Welcome to my blog. I was inspired by the book, "Blogging for Bliss" by Tara Frey.

Welcome to my blog. I was inspired by the book, "Blogging for Bliss" by Tara Frey. My goal is to share a little about my life, and a lot about my longarm quilting business, Lone Tree Designs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finishing Well with Free Motion Quilting

  When it comes to quilting, there seems to be an idea that "finished is good enough."  Some quilters enjoy making the quilt top so much that when that is over, they don't really want to put more time and effort into the actual quilting.  They are ready to make their next top.  That's where people like me come into play!
  My business relies on my ability to "finish well."  I believe that each quilt deserves to be unique, or at least have thought and time put into making it special.  Now, some quilts are made from such busy fabric that custom quilting just doesn't make any sense.  You would never see it, and it would be a waste of money to pay for it.  Even so, those quilts should have a free motion edge to edge designs that takes a cue from the fabric, a thread color that enhances the top, and quilting that takes pains to bring out the best in the piecing (and camouflage the worst),
  Take the two quilts above for example.  The bright BOM quilt is a perfect example of a quilt that is "too busy" to bother with custom quilting.  I named it "Taking Flight" because it includes Laurel Burch fabrics with dragonflies, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  In my choice for machine quilting, I wanted to expand on that theme, so I used an all over pattern of flowers and dragonflies.  The rainbow variegated thread goes with the bright fabrics and lends a sense of fun to the quilting.  I made an effort to place my flowers in blocks where they would be seen (a feat that cannot be accomplished by standing at the back of a quilting machine and using a panto-graph pattern) and if I had points that weren't as perfect as they should have been, I deliberately ran a line of quilting over the points to cover that little imperfection.  I love the end result, and I believe it is "finished well."
  Now, the "Wonky Log Cabin" quilt...I have had that quilt top finished for several months.  I didn't put it on the frame because I knew that it would take some extra time for custom quilting.  Granted, I could have thrown it on the frame and ran an edge to edge pattern on this quilt.  It would have been quick and easy.  It would have been finished.  However, I believed this quilt deserved to be more special than that.  I created a design to enhance the secondary stars pattern between the blocks.  I used a swirling feather in those blocks.  The thread blends and shows up on both the dark sections and the light sections of the block.  In the borders, I quilted a flower and vine that mirrors the tiny burgundy flowers in the fabric itself.  These are design choices.  Someone else would make different choices. That is what makes free motion quilting so special.  Each quilt speaks to the person quilting it and, therefore, becomes unique.
  I have dozens of quilts, and I can honestly say that no two are quilted in exactly the same way. They may have similar elements.  They may use the same thread color.  But, each is a little bit different simply because I quilted it from the front of the machine as the mood struck me.  I could never achieve that type of result from simply quilting a panto from the back of my machine.  For me, the thrill of quilting is in the design, the choices, and the actual guidance of the machine over the quilt top.  "Finished" is just not good enough for my quilts...they must be "finished well."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Frosty" Weather has Returned...

 Do you ever notice that fall weather here in central Nebraska is extremely unpredictable?  One day it is a lovely, frosty, 40 degrees and the next, it is a balmy 70 degrees.  I am not ashamed to say that I prefer the 40 degree weather!  For one thing, it makes me think of Christmas, which is far and away my favorite holiday.  For another, I get the urge to bake yummy things and make tasty soups!  Finally, I love to cuddle up on the couch in a cozy sweater with a favorite quilt, a stack of magazines, and a steamy, hot cup of coffee.  Is there anything more wonderful?
  Well, there is one thing...the return of all out, no distractions, "quilting season."  No more gardening, no more yard work.  No hot, sweaty weather that makes us want to stay away from our warm, toasty quilts:)  To celebrate the return of "frosty" weather, I decided to make a very easy, very fun little SOB (slap on borders) out of this cute, cute, cute Frosty the Snowman panel that I purchased while Hubby and I traveled this summer.  To make him nice and fluffy, I used two layers of hand-quilt poly batting (it also made him hang just a bit wonky, but Oh, well!)  He is now happily hanging in my otherwise all decorated for fall entryway.  Every time I look at him, I smile and have visions of snowflakes dancing in my head...bring on the white stuff, I am ready :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mountains of Quilts

