Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pre-Wash or Don't Pre-Wash?? That is the question!

You may have noticed that lately....I have a few red quilts out there.

And there are lots and lots of pretty red fabrics in your local quilt shop.

I have received more than a few emails asking about whether or not to pre-wash all of this red fabric.  

Do I pre-wash?  Is it safe?  Will the dye run??

That is an age old question, and I thought perhaps, with all this red fabric out there, that I should address this question.

First, let me share what I do.  I don't pre-wash anything.   
If you'd like to pre-wash...go right ahead.  There are exceptions to that rule, however.  I don't recommend pre-washing quilt kits unless you know for certain you have plenty of fabric.  Also, I wouldn't pre-wash precuts like 5 or 10 inch charms, or jelly rolls, and the like.  Many of the patterns using them use every inch and every thread, so you don't want the shrinkage that comes with pre-washing or you may find yourself short of the needed fabric.  

I don't pre-wash because I like the sizing the fabric has when it comes off the bolt.  When I'm about to work with fabric to make a new quilt, I add starch or sizing to my fabrics before cutting them!!  

Having stiffer fabric to work with aides you in many ways throughout the piecing process.  Because the fabric has more body, it behaves better thru cutting, piecing, and pressing.  To me, working with washed or un-sized fabric is like trying to style your hair with no conditioner or any helpful hair care product.  No mousse, no gel...just limp, unconditioned hair.  (You wouldn't want to see my hair without that stuff!!  Eeekkk!!)  Sizing and starch give the fabric a lot of body, and the difference is amazing!

But...what about the red dye??  If you wash the quilt without pre-washing the fabric, will the dye bleed and ruin your quilt?  

The answer to that question is.....with quilt shop quality fabric from a major, well-known manufacturer, you should not have any problem.  You would not need to pre-wash any fabric.

That said, when in doubt, TEST!  Test some swatches for yourself to be sure.  No manufacturer gives a guarantee because so many factors are at play.  What type of water do you have?  Hard, soft, well water?  How does it mix with the detergent you're using?  Any number of things can be happening, and because a fabric company has no control over that, they cannot give a guarantee.  But honestly, I trust the quality of really good quilt shop quality cotton.  

Does that make you feel any better?  Maybe...a little.  That's not good enough!  So, I did a test with one of my quilts so I can share the results with you.  
 The quilt above is the bonus project included with my Prairie Gathering Quilt of the Quarter program.  It's made of all the same red prints in the Prairie Gathering fabric collection.  The fabrics were never washed, but were heavily starched, then cut up, sewn and quilted.  The quilt has never been washed.....until now!  Notice I will use my everyday detergent and not a mild quilt soap.  I wanted to see what would happen when I washed it.  
I added a color catcher to the wash to see if it would pick up any dye that was released into the water during the wash.

It has loads of suds!
 This picture shows the quilt still wet and what the color catcher looked like when it came out of the washer.  It's really clean and clear.  
 Here you can see a close-up of the fabrics still wet.  The red dye has not run at all.  
This is a close-up of the quilt center after drying the quilt in the clothes dryer.  The quilt has that nice crinkle to it (LOVE that!!) and looks great.  

I hope this helps you feel more confident in using Marcus Fabrics.  Again, when in doubt, please test for yourself.  

The folks at Marcus Fabrics have a bit more to add on this subject on their blog today.  So, click here to visit the Marcus blog and read a bit more about this.  

Have you been Blog Hopping with us??  Our Spring Thyme Blog Hop has just begun!  Be sure to check out all of the designer's blogs for a free spring project, inspiration, and a yummy recipe.  Click here to see the full list of designers and the schedule.  

And, please return right here to blog on my day....MARCH 9th!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pre-Order Your Treenware & Berries Quilt Kit!!!

Treenware & Berries Quilt
I've had a lot of email requests asking about quilt kits for my new Treenware & Berries quilt and fabrics, and with the fabrics shipping soon, I wanted to offer you the chance to.... 

PRE-ORDER a quilt kit.  

The quilt is being quilted right now, which means I don't have the professional photo yet, and therefore the pattern cover isn't ready either.  I expect the fabric and the pattern to be here in March.

