Coaster swap

For the May 8th guild meeting, we'll be doing an (optional) coaster swap! If you'd like to participate, the rules are:
  1. Make a set of 4 coasters, using any of the tutorials below or your own design. 
  2. Pin, tie or wrap your coasters together before the meeting. 
  3. Label the set with your name so the recipient knows who to thank.
  4. The swap will be a blind draw - all coaster sets will go into a basket and participants will randomly draw a new set. No peeking! 
There are tons of free coaster tutorials on the web to help you get started. 

Here are some patchwork tutorials: 

Some applique tutorials: 

An embroidery tutorial: 

And some super simple tutorials: 

Member Spotlight: Jan H

Tell us about yourself, e.g. family, kids, pets, day job, have you always lived in MN?
I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, then moved to Minnesota for jobs after my husband and I graduated from college. I taught high school family and consumer science (home economics for all us oldies!) for 35 years and am now retired and enjoying life. I have a son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in the St. Cloud area.  Also a daughter and her fiancĂ© in the twin cities who are planning a wedding in my backyard garden this summer.

Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business? If so, please include a link.
I do not have a blog though it is on my bucket list for the future.  I often help my daughter with her craft business or Etsy endeavors and am often a silent sewer in the background.

Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I am currently caregiving for both my mother and mother-in-law so there is not a lot of time for many other hobbies.  I spend a lot of time with family activities.  Spring means time in the flower garden. Someday I hope to travel to many places listed on that bucket list!

How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
My mom taught me to sew at age 14.  She and both grandmas were sewers, needle crafters and quilters. My first project was a skirt made of home dec fabric.  I think I wore that skirt out. I sewed the majority of my own clothes in high school and college, even my husband’s dress shirts when we were first married. I did a lot of “learn by doing” quilting in the following years.  In 2000 I took my first quilt class because I wanted to learn good basic quilting skills and was totally hooked. Once I felt “quilt-confident”, I added quilting and sewing projects to my curriculum and taught my students the basics.  It was fun to watch them learn and get excited.

How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I worked on a quilt journal over the past year and counted over 120 quilts including wall hangings since 2000.  I probably have ten quilts in the unfinished stage.  I know there are two that are layered and ready to quilt that keep whispering “finish me” every time I walk by them.

How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
15 – 20   It is good therapy and the most relaxing part of my day.

Describe your first quilt.
The sampler quilt from my first class is still a UFO.  I love the quilt but decided back then I wanted to hand quilt it.  I have learned I am NOT a hand quilter and I work on it a bit every 6 months then put it away still unfinished.  The first quilt I finished was called Crazy Eights from a published pattern and was a stack and slash quilt and done in all calico fabric.  I had planned to do a piano border but was not pleased with it so set that aside.  Last year I took that piano border and made a coins quilt.  I then named the first quilt Big Sister – the traditional one and the coins quilt Little Sister – the contemporary one.

Big Sister                                                        Little Sister

Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why? 

It seems like every quilt becomes my favorite as I work on it.  I am most proud of the quilts that I give as wedding gifts (always a batik quilt), a baby quilt to celebrate a new family addition, or a comfort quilt to friends dealing with a troubling life issue.  Those have the most meaning for me.
My Son's wedding quilt
Granddaughter's baby quilt

Gary’s quilt for cancer treatment
Connie’s quilt (the wife needs quilt hugs too)

Accompaniments (music, tv, wine, etc). Add a photo if you are brave.
I have had various sewing spaces in my home depending on the family situation and the space available. (We quilters have always been an adaptable bunch – right?) Currently the basement family room has become the sewing space. I have added extra shelving for storage and it works.  It often looks like a sew-in when my daughter and her friends are there for a sewing night – sewing machines on portable tables, fabric and projects spread everywhere, a quilt being sandwiched on the carpet floor, the pool table set up as a cutting table and a raised end table as a large ironing center.

When I am sewing by myself, I like lots of light, a bit of chocolate, and a diet Pepsi.  A good mystery or crime program in the background is fine too.

Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I love fabric!  When I first started quilting, I bought whatever I liked whenever and wherever.  Then I became more discriminating about the type of fabric. I also went through a phase of loving vintage fabrics and textiles.  I recently inherited my mom’s fabric and linens stash. My stash storage is full so I spent the winter sorting and folding (using the ruler method). Now the mantra is “shop the stash” and so far I have not had to spend much money on fabric.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
Hand quilting is not my favorite.  I do love all the other steps from the first sprout of an idea to the color and fabric selection, the piecing, and finally the binding and label attachment.

What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
The immediate goal was to join MMQG to get out of my box and try new things. I am so inspired by the wonderful projects, challenges, swaps, speakers and monthly show and tell. I am learning a lot and my box is opening up! My long term goal is to use up that stash.

What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I have done a little free motion quilting but have much to learn and much practicing to do to become proficient.  The idea of free is still a bit intimidating so I need to just get started.

Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I read a lot of quilt blogs (Amanda, yours has been a top choice favorite for many years!) I also like to attend quilt shows, both local and national to see what others have done. I have been to the quilt museums in Paducah, KY and Lincoln, NE and am inspired by our ancestors and their ability to do much with little.

What advice do you have for new quilters?
Start simple, learn good basics, find a mentor, get inspired and keep going!

Free motion quilting workshop with Sue Heinz

In our annual member survey, several of you asked for a free-motion quilting workshop. So we listened! Sue Heinz, of Kismet Quilting will be doing an all-day workshop on Saturday, May 3rd, from 9:30-5:30. You can read more about Sue on her website or her Facebook page.

Sue is a very experienced national teacher, but she will be tailoring her class to a modern quilter that is either new to free-motion quilting, or looking to improve their skills. Don't be intimidated by the fancy quilting she does--this is a basics class!

Her philosophy for learning free motion quilting on a domestic machine is to not go to the sewing machine before you 'own' your designs. She will cover all of the basic set-up details in class and she will to teach several background designs - edge to edge, some grid patterns and pebble-work. This will take up the majority of the day, with machine time being limited and at the end of class. She will give you the tools: machine set-up do's and don'ts and designs to get excited about drawing and building muscle-memory. She says that frustration often comes from going to the machine too quickly and trying to do three things at once: speed, control and pattern. Machine time in class would focus not on a design per se, but more on tension, speed, control and any tools that would be new to you.

If you are interested, please email or send a Facebook message to Kristin (email address in the purple box above). The cost is $55 for members, and $65 for non-members. There is a limit of 16 in the class, so sign up right away! Hope to see you there!

Business Member Spotlight: Stitch Simple

Can you provide us with a description of your business?

Stitch Simple  specializes in small minimum wholesale
fabric for fellow small businesses.

Why are you in this type of business?

Stitch Simple ( started in 2008 as a retail operation
that washed and cut fabric, mostly for quilters.  In 2009, we began our
relationship with Harmony Susalla of Harmony Art - an
independent textile designer working primarily with wide width organic
cotton sateen.  Because Harmony sold her fabric by the full roll (which is
approximately 50 yards) and it was 110 inches wide (that is equivalent to
122 yards of standard width quilting fabric) we found it difficult to be
able to finance her entire assortment.  We figured other small businesses
like Stitch Simple might be having the same problem so we talked to Harmony
about it and offered to sell competitively priced, low minimum order,
unwashed yardage as a business-to-business operation on the side in hopes of
helping everyone- and that is how the Stitch Simple Reseller Program was
born.  For the next four years I ran both businesses side by side until mid
2013 when I had my daughter and decided to take a step back and close down
the retail washing and cutting operation to focus exclusively on the
Reseller Program.  In the fall of 2013 we began branching out again and
started working with local fabric designer Josi Severson of Home Fashion
Fabrics to do similar work.

What is your background? 

