What's on the design board?

 I am slowing working on my second gypsy wife quilt. I finished section #3 today and I'm ready to sew it to the first two sections.

I like this variation of the quilt. I am using fussy-cut cat fabrics to make a whimsical version.

I think I might be ending my time at the senior center for a while during our home improvement project. It will be hard to give up but necessary.


International Quilt Show - Chicago

My friend Sue and I attended the quilt show in Chicago yesterday. It's tradition for us to go to these events together. We are perfectly suited to each other during these events. We walk at the same pace and we like the same things. It makes it easy to travel to quilt show together. Yesterday Sue was on a mission to find a new sewing machine. We stopped at many of the vendor's booths to evaluate each machine. At the end of the day she got a really good deal on one. Here she is with her purchase. If I needed a new machine, I would have purchased the same deal.

We walked through the many quilts on display. Some of the quilts had a social justice theme. I took more photos of those than any other quilts. Over the past year I've seen many of them on display at various quilts shows so I felt like it was time for me to pay closer attention to the causes they represented.

I also had to photograph my favorite medallion quilt. I want to make my own version of one so I am constantly looking for inspiration.

Here are a few quilts I liked for their artsy feel and the color selections.

I was drawn to this quilt. It probably has something to do with my upcoming trip to Amsterdam. Seeing the Anne Frank Museum is on my mind all the time.

One of the fun parts of the quilt show is the shopping. I am always thrilled to be able to purchase fabrics from shops that I would never be able to travel to. I love the variety of fabrics available at these shows. Here are my findings from this show.


Gypsy Wife Quilt

Jen Kingwell Quilt
I finished my Gypsy Wife quilt today. I purchased the binding last week and finally had some free time to sew it on.

We've been so involved in home improvements that there's no sewing time!

It just might be a while before I finish another quilt but I am having fun updating my house.

New Floors!

 After building our home 30 years ago, we are finally renovating the upstairs. The house is a 4-bedroom and we have replaced the carpeting with hardwood floors in 2 of the bedrooms and installed commercial carpet in a third bedroom which is now my sewing studio. The full bathroom has new tile floor as well. Those rooms all have new paint and new windows. They are totally finished as far as I'm concerned.

What's left are the master bedroom, master bath, walk-in closet and the upper hall. They are all getting the same new floor. So we've been ripping out carpet like crazy.

Once we finished taking out carpet, we painted the bedroom and put up a shiplap wall. I really like how the wall turned out.

Now that we've finished that, we have to take everything out of the closed and tear out the bathroom vanity and sink. Then I can paint those rooms.

But before we can do that, tomorrow we are headed to the Milwaukee Brewers' Spring Training in Maryvale, Arizona. Nothing like planning a mini-vacation in the middle of a major project - ha!


Patriotic Lap Quilts

A friend from the American Legion post gave me her mom's leftover fabrics. They were all patriotic themed and I thought making lap quilts for the VA would be a good use for it.

I made 6 of these little cuties. They are all bright and cheery, thankfully. I will get them all on the longarmer this week and finish binding them as soon as I find some matching fabrics from my stash.

These are two of the six squirrels that live in our yard. We feed them peanuts daily to keep the out of the bird feeders. Obviously that does not always work.


A Busy Saturday

It's a sad day today. My old car died and after a week at the repair shop, it was determined that it is not worth fixing. Apparently Santa Fe's have 3 catalytic converters and on this car, 2 of the 3 are in need of replacement. There are no after-market parts for these so you have to get them from a dealer. The cost of the parts with labor runs about $2K. If new converters are installed it's still not certain the problem will be fixed.

Considering the blue book value of the car it's just not worth the trouble so today my husband sold it 'as-is'. I thought I would take one last photo of it before the buyer loads it on his trailer. I enjoyed driving it and after I purchased my Mini Cooper, my daughter enjoyed it as well. So for the next week we will be searching for a new car for her. I think next week will be stressful until she finds one because she is using my car until then leaving us to have to alter our schedules a little.

Today we also had our appointment with our tax accountant to get our income taxes done. The new tax reform hasn't helped us much. We owe way more money than I thought we would.

Oh well.

We left the accountant's office and stopped at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. My husband loves the store. A few weeks ago he purchased a door from a deconstruction project. It was so old, heavy and well-made and he's enjoyed refinishing it. While we were there I picked up some beautiful crystal wine glasses and some glass door knobs. Since he is changing out our doors we might as well have new knobs to go along with them.

Here's the view out of my kitchen window this afternoon. It's starting to rain and all the ducks are coming in for a landing. We feed more than 50 of them regularly. They hang out here all winter.

