Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quilt Labels

How do you label your quilts, or maybe the better question is 'do you label them'? In my40 years of sewing & quilting I just started using labels in last 5 years. When I worked for Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting I discovered it to be a common practice among quilters. I think I had hesitated before then because I didn't want it to appear as though I was bragging about my work. I now realize that it is important to document your work for posterity's sake. Someday somebody will want to know who made the quilt, when, & for what occasion. I own a few antique quilts that I wish included this important information. One was made by my great-grandmother & although it isn't a fancy piece, it would still be special to me to have that documentation.

This is a photo of the label I attached to the quilt I made for our church. It is machine embroidered & sewn into the binding. I almost always machine embroider my labels, but sometimes put the information on the binding, folded around to the back side of the quilt. All the important data is included, but it's less obtrusive than some big square in the corner. Another thing I try to do is to use either the same fabric for my label as the back of the quilt or something I used on the front. Sometimes I use a motif from the front especially if it is a whimsical theme, such as for a baby's or child's quilt.

Tell me your favorite way to label your work....

Keep on stitchin'


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Faith Quilt

Our church recently converted an under-utilized room behind the sanctuary into a cozy, inviting coffee nook. In the 70's someone had decorated the room with dark paneling & orange shag carpet ~ sound familiar? In the late 80's or early 90's it had another makeover. The paneling was replaced with walls in stark white and the orange shag got tossed in favor of the burgundy carpet being installed in the sanctuary. The room was much improved & used as a chapel for quite some time. In the last few years it had become more of a catch-all storage area until this fall when it became the new Coffee Chapel. It recently got a new coat of warm beige paint, but the walls were begging for decoration. I found this panel at Hobby Lobby & knew it would be the new Coffee Chapel quilt.
I had to buy two panels in order to get enough fabric to have matching borders on all four sides. (I still have the second center panel, minus the borders...any suggestions?) They had a coordinating print that I used for the corner squares, back & binding. I was please with the over-all result & the background matches the wall color perfectly. Sometimes things just work out!
Let me know your ideas about what to do with the leftover panel.
Keep on stitchin'

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Catching Up

In September a friend of ours celebrated his 50th birthday. His wife planned a surprise party for him & this is the gift I made him. He is on my husband's high school football refereeing crew & he also loves to barbecue. In my mind the natural gift was a personalized apron. (I have fallen in love with aprons, so watch for a post soon about them.) This is a design I created several months ago to make some towels for the guys on the crew. Seems many schools forget to provide towels (along with soap & hot water sometimes) for the refs. Go figure! By the way, this is my husband modelling the apron. Isn't he a doll?!

I can't believe how quickly the weeks have passed since my last post. I have been busy at the sewing machine as well as several other activities. The highlight of my creative life lately was the AQS show in Des Moines in late October. I attended all four days of the show, three with my sister & one with the rest of the gals in my sewing group, Sew Much Fun. Besides the beautiful quilts and fantastic shopping, I attended a couple of interesting lectures, too. Ami Simms was the speaker one evening & she had everyone rolling in the aisles with her anecdotes. Nadine Ruggles, author of Inchie Quilts, gave a three-hour seminar about blogging. Now, don't you think that should have inspired me? She had excellent information for us, some of which I hope to incorporate into this blog (eventually). Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay for the entire three hours as it was also my youngest grandson's first birthday party. Couldn't miss that now, could I?

Leave me a comment to let me know what you've been working on. The holidays are fast approaching & if you don't finish that project soon, you'll be caught up in making gifts for everyone else & it will have to wait until January.

Keep on stitchin'


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pretty in Pink (& White)

Just had to post pictures of my "project-of-the-week". No, not the little girl...she's my granddaughter. I'm talking about her outfit. This is a pattern I purchased at the AQS show in Des Moines last October & I decided I better try to get some of the patterns I purchased there made up before I attend the show this year. The design is by Suzanne Sievers. I think all of her patterns are just adorable.
It's been a long time since I have done much garment construction, adult or child, & I think my skills are a little rusty. Having raised two daughters (& a son), I made lots of clothing for them as they grew up. Seems like every time I turned around, somebody needed a new outfit. Of course, Halloween was the best, but that's post for another day.
This pattern uses a purchased sweatshirt. You cut the bottom off, add a ruffle & trim to the remaining top to make the jacket, then turn the bottom of the sweatshirt upside down, insert elastic into the ribbing to use as a waistband & add another ruffle & more trim to finish it. I think it turned out pretty well, but I did find it's not as easy to sew for a child when you don't have any of their clothing for comparison on size. I intend to make another similar one for her in black & pink. Hopefully, the fit will be a little closer.
Okay, here's your mission, should you decide to accept it...pull out at least one project that you've been procrastinating about &, if you can't finish it, at least do a little work on it. You will have a wonderful sense of accomplishment for at least having tried & you will be that much closer to completion.
Keep on stitchin'

