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Gene Anne’s Prom Dress

It is that time of the year when the high schools are celebrating prom! There is a lot of planning and preparation involvement by many to make this day a success for our young people. Quite often this may include altering the girl’s dress. Last week on my Facebook page I posted a photo of Gene Anne’s hem of her dress that I was working on. It just needed to be taken up a bit because, who wants to worry about catching the dress on your shoes when walking, and no one wants to trip and fall! It is a relatively easy alteration. On Gene Anne’s dress the photo shows she has a 2 inch piece of plastic stabilizer on the inside of the entire hem. The purpose of this is to retain the flare at the hemline. Using a seam ripper, I took out the stitching being careful to not tear the fabric. I simply rolled the existing seam allowance up two more times, only in the front and then machine stitched it back in place using the walking foot on my sewing machine. I increase the stitch length for clothing and decrease it for quilt piecing. As you can see in the next photo this simple hemming makes a big difference and no worries of tripping!

Another typical problem area on most gowns are the hook and eye closures, usually they need a little reinforcement because this can be a concern if the thread tears and the back strap of your dress has a malfunction! No one wants to spend their day/night with a safety pin holding their dress together. A few simple stiches with a needle and button or quilting thread works very nicely.

In the next three photos you can see I worked on the shoulder seam. First I carefully opened up the seam, then I placed one strap into the other strap to shorten it, I went back strap into front and simply basted across the top. After she tried it on and it was determined this was a better fit, I stitched across the top again and using a blind stitch by hand, secured the side seams. Once again this turns out well, as we can’t even tell this was altered. This alteration was done to shorten the bodice of the dress without bringing it to close to the armpit, where it could possibly cause irritation.

In our area the ladies wear a garter for prom, sometimes at the dance the garter is worn on the dates arm. In our home we have always made the garters and not purchased them. A garter is simple and fun to make because you can choose the fabric, lace, ribbon and other bling to make it personalized. Gene Anne chose a simple style this year. The bottom is a sheer white ribbon, a strip of white lace is placed on top and using the walking foot again on the sewing machine, the 2 layers are stitched together with 1/2 inch open in the center. Next 1/4 inch white elastic is pulled through this, we use a safety pin. After this the size is determined and we sew it together, folding the ends under for a finished seam. She picked out a pale pink grosgrain ribbon and found a jewel she liked for the center of the bow we made. Both of these are stitched to the garter by hand using a sewing needle and button thread. We both think it turned out super cute!

By the morning of prom, all alterations were complete and a final pressing was done. The boutonnière and wrist corsage were picked up the day before. She did her own manicure and pedicure the night before and in the morning she did her makeup and visited the salon to have her hair done. As expected her boyfriend arrived at 10:50 a.m. and their prom day and the memories began.

Quilt as Desired…Second in Series

Quilt as desired, is that at the end of every quilt pattern? I think so! That can be daunting if you are a new quilter and challenging if you have been quilting for a few years. In this series of posts, lets talk about a couple of options and how to find the right quilting design for you.

When you have completed your quilt top, stand back and look at it, what is your plan for this quilt, what is the purpose? Even better, think of these questions as you are planning, cutting and sewing it all together. I understand that sometimes this is easier for some compared to others to plan their quilting design. There are quilters’ who take their quilt to the longarm quilter and say, “Quilt it however you want”. Others will show up with a detailed drawing of what design they want where. With my experience, there is usually a conversation that takes place between me the longarm quilter and the quilter who created the top. We discuss the possible options and ultimately the quilter decides what they would like.

Recently I have been referring to these two quilting design books as I am offering some modern designs as options to my customers. Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters has been a great resource book. It literally is a step-by-step manual for us longarm quilters. There is usually 3-10 steps for each pattern, which is color coded and labeled where to start, where to end and how to get there without getting stuck in corner! She makes the complicated designs look simple and from there, you can combine these steps with others to incorporate 3 patterns in to one! Some of my favorites are the Swirl Scroll, Back and Forth and Double Loop.
In the 180 Doodle Quilting Designs by Karen M. Burns, my take on this is, if you can draw it, I can quilt it! This book also has great instructions on where to start quilting in the block, where to go next and how to end. You see, as longarm quilters we like to have continuous stitching, not a lot of stopping, securing the thread and then starting again. I like to have a nice flow of stitching in my quilts, when possible.

