Nancy's Beginnings

Here I will document experiences in my new world of quilting.

This year the state quilt show was held in beautiful Duluth, Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior.  I drove up with three friends from our local guild.  We spent the morning going through the amazing exhibits and the afternoon visiting the vendors before heading back home.  I've shared below pictures of the quilts that particularly tickled my fancy.  Maybe you'll see a design, a quilting motif, or a fabric that will inspire you.

For each picture, I have placed the information card before the picture of the quilt so that you can see who created each masterpiece.  I've started with the nonjudged quilts, so you'll have to scroll further down for the real show-stoppers!


I was impressed with this one because I think even I could do it.  The quilting is simple, but effective!

This is a great quilt idea for a teenage boy.  It's a QST kaleidoscope, easier than a 6-piece, and the fabric is fun!

I love this cheerful quilt!  I don't know why it wasn't entered into the judged category.  Nice quilting, too.

Can you tell that inside each 3-D tent is a unique scene?

We're getting into some photo art quilts here.  Again, how come they are not in the judged category?

She said she will never do another one?  Gini, I hope you don't feel that way after creating your fine photo art quilt.

Since I just cut a lot of my scraps into 4 1/2 inch squares, this is the kind of scrappy I should think about sewing.

I'm excited that these two designers from Glad Creations are coming to speak to our guild next October!

Although this is designed to look like a post card with a message and an address on the reverse side, it is not a quilted post card.  This is much larger.

I recognized this pattern as one I have seen several of you do here on QCA.

Good example of embellishing with thread.

This quilt made me think of Thea.

Do you see that it is a deer?  When we were standing directly in front of it, it wasn't so obvious.

I thought this was a unique way to use a panel.

It was fun to spy some unexpected details on this quilt.

Once again, I don't understand why some of these quilts weren't entered in the competition.  Wow!

Okay, so now we're coming into the modern quilts - still unjudged.  They sure had fun making the letters of this banner!

This reminded me of that fancy door quilt the gentleman on QCA was making.  What was his name?

I like the water background of this.

This is for those of you who enjoy hand embroidery.

Postcards for Sukochi!  I especially liked this one...

I've seen one of these color challenges before.  Notice the colored line that goes from quilt to quilt to quilt.

A close-up of one of them...

I LOVE this challenge!  I wonder if members of my guild would be brave enough to try this.

Here's another interesting challenge....

Apparently, some people don't read the information cards.  I heard several members of the undercover quilt police making comments on this quilt not being square.  Did they not see the phrase "free form"?? 

Such fun details in this one!

FINALLY, we found the judged quilts.  Wouldn't you know my camera battery called it quits right then, so the rest of these are from my phone camera, and it doesn't handle low light as well.  You will likely see more motion blur on these.  Sorry.

I've just learned how to sew hexagons, so I was especially excited about this quilt.

This was wool applique onto a cotton backing.

What a simple idea and look how beautiful it turned out!

Some more hand embroidery.  We just started a hand embroidery sub-group in the guild, so the embroidered quilts caught my eye.

Very cute!

Completely hand painted.  Sorry the picture quality is so poor.  Look at this close-up!


Another challenge! I'm going to enter one of these next year!


The detail in this quilt was amazing and really gave it a 3D effect.  Unfortunately my close-up of the squirrel's fur is blurry.

I'm glad my friend was standing right in front of this so you could see the scale of it.  Notice the use of squares in squares.

Another quilt with amazing dimensional details!

Thanks for viewing the show with me.  Truly, that was only about one fourth of the quilts.  We did spend our last two hours in Duluth visiting the vendors, and I picked up a few goodies.

Our sewing guild was looking for new charity quilt projects, and in looking through the book "Comfort Quilts from the Heart," I came across the idea of fidget quilts, or sensory stimulation quilts, especially appropriate for patients in long-term care facilities.  The activity director at our local care facility was so excited upon learning of these that she requested 40 of them as soon as possible.

I prepared an information sheet to share with the guild membership to recruit sewers for these quilts.  I've pasted a copy here in case you'd like to share the idea with your local sewing group.  (Sorry, I tried to attach the actual document so it could be easily printed, but though it uploaded, I don't see it attached to this post anywhere, so now I've pasted it and uploaded most of the pictures.)


