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!



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.

Anderson penguin2

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!

IMG_5966 IMG_5967 IMG_5968 IMG_5969 IMG_5971

Next up – Sewing Resolutions.


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!

Christmas Throw Pillow . . . Short and Sweet

Christmas pillow 1

As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season continues, so does “Short and Sweet December” . . . my month of holiday projects leading up to the big day!

On the To-Do list this week was a Christmas wool throw pillow. The block is from Edyta Sitar’s pattern Sweet Sixteen – Laundry Basket Quilts, done in wool and stitched with Valdani thread (my favorite thread to use with wool). I believe I’ve mentioned on many occasions that I love working with wool. I had this block cut and fused sitting in my wool basket for quite awhile. So I stitched it up in a few evenings, cut out the pillow back and serged the finished pillow.  Another holiday project complete!

Christmas pillow 2

Short and Sweet December

As we all know, the holiday season has really snuck up on all of us thanks to the late Thanksgiving. For December, I promised to share what I’ve been working on for Christmas this year and my posts will be like December . . . short and sweet!

A few weeks ago we were just returning from a very productive weekend at The Abbey, my annual Fall Quilt Retreat where lots of us worked on holiday projects. IMG_3294This quilt is called “Christmas Presents”, a kit featuring the 2012 Stonehenge Holiday fabrics. It was a super fun quilt to work on, just the present blocks with some fusible invisible applique bows. Some of you may remember my big “OOPS” that I had with the fusible while preparing my blocks. You’ll want to read that post if you ever have a major fusing mistake. My friend Darlene quilted it – thank you, Dar – and all that was left was the binding. Here is the finished quilt, be sure to check out that backing fabric. Love it!



The 10-minute table runner has always been popular at the quilt retreat, especially for last minute gifts. This year, the “MINI” runner made an appearance! It still takes about 10 minutes, still a great quickie project and is really super cute.


The “MINI”, I finished three!

I hope to get something else finished next week so I’ll have more to show. Until then, let’s hope we all get our decorating done and all the projects near completion!

There’s still to time . . . 12 days and counting!

Last minute procrastination for the holidays – YIKES!

If you’re still looking for some holiday sewing ideas, I’ve got a few that worked for me. Since full-size quilts must be quilted and then go through various stages of binding, labeling and embellishing, holiday ones should probably be tackled long before we turn the heat on, but there’s still time to create these last minute projects!

My favorite, and the absolute quickest thing that you can whip together is the “Ten Minute Tablerunner.” I was introduced to this wonderful little project two years ago at my Fall Quilting Retreat in a kit I purchased from That Quilt Shop (Woodstock). Therese, the shop owner, has been a vendor at the retreat for the past few years. She demo-ed this runner and yes, it only takes ten actual minutes to complete! The complete project is just  four seams, some pressing and of course a great pairing of a novelty print and coordinating fabric. In order to avoid any copyright infringements, I will let you google the pattern originally created by LaRae Bunnell Clark.

As you can see, I’ve made a huge assortment of these runners. There are so many awesome prints out there, especially foodie favorites including everything from sushi to pretzels, beer and wine! I also made some runners to cheer on our Chicago teams.

Ten Minute Table Runner Assortment

Ten Minute Table Runner Assortment

"Ten Minute Tablerunner"

“Ten Minute Tablerunner”

Wine Tote Assembly Line

Wine Tote Assembly Line

My next mini project is the wine bottle tote, which once again showcases a variety of novelty fabrics. It may take longer than ten minutes, but you can easily set up a bunch of them and sew them assembly-line style. Plus, this one is eco-friendly, you get to gift a bottle of wine without using wrapping paper!

Wine Totes

Wine Totes

Olive oil and Balsamic Gift Set

Olive oil and Balsamic Gift Set

The pattern I often use is Terry Atkinson’s, from her book Let’s Do Lunch. It’s quick and easy, and you’ll have to buy the book to get it! Back in my old shop days, I created a pattern for a Wine Bottle Bag, which I will share with you now. Beware, it’s a little rough – at least 10 years old!


1/4 yard fabric and coordinating ribbon

Cut fabric to a length of 40½ inches.  You may choose a width of between 6 and 7 inches, depending on the size of the bottle.  Press fabric and fold in half.  Sew up both sides of bag, right sides together.  Turn and Press. Press unfinished edge 2 inch towards the wrong side of bag. Press this edge again 3 inches to wrong side of bag, to form a cuff. Top stitch around cuff, 2 3/4 inches from top.  Turn bag wrong side out so right sides face each other.  Match side seams to fold line on bottom of bag. Sew across both triangles approximately 1″ down from point.  Turn bag right side out.  Press.  Tie with ribbon.