The butterfly quilt incorporates the Back and Forth design in the sashing, can you guess why I chose to use it here? When the sashing is heavily quilted, it makes your blocks “pop”, the blocks become the emphasis of the quilt. So within the block you can see I also used and echoing design, which is simply outlining, and it complemented the appliquéd butterfly. For the wings, just a simple ribbon stitch because I felt that added a sense of movement. The outside border is quilted with the double loop design, but because of fabric and thread choice, you cannot see it, along with any mistakes, there may be! Some of you may ask, “How did you come up with that design?. Have you ever heard the saying, the quilt speaks to me, yes that is true, in relative terms. The designs just some how come to mind.
What about pantographs, so you ask? Most folks in our area choose to use these. They are cost effective and what you see is what you get, and most customers want to be assured that what they choose is exactly what will be on their quilt. These days there are a large variety of pantographs, and even more digital ones. Just a side note, my machine is not computerized and to add that option would be about $10,000, yikes! I better triple my customer base to justify that! I like manually quilting, using my hands to create something, so I will continue on.

Geometric Swirls

In these next photos, I have a modern pantograph example used on two very different quilts and both look excellent. The patten is versatile and works well with many different styles of quilts. Here it is used on a t-shirt quilt with grey thread on top, this is the border of the quilt and the backing is black with red thread in the bobbin. I think this design complements this youthful quilt.

This,pantograph, Geometric Swirls was also used on this batik quilt. I think the customer made an excellent choice and she was very happy with how the overall design complemented her quilt. I have about 25 different pantographs and always adding more to improve my selection for you, the customer!
Quilters’, I hope this helps you decide how to quilt your finished top, and as always, I am here to help. If you have a top to be quilted, contact me and you and I will talk through the quilting process and we will come up with just the right design to complement your quilt!

Q and A With Jolene

Tell me about yourself Jolene?
“I live on a farm near Little Turkey, Iowa with my husband. We have 4 adult children and 2 grandchildren. For my education, I attended Area I, (NICC) for the secretarial program and have been employed by Howard County Mutual Insurance Company in Cresco for 22 years. Our family had a dairy herd for many years and grew crops. We stopped milking in about 2000, and we now crop farm growing corn and beans.” When I asked Jolene what color they farm with she said, “Well my husband would say- Is there any other color besides green?!”…he means John Deere. Jolene stays busy with the field work by picking rock, working the fields and hauling loads of corn and beans. In her free time she enjoys gardening, reading, traveling and motorcycle trips with her husband.
How did you get started with quilting?
“I always told myself I would start quilting when I retired. In 2007, we found out we were going to be grandparents and there was a strong desire in me to make that new baby a quilt, so that is when I started. Growing up my mother was a 4-H leader, and there were 7 girls in our family and we all learned how to sew, and 5 of us still sew now. I made pajama pants and shorts to start out with and then when we had children I made the kids simple clothes.”
Tell me about this quilt?
“I have always wanted to make a maple leaf quilt. About nine years ago my kids used this pattern and bought me the fabric for the project. Their intentions were well meaning, but the fabrics they bought did not coordinate. They are not quilters and they just picked out what they thought would look best! I kept their color palette and choose all batiks for the leaves in jewel tone hues. I am excited to have this quilt completed.”
Do you have a certain style of quilting and what inspires you?
“I lean toward earth tones and nature inspired fabrics and patterns. If I see a finished quilt or a pattern that I like, I put that on a list in my mind that someday I will want to make that. Currently, I have a log cabin variation on my list of UFO’s and a Metro Rings quilt that will be challenging but I am looking forward to learning how to complete this one.”
In regards to your quilting, what are you most proud of?
“I have mastered the 1/4 inch seam allowance while piecing my quilts. This technique makes putting the quilt together much easier and the quilt is square when finished.”
What sewing machine do you use?
I started with a Sears Kenmore and in 2016 I gave it to my daughter and I upgraded to a Babylock Melody and I really like it. There are a lot of options, but not too many.”
What is your favorite quilting notion?
“All of my basic sewing tools, scissors, rotary cutter, all of my rulers but especially my Nifty Notions 7×24 inch cutting ruler..”
What should customer’s look for in their longarm quilter?
“I feel quick turn around is important and that they help you when choosing a quilting design and thread color to compliment the quilt.”

