December Meeting Minutes

I'm very late in posting the minutes from our December Meeting/Social...but as they say, better late than never!!

We had a brief recap of upcoming events and deadlines --

Our January meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 9th, 7-8:30 p.m., at The Textile Center. We will have a guest speaker -- Kate Eelkema talking about judging quilts:
"When you attend a quilt show, do you wonder why some quilts have ribbons and others do not? Do you hesitate to enter a quilt competition because you don't know what happens in that judging room? Come and hear a certified judge explain what really happens in the judging room, what it takes to make a blue ribbon quilt, and why it is important to enter quilt shows even if you don' t win."
The 2014 Monthly Mystery Quilt-along  hosted by Kristin L will replace our monthly block lotto for 2014. She has already posted the initial information and fabric requirements, so check it out now so you don't get too far behind!

Also, the 6.5" unfinished Banner Block is due.  Remember it can be any design made with whites and brights.

We also will be making board nominations, with elections at the February meeting. The current positions are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Web Coordinator.

Saturday, February 8th: The Amanda Jean Workshop on Scrap Management will be held at The Textile Center.  Watch Facebook for more information on this event.

Thursday, February 13th meeting -- Jen Madsen of Stitch Simple and fabric designer, Josi Severson of Home Fashion Fabrics, will share information on Josi's fabric line and working with organic fabrics.

And the NY Modern Guild Swap is due for those of you who signed up to participate -- 12" finished mini quilt with the theme of "Love".

Thursday, March 13th our Monaluna Modern Meadow Challenge is due. 

We then had Show and Tell (click over to Flickr to see the pics) and finished up with a rousing game of "Steal the Fabric".  Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting (the weather could not have been worse!) and for sharing your food and fabric.  It's always a fun way to end the year.  Happy New Year and hope to see you in a few weeks!

Swap packets!

New Series: Favorite Quilting Books

Hi!  It's Vanessa of Punkin Patterns here today to start a new blog series on our favorite quilting books.  I'm really excited to start the series because I knew just which book I'd talk about:  Angela Walters' book "Free-Motion Quilting".

Free-Motion Quilting

Anglea Walters has been quilting and blogging on her blog, Quilting Is My Therapy, for some time.  If you're unfamiliar with her work, you can check out her online portfolio.

Her book takes you step-by-step through many beautiful quilting designs.  My favorite part -- she not only teaches you how to do the first shape in the quilting design, but she teaches you how to move into the next shape of the design and continue.  The hardest part about free-motion quilting is knowing where to go next.  This book makes that so much easier to learn.

Free-Motion Quilting page

The book is also filled with tips like how to sketch out the quilting patterns to get used to where to go next and there is a great discussion on batting and thread.  She also gives insight into how she designs quilting patterns around the piecing of the quilt.

Free-Motion Quilting page 2

I've only used this book a little so far, practicing free-motion stitches on scraps.  I'm very excited to try some of these techniques on my next quilt. 

Quilts to Make and Things to Learn in 2014

I'm writing this post for December 25 and thinking that the year is almost over. One of my new year's resolutions is to spend more time quilting. I just love it so much and it makes me happy. Here are a few quilts I want to make and a few things I'd like to learn:

A few quilts I'd like to make: 

A scrappy log cabin quilt (I like this one- Scrappy Log Cabin Baby Quilt - by Audrie of Blue is Blue) 

A coin quilt (Sliced Coin Quilt by Cindy at Hyacinth Designs)

A low volume quilt like this one (Cath at Wombat Quilts made this gorgeous Log Cabin quilt)

Or this one (The incredible lightness of being... low volume, by Lynne at Pieceful blog)

A few other quilts that I'd like to make are:

A quilt with All Solids (such as this one from Needles Pins and Baking Tins) 

A quilt using only tiny bits and pieces of scraps (like this one, Scrap Vortexfrom Crazy Mom Quilts)  

(All photos used with permission)

Techniques or things I'd like to learn:
  • free motion quilting
  • how to get better at selecting fabrics
  • time-saving techniques - such as more piecing and less pinning!

I'm sure I will think of more ideas...this is just a start. What are your next year's resolutions?