This quilt uses all of the fabrics in the Treenware & Berries collection!!  The blocks are nice and big, finishing to 9.25 inches, and the Flying Geese in the border are 2 x 4 inches.  Quilt size is 81 x 93 inches.

Pre-Order your Treenware & Berries Quilt Kit by March 16th 
and you'll receive the pattern FREE!!!

Click here to order the quilt kit.  

Click here to see all of the Treenware & Berries fabrics made by Marcus Fabrics!!

Treenware & Berries Fat Quarters and Fat Eighth bundles will be on my website soon!  

There will also be a 10 inch precut of this collection as well!  Yay!!!  

I'm working on a new Tokens of the Past pattern, called Spice Box, for the Treenware & Berries precut, and it will once again feature three small doll-sized quilts. Check out my Facebook page and Instagram if you'd like to see sneak peeks of the quilts in progress!  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Prairie Gathering Quilt of the Quarter ~ Month Two

Here we are in month two of my Prairie Gathering Quilt of the Quarter program for Marcus Fabrics.  

I trust that you have completed your center block in month one!!  Looking great so far.

Did you measure each step??  Please, I can't stress this enough!!  It's so, so important to measure as you piece each step which is why I give the measurements for you.  As we begin to add on pieced borders, everything must measure correctly for all the pieces to fit properly.  Super important with pieced borders, but honestly...that is true for every quilt you make, so it's a very good habit to have.

We begin this month making a bunch of Half Square Triangles from five red prints.  We will be using the darkest red HST in a block I call a Corner Square Triangle, and in this case, the "square" in the (lower right) corner happens to be a Half Square.  Follow the directions in your pattern to assemble the light print half of the unit, paying close attention to the position of the dark red HST, then add the larger red triangle to complete the unit.  Make sure it measures as it should.  
Next, you'll be using the remaining four assorted red HST's.  

Follow your pattern instructions to sew the HST's into units as shown, and measure.   You'll make (4) of these units. 

You'll make (4) more of the Delectable Mountain units with the dark red HST in another position (see unit on the right.)

Using the same technique, you'll make (4) more Corner Square Triangle units, using a different light print.  

You now have all of the pieces to construct the larger center block.  Using the block from month one, and the units previously made, arrange them as shown.  

Sew the Delectable Mountains units at the sides of the center block, press and measure.  

Sew the units into rows, then sew the rows together. 

You now have a completed center block!!!  Yippeee!!!!!

This month, we're beginning to piece parts of our Checkerboard border, making Two-Patch units.  I arranged my squares so that I didn't have duplicate combinations and chain pieced them.  Give them a press, and pop them into your zip bag for safe keeping until next time.

Put all of the cut pieces for the Flying Geese and Large Sawtooth Triangle borders, as well as the pieces for the Friendship Star and Ohio Star blocks into their zip bags for safe keeping until next time.  I recommend you check the counts on the contents of your bags to be sure you have them all. 

Because so many quilt shops have the monthly kits ready to ship/pick-up on the 15th of the month, I will be posting my hints around the 20th of the month, giving some time for the mail carrier to make her delivery.  Sometimes, as it is now, it's a little later than the 20th because "life" gets in the way of my good intentions!  Please forgive.

More piecing next month! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Upcoming Lectures & Workshops

Just a quick post to invite you to join the fun as I travel to two locations next month for lectures and workshops.

I'll be in Rockford, IL, March 5th & 6th, visiting the Sinnissippi Quilters Guild.  

I will give two
lectures on the 5th at 1pm and 7pm, and will be teaching my Settler's Puzzle workshop on the 6th.  If you'd like more information on these events, please contact Barb Clucas at 815-847-1607, or email her at

Later in the month, March 26th, 27th & 28, I'll be packing the covered wagon and headed back
to Montpelier, ID, for a return trip to the National OR/CA Trail Center.  This is truly a wonderful place, and this time, I'm bring my BFF Lynne Hagmeier (Kansas Troubles Quilters) with me!  

Lynne will be giving her lecture the evening of March 26th in the auditorium of the Trail Center.  She's bringing a trunk show which will include her rarely seen Stitches on the Oregon Trail Quilter's Journal BOM quilts!!  

Lynne will be teaching a new project as well from her latest fabric collection, Clara's Garden.

I will be teaching a quilt from my newest pattern, Tokens of the Past: Gathering In Red, called Checkerboard Stars.  