Finally, my favorite quickie quilt is made from either a panel or a fun print that you just can’t bear to cut into smaller pieces. Simply trim the panel or cut the print to any size, border with a skinny border and add the final border of flying geese units and a 4″ solid border. I always use the fast flying geese method which always gives me perfectly accurate geese. Once again, google this technique and you will use it often.

Quick and Easy Flying Geese Quilt

Quick and Easy Flying Geese Quilt

Love this fabric!

Love this fabric!

Fast Flying Geese

Fast Flying Geese

I hope this post finds you with time to spare – all your decorating is done, cards sent, presents wrapped, cookies baked and many days of relaxing before the busy few weeks ahead!

Right, I’m not at the point either but things always have a way of getting done in time.

On a completely separate note, I wanted to add-in some information about a really great product line my daughter introduced me while she was living in California. The line is called KiwiFox and Michelle raved about it the moment she discovered it at an Oscar lounge. I’m telling you about it just in case you have a few gifts left to buy and are thinking about anything like this – especially the eyelash growth serum – FoxyLash. Michelle received a few of these product for free to test them and since she’s blessed with long lashes passed this one on to me. It’s very easy, just like mascara and takes about 30 seconds to add into your morning routine. Plus, like all of these products, it smells amazing! I’m still using the product so I don’t have definite results yet, but I’m hoping for long lashes for Michael & Erin’s wedding in June!

In closing, I wish you all a VERY Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!

December 2012 004 (2)

Tis the Season!

Yes, quilters and friends, this is still the holiday season and I have yet to post any Christmas quilts! Lots to do with decorating, shopping, cooking, parties and I never got around to my blog post. So here it is . . . Tis The Season! I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. As quilts go, I have SOOOOOO many Christmas quilts so there will NOT be a picture of every one of them. Instead, I will show you a few favorites, old and new, and share with you some of my holiday decorating.

First off, I pretty much overdo with the decorating. I have themes for a few rooms and ideas for themes in the future. Too many decorations and too many trees though I would LOVE to have a Christmas tree in every room. My family room (and bathroom off the family room) is “Santa” themed. I have been collecting Santa Claus’s of all types for as many years as I can remember. I have tried to date them but of course many have slipped through without dates. The fireplace mantel, two tables and quilt shelf all display the collection. And they all include a quilt or two.

Next is the kitchen featuring the “Snowman” theme, on the windowsill, baker’s rack, shelf, counter . . . and I’ve also added some sweet treats to the kitchen. Another Christmas tree here, a white one with my daughter’s glass and Hallmark dessert ornaments. A new project this year was the wool candy cane table topper (kit from Bernice, thanks!).

The theme has changed a little for the living room/dining room. It started out with the “Angel” theme but I couldn’t find room for the collection this year.  The Christmas tree has white lights, gold, white and silver ornaments, white tulle and a little gold garland. This is also the room for the villages. I have three types of villages, I know again, a little excessive. But  one is only a church, defined as a village because of its size, different from the rest. The second is a set of three, The Original Snow Village, given to us by my parents, again different from the rest because of size. These take up one entire table. Finally, the largest grouping, St. Nicholas Square. I was getting a little burned out by this group for awhile, it just took up too much room. But this year, the problem was solved . . . the entire village was displayed in a lighted cabinet that belonged to my mother-in-law (also called the Christmas cabinet by my granddaughter, Madeline). The Christmas cabinet had to be emptied, which wasn’t an easy task because everything in the cabinet needed a new home. I copied the idea from a magazine, don’t tell anyone, and I was so pleased the way it turned out (see picture at the top of this post). To be honest, I’m not a fan of the setting up of the villages and lights and all those cords so that is my husband’s job. Then I get the fun part, putting out all the people, the ice skating pond, the park benches, street lights, the snow and more snow!!!! My love for the village has been revived this year.

And I’m pretty pleased with the entryway, complete with two quilts finished this year, Elegant Garden (wool applique from Edytar Sitar, Laundry Basket Quilts) and Merry Christmas Banner (Art to Heart, Nancy Halverson, pattern and fabrics) .

SO. . . what do you all do for your holiday decorations? Any ideas you want to share? Would love to hear them. I can only hope that I have inspired some of you for NEXT YEAR! Happy New Year to all!!!!!