  Lately, I have been noticing that the quilts are starting to pile up...my grandson called this to my attention last week when he and his sister were staying for a few days.  I had a bunch of quilts, most of which I have finished in the past year or two, piled up in a chair because I had been making sure they all had labels.
  My friend Margaret and I started a running joke a few years ago that we were making all these quilts for our "trunk show."  At the time, I had no intentions of doing any trunk shows.  Well, evidently I can predict the future because I have been asked to do two trunk shows in February of this next year! I am both excited and nervous to do an official trunk show.  Now, don't get me wrong...I am not afraid to talk!  Anyone that knows me, knows that :)  I have taught lots of classes and have shared in quilt guild lots of times.  However a "trunk show" would indicate that I have a "trunk" full of quilts.
  Hence, the mountain.  I have been much more prolific in the past year.  Knowing that I have a deadline and lots of ladies waiting to see my work, has really inspired me to get crackin' on projects that have been sitting around in a state of progress for quite awhile.  I have also continued to take classes and finish projects from those classes.
  My husband recently said, "What are you going to do with all of these quilts?"  and I said, "I will continue making them until I can't make them anymore!  After I am gone, the kids can take whatever they want, and you can donate the rest to charity."  I just love making them.  I do give them away for baby gifts, graduations, etc. but for the most part, for now, I will continue to compile my "mountain" and my grandkids will continue to climb when they come to visit their "Grammy."
Just a sneak peak at my next project...in progress!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stack it and Whack it!

  About 5 years ago, I started my first stack and whack quilt.  I decided to do a four patch stack.  I was scared to do a six patch because of the triangle shapes and the bias edges.  I chose a beautiful oriental print from Blank and took a class at the Quilters Cottage in Kearney, NE to learn the technique.  It was so much fun!
  In order to do the four patch stack, you need 4 repeats of your fabric. The size of your repeat determines the ultimate size of your quilt.  My fabric had a small repeat of around 12 inches, so I ended up with fairly small blocks.  I think they finished somewhere around 5 inches.  I added a little black frame and sashing to extend the size to a nice lap quilt.  Each block had four options as I turned the pieces round and round to decide on the look that I liked the best.  Again...FUN!  I sewed all my blocks together pretty quickly because that was the fun part.  Slowly, I added my frames, sashes, and borders.  Once the top was done, it sat in the closet unfinished for a couple of years.  This year, I am on a mission to finish, quilt, and bind a bunch of my quilts before I give a couple of talks/trunk shows next February.  This stack and whack was on my "to finish" list.  I am binding it by hand so that I can take it to the state fair next year.  It will probably take me that long to get the binding done!!!
  On my recent trip to Paducah, I purchased fabric to do a six patch stack--it is crazy fabric with all kinds of brightly colored lizards and tree frogs!  I can't wait to start sewing those awesome blocks together.  It's not on my "to finish" list before February but it will definitely be on my list for 2015!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My First Block Exchange Inspired by Liz Porter

Neapolitan by Liz Porter 
   On July 14th, I saw an episode of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting that inspired me to try something I had never tried before...a block exchange. Yikes!  Liz Porter's directions from the website made it much simpler than if I would have had to figure out all the details by myself.  I absolutely loved the pink and brown quilts from the program that were made from the 100 little
4 1/2 inch churn dash blocks.  Liz had a group of 10 people who each made 10 sets of 10 blocks.  I decided to shoot for that number.
  To start, I issued an invitation to over 200 people in one simple post on a facebook group that includes quilters from all over, but mostly from Nebraska and Iowa.  From that invitation, I got an "I'm in" from 8 ladies.  I then asked a couple of my good friends from my guild, and got two more.  That made a happy little group of 11 ladies.  I decided that 100 was still a good number of blocks, so we will each make 11 sets of 9 plus one extra little block for ourselves.
  The final question was...what is a reasonable amount of time for people to make 100 little churn dash blocks?  We decided on 4 months, which makes it 25 per month.  So, our blocks are due on December 1.  So far, I have made 43 of my blocks.  They are soooo cute!  I am trying very hard to make sure that my blocks are consistent in size and have 1/4 inch allowance for the points on the corners.  They aren't perfect, but so far (thanks mostly to Triangles on a Roll!) they are all 5 inches, and, with a little encouragement, should be pretty easy to work with on the points.  At this point, I am still excited about the project and am trying to finish all of my block by the end of October, as I know from past experience that my longarm business really picks up in October and November for people who need Christmas gifts finished.  Hopefully, no later than this time next year, I will have a finished quilt to show you all.  I plan to set mine just like Liz Porter did hers because I absolutely love it!
  If you think this sounds like fun, just go to fonsandporter.com and search for the 2400 series and the show called Neapolitan.  All the information is there for you.  Find some willing friends, and create your own fun little exchange!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

On the Road, Again...

