by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Christmas Gift Round-up

January 6th, 2013 | Posted by Emma in Crafts | Inspiration | Quilting | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

Hi Friends! Did you miss me? It’s been a long time since I posted anything on this blog, so I hope I haven’t lost you, my dear readers, but I just didn’t feel like blogging and didn’t see the point of making myself blog. Now I’m starting to feel like it again, so I’m going to see how long that lasts. Project Quilting just started up again and I was just sewing with my small group and we had big plans for challenges for the year to come, so hopefully I’ll find plenty to write about!

But really, I never have a lack of sewing projects to write about!! I mean come on!

I’d like to start getting back into things by telling you about the awesome Christmas I just had; full of homemade/handsewn gifts. I found lots of inspiring projects in books and magazines and online tutorials that I’d like to share with you! (more…)

Summer Flag Tutorial

May 28th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Inspiration | Tutorials | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

We’ve had a wonderful weekend! It’s been hot and sunny and feeling just like summer! The boys played in the pool, sprinkler and slip n’ slide and Dave and I trimmed the hedges, mowed the lawn and planted the last square of the square foot garden with some big healthy vegetable plants.

Brennan was so inspired by the fun he had Saturday and Sunday that today he wanted to make a quilt to celebrate it! (I so love that kid!!) Together we came up with a project so great, I thought I’d share it…. (more…)


I’m going to be the presenter at the next Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild Meeting!! The meeting is this Thursday at the West Des Moines Public Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. I would love it if you would join me!

We’ll be folding fabric into three-dimensional flowers for quilts, using the techniques in Rebecca Wat’s book “Fantastic Fabric Folding.” I’ll show some of my projects made with folded fabrics and we’ll get to try them out too. Here’s the supply list in case you can come.

Supplies to bring:
• Four (or more) 6″ squares of fabric – good choices include tone-on-tone, nearly solid batiks and solids. Starch the squares if you have time (no need to starch batiks).
• Regular sewing needle and thread to match your fabric
• Small scissors
• A few pins

I’ll be teaching you to make something like this…

then turn into this…



Wow! There’s a lot of action this month in the quilting world. Everywhere I look there’s a new project or quilt-along to join! I’m still deciding what to focus my energies on…how about you?!

Project Quilting!

Near and dear to my heart, as I’ve participated in two seaons and TWELVE challenges…this is the top of my list. I’m definitely joining Project Quilting Season 3 and counting down until this Sunday at noon when the first challenge is issued.

Here’s an inspiring collage of all those challenges I did…it’s getting me so excited for the next challenge!

Project Quilting

 The challenges are a week long, wide open for creative interpretation and there are prizes that that everyone has an equal chance at this season (no judging or voting). Go to Kim’ to find out more or to join in the next challenge!

Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt Along Wednesdays

Free Motion Quilting Project

Now that she’s finished 365 designs, Leah Day is going with a more interactive approach to teaching free motion quilting. She’ll be hosting “Quilt-along on Wednesdays” and answering questions on Thursdays. She’s starting out pretty basic, with loops that eventually turn into stippling. She is working bigger and quilting larger areas to help us fill full quilts…a practical approach that I’m really excited about. I’m sure practicing free motion quilting would be good for me, so I’ll probably participate when I can. The first video is pretty basic, about stippling and I’m sort of set in my ways with stippling! I could practice making it different sizes, though. I notice that I can do different sizes of stipple based on the space I have to fill, but I have to work to keep it consistent in scale.

For even more free motion, Leah also mentioned another challenge project focused on free motion quilting. She will even teach one of the months.

2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge

I’m not familiar with the blog of SewCalGal (although I will be now, it looks great!) but she is hosting another challenge that will go on all year. Each month another free motion quilting expert will post a video or instructions on a technique, with a challenge. To participate, you simply practice the technique they teach and post pics of your work on your blog or flickr gallery. Then you can win prizes too. I’m still considering whether I will join in this one. It looks like good practice as well. The first tutorial was about quilting leaves, another technique I’m familiar with, but could always practice!

The prizes include thread packs, books, EQuilter software and gift certificates. That would be fun!

I just participated in a contest from a webinar and won myself a free coaching session with Darla LeDoux of Profit SOS, so maybe luck is with me on this whole prize-winning thing!

Quilt Along: Farmer’s Wife

One thing I’m really committed to is a project I’m doing with my small group, a “Farmer’s Wife” quilt-along. But you can also do that online. There’s a yahoo group for it and flickr group and lots of bloggers out there when you start looking. We’re working from the book “The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt” by Laurie Aaron Hird. There’s lots of info on a website here, as well as links to the groups online. Basically it’s a sampler quilt of 111 different blocks, all with stories based on the answer to the question “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?” from the 1922 Farmer’s Wife Magazine.

I’ll be doing a few blocks each month to bring to my small group meeting and I’ll probably post them here too. Right now I’m still choosing my fabrics and colors.

