Monday, October 10, 2016


Moonlight Migration 
56" x 56"

In case you didn't read my recent blog post about Moonlight Migration, here it is.  

This quilt is completely finished, machine quilted by me, blocked, labeled and photoed.

My entry will be sent to the National Quilt Museum and if I'm a finalist (and maybe a winner), this quilt, its story and pattern will be included in the museum's 2017 book.  It will also be displayed at the museum during Paducah's AQS Quilt Week in April and then tour for 2 years as part of the challenge exhibit.    

A couple of close up photos:

On to a new project!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A finished quilt

Greetings from the northwoods of Mercer!

I'm please to share my newest quilt titled "Happy." 

Happy 74" x74"

Ann Becker completed the long arm machine quilting.  Here are a couple of close up photos of my appliqué stitching and the quilting.

Right now, I've paused the machine quilting of my Moonlight Migration quilt and am working on an article for Machine Quilting Unlimited.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

My Goose Quilt

Moonlight Migration 58" x 58"
Jane Zillmer original design

What we have here is a photo of my almost finished quilt top;  I still need to machine appliqué the moons in place.  

This is the first time ever that I have created a quilt strictly for a competition, in this case it's the National Quilt Museum's yearly New Quilts form an Old Favorite contest. Yes, I enter most of my quilts in quilt shows, but I don't make them just for that reason.  

I was initially inspired to make this quilt after spotting a flock of snow geese in the sky while out walking in the Minneapolis area last March. I had never before seen snow geese and what a wonderful a sight they were.  

Shortly after that,  I found that the museum's theme for the 2017 contest is the Flying Geese block.

Ah, perfect!  All I had to do was create a quilt that would be an interpretation of that block, recognizable in some way.  

Here's a sample of a traditional flying geese block from Purl Soho:  

Traditional Flying Geese block

I designed and drafted Moonlight Migration, and it is almost entirely made up of flying geese including the pieced black and brown background.  Geese and many other birds do migrate at night and I like the dramatic effect I created.  

Another entry requirement is that the quilt maker also does the quilting, my next hurdle.  

I thought the deadline for entry was August 15th - WOW!  I just read that it's actually November 4, 2016.  Plenty of time to do the machine quilting.  I could take the summer off..... but I won't!   

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Happy Ending


76" x 76"

I've finished my latest quilt; well the top is finished.  This is a rough photo before it's off to be machine quilted.  See my previous blog about Happy for more details.

One of the most tedious parts of making a quilt, especially a large quilt is measuring for, cutting and piecing the quilt backing.  You are dealing with lots of yardage.  Lots to handle.

I have always washed my quilt fabrics including my quilt backing fabric.  Imagine washing 9 or 10 yards of fabric;  it would come out wrinkled and frayed requiring lots of pressing and straightening.  I decided with my last big quilt "Gardens of Rock" to not wash the backing fabric.  Wow! What a difference. This saved so much extra work.  I have not been washing any new fabric since then and I'm..... happy. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Free Pattern Offer

Saturday, March 19 is National Quilting Day and I thought I'd help celebrate by offering a free pattern to my blog readers.  

Dresden Basket is a cute little wall hanging and finishes at 22"x 22".  It is suitable for any skill level.

You'll find complete instructions to make this wall hanging including my raw edge machine appliqué technique  but you can use any appliqué method you like.  Full size templates are also included.

Simply email me: and I'll send you the pdf, ready to print on your home computer.  

This offer will expire in one week:  March 26th, 2016.  

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cottage Garden!

Cottage Garden 80" x 80"

I am very excited to offer this quilt for sale by   

You may have read my blog post a while ago about how I never sell my quilts and that I make them for myself only. 

Well, time passes and my quilt storage space is at capacity.  I've decided I have a number of quilts that I am willing to part with. 

I enjoyed making this quilt using a pattern from the book "Quilting in the Garden" by Barb Adams, Alma Allen and Ricki Creamer.  Of course, the appliqué designs appealed to me and I used my raw edge machine appliqué technique.  It was professionally long arm quilted by Cheri Trexler and I added hand quilting accents and hand beading.  