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

I made this quilt a little over two years ago for a good friend's newest grandchild. I searched coloring books for simple drawings & then used them to create applique' shapes for the blocks. It's made from flannel & designed specifically to match the nursery theme. I actually fused all the pieces on & then satin stitched around each piece before completing the top, layering & then quilting it. Had I been more proficient with my new (at that time) HV Designer SE, I could have done much, if not all, of the applique' work in the hoop. Back then I just wasn't familiar enough with the 4D software to be able to digitize the designs. I might just have to try making it again just to prove to myself how much I have learned about my software.
By the way, if you'll notice, in the center block I embroidered the baby's name & birthdate. His first name is Uzziah. I had never heard of it before, but have been told it is the name of a king in the Old Testament.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mystery Project

Were you aware that President Reagan declared September as National Sewing Month? Well, now you are, so get busy sewing (not that I need a reason)!
What do you think of the these fabrics? They are from a line called Housework Whenever! by Sharon Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics. Take a really close look at the drawings. Most of them have to do with sewing instead of cooking, cleaning, etc...very tongue-in-cheek, but they certainly tickled my funny bone. I saw them yesterday & knew I just had to have some. Not only that, I knew everyone in my sewing group (Sew Much Fun) would want some as well! Okay, that was probably a little presumptuous, but when I showed it to them today, of course, they all loved it. My sister & I cooked up (no pun intended) a project for them, but we've decided it will remain a secret. As a matter of fact, we told them they wouldn't even know what the project was until they were well into making it. We've called it the Mystery Project & it is scheduled as part of the Christmas festivities during our December meeting. In the meantime, I intend to make mine. Sorry, I won't be able to post any pictures of it here until after December 1. (If you're not part of my small group & absolutely can't wait to find out what the Mystery Project is, send me an email & I'll fill you in. If it's next week or later I should have it done & will even send you a picture.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blue Ribbon Winner

My sister, Sharie Bergquist, made this christening gown for her niece's baptism this spring.  In order to enter it in the fair she had to "borrow" it back, but it was worth it since she won a blue ribbon for her work.  Isn't it beautiful?  Sharie learned to do heirloom sewing when she lived in Virginia a few years ago.  She has recently formed a partnership with another heirloom enthusiast, Mary Jane Sprague, & formed a business.  They are teaching and have classes scheduled in the Des Moines area.  They are currently scheduling classes for the fall.  If you're interested you can contact them at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

State Fair Report

I attended the reception for entrants in the Fabrics & Threads division at the Iowa State Fair last Wednesday & was a little disappointed that I didn't win any ribbons. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised since the two items I entered were my first attempt at both techniques. What I was surprised about was that in the category that I entered the portrait quilt (you can barely see it in the upper right corner of this photo), the judge only awarded two ribbons, second & fourth places. Second place (red ribbon) was given to the quilt on the left side, the maple leaf. Fourth place (pink ribbon) is immediately to the right, the abstract circles & squares.

The director of the Fabrics & Threads department explained that a judge is not obligated to award all ribbons. Okay, if I were a judge I imagine there would be times when I didn't feel as though any of the entries deserved a blue ribbon, but I don't think I would skip a place. Seems a little unusual to me.

Anyway, no sour grapes here. I've had positive feedback from many friends & will just need to try, try again. There's always next year!

Keep on stitchin'

BTW, there were 2800 items entered in the Fabrics & Thread division this year, over 800 quilted items! Only 600 quilts last year so I'd say it's growing in popularity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Circle of Life Continues

A friend of mine recently had a new granddaughter & this is the quilt I made for her. If it looks familiar, it's because it is a variation of the pattern I designed that was published in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting Magazine in 2006. My sewing & quilting were much more accurate on this quilt than the first, you know, practice makes perfect... I may have to make another one sometime just to prove the pattern deserves better than 4th place at the fair.

Speaking of the fair, I'll find out tomorrow evening if I earned any ribbons at this year's fair. I'll let you know.

Keep on stitchin'


Monday, August 3, 2009

State Fair Time

The dog days of summer have officially arrived here in Iowa. After the coolest July on record, the temps have climbed into the upper 80's today & are forecast to stay there or go higher the rest of the week. The grass is a little crispy as you walk across the lawn & the weeds seem to have overtaken everything.

Of course, with the onset of August & the beginning of school just around the corner, it also means it must be time for the Iowa State Fair. I suspect many think their state fair is the best, but I'm pretty sure Iowa's is at least in the top 10 across the country. Actually, I think I heard one time that only Texas has a bigger (& possibly better) state fair.

