Quilt Show in the Garden 2016

A few weeks ago on a beautiful June afternoon, I was fortunate enough to have some very talented quilters display their work in my garden.

The quilts as always are the star of the day. Everyone takes time to study the quilts and vote for their favorite. Congratulations to the Winners!

1st Place – Linda Massa for The Elephant and I

2nd Place – Joan Asbury for Embroidered Stars

3rd Place – Maria Croy for Fit to be Geese

Honorable Mention – Reggie Barrow, Meadow and Ardus Bradley – Twins, Alike But Different

Many thanks to those who contributed a dessert! They were all delicious!!!


Baklava – Brownies – Pound Cake – Pecan Cups – Lemon Bars – Fruit

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Special thanks to Darlene with SewBusy Quilts for her donation of a gift certificate for the First Place Winner. (Also for helping me out so much – thanks Dar!)

An  wonderful afternoon of friends, food, fun and of course, quilts!

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Quilt show in the Garden 2015 – the Quilts

QSG 2015 1 (2)As always the quilts are the stars of the show! It is so nice to see the different fabrics, patterns and quilting and so much fun to vote for the favorite. Each year, my friend Darlene, a longarm quilter (Sew Busy Quilting) generously donates a gift certificate to the winner. And . . . this year’s winner was Reggie for Strawberry Lemonade. Congrats Reggie!!!

Strawberry Lemonade First Place

Strawberry Lemonade
First Place

The show was held indoors this year (as mentioned in the previous post) due to an ominous forecast and super wet garden. So here is a look at all the quilts indoors.


Blueberry Sweetheart

Easy as Pie

Easy as Pie


Five Strip Rail Fence


Skating on Thin Ice ~ Postcards


Valentine Yellow Brick Road

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Mystery Quilt


Door County Cherries


A Life of Plenty

And now some of the guests.







So start planning for next year — if you plan to attend one of my retreats or classes, you too can show your quilt! Until then . . .


Quilt Show in the Garden 2015 – the Food


The weatherman doesn’t always cooperate when it comes to my Quilt Show in the Garden. I’ve been having a little quilt show in my backyard (it started out as little, me and my dog Sonny) for the last five summers – three beautiful days, one monsoon rain storm and this last one. Last Friday the weather was supposed to be beautiful, until Thursday. Then storms were rolling in as they have been all summer. Severe weather was predicted for about 1:00 pm, the exact start time for the show. Additionally, the back yard was super wet from the frequent storms that we’ve had all summer. So . . . we went to Plan B, moved indoors.


I will be writing two separate posts, the Food and the Quilts. Today I’ll tell you about the food. Desserts, drinks and quilts pretty much sums up the show. I always have great luck searching for food, drink and decorating ideas on Pinterest. I even have a Pinterest board titled Quilt Show in the Garden. Check it out for your next garden party!

For desserts, I made Hummingbird Cupcakes and Caramel Macchiato Gooey Cake Bars. Both were Pinterest finds, delicious and super easy! I even made the pineapple garnish for the cupcakes. And if any of you want to make the Macchiato bars, I have a lot of instant coffee left!

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I am also very fortunate to have good friends who volunteer to help set up food and quilts and also those who contribute their own desserts.

Special thanks to:

Lori for Chocolate Covered Strawberries / Maria for Lemon Bars 

Reggie for Chocolate Chip Cookies/ Darlene for Fruit Kabobs

Lori, Darlene and Anne Set-up Helpers

Darlene for Gift Certificate to Quilt Winner

As for beverages, I served Strawberry Lemonade (also from Pinterest), a variety of Refreshe wines and of course, bottled water.

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QSG 2015 8

Be sure to click on all the links for the recipes, as well as share your own in the comment section if you like. Cheers to another successful quilt show. Happy 4th of July everyone!

Next: The Quilts


Sewing Machine Basics 101

About a year ago one of my friends asked my advice when she was thinking of purchasing a sewing machine. She also asked me if I would teach her to use it and my response was, of course, YES! We finally made plans for lessons and were joined by a few more friends.

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First, a word about these ladies. We first met at our water aerobics classes. Swimming together every day makes strangers into friends. We talk daily about pretty much everything, our family, friends, hobbies and even books! From there we formed a book club known as the “Book Club Babes”. We have all enjoyed reading and discussing our books, along with a glass of wine or two each month. We have a lot in common and now even more with sewing lessons.

Book Club Babes

Book Club Babes

I based my lessons on three projects that would acquaint them with their sewing machine. The first lesson was an introduction to the machine – threading, filling bobbins, stitches and more. Secondly, an overview of types of fabric, thread and needles. Then it was time to start sewing beginning with practicing sewing a straight line. After that was mastered, we moved on to our projects. Each project focused on a different skill.

Project #1 – Pillowcases, the Hot Dog Method

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I have previously posted a video of the Hot Dog Method of constructing a pillowcase. After making the “hot dog”, the focus of the lesson is finishing the seams with a zigzag or overcast stitch.

Project #2 – Travel Bag

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The focus of this lesson is zipper construction. The travel bag can be made in a few different sizes but all use a 14″ zipper. Putting the zipper in was easy and a good way to learn to use the zipper foot.

Project #3 – The 10-Minute Table Runner

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The last project was actually the easiest. The ladies LOVED making this, quick results make for happy students.

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Hopefully my friends learned a lot about using their sewing machines. Now they can choose to move on to quilting if they want. I’ll be happy to get them started!


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!