Quilt-Along: Craftsy Block of the Month

When I’m not busy piecing for my Farmer’s Wife swap, there is another block project that looked like so much fun I signed up. I don’t know yet if I’ll join in, but Craftsy has a very cool platform for taking classes online and the first few videos were really amazing for their FREE Block of the Month! You can enroll for free any time of the year at  It looks like it will be a fun modern project, to contrast with the Farmer’s Wife style!

Quilt-Along: House and Trees

This is another project of Kim’s at the Crafty Apple is this quilt-along, which I promised to design a block for! It will be a quilt made up of sixteen 12.5″ blocks all from different designers but all to include a tree or house or combination of such. So, I’ll at least have one block to make, but participating in the whole project might be fun too. Here’s her write up about it, and here’s her inspiration quilt photo! Silly Kim, she thought we weren’t going to have anything to do in the weeks where there wasn’t a Project Quilting Challenge issued! Ah, this post will prove her wrong!

Stitch-Along at Feeling Stitchy

If you’re not in the mood for quilting OR piecing, how about some stitching?! There have been monthly stitch-alongs at Feeling Stitchy for a while and it seems they are still going, as January’s design has been posted. They’re using hand-written letters, something I do on a lot of quilties, but on cute little buntings! Oh and it’s with couching, that’s a fun technique for someone who has a small stash of yarn from the time she tried knitting but didn’t stick with it! Worth a try, I think!

2012 Sew Scraps Along 150


“Sew Scraps Along” at Pleasant Home


Ok, funny name and from the sound of it, it will be way more than just a simple project to follow along with…it will be more like lots of projects, tutorials, stories, blogs to follow and giveaways to enter, so I think I’ll just try to keep checking in with Pleasant Home this year…you know, because I’ll have so many scraps created from all those other projects I plan on working on in 2012!

Ok, phew, that’s all I have time to write about tonight…I hope there’s nothing really good I missed. If there is, be sure to let me know!

Christmas Crafts

December 26th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Crafts | Inspiration | Quilting | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Ok, before I tell you about my marathon of Christmas gifts, I have to say that I was still crafting today after making no less than 16 unique gifts this season! I just wanted to be back in my studio making stuff, so that’s what I did.

That and my friend Sherri’s suggestion to check out Pinterest was a good one. I had this inspiring pin board to get me crafting!

So I went to this tutorial at Retro Mama and made these little houses with Christmas fabrics. I have to say I like her fabric choices a lot better, but I started them with my Christmas bin of fabrics and they just turned out.

For Conal:

For Brennan:

For Dave (with Woodstock in the window):

And for me (yes, I wanted one too!):

They were really addicting and easy to make multiples of. I had to stop myself from sewing more of them and go play with my boys a bit!

If you want to get into Pinterest too or have already discovered the wonders…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Here’s another quickie project I did…by watching a video. They are just 4-strand braids in a ball, I’m going to add ribbons and make them into ornaments.

It’s still Christmas and the boys are happily playing with their new toys, I think I’ll go back to the studio! (Maybe I should clean up rather than making something this time, though!)

Fall Quilties & Antiques

September 11th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Inspiration | Quilting | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

It felt like summer today…even too hot to mow, yet I was pretending it was Autumn. Because it’s on the way you know!

I worked on some new stuff for Halloween and fall. The most fun was altering the Easter bunny pattern to be some cute little ghosties! What do you think? They’re very huggable. I wish photos could show you how squishy they are! I may have to get one of my boys to do some posing with them.

I also drew a new Halloween quiltie design and a Thanksgiving one (still in progress).

Spooky works in both white on black and black on orange. Conal says he wants one with a lime green border, with orange on black, that sounds like it would be fun too!

I really had fun with that patchwork border on the orange one…to make the best use of that vintage Halloween print fabric by Moda.

Anyway, not all of them are listed in my shop yet, but some are and more will be soon, along with some oldies but goodies brought out for fall! Gotta love this Jack O’ Lantern, don’t you?

Also fitting in with the fall colors is this beautiful basket/trunk I bought for $5 at the Antique Show my boys and I went to in Valley Junction this morning. I can always get them to go to events in Valley Junction by just reminding them that Nan’s Nummies (their favorite candy store ever) is there!

I really should have thought to use this trunk as a prop in my photo shoot of products this afternoon! I’m sure I will for the next one, pretty isn’t it?!

Blogs and Quilting and more

September 10th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Inspiration | Quilting | Uncategorized - (3 Comments)

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately, but I have had a few projects saved up to share. But first, I’m excited that my friend Tricia started a blog, so I want to welcome her to blogland!! Tricia, I hope you truly enjoy blogging about all the quilting I know you love! I look forward to reading your posts at…you’ve already got a great start!