Although I don't remember attending the state fair more than a few times as a child, it has been a 'can't-miss' event for me for many years. I even worked at the fair for a couple of years taking tickets at grandstand events. It was a great way to see all the musical acts for free, plus I got free parking in the infield of the track. As I get older, the walking & heat tend to take its toll after a while, but I still go, usually at least a couple of times.

For years I admired the many quilts, sewing & needlework projects that were exhibited at the fair & dreamed that maybe someday I would create something worthy of entering the competition. In 2006, shortly after one of my quilts was published in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting Magazine, I decided the time had come. Alas, I was a day late & a dollar short. The deadline for entries had already passed. I did get it entered the next year & got a 4th place ribbon. At the time, I'm sure I thought it deserved a better ribbon, but when I look at the quilt now, I can see that the workmanship just isn't that impressive. Not to be deterred, I have entered something every year since. Last year I won a second place ribbon...I'm improving!

Above, left, is a photo of one of my entries this year. For those of you who wouldn't know, it is a fabric portrait of my husband, Randy. I made it based on instructions from a class I took online at Quilt University. Marilyn Brelsford was the instructor. I think it is a very good likeness, although, some of the gals who were checking entries in at the fair on Saturday thought it bore a strong resemblance to Bill Clinton. This was my first attempt at a fabric portrait & I learned a lot. There are definitely some things I will do differently next time.

My second entry at the fair this year is the quilt on the right called Wild Rose. It's also a product of a class I took. Barbara Riggs from Des Moines was the teacher. I was satisfied with the way it turned out, but she deserves most of the credit since she drew the pattern & we were provided a kit with the fabric. I do especially like the leaves. It required some extreme positioning on the fabric to get the shading in the proper places.

Now, it's a waiting game. I'll find out on Wednesday, August 12, if either of my quilts were awarded a ribbon. I'll let you know.

Keep on stitchin'


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Row, Row, Row

Procrastination is my middle name. Instead of working outside in the gorgeous spring weather on that endless list of chores, I'm choosing to fiddle around on the computer. Where's my willpower?
I created this original design two years ago for the local quilt shop. I then taught a class whereby the students learned how to cut & piece one row a month & in so doing, the object was to learn 6 new techniques. I was actually able to incorporate more than 6, so they got a little bonus.
My favorite row was the diamond-shaped log cabins. They are all paper-pieced. It was very time consuming & I certainly wouldn't want to do an entire quilt in this block. But it was still enjoyable & oh-so-accurate!
The quilt shop owner suggested I use their just-in Civil War prints, so that was a real challenge. I tend to use brighter colors in my quilts & my absolute favorite fabrics are the 30's prints.
Time to get busy outside!
PS. I think I need a class in photography!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Japanese Puzzle

On the left is phase two of my Japanese Puzzle quilt. This photo was taken after I had trimmed each of the four-patches using the diamond template, but before I began sewing everything together. Notice how much more square it looks as compared to the previous picture. This is one quilt that I absolutely had to keep on my design wall while I worked on it. It would have been really easy to mix things up & sew them in the wrong order.

The picture on the right is of the completed quilt top. I'm reasonably happy with the way it turned out & might make another one sometime in some higher-contrast colors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This is my latest project, although really more of a diversion. I signed up to take this class through the Learning Fiber Arts Yahoo group. It's called Japanese Puzzle & involves sewing four-patches together, centering an off-kilter diamond template on each four-patch, trimming & sewing them back together. The biggest key to success for this pattern as far as I can tell is to use fairly high-contrast fabrics. I'm not sure mine will work (too many mediums, a problem many quilters encounter), but I thought it would do for an experiment.

I found this fabric at Walmart, go figure! Yes, I do buy fabric at Walmart sometimes, especially for something like this that is just an experiment. All the blue & green prints were prepackaged as 8 fat quarters for less than $10. I bought the light blue & light green to use as borders, but decided today to incorporate it into the quilt as well.

Let me know what you think. It's still on the design wall so it would be easy to change. But once I start sewing, forget it! Un-sewing is NOT my passion!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Finished

As promised, here is a photo of the quilt I made for my son-in-law's 40th birthday. It may be difficult to see, but it is a signature quilt. Everyone at his surprise party signed their name & some of them included a message. The hearts are fused on a black background with a zigzag stitch around them. The binding, although you can't tell in this picture, is the same as the back, a tie-dyed looking fabric.
This quilt was a fun one to make & didn't take too long. I have already started a second one & am changing it a little. Rather than the hearts radiating out from the center in straight lines they will swirl in arcs. I hope it turns out as well as I have it pictured in my mind. I can't always make my hands do what my imagination has created!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time Flies

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. Since I enjoy looking at the pictures on the blogs that I follow, I want to try to include at least one photo with each of my posts. Aye, there's the completed projects to post. Not that I've been idle. I just don't have anything actually finished.

