so that my UFO’s were in order, fabric stash organized (lots of fabric donated) and the most important thing, labels for everything. Here are some pics!

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Another YAY!!!!!

I hope you are all having success so far this year with both your resolutions and UFO’s! Please share them with me, Happy February!!!

Winter Retreat 2015

Another winter quilting retreat has come and gone – another blog post to write. So thinking about what to write, it seems that I always end up writing the same thing. We start on Friday, Show and Tell on Sunday, snacks, vendors, and lots of sewing. You all know that already. So instead, I will just share some pictures and comments – Enjoy!

1. Lots of sewing, pressing, even some handwork, and smiles because we are away for the weekend doing what we love.

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2. And its not only quilts, some bags, a Kitchen Aid cover and sometimes just blocks.IMG_6075IMG_6029IMG_6011


3. Finally, quilts in many stages of completion . . . IMG_6038IMG_6009 IMG_6044 IMG_6041 IMG_6024


Can’t wait for the next one!










A New Year!

IMG_1687Whether we call them resolutions, goals, challenges or hopes for the new year, it seems like everyone is writing about this in their blog posts the first few weeks of the new year. I am no different. Today I will give My 2015 “Sewing Resolutions” and hope you will all share your “Sewing Resolutions” too.

1. Write More Blog Posts - This goes without saying. My 2014 started out promising but then I got busy, had surgery and there went the year. No excuses for 2015.

2. Reorganize Quilts - I think some of you may relate to this – I seem to have too many quilts. After owning a quilt shop, teaching and running retreats, the quilts do seem to pile up. The picture below is just one cabinet. I do need to sort, organize and maybe sell or give away a few. I’ll let you know the status of this project as the year goes on.IMG_5972

3. Finish Projects  – The projects I am referring to would be those that are already cut and ready to go. The clear 12×12 boxes are nicely stacked. Those projects need to be completed THIS YEAR!


Coincidentally, another quilt blogger shared a list from All People Quilt that is titled UFO Challenge 2015. For this challenge, they ask you to list 12 UFO’s currently in your sewing room. They have provided a worksheet on their website. On the first Monday of the month, they will draw a number and post it. That is where you begin. My version will be to work on that project and finish it during that month. Easy right? I would love it if you all would share with me your resolution for completing UFO’s and also if you are competing in this UFO Challenge.

4. NO Buying – this means no buying kits, fabric, patterns, etc. UNLESS they are a necessity for finishing the above #3. Also allowed if needed for a gift.

5. Clean Out Room #4 aka The Sewing Room – When I am immersed in a quilt or any other project, I tend to get a little messy. Things get cluttered, what can I say? Time to purge and streamline in 2015. IMG_5976 IMG_5975

6. Sew with Madeline – My 7 year-old granddaughter Madeline is very artistic. I started sewing/quilting lessons with her last July and she finished her first quilt. YAY Madeline!!! (And I WILL write a separate post about her in the near future.) In 2015, we will finish binding her first quilt and work on a new one, her dog quilt. This resolution might be the most fun!


I don’t see a problem completing any of these resolutions, maybe #1, but I’ll try my best to get more posts in this year. Blogging sometimes overwhelms me and then I just don’t do it. This year, I hope to not be overwhelmed and to just write and communicate what I’m working on, sharing with you and hoping that you will share your projects, tips and ideas with me.

IMG_5978May 2015 bring you days that are bright, productive and creative!

Holiday Recap


I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. It seems they always by so quickly but it also feels good to be back to a routine of healthy eating, exercise and of course sewing in the new year! So before I give you my “Sewing” New Years Resolutions, I thought I would give you a recap of my holidays.

For my family, December was amazing as we welcomed a new addition — grandson, Anderson Michael, born on December 8!


Anderson is the first baby for my son Michael and daughter-in-law Erin. Needless to say, our holidays were very special, introducing Anderson to family, friends and his cousins, our 4 other grandchildren.


Leading up to Anderson’s birth were baby showers which means baby quilts. Quilters know that procrastination is not an option when deciding to make a special quilt. I started the planning back in July when we got the news that he was going to be a “he”. I was recovering from surgery, fabric shopping online and came upon Riley Blake’s collection “Oh Boy”. I fell in love with these fabrics and started creating. As soon as I was up to sitting at the sewing machine, everything fell into place, the tops were finished, quilted by my friend Darlene and ready for the October baby shower.

Anderson Cradle

Quilt for baby cradle


Crib Quilt


Baby Shower!

Coincidentally, this fabric line coordinates perfectly with Anderson’s furniture. This was totally accidental, the original crib was discontinued. See how great his room looks!

Crib with quilts

I also whipped up a little Penguin quilt which we brought to the hospital when the baby was born. Erin LOVES penguins so with the penguins and snowflakes, I think this could be Baby’s First Christmas quilt.

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After the baby quilts were finished, I had time to make a few Christmas quilts and a pillowcase for each of the other grandchildren. I think everyone was happy with that.



Finally, I will share my newest holiday quilts!

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Next up – Sewing Resolutions.


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