I know you enjoy attending quilt retreats, why would you encourage others to try this?
“Because you have three days of no interruptions! It almost feels like a bonding experience because everyone is doing the same thing. You are also learning tips from the other quilters. At the retreats, there are usually a variety of ages, so the older ones can help the younger ones and the older ones find it interesting to learn about the projects the younger ones are doing. It is just a lot of fun, we do nothing but quilt!”

Do you have any other thoughts on quilting to add?
“Don’t wait to start quilting, start now! I began at a good time. We stopped milking, the first grandchild was born, the other children were in high school, so had had more free time. I am glad I did not wait to start until I retired.”

Do you have any tips for Jolene on how to make her new Metro Rings (Wedding Ring) project go together easier? Please share your advice!

The Recipes!

Good Easter Saturday morning to everyone! A typical Saturday before Easter at the Berst house would be spent prepping for Easter dinner, where we typically would host 15 to 20+ family members. It is a wonderful time where young and old come together to share a meal, visit, play cards, and sometimes partake in the easter egg hunt outside. Personally, I think the adults have more fun hiding the eggs from the younger ones! Some folks may say “Oh that is a lot of work hosting dinner”, but we have been doing it for so long now, it’s really not bad at all. Our children are grown and we equally can cook and clean for the day. The families just want to get together to see each other and catch up, so we are just providing the space.

The toughest part is choosing the main dishes, what vegetable and what side to have, and how many different kinds of pies! The others always bring a dish to share as well. We depend on Aunt Lori to bring her creamed corn, which has butter, cream cheese, and american cheese, oh my! It is good we only eat this just a few times a year! My sister-in-law Marlys will often bring a “new recipe” side, and it always turns out. I don’t know how she does it! My brother Matt and his wife Heidi will bring homemade bread and desert. They may be a young couple, but they know how to bake! Niece Tamara is the creative one, and whatever she brings will be beautiful and delicious. Our Aunt Della used to bring pies and kolaches, but her health has been failing, so we are just happy to see her. Because of her poor health, this year we will be eating at a restaurant close to her so she does not need to travel to our home which is almost an hour for her and her son. This is our Aunt Della a few years ago with her pies. Notice how the pecans are positioned, and don’t we love her sweater!

In my Saturday Snippet blog we talked about the pies we made that day, and as stated here are those recipes.

Pie Crust
4 cup Flour
1 1/3 cup Lard
1/4 cup sugar
Ice Water
Mix flour, lard, salt and sugar until it crumbles, I use a pastry blender. Add about 1/4- 1/8 cup ice water at a time and gently toss with a fork until mixture clings together. The dough can be used for crust now, but it is best to from the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and cool and then roll out for crust. Recipe credit, Frieda Mhim, “St. Lucas Catholic Church Cookbook”
-I will only use beef or pork lard from our locker (Polashek’s in Protivin), not the lard that is on the store shelf at the grocery store, and I don’t use butter either.
-The less you mix and handle the dough, the more flaky it will be.

Coconut Cream Pie
2 cups milk
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
In a saucepan, heat milk and coconut (be careful not to scorch). In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks; stir in a small amount of hot milk mixtures. Add sugar, cornstarch and salt; beat until no lumps remain.
Add to the saucepan with remaining milk mixture. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly (again, do not scorch). Remove from the heat and pour into baked pie crust. While filling is still hot. top with meringue. Recipe credit, Peggy Milton, “Our Iowa” magazine
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Bring the water and corn starch to a simmer in a small saucepan and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and translucent, one to two minutes. Set aside off the heat to cool slightly.
Combine the sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until foamy, about one minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium high, add the sugar mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and whip the whites until shiny and soft peaks form, one to three minutes. Add the corn starch mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to whip the meringue to stiff peaks, one to three minutes longer.
Immediately distribute the meringue evenly around the edge and the center of the pie, attaching the meringue to the pie crust to prevent shrinking, use the back of a spoon to create attractive swirls and peaks in the meringue. Bake until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool the pie on a wire rack until filling has set, about two hours. Recipe credit, “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2017.”
Tell us about your meringue recipe and any tips you have for others to make turn out just right!

Now, come Easter Monday we will be back to work longarm quilting. Contact me if I can help you complete your quilt!

Q & A with Melissa

Hello! Trying something new on the blog, a question and answer session with a customer. Meet Melissa, a frequent flyer here at Longarm Quilting Inspirations!