Last week was my son-in-law's 40th birthday. Of course, I decided he needed a quilt to mark such a milestone. I had the top pretty much done & decided it just wasn't working. The tie-dyed-looking background fabric, although perfect for him, was just too busy. So two days before the day of the surprise party I put my husband to work "unsewing" (would that be called a No-Sew day?), and off I went to buy different fabric. I did get the top pieced before the party on Saturday & he loved it! I think what he'll like even more is the tie-dyed fabric that will be used on the back. I'm busy quilting it now & will post a picture here as soon as it is done, hopefully in the next few days.

In the meantime, I decided I need some handwork to do while my husband & I watch TV in the evenings. He frequently finds some sort of ballgame or we manage to find a mutually agreeable old movie. Rarely do either of these diversions require my complete attention, so I check my Yahoo Groups & Facebook and then need something else. That something else is now a cathedral windows quilt. I think it will help me use up a lot of scraps (over 1500 2" squares) plus keep me sewing for many months. Don't look for that photo for some time to come ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I love the 1930s prints that are available today. I think they must remind me of fabrics I saw my grandmother & great-grandmother use when I was a little girl. They both had a tremendous influence on not just my sewing, but on many aspects of my homemaking skills. My great-grandmother, Grandma Smith as she was known to me, was a Danish immigrant & made wonderful Danish pastries. Sometimes I wish I picked up that talent, but most of the time I'm pretty glad I didn't since I would no doubt weigh about 50 pounds more than I do & who needs that?!

I made this particular quilt for my great-niece, Madison. If you look closely at the quilt you'll see that the white blocks all have the same quilting design done in pink thread. These were done on my embroidery machine. Isn't today's technology awesome!

As if I need something else to do, I have been busy repainting our bathroom & bedroom. I need to finish ASAP because the weather is hinting of spring & before we know it, it will be time to get outside for all those clean-up & planting chores. So much for new sewing projects.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Monkey Shine

Did you have a sock monkey when you were little? I don't recall owning one of my own, but my grandmother had one at her house that we always played with when we visited her.
A few years ago I made a sock monkey for my grandson York. I also knitted him a sweater with a sock monkey on the front and made him this quilt. He has long outgrown the sweater (maybe his little brother Jack will get some use out of it), but he still sleeps with his monkey quilt.
These fabrics were from a Moda collection & also included panels to make a fabric book about the monkeys jumping on the bed - remember that? I'll have to dig out those panels (another UFO) so at least one of the grandkids will have a chance to enjoy the book!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taylor's Quilt

This is one of my favorites quilts. I made it for the first grandchild of my best friend. Even though they live over 100 miles away, we've been friends for over 30 years & have watched each other's kids grow up, get married & start their own families. We just enjoyed the weekend together & got to spend time with all our kids & grandkids. It was like one big family reunion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

State Fair Winner

Take a look at the quilt in the center of this photo. It's the Star Medallion in red, gold, black & tan. I made this as part of a local quilt shop's BOM program during 2008. I had it professionally quilted because I wanted to give it to my son & his wife for their wedding in October. It was finished in time to enter at the Iowa State Fair & won a second place ribbon. I had won only a 4th place ribbon for Circle of Life (see previous post) in 2006, so I felt like I must be improving.
I received high praise from the judge for my binding. I enjoy almost every aspect of creating quilts from designing the pattern to piecing the top, etc., but really get a lot of satisfaction from hand-stitching the binding. This was a king-sized quilt & it took me 12 hours to do the binding.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another of My Quilts

If this quilt looks familiar, it's because it was published in Love of Quilting in March 2006. I made it in 2004, just before my first grandchild was born, as a quilt for the crib at Grandma's house. Marianne Fons asked if they could publish it & I even got to help style the photo for the magazine.
Unfortunately, they own the rights to the pattern, so I can't publish it myself, but if you're interested in making it you can purchase the pattern at their retail store in Winterset, IA, or online at

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Doodle Bug

I designed & made this quilt a year ago for my granddaughter's second birthday. Her name is Tess, but I have always called her my little "doodle bug." I am currently trying to remake it so I can publish the design & pattern.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Other Interesting Blogs

Here are some other interesting blogs.

Quilting Lessons Online

Online Quilting

My Blog

As a new blogger I feel a little puzzled about what I should post. Are my followers at all interested in my personal life or should I just stick to sewing & quilting? My decision's my blog, I'll write about whatever I choose! So...most of the time it will focus on the project of the day, week or month, but occasionally I may digress. Check in often as you never know when your name might appear!