 Ahhh, the open road.  What is better than taking a trip, and stopping at every quilt shop you find along the way?  I will tell you...a trip to the National Quilt Museum (stopping at every quilt shop along the way)!  I must tell you all that my husband is a wonderful man.  He is quite long-suffering when it comes to my quilting habit:) Last week he drove me 1600 miles to see the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  As we drove there and back, he also stopped at 7 (yes, I said 7!) quilt shops without complaining or even rolling his eyes!  After 28 years of marriage, I am more than sure that he is a keeper!
  They don't allow photos in the galleries at the quilt museum, so if you want to catch a glimpse of the wonders that I saw, you will have to click on the link and check out their website.  Suffice it to say that it was impressive and insane and inspiring all at once:)  You MUST go there!!!
  I do, however have pics from the many quilt shops that I visited along the way, and thought I would share some of them with you all. (ya'll to you southerners out there! As a side note, just a few days down south and I was saying ya'll--it is quite contagious!)  First stop...Missouri Star Quilt Co. in Hamilton Missouri where I went to four different building on main street, each housing a theme.  One had all reproductions and Kansas Troubles.  One had all seasonal fabrics.  One was for novelties, brights, and batiks.  One was for solids, blenders, and polka dots.  I was told that when they are through renovating the downtown of this little 1500 people village, they will have TEN buildings!  It was one of the craziest, and coolest things I have ever seen!  I can't wait to go back!

Hamilton, MO was the original home of JC Penneys--now converted to Missouri Star Quilt Co.

This building contained all the solids, blenders, and polka dots and had awesome, modern quilts samples hanging everywhere!

Next stop, Hickory Stick Quilts in Hannibal, MO (hometown of Mark Twain).  This shop filled three downtown buildings.  It was a great shop with lots of samples and handwork.  There was so much to see, I could have spent hours in there!  Great shop!

Along our route, I was collecting rows for my Row by Row Experience quilt.  I HAD to pick up a row featuring the St. Louis Arch in O'Fallon, MO at Suzy Q's Quilting.  The owner was a lovely woman who visited with me and openly shared some ideas that go over well in her shop.  It was to nice of her to be that open with business information when I told her my mom owned a shop and that I was a fellow longarm quilter.  I loved her!  If you are in the St. Louis area, you must stop in there!   I didn't get a picture at Suzy's but the above row by row is from Jackman's Fabrics in Fairview Heights, IL.  It was one of the Quilt Sampler's Top 10 Shops this past spring.  What a huge place!  Their row was cute, and it was the only shop in Illinois on our way to Paducah that had a row, so I had to stop there!

Quilt in a Day shop in Paducah---good prices.  They have batiks for $8.00 per yard.

Inside the Quilt in a Day shop...sadly, no Eleanor Burns :(

Hancock's of Paducah (not the same as the Hancock's Fabrics chain stores!) is a legit quilt shop with TONS of fabric.  I think the only shop I have ever been too with more fabric was the one billed as "the biggest in the country" in Portland, OR last fall.  This picture shows one part of the wideback section...a longarmers's dream!  There were literally rows and rows of fabrics, some for as little as $5.99 per yard.  I bought a Timeless Treasure fabric for a stack and whack for $5.99 that I can't wait to get whacking!!!

On our way home, we did stop at a shop called Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric Shop in Shawnee, KS to pick up another row by row.  By then, I was pretty much out of money, but I got my row of Kansas sunflowers and picked up some cute farmy kid print to complete a baby quilt that I need to make this fall.  All in all, it was a trip to remember, and I didn't even mention the non-quilty things we did!  For the sake of my poor husband, I do plan several non-quilt related activities for his benefit.  He always has a good time on our trips, and there is no other chauffeur I would rather have! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Merrily we "row" along...

