Previous month:
May 2009
Next month:
July 2009

June 2009

Who do we have next on the blog hop? Terry Atkinson!

Logo blog hop 

Ok ... I'll be the first to admit that Terry kind of frightened me at first ... and after 15 years in the military and raising three boys ... it takes a lot to get me to that point!  I had been invited to Owatonna MN by a couple of quilting friends to a sewing event with Terry. I knew who she was but was clueless that this was a test class for one of her books. So I'm sitting at my table in the back of the room, sewing away and trying to make sense of what I'm doing, when Terry comes by. She looks at my project and says 'well that's a setting we haven't thought of yet' ... and all I can think of is YIKES I've messed up Terry Atkinson's pattern! Imagine my surprise when I saw the Rosebud Runner in her book,  Confetti in the Corner a few months later. Woo hoo ... I wasn't a total goof ... Terry thought I was clever!! And I've loved her and her patterns ever since.

Terry's another piece of the Minnesota Road Show quartet and if you have a shop near you doing this program, make sure you go. She has tons to teach ... both in that and in her books and her patterns. Terry goes to great lengths to make sure her projects are accurate and easy to understand. My sister Sue uses her Little Red Hen quilt for all of her wedding quilts because it has multiple sizes, uses two colors and goes together in a snap. And it's cute.

If you want to see how creative Terry is, flip back through my blog to the last two Julys. I help her with a shop owners retreat and one of the things we do is change out the table display for dinner each night. They are totally cool ... look at the photos and you'll be inspired to whip something up for your own table!! (Make sure you read my blog this July, too as we host two more sessions ... you'll be shocked and amazed ... no pressure, Terry!!)

Now don't forget to comment on her blog ... you don't want to miss out on the fabulous gift baskets, do you?

Turning a New Leaf!

Logo blog hop 

I'm embarassed to say that I didn't meet Kari from New Leaf Stitches  until just the other day. How lame is that? Especially because she's pretty cool ... and she saved my life with her Clearly Perfect Angles cling! I'm working on a quilt with a ton of half-square triangles and I have to say, if you don't have her tool stuck on your machine, your quilting life isn't complete! Don't want to let the cat out of the bag so make sure you read her blog today.

I love Kari's tag line ... fresh ideas from a retired Home Ec teacher! While the term 'home ec' may seem old-fashioned to some, there's nothing old about her designs and her approach to quilting. You know how I love wool ... check out her patterns with their wool embellishment ... you'll love the look!

There's still more to come on the blog hop ... keep checking in each day to see who's up next ... and don't forget to comment on Kari's blog today to be eligible for the prizes. Quilting in the Summer in Minnesota ... does it get any better than this???

Designers Day Out!


So what do Minnesota designers do on their day off? Heck ... they hang out at my place!! Well ... not all the time but they did last Tuesday. It started out with Celine and  Gudrun coordinating a day to come visit my workshop in White Bear Lake  ... and turned into a 'if two designers are good then twenty-five are even better' kind of a thing. It was one of those spur of the moment can you come things ... half the number invited were able to drop everything and join us. And what a day it was!



It took us two and half HOURS to get around the table doing introductions!!  Someone would make a comment about themselves and we'd be off and running on a totally different conversation. Everything from fabric design to trade shows to customers questions to 'exactly what do those quilters want'. Seems like half of them were Home Ec teachers of some sort ... just like our Monday blogger. The backgrounds of others ... including our Thursday  blogger who came from the toy industry to the quilting industry ... were totally amazing. Lots of us started at home with kids under our feet and our sewing space in the kitchen so we could keep track of them. A weird observation on my part is that I've been in the industry longer than any one of them ... including Lynette Jensen from Thimblerries and Linda Hohag from Brandwine Designs ... who it seems I've been looking up to for advice  my entire quilting career. How did that happen?


So then it was time to hustle them out the door for lunch at the Avalon Tea Room. Here they are turning the corner in front of Bear Patch Quilting ... Debbie was vacationing and Laurel was teaching a class or we would have picked them up. Look at that woman looking at them ... can't you just see her mind churning ... isn't this a gaggle of Minnesota quilt designers? I know that's what she's thinking. Seriously.


Ahhhh ... lunch at the tea room ... doesn't it look wonderful? It was! Pasta with chicken and dried cherries ... a melty scone ... fresh fruit including blackberries ... strawberry iced tea. Not to mention more conversation swirling around. I found out so many intersting things!!


Back to the workshop for an afternoon craft ... and lots of laughs! Someone didn't follow directions and had to sew her papers together ... but that's ok because I sew paper together all the time. It's very fun! We were making paper covered composition books. (You can find my directions for them on OLFA's web site.)