You can see the hammock frame sticking out of the snow. Last week you could only see the top of the frame since the snow was so high. It is melting slowly and hopefully we are finally seeing the end of this brutal winter.


Sweet Sundays Quilt

My quilt group will donate this quilt to the spring craft fair at our church. During the craft fair it will be raffled off.

My job was to quilt it on my longarmer. The quilt is a king size so it took me 4 days to finish it. It is so very big that I didn't want to spread it out to take photos of it. It took up the whole room!

We picked a nice pantograph that had some large swirls so each row of quilting was a nice 10-inch wide pass. It still took a long time to quilts something this big.


What's on the design board?

Here are the first few sections of my second gypsy wife quilt. I decided to do this second one using a cat theme. I am going to fussy cut kitties all through the quilt blocks.

This will definitely be a scrappy version of the quilt. I am using scraps left over from many other projects, except the cat themed fabrics. Those are new.

I finally decided on the backing for my first gypsy wife quilt and loaded it on my longarmer. The thread choice was easy - a variegated gray. As for the quilting pattern, originally I was going to hand quilt it but I have such a hard time with my fingers in the winter. They are so cracked and dry that I struggle to hold a needle without pain. So that idea has come and gone. I think I will do some straight-line quilting.


Charity Quilts

A member of my church, Lisa approached me and asked me if I would like her mother's fabric. Her mother recently moved into an assisted living center and gave up sewing. I find it so sad when that happens and I want to honor her mother by making some nice quilts for the church to give away. Here is the first quilt I made from her fabric collection.

There were two full boxes of fabrics. When I got them I sorted them into groups where I gave some away to the senior center, gave the large pieces to the church sewing group to use for quilt backings and kept the rest. I washed all the fabrics and folded them in groups by color. Besides making this quilt, I cut 3 more quilt 'kits' in different color ways. I like to have 'kits' to take with me on sew days at the senior center so I am happy to have these ready to go.

I will save up the quilts for the blessing of the quilts at church in fall. I think Lisa will enjoy seeing them on that day.



I had my very first Etsy sale. I am very excited that it finally happened. Over the years I've sold many things at craft fairs and by word of mouth. I've even sold quilts on Ebay. But for me, Etsy was pretty elusive. 

I tried to sell quilts on Etsy a few years back with no success. That's when I tried Ebay and that worked better for me. I chalked it up to the saturated market on Etsy that did not exist on Ebay. I don't think it hurt that I have a good seller score on Ebay from years of selling other items there.

I thought I would try again with table runners. I have a regular clientele that purchase my table runners directly, so maybe those would be better to sell than high-end quilts. I listed 24 table runners and the first one sold. Yay! 

I shipped her item this morning and I hope the purchaser enjoys her new home-made item.


Sea Shells and a Shadow Box

Last summer I went on a girlfriends' trip to Marco Island, Florida. Three of us would go shelling early in the morning and walk the beach for miles. It was a great, relaxing time and some really good exercise.

One of my friends took a photo of me walking down the beach while looking for shells. I love the photo and I knew I wanted to do something special with it.

Once home, I took all the sand dollars I collected and decoupaged them to preserve them. They are extremely brittle and delicate and sadly, a few of them broke on the plane trip home.

I went to Ikea and purchased a shadow box for the shells. I love that we have a new Ikea a few blocks away. It's nice to be able to pop in there for just that one thing instead of stocking up like I used to do on our trips to the Ikea in Schaumburg, Illinois.

I cropped my photo to a size that would fit the 5 x 5-inch opening in the photo matting and printed the photo. Then I added the shells to the shadow box. I was surprised how few shells fit. That's OK though, I do love how it turned out.

I guess I will have to think up another crafty project for the rest of the shells.


Scrappy Granny Squares Quilt

I made a scrappy granny squares quilt using a tutorial from Quilty Love.  It's a great tutorial with straightforward instructions that are easy to follow. The blog post with the instructions can be found here. There's even a PDF to download for easy access.

I used a jelly roll I purchased at Nancy's Notions last fall and some white Kona from my stash. It was easy peasy to put together.

I quilted the quilt using a pantograph called Leaf Crown. It has lots of large pretty swirls to compliment the quilt squares.

The backing and binding is in pretty teal dots that match the fabrics in the jelly roll. I like that the fabric bundle had some navy blues in it. I normally would not choose that color. Fabric bundles help me step out of my comfort zone when it comes to color.


Dinosaur Quilt

Last week my granddaughter asked me to make her a quilt that had a squiggly line in blue. She moved here fingers up and down in a zig-zag motion while she was trying to describe what she wanted. I knew what she was really asking for - a chevron in blue because her favorite thing in the whole world is Blue, the dinosaur from the Jurassic World movies.