Tell me about yourself?
“I live on a dairy farm near Fort Atkinson, Iowa, with my husband and 3 daughters. I have an AAA Degree in Interior Designing and a BS in Family and Consumer Education and Public Relations. I like to be involved in our daughters activities and community committees. I have been seriously quilting now for 3 years. My talents and love of quilting have been passed down to me by both of my grandmothers.”

Why do you quilt?
“I quilt to express my creativity. My Dad is a great Carpenter, and what he does with wood, I do with fabric. It is also a good tension release for me and a way for me to relax. It is always fun to run into another quilter.”

What style of quilter are you?
“I like to keep it simple. I like to use unusual colors and patterns, but to keep the patterns simple. I can look at a quilt and with some graph paper, can usually figure out the pattern. This usually sparks interest in a particular fabric collection or selection. So then, I have to figure out how much fabric I will need and how to make the cuts. I like to use quilt patterns as guidelines because I find the patterns are to vague for my style. It it easier for me to write my own pattern and it satisfies my design style. I have just started appliquéing small projects.”

Tell me about the aprons and pillow cases you make for others.
“I feel that making and wearing aprons is a lost art. About 2 years ago, I made over 15 aprons for our girlfriend holiday baking weekend. We wear them when we get together to bake and when we bake at home. My aprons are called ‘Not your Grandmother’s’ apron’. I also will make aprons for gift basket fundraisers. I enjoy posting the photos on Facebook. My pillowcases, I have been making them for many years. I have also included them in themed baskets for fundraiseres for our Catholic school, the local library, and others. I also donate them to the University of Iowa hospital Burn Center. Others that receive a pillowcase are our school’s girls state basketball team, dairy royalty and others. Pillowcases are simple and easy for me to make. When some receives one it makes them feel good and they know someone cares for them.”

Name 3 things that you like best about quilting?
“Quilting is an expression of creativity. I like looking at quilts and then figuring out how to alter the pattern to make it my own design. I feel it is important to use my quilting talents to benefit charitable organizations.”

Do you have a favorite designer or fabric line?
“I am intrigued by Tula Pink and Robert Kaufam because of the bold fabric schemes. You need a special pattern to complement these styles.”

Why is mentoring other quilters important to you?
“Quilting is a rare talent and I like to encourage and help new quilters.”

Tell me about this last quilt project?
“By the way, I try and name all my quilts. Inspiration comes from several reasons, maybe who it is for or the collection or quilt design. This one is named- ‘Tula Pink was Framed.’ Another reason I decided to make and design this quilt was because I have always admired Tula Pink and Robert Kaufam fabric designs. They are unusual and very bright. When this quilt design showed up on my Pinterest feed, I knew I had to make it and knew just what fabrics I wanted to use. However, There wasn’t much information about the quilt I saw, so I sat down and designed and figured out what I would need to make this quilt. I have even shared my ‘pencil sketch’ with a fellow quilter.”

Why do you bring your quilts to Carla for the longarm quilting?
“I have known Carla for a while. Our girls are different ages, but went to the same school. I always admired what unique projects her and her daughters did. Her daughters were very young and accomplished quilters when I first met them.
Carla used to do longarm quilting for a local quilt shop and that is how I was introduced to her talent. When I found out she had started her own business, I called to see if she would do a few projects for me.
Carla is kind and very approachable. It is always easy to have a conversation with her. Besides one other friend, she is the only other person I know who quilts. She has always been very generous, and I feel at ease and welcomed into her house and studio.
Once I am done with a project, I usually send Carla a photo of the quilt, so she can help me choose a pantograph and/or thread color. I like that her pantographs are on the blog and Facebook page, so that I can have an idea of what might look appropriate in my mind and start the process along.
It is very easy for me to quilt or piece a project together, but I haven’t done enough research or taken any classes on how to longarm. It isn’t as easy as one might think, however Carla makes it look easy. She is open to other pantograph patterns, and if she doesn’t have what I might like, she is willing to get one that will work for me.
Carla is very knowledgable about longarm quilting, and has lots of helpful tips and suggestions, like what thread color to use. I always think I have just the right idea in mind, but with her expertise, she can explain and show me an alternate solution or result. Like me, the creative juices need to marinate to find the best result. Because I am not a longarmer, I tend to want my part of the quilt to stand out, the piecing and pattern of the quilt. She takes no offense to that. I have seen some of the beautiful work She has done on freehand quilting plain fabrics, and maybe someday I will be inspired to create a neutral muse for Carla to highlight her talent.”

