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!



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 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!


Steps to the Altar


Steps to the Altar is exactly what is happening right now with my family, more specifically my son and future daughter-in-law. They are taking all the steps toward the big day, June 8, 2013.

The past few months have been filled with fun wedding events, including two showers, one given by each family.  My gift at the Abraham shower was their wedding quilt, appropriately titled, Steps to the Altar.

I started to design the quilt in January after Erin chose her bedding which is a mono-chromatic nickel. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go from there. I had a few decisions to make and I’m not gonna lie, I did stress about this a bit. I needed to decide on the pattern, colors and fabrics and get moving.

There were so many different quilts that I had in mind but I ended up choosing the Steps to the Altar block while working on some samples for the block of the month class that I teach. We are working on Sylvia’s Bridal Sampler, the spin-off book from Jennifer Chaiverini’s novel The Master Quilter. I was flipping through the book, deciding which blocks to teach and came upon Steps to the Altar. After some research and looking at several block layouts, I decided on a block a bit different than Sylvia’s. After a bit of math for all the fabric calculations I was ready to pick some the fabric . After a few trips to a local quilt shop, my own stash and some internet stores, I decided on the block fabrics in greys and blacks, and I chose a border from The Morris Apprentice collection from Moda. Quilt construction went very smoothly – lots of HST’s and 4-patches. Did I mention this was queen size, quite a lot of fabric!

Quilt calculations, layouts and quilt journal

Quilt calculations, layouts and quilt journal


HST’s and Four-Patches




Steps to the Altar Block

The blocks came together and then it was time to measure the borders. I absolutely LOVE this border fabric. I thought it tied everything together. Steps to the Altar was just steps away from being finished.

IMG_2254 I was able to find an awesome black quilt back online – no piecing, 108″ wide. So as soon as the quilt top was finished, I handed it over to my friend Darlene (SewBusy Quilting) for machine quilting. Darlene did an awesome job. Binding was on, quilt label too, and then wrapped and ready for the shower! And with the quilt there needs to be some pillowcases, so with the leftover fabric, I made two sets.

Quilt Label

Quilt Label

Matching Pillowcases

Matching Pillowcases

I couldn’t end this post without a few words about the shower, and also share some pictures of the bride and groom. The shower, hosted by my two daughters, was champagne themed, a bubbly bridal shower. We got a lot of great decorating and recipe ideas from Pinterest and made place card holders from champagne corks which the guests could later use as photo holders. We also had beautiful layered candles made by Antoinette’s Candles.


Bubbly Bridal Shower Invitations and “Save the Date” in the wedding colors, silver and purple


Dessert Table, Blueberry Cupcakes and Chocolate Kisses


Chalkboard Champagne Bottle Vases and Layered Candles


The bride and groom as they open their quilt.

Michael and Erin

Michael and Erin

It was a beautiful day with friends and family. And as the happy couple continues to take their steps to the altar with more pre-wedding events, they look forward to their big day!

Congratulations to Erin and Michael!

Spring To Do List

2013 is going to be a very busy year for me, at least the first half. My son is getting married on June 8 so the time will be filled with shopping, bridal showers and parties. Not a lot of time to sew but a time to enjoy the activities and the anticipation.

In the sewing room, I keep a journal, mostly with my current sewing to-do list. I have streamlined this list considerably for the next two months, working on the must-do’s only so that I will have plenty of time for wedding preparation.


My sewing to-do list:

1. Sylvia’s Sampler – I am teaching 16 blocks of Sylvia’s Sampler (Jennifer Chiaverini, Elm Creek Quilts series) to our Firehouse Group from February to May and then again September to December.

2. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Primitive Gatherings) – our Breakfast Club is doing this wool applique, one block each month

3. Secret Quilt

4. Secret Quilt

I’ll write future posts on all of the above. Needless to say, #3 and #4 are surprises so let’s keep them a secret!

One project that I have completed in the last few weeks was a baby pillow – or should I say a bridesmaid’s dress made into a baby pillow, which my daughter, Michelle, discovered on Pinterest.

Michelle’s friend Bridget got married in 2009 and had an adorable baby girl, Isabelle Jamie, on February 5. Bridget knew she was having a girl so when Michelle found this idea on Pinterest, asked me to make the pillow. I didn’t get around to actually making the pillow until the day Bridget went into labor, but I assured Michelle that I could get it done in a matter of hours – and I did!


Michelle, the Maid of Honor (in the dress that would become the pillow), with Bridget and Mike on their wedding day.

The first step was to find a pillow form that would work. I needed  a size small enough for a baby’s room but big enough to showcase the different parts of the dress. I decided on a 12″ pillow form, and  I went about cutting up the dress and then just started to sew.



I was able to use the under skirt as the base of the pillow, the ruffled waistband across the center, and the lace skirt at the bottom of the pillow, which ended up really resembling the original dress.


As Michelle pointed out to Bridget when we visited little Isabelle, the bride chooses her bridesmaid dresses but doesn’t have one for herself, now she does . . . or rather Izzy does!