by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Quiltie Bear Workshop

January 10th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Crafts - (0 Comments)

This was my Sunday, a Quiltie Bear Workshop! I made six!

The plan: to make some Valentiney bears for my Quilties shop…

I built them assembly-line style. Conal helped with some of the tracing!

The actual result: a bear for each of my boys, THEN quilties bears!

Here is Brennan loving his bear. When I started taking photos of the other bears, he insisted on getting his picture taken…Mario costume and all. (Yes, he likes to wear his Halloween costume still, just for play! he he he)

Go to Quilties to see the finished bears… a little later today. Teddy Bears make great Valentine’s Day gifts!! (hint hint)

I love Pincushions

January 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Crafts | Quilting - (1 Comments)

That’s right, pin cushions are not only practical, they’re a lot of fun to have around and fun to make too. This treasury by Kim Lapacek got me started thinking about how much I love pin cushions…

And if you like making them, like I do, here’s a round-up of some pretty nice tutorials I found online.

Wrist Pincusion By Planet June

Best Babyfood Jar Pincushion by Craft Pudding

Anna Marie Horner’s Wild Flower Pincushion at

Wow, this one is really cool…an oldie but goodie from Monkeyroom

Yo Yo pincushion by Craftypod…gotta love this one!

Hmmm, I have too many projects to get into making more pincushions. But small projects like this are easy to sneak in when you need a break from the big ones, so go ahead!

Here are the pincushions I use on a daily basis…the stacked pin cushions I made from an American Patchwork and Quilting pattern a few years ago, the cake shaped pin cushion that was a gift from my friend Doris and the little knit one I found at a garage sale for 10 cents.

Happy Sewing!

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.

A Tote Bag Giveaway!

December 20th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All - (8 Comments)

I’m pretty joyful today! It’s almost Christmas and I’ve had a lot of fun making presents and packages…the Christmas tree is right by my desk sparkling and looking pretty…so I’d like to try my first blog giveaway and have an excuse to send another package!

If you’d like to win one of my reusable shopping bags, here’s what you can do:

1. Make a comment on this post about anything you like in my Quilties Shop.

2. Like Quilties on Facebook and then leave a comment here that you did. Look in the right sidebar for a link.

3. Join this Site with Google Friend Connect and leave a comment on this post to let me know you did.

That’s three chances to win.

I’ll close comments on December 26, and draw the winner on December 27. Then after all the gift giving is over, there will still be one more in the mail for the lucky winner!

Gift Bag Tutorial

I also decided to make a quick little tutorial for the holiday gift bags I had so much fun making and wrapping gifts in. They’re really easy and you can have lots of fun mixing and matching festive fabrics and picking out a big perfect button.

See the projects tab on top for a link or click here.

Handmade Christmas Part 1

December 12th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Crafts - (0 Comments)

I LOVE making Christmas presents! There is nothing as fun as spending the whole day playing “Santa’s Workshop” and making as many presents as I can. I remember my mom trapping herself in the “sewing room” (a very small laundry room off the kitchen) and not letting anyone in while she was playing “Santa’s Workshop” so I know I’m not the only one who loves this. I have a very big list to get through and I hope I can do it in time for Christmas. I’ll show you a few of my creations as I am able…and I’ve also found quite a few ideas online to share with you.

The DIY Basic Bag…

The first thing I did was this pretty handbag. I made it from the DIY Dish’s “Basic Bag” tutorial. It’s super easy and fun, but I think it looks complicated and fancy, not basic at all. Check it out here. It’s really neat that you need 2 yards of coordinating fabric, how easy is that for shopping?! Although, you’ll see that with mine, I had trouble finding full yards in my stash, so I used a jelly roll to first make a yard of striped fabric, then make the bag.

Aren’t they pretty fabrics?! The jelly roll was a really nice one I received from Lisa at my quilting small group’s Christmas part last year…everyone loved the fabrics so much and passed them around, I knew they would like something made from it! So this was the gift I brought to this year’s gift exchange!

The Zippered Pouch…

Another perfect little gift is the zippered pouch. I made a few for my etsy shop and I may be giving away a few for Christmas! They’re fun to make and easy to customize for whatever style you think your recipient might like. Make it the right size for a handheld video game, phone or other gadget and it’s sure to be a hit!

This is the tutorial I used and loved, by “Make It Perfect.”

Designing a Quilt

November 2nd, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

I’m designing another quilt I’ve been obsessed with when not working on Halloween…I want to give you a sneak peek.

My plan is to do all my favorite flower and starburst-shaped blocks and make them into a sampler quilt. I found a stripe fabric with colorful flowers that is my inspiration and color scheme. (I forgot to take a picture, but you’ll see it later) The patterns are assembled from all my favorite magazine projects. Things I’ve wanted to try, but not necessarily do a whole quilt of…The first, pink flower, is from Edita Sytar, who spoke at our guild meeting a few months ago. (I totally loved her!!) The next New York Beauty was in a Fons & Porter magazine. I’ll have to look up the designers for the rest of them and tell you later.

This next one I’m putting together with needle-turn appliqué, here is the outer ring. There will be a similar inner ring next. I wanted to tell you that I’ve realized how nice it is to have the right tools for needle-turn appliqué. I’m using a 50 wt. machine embroidery thread, so it’s really thin and practically disappears into the appliqué fabric. The needle is a #12 straw, also very thin and fine, so it just glides right through! Appliqué pins hold everything in place without catching the thread as you bring it around. I learned about these tips in a class by Angela Lawrence at Creekside Quilting in West Des Moines. She’s a brilliant appliquér!

That’s all for now, until I get into the studio again this weekend. Usually during the week I can only dream about quilting time, like I’m doing right now! But I really want to know, how do other quilters go about designing quilts? Do you have a whole plan before you start? I started with the blocks and now have been sketching out how to put them together into a quilt. It’s forming itself as I make the blocks. I started sketching some designs for the whole quilt, but have kept making blocks as I’m also deciding on the setting for them. Would you have drawn up the whole thing? Would you wait until you had all the blocks done to put them on a design wall and move them around?? If you’re up for a discussion, I’d love to hear about your process.

Once a Quilter, Always a Quilter

July 20th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)

Before I was a quilter, I sewed. I embroidered, made stuffed toys, sewed clothes and pillows and just liked to try projects with fabric…but I obviously didn’t know any of the rules of quilting….

I just rediscovered an old project I made 10 years ago, while waiting for my first baby. It’s reallly cute, but I obviously didn’t know what I was doing. I made a quilted wall-hanging without a stitch of QUILTING!  I remember taking it down because it had gotten saggy. It’s also a set of pockets, so after years of holding toys and small books, the fact that there was no quilting holding it together made it look bunchy and wrong.

So yesterday, I fixed it.

Because “Once a Quilter, Always a Quilter”, I couldn’t just leave a quilt un-quilted!!

Click the images to see them bigger.  And I apologize, I don’t remember where I got this idea!! I think it was a book but I can’t be certain. If I figure it out, I’ll surely let you know, because I want to give proper credit. It was a great idea! And so fun to make. Look at all those rows of fancy stitches and reverse applique that I had fun with.

It’s still not a masterpiece of quilting. The sandwich, of course, didn’t lay quite flat anymore, so there are some bunches. But I’m now proud to call this a little quilt!

Kind of funny to have finished a 10-year-old UFO that I didn’t even know was a UFO! But it shows there’s always room for improvement.

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.

Sew Sweet

June 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

HomespunIreland just made a beautiful treasury of all things pink and sew-y. I think you’ll love it, so go take a look!

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″