We have a whole lot of fun when we're together, and we'd sure love to have you join us!!  

Workshops will be March 27th & 28th.  If you'd like more information, please call Becky Smith at 208-847-3800, or email her at

Friday, February 20, 2015

Spring Thyme Blog Hop Line-Up!!

I'm so, so jazzed to post the line-up for our next handwork blog hop.  We all have such a great time doing this, and we're sure hoping you enjoy it as well.  I'm anticipating some inspiring spring projects.  

For those of us living in the Polar Vortex (I don't ever remember hearing that phrase until last year, but it sure is fitting!), we can really use some signs that spring will return.  Quite frankly, living through a winter sure makes us appreciate the renewal spring brings, right?  Honestly, I can't complain about our winter at all when we have our fellow citizens in the Boston/New England area trying to survive the worst winter in 100 years.  My heart goes out to all of you. At least we know that the families of quilters have plenty of cozy, comfy quilts to keep them warm.  

Anyway....I digress.  Back to the important stuff.  Here's the line-up and dates for all of the talented designers invited to tempt you with recipes and new projects:  

March 1 * Quilts By Cheri
March 2 * Plumcute Designs
March 3 * Gail Pan Designs
March 9 * Heartspun Quilts
March 10 * Notforgotten Farm
March 11 * Crabapple Hill
March 12 * Threadwork Primitives
March 13 * Buttermilk Basin
March 14 * Calico Moon

If you're not sure how all of this works....just visit the designer's blog on her day, to see the free project she has created for you, to read more about her and her work, and get a yummy recipe. 

Next week, I'll post my sew-along instructions for month two of A Prairie Gathering Quilt-Of-The-Quarter, and some photos of my newest quilt, Treenware & Berries.  You can see sneak peeks of my progress on my Instagram & Facebook pages.  I have three more quilts to make out of Treenware, so if you'd like sneak peeks of those, follow me on those sights, and of course they will be right here on my blog.

So, that's whats been happening with me.  I hope you're warm and cozy, happily stitching away where you live.  Counting the days until we spot the first blooms of the year!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Sewing Marathon's that time of year again.  Pre Quilt Market sewing is upon us.  The great rush and crush of work that comes in getting all of the new things ready for the big event.  It's still months away, and there's lots to do.

I haven't been posting much because I'm working on new stuff that I'm not quite ready to show you, but it won't be long now.  

Deb and I have been watching a marathon of Downton Abbey episodes while our machines are humming along.  My Treenware & Berries quilt is coming along nicely.  I'm madly in love with how those blocks are turning out and can't wait to see it up on the design wall with the brown floral print that ties it all together.  

Better get back to the marathons.....I'll try to post progress soon.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Spring Blog Hop

Guess what's coming back???!!!!!  WOOHOO!!!  Another fabulous blog hop hosted by Stacy West of Buttermilk Basin.  You know there's always wonderful FREE projects and yummy recipes.  

Mark your calendar to save the date as the Hop begins March 1st!!  Stay tuned for the designer line-up coming soon.  I am dreaming of something colorful and spring-y for you!!  

Spread the word.....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Back In The Swing

It was just a few days ago that I was enjoying warm, sunny days poolside on a vacation with my family.  It was wonderful as both of our grown kids finally had clear schedules, and we all escaped the daily grind to relax for a week in the sun.  
We arrived home just as the first snowflakes began falling on what ended up being the 5th largest snowfall in the Chicagoland area since they've been keeping track of these things.  20 inches in 30 hours.  Back to reality!  All in all, we have no complaints.  We had a safe trip home, and so far, our winter hasn't been so bad.  It is...after all....still winter in the Midwest, so the snow we have is to be expected.  

Winter has its fun moments, too!!

While I was gone....look what arrived!!  Yay!!!  My Prairie Gathering 10 inch precuts are now in the house, which means that we can begin to process the Tokens of the Past: Gathering In Red kits!  And, that's exactly what we're gonna do.  If you ordered a kit, I will send you an email when it's shipping.  Thank you all for your patience while we were waiting for these babies to arrive.  

