by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Catching Up…

May 26th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

Hey, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted something!! And honestly I’ve stayed away a little longer than I even wanted to, just because I didn’t look forward to catching up…so I’m going to make it quick and then move on, what do you say?! (more…)

Farmer’s Wife Block Update

April 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

I’ve been working on the Farmer’s Wife Sampler, do you want to see my blocks? (more…)

Weekend Projects

April 1st, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Crafts | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Last weekend when my husband and oldest son went on a trip, Brennan and I got a little extra “project time”…here are few of the fun projects we did. (more…)


The last challenge of season three was to play with zig zags. I had seen zig zags made with half square triangles and thought it looked pretty fun. I also just got a hand-me-down charm pack (Thank you, Veronica!) so I decided to use it for this challenge.  Lastly, I had seen this video from Missouri Star Quilt Company about how to make half-square triangles from charms….that’s how it all started. (more…)


The theme of “Where you Live” is expressed in this piece through the lavender, my favorite plant in my garden, and my favorite crop of Iowa, the corn. I live on corn all summer.

I live on Eighty first court in Urbandale, Iowa. The challenge for this quilt to choose colors for each of the letters in your address sounded like it would be a tough one for E, U, I!! But when I found a list of colors on Wikipedia, it was actually really fun. I decided to choose three colors that I hadn’t heard of before. Eton Blue (the greenish blue school color of Eton, a prep school in the UK), Ube (a lavender that gets its name from a purple yam in the Phillipines) and Icterine (a bright yellow – I had heard of an Icterine Warbler before, I just didn’t know it referred to the yellow!) (more…)


I’ve been playing in the modern quilter’s world…the piecing that isn’t perfect, just stick it on, sew across and maybe trim…and it’s really, really fun!

From this fabric by Carolyn Gavin called “Spring Street” that had colorful borders…I decided to frame the blocks with a wonky Courthouse Steps.

Which is just a fancy way of saying that I sewed a strip to the top and bottom to each block, then a strip to each side, then to the top and bottom, over and over. I tried to make the strips all different sizes and colors in each block, so they are really fun and interesting to look at.

I only had half as many panels as I need to finish the quilt, so I am making plain courthouse steps for every other block…

So it will look like this:

Another fun block is the Wonky Roman Stripe, from “Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee” (Love this book by the way!!)

Sew strips onto one side of a triangle and then trim into a square.

So, I’ve stayed away from this kind of project for a little longer than necessary, just because I really didn’t like the word “W0nky” to describe it, but improvisational, liberated or modern, whatever you want to call it, it really is fun to just get piecing and not need it to be perfectly straight or matched up.

Have you tried it? What blocks have you made “Wonky?”

Blocks & Scraps

February 5th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

You may remember some of those Quilt-a-longs I told you about…are you doing any? Here’s a few of the projects I made…

I’m not very far on Kim’s House & Tree Quilt-a-long, because the blocks are each so much piecing for just one block. This is the only one I have done so far, besides the tree I designed. I’ve started on several others, but they are very involved!

Those are the four Farmer’s Wife blocks I’ve finished so far. They were pretty addicting, I made three in one evening because I just wanted to keep going. These are each pretty involved too!

This was my first, I just had to use that paisley. Then I decided to use more of the cream background on the next one. I’ll have to mix it up, some with the cream, some without or this first one will stick out like a sore thumb!

And remember the “Sew Scraps Along” at Pleasant Home? I loved her blog posts…so many great ideas for scraps!! There was one that I couldn’t resist last week, even though I really didn’t need to start another project!

I love the new tricks I learned from that one cute little project….using interfacing to sew straight and easy small squares together and using ric rac as trim for an envelope turned quilt. I think I will try making a quiltie that way!!

Here’s a few photos of the scrappy mugs mats I made:

I tried another way of quilting the second pink one. I like them both, but the straight lines were definitely easier than trying to hit those diagonals (without marking.)

I actually made four, but Brennan carried away the first blue one I made. It is currently the rug in a miniature box house he’s playing with!

After making blocks that aren’t really a finished project when you’re done, these little mug mats are very satisfying!


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…



The first challenge of the season ended this Sunday, so here’s how it turned out…

There were more entries than ever before! Click the collage image at the bottom of the post to be brought to the Flickr Gallery and see them all. The only real direction given was to be inspired by Architecture. So my inspiration came from architecture close to home…the tiles on the Iowa State Capitol floor. I thought they were beautiful when I visited the capitol a few years ago and took lots of photos, because I knew I wanted to make a quilt from them someday. This challenge was the perfect opportunity! I almost copied the design, using a photo as a reference and enlarging the pattern at a copy shop. But I changed the colors a bit, to include a shiny gold lamé, to symbolize our favorite part of the state capitol, the gold dome. My boys love “the Shiny Place” as they call the capitol and Brennan helped me pick out the shiniest fabric we could find at Joann. (We didn’t consider what a pain in the butt it would be to use!)  The rest of the fabric had to come from my stash, but I seemed to have the perfect mix of marbley batiks and prints that had stonelike textures. The yellow even has metallic gold spots.

The Finished Size is 29″ square…don’t ask me why I made it so big! I was asking myself that all week!

I didn’t bother cropping out Conal’s head and hands, because I wanted to give you an idea of how big I made it! I guess I just got too excited that I could get an enlargement at the copy shop and went crazy with it! But thankfully it was smaller than the width of fabric!

Here are some photos of my inspiration!

Pin It


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!