  This summer, I am taking part in a national row by row collecting spree!  It has been so much fun...and the summer isn't over yet!  We signed up at the Quilters Cottage back in the spring to be a part of the Row by Row Experience.  This year's theme is Sewing the Seasons, and each shop was to pick a season for the theme for their row.  Rows were to be exactly 36 1/2" long and between 6 1/2" and 9 1/2" tall.  Well, we had just received some fun winter and Christmas fabrics at the shop---hence our row was born.  Each state coordinator was to create a Facebook page where the participating shops could show off their rows and, ultimately, the winners could be posted.
  Well, as I started looking at the rows on Facebook, I couldn't help being pulled in and found myself wanting to collect some myself!  A friend and I took a little "Row Hop" up to the northeastern part of Nebraska to collect rows.  In one day we hit shops in Columbus, Norfolk, Wayne, Wakefield, West Point, and Fremont.  This past weekend, I picked up rows from Cozad and North Platte.  I hit the York shop one day while taking my grandkids home after a short visit.  Next on the list...my hubby is taking me to Paducah to the National Quilt Museum...I will be collecting more rows all the way!  I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UFO's and P.I.G.S.

    Ahhh, the UFO (Unfinished Objects), or the slightly lesser known P.I.G.S. (Projects in Grocery Sacks). We all have them.  It's a love/hate thing.  We used to love them...but, as is the case with many of our material goods (or company that has stayed too long!), we have fallen into a state of indifference, annoyance, or downright hate.  Yet, we feel obligated to finish...at some point:)
    Here's the thing.  The longer you wait to finish it, the better the chances are that you won't like it when you finally do.  Now, we all have those challenging projects that we pursue off and on over the course of a few years because it is just too many little pieces, or too much work, to finish it all at once.  When those projects are finally done, I tend to be excited, proud, and a bit relieved.  I still feel some affection for those projects.  I am not talking about those...I am talking about simple little kits, table runners, small lap quilts, etc. that we just keeping putting off.  I am talking about that queen size quilt we started to go with the new paint job in our bedrooms seven years ago (and the bedroom has been painted twice since then) that we no longer even have a reason to finish.
   Now, I don't subscribe to the start one project and finish it before I start a new one!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  My A.D.D. would never allow that!  However, I encourage you all to make a plan to finish some of your unfinished projects.  I have mentioned it before, but I will say it again...I LOVE my facebook group!  We numbered 12 projects at the start of the year, and each month, we work on/make progress/ and yes, even finish whichever project number has been drawn for the month.  This single approach has done more to help me finish UFO's than anything ever has.  I highly recommend this method for anyone who wants a little bit of external motivation to get stuff done!  Challenge your quilt guild to number and get started!  There are still 5 months left...pick 5 projects and get going!  To motivate you, here is a picture of my number for this month...a birthday gift that I started for a friend somewhere between 5 and 7 years ago!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pre-Cut Magic

  Life can be hectic...but, we want to make quilts that look cute and don't take a lot of time.  What to do? Start out with fabrics that are already cut for you:)  Now, I am not a HUGE pre-cut fan for one simple reason, and that is, they are not always consistent in size.  You would think that with the technology available the pre-cuts would be exactly right, but they almost never are.  With that warning, I will still tell you why I like them:
1.  whttp://quiltingtutorials.com/  The Missouri Star Quilt Company (missouriquiltco.com)tutorials are wonderful!  If you haven't yet discovered Jenny Doan and her very good tutorials, search youtube or google for them.  The Love Letters quilt that I finished this month comes directly from her.  Also, be sure to check out their quarterly magazine called "Block" because it is a beautiful publication with tons of great patterns that focus on "easy" and on pre-cuts.
2.  There are tons of patterns and books out there specifically designed for Jelly Rolls, Snaps, Charms, Layer Cakes, etc.  Companies such as Timeless Treasures (one of my favorites), and a host of others, offer free download patterns on their websites for their pre-cuts.
3.  You get up to 40 different fabrics in small quantities which are perfect for making scrappy projects. It is so nice not to have to ask the employees at a quilt shop to cut you a small amount of a ton of different fabrics in order to get a wide variety.  The 10 inch squares, especially, can go a long way for a scrappy pattern that just needs several small pieces to make flying geese, 1/2 square triangles, etc.
4.  Jelly Roll Race!
5.  Everything matches, and you don't have to even think about it:)
6.  They make great gifts!
7.  You can dip your toes into a pool of fabrics that you don't normally buy and don't have in your stash without a huge financial commitment.  For example, I have been craving a quilt made from Edyta Sitar's fabrics.  I don't have a single one in my stash.  All I had to do was purchase a layer cake, a jelly roll, and border fabric and tada!  I have everything I need for a quilt without adding a bunch of fabric that won't match anything else in my stash.
8.  Pinked edges allow you to "stack" and applique blocks for a fun, raggy-ish effect.  Find lots of fun ideas and patterns for these types of uses for charms and layer cakes in Loose Change by Lynn Hagmeier, of Kansas Troubles.
Quilt pattern found in Lynn Hagmeier's book, Loose Change.
My only piece of advice for working with pre-cuts is to choose patterns that are forgiving of the slight variations in size, or patterns that require you to square up your patchwork so that you can be sure of an accurate finished product.  Other than that, pick up a pattern and some wonderfully pre-cut fabric and finish a quilt top in a weekend!  You will be amazed at the time saved when you don't have to cut everything yourself!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Butterflies...and more Butterflies

