Naturally Wisconsin Maple Leaf Quilt


My maple leaf quilt is finished!

If you haven’t seen my previous posts about this quilt, it’s the result of a collaboration with Milwaukee fabric designer Allison Bielke and AIGA Wisconsin (a graphic designers’ association). The AIGA and Allison organized a fabric design challenge—members were asked to design a print centered around the theme of Wisconsin’s natural beauty. We chose about half of the submitted designs and had those printed on fabric by Modern Yardage, a print-on-demand fabric company. That’s when my part of the challenge began: Designing a quilt using the selected prints!

My objective was to create a quilt that: a) showcased the fabulous prints in the best way possible, b) worked with the “Naturally Wisconsin” theme of the contest, and c) was an example of modern quilt design, which I thought would most appeal to AIGA members (and of course is what I wanted to do anyway!)

I quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to be easy meeting all of those objectives! For one thing, I don’t use a lot of large-scale focus prints in my quilting—and I’m not sure I’ve ever made a quilt almost entirely from focus prints (and 15 different ones at that). There’s a reason, after all, that quilt fabric lines usually include just one or two focus prints, complemented by lots of blenders and geometrics. And you guys—so many directional prints in this quilt. Arghghghg. : ) I had to plan very carefully as I was cutting and sewing and I admit I screwed up the direction several times!

I ended up using a classic maple leaf block, with strategically-placed negative space blocks to give it a more modern twist and to give the design some movement. The background solid in this quilt is Kona Smoke, a taupe that nicely complements the color palette Allison selected for the contest (all submissions were subject to a limited palette). I finished off the quilt with some diagonal wavy line quilting to heighten the “leaves falling” atmosphere of the quilt. (Is this wavy line quilting getting to be too much for you guys? I feel like I might have returned to that well a few too many times lately, but I really do love it, and it’s just so easy using stitch #4 on my Bernina 750!)

The back is mostly coordinating Cotton + Steel prints, but of course I had to piece in a maple leaf block in reverse (background solid for the leaf, prints as background).

This was a fun challenge to meet, and these Wisconsin-inspired prints were a joy to sew with, directional or not! I’m just in awe of how much creativity and design talent is out there—I wish every one of these peeps could have a fabric contract. Here are just some of the amazing prints I got to use in the quilt:

“Robins” by Emily Balsley
“Nature in Wisconsin Wood” by Cristina Rivero
“Blueberry Patch” by Sarah McMahon
“Cranberry Bog” by Sarah McMahon
“Big Buck” by Holly Kowalski
“Hodag” by Raymond Mawst (Not familiar with the Hodag? Here you go!)
“Bees and Zinnias” by Mary Roley
Unfortunately, none of these prints are available for sale at the moment, but that could potentially be in the works and I’ll update you all if it happens.

We are looking for places to display this quilt in Wisconsin over the next year, so if you Wisconsin folks have any suggestions, we’re all ears. It will be exhibited at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design this fall, and I’m going to try submitting it to the Wisconsin State Fair and the Wisconsin Quilt Expo as well. I’ve never entered a quilt in either of those venues, and I’m not sure the skill level of this one is up to their usual standards, but I’m hoping the Wisconsin focus and the specialness of the fabric design collaboration will be enough to get it in.

I want to thank Allison Bielke and the Wisconsin AIGA for including me on this fun project! I love fabric, I love design, and I love Wisconsin, so it was pretty fabulous to work on something that included all of those things. : )


WIP Wednesday: Quilting Quilting Quilting

Good morning! Are you all recovered from the Daylight Savings Time switch yet? We’re still a little slow to get out of bed around here, but my daughters’ school conveniently gave us the day off on Monday for parent-teacher conferences, which really helped!

I spent a good chunk of this week visiting the Boston area—thank you to the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild and New Hampshire Modern Quilt Guild for hosting me, it was so much fun meeting all of you! And I came home to a hard deadline of finishing my quilt for the Naturally Wisconsin event, which was held last night.

So I spent yesterday quilting like a madwoman. I’ll post about the finished quilt tomorrow—meanwhile, let’s see what you’ve all been working on!


1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is Please hashtag #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
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WIP Wednesday: Aaaand We’re Back

Happy 2015, you guys! I hope your holidays were happy and included lots of sewing time. : ) I had a busy couple of weeks, and am happy to be back to our normal schedule now. Or whatever passes for normal around here.

I spent my holiday break working on a baby quilt. I’m using Elizabeth Hartman’s Preppy the Whale pattern. The baby’s mom is a veterinarian, so an animal-related quilt seemed like a good idea. (Not that she treats whales or anything. But I think she’ll like it anyway.)

