by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter
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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!

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.

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!