Mending the Mind: A Fidget Quilt

           ~information taken from Comfort Quilts from the Heart by Jake Finch, C&T Publishing, 2008

                 ~pictures collected via Google images - search for "fidget, sensory stimulation, or touch" quilts

Fidget quilts are therapeutic quilts used to stimulate shut-in elderly patients or anyone suffering from brain trauma and impairments.  The long-term care centers in Aitkin and Crosby would be happy to take as many of these as we can sew!

In general, the fabrics used are decorator prints cut into medium-sized squares allowing users to enjoy each fabric's distinctive look and feel.  Choose fabrics with texture, patterns with movement, bright colors and high contrast.  Try corduroy, fleece, fake fur, terrycloth, sateen, brocade, velvet, or lace. 

Buttons, doodads, and embellishments are securely attached to the quilt for the user to fondle.   Use your imagination.  Try rickrack, laces, braids, ribbons, trims, or kitchen scrubbies.  Put a layer of a krinkly shopping bag in with the batting.  Visit the dollar store for tactile objects.  Check the used clothing stores for zippers, pockets, buttons, etc.   

Fidget quilts can be quite small so they won't easily fall off the lap.  A good size is approx. 20x25.

Embellishments can be securely sewn to the center of the block or attached with a sturdy ribbon sewn into the seams between rows.   Backstitch over the sewing to add even more strength.

Choose embellishments that will hold up through laundering and rough handling. The following pictures illustrate possible embellishments.



Posted by MNnancy | 3 comment(s)

I'm having a very "quilty" fall in 2011 - my first autumn of retirement.  I've attended two QCA regional retreats which involved 15-20 women at each, and I had a great time!  Then a friend/former co-worker of my husband invited me to a large retreat at Lake Beauty in Long Prairie, MN.  We're talking close to 100 women, and I was only going to know one of them, so I was a little nervous going in. 

The setting is becoming fairly common - a children's summer camp looking for business to extend their season.  For anyone who has not attended a large quilt retreat, I'm posting a description and pictures of the one I attended...

1.  (below) The gymnasium was home to most of the quilters.  As they come in, they set up tables in the groupings they prefer.  There were large groups of up to12 quilting friends, but more common were groupings of two or three friends.  Sadly, I saw one woman sitting by herself, but maybe she preferred to work alone.  I don't know if they had many singletons attending.  If I were considering going to a retreat alone, I would call ahead to ask how common that is and if any effort is made to pair singles up with other singles or with small groupings.

The gymnasium had recently had an electrical upgrade to allow for all the sewing machines and irons to run without tripping circuits.  The camp provided tables and basic plastic chairs, but not ironing boards or cutting mats, so each group brought their own.  They gymnasium had "soft" walls for protection from injuries and for acoustics, and quilters used those as design walls.  These pictures were taken early in the weekend before everyone had arrived, so it doesn't appear as crowded as it gets.

Gymnasium -

2.  There were some "private" locations that long-standing campers knew could be reserved if they called in on the first few days of registration.  One was on the balcony of the gym, another in a conference room, and one in far corner of the dining lodge.  The group I joined had used that last site for years, and the advantage was great natural lighting and a wonderful view of the sun rising over the lake.

Gymnasium balcony -

Conference room -

Corner of dining room -

Our morning view -

3.  I was with a group of very talented quilters, four of whom were professional long-armers.  Most of the group drove up from Minneapolis suburbs and included retired nurses and teachers and their friends and family who had been personally invited.  Here are some of the projects that came from my group...


Oh, here is that last quilt under construction.  Step one involves sewing strips end to end to create one VERY LONG strip, only a small part of which is pictured below.

3.  On the last evening, the entire group had a show and tell for those who wished to participate.  Quilts were held over the balcony of the dining hall, and the quilter shared its story.  Here were some of my favorites...

Where are pictures of the quilts I worked on?  Well, I'm happy to report I did finish three quilts I had started earlier - my stack 'n whack (finally!), the leaf block exchange quilt, and MQ 5, but I'll wait until I've quilted them to show them off.  I also started a baby quilt, so I felt like it was a productive weekend!

Lodging accomodations at these type of camps involve dormitory style rooms with multiple bunk beds and bathrooms shared by the whole floor.  There were five in my sleeping room.  The staff "unbunked" some beds so we could all sleep on lower beds.  Three meals a day were included served cafeteria style.  The food wasn't great, but I never went hungry, and happily I didn't have to think about cooking or washing dishes.

All in all, it was a fun experience, and for the price, I wouldn't hesitate to attend again!