These whales are just so darn happy.

I was planning to quilt it with a free-motion stipple, but then I realized—scallop quilting! Because WHALES. This is the same quilting method as my Chandelier quilt—the scallop decorative stitch on my Bernina 750 (stitch #719), along with my even-feed foot. It is soooo easy.

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is Please hashtag #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
Have a great week!
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Chandelier Quilt

I know lots of you have been looking forward to this, and I sure have too—today’s the day that my Chandelier Quilt-Along starts on the Bernina website!
I really love this quilt and am so happy with how it turned out. And I promise it’s easier than it looks. : ) It uses the Emmy Grace fabric line by Bari J. This quilt has a lot of half-square triangles and the square-in-square piecing technique, but I’ve got a few tips to make that easier. And all the instructions are completely free on the Bernina blog!
Here’s the schedule:
Oct. 20 Making the blocks
I’ve also got a really fun and easy technique for getting the scallop quilting I used on this quilt—no free-motion required! So follow along over on We All Sew, and have a wonderful Monday!
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Birch Tree Shimmer Mini Quilt

Hey there! Welcome to my stop on Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer blog hop!

You know, once upon a time, I thought I would never like metallic fabrics. But I also once thought I would never wear skinny jeans and never get tired of chevron prints. Never say never in fashion or quilting. : ) Metallics are totally on trend these days, and I’m loving them. Jennifer Sampou’s new fabric line for Robert Kaufman, Shimmer, is metallics done right!

Maybe it’s the long, cold winter we’ve had here in Wisconsin, or maybe it’s just the repeated viewings of the movie “Frozen” with my daughters, but when I saw the Shimmer line, I immediately thought of white on silver. A quick scan of my Pinterest inspiration boards led me to this lovely, minimal graphic composition, and suddenly I knew just what I wanted to do!

So I made this little birch tree mini quilt. It may seem an odd project for me to whip up at a time when winter is finally releasing its icy grip on my ‘hood, but I guess this is my way of bidding the season goodbye. : ) The trees were very easy to piece improvisationally—I cut a large background square of silver Shimmer fabric and then slashed through it on angles to place the tree trunks. Ditto for the birch bark notches, with more Shimmer pieced into to those.

It was only when I was piecing the third and final tree that it hit me—what is the perfect counterpoint to a birch tree in the snow? Why, a cardinal sitting in its branches, of course! Even though the quilt was already almost done at that point, suddenly I had to have a cardinal.

I wanted the cardinal to be just a small accent, which meant I needed a relatively simple paper-pieced block, so that it was doable when reduced way down. This free block from McCall’s (minus the bird’s legs) fit the bill. I printed the templates at 30% size. Crazy small, but sure enough, it worked! I love itty bitty paper-piecing! The beauty of it is that you can do paper-piecing this small, and it’s just as easy as when it’s normal sized.

I finished my mini off with more Shimmer prints on the back and for the binding, plus some wavy line quilting. But I think the luster of the silver background print is really what makes this mini special. It shines. Literally.

Keep following the blog hop for more inspiration using this fabric line!

April 1: Robert Kaufman/Jennifer Sampou

April 2: Janice Ryan- Better off Thread
April 3: Alissa Haight Carlton- Handmade by Alissa
April 4: Julie Herman- JayBird Quilts
April 5: Natalie Barnes- Beyond the Reef
April 6: Stash Books- C&T Publishing
April 7: Amanda Jean Nyberg- Crazy Mom Quilts
April 8: Me! You are here
April 9: Cheryl Arkinson- Naptime Quilter
April 10: Christina Cameli- A Few Scraps
April 11: Elizabeth Hartman- Oh Fransson
April 12: Faith Jones-Fresh Lemon Quilts
April 14: Katie Blakesley- Swim Bike Quilt
April 15: Amy Smart-Diary of a Quilter
April 16: Laura Nownes, Jennifer Rounds, Pati Fried, Darra Williamson- See How We Sew

April 17: Holly DeGroot- Bijou Lovely
April 18: Jennifer Sampou-Wrap Up


WIP Wednesday: On Thursday.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Um, you guys?? I spent all day today thinking it was Tuesday. For real. The whole day. Until I sat down at almost 10 p.m. to write WIP Wednesday, and something seemed … not right. Oh, that’s because WIP Wednesday was supposed to go live, uh, about 22 hours ago. Oops!

Welcome to my life lately. It’s okay, you can laugh at me. : )

Anyway. Let’s take a look at what I’m working on, shall we?

This. (Stitching binding and writing up the pattern!)

