by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

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.

ELTM Quilt

May 17th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

Everlasting, Lantana, Mermaid Water Dance, Traditional…and an original design quilt.

See this post if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

“Everlasting Tulips”

This is an original block design, with curved piecing down the center and appliquéd flowers and leaves.

This shows the binding, where I tried a new technique my Mom just taught me. “Faux-piping binding” gave the edge of the quilt a little more dimension and color without adding to the borders or size in any way. I really liked the technique, I think I will try it again sometime, but it will take practice to get it looking really nice. Here’s a tutorial I just found online. It’s the same method I used, so I won’t go into detail describing it here.

So, I didn’t get it done in time for the Project Quilting Challenge, but I did get to bring it to my small group meeting and it is just a very happy quilt that I’m glad I made!

Oh wait, here’s another flower photo…mostly for my Mom. Thanks for showing me the cool binding trick, thank you for the lilac and happy spring!

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


Buttonwillow PQ2:2

January 30th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

The title of this quilt is “Buttonwillow, CA” because the challenge was to choose the name of location as the inspiration for a quilt. I just scanned Google maps for a few minutes and found Buttonwillow, CA. The challenge was not to know anything about the place itself, just the name….

Anyway, here’s my piece and the description I submitted for Project Quilting Round 2:2

“Buttonwillow, CA; what a great name! My husband thought it might be cheating that the name sounded so much like a quilt, but I thought it was too good to pass up! And maybe not everyone has a favorite tree, but I definitely do and it’s a Weeping Willow! I love the way the leaves drape so elegantly. This quilt is tall and slender at 12″ x 18″ plus 2” tabs. The backing fabric is a tan cotton print with sketchy architectural details that reminded me of things we saw while visiting southern California (Santa Barbara, San Louis Obispo and more), so I thought it was fitting for this piece to give it a little California flair. It is also a good backdrop for the nice light brown linen and the variety of buttons. I started with all tan buttons, but opted for a wider variety and I really like the sparkle of color in the border. It keeps your eye moving around the piece.

Also be sure to notice the 3-dimensional willow leaves along the bottom and edges of the branch. It adds to the layering effect of a real willow branch and bridges the border and center for a united piece.

Made in Urbandale, IA by Emma Thomas-McGinnis”

Other notes about the process…

I made the 3-dimensional leaves with 2 layers of green fused together. First I made them, cut them out and then tried to quilt the lines in the little buggers, but they kept sucking into the sewing machine. So then I made the fused sandwich again and did the quilting lines before cutting them out. That worked much better!  I was also sort of hesitant to layer the leaves so much, each leaf was so pretty on its own. But then I wanted it to look more realistic and give it more depth, so I covered up some of the best leaves and wow, it was much better for it!

I usually like things pretty scrappy, with lots of different fabrics involved…but do you notice, there are only two fabrics in those leaves! I started with about 6 greens, but it really just messed it up. I like the extra little bright green ones for sparkle, but the solid green was really perfect. I didn’t want the viewer to start looking at all the fabrics, I really just wanted the elegant leaves to be just leaves. That’s also why I didn’t add a whole bunch of leaf viens. I wanted to keep the simple shapes. In photos of willow branches you don’t really see the veins, the leaves are shiny and simple.

That’s all, hope you like it, I really loved making this little quilt!

Designing a Quilt

November 2nd, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

I’m designing another quilt I’ve been obsessed with when not working on Halloween…I want to give you a sneak peek.

My plan is to do all my favorite flower and starburst-shaped blocks and make them into a sampler quilt. I found a stripe fabric with colorful flowers that is my inspiration and color scheme. (I forgot to take a picture, but you’ll see it later) The patterns are assembled from all my favorite magazine projects. Things I’ve wanted to try, but not necessarily do a whole quilt of…The first, pink flower, is from Edita Sytar, who spoke at our guild meeting a few months ago. (I totally loved her!!) The next New York Beauty was in a Fons & Porter magazine. I’ll have to look up the designers for the rest of them and tell you later.

This next one I’m putting together with needle-turn appliqué, here is the outer ring. There will be a similar inner ring next. I wanted to tell you that I’ve realized how nice it is to have the right tools for needle-turn appliqué. I’m using a 50 wt. machine embroidery thread, so it’s really thin and practically disappears into the appliqué fabric. The needle is a #12 straw, also very thin and fine, so it just glides right through! Appliqué pins hold everything in place without catching the thread as you bring it around. I learned about these tips in a class by Angela Lawrence at Creekside Quilting in West Des Moines. She’s a brilliant appliquér!

That’s all for now, until I get into the studio again this weekend. Usually during the week I can only dream about quilting time, like I’m doing right now! But I really want to know, how do other quilters go about designing quilts? Do you have a whole plan before you start? I started with the blocks and now have been sketching out how to put them together into a quilt. It’s forming itself as I make the blocks. I started sketching some designs for the whole quilt, but have kept making blocks as I’m also deciding on the setting for them. Would you have drawn up the whole thing? Would you wait until you had all the blocks done to put them on a design wall and move them around?? If you’re up for a discussion, I’d love to hear about your process.

Round Robin Medallion

January 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All - (4 Comments)

I just started a new project with my guild small group. It’s a medallion quilt. We each made a center, that we will pass around and add borders to each month.

Here is the center that I started. It’s fused on and machine appliqued. I used a pattern from the book Birds of a Feather (with a little alteration to fit).  The background fabric is a beautiful white on white medallion print.

We had a meeting last night to swap centers. There were some great medallion designs I can’t wait to work on, everyone was very creative! Doris did a little bird theme too, and I got to get her medallion to work on first. I love looking at these cute little spring birdies! Aren’t they cute? Good job, Doris!

I think I can show you the centers for now, but after this, might not be able to share these until they are done…we’re going to try to keep the progress a surprise until we reveal each others completed quilts.