Saturday Series: Holiday Gift Ideas

Hi everyone, Tracy here to share with you my quick and easy holiday gift idea: Quilted State Key Chains.  This state/heart idea is all over Etsy and Pintrest and my daughter asked if I could make key chains using this same concept and this is what we came up with:
My niece was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, so I whipped this up for her as an add on gift.  Here are the cast of characters needed:

1. Trace and cut out your state of choice -- I used a 3x5" note card and my state measures about 3" wide by 4" tall.
2. Scraps of fabric for the front, back and to attach the key clip, plus a little red scrap for the heart.
3. I use scrap batting and a heavier interfacing (not sure what it is because it's left over from other projects)
4. And a key fob, clip or circle thingy (nice description!) for the key holder.

The first thing I do is sew the key clip fabric together.  Simply fold the two long edges of your fabric into the center and press (this fabric is about 2 inches wide by 3 inches long).

Then I fold that in half again, press and sew down each side (I'd say an 1/8 of an inch from each edge).  Thread the fabric into your key holder and set it aside for a minute.

Now I trace the state onto the top fabric and then sandwich it together as follows:

State fabric face up
Interfacing with the key clip on each side of the batting
Back fabric facing out.

IMPORTANT STEP:  Take out the key clip and fabric holder and get your sandwich all nice and neat.

Now trim the top of the sandwich to your outline of the top of the state.  Put the key clip/fabric holder back into the sandwich -- I put mine on each side of the interfacing -- and pin it in place.  If you don't do this step, when you get done sewing it together, trimming the interfacing inside the key clip fabric is going to make you go crazy.

Now you can free motion around the outline of your state.  I do this with black thread on the front and white thread in the bobbin.  I free motion around the state three times because it looks messy and I prefer messy.

Now place your heart in the area of the city that you want to represent.  This is approximately where Shreveport is located:

Free motion around the heart and then trim the excess fabric and batting from the outside of your free motion state stitches and you will have a Quilted State Key Chain!

I've been making these for my daughter to give to her girlfriends that still live here in the Twin Cities, some that have moved out of state and for those who are from other parts of the state and are living here now.

These are super simple and quick to whip up.  The hardest part is finding the key clip hardware (I found my clips on eBay).  JoAnns and Michaels sell the circle key holders in their jewelry sections and would work just as well as the clips.

Happy Holidays everybody!

All I want for Christmas--Holiday Gift Ideas for your Favorite Quilter

I had such a great time at the MMQG quilt retreat a few weeks ago. Having an entire weekend to sew with hardly a break was a dream.

I left the retreat completely re-energized to quilt and feeling good about the progress I had made. I also left the retreat with a growing shopping list of tools and gadgets that I discovered I *need* after hearing about a favorite marking tool, or trying someone else's iron, or just realizing that my sewing setup isn't easily mobilized for sew-ins and retreats.

Given the season, I thought I'd compile some gift ideas based on things I discovered at the retreat as well as all-around gifts that (I think) most quilters would enjoy but a non-quilter might not know how to shop for. Admittedly, this post is a little self serving, as it focuses on a few things that I might like. However, I'm hoping that these ideas might find their way into Santa's inbox so that all "good" quilters of the world find a nice little something under the tree. With 13 shopping days left, here are some holiday gift ideas for the favorite quilter in your life.

Stocking Stuffers: 

Hera Marker-- The Hera Marker is a simple and inexpensive tool for marking simple designs on quilts (straight lines or gentle curves). It doesn't actually "mark" your quilt with ink or chalk, which is the beauty of it. It simply puts a fine crease in the quilt that you can see just well enough to follow along with your machine. No need to wash out, and it works on light or dark fabrics. Colby had this at the retreat, and Annik currently has one of these as part of a larger giveaway on her blog.

Pinmoors--If you are not into spray basting but want an alternative to safety pins, Pinmoors might be a great tool to try. Annik mentioned these at the retreat and I'm pretty curious to try. 

Magnetic Pin Cushion-- Kristin, of And Chips, wrote a lovely ode to her magnetic pincushion on her blog. So simple, but so often the best tools are. 

Charm Packs or Jelly Rolls-- The non-quilter may not know what these are, but these fun little pre-cuts represent endless possibilities wrapped up in a cute little package making them perfect stocking stuffers. Head to your nearest local quilt shop to find a selection of these or try searching on Etsy. 

Thread-- I'm not a huge thread connoisseur, but many quilters are. The good stuff can be a little pricey. To a non-quilter, this will seem very basic and not very exciting (kind of like getting underwear in your stocking). But trust me when I say that a nice pack of thread can generate a lot of goodwill toward the giver. Vanessa and Kristin recently featured some lovely mini quilts using Aurifil's line for Camille Roskelley. So much pretty in a small package!