And this. (Okay, not quite working on it yet, but it’s calling out to me. That’s the Safari Moon collection by Frances Newcombe for Art Gallery. I love it!)

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

WIP Wednesday: Quilt On

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Happy Wednesday! I feel like I’m juggling a lot of WIPs lately, so let’s get to it, while I try to keep all these balls in the air. : )

I finally took the plunge and started quilting Crazytown. (And yes, a Crazytown pattern is in the works! Just hold your horses!) I was lucky enough to see some quilts by Jacquie Gering of Tallgrass Prairie Studios over the weekend, and her creative use of a walking foot in her quilting inspired me to try something similar on Crazytown. I dialed up this multi-stitch zig-zag, and away I went. I love how it’s turning out!

Speaking of Jacquie, here are my “precise improv” slice-and-insert blocks from a workshop that I took with Jacquie on Sunday. I liked the idea of slicing-and-inserting only in straight, 90-degree lines—no angles here! I made these with a gorgeous bundle of Oakshott shot cottons. Now I just need to decide what they’ll become: Pillow? Mini quilt?

Here are Faith and I with Jacquie at the workshop (photo courtesy of Faith). If you have the opportunity to take a class with Jacquie, I highly recommend it! Her tips made me feel like I could actually be an improv quilter. LOL.

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:

1. Link up any post from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!


EZ Double Wedding Ring Challenge

Welcome to my stop on the EZ Double Wedding Ring Challenge blog hop!

If a Double Wedding Ring is on your quilting bucket list (I know it’s on mine), you’ll want to hear about this. The NYC MOD Quilt Guild has teamed up with Simplicity, Interweave, and Juki to sponsor this quilt challenge. Put your own twist on the classic DWR design to win serious prizes.


You might remember last year’s version of this challenge, the EZ Dresden Challenge. My Lifesavers quilt, which I made for the Dresden challenge, placed in both the challenge and at QuiltCon. So I can vouch for the fact that a contest like this can really push your creativity in new directions and inspire a project that you may not have come up with otherwise.

And I can also vouch for the amazing prizes that are on the line. : ) My winnings last year included batting, fabric, more rulers, a book, and an entire rainbow of thread in its own cabinet—and that was for third place! This year’s prizes include a Juki sewing machine, gift certificates, and much more. So put this one on your to-do list!

Just like with last year’s challenge, there are various categories that you can enter. It doesn’t have to be modern (there’s a traditional category), and you don’t even have to make an entire quilt—just one ring can qualify! To enter, images of your entry must be uploaded by December 1. For all the details, visit the NYC MOD blog. 

And to get you started, I’m giving away not one but two sets of EZ Quilting’s Double Wedding Ring templates. Just comment on this post by Wednesday, July 24, for a chance to win.

Don’t forget to visit all the other stops on the blog hop for more chances to win. Good luck in the challenge! I can’t wait to see everyone’s creative interpretations of a double wedding ring!

July 8th
NYC MOD Quilters –
Interweave –
July 9th
Emily Bailey –
Shelly Pagliai –
July 10th
Amy Ellis –
Faith Jones – Me!
July 11th
Amy Smart –
Monica Solorio-Snow –
July 13
Jenny Cameron –
July 14th
Jane Davidson –
July 15th
Joanna Wilczynska –
Jackie Kunkel –
July 18
Pat Sloan –
Jessica Alexandrakis –
July 19th
Jacquie Gering –
Lee Heinrich –

100 Quilts for Kids

Swim, Bike, Quilt

Welcome to my stop on the 100 Quilts for Kids blog hop!

You all know about 100 Quilts for Kids, right? My friend Katie at Swim Bike Quilt and the D.C. Modern Quilt Guild co-host this annual charity quilt drive. It’s really easy: Just make a quilt and donate it to a child in need, locally if possible. Then link up your quilt online for a chance to win some prizes. Katie has even announced a 100 Quilts Quilt-Along, with a really cool pattern to boot! What a rewarding way to use our skills and creativity, right?

Wrapped In Hope quilt

I’ve made several quilts for charity, but my favorite by far is this one, which I made for a 12-year-old girl named Alissa as part of the Wrapped In Hope program through Margaret’s Hope Chest.

Wrapped In Hope is such a wonderful program—they provide quilts as birthday gifts for kids who have a parent in prison. Quilters can select a child from their list and make a quilt with that child’s favorite colors and/or things. (There are still a few kids left on their 2012 list, including one whose birthday is coming up soon on September 5!)