This quilt was displayed at a number of quilt shows and has won several ribbons.  

Click here to purchase this quilt.

Also, visit The Quilt Broker's Facebook Page.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Center Applique Mandala 

Here's a glimpse of my new quilt in progress.  The simple title "Happy" is what it's all about.  No deep theme or major inspiration here.  

I enjoy watching hummingbirds all summer, both at my feeder and as they flit among my annuals.  They even worked their way into my new design. 

I started at the center of the mandala appliqué block and worked my way outward. This block will finish at 30" square.

Here's a sketch of the entire quilt-to-be:    

Sketch of quilt layout

OK, so far so good.  But things got messy when I started working on the side basket blocks.  I had pieced the backgrounds only to find I'd forgotten to include seam allowances. So, of course they did not match the size of my center mandala.  I'd even appliquéd two of the baskets.  

And I was really not sure at all what I wanted to add to those baskets.  

My project was at a standstill until I visited my quilt group last week (after a long hiatus).  I immediately got not only their enthusiastic approval, but they also helped me form a plan to carry on.  

I re-cut and pieced the background side blocks, appliquéd new baskets and I'm working on flowers to fill the baskets.  Each basket will have the same flower motifs (enlarged from the ones used in the center) but with different colors.

I'm happy when I'm quilting!  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Day

Oh Happy Day!  

Gardens of Rock is finally finished and has been bound and hung.  "Bound and hung"! That sounds terrible.  But you quilters get the lingo.

If you haven't been following my blog, or just gave up waiting for me to get this quilt done, this is my original design with each block, or record, inspired by a favorite rock song, all from the '60's and '70's.  You can try to guess each song title or look back at previous posts.

Outstanding machine quilting was done by Ann Becker. Kudos to her and many thanks.  Close up shots of her work are below.

Gardens of Rock
93" x 93"

By the way, if you really examine my full quilt photo, you'll notice a shadow in the upper left corner.  I take my photos outdoors, and this time of year there are few moments where the sun is just right, shining between the enormous trees in our yard.  I will be taking more photos as this one would not be "Paducah entry worthy", referring to my ultimate goal of entering it in the AQS Paducah, KY show this spring and later, other shows. Entry deadline for Paducah is December 4!  Plenty of time.... 

A new quilt which I plan to call "Happy" is in the works.   No, this time it is not named after the song.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Slow down

Echo Lake

"A woman must cultivate the practical arts, and lend to them that satisfaction of beauty, that the soul might flourish, and the hands be remembered past death." 

                                                                                                        A Sudden Country, Karen Fisher

I've kept this quote in my file of embroidery ideas for years.  How I do love to hand stitch:  knitting, crocheting, embroidery, wool appliqué and sometimes even hand quilting.  Of course, this is in addition to all my machine work.  Any time I spend with needle and thread slows me down and calms my soul.  

In the newest issue of Quilting Arts magazine, I found an article written by Mark Lipinski the creator of The Slow Stitching Movement.  He states: ..."you can change your life at the end of a thread"....

He talks about how quilting books and magazines boast patterns that are "fast, quick, easy, simple and fun" the end result being that quilts are all the same, instead of being unique and creative.

I thought about my own work.  Certainly in the early years of quilt making, I cranked out many many pattern quilts.  At one point, this became boring and forced me to start designing my own work and thus I slowed way down.  One of my large quilts will take me a year to make (while working on a few smaller projects).  I always tell people I make my quilts for me. I don't sell them or make them to sell the patterns to a wide audience.  

My book Nature's Journey Appliqué is all about this.  Most of the quilt patterns included are intricate and very detailed.  I know this is not everyone's cup of tea. 

I just finished my largest quilt ever:  Gardens of Rock.  You can read about it in my previous blog posts.  It took me a long long time to complete.  

Gardens of Rock (before borders)

Backing fabric for Gardens of Rock.  Neat hey?

