by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter
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Project Quilting 3:4 Barn Quilt

February 26th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (5 Comments)
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The theme for Project Quilting Challenge 4 of Season 3 is Barn Quilts. I did some research and found some beautiful barn quilt images from Iowa.

Luchsinger/Butler Barn, Dike Iowa

Bernie & Elaine Schnell, Parkersburg Iowa

Robert & Eileen Murra

So my concept started with a red barn sewing machine cover. I recently read that you should cover your machine to keep out dust. I’ve only ever thought of the dust that accumulates while I’m sewing, but I suppose there is just dust that will get in by sitting out too, so now I will keep it covered more while I’m not using it. I only had one good red fabric, so instead of piecing it together, I just quilted the lines for the slats of the barn wood, horizontal for most of it, vertical for the door. I added white windows and trim, like the Luchsinger barn and so many others. And I just happened to have a nice gray shingle-looking fabric for the roof. I constructed it in three pieces, the middle and two sides. The roof has a peltex stiff interfacing inside it that is pretty stiff. That way, the top is straight like a roof and the sides drape down nicely. Otherwise, I think it would have been lumpy and look more like my sewing machine than a barn.

Here are some photos.

Most barn quilts are painted onto plywood and hung as signs on the barns, so that’s how I did my barn quilts too, sort of! I painted white fabric, then sandwiched it into a little quilt and hung that on the side of the barn with some whipstitching. I like how they stand out a little from the barn. The painting was a little tricky and impossible to get totally smooth lines and pointy points. I taped it down, but it was still painting on fabric. But not as tricky as if I had tried to piece a three inch block that complicated!

Overall, I’m very happy with my new sewing machine cover! And I’m proud to have it done before the Sunday morning deadline!

Valentine’s Day Quilties

January 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)
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I love hearts, I love pink, I love flowers and roses and all things Valentine’s Day!!!! I just love it! Here’s a few of the fun things I’ve made for this fabulous holiday!

This first heart wreath quiltie sold the day after I posted it. Sad to see it go so fast. I love that border fabric!

This next one is available to purchase at my etsy shop and so are these fun sets of heart sachets (click the photos to go to the listings).

UPDATE: If you would like to make some of these cute little sachets, look above to the links bar and see Projects…I made up a pdf pattern for you! It’s not a step-by-step tutorial, because it’s really simple, and I like patterns that can print in only one page. If you make some, let me know, I’d love to hear about it!

I noticed that my roses quiltie had been in a few treasuries and favorites, so I decided to make another one. Love this border fabric too, it’s a little funky, a little vintagey and really pink!

Then you might not have noticed some of my zip pouches from earlier in January, they would be great for Valentine’s Day!

Can’t wait for Heart Day!

Happy Anniversary to Us

December 13th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)
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Sunday was my twelfth wedding anniversary! I love you, Dave!

I made this pillow for my husband. I used Tonya Ricucci’s method of improvisational piecing to make the letters in colors that look great with our couch and other couch cushions. It’s a standard size pillow, but I still made it like a quilted pillow sham, not just a standard floppy pillow case.

The close up shows the quilting. I chose to use one of Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Designs, called “Heart Ripples.” It’s ok to be cheesy on your Anniversary! Dave loved his gift!!

He got me the sweetest gift yet, a “new” clarinet! I’ve had a broken down old clarinet since I stopped playing after college, but would keep trying to get back into music over the years with no luck because it was so broken. Now, I have a perfectly working clarinet and I can play music again. It’s fun to play with my fifth grade son who is learning the trombone!

…and here’s the photo of Brennan with my creation! Like I said before, he sees the camera and wants to be in the picture! Gotta love it, I know many a kid who would rather hide or make goofy faces, so I love Brennan for his smiles!

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!

Project Quilting 2:5

March 27th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

Flying Geese Challenge

So, very sadly, I missed Challenge 5 because we had to go out of town on Thursday and I just couldn’t get this project done in time. But I had started it on the Sunday of the challenge and tried really hard to get it done in time, so I decided I just had to finish it as soon as I finished Challenge 6. Besides, I promised this one to Brennan, so I couldn’t leave it unfinished forever.

The challenge was to use the traditional flying geese quilt block in some way AND to use a complementary color scheme.

So, instead of just using the block, I decided that “Flying Geese” would be the WHOLE story behind my project. I took those flying geese triangles and turned them into REAL little flying birds in a mobile!!

Each triangle was given a beak and stuffed lightly to be a stylized goose.

For the top of the mobile,  I made a quilted circle of flying geese using paper-piecing. (I think it’s the same pattern that Dashasel used in the winning piece, although I didn’t know that at the time I was making it!!)

So, I made that circle of flying geese, sandwiched it like a real quilt, with peltex stiff interfacing to make it stiff. Then I wrapped a wooden embroidery hoop with blue satin ribbon, to really reinforce the circle and ensure it stayed stiff. I hot glued the quilted circle to the hoop. Here you can see the hanging. It was a windy day this morning, so you can’t tell, but it really hangs straight!

This photo shows how much Brennan really loves it!! I think we’ll hang it down in the play room in the basement…but he wants in the living room so we can see it “ALL THE TIME”, isn’t that sweet?!

I’m sad that I didn’t get to enter the Project Quilting contest for this round, but at least I got this great project done because of it!! Project Quilting is so great!!

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!