by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

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!!

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!!

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!

Show Your Colors Quilt

December 31st, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

I finished a pretty quilt to show you. I started it in October and showed you a few blocks here and here, but here’s the completed quilt. (click to see it large!) It’s an original design in layout, however the blocks were from various sources. Each block was a major undertaking, and I had a lot of fun challenging myself with each one.

Sources: “Happy Flowers” by Hideo Kubota Quilter’s Newsletter F/M ’09, “Sunburst Trio” by Edyta Sitar American Patchwork & Quilting Aug ’08, “Shooting Star” also by Edyta Sitar purchased pattern, “Sunflowers” by Carol Doak The Quilter Magazine Sept ’03, “New York Beauty” by Mabeth Oxenreider Fons & Porter J/A ’04, Traditional Dresden Plates and New York Beauty blocks self-drafted.

Project Quilting Winner!

July 19th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

I just have to brag a little…I won the Project Quilting challenge this week!

First, I won the public vote, with 31 out of 115 votes, yeah! Thank you to all my friends and fellow quilters who voted for my entry!

Then I won the Judges Vote too!!

“First Place Winner is QUILTIES with her Firework’s quilt and an average score of 8.83!

Here’s what the judges had to say:

Judge 1: I love the choice of the batik fabric for the background and the thread and paint work turned out beautifully. The skyline is a wonderful addition as well. I would love to see this in person. The design is well balanced also.

Judge 2: Nice use of mixed techniques to make a simple, but very effective project. The beads and sequins and star charms add an extra sparkle.

Judge 3: I just plain liked this one best. I think it shows that she has an artist’s “eye” to pick a great fabric, as well as great choice of techniques and embellishments to maximize the fireworks effect. The silhouette at the bottom “weights” the bottom edge – I like it.

Judge 4: I love Fireworks and I love this piece.  Your son is so lucky to have this in his room.  The silhouette is unbelievable.  This piece is my favorite of the week AND I feel this week’s entries are the best yet!  Keep up the great work.”

For all the other entries, go to the Flickr Project Quilting Group.

Project Quilting 1:4

July 11th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

I just completed another Project Quilting entry that I’m quite proud of. The theme is “Stars over America” and that was really the only guideline. The only other rule was that you could use red, white and blue, but you had to use at least one other color (and that you didn’t have to use red, white and blue).

My interpretation the fireworks that were blazing over America everywhere on July 4th (or 5th in Urbandale due to rain!) My boys had the best time with the fireworks this year and I am giving this to my three year old, Brennan, who saw fireworks for this first time this year. The background is a deep blueish, rainbow batik that looked just like the night sky to me, and has big flowerbursts that look like fireworks. Then I used metallic silver and pink paintsticks to do some of the fireworks and threadplay to do the rest. I used shiny rayon threads, that really sparkle and added a little more sparkle with beads and sequins. The silhouette on the bottom symbolizes with America with its trees and houses.

Close-ups to show the paintstik portions, I did with hand-cut freezer paper stencils and quilted fireworks of just thread. I added sequins and beads to a few of the starbursts, and a couple of silver star charms to go with the theme.

That’s the happy boy who gets this “beeeeauooootiful” quilt!

If you’d like to see any of the other beautiful entries, go to the flickr pool.

And pretty soon you will be able to vote at Kim’s Crafty Apple, but I don’t think it’s up yet tonight.

Flying Geese

May 5th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

I took a class a while back from Joann Belling hosted by the Des Moines Area Quilter’s Guild about a slick way to make Flying Geese units and another block she calls “A Brave New World.” Her teaching was so engaging and fun, she included many tips and tricks for doing things as efficiently as possible. Clipping the corners as you clip the thread, rotary cutting without a ruler when a straight cut isn’t critical and chain piecing are just a few of the time-saving tenants she preached.

Well, Connecting Threads just posted a great tutorial that is just like Joann’s method for doing the geese…so you better go check it out if you don’t know how to do it yet!

Here’s some photos of my first blocks made with her technique. I just used some scraps I had ready in time for class. Then later I found the beautiful floral center fabric coordinated very well! Such luck!

Lost Quilt Story

September 28th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

So, I recently lost a quilt…sounds like something I did, but no, it was stolen from us by the burglar who stole our computers this summer. It was the quilt that I made for my husband for his birthday just last year.

Here’s an in progress photo.

Dave's Halloween QuiltHe was not ready to say goodbye to it!! So, I’m already working on the replacement. I hope to make it even better than the last one and it’s really fun to work on. I love the fun Halloween prints and this sugar bowl block is a fun one.

While I don’t really believe that we will ever get the lost quilt back, it was pretty cool to find out that there’s a website out there dedicated to doing just that. has a catalog of lost quilts and an archive of quilts that have been found. There are some cool stories and some sad ones. Here’s the page decdicated to Dave’s quilt:

New Fabric & Quiltie in Progress

February 12th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All - (1 Comments)

I got some pretty new fabric and promptly started another quiltie!


I hope the embroidery stands up to the border fabric, though. I’ll have to make sure to quilt it right so that it stands out!

New Quilties Products

January 7th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

Now that the holidays are over, I’m thinking up new themes for quilties…and new products!! My great idea last night was for these fabric postcards. They’re not the timtex versions from the popular book, I’ve just zigzagged my quiltie right to a paper postcard! They feel really nice and sturdy, will be easy to write on and go through the mail well!! I’m very excited about the possibilities this opens up.


The peace dove is a stamped image, made with blue and green fabric markers.

I printed a nice vintage postcard design on the back of the second one.
postcard back

So, what do you think of my new product??

Bird Quiltie

December 19th, 2008 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

I had originally drawn this little birdie for a holiday quiltie! Don’t ask me why, because only one setting I’ve put him in has turned out very holiday…the rest are, well, not. Like this one! Don’t let the evergreen bow fool you!

And there’s another light blue one that will definitely have to wait for spring for it’s debut!

Here’s the holiday version.

So, is there one right setting for this bird?! I guess he’s an all-weather friend!