Now it's on to a new project.  I decided I would only use fabrics in my stash for this quilt.  I won't share my idea until it gets rolling, it's still in the design process, in my head and on paper so far. 

Some of my fabric stash 

I'm also taking a Botany in Art class through the county extension.  We're drawing nature and also learning to do water color.  I do draw all my own appliqué designs, but have learned more about technique in this class.  The instructor is a wonderful artist and very inspiring. 

One of the most fun things I've done in the past year is to spend time with my grandson Woody.  I just want to freeze those moments with him.  He has changed and grown every time I see him.  

Grandma and baby Woody sitting on one of my "early" quilts

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


".... in disorder; chaotic"  

I've always liked that word to describe life's messes or glitches and that's where things have been lately with my "Rock Garden" quilt. 

Before I go on, this is block #8 inspired by four of my favorite Van Morrison songs:  In the Garden, Sweet Thing, And it Stoned Me and Into the Mystic. Common themes are rain and water, mist, nature and a sense of transformation (thus the dragonflies).  

Block #8 A Tribute to Van Morrison

From my own garden "wet with rain"

Now back to my snafu.  

Here's my original paper pattern with the quilt layout I had planned: (in random colors)

I liked this unusual layout. Each block or record would have three separate circular borders. 

When adding the third border though,  I used the wrong pattern and cut all the border pieces the wrong size.  Not to worry, I redrafted a correctly sized pattern and pulled enough fabrics from my stash to cut all new pieces.  

This new third border was pieced (I use 4 separate pieces to create the circle borders) and sewn to each block. Time to layout and finish this quilt!

But.... when I checked that original design layout - ahem - this quilt would turn out to be 112" x 112"!  Only 20 inches larger all around than I had planned. The third border would have to be eliminated. I'd never even attempt to make a quilt this large.

My carpenter Tom always says "measure twice, cut once."  Well, I'd already cut that third border twice.  

Do you ever feel like just stuffing a project in the closet and starting something new?  I felt like it, but I love these blocks too much, so no, I had to keep working at it. At this point my only choice was to forge ahead and decide it would have to be a masterpiece.  

So, I removed that 3rd border from each block completely and decided to set the blocks in a traditional 3 x 3 layout (your basic Nine Patch).  Meaning I needed to design one more block to equal 9 total.  

Which I did;  in one day - idea, design, all ready to appliqué.   I had no problem coming up with another favorite rock song. 

Block #9 is Forever Young written by Bob Dylan, my favorite version sung by The Band. It consists of flower buds, clean, simple and beautiful; young and hopeful always.

Forever Young by Bob Dylan

Once the blocks are sewn together the quilt will measure 87" x 87". The only thing left to decide is whether to add any borders.  I  always decide on borders once the  quilt is pieced.  

I know one thing:  I shall follow "Tom's Law" more closely from now on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rock Garden Rocks On

San Francisco

Blocks 6 and 7 of my new quilt Rock Garden are finished!  The block shown above was inspired by the song San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair) by Scott McKenzie.  I always liked this song, it just sums up that whole era.  Peace and know.  

Learn to Be Still

Another lovely song inspired me to create this block (Eagles.)  When I want to "be still" I  take my paddle boat down the secluded river flowing into Echo Lake and float among the water lilies.  I kept this block simple and quiet.  

Here are the 7 finished blocks pinned to my sewing room wall.  The final block is in the design process, then I need to work on the overall layout. 

My annual trip to Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky in April was fun as always. I was surprised and happy to receive Honorable Mention for my quilt entry:  Nature's Edge.

Nature's Edge

And also, my quilt December was on display at the National Quilt Museum as part of the Nine Patch, New Quilts from an old Favorite exhibit.  Each of us exhibitors wrote a chapter for a book of the same title published by The American Quilter's Society.  

The museum sponsored a book signing for us on opening day.  There were a total of 18 quilts in this exhibit and 12 of us from all over the country made it for the book signing.  Very fun!

 My pattern Carla Rose and Katy Marie published recently and also available as a kit was on sale at the AQS booth.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Deep and dark

 One good thing about writing a blog is that it motivates me to keep working so I'll have something to write about!  

