by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Project Quilting 3:4 Barn Quilt

February 26th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (5 Comments)

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!

Easy Quilt from the DIY Dish

January 4th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Quilting - (0 Comments)

I love Kim & Kris at the DIY Dish! They are fun to watch and have great ideas…if you haven’t seen their show yet, you should check it out. Here’s the episode that inspired my brother’s Christmas present (don’t tell him that I made it in a day!!)

I’m going to try a new plugin to show you photos, so see below…click the first image to view them all as a nice gallery.

I love the quick results, but this was also just a really fun project. The first part was just choosing a Kona solid and a variety of small coordinates from which I cut  3.5″ squares. I marked a grid on the Kona with a chalk pencil. With my large table, I was able to do this almost all at once. Then I sandwiched the marked top with batting and the same solid backing, using basting spray. Then the most fun, I arranged the small squares within the grid and stuck them in place with a little glue stick. Brennan helped! He applied glue, I stuck down a square, I lifted the next one, he applied glue, I stuck down a square…

Quilting was pretty quick too, and very satisfying to see it come together so fast. I quilted a grid 1/4″ in from each edge of the squares all the way down the rows and across the columns. Bind it, wash it, done. It frayed in the wash and crinkled up like a vintage quilt and it will probably get even more raggy with use, but it’s really soft and wonderful that way. I think it suits my brother real well.

Composition Book Covers

January 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)

I love this for a quick quilting project that looks amazing! Here’s the tutorial I used, from the Bloomin’ Workshop. It worked so well, I made three this holiday season, and if I had had more time, I would have made more. So, next school supply season, stock up on the plain composition books with the black and white covers! (I got mine for 10 cents each on school supply clearance!)

These first two were teacher gifts for the great women who teach Brennan at preschool…

fronts, backs

The inside flap, a good place to show off your quilting and tuck a little note or card.
I made this one first, for my niece, Amaria. She enjoys writing, so I knew she would love it. I also made her a matching zip pouch and filled it with fancy pens and pencils (but I forgot to take a picture of that!)

Bookmark that tutorial, it’s a great project for practicing your quilting and using your scraps.

Free Motion Quilting Project

December 8th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Design | Quilting | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Recognize this?

Well, if you quilt, you should! It’s a great source of inspiration for free motion quilting! From Leah Day’s blog Free Motion Quilting Project.
The above is a pic of the place to go to see all Leah’s designs in a Flickr gallery. Handy for finding what you want on a quilt…then go back to her blog to watch the video on how to make it…Easy! Free Motion Quilting Design Flickr Gallery

How about this?

Free Motion Quilting Project

Well, you probably don’t because I just designed it. It’s Leah’s new logo for her blog. I hope you see more of it now and visit her blog often.

She wrote a nice post about it here, with a link to my professional graphic design site and a button you can copy to put in the sidebar of your blog, if you have one!

Fall Placemats

November 6th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

I just finished a whirlwind of inspiration that ended with a few really pretty fall placemats; perfect for Thanksgiving! Before I go back to it and finish enough for our family meal, I had to tell my quilting friends about this idea!! Maybe you’d like to whip a few up for your fancy dinner. Seriously, I thought of this at 11 a.m. this morning and I’m already made three and wrote this post, they’re that quick!

Here’s where my inspiration started…my beautiful fall fabric stash!

I cut them up into little pieces. Ranging from 1″ – 2″ in various squares and rectangles, done with a scissors for a little imperfection and a lot more fun for me.

Then I made a simple placemat out of linen. (I got a big nice stash of it at a garage sale this summer!)

I cut two linens 11.5″ x 16.5″, one batting the same size — sandwiched, pinned and sewed around the edge leaving an opening for turning. Turned it inside out and topstitched the edges; twice just to look special.

Lastly, the fun step…I stitched on the little pieces. I just used a straight stitch close to the edge (1/8″ I think.)

Snip the threads and it’s done!