Alissa liked dogs, horses, art, and the color blue—so I knew right away that I wanted to use Aneela Hoey’s Sherbet Pips line for Alissa’s quilt. The pattern is from Elizabeth’s Sliced Coins Quilt-Along. It’s quick and easy to make, and it’s layer-cake-friendly, so if you’re looking for a pattern for your 100 Quilts For Kids quilt, I highly recommend it! And I used my favorite easy-peasey quilting strategy—wavy lines, using my walking foot and my machine’s decorative serpentine stitch.


Wrapped in Hope quilt - back

I hope Alissa is still enjoying this quilt today, even though her 13th birthday has now come and gone as well. And my fingers are crossed that Alissa’s mom has finished serving her time and is back home with her daughter. Thirteen would be such a tough age to be apart from your mom!

Wrapped In Hope quilt

There are so many kids who could be helped by a quilt—sick and injured children at hospitals, traumatized or abused children like those helped by Project Linus, orphaned kids overseas like those helped by Wrap Them In Love, and the Wrapped in Hope kids with incarcerated parents. A charity kids’ quilt doesn’t have to be large or complicated or made from fancy fabric—it just has to be made with love. So are you ready for 100 Quilts for Kids? Let’s turn out some quilts! Thank you to Katie for organizing it again this year!

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Lifesavers Mini Quilt

The dresden plate is my kind of block. Uber-traditional and perfectly beautiful in all its vintage goodness. And yet, so open to interpretation. There are an endless number of ways to make a dresden unique. And it’s so darn easy to transform this block into something very modern. It never ceases to amaze me that something so traditional still looks fresh and of-the-moment, right here in the 21st century.

Enter the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild’s EZ Dresden Challenge. Have you heard about this yet? The Salt Lake MQG is helping Simplicity and a boatload of other sponsors celebrate Darlene Zimmerman’s twentieth year of designing rulers, by highlighting the versatility of the dresden. So you’ll be seeing a lot of dresden quilts this summer—and there are some insane prizes on the line for the best of the bunch. Including a new Singer sewing machine!"Lifesavers" mini quilt
So here’s my take on the dresden plate: my “Lifesavers” mini-quilt. No centers to applique, no points to make—just stripey rings.

"Lifesavers" mini quilt

I got hooked on the idea of fussy-cutting my dresden wedges, but I didn’t want to do something that required yards and yards of fabric just to make a few blocks. I thought about using chevron fabric, but the scale wasn’t quite right. Then it hit me: Stripes! So easy to fussy-cut—I just cut my wedges from vertical strips of fabric, lining the ruler up with the stripes.

EZ Dresden Challenge project

I ended up using one yard of Michael Miller’s Bungalow Stripe in Citron (that one yard made all of these blocks). Since it’s a variegated stripe, every set of wedges I cut looked a little different. I turned both the top and bottom raw edges under before I pieced the wedges together, which made it super easy to applique the finished plates onto the blocks—I just stitched them down with a straight stitch. I finished it by quilting with easy-peasey wavy line quilting. (I didn’t bother cutting out the background fabric from behind the dresdens after they were stitched down. I know that might be technically “wrong,” but it didn’t seem to effect my quilting.)

So, are you up for this challenge? Just make a quilt using the EZ Dresden ruler (or any 18-degree wedge ruler). It doesn’t even have to be a dresden—there are lots of other things you can do with wedges, too! There are three categories for entries: Mini-quilts, traditional designs, and innovative designs. You’ve got all summer to work on your entry—just link up your finished quilt on the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild website the week of September 1. The top three for each category will win some amazing prizes. Up for grabs are a Singer sewing machine, a photo of your project in Quilting Arts magazine, a quilt made by Darlene Zimmerman herself, and tons fabric, rulers, and thread! There will be three random-draw prizes as well. Click here for more contest details.And to get you started, I’ve got an EZ Dresden ruler to give away to one winner right now! Just leave any comment on this post, and I’ll draw a random winner on Tuesday.

Keep following the EZ Dresden Challenge Blog Hop over the next two weeks for lots more inspiration to get you started on your own entry! Good luck!

June 1 – The Sat Lake Modern Quilt Guild:
June 2 – Lee:
June 3 – Katie
June 4 – Victoria: and Tanya:
June 5 – Val: and Leigh:
June 6 – Amy: and Elisa
June 7 – Katie: and Emily:
June 8 – Melissa: and Brooke:
June 9 – Nicole: and Amy
June 10 – Elizabeth: and Colleen:
June 11 – Faith: and Deonn:
June 12 – Angela: and Barbie:
June 13 – Amy:
June 14 – Jessica:
June 15 – Salt Lake MQG: Wrap-up


And thank you to all the EZ Dresden Challenge sponsors!