by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

UFOs and Yo Yos

July 4th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I’ve been working on two fun projects the last few days. One is an old UFO, I think the oldest one I have, a “Double Irish Chain.” I want to show you some in progress shots, because I think it will be quite a while before I finish either of these two projects.

The second project is yo yos! I’ve been making them whenever I sit outside watching the boys play in the pool, or ride bikes in the cul de sac, at my garage sale, and even a little bit of tv watching. One of the most recent issues of American Patchwork & Quilting has a great pattern I plan to make, where yo yos are appliqued to strips of solid fabric to make a full yo yo quilt. And it looks so cute and like so much fun!I don’t have a background color chosen yet. (The sample is a snappy turquoise, which I might try!) But I’m already up to 110+ yo yos, well on my way to the 409 I will need!

Here’s a peek…

Both of these projects use fabrics that have been in my stash forever, just a little neglected even, the cute and flowery calicoes. They’re a little old fashion and some of them even really clash when they get side-by-side, but I love the scrappy look they have when they get together!

Tiger Quilt

June 30th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (5 Comments)

Just before Father’s Day, I watched the latest episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims and was immediately struck by a great project to make for my husband’s gift! Here’s a preview of the episode (#812, June 6, 2011)…

and here’s the project that I just couldn’t resist…the tiger behind him. My husband is a teacher at a school with high school spirit standards and a tiger for a mascot! I knew this would be perfect for him to hang in his large classroom and get a lot of attention!

Photos above by Gregory Case

I ordered the pattern at and therefore supported the Endangered Species Quilt Project! The pattern came really quickly, so I was able to get started just a few days later!

I wanted to show your work-in-progress shots but it went together so quickly, I didn’t take many photos, I just kept working! It’s raw-edge fusible applique. The designs came full-sized, ready to trace onto fusible web, fuse to fabric and cut out. It was a lot of pieces, but that part was really fun. The most difficult part was laying out all those pieces. There was a numbered diagram to follow, but it felt a lot like drawing, seeing where everything aligned by eye.

Ok, I can’t type any more, I just can’t wait to put in the finished photo RIGHT NOW!!!
Be sure to click it to see a larger view!

Notice that I didn’t follow Rob’s quilting suggestions. I looked at photos of tigers online and free-motion quilted lines to indicate tiger fur and give it dimension and a little realism. It was really fun to do, but did take quite a bit of time!

The main thing is that Dave LOVES it! But it was also fun to bring it to my guild meeting last night and get lots of compliments! I love having a guild meeting as an incentive to getting projects finished. I was binding in front of my computer yesterday, but I got it finished. Without the guild meeting to keep me going, I might not have finished it until September!

If I can get permission from the owner, I’ll enter it in the Iowa State Fair! He will be out of town during the fair anyway, so maybe he won’t mind. That would sure be fun!

Thanks for looking and please leave me a comment if you like it.

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!

Day 2: Summer Top

June 8th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Still sewing along with Sherri, today was bodice day. I got the front done of my top, which was quite a bit of sewing!

All the way to Step 10!

I was almost tired enough to stop here, so I snapped a photo. Then decided to keep sewing!

This was a funny step: making a little noodle, threading it through the holes and gathering up the bulk in the middle.

I hope I’m going to be able to smooth out those gathers in the middle when it’s complete! The directions say “pleat as shown”, with just a cryptic line drawing that gives me no indication as to how to actually pleat all that fabric. hmph.

This next photo is to just show you the bulk of fabric scraps created when sewing garments. Much more than quilting! And it felt like I used every inch when I was cutting…there were just such odd pieces!

Anyone have any idea what to do with lots of small funny shaped jersey cotton pieces?!

So, day 2 was more fun and productive. I’m sure you’ll never see my center seam where the fold should have been in all those pleats! Yeah! Hope your day went well too, Sherri and Amber!

Oh and my DAY was really great today too! It was Dave’s first day of summer vacation, so we took the family to the beach! We went to Gray’s Lake in Des Moines. It was beautiful, the beach was perfect, the water was perfect and we all had a great time. We wondered why we had never been there before and plan to go swimming lots this summer.

Ach! Cutting

June 7th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

So, I am sewing along with my friend/fellow soccer mom, Sherri, on a summer top. Neither of us quite made it in time for the “Spring Top Sew-Along” challenge she invited me to do with her…here. But that’s ok, we figure we still deserve to sew something nice for ourselves. I’m just moving from 3/4 length sleeves for spring to short sleeves for summer…in today’s weather I should probably go sleeveless, but I really do prefer short sleeves most of the time.