I didn’t cover the whole placemat, just the one side, so it will be better for putting a plate on and it looks a little modern being asymmetrical!

You could call them “Ticker Tape” placemats, because the technique has been done before. I think Amanda Jean of “Crazy Mom Quilts” started it. Here’s her great story about it. And Sew Mama Sew did a cute doll quilt with it. I just looked at the dates of those posts and they’re pretty old, so I guess I’m behind the times, but the technique is really fun and was a great way to dress up my linens with some beautiful fall colors!

Now, how many for dinner, Mom?!

Group Projects at the Quilt Show

October 7th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

In addition to the quilts that I made at the show, I wanted to show you the ones my small group, “Seams Sew Easy,” entered the guild show.

This first one is by Lisa Flyr. She made the applique center and each member of our group made a “round” around that. Lisa then finished it with beautiful quilting, entered the show AND won a third prize ribbon! Yeah us! In case you’re wondering, I did the round with the little embroidered houses in the corners. They are straight off a quiltie design! (You may have to click to open it larger to see those!)

The next one was made by Teresa Coady. She loves wildly colorful things, so we had a lot of fun playing with color on this one! I made the applique hearts, because I love Teresa and our group so much!! Lisa quilted this one as well, she’s our resident quilting expert!

Lastly is the Veteran’s quilt we made together. The Des Moines Area Quilter’s Guild challenged its members to make quilts with patriotic themes to give to the Veterans home in Des Moines. The goal was 150 quilts so that each resident there would have their own quilt. I read at the show that we reached and exceed our goal, with 160+ quilts!

Veronica chose the fabrics, each of us pieced some blocks, I pieced the blocks together with the borders, Lisa quilted it, and I think Dawn sewed on the binding…a true group effort! Not the best pic, because they were draped over the edge of bleachers, but a nice quilt, huh?!

I was just thinking I should share a photo of my group, but realized I don’t have one that is very current. That’ll be my assignment for our next meeting. My small group is amazing!!

Blogs and Quilting and more

September 10th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Inspiration | Quilting | Uncategorized - (3 Comments)

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately, but I have had a few projects saved up to share. But first, I’m excited that my friend Tricia started a blog, so I want to welcome her to blogland!! Tricia, I hope you truly enjoy blogging about all the quilting I know you love! I look forward to reading your posts at…you’ve already got a great start!

And since I noticed her “Small Blog Meet” button, I’m joining in the fun….click the button to be taken to some other “Small Blogs” and maybe you’ll discover somebody new to get to know.
Small Blog Meet

If you’re here from the Small Blog Meet, welcome!! I’m Emma. I’ve been a quilter for I don’t know for sure, but about 12 years. I have a little etsy shop called Quilties, that keeps me making fun little projects. But most of the things I quilt aren’t for the shop, I really just love to quilt. I always have way too many projects going at once. And by that I mean that every time I make my “To Do” list, it’s at least 20 projects deep! Some of them don’t get finished, but most of them eventually do! I blame my project ADD on the fact that I’m squeezing in quilting in the short spare moments I have apart from my 2 boys (10 and 4) and busy husband, my graphic design business and the housework, yard & garden.

I belong to the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild and a small group formed from that and I almost always have something to share at our monthly meetings. Right now we’re all looking forward to our AQS quilt show coming the end of this month! It’s a really awesome national show, which our guild just happens to get to share. I have several quilts that will be in that guild show, but two I have to finish before the deadline, so we’ll see if they get in!

Just last month we had the Iowa State Fair to show quilts in. Here’s what that’s like…

(Go ahead and click the photo to see it bigger, it will open a new window) Mine is the second from the right, the on-point starburst sampler. Yeah, they pack lots in, right?! It was kind of a fun treasure hunt to find your own quilts among the masses. The tiger on the floor is mine.

Exciting too, when we found them with ribbons.

That’s my only ribbon, on the crazy quilt pillow I made for Project Quilting last season. (I love Project Quilting at Kim’s Crafty Apple, by the way, if you don’t know what it is yet, be sure to check it out whenever she starts it up again…very fun weeklong challenges!)