Saturday Snippet

Good Saturday Morning! There was no quilting to be done today- I mailed out one quilt yesterday, and two more are waiting to be picked up sometime next week. Since there was no quilting to be done today, we had plenty of time to do many other “Saturday” activities. Noelle is home for the weekend from Wartburg College, and we hope to get started on her quilt either today or tomorrow.

My day started at about 6 o’clock this morning. Our youngest daughter Gene Anne was up early with me preparing for her ACT test she took today. By 7:15, my husband, Todd, and Gene Anne were out the door after having a breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, oranges, and coffee. Todd was off to the check on our business (Fredericksburg Plumbing and Heating, and Pump Service), like he normally does on Saturday mornings.

I headed north to Polashek’s Locker in Protivin, IA to stock up on meat for the week. We are hoping to grill tomorrow for lunch! On my way back home, I stopped in Waucoma at the Event Center where there was a spring vendor show. I purchased some homemade kolaches from a local baker who donates all proceeds to the American Cancer Society. I also stopped and chatted with Jo Kramer and her daughter, Kalissa (LuLaRoe) who had a vendor booth at the show.

I made pretty good time as I was back home by about 9:30. While I was gone, Noelle started the laundry, and we did about 4 batches today. The clothes went on the washline right away this morning- it was a perfect day for clothes to dry outside!

Most of the meat from the locker went into the freezer, but we kept out some brats to grill for lunch, and some bologna for the noon meal. Noelle and I packed up meals to send to my homeplace, “the farm,” for my brother and parents. At around 10:00, Noelle and I boiled and dyed two dozen Easter eggs to send to my disabled mother. We know that a little something like this will make her smile.
Ironically, as we were dying the eggs, our oldest daughter, Victoria, who works at Field’s Mini of Daytona, Daytona Beach, Florida, helped put on a company Easter egg hunt. Right around 11:00, the FedEx truck brought a batting shipment from Quilters Dream. It’s good to stay stocked up on this, so I always have materials on hand for my customers.

Todd came through at about 11:30, grabbed a brat to-go, and to the farm he went! He is normally home sooner, but today he had two calls to go on- customers without water, so the well pumps had to be pulled and repaired. Every Saturday, after he goes to Fredericksburg, Todd helps my father with the baby calves, cattle, machinery, and anything else that needs to be done on the farm. He typically arrives back home 8:30 pm at the earliest; it all depends on how things went that day!

Gene Anne came home around 12:30 from testing. She grabbed a snack, we switched laundry, and then all three of us headed out on a walk! We went south on the highway, then took the first gravel to the east. Our highway is very busy, so it is safer to take the gravel. We walked past timbers, cattle, farms, horses, and many fields on this particular route. Nearly three miles and 50 minutes later, we were back home! Our to-do list for today was quite long, but it is very important to get out and enjoy the nice weather, get some exercise, and spend some time in the sun!

Upon returning home, we had some lemonade, and then turned our attention to baking. Something you should know about our family… we REALLY like pie! We started with making the homemade pie crust, which is quite simple for us because we do it so often. Recipe to come in a later blog. The first pie to go into the oven was a two-crust cherry pie, one that we are pros at making. The second pie, which was not so easy, was a coconut cream pie. Within the last year, I have been working on finding the right recipe for a coconut cream pie. We have found one we all like, and we’re sticking with it! This was our second time using this particular meringue recipe, and so far it has turned out almost perfect! Both the filling and meringue recipe have several steps to them, and are a little more complicated. We normally go for simple around here, but this finished product is worth it! As you can see, both pies turned out great… dessert tonight and breakfast tomorrow! Pie for breakfast in our home is totally acceptable, in fact, it is encouraged. Do you have any favorite pie recipes in your home?

While the pies were in the oven, Noelle and Gene Anne practiced for Wartburg College Cheerleading tryouts on Sunday. Noelle will be trying our for her final year, and Gene Anne will be trying out for her first year.

Now, the kitchen is cleaned for the third time today, and our busy Saturday is starting to slow down. Hopefully Noelle and I will start her quilt tonight. It may just be pressing the fabric and getting a start on cutting, but we are both excited to start a new project! We are ALWAYS eager to quilt when we get new fabric. Do you start a project as soon as you get the materials?