And since I noticed her “Small Blog Meet” button, I’m joining in the fun….click the button to be taken to some other “Small Blogs” and maybe you’ll discover somebody new to get to know.
Small Blog Meet

If you’re here from the Small Blog Meet, welcome!! I’m Emma. I’ve been a quilter for I don’t know for sure, but about 12 years. I have a little etsy shop called Quilties, that keeps me making fun little projects. But most of the things I quilt aren’t for the shop, I really just love to quilt. I always have way too many projects going at once. And by that I mean that every time I make my “To Do” list, it’s at least 20 projects deep! Some of them don’t get finished, but most of them eventually do! I blame my project ADD on the fact that I’m squeezing in quilting in the short spare moments I have apart from my 2 boys (10 and 4) and busy husband, my graphic design business and the housework, yard & garden.

I belong to the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild and a small group formed from that and I almost always have something to share at our monthly meetings. Right now we’re all looking forward to our AQS quilt show coming the end of this month! It’s a really awesome national show, which our guild just happens to get to share. I have several quilts that will be in that guild show, but two I have to finish before the deadline, so we’ll see if they get in!

Just last month we had the Iowa State Fair to show quilts in. Here’s what that’s like…

(Go ahead and click the photo to see it bigger, it will open a new window) Mine is the second from the right, the on-point starburst sampler. Yeah, they pack lots in, right?! It was kind of a fun treasure hunt to find your own quilts among the masses. The tiger on the floor is mine.

Exciting too, when we found them with ribbons.

That’s my only ribbon, on the crazy quilt pillow I made for Project Quilting last season. (I love Project Quilting at Kim’s Crafty Apple, by the way, if you don’t know what it is yet, be sure to check it out whenever she starts it up again…very fun weeklong challenges!)

Some of my friends did very well! Veronica got three ribbons on her three entries, including this blue!

My newest quilting friend, Linda (her blog is Flourishing Palms) also got the blues.

Isn’t this one gorgeous?! Don’t think it’s mine, Linda Hungerford made this one too!

And here is Tricia, with her ribbon-winning quilt behind her and cute, funny face!

Oh, I was going to show you some bags I’ve been working on lately, but it’s getting late! I better save that for the next blog post! But thanks for reading this far, new friends and old…I’d love it if you came back to see, so if you haven’t already,  join up with me or subscribe or even just email me at emma(at) so we can keep in touch!

Take care,

p.s. Here’s what Brennan and I saw on our way to his preschool this morning!

Time out from my summer top-making woes, for a little team participation…

The Quiltsy Team of Etsy sellers is having a challenge to make Etsy treasuries this week (and for three weeks, I think!) so I thought I’d show you a couple of the fun ones. Click the image to take you to the Etsy version of the treasury if you want to be able to click on the items. I’m happy to have some of my favorite items featured in my fellow members’ treasuries. Thanks Quiltsy!  See if you can spot my things.

I hope you enjoy seeing what the other quiltsy etsy sellers are doing…I always find it inspiring!

Back to my shirt project tomorrow. Right now it’s in the corner, because that’s where projects go when they get frustrating to me!

Whew! I almost missed this…

Here’s another chance to surf through lots of amazing quilts all in one easy set of links. Amy’s Creative Side is the hostess with the mostest. Go check out all beautiful quilts (and maybe find a few favorite new bloggers to follow.)

For any guests who have found me from the festival…WELCOME!! I hope you enjoy this one quilt and even have a little extra time to browse the rest of my blog. Please leave a comment or join me with facebook or google friend connect to let me know you’re here. Happy Quilting!!

My quilt is called “Buttonwillow.” It is an original-design, small, quilted wall-hanging I  made it as part of Project Quilting (at Kim’s Crafty Apple). The challenge was to make a quilt with the same name as a city. Buttonwillow, CA was the city name that I chose and the piece is a pretty literal interpretation of that…but in itself is also just a really nice piece. I love that it is still a nice quilt even if you know nothing about the challenge. I even sold it in my Etsy shop, so I kind of miss it, but am happy to know that it is being enjoyed by someone out there!

I especially like the three-dimensional details of this quilt and learned that audiences really do too. It won first place in the contest and got lots of great feedback from people who loved the buttons (who doesn’t love buttons?! the more the better!), the way the leaves come out of the border and even off the edge of the quilt and the frayed edges of the inner background. I also really like the hanging tabs, something I think I’d like to try on other mini quilts I make in the future. Previously I had only used them for curtains, you know!

Thanks for visiting! And thank you, Amy, for the fun, quilty festival! Click the button above to see the rest of the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival.

Butterfly Beauty

April 18th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Inspiration | Quilting - (1 Comments)

I want to share a project that was made by my mom, Ginny Thomas, and featured on a blog recently! Congrats, Mom, for your mention. I am so proud of you and your beautiful quilts!

Paintstik butterflies by Ginny Thomas
Be sure to visit this link to read about the challenge that brought about this beautiful quilt! I love challenges for bringing out our creative thinking!!

She used wonderful, creative techniques to make this quilt really special, the words are thread calligraphy and the butterflies use Shiva Paintstiks and notice her beautiful free-motion quilting!!