Progress.  I've complete the design for 2 more of my song blocks, but not all the appliqué stitching is done.  I love being at this stage when making a quilt.  I have more blocks to design, fabrics to choose, machine stitching to do and I can move between these steps as my time allows and mood directs. 

These songs are just a tiny sampling of some of my favorites.  I like them for their words, or just for the tunes.  

"Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Here I have depicted the song "Turn! Turn! Turn!" music and adaptation by Pete Seeger, sung by the Byrds, the words from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Copyright:  Melody Trails Inc. 

It's a simple but beautiful message.  We have seasons in nature and also in life.  No matter what, we move from one to the next, never ending.  

"I Am a Rock"

This block is based on "I Am a Rock" sung by Simon and Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon, Copyright: Eclectic Music, Paul Simon Music.  

The beginning lines of this song depict a cold winter day, the song is dark.  I created a maze of rocks and stones.  One can get in, but can't get out; once inside, protected and shielded.  

Block from my quilt "December" 

Speaking of dark and cold, I want to share a bright note.  My quilt December was accepted  by the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY as a finalist in their upcoming exhibit:  New Quilts From an Old Favorite: Nine Patch.  It will be on display there starting in April and then move on to other museums and quilt shows around the country for two years.  An even brighter note:  December won second place in the judged part of this exhibit.  

Each exhibited quilt has a chapter written by the quilt maker and will be published in a book by The American Quilt Society, available for purchase when the exhibit opens.  


Leo and Lily keeping each other warm

Rock on my friends!  

The Stones.  Always.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pattern Published!

Carla Rose and Katy Marie
I just received my March/April American Quilter magazine published by American Quilter's Society.  Included in this issue is their current catalog of fabrics, patterns and books. My quilt pattern titled Carla Rose and Katy Marie, published by AQS is featured in the catalog and is now available for purchase here.  A kit is also available.   

I designed and made this quilt for my adult daughters. Um.... guess what their names are? The bright colors and bold motifs represent their warm personalities, strong work ethic and enthusiasm for life.  Using raw edge fusible machine appliqué, this wall hanging is fun and easy to make.  

Lisa Arndt completed the long arm quilting.  I love her work;  note how her quilting matches the feel of this quilt.  

Quilting detail/Close up

And if you love appliqué as much as I do, check out my book also published by AQS and available on their website, at your local quilt shop or at

 Nature's Journey Applique

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gardens of Rock

Songbird by Fleetwood Mac

Finally, a new quilt in progress.  This design and theme have been in my head for some time now, maybe a year!  Maybe 40 years?  

I have never lost my love of rock music, most of it from the '60's and '70's.  And of course there is also my love of nature and gardens.

So I am designing a very large quilt, 89" x 89" where 8 of my favorite songs will rock on. 

Basic Block Sketch

The black background center represents a vinyl record and will be appliquéd with each song's theme, all in nature or garden motifs.  The first tier surrounding the record has appliquéd diamonds (diamond needle to play the record) on an ivory (in honor of my piano playing) background.

Next will be a tier of different colored pieced arcs - the colors here will not be used, I just crayoned the arcs to get the feel.  

The last tier will be again use black and ivory fabrics and will consist of different pieced tiny quilt blocks such as a nine patch, to represent my love for quilting.  I didn't sketch all the pieces in the outer tiers, they appear blank. I think each one will be a different quilt block. These outer tiers will mesh or converge with each other as shown here:

Gardens of Rock layout

Harvest Moon by Neil Young

Colours by Donovan

I will need 274 diamonds for this quilt for the first tiers.  These diamonds will be appliquéd using my favorite technique:  raw edge machine appliqué with fusible web.

I found Heat n Bond EZ Print Lite to use and it is wonderful when multiples of the same shape are needed.  

Trace your shape as many times as will fit on a regular sheet of paper, then run the EZ print sheets through your printer.  I was still able to cut the donut holes as I normally do with fusible web.