Quilt as Desired…First in Series

Quilt as desired, is that at the end of every quilt pattern? I think so! That can be daunting if you are a new quilter and challenging if you have been quilting for a few years. In this series of posts, lets talk about a couple of options and how to find the right quilting design for you.

The purpose of quilting is mainly functional as some sort of stitching needs to take place to secure the quilt top, batting and backing together. That can be done with a sit down sewing machine or a longarm. Many quilters are able to complete their projects on their sewing machines. Table toppers, runners, wall hangings and small quilts can usually be completed nicely this way. Larger quilts can be much more challenging and sometimes impossible to quilt on a sit down machine. I have tried this in the past. I think the quilt was about 50 x 50 inches and I stopped when I was about half way done and gave up in frustration and told myself, I am not attempting that again as the quilt was to big. For the larger quilts it is easier to manage them and quilt them on the frame using a longarm.

So how does one decide on a quilting pattern? You can start by asking yourself about the purpose of this quilt. Will it only hang on the wall, that would be a display quilt. With this one you may have a design, such as a flower or a star in your quilt that machine quilting it in a certain way would emphasize these elements. Stippling or echoing around the design will produce this effect. This photo shows the use of loop stippling in the background to emphasis the block lines which have a simple loose quilting pattern. This type of contrast quilting will add visual depth and texture to your project as well.

Another consideration when choosing a design for your quilt is, will the quilting actually be visible? For example, if your quilt is mostly dark print fabrics and you choose a dark matching thread for the quilting, chances are you will not even see it. I ask my customers to consider this if they are asking for a complex pantograph or a custom quilting design. I will gladly do any pattern they request, but consider the cost, especially if you won’t even be able to see the quilting. In this case it may be ok to use a simple, more cost effective design and choose to do the custom quilting on quilts where it will really add that extra pop to your project!

I have talked about just two options to consider when deciding how to “Quilt as Desired” as there will be many more to discuss. The most important decision to make is, how do you want it quilted? These are only suggestions based on my experience. What really matters is your opinion and be sure to keep that in mind when you take your quilt to the longarm quilter. What questions do you have for me? I would be happy to answer them based on my experience!

Noelle’s Project from Quilter’s Window

Last week I met our daughter, Noelle for lunch in New Hampton, Iowa. She attends Wartburg College in Waverly and had an appointment in town. After lunch we had about an hour before the appointment, so of course we went to the quilt shop!

Quilter’s Window owned by Denise Sinwell is a lovely store. They are a full service quilt shop with a beautiful fabric, pattern and notion selection. They sell a full range of PFAFF machines. Their calendar is full of class and club offerings and I can personally vouch for the knowledge and experience their staff has to offer. Denise and the staff at the shop are the type of folks who are easy to approach and talk with, as our daughters would agree.

If you are on the fence about a certain fabric, they don’t tell you which one to pick, they show you your options, and ask the right questions to help you determine which one “you” want. Our girls have taken classes for pillow cases, pajama pants and beginner quilts. I still hang those quilts up at home from time to time, even though they are well used. If you are passing through town, they will greet you with a smile and help you out with your sewing needs.

Denise and all of our daughters go way back! This is the shop where they would usually go for their quilt projects, most often for 4-H. Often Denise would help them, but any of the staff have always done a great job with the kids. I usually went along, but as with our typical parenting style, we wanted to teach them independence and for them to be confident in their own choices; quilt patterns and fabric included. My goal was for them to talk and work with Denise instead of me. Learning to talk with adults is a learned skill and a necessary one.

I don’t think there was ever a time in all our years that any of them made a poor choice in a quilt selection. Typically, they were very determined to do harder and more complicated patterns, and there were times when I was thinking to myself, “I don’t know if even I can do that”! But mum’s the word. Who was I to tell a quilter that I didn’t think they could do that. Self determination and desire goes along way, and isn’t that a great quality to have in life.

The Tucker Prairie collection by Moda caught her eye and she was able to find a new pattern she liked, Geese on the Prairie by one canoe two. I don’t think she has done a quilt with flying geese, but we looked over the pattern, talked with Denise and decided it was doable. This quilt will be a fairly quick and fun project for her. Maybe just the thing a college girl needs to break up the study time.