They had the option of making a tag for the front of their book ...


... or they could could make a crepe paper rosette ... one of my personal favorites. Rosette's are all the rage with the paper-crafting girls.


I even let them use my Crop-a-dile. I can hear you scrapbooking girls snickering ... it was like handing a rotary cutter to a knitter. c.l.u.e.l.e.s.s.

The end result is all that matters, though. Now they all have something to take notes in at our next get together! I can't wait ...


Organize yourself for efficient piecing!


I worry about myself sometimes ... when I'm working on quilting projects I sort of get obsessive/compulsive about the work process. I stack the pieces in the order they need to be sewn ... I stack piles turned so that when I pick them up to sew they're facing the right way ... things like that. I think ... I hope ... I do it so that I work more efficiently but mostly I think I do it because I don't want to make mistakes. But even then that isn't a guarantee! I was thinking of this the other day as I was working on a quilt ... thought I'd share with you two things I do to make it all go smoother.


When I'm sewing half square triangles, I layer them in a stack so that the pieces are facing the way they will need to go under the presser foot. It keeps me from having to twist them around each time I pick up a set and makes it easier and faster to sew together.


Same thing goes for pressing. I layer the stack in the way the seam will eventually be pressed ... in this case to the darker fabric so that one is facing the top of the pile. I pull one set on to the ironing board and set the seam ... then I open it up and use the tip of my iron to make sure the seam is going the right way. Then I press the seam with an up and down motion ... I'm not ironing a shirt after all! When I'm done, I put the finished one on a pile so the pieces are all laying the same way.

Also ... because these blocks will be sewn again to make quarter square triangles ... I count out half of the pile and separate the stacks. I need to draw a line across from corner to corner and I sure don't want to do more than I have to! Plus ... this makes sure I've cut enough pieces to make the final number of blocks I need. (Little sneak peek ... these blocks are part of a quilt for Quilts and More using Neutral Territory by Red Rooster. Love this Popsicle orange color!)

Here are some pix from one of my quilt retreats showing how others organize their work. It's always great to pick up tips from other quilters!


Just This & That on the Minnesota quilt designers blog hop!

Logo blog hop 

Well today it's Sherri Fall's turn to be in the hot seat for the designer's blog! Lots of times I can remember the first time I met a Minnesota designer but I can't with Sherri. Not that she's not memorable but more because it's like she's just been on my radar for a long time.

Just a couple of summer's ago I took part in a photo shoot at Sherri's home ... she was featured in American Patchwork and Quilting. I love folk art and Sherri's house was filled with it! When I think of her I imagine her in her home and it really adds a different dimension for me. 

Starting this Fall, we'll be holding Sherri's "Sweet Pickins" club at the Cottage ... patterns and tips and challenges throughout the year. A fun way to get together with other quilters. Make sure you sign up!! If you live in Minnesota and love the State Fair, register for my email newsletter. Sherri's going to have another surprise for those who print out the coupon and bring it to our booth in Heritage Square! {No pressure, Sherri!!}

Make sure you comment on her blog to get entered for the fabulous prizes! Thanks for ALL of the wonderful comments on my wool blog yesterday, too.

The designers will be taking the weekend off to enjoy Summer in Minnesota but make sure you get right back here on Monday for the next one! I'll have the link here on my blog.

My love affair with wool ...


Most people who know me know that I love working with wool! This isn't a new thing in my life ... as a teenager I competed in the Make It Yourself With Wool contest regularly ... and I even raised sheep for 4-H ... even though we had no other animals at our home. My store is known as a source for hand dyed wool and unique kits. For five years, we had a club called the Muddy Sheep Wool Club! It was packed with quilters who loved wool, too. For my part in the Minnesota Quilt Designers blog hop, I thought I'd show you how easy ... and fun ... it is to work with wool.


Many people associate wool applique with traditional penny rugs. Circles ... often the size of coins ... are stacked and stitched and then sewn to a background or along an edge of a mat. Initially made to keep the floor warm in colonial homes, as Americans became more successful, they began to take on a more decorative look as they were embellished with flowers, leaves, and animals.


The supplies needed to begin wool applique are things that most quilters already have in their sewing kit ... a pair of small, sharp scissors, applique and fork pins, water based glue, needles ... especially #9 embroidery, #22 tapestry and straw (for stringing beads) ... and floss. Some people like to use perle cotton but I like floss because of the huge range of colors available and the texture of the thread. Freezer paper is needed too ... does anyone really use it to wrap food  anymore?


I like the feeling of hand dyed wool for my projects. I'm really lucky to have a great group of dyers in my area ... all of the wool I use is from women owned businesses in the Midwest.