Posted by MNnancy | 10 comment(s)
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We were discussing different types of pesto in the discussion forums, and I mentioned that my neighbor friend and I are planning a pesto demonstration for our next garden club meeting.  There were a couple of requests for the sage pesto recipe, so I have attached the document I prepared.  It would be helpful before our presentation if you would look it over and let me know if you see mistakes or if any of it seems confusing.  I will mention again that there are hundreds of pesto recipes available on the Internet , and it's just a matter of playing with the ingredients and the proportions until you get the flavor you like.

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At the MN Quilt Show, I had the opportunity to take an all-day applique class from Beth Ferrier.  She was a hoot!  Using wash-away applique sheets, we learned how to do machine applique that looks like needle-turn (if you don't look too closely).  Being someone who H-A-T-E-S any hand-sewing, this was the technique for me!

Here is Beth showing us one of her beautiful quilts.

Even with an over-full class, Beth found time to give each of us individual attention.

She was so talented, so helpful, and SO FUNNY!

By the end of the class, we had only completed one flower and two leaves.

Working at my usual break-neck speed at home (said tongue-in-cheek), one month later I have the 18-inch block done.  I decided to make a small wall-hanging instead of a pillow or one-block of a larger project.  I have a new appreciation of how much work goes into full--size applique quilts!  My flowers are 3 shades of purple - not blue as they appear here.

A close up.  I used some decorative stitching on the edges of the orange ribbon, but Beth's technique calls for invisible thread on the edges of the applique.

This project also gave me a chance to try my new Zip Bind system (Martelli) which I had purchased in the vendor area.  This is the front showing the stitch-in-the-ditch along the binding.

On the back side, the stitching picks up the very edge of the binding.  I think I could have hand-sewn this binding in the time it took me to figure out the system.  The sales person was very good at it - a slick sales job!  Still, I think I'll stay with it because i don't like hand sewing.

The Minnesota Quilt Show rotates its location between 4 cities in the state.  Four years ago when it was held in St. Cloud, the location closest to my home, I attended just for something to do on a Saturday afternoon.  I fell in love with the projects I saw.  I vowed then and there that I would learn to quilt.  Four years later, I was excited when the show returned to St. Cloud so that I could take classes to get better at my new pastime.  With a few quilts under my belt, I examined the quilts in the exhibit hall with a new eye for detail.

Come join me on a virtual tour of the Minnesota Quilt Show.  There were hundreds of quilts to see.  Here are the ones that most tickled my fancy.

Oh my gosh, those blocks are all hand-appliqued.  It's a garden scene.  Vegetables in the upper left. Flowers along the right side.  An apple tree in the lower left.  Here's a close-up...

Because I'm just learning applique, my eye was drawn to fine examples.  This one had beautiful embroidered details as seen in the closeup.

I'd like to do a log cabin quilt some day.  The colors in this one are striking!

A group of friends made this together, each gal creating her own "Pretty in Pink" block.  Their names are stitched on the hearts.  Fun idea!

These are the same Elisa Wilson curved pieces that I'm currently working on in batiks.  This clever person chose great fabrics to create a scene with those curves.

Another attractive applique.  I like how the picture's elements extend into the border.

Someone enjoyed making baskets!

Aprons sure are popular these days.  I saw several quilts along this line.

Funky chickens!  This could be another fun group project.

Because St. Cloud is known as the "Granite City," the challenge project for this year involved using fabrics with stone patterns.  This quilt was an exceptional entry in the challenge category with many 3-D effects.  Close-ups follow...

This jacket was another challenge entry.  Notice the "rocky" elements on the back!

I thought this challenge quilt was striking in its simplicity.

This long, thin wall hanging proves that quilts don't have to be large to be beautiful!

Sampler quilts don't get much larger than this.

I love the simplicity of the leaves and the gradations of blue in the background.

Both the applique and the quilting were exceptional on this quilt.  Detail below.

I should have asked someone to stand in front of this as I snapped the picture to illustrate the scale.  The little boy is humongous!  Can you imagine the grandson's delight to see himself larger than life with all his favorite things around him.  The textures don't show well either.  The elephant and Maurice Sendak's "Wild Things" are made of chenille.

I love batiks!

This one was pieced in wool with many hand-embroidered details.

So many beautiful quilts!  I could go on and on....


(Next up - pictures from my applique class.)

Posted by MNnancy | 14 comment(s)