Noelle’s last quilts were made about 2 years ago over Christmas break. Using leftover fabric from her past projects she made 2 quilt tops. I think it felt like a great accomplishment that she was able do this along with her sister Victoria who made 2 quilt tops as well. The Bernia was hot for a few weeks while it was cold out side! Victoria was able to longarm and bind one of her’s but the other 3 still need to be quilted when they have time.

I have only long-armed quilts that I made for gifts for our daughters, otherwise since the 4th grade they have been doing their own. In this way, they have completed their quilt on their own, from start to finish. Noelle did tell me I could quilt her new one, as with any quilt you make for yourself, you can try some new custom quilting techniques. This way we are assured they will turn out beautifully on the customer quilt! I have pantographs posted that you can choose from for your longarm quilting, but remember I can do custom as well. If we can draw it, I can quilt it!

What is it about completing a quilt that gives us a feeling of accomplishment? A sense of creativity, standing back and looking at it and saying to ourselves, “I did That” and it turned out pretty good. Completing a quilt seems to lift our spirit a bit, brings a smile to our face. Why do you quilt? Share YOUR story with us:)

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Neutral Quilts, Backing and Lemon Bars

A beautiful quilt this gal has completed! This is a pattern of her own design and as she explained it to me; it did seem as simple as she said it was. One of the trends now is use of neutral colors in the home, and since this is a gift it will go well in any room. If you have not tried using neutral colors yet for your newest project, give them a try. They will complement any room and give that space an updated or modern feel. The quilting pattern is Fluffy. It was a good choice by her because the long-arm quilting does not distract from her quilt pattern.

These next photos shows how I have my quilts loaded onto my frame. It works best when my customers provide me with a quilt backing that is about 2-3 inches larger than the top on all sides. For example, a 60×60 inch quilt would need a 66×66 inch back. In the first photo you can see how I use this extra fabric. The extra backing fabric allows me to secure the backing with the clamps from the frame and ensures the quilt top can be stitched with out puckering.

In these 3 photos it shows how the quilt is pinned to the cream fabric “leaders”. The leaders are attached to the metal rods on the frame. I have almost completed the quilt, so I pin the top to the backing fabric, unpin it from the leaders, sew it to the backing and then remove the pins. Now I can complete my quilting to the the end of this quilt.

In response to blog, here is the recipe!
A wonderful spring or summer bar!
Lemon Bars, recipe credit, Margaret Mihm, St. Lucas Church Cookbook
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powered sugar
2 sticks butter
Mix together like pie crust, press into 2-8 inch pans, bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

6 eggs
3 cups white sugar
8 TBSP lemon juice
6 TBSP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1-2 TBSP lemon rind or zest
Mix these together until well blended, pour over crusts. Bake until set, about 20 minutes.
I immediately use a wet metal spatula to loosen the bars from the sides of the pan.
This gives the bars a smooth edge. Cool, dust with powdered sugar, cut and enjoy!

Prom Season

Oh yes, it is that time of the year again! Most of our snow has melted, temperatures are rising and the grass is starting to green. The arrival of spring signals that prom will soon be here. If you no longer have a high schooler you probably hear your friends, family or co-workers talk about this exciting time. If you sew or know anything about it, the Mother’s of daughters whose prom dresses need some tweaking, well they will hunt you down!

I do dress alterations for our close friends and family. It seems like there are not many of us around anymore. Most of us probably have no formal training, we learned from our Mothers, or I learned from Grandma Tillie. If you’ve ever made clothes, you can figure out how to alter a dress.

Now, with that said, some are way more challenging that others! Hemming a dress or gown, that is doable. One or two layers, ok, not so bad. How about the “cinderella” gown, you know what I am talking about. The ones with 9 layers! I’m not kidding, one of our daughters had one. Luckily it need no hemming, just pressing, which is a whole other story.

If the bodice needs altering, my theory is, don’t be afraid to take it apart, just pay attention to how you took it apart, complete the alterations, have the gal try it on and if it fits, then put it back together. My most important goal with gown alterations is when she has the dress on is she comfortable. We want these ladies to have a great time at their event. No worries about the dress sliding down (mothers don’t want that worry either), no tripping, no tugging or figiting either. These are special times, and don’t we all want them to feel beautiful on their prom day.

Feel free to comment any challenging dress alteration stories you have, they just might help someone else!


Here are prom photos of our 3 daughters, 2011, 2013 and 2016, fun to see the styles change!