Before starting Stitch Simple I worked managing supply chains for medical
device manufacturers and food companies.  I have an undergraduate degree in
social cultural anthropology from the George Washington University and an
MBA from the Carlson School of Management here at the University of

How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of

Throughout my career in supply chain working for other people, I always
found myself working side by side with more traditionally creative roles (in
medical device manufacturing it was design engineers, in food it was food
scientists).  It's not that my work wasn't creative (in fact it was just the
opposite), it's just that it dealt with a side of the business that was less
glamorous than design work and required a different set of skills and
interests.  As I explained above, I didn't start Stitch Simple with the
focus it has today, but I once again find myself working with my more
traditionally creative counterparts like Harmony and Josi to handle supply
chain issues ranging from sales and operations to shipping and logistics.  I
guess this is the kind of work that suits me.  I like to think of myself as
an expert in making rubber meet the road.

How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?

I rely mostly on word of mouth advertising and social media.  I also
personally reach out to people I come across on an individual basis.

Do you have employees? How many?

I am the only full time employee, but my husband Eric (aka Mr. Stitch
Simple) helps out as needed with large orders and projects.  We call our
kids (Chas-almost 4 and Solveig-almost 1) and our cat Gabe (almost 18) our
"moral support officers".

Can you describe your customers?

My customers range from the micro small business that sells its handmade
products at farmers markets and on etsy to larger small businesses that
place their items in boutiques and retail shops around the world.  Whoever
they are, they need smaller quantities of fabric (generally 5 yards or less)
and they don't want to pay retail prices for it.

Why do your customers select you over your competitors?

Price and customer service.

MMQG Mystery Quilt-along month #4

Hi! I'm Kristin from over at a little crispy. Today is month #4 of the MMQG Mystery Quilt-along! If you are just joining us, check out the previous posts here.

As we go along, save your scraps and bits and pieces of fabric together. They might come in handy later in the mystery.

The weather this week in Minneapolis looks gorgeous after a long and brutal winter. I am not kidding myself--everyone is outside instead of sewing! So, this month's blocks are super easy.

We are going to make four blocks that are a variation of a Half square triangle block. These blocks are 9" finished (9.5" unfinished). I would probably make these all the same this time, although if you are doing a scrappy version, all different would probably be fine.


If you are looking for more of a challenge, replace this block with any other 9.5" unfinished block you like. It will look best if the block has accent fabric taking up about half the block diagonally and background fabric taking up the other half. I had originally mocked up this quilt with New York Beauty blocks in this spot...


If you want the pattern of the block to stand out, make sure that your Accent A and B fabrics contrast well with each other. If they don't, that is ok, too!

For 4 blocks you will need:

Background: Cut:
(2) 10.5" squares
(2) 4.5" squares

Accent A (navy): Cut two 2 5/8" x WOF strips. Cross cut into:
(4) 14.5" strips

Accent B (pink): Cut one 2 5/8" x WOF strip. Cross cut into:
(4) 10.5" strips

Again, I am being a little generous with sizing. With my blocks I cut my pieces a little smaller, but if I were doing it again I would cut bigger to have more wiggle room to trim at the end.


Start off by cutting your two large and two small background squares in half diagonally. Then, line up each block as shown below and sew it together. Make sure that your pieces are centered left to right.

To make sure your pieces are exactly centered, fold them in half and press a little crease. Then all you have to do is line up the creases.

After your block is sewn, trim the first corner square, making sure to keep the diagonal line in the center of the block.

Then turn the block around and trim to 9.5", again making sure to keep the diagonal in the center of the block. You can see how close I was cutting it with my measurements!

Here's the finished block:

All done!

Don't forget, there are a few different ways you can share:

Instagram: use #mplsmqgmysteryquiltalong and then share to Flickr--

Flickr: upload to the group pool

Embed: your photo in each month's post! Here's how:

Your photo first has to be uploaded onto the internet somewhere--that could be your blog, or somewhere other than Instagram or Flickr. Then, in the comments section of the block post, type [img]http://your_photo_url.jpg[img]

Can't wait to see what you all do! See you again next month.

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