Anyway, tonight is cutting night.

Here is my pattern and my nice, soft blue knit jersey.

And here is where the fold should be!

…hence the “ach!”

I don’t normally sew with stretch knits, so I don’t have a stash of it just lying around like I do with quilter’s cotton. So it’s going to have to work or I’m going to have to go shopping again!! Darn.

Sherrie, maybe we should have actually been sewing in a room together, because I sure could have used someone next to me saying, wait, cut the piece on the fold first! (A rule I used to remember to follow when garment sewing!) You dope!

I think I’m just going to sew a seam there and finish up this pattern with this fabric. If I like it a lot, THEN I’ll go get some more jersey knit and make it without a stupid seam down the front. Does that sound crazy?? Or I may be able to get to the fabric store tomorrow and buy enough for just that one piece. Hope you had better luck tonight, Sherrie!


Sidetrack: Button Bag

June 6th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Ever see a project you just have to make…so much that you abandon all your other works-in-progress to just start and finish all at once?! That’s what I did this weekend with this silly little “Button Bag.”

I saw the pattern when I was on a business meeting at the Quilt Block. They had a sample made up that was so cute even Brennan loved it and wanted to take it home. I told him we couldn’t do that, but that I could buy the pattern and make one for us. But I admit, when I started making it, I didn’t think of making it for him. I really just wanted to use some of my charm packs. I have several charm packs and a shoebox size tote full of hand-cut and swapped charms in my stash. They are just such a fun size to collect!! It’s just big enough to see the pattern of most fabrics and small enough to cut lots from scraps.

Anyway, this is the pattern. And this is my start….

I used the charm pack called Hideaway by Moda. Just that, no scrap matching, just pulling it right out of that charm pack so I could get stitching. It was actually pretty fun that way! BUT I didn’t like it as I was stitching it together…it looked like a multi-colored mess, too wild and kiddish for me. (The color in the photo above is not very accurate, but it was pretty wild!) UNTIL…

It was turned into a bag. Then, it was actually really cute! (color above is much more true)

Maybe it’s because you can only see half at once, or maybe it’s because those multi-colored fabrics are a part of something in a cute and fun-to-hold shape…but I love it!

Oh, it has a zipper inside too. Not a great construction method, though, because the zipper was to be sewed in by hand and it was really difficult to do. If I make this bag again, I’ll try to figure out a better way.

Anyway, fun sidetrack weekend! Plus, we got a whole bunch of yard work done, the floors washed & vacuumed and laundry done…a very good weekend! Hope you had a good weekend too!

I have this photo taped to a window in my studio right now…

Inspiring isn’t it?! I’m sure I have to make it into an art quilt soon.

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.

101 Patchwork Projects

May 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

You may have already heard the news, but I don’t know what has taken me so long to blog about this….I’ve been published! I have a pattern in the great big Quilting Arts special issue “101 Patchwork Projects.” I even brought it to my guild meeting before posting it here. They gave me the warmest, most enthusiastic applause I have ever received at just a show and tell. I think they were proud of me!

Anyway, here’s the project that gave me the honor of sharing my craft with the quilting world.

And here it is in a magazine!

And here is where it says my name, in a magazine!

Oh, I know, maybe someday having something in a magazine will seem just as exciting as my everyday job, I hope anyway…but right now I’m basking in the newness and excitement of it.

I’ve made three of those “Tree of Life” wall-hangings since that first, just to make sure I could do it again. I had the magazine open and pretended to be someone else, just following the directions in a book! I had to really concentrate on reading each step before just rolling ahead and doing it, but it was fun that way!

Here’s one of the others. (I still have to photograph all of them.)

I’m sure I’ll be offering them on Etsy, so if you’re interested, stay tuned (or convo me on etsy and get the listing up!) BUT better yet, go get the magazine and make your own!! I do hope I get to see what some other quilters do with the pattern. So, if you’re going to make it, be sure to show me you finished quilt!

By the way, the project is super-fun! It’s made in a fun and easy method that really allows you to play with the design before stitching it all down.

Here’s the cover of the magazine and the link for you to purchase your own copy. It’s a really great book. I made a pretty big list of projects in it that I want to do someday soon. I’m sure there are a few more blog posts about it to come! Bracelets, slippers, a headband, vases, placemats, a few simple quilts, and lots more.

Thank you Interweave and Quilting Arts, for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful project. I am so honored!

– Emma



April 29th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Doing some maintenance on this blog…you may see changes occurring…please be patient. Should be some improvements happening too!

Have a good day,