  One of the most popular classes at the shop in Kearney has been this butterfly quilt from the book, Quilts Without Corners by Cheryl Phillips.  The book itself comes with a mini wedge ruler which is used to make the body of the butterfly, and then you must purchase a long 10 degree wedge ruler to make the wings.  The finished quilt on the front of the book is actually a circle, but there are directions in the book for making it a square.  It is a beautiful quilt.
  At this point, I have quilted at least 7 of these quilts!  Each one has been very different, and all of them have been beautiful, so I started thinking...maybe I should make one of these:)  Now, understand this about me...I am a pretty lazy quilter.  By that, I mean to say I tend to make things that are relatively easy and quick to finish because I have the attention span of a small child:)  However, I have lately been asked by a couple of fairly large quilt guilds to speak and give a trunk show for them next February.  I began to make a mental list of all my quilts and what I would like to show, and I thought that I really should start making a few quilts that are more difficult and have a little more "wow" factor.  To that end...I signed up to take the butterfly class in July!  Yikes!  I chose my fabrics-bright batiks, of course- and have done all my strip sewing and cutting in preparation for the class.  All that remains is to take the class and start putting my own butterfly together.  I am psyched!  Stay tuned for progress reports and pics toward the end of July!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And the Winners Are...

Today is the big day!  The winner of the free fat quarter bundle of 8 fat quarters of AMB solids is Diann who left the following lovely comment:
DiannJune 12, 2014 at 7:19 AM
My niece ended up marrying a man from Nebraska, so we went to their wedding in Lincoln. I liked it very much. As you said, it's a city with a small town feel. I think it's the perfect size.
The winner of the Nebraska Shop Hop fabrics from the Quilters Cottage in Kearney, NE is:  
I love Nebraska, my Mom's home state :) I am thrilled to learn there is an awesome quilt shop in Kearney, as we often stop at the Cabelas there :) Next trip through I will try and stop in!!! Your block is a wonderful representation of Nebraska!!
Congrats to both winners, and thank you so much to everyone who viewed and commented on my license plate.  It was so much fun creating it, and even more fun hearing from all around the country!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Welcome to Nebraska

AMB solids representing the Platte River, fields of beans, wheat, and corn, and a windmill with 3D prairie points to represent the importance of the water that makes our lives possible.  Welcome to the Nebraska license plate!

The lovely summer skies as photographed by my son Bill Griepenstroh of Bill Grip Media.
Lincoln, our capital city,  is a beautiful metro area with all the amenities of the city and a small town feel.  The International Quilt Study Center http://www.quiltstudy.org/  is a MUST SEE for quilters around the country.  The Sunken Gardens is a favorite place in Lincoln with koi ponds and awesome landscaping.

