by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter
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Project Quilting 4:6 Spring!

March 29th, 2013 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)
PQspringimprov2alt

So sad that this is the last challenge of Project Quilting Season 4. I had a busy week in store, including a trip to Minnesota, so I went for a smallish project, something I knew I could get finished in time for the deadline. I based my inspiration on this piece, which just sold from my etsy shop. (I was sad to see it go!) The challenge was simple, “Spring”! (more…)

Project Quilting 3:3 Tools

February 12th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)
mmmmpie1

mmmm PIE

For the Project Quilting Challenge theme of “Tools”, I chose pie-making tools as my subject. Pies are a big deal in my family; my mom is an expert pie-maker. We all love to eat pies on holidays. I have been making them for years and I’m fine at it, but it’s never quite as good as my mom’s pie. This year for Christmas she gave me a few tools of the trade, so maybe someday my pies will come close to the quality of hers!

I also enjoy making pies because it seems like such an old-fashioned homemaker-thing to do, so I made this quilt a little old-fashioned too with hand-quilting and a little primitive style. Because of all the hand-stitching I planned to do (and to give it a more kitcheny heritage) the quilt sandwich is made with kitchen-towel woven cotton for the batting. That made it a breeze to stitch through, but gave it a nice quilt weight too.

This mini quilt is 16″ x 19″

I gave it some three-dimensional details, such as the braid for the pie crust….I wish I could make pretty fluted crust edges like my mom can do!! The pastry blender has real wires. They are plastic-coated wires so they won’t rust on my quilt! The rolling pin is stuffed to be slightly rounded. The rolling cloth is the same kitchen towel fabric that is inside the quilt. I hemmed it before sewing on the appliqué to make it look more like a kitchen cloth.

One of my favorite features is the bottom border fabric. It is a leftover from the first curtain I made from my very first kitchen!

I hung it in my dining room recently because I had to wash my other cafe curtain. Look at that cute patchwork! It’s so fun to see old fabric like that be put to another good use. I love my new PIE quilt!

See the other Project Quilting entries at www.KimsCraftyApple.blogspot.com or The Project Quilting Flikr Group.

Oh, and I think you should see my mom, Ginny, the master pie-maker that inspired me to make this quilt. Here she is with her grandson. I’m pretty sure there was a pie in the oven when this photo was taken!

Strawberry Fields Forever!

January 28th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)
strawberryfields1

Project Quilting 3:2 – be inspired by the title of a song

I had a piano book called “The Most Beautiful Songs Ever” open on my lap and thought that was a good place to choose a title from. There were lots of very cheesy, mucky titles about love and beauty and willow and stars…but then I asked Dave for a “visual” song title and this was his first idea. Brilliant!! I’m so glad I asked him. I wanted to make a totally recognizable “Strawberry Fields” quilt and I think I love it!  I listened to the song at least six times through while working on this.

It’s mostly improvisational. I just cut some rolling hills and arranged them right onto the batting and quilted them together. I didn’t even have the size nailed down when I started. Then I cut out a bunch of little strawberry parts while on the phone with my mom! I arranged them and stitched them on in a deliberatively sketchy way. I practiced that first on a separate piece, because I really loved my hills and didn’t want to wreck them. It almost could have been complete without the strawberries. But when I placed a strawberry on the fields, it made me smile and giggle out loud, so I knew it was right!

Then I had just a small chunk of that perfectly psychedelic binding fabric. So I chose to do a single layer, fused binding cut with a wavy rotary cutter, because I had to make it fit!  The finished quilt is 10.5″ x 18″ I made a challenge to myself that no side could be more than 20″ this time, because last time I started too big! Then I had to trim the sides a little because the binding fabric was too short! But I only used scraps and I’m proud of it!

Ok, so if you aren’t playing along with Project Quilting, I just have to tell you…on a Tuesday night, when usually I would be sitting around watching tv or cleaning the house I decided to start thinking about PQ and launched into this truly wonderful evening of quilting and being creative with time I otherwise wouldn’t have used for myself. It was a real treat, got my creative juices flowing and really energized my whole week!  The one week deadline may sound crazy, but it sure eliminates the UFO problem and I end up really enjoying the process from start to FINISH!

PQshinyplace01

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!

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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!!

http://cedarcanyontextiles.com/crossing-borders-with-divas/

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!!

Project Quilting 2:6

March 26th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

Large Scale Fabrics Challenge

Finally, I have a project to tell you about!!! I have had a rough March as far as getting things done, but I’ve had lots of things in the works. I’ll tell you about more of them later, first I have to show you this challenge project, I love it!

The challenge was to use a large scale fabric. Here’s mine. I loved that white mum in the center and the very elegant leaves.

So I came up with a plan to make a three-dimensional version of the mum. I had socked away this “Snow Mum” pattern from Amy Butler a while ago, so I had to go search it out. I also had this paper-piecing pattern for a circle of flying geese I made for another project. (I’ll show you that whole project later!)

I modified it to have more background and eliminated the geese to make this background.

Here you can also see that I quilted around the designs in the background fabric, since they were so subtle in contrast, but the real story behind the quilt, so I had to make them stand out more. I think it really worked. Even white leaves on cream are visible when quilted around!

Here’s the mum placed on the background! It’s made from two layers of wool blend felt fused together, then the individual petals cut out, sewn down the centers a little to give them curve and then sewn to a circle one by one. My sewing machine couldn’t stitch through all those layers of felt without skipping a lot of stitches, so I ended up stitching them all on by hand. The center has some stained brown wooden beads, because the fabric design had those brown seedy centers, too.