Our wool is felted in the dying process but if you come across a beautiful piece  and want to use it in a project, it's really easy to felt on your own. Toss it in the washer with the hottest water you have ... add a tablespoon of detergent and a little softener if you wish ... let it agitate and spin out ... then throw it in a hot dryer. It's that simple! I stand by the dryer for a little bit and check the lint trap. Safety precaution.


Make freezer paper templates to cut your shapes. Trace the design on to the paper side of freezer paper then press the waxy side to the wool. Cut out the shape on the line and remove the paper. The templates can be reused several times.



Applique pins and fork pins (Clover) are great ways to hold the shapes in place because they don't catch on your threads as you stitch. A stapler will hold larger pieces together, too. But my all time favorite is Roxanne's Glue Baste ... I have it stashed in all my cubbies!


I prefer one strand of floss and a whip stitch to hold down most of my pieces.


A blanket or buttonhole stitch gives a more decorative edge ... this is a loop stitch and the one thing you need to remember is that the needle needs to cross the thread to complete the stitch.

I  use the backstitch and running stitch, too. If I run them down the center of a leaf I'll tug the threads a bit to make the shape gather up a little ... gives it a 3D look. There are no rules to what kind of stitch to use ... play around and have fun!



French knots are perfect for holding berries in place ... cross stitches add texture. Because the pieces I design are mostly decorative, I leave a lot of loose edges for dimension. (This basket is the November page in the 2010 American Patchwork and Quilting calendar!)


There's no rule that says wool must only be used with wool. Piece a background and embellish it with wool shapes. It's washable by hand ... great for table coverings and purses and even full sized quilts. Did you know you can piece with it too? For our wool club one year we made a pieced and appliqued quilt ... its amazing what traditional blocks look like when they're pieced with wool instead of cottons!

Any applique pattern can be adapted ... you probably have some in your pattern stash that would be perfect.  Put them to a new use! If you want to try your hand at wool applique, check out some of my designs on the American Patchwork and Quilting web site. We also have precut kits you can order on our Rosebud's Cottage  site.

Ok ... so you know the rules ... there are prizes during the blog hop! Today, I'll pick two winners from those who comment on my blog. It's strawberry season in Minnesota ... the prize is our very popular strawberry needle keeper! We've been keeping busy making more kits so if you aren't lucky enough to win one, we'll have some for you to order.

Thanks for taking part in the blog hop ... we're so lucky in Minnesota to have over 30 of the best designers in the industry living practically in our backyards! I hope you get the opportunity to experience all they have to offer.





Meet Celine Perkins ... today's featured Minnesota blogger!


I've known Celine Perkins from Perkins Dry Goods for a really long time. One of the things I admire about Celine is that she is an excellent teacher ... and she writes her patterns just like she's in the classroom. They are well thought out and easy to follow. We love her 'just for fun' patterns because they are easy ... and fun ... to make! She also has some terrific block-of-the-month books. We did Mill City Sampler a few years ago and it remains one of my favorites! 

Oh ... here's another cool thing Celine has ... the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide. If you have EVER struggled with getting a perfect 1/4", you MUST have one of these in your sewing kit. I often change machines within a project and it's nice to know that my seam allowance is going to be the same on each of them. We always carry some at the store and bring them to the retreats ... have them at the State Fair too ... our goal is to make sure every quilter has one!

Remember what I said about Celine being a great teacher? As today's Minnesota blogger, she's going to have a triangle block demonstration ... I know you'll be refering to it again and again down the road. Don't forget to comment on her blog ... you could be one of three prize winners at the end of the hop!

Anka's Treasures is the blogger of the day on the blog hop!


When I look at Heather Mulder Peterson, I find it hard to believe that she's been designing quilting patterns and fabrics for just about a million years! Heather began her quilting career while she was in college ... publishing patterns and machine quilting ... and going to school at the same time ... very ambitious! Her company name is a tribute to her grandmother, Anka.

Heather is one of four designers who make up the Minnesota Road Show. This teaching trunk show is ongoing in different quilt shops across the country each month. The other design companies involved are Atkinson Designs, Brandwine Designs and Maple Island Quilts. The stores who are taking part have been using the Road Show to teach the techniques of these very different designers ... they are doing demonstration days or classes or all day sessions so they can share the talents of these great Minnesota designers! Check with your local store to see if they've scheduled the Road Show.

Now ... get over to Heather's blog for today's blog hop. Heather has a small wallhanging that is perfect to make on a Summer day. Don't forget to comment to get included in the fantastic prizes at the end of the hop!!