   Nebraska is known for its wide open spaces and a well-developed farm economy. It is defined by the Platte River that runs West to East across the state. Even the name “Nebraska” comes from a Native American word meaning “flat water,” in reference to the Platte.  When flying over the state, the landscape looks like a patchwork quilt made up of long straight rows of crops and green circles where center pivot irrigation allows crops to thrive. In western Nebraska, especially, farmers “strip” farm, growing different types of crops in multiple rows all in the same fields. It has a striking look, even from the ground.  
In a land with unpredictable rainfall, windmills were the lifeblood of the settlers and the animals they needed to survive. Bringing water up from the Ogallala Aquifer allowed western expansion to bring people to Nebraska to stay. I honor those brave settlers and their farming  descendants with my block. For the pattern and instructions for my block, please click on the link:
Just one little addition to the written pattern...After I wrote and saved it, I decided to fussy cut and add in a piece of the black, fused fabric to extend the left "leg" of the windmill all the way up to the pinwheel.  Just lay it out, trim it to fit, and fuse it so that it looks like the picture, if you want to do so.

  I was born and raised in Nebraska, and I hope to live out my days in this state.  It truly is, as our motto said when I was a little girl, "The Good Life."  I love to travel and have so far been to most of our states, Mexico, and Canada.  No matter where I go, I always let out a sigh of relief when I return to the wide open spaces of Nebraska.  (all photos courtesy of Nebraska Tourism's website, visitNebraska.com, except the ones credited to Bill Grip Media)
Rolling hills and lush green river valleys dot the landscape.

People travel from all over the country to see the annual migration of the sandhill cranes in central Nebraska.  
Chimney Rock is a well known symbol of our state and guided the pioneers on their trip West.
The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is rated one of the top zoos in the entire country and was recently named the #1 Family Friendly Vacation Spot by Family Fun magazine.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have a huge following and on game day, Memorial Stadium has enough people to make it the third largest "city" in the state with over 80,000!  The entire city of Lincoln turns into a sea of red on game day...it is a beautiful sight to behold!
Omaha provides us with the best possible quality health care, beautiful parks, the gorgeous botanical garden Lauritzen Gardens http://www.lauritzengardens.org/ , a world-class zoo Henry Doorly Zoo,  fabulous restaurants, shopping, and everything you could want from a big city while still maintaining the friendliness that characterizes Nebraskans.  It also has at least FIVE really great quilt shops!
Cass County in Nebraska is known for its quilt blocks on barns.

Everyone in Nebraska knows that you "Don't mess with Mother Nature"--but our summer thunder storms have a beauty all their own.
There is no place like Nebraska!
(photo by Bill Grip Media)

For more photos of the natural beauty that is Nebraska including the rolling hills of the Sandhills region, the buttes of northwestern Nebraska, or the many rivers, lakes, and recreational parks, go to the following: Nebraska Travel Photo Gallery

Now for the give-aways:  By now you know that each blog is giving away a free fat quarter bundle from the AMB collection from Clothworks.  In order to be entered into the random drawing, just leave a comment letting me know that you follow my blog, or a comment about anything else that is on your mind.  Have you been to Nebraska?  Where did you go?  

My second freebie is a little fabric bundle of Nebraska Shop Hop 2014 fabrics including a panel and two fat quarters of our Nebraska fabric, generously donated by my mom who happens to own what I think is one of the best quilt shops in the great state of Nebraska, the Quilters Cottage in Kearney, NE...Thanks, MOM!  If you would like to see more about the shop or the Shop Hop fabrics visit us on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/QuiltersCottage or visit our website at: Quilters Cottage.  

I will use the random number generator to choose a winner on June 19th after 6 pm central time.  Please make sure you leave me an email to contact you.  Clothworks will send out the fat quarter bundles as soon as I get them your mailing address, and I will send out the Nebraska fabrics to a second winner as soon as we make email contact and I get your address.  Good Luck!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Christmas in July is Coming!

  Believe it or not, in May I started quilting Christmas quilts for this December!  What?  No, my customers are not the ones bringing me Christmas in May...it's my mother!  You see, my mom owns a quilt shop.  We ordered Christmas fabrics clear back in January and February to be shipped and to arrive in May, June, and July.  This year, we must really have been in the Christmas spirit because we ordered A LOT of Christmas fabrics!  As the bolts started to roll into the store in mid-May, we started thinking about our annual "Christmas in July" which will be held the last weekend in July.  It seemed wise to actually get working on samples so that I would have time to quilt them for the big event (as opposed to our usual method of madly working at the last minute and hanging up just the tops!).  As a result, I have already quilted a table runner and four quilts.  I have two more waiting in my closet, and I know mom is working on another one at the shop.  Needless to say, my "Christmas Spirit" is starting to dwindle and is actually feeling a bit crabby right now:)  However, in spite of my mood, Christmas is coming...in about 7 months, so why not get started on those projects now:)  I am already in practice with my holly berries and leaves!