January was a busy month with a lot of travel.  February and March will be crazy busy as I sew up the quilts I designed for my Treenware & Berries collection.  I can hardly wait to get started!!  There are other things fun things in store coming your way soon, and I know you'll love them.  I didn't have too many blog posts in January, and hope to have many more in stay tune to my blog, Facebook, and Instagram for pics of the quilts as we create them!!  

If the snow is falling where you are, enjoy the season as it really doesn't last all that long.  Spring will be here before you know it!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Prairie Women's Sewing Circle Update

Ada Blaney c 1848 Nebraska - used with permission Nebraska Historical Society
As it is said….all good things must come to an end. 

I will not be releasing any more Prairie Women's Sewing Circle Journey patterns. 

The natural cycle in the quilting business is all about "what's new", and it's time to move on to a new adventure.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of creating the PWSC club, and it has brought me the opportunity to meet many, many wonderful quilt shop owners, and so many thousands of gracious, talented quilters who have all shared my love of nineteenth century living, antique quilts, and our make-do heritage.  I am forever grateful for all of the sharing between our kindred spirits!

There is so much to look forward to in the future with new and exciting opportunities.  My creative soul will always be anchored in the nineteenth century, and I will continue to look for ways to incorporate American history into future projects. 

My Prairie Gathering Quilt of theQuarter program has four historical stories of how women "gathered" together to bring lasting change in our country.  Click here to find a quilt shop near you offering the Prairie Gathering program.

 Then, there's my new pattern series, "Tokens of the Past", with Gathering In Red as the first in the series, which continues with Civil War reproduction doll size quilts that are very do-able, affordable projects that give you the option of using my new 10 inch Prairie Gathering precuts from Marcus Fabrics or choosing your own fabrics.

And, I am happy to continue creating new and exciting things for your quilting pleasure! 

Prairie Women's Sewing Circle Journey patterns will continue to be available to quilt shops that are continuing with club meetings. 

Thank you so much for your support of the Prairie Women's Sewing Circle club.  It's been a wonderful journey!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Visit To The Country Loft Quilt Shop

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting The Country Loft in La Mesa, CA.  Oh, yes...what a hardship for this Chicago girl to spend time in the San Diego area in January!  

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I taught workshops and spent the day with wonderful quilters!!  
 Many attending have been Facebook friends!  Always fun to meet them in person!
And much to my surprise and delight, designers Cheri Payne (Quilts by Cheri) and Kathy Cardiff (The Cottage at Cardiff Farms) attended Sunday's class.  Lucky me because I don't get to see them very often.  

I so look forward to giving workshops because I maintain there is just no better way to spend a day than with quilters!!  Everyone was so friendly, and happy to be sewing.  Shop owner, Sharon Smith, had the workshop in the banquet room of a nearby local Italian restaurant.  As you can see, the room was bright and sunny....and the food...oh...the food was wonderful!!! The only thing that would have made it any better was if I were sewing, too!!  You'll find no complaints from me as I had the best time!!  

Every chance we had, we went across the street to shop at The Country Loft.  Let me show you why!!

If you love Civil War repros, wool, antiques, folk art and country decorating, you simply must visit The Country Loft!!  
Didn't I tell you there are wonderful things in every nook and cranny?  Luscious wools and Valdani threads...

...beautiful cottons and inspiration everywhere!!
Don't they have great ideas for displaying quilts?!!

Like this display of all five of the Prairie Women's Sewing Circle Journey quilts!  WOW!!

A Prairie Gathering Quilt of the Quarter
I absolutely loved seeing my Prairie Gathering Quilt of the Quarter displayed on a bed in the shop!  
So cute with the ticking pillows and bed skirt.  Would love to take home some of the antique furniture, too!!
Sharon and all the very creative shop girls pay attention to even the smallest things, making them so cute and adding inspiration everywhere!!

 And...if all that didn't tempt you, they have more antiques in the little cottage in the back yard.'s all so much fun, it was very hard to leave!!

My heartfelt thanks to Sharon Smith for asking me to visit her wonderful shop.  To all the shop girls who made delicious treats Friday night, and who work so hard with Sharon to make a beautiful and inspiring place for all of us to enjoy, and feed our creative souls.  And, last but certainly not all of the wonderful ladies who attended the three workshop events....I thoroughly enjoyed meeting each and every one of you.  Your warm welcome will get me thru the rest of my Chicago winter!!