Coincidentally, I had ordered a dinosaur quilt panel from TCS Fabrics, an Etsy store that had it on sale. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it until Chloe asked me for a quilt with a blue zig-zag on it.

I dug out some blue and beige fabrics I had in my stash and started cutting half-square triangles to make the chevrons. I had no pattern or plans whatsoever. I just started making the chevrons and laying them out around the quilt until I ran out of the fabrics. I sure wish I had a little more blue, I would have made a few more for the corners of the quilt.

Once I got to the bottom, the chevrons weren't quite the right size to fit around the panel. I decided to just add a little extra beige to the bottom corner blocks to at least get a consistent look. I know it doesn't really matter, Chloe will love it because it has dinosaurs on it. Her birthday party is Sunday and I am happy I finished her quilt just in time.


Oliso Iron

It's a snowy day today and a good day to spend at home. After the polar vortex, I've had a bout of cabin fever and couldn't wait to get out of the house. So I went out on a shopping spree and purchased a few pairs of skinny jeans in pretty colors. I bought a few matching tops as well. It was fun and really helped my mental health. My mood has been a lot better since the shopping spree.

I think the view out my sewing room window is wonderful. Right now it's snowing and the wildlife is very active. It's a cozy place to be in on a day like today.

At the senior center last week I mentioned that I got an Oliso iron as a Christmas gift and I hadn't opened the box yet. The ladies at the center gave me tons of grief over keeping such a nice piece of equipment in the box instead of using it. That was enough to guilt me into actually opening the box.

Isn't it pretty? I got the pink one instead of the classic yellow. It is time I replace my old iron. The old one is a Rowenta and it's a nice iron that worked great for a very long time. I've had it for more than 10 years. But the last few years every time I filled it with water, it leaked out. The water that stayed in the iron created steam that contained little black specks. I don't know if the specks were deposits that built up inside the iron over the years but whatever they were, they messed up anything I tried to iron. So I didn't use steam ever since that started to happen.

I guess when I think about it, I was waaay overdue for a new one.


Valentines Pillow Cover

I had 6 leftover blocks from a Valentines quilt I made a few years ago. I took three of the blocks and added 2-inch strips of white fabric between them and ended up with a 15" x 29" panel. I added batting and a piece of muslin underneath, pinned the layers together to prep it for free-motion quilting on my sewing machine.

One of the ladies from my church quilt group came over to quilt on my longarmer today. I thought it would be a good idea to work on a small project to keep her company so I quilted the pillow cover while she was here. I also had enough time to make the back of the pillow cover. I used some leftover red Valentine fabric for the binding and finished the project by the end of the afternoon.

I purchased a 28" x 14" pillow form which fit the pillow cover perfectly. I like the result. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the other three blocks. Maybe I should make a table runner to match.


Gypsy Wife WIP

I finished all the sections of the Gypsy Wife quilt last week and today I put them all together. I love how it worked out. I worked hard on precise piecing and the extra effort really paid off. All the sections fit together without any fuss.

I purchased a fat eighth bundle to use in making the quilt and there was not much left over when it was done. The strips within the blocks were low volume fabrics that were mostly from my stash - I only bought a few cuts of new stuff for that but I totally stayed within the bundle for the blocks. It was quite a challenge to make the colors work the way I wanted them to.

I am happy with the final result. It's going to be great fun to pick out the backing. I think I will use an ecru solid for the binding since the quilt does not need any more color elements.
Alison Glass Kaleidoscope Fabric Bundle


The Polar Vortex

This week was a brutal one. On Monday we got more than 6 inches of snow which was pretty to watch. Considering that it hasn't snowed much this winter, I think my husband was excited to use his new snow blower. I enjoyed watching out the windows. Schools were cancelled and I half-expected my grandkids to walk over to go sledding on the hill in my back yard. They stayed home and enjoyed cuddling with their mama.

We experienced the polar vortex on Wednesday and Thursday. The temperatures with wind chill hovered around -50 for those two awful days. I went outside last Sunday to get some groceries and attend a meeting at church and I did not take a single step outside again until Friday - a whole 5 days later. We went to the mall and did some serious walking just to get out of the house.

Since I was stuck indoors, I pretty much never left my sewing room. It was kind of nice to have no expectations except to make dinner at the end of the day. Even then, some nights Jeff cooked so I really enjoyed hunkering down in there.

I worked all week on the Gypsy wife. Even though there's a quilt along starting tomorrow, I couldn't help myself. I have many of the blocks done. I am really having fun with this quilt top. I took the time to map out my color arrangement and it is turning out as I hoped (so far). Waiting for the start of the quilt along was not in the cards.

I'm not making much progress on My Small World. The next block I have to make has lots of applique so I am putting off the inevitable for now.