Some of my friends did very well! Veronica got three ribbons on her three entries, including this blue!

My newest quilting friend, Linda (her blog is Flourishing Palms) also got the blues.

Isn’t this one gorgeous?! Don’t think it’s mine, Linda Hungerford made this one too!

And here is Tricia, with her ribbon-winning quilt behind her and cute, funny face!

Oh, I was going to show you some bags I’ve been working on lately, but it’s getting late! I better save that for the next blog post! But thanks for reading this far, new friends and old…I’d love it if you came back to see, so if you haven’t already,  join up with me or subscribe or even just email me at emma(at) so we can keep in touch!

Take care,

p.s. Here’s what Brennan and I saw on our way to his preschool this morning!

Design Wall, Finally

September 1st, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (4 Comments)

Almost my only complaint about my studio space has been that it has so many windows that there isn’t enough wall space for storage. I know, I know, I can hardly admit that I sometimes think it has TOO MANY WINDOWS! But practically speaking, without a closet, I need more wall space for storage AND I’ve always wanted a design wall and could never figure out where to put one. Then it became clear, I would just have to cover a window. I’d been mulling this one over for quite a while, years probably, and finally settled on this solution…so when Dave said he was going to the hardware store Saturday, I jumped at the chance! So this weekend my husband put up this design wall for me!

It’s a simple roller window shade. With spray adhesive, I covered it in white flannel. The hardware was a little tricky, since the flannel made the shade much thicker than the original depth of the bracket, but my husband figured it out. He’s good at that kind of tinkering!

It is over the window that goes from the house into the studio, so I will not be able to keep it unrolled most of the time. (That would make my dining room feel like a cave without windows…but that’s the beauty of it being on a roller shade, I can roll it up any time!)

Here it is in use already!

And just for fun, here’s a new teddy I made. He’s flannel, I was just having so much fun with my flannel design wall, I pulled out some other flannel and made a bear. He’s listed on etsy here.


Reiman Gardens Quilt Show 2011

August 8th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

Now an annual event, I love the Reiman Gardens Quilt Show at Iowa State University! Beautiful garden quilts, beautiful gardens & butterflies all in one afternoon!! My boys even enjoyed our trip! Here’s just a few photos for inspiration…be sure to click them to see each one bigger.

Janet Pitman “For Frieda”…spectacular coleus!

Also by Janet below, “Butterfly Garden.” She really has a way with batiks!

Sandi Petsche “Flourishes”

Conal and Brennan were fascinated with the butterflies, both in the display case and the atrium.

Then out in the gardens, we saw our favorite butterfly, the monarch!

And there was a little fun splashed in, a beetle and some giant bugs!!

Look at that blue sky! It was a gorgeous day. Too hot and muggy to stay outside long, but at least it was pretty! We went to the pool later to compensate for the sweltering heat. All around a wonderful Sunday with my boys!

Taking Orders!

August 7th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

I’ve been making a few custom items that I’m excited about…

Keychains for Quill and Quilt, a Bed & Breakfast that specializes in retreats for quilters and writers. Now this place has really special room keys.

And some custom zip pouches too! I’m still working on the others, (pieces all over my studio table right now), so I only have one to show…

My client is very talented at selecting fabrics, don’t you think?! I love working with such luscious colors. I added a sturdy handle (with batting inside), so these bags will be great for taking along on kayaking adventures.

Doing custom orders is pretty nice, I love knowing who they will go to and what they will be used for. It helps me make choices to make them just perfect for the customer!! In the case of the keychains, I actually looked at photos of the rooms and color-coordinated the fabrics to the decor! I added the names of the rooms to the center block of each quilt AND even used the font from their logo, to make them uniquely belong to the Quill and Quilt.

If you like something in my shop and would buy it if only it matched your couch better (just an example)…let me know! I’d love to make something special just for you!