I loved it! It fit perfectly to make just those spinning orange star points pop, but still shows plenty of the background fabric! Then I thought it was getting a little too symmetrical and circular, so I added a little interest with a blue leaf branch. I made those out of felt with a real nice blue/green cotton coordinate fused on, then cut out and sewn to florist wire, so I could make them pose just perfectly!

The last finishing touch was part of the challenge, it required a stripe or plaid to be used somewhere in the piece. Perfect, I love stripe bindings and this pretty peach/orange subtle stripe coordinated perfectly and added a little more spin yet. I cut it on the bias, so the stripes slant like a candy cane AND it wrapped around the circle perfectly smooth without any tucks!!

I’m so proud!

And it looks really beautiful in my studio.

Hardware CHALLENGE!

February 28th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

I just finished another Project Quilting weekend…and it was a toughy! I’ve had trouble with this one from the very beginning. I started thoughts on about three different projects and when I had a great idea…it still didn’t go very smoothly! BUT, the results were really worth it!! So, oh well, better luck next time!

Here’s the finished quilt.
The voting is up here.

and the story…

Why does spray paint come in such basic colors? That’s the thought I had in the hardware store looking at the rows of red, yellow, blue, and white. Moving a little further down the aisle, yes, there are the paint chips that offer a wider rainbow of colors…but still, I started thinking about my stash of fabric and the wide range of possibilities there in comparison to that aisle of spray paint!! How lucky are quilters?!

This quilt is 45″ x 33″. It is all pieced. There is a clear vinyl pocket on the bottom, holding real paint swatches from the hardware store (who can resist grabbing those as you walk by?!) The 1″ inner blue border is the exact blue of painter’s tape (the third item from the challenge).

Here are some other photos. The inspiration:

Here are some of the working stages. I started with the center, an abstracted version of the spray paint cans on the shelves of the hardware store. I sketched it unto a big piece of brown paper and then started to piece it. It was basically free-style piecing…making stripes and then laying them down on the sketch and trimming to the right size.

Then I wanted to incorporate the paint swatches from the hardware store and I wanted to include the actual swatches, they were just so beautiful. At the hardware store they are stored in clear slots so they make a beautiful visual impact, so I did the same thing with a vinyl pocket!

The painter’s tape border was pretty fun! I needed some tape for quilt-sandwiching anyway, so I picked some up at the hardware store and held it up at the fabric store until I found the perfect blue. The size is 1″, because that was the most common size tape to buy at the hardware store!

Lastly the outer border was to be a wide array of quilting fabric. I started just trimming the size I wanted out of all my scraps and laying them out in a nice sequence. Before you know it I had a rainbow going and started to get obsessive about making it a continuous rainbow around the quilt!! This ended up taking the most time and I was really feeling crazy while working on it. But now I know that it really made the quilt spectacular!

You could say that I was really crazy when I went to my computer and drafted the corner pieces for paper-piecing so that they would turn around so nicely! But I think that was worth it for the wow factor too!

I don’t know why I can’t just think of quick and easy projects! Next challenge, my extra challenge to myself will be to come up with something so clever and brilliant because of it’s simplicity and ease of construction, not necessarily the coolest idea.

’til then, I’m proud of what I accomplished last week!

Go see the other entries and vote for your favorite too.
Kim's Crafty Apple

Project Quilting Winner!

February 5th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

My Buttonwillow quilt won first place “Judges Choice” in Project Quilting this week!! Yippee!

Here’s the link to the announcement.

“And in First place taking home $10 to FabricsNQuilts AND $15 to FabricFascination with an average score of 9.4375 is:

Buttonwillow, CA

Quilties!

Here’s what the Judges had to say about ‘Buttonwillow’:

Judge 1: This is a very clever use of the name of your town. Great play on the word, love it.

I love the button border and am glad you opted for the extra color. Your 3D leaves are great.

Judge 2: I really like how you chose to go tall and narrow, and focus on a macro view instead of the entire tree. The tan fabric gives a great sense of place. Keeping the leaves rough-edged gives a natural feel and they are cohesive with the fringed edges of the linen, which is a great texture. I love the layering of the leaves and how they go 3-d at the bottom. The randomness of the button colors, sizes, and placement gives nice pop to the piece.

Judge 3: Great project. The dimension of the willow leaves is wonderful and I love the way they float over the edges of your quilt. The brown linen with the fringed edge gives another dimension. The buttons make a great frame. I’m glad you mixed the colors.

Judge 4: What a beautiful little wall hanging. “Buttonwillow” certainly lends itself to a literal approach to the challenge, and I love the fact that it bridges nature and craftiness! Your technique for creating the willow branches and leaves was spot-on – you achieved a very realistic and yet stylized design. The buttons around the outside add a lot of character to this piece, and I believe your decision to introduce a wider variety of color was the right one. My favorite part of this piece was your choice of the brown linen and the decision to fray the edges. It’s not an “in your face” detail but, once noticed, it adds that special little touch. Great work!”


I love what the judges said! I really like what Judge 4 said, that it “bridges nature and craftiness” because that’s something that describes me a lot. I love nature and often choose to celebrate it in my quilts!

Kim didn’t include one of the judges criticisms in her summation, so I will. Judge 3 said “My one criticism is that the edges seem to wave a little.  Maybe it could be blocked?” and that is really true. It was straight until I sewed on all those buttons!! I think I will “block” it and see if I can fix that. That means I will wet it down and lay it out flat to dry, stretching it straight if I need to. I read someplace that one blogger blocks all her quilts! I don’t know if I’ll start doing that, but when I need to, at least there’s a fix that won’t involve cutting it up and starting over!  Here’s one of the tutorials I read about quilt blocking. And here’s what Leah Day has to say about blocking your quilt.

Now I get to go pick out some new fabric with my gift certificates for winning! Yeah!!

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!