by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Crafty Morning

March 31st, 2013 | Posted by Emma in All | Crafts | Tutorials - (2 Comments)

Brennan frequently wants to go into the studio and make a project…regardless of the time of day. Before I even had my coffee finished this morning he wanted to start! I guess it’s my fault for making our bedtime reading a Family Fun magazine full of craft projects!

Oh but spring projects are soooo fun!!
Do you want to see what we made? (more…)

Project Journal

January 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All - (0 Comments)

This morning I sat down at my computer to print a couple photos of the projects I had finished recently to put into my Project Journal. Little did I know that it would be a full day of work, my book was sooooo far behind! I’m still not “caught up,” but I do have a lot more complete scrapbook of the projects I’ve made in the last few years. Want to peek?

I hate it when I realize that I have forgotten to take photos of something I’ve given as a gift. I missed almost everything from this Christmas. I think I may have to ask a few people to take photos of their gifts from me! Lisa did that when I came to her house the other day using the purse she gave me!!

Do you have a Project Journal or Quilt Journal? I think most of my quilting friends do. It’s good to have a record of what you’ve done, especially those that you give away. I love leafing through mine and remembering those projects I enjoyed so much!

I made my blank journal pages into a pdf… if you’d like to use them, you are welcome to! Download here.

Project Quilting 1:1

May 13th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

Yes, this is my third Project Quilting project, but they’re now calling this one Season 1, Challenge 1. I got third place last round, so I decided to keep up the momentum and try again. I made another successful project in just three days! The first day all I did was think about it. The second day I designed the blocks, cut them out and started piecing them. The third day I figured out a good way to present them all in one quilt….

So, the challenge is this: Cut 50 3″ x 5″ rectangles of any fabric and add up to 2 half-yard cuts to those for the entire quilt, including the backing and binding. You can manipulate, cut, or sew those rectangles in any way (including throwing parts out), you just need to start with those rectangles.

I chose my fabric first, some pretty batiks and a Floragrafix print. I chose 2 darks and two lights for the rectangles and two multicolor medium for the borders, backing and binding.

Then I designed my block. I turned under a 3/8″ seam allowance and folded the darks into prairie points which I decided to use for pinwheels. Then I made blocks around them with the light rectangles. After playing around a while, I decided to use the Floragrafix print for some of the light rectangles in the blocks to add interest and depth to the blocks.  I had to trim the rectangle pairs into squares before assembling, then I lined them up like a rail fence.

So now I just had the one mottled multicolor for all the backing/binding/borders, which I thought would work well, but I still cut it into two half-yard cuts to follow the challenge rules. I experimented with lots of arrangements of these four blocks. But I was somewhat stumped by the 1/2 yard pieces for the back/binding. That’s really not much fabric, and it’s long and skinny! So I decided to go with the flow and line them up on that 1/2 yard. They fit just perfectly!

I did screw it up a little by adding triangles to the end, but I really wanted it to look complete and well-finished as a table-runner. So I pieced the back to make it a little longer, added some borders to show off that multicolor batik and then sandwiched it Quiltie-style, sewing around the edges and turning it. That way I didn’t have to find enough fabric for binding strips!

I got all that done with a whole evening left to do the quilting, so I had some fun with free-motion, creating swirly wind around the pinwheels. (Click to see it bigger)

Finished piece is 48″ x 12″

Paintstik Fun

May 6th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All - (2 Comments)

I was just going to say how fortunate I was to take a fabric painting class from Nancy Kazlauckas last week, but then, I really only got to be there for a short time (due to a plumbing disaster!) but after the sump pump got fixed, I did get to do some painting…and it was really fun!!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Nancy Kazluackas, a native of my hometown, has made a name for herself in the quilting field by making beautiful quilts with Shiva Paintstiks and also Thread Calligraphy. She gave lectures and workshops for the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild this month. The Painstiks are oil paint in solid form that are fun to use for stencilling and rubbing permanent designs unto fabric. Nancy has plastic texture plates that make beautiful designs, most notably, her leaf pattern quilt.

Here’s my progress on that project:
paintstik leaves

If you haven’t already, take a look at my tutorial on stencilling with paintstiks and the finished quilt with that technique.

Decorator Fabric Fun

November 18th, 2008 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

I have had a drawer of decorator fabric swatches and scraps for many years…but haven’t paid them much attention. Now I need the drawer space for other stuff! I found a project in a BHG publication for a floor cushion and my friend Lisa brought up the idea of sensory quilts for Alzheimer’s patients…so I think I’m going to finally put those scraps to good use!!

They’re kind of ugly, and widely varied, so I hope my projects turn out ok!! Here are some photos of my table full of them! What do you think: a nice scrappy look or a mish mash?? The magazine example is a beautifully coordinated piece, that I know mine will not be, but I think it will be fun!

The floor cushion is from Better Homes and Gardens Creative Collection: Fast & Fabulous Quilting Ideas 2008, a compilation from American Patchwork & Quilting, so you may find it there too. More details on the sensory quilts when we get to that project in February.

Earth Day

April 24th, 2008 | Posted by Emma in All | Crafts - (0 Comments)

Did you do something nice for the earth on April 22?! I hope so!! If not, there’s still time…make it Earth Day everyday. Here’s a picture of my project.

My small mission for the earth is to reduce the waste of plastic shopping bags. I made this reusable tote using six plastic shopping bags, ironed together until fused. They made a heavier plastic, with a feel more like nylon. I could then sew it into a sturdier, reusable tote bag. Link to Etsy Tutorial.

My other favorite kind of reusable tote bags are the Mors Bags. I’ve made probably twenty of those out of sheets and old curtains and use them for most of my grocery shopping, those that I haven’t given away. Please visit: