Monday, December 17, 2012

New Fons and Porter ebook Review

I've been asked to review the new ebook:  "Build Your Best Log Cabin" from Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting.  I was interested immediately as the log cabin block has always been one of my favorites.  

The ebook is concise and easy to read with beautiful color photos throughout.  You'll find an antique quilt example of each of three log cabin favorites: Traditional, Courthouse Steps and Chevron.  Also included are different setting options and charts to cut strips for each of these blocks in a number of different block sizes, so you can easily design your own quilt and layout. 

Antique Chevron Log Cabin owned by Sara Miller

Would you like patterns to make new and unique log cabin quilts using these three traditional styles?  There are four complete patterns by well known quilt artists included for you to try.

"Bears in Berties Log Cabin" by Ricki Tims
Projects are rated per difficulty from easy to challenging. I especially like the color graphics and easy to read charts, the log cabin tips and bonus features including:  bobbin work with trapunto, binding with piping, and Liz's lumpless binding.  The instructions for these techniques are displayed tutorial style with up close photos and excellent how-tos.

I will refer to the lumpless binding tutorial often, as Liz's technique is the best!

This ebook will inspire you to explore the timeless beauty and versatility of the log cabin block. I have often combined applique with log cabin blocks: note the setting chart for "lights and darks" on page 4. The light space is perfect for applique!

With permission, here's the link for you to receive your own free copy of this ebook: 




Thursday, December 6, 2012


My favorite month, December in the north woods, is upon me. In all it's darkness and brightness, I love each day.  Christmas is of course, a big part of it, but instead of falling into the  shopping and celebrating mania, I enjoy the real beauty and peace that December is.

December has inspired a new quilt project.  The photo above is a layout design from my EQ program with some basic color plans.  I've changed the design and colors several times, but I think this is it.  The center stars will be my own snowflake designs (each different of course!) and the snowflakes will be made up of leaves, flowers, branches etc.  The dark green circle segments represent the color of dark winter pines. All the colors will be rather dark, with gray tones.  The snowflakes will stand out in whites and very light grays, and I'll add some blue maybe at the center snowflakes to represent the brilliant blue sky when it does pop out.  

Winter is my favorite time to be outside walking or snowshoeing in the woods.  Nature never disappoints.  Trumpeter swans made a brief appearance on Echo Lake the other morning.  The sun was shining brilliantly.  

This morning the weather is snowy, gray and very windy; the lake looks completely different.  An otter takes the place of the swans in this next photo (black blob).  Earlier, an osprey like huge bird was in the same spot, soon to be chased away by an eagle.  

I've finished the hand applique on my Crimson Tweed wall hanging and now it's on to the borders. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More wool applique

It seems I've been on vacation.  Not really, but we did spend Thanksgiving  in Minneapolis with our wonderful family, and the weekend before that I was gone to an out of town wedding.

After finally  finishing my shore birds quilt, I wanted and needed a break, a diversion.  So, I began this wall hanging "Crimson Tweed" from the book by the same name, author Sue Spargo

I have combined hand wool applique with cotton raw edge machine appliques.  I'm adding embroidered embellishments as I go along.  There will also be appliqued borders.  Will I finish it  before Christmas?  Hmmmm.... I do love the folk art designs and it's really been fun to stitch.

Also, I hand stitched a couple of bird ornaments of my design for our quilt group's annual Christmas tree which will be raffled for the Manitowish Waters Library.  The theme this year was simply "red and white" and all ornaments are hand made by group members.  We decorated the tree today and it's beautiful.

Meanwhile, my next large quilt is brewing in my head.  More on that later.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Over the Waves

"Oh, Mexico Beach"
 86" x 86"
Jane Zillmer

Also known as "Shore Birds",  and at times "The Beast",  this quilt is finally finished.  Better photos will be taken when my new camera arrives and I find a non windy day to hang it outside and take pictures.

The skewed edges you see are caused by a slight breeze when I took this photo early this morning.   Prior to this, the border edges were just plain wavy.  Made me seasick.  Now, I know that the theme of this quilt is ocean and beach, but those kinds of waves are not desirable.

This set me into a panic. Who knew you needed to block a quilt after it's been quilted?  I always skip those chapters in my books.  With some excellent advice from Diane Gaudynski, hours of consternation (get my quilt WET?) and finally, just using common sense (as Diane advises), I accomplished what I set out to do.  After removing my first binding, blocking the entire quilt - twice - squaring and remarking a new outer edge, reattaching a new binding and doing a final block, it is as square and lovely as can be.

I first blogged about my inspiration and fabric choices for this quilt in January, 2012.  This is my Big Quilt for the year.  For the past 7 years, it has been my goal and pleasure to complete one large quilt each year.  Of course there have also been many small projects and patterns completed, and oh yes... a book written.  But I always have one major quilt in the works.  Most of these quilts are professionally long arm quilted.  "Oh, Mexico Beach" was quilted by Lisa Arndt.

Why do I make these big quilts?  First of all, I love looking at big quilts.  And I love the challenge of  designing and completing these quilts which each tell a story about something in my life. I guess they are big stories to tell. 

And for 2013?  That quilt is still just in my head. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wool work

Maybe it's just that time of year, when my thoughts turn to wool. Like wool socks every day. Or maybe I just need some small projects to work on while still tackling The Big Ones.  More about that another day.

This pillow was so much fun to make.  After gathering leaves on one of my walks, I dried and pressed them as usual.  I thought I'd just lay them out on graph paper and let an idea come to me......  

... a really nice, cushy warm pillow done in my hand dyed felted wool.  I usually stitch wool applique by hand , but I stitched these leaves by machine with a straight stitch around the edges and then added vein details to the leaves also by machine.  I like the effect.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First Showing


"Carla Rose, Katy Marie" made it's first showing at the Treasures of Tomorrow quilt show held last weekend in Marshfield, WI.  And it received a very nice third place award in the Master Quilters category.  

I've been entering and attending this show for many years.  It's a chance for me to spend the day with my good old friend Jan (She's not old, she's my long time friend).

It was a very nice show, good vendors and all around a lovely day.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Dresden Basket 22" x 22" by Jane Zillmer

I had a wonderful time leading an applique workshop yesterday sponsored by Mercer's Small Town Quilt group, and I'd like to thank them for asking me!  We met at the spacious and well lit Manitowish Waters Community Center.

19 ladies joined me for a busy day learning my applique technique.  "Dresden Basket" was the chosen pattern.  Each quilter brought their own fabrics; some chose colors similar to the pattern and others went a completely different direction.  It was really great to see the results.  Several ladies had never done applique and one honestly expressed a "fear of applique".  Not uncommon. We did run out of time and just touched on my stitching technique.  I'll follow up with anyone who'd like more help with this. I had planned to get some photos, and didn't get to that either!

I am always impressed by the quilting knowledge and experience among the group, but even the most seasoned said they learned something - the ultimate compliment to a teacher.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Colorful award

Can you stand another blog post about Flower Power?  Well, what the heck, I need to share this:

Flower Power won the Best Use of Color award in the Traditional Quilts category at the Santa Clara, California Pacific International Quilt Festival last week.  I'm really pleased to have been bestowed this honor. The judges understood what my quilt is all about.  It's fun and colorful!

A quilter friend told me recently that my quilts look "doable" to the average quilter.  They are not show stoppers, or over-the-top, make your mouth drop quilts.  

Thanks, I agree. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Little by little

I first blogged about this UFO 2 years ago.  This quilt is from a pattern by Piece O' Cake Designs titled "Stars in the Garden".  I machine appliqued the blocks using various decorative stitches years ago and have been hand quilting it little by little ever since.  I use Perle Cotton and a modified "big stitch" for my hand quilting.

I have one more block to finish after this one, plus the borders.  It is always out staring me in the face saying "work on me, work on me" and when the mood hits me, I do work on it.  I've thought about scrapping the whole thing or farming it out (where?) but no, I really love this quilt and someday, it will be finished.

Hand quilting is actually relaxing.  Sometimes it's just exactly what I need.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


This is the full sampler quilt (UFO) I've been machine quilting -  shown here pin basted before I started quilting it.

When I blogged about my quilting progress last week, my daughter Katy, the quintessential journalist asked me what the title of this quilt is.  Title?  I hadn't even thought about a title, while usually I name my quilts as I'm working on them

I made this quilt years ago to "practice" my hand piecing skills as I intend this quilt to be a class model for beginning quilters some day. Then I decided to "practice" my machine quilting to finish it. Each block is different and would force me to try different free motion designs. 

What to name this quilt..... "etude" came to mind.  I remembered practicing etudes for my piano lessons. 

The actual definition of etude from  A piece composed for the development of a specific point of technique   2. A composition featuring a point of technique but performed because of its artistic merit.


Friday, October 5, 2012


It's official:  I have given myself a diploma and I can stop "practicing" my machine quilting.  Permission granted to actually machine quilt any quilt I want to. How long have I been at this??

Not that high honors have been bestowed on my machine quilting, but I've reached an acceptable level.  And more importantly, I've relaxed enough to just be able to sit down and "do it already" without agonizing and overthinking.  

I only have 6 blocks left to quilt in this sampler, plus the sashings.  But is it "show quality"?  You're darn right it is!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nature's Journey


I am pleased to share with everyone the cover and title of my upcoming book.  Due to be released in Spring 2013, this book of my quilts will have 61 pages, include a pattern CD and retail for $21.95.  

Nature's Journey will be published by The American Quilter's Society.  The editors designed this cover and title capturing the essence of what my book is all about, so a job well done!  I could not be more pleased.

The cover quilt is titled:  "Show Me a Summer Day in Missouri", 89" x 89", completed in 2007.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I've been following Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project for some time now and I recently became interested in her UFO Sunday blog (she blogs every day, by the way).

Her Sunday blog has motivated me to work on my machine quilting practice quilt sampler and also got me thinking about all my projects in progress.  Actually, they are ALL UFOs (unfinished objects).  They are all sitting there looking at me saying "work on me today!" 

The idea of devoting Sundays to this is great.  To me, Sunday has always been kind of an off day.  Growing up in a very religious household, Sunday was to be observed as a day of rest with no work being done.  That meant no use of the sewing machine although hand work was OK.  I loved to sew even back then of course, and that meant an entire day banned from sewing!  Sometimes on Sundays even now I find myself not wanting to do anything constructive.  I think I may have turned the corner now!

I completed the applique and block settings for Pots of Flower Power (above) and now I'm planning the border design. Below is a mock-up from EQ7 which helps me with size and color ideas.  I plan to add lots of appliqued leaves along the vines and also corner motifs.

Speaking of wasting time:  I am going to use my blog today to vent a little (I normally make a point not to do that.)  I am now locked out of Tumblr and my website - my computer actually freezes.  I spent HOURS yesterday trying to add a page of my patterns only to fail time and again, even though I have easily done it in the past.  There is obviously something in my OS interfering with Tumblr.  OK - ya!  What?  I'm going to have to get some pro help here. Tumblr's "help" has been no help.

All that precious designing and sewing time!  I do love blogging, and I've been told I'm fairly computer literate for someone my age (ahem), but man, what a waste of time messing with these techie issues.   

On that note, I will simply post this blog to good old Blogger and be on my way.  Looking forward to Sunday!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pacific International Quilt Fest

Flower Power will be traveling again, this time to Santa Clara, CA to the Pacific International Quilt Fest, October 11 - 14.  I branched away from my usual favorite shows, entered this show and was accepted.  Here's hoping one of the judges is of my vintage (aging hippie) and is taken just by the title alone!

I thought I'd share the process I go through to enter a major quilt show, step-by-step:

- Choosing which shows to enter is the first step.  I make quilts for me, number one, and then I find shows I think are a good fit for my quilts.  I have my favorite shows, which I enter every year.  (see AWARDS on my web site)

- An entry form with required fee needs to be completed and mailed by the specified deadline.  Some shows require digital images of the quilt on a disc; some just photos.  Getting a good photo is the hardest part for me.  A bad photo can disqualify an entry immediately. 

- Once my quilt is juried into the show, I will receive a notification letter with delivery instructions and dates. Each show has it's own criteria.

- I keep track of dates on my calendar, and keep a file folder for each show.  I need to be sure I don't enter the same quilt in two different shows at the same time!

- Next, I need a proper box and clear plastic bag to pack and ship my quilt, again following specific instructions for each show.  I always use UPS or FedEx, with tracking numbers.  I never disclose on the outside of the box "quilt" - and I am never asked what I am shiping, nor am I asked the value amount.  I use a pack and ship store, but always package up my quilt myself.  Return instructions and shipping fees are also included.

- Each of my show quilts has been professionally appraised and I carry a rider on my home owner's insurance for each quilt.  Loss or damage in shipping is covered, so I do not purchase extra insurance. However, the same is NOT covered while a quilt is on display at a show.  The show itself has liability coverage and I enclose a copy of the quilt appraisal when entering so that it's insured for the proper amount.  I would surely miss my quilt if anything happened to it;  cash itself couldn't replace it! 

- I look forward to receiving my quilt back with the judges' comments (and maybe a ribbon) and I keep big binders with all the info from each show, for each quilt.

- That's it!  It is fun to enter shows.  I love the idea that thousands of quilters (and non quilters) can see my work.  Every quilt I make is made to be "show quality" whether I intend to show it or not.  That goal has helped me improve my skills and makes the act of creating a quilt very enjoyable for me.   Although some day, I just want to whip together a fun quilt.  I wonder if I can do it?? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fun with Flower Power

I'm working on a 4 block wallhanging using my Flower Power designs.  For this project, I created  flower pots as a base for the appliqued motifs instead of the pieced baskets found in the original quilt.  This smaller version is fun to stitch up, and I have a nice wall all picked out here at home for it to be displayed. 

The new Quilter's Newsletter arrived in my mailbox today.  As you may know, my quilt Flower Power is being featured as a series quilt in 7 issues; currently on #4. One of the blocks featured in this issue happens to be the same one I'm stitching!  I do love this quilt and love hearing from quilters who are making it.

ALSO:  if you followed my blog at this site in the past, I hope that you continue to follow me at my new website:  I have been unable to blog on Tumblr recently - problems with text - so I'm back to using blogger, for now.  Funny, I kind of feel at home here.

Back to my machine! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Step Back

My very first quilt, untitled, which I made when I was in high school.

This quilt was hand quilted by my mom and presented back to me as a surprise in 1972.

Why am I posting photos of my first quilt?  Hardly a materpiece, but I have kept it all these years and always loved it. Every story must have a beginning, and this quilt would mark the beginning of my quilting life story. 

Speaking of stories, I've been thinking lately about why and how I blog.  I started blogging about 2 years ago.  Others were blogging so why not try it?  It was fun and seemed to validate my work.  I had no real goals in mind, but since I started blogging, I have written patterns, been published in Quilter's Newsletter and also have written a book of my quilt designs (to be published by The American Quilter's Society in 2013. 

Looking back at my blog archives, they do tell my story and are a diary of my quilting life. 

My blog is still mainly about my work and I have not entered the world of reblogging.  I do have a Pinterest account and boards full of neat stuff that all belongs to someone else.  It makes me wonder:  have I been paging through Pinterest posts and Tumblr blogs, looking for ideas rather than letting my ideas occur naturally, like they always have?  Are all these images crowding out my own creative thoughts?  Should I be gathering and storing my own inspirations in my head and sketching them on paper? 

My first quilt was not made from a pattern - I simply cut squares from whatever fabric remnants I could find and arranged and stitched them in a geometric design.  Now I know that it really is reminiscent of  the traditional pattern: "Trip Around the World" - and maybe I had seen it somewhere and it stuck in my head.  In other words, we are always "reblogging" the work and ideas of someone else.  Nothing is truly, completely original.

So, I'll continue to write my blog, share my personal stories and ideas and progress.  I hope you are inspired by what you see and create something!  And we'll see what we shall see.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We have a top!

I can't tell you how long it took me to design and finish these borders, but at long last, here they are!  This is the finished top of "Carla Rose, Katy Marie" and it's off to my machine quilter, Lisa Arndt who confesses to feeling creative these days.  She'll perform her quilting magic as always. 

Lisa's hubby, Joshua Arndt  is working on my new blog/web page, Facebook page and more.  It will all be unveiled in a couple of weeks.  What a talented couple! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quilts juried into Paducah, KY 2012 show

I Love the Nightlife (above) and Woods and Wildflowers (below) will be going to the The American Quilter's Society show in Paducah, KY held April 25 - 28.  I'll be attending too of course;  never miss it.  It's also a week of fun at my sister's home in Cape Girardeau, MO where I stay.  Just plain exciting!!!

I've been working like crazy designing borders for Carla Rose/Katy Marie and went through many options.  I think I've settled on a design and will finish soon.  Here is the quilt without borders.  Leo approves.

To recognize National Quilting Day sponsored by The National Quilting Association, I arranged a really nice quilting display at our wonderful local library.  I have to admit, it was really fun to do;  other than crawling around on scaffolding to hang quilts, that is.  Included in the display are the Essence of Self quilts made by the applique group at Your Arts Program.  Photo below. 

And now, it's back to the border.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter is really flying by - no I mean that! Temperatures have been very mild (for northern Wisconsin) and there is just enough snow for outdoor fun.  Of course, winter is not over yet....

What am I working on?  All of the pattern drawings and diagrams for my book (88 pages of them) are being proofed by one of my quilting friends.  All the text has already been proofed by my sis Ellen, and I've made all those changes and corrections.  And I've been changing and editing as I think of things.  It's always on my mind as I'm working on projects.

American Quilters Society, my publisher, will need to have all of my quilts for photography while they are working on my book.  So, I'll be left quilt less!  I need to replenish my inventory, like right away!

A few projects I'm working on:

"Carla Rose and Katy Marie" (one block shown here)

"Blue Camellia" (small portion shown here - it is pin basted and ready to machine quilt)

"Dresden Basket"  (class project  for beginning machine applique - also pin basted and ready to quilt)

On the runway waiting to take off - One of the blocks is a wool pillow which I hand appliqued.  I took a photo, imported it to my Electric Quilt program, added borders and here's a look, albeit a bit distorted, I just love it.

"Birds of Happiness"  Finished priority Alzheimer's project quilt and part of our applique group project:

And finally, I am planning to do a quilt display at the Mercer Public Library for the entire month of March to celebrate National Quilting Day which is March 17.  This day is sponsored by The National Quilting Association

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Flower Power

I haven't seen this quilt, my original design and one of my favorites, for some time, but it was just returned to me. Quilter's Newsletter has held it hostage while creating a pattern to present as a series quilt in their magazine, starting with the April/May 2012 issue.  If you don't subscribe, it would be a good time to do so.  You'll get the entire pattern for this quilt.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to the shore

What's the next best thing to an actual trip to the beach?  Designing a quilt inspired by the beach of course!  I had blogged about ideas for a shore bird quilt last year after a visit to Mexico Beach, Florida, but got a little side tracked, um.... writing a book.  While the book is not finished, I need to keep moving so to speak.

Using my gazing ball for color inspiration, these are some of the fabrics I've pulled out to work with.  What will the quilt pattern and applique be?  Not sure yet, but I'm playing with the traditional "Lady of the Lake" quilt block as a base.  There will be shore birds and flora, and whatever else develops from there.

And, I decided I will have to make a full quilt from my "Moon Glow" block.  I love it!  My sister informed me there is a vintage button line named Moonglow.  She is correct and they are beautiful.