P.S.  Don't forget to check back on Thursday, June 12, to see my AMB solids block for the nationwide Blog Tour!  I hope to have my post up by 8 am Central time.  Sorry to those of you further east, that's about as early as I accomplish anything:)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My First Overnight Quilt Retreat

I just returned from my first overnight quilt retreat!  It was a smashing success, in my opinion.  We traveled a few hours away to Creston, IA where we met up with 17 great women from that quilt-crazy state.  Did you know that their Shop Hop lasts an entire month (June) and includes 94 shops?  Between 30 and 35 women from Nebraska and Iowa joined together to sew, chat, learn from one another, and just work for almost four full days.  I spent 15 hours at the retreat center on Saturday alone!
A big shout out goes to our host, Joyce Franklin from the Quilts and Other Notions Quilt Shop and Creative Center for accommodating such a rambunctious group of women! The quilt shop is fabulous with a huge selection, and Joyce and her staff are helpful, friendly, and full of great ideas.  The Creative Center is like a mini art gallery showcasing several of Joyce's art quilts.  It is not to be missed.  Be sure, if you are anywhere near the area, to stop by and check it out.  Creston welcomed us, housed us, and fed us (way too much).  Right across the street from the beautiful train depot building, we had delicious coffee each morning (truly the BEST latte I have had in quite awhile). Delicious desserts, coffee, meals, and even clothing and shoe shopping are all within easy walking distance of the shop.
  We were delighted on Saturday by a surprise visit from Tony Jacobson of Fons and Porter.  Tony teaches classes at the Creative Center, and he was there to see Joyce.  We were lucky enough to get to see what he has been working on lately.  He kindly gave me permission to include his photo, with one of his gorgeous quilts.

 I gave a demo on Saturday talking about ideas for 10 inch squares, since we had each brought either a black or yellow 10 inch square to exchange.  I haven't counted, but I should have at least 30 squares to work with to make a project to remember the retreat.

I made a new friend, met lots of fun ladies, got to know some women I already knew from Kearney a little bit better, and finished or progressed on several projects.  Did I mention there was wine and chocolate???

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just Can't Wait to Get on the Road...

I am RETREAT BOUND at the end of this week!  It is going to be so much fun, and I am looking forward to getting a lot of projects either done, or in a state of "doneness" that will inspire me to finish when I get home!  One of the projects that I plan to finish is a concoction using some charm squares and Lynne Hagmeier's (of Kansas Troubles) book called Loose Change and rulers.  I took a class with Lynne awhile ago, and have been wanting to make this fun quilt using her raw edge technique.

Five inch squares and 2 1/2 inch squares raw edge appliqued on top of ten inch squares...FUN!

Before heading out, I had some things to get finished.  I mailed my block off to Seattle for the American Made Brand Blog Tour.  I helped mom pick fabrics, designed a row, and sewed a row for the upcoming Row by Row Experience national Shop Hop beginning on July 1 and going through September 2.  There are 20 shops here in Nebraska participating, so we don't even have to leave the state to get plenty of rows for a quilt!  Of course, it would be more fun if we picked up a row here and there around the country!
Finally, I made and quilted a table runner out of some new Christmas fabric for the upcoming "Christmas in July" at mom's shop at the end of July so that I can take it along to retreat to sew down the binding.
Now...get packing, and I am outa here!

Friday, May 23, 2014

What I am Working on Now...

Once in awhile, I like to take a break from my longarm business, and work on sewing projects of my own:)  I belong to two quilt guilds and we have various projects throughout the year.  One of my favorites is our yearly BOM (Block of the Month for you newbies out there) in the Lone Tree Quilters guild here at home.  We have done round robins, row robins, a common pattern, and surprise monthly blocks.  This year, I am in charge of the patterns for the surprise blocks.  I chose a 12" block so that people would have a nice little lap quilt once they add borders.  My plan is to create setting blocks in a chain pattern to put between my blocks in order to create a bigger quilt, and to break up the craziness of my blocks.  I chose a very vibrant Laurel Burch fabric for my blocks, and they will need separated out in order to be shown to their best advantage.  So, what am I working on now...BOM blocks!