by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Project Quilting Challenge

April 18th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

Kim Lapacek from Kim’s Crafty Apple issued a challenge on her blog called Project Quilting. In the spirit of “Project Runway” she gave a tight deadline (a week), limited budget ($10) and an inspiration (the shoofly block) and this is the project I came up with…

(Click photo to see it bigger)

I used some funky, highly-contrasty, geometric prints I had in my stash. The design is a large shoofly block in the center, turned on point and then surrounded with smaller shoofly blocks and one in the center. The challenge also specified that it had to include a stripe. I was originally just going to bind it with the stripe, but I am glad I decided to really highlight that stripe in the large shoofly block.

I’m excited to say that I learned a new technique for the quilting of this project!! Charlotte Warr Anderson’s Book “One Line at a Time” described how to quilt those repetitive geometric quilting lines, following a template and stitching around it one line at a time. It was really fun to do and I like the way the quilting echos the geometric qualities of the fabric prints.

Here’s a look at the back so you can really see the quilting lines.

I’m so proud to have gotten this done in a week, that is highly unlike me! I usually let things sit a while in between stages and flit between projects before getting anything done. This one was a straight through, plow! (reminiscent of the retreat…perhaps I should run with this new trend!)

If you’d like to see what other quilters did with Kim’s Challenge, here is the link to the Flickr Pool.

Making Shades

January 25th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)

The window blinds in my studio have been breaking one by one. It’s a sunroom, so there are 6 of them to go! I’m taking it as an interesting challenge to come up with some homemade curtains!

So far I have two ideas, one is from Kaffe Fassett‘s book “Passionate Patchwork”. It’s a shabby chic pastel patchwork curtain which I’ve already started. Here’s a peek.

As you can see, I’ve got three rows done, well actually now it’s four, but this is the photo I took yesterday. I love the way the sun shines through and makes an extra pattern of squares. (click on the first image to see what I mean!) The squares are purposely a little rough and raw edges are all exposed, but that’s why I say “shabby chic”, it will fit in well in my place of work!  But I’m afraid a whole wall of all these little squares would be a little overwhelming, so I think I better just do one window…then something else on the other windows. Maybe solids with borders or valances made of those squares. What do you think?

The second idea is a curtain with some pockets for small lightweight storage. (needlebook, tape measure,  spools of thread, little scissors, etc.) I saw the idea on, but I don’t want it to LOOK anything like their version, which is primary blocks of color. So I’m still working this idea out. Any suggestions?

Quilting Designs

October 2nd, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All - (1 Comments)

I’m finishing up my entries for the Des Moines Area Quilter’s Guild Quilt Show, which is fast approaching! (October 28, see here for details) And most of what I have left to do is quilting. So, I thought I would share a trick that helps me figure out my quilting designs. quiltdrawIt’s a dry-erase board. Practicing the design I want to do gets it into my hands and I’m more ready to do it on the sewing machine. It also helps visualize the results, of course. Thanks, Lisa for sharing this technique with me. She’ll have to fill me in on who taught it to her!

I also just discovered a blog you should check out, all about machine quilting filler designs. ONE EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR!! Can you believe it?!

Go here to check it out!


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:

Warning: Kids, Cats, & Thread Don’t Mix

January 20th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All - (2 Comments)

I just got done hiding all my thread under lock and key! This is why…kids, cats, & thread don’t mix! Three spools of thread got wrapped around my studio table and chairs, tangled in the little boy’s legs, and batted around by the cat until I couldn’t salvage any of it. Argh! My husband would ask, what I was doing that I didn’t notice this happening…but you wouldn’t believe how quickly kids and cats can get into trouble together!!! 



So, I’ll be locking up my thread from now on (not the kid or the cat!)

Stamping and Coloring on Fabric

January 20th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All | Crafts - (0 Comments)

Yesterday I played with crayons and stamps on fabric! I have this lovely stained-glass look stamp, which I stamped with Fabrico black ink. After ironing that to set the ink, I colored in the images with fabric crayons. Look how the coloring looks rather dull and rough until I set the crayons with the iron too…It was so fun to see what the iron would do to the crayons, I tried it several times! I think I’m going to make these little images into something, so the last photo is finding the right fabric to go with them. 





What do you think I should make them into?? Pin cushions? Little quilts? Key chains? Tiny wall art? hmmmm…

Sewing Room Decor

January 9th, 2009 | Posted by Emma in All - (0 Comments)

I love sewing room decor! I used to have a framed photo that was just a scissors, but I loved it. Now my sewing room has a series of quilt pictures framed that were just pages from a calendar. I’ll have to take a picture of it for you when the sun is out. I also have a bulletin board full of quilt clippings…anyway, my latest quiltie celebrates my love of sewing decor!

The photo is a little deceiving, because it’s there laying on my table. I think it would be so cute on the wall behind my sewing machine! Too bad there are only windows surrounding my sewing machine. (But I can’t complain about that!)

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??

Non-colorfast Floss

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

So, if your hand-dyed embroidery floss says that it is not colorfast, it is REALLY not colorfast!! That is the moral of the story.

This pretty variegated floss was really fun to stitch with and made a beautiful little honeysuckle, but the fun ended there. I spritzed with cold water, as usual, to remove the water-erasable marking pen I used to draw on my design. The next day, this is what turned out.


So sad, but I should have known really.
At least I know I like the new design and I’ll just have to try it again with some tried and true DMC floss.

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!