Fabric Shop Gift Cards-- What quilter doesn't love to buy fabric? A gift card to the local quilt shop or an online marketplace like Etsy provides an opportunity for a little guilt-free indulgence.    

Under the Tree: 

If Santa is a bit handy, maybe he would make you one of Kristin's Big A$$ Ironing Boards, for which she has kindly created a tutorial for here. It might be difficult to get down the chimney, but after using it at the retreat, I'm convinced that I need to have one and hope that Santa will agree.

Quilt sticks starter pack
Quilt Sticks-- I was lucky enough to win a set of these as a door prize at the quilt retreat. I love them. They don't slip when you cut and once you pick your desired strip width, cutting is quick and easy. They are also locally made right here in the Twin Cities.

Kona Color Card-- This was another great giveaway at the retreat. I've always wanted one because though there are endless colors out there, finding the right color for your quilt can be challenging if you don't see all the options together. Having this on hand can help find the right color without guesswork.

Rolling Sewing Machine Tote-- Many people use a regular suitcase for this, but mine is not quite right for my machine. They come in a wide price range (up to very pricy), but those carried by the sewing chain stores (JoAnn, Hancock), often go on sale or can be purchased with a coupon. This is a great gift for the quilter who goes to a lot of classes, sew-ins or retreats.

Fabric Bundle-- I've actually never purchased one for an entire fabric line, which is why it would be one of those really special splurge-type gifts. This is much more of a commitment financially and fabric-wise than a charm pack or jelly-roll , so I recommend having a good idea of what fabric lines your quilter likes before picking one of these up. You could try stalking their Flickr site or Pintrest if he/she has one. Asking them the old fashioned way works too!

I think I've been pretty good this year, and am hoping Santa agrees. What do you hope to find under your tree?


Saturday Series: Holiday gifts (and decorations).

About two years ago, as I wandered around on Pinterest, I came across a super fun yoyo garland made by Kirsten and featured on the Sew Mama Sew page.

This looked like a great excuse to do something different than a quilt.

I bought a bunch of red and white  Christmas prints, a yoyo maker (because I'm too lazy to do it the old fashioned way and it's a great excuse to buy a gadget), and then went hunting for silver buttons, because I had my own vision for this project...... if you haven't made yoyos before, great tutorial over here.

Once I had a nice pile of yoyos with buttons

I found a way to sew them together without the connections breaking (because thread last year seemed great and then the garland broke into many sad little short garlands...)

And then, searching the blogosphere I found a new solution at SouleMama, sent up a silent (okay, maybe it was more like a happy dance) thank you to her and got to work.

Assembled some yoyos

Added some buttons in the middle....

And then used ricrac and hot glue gun to put it all together.

TADA!!  Yo yo garland for the tree. And, if this is a bigger project than you'd like to take on you can just make a couple of yoyos, but a hook through and you have a quick and fun Christmas ornament.

Online Quilting Communities

I became part of the online quilting community about 3 years ago. My best friends' grandmother showed me a couple of quilting blogs, a concept I never knew existed, and I've been stuck ever since. The only problem I found was that I wanted to follow lots of blogs but I kept having to visit each site each day to see if there was a new post and it was taking a lot of time. I found out about an RSS reader called Google Reader, and it made it unbelieveably easy to condense all the blogs I followed into one spot, it was fabulous.

Unfortunately Google Reader no longer exists, but if you are interesting in learning more about quilting, fabrics, techniques, and meeting new people, there are several websites that do a very similar job of compiling all your blogs and also helping you find new ones. My favorite two are:

1. Bloglovin

This is the website that I use to compile all the blogs I follow. You can search by subject, by blog, import friends, and easily follow/unfollow blogs. It makes it super simple to start compiling a whole list of great resources. Bloglovin also has iPhone/iPad/Android apps so that you can read your blogs on the go too. ;) Here is a link to my page and it shows the blogs I follow, mostly quilt-related, to get you started if you don't already have a good list.

Blogs Colby Follows


2. Feedly

Another good site to use is Feedly. This site work very similar to Bloglovin, has iPhone/iPad/Android apps as well, but has a different layout and a couple of different features. It's all personal preference so try both out and see which one works best for you.


I also use the site Flickr to join online groups. There are groups that do quilt-a-longs, swaps, bees, hand piecing, etc. Here is a list of a couple of my favorites:

1.Pillow Talk Swap
2.BeeJeebers Bee
3.Hand Pieced Quilt Along Good Stitches Bee

I am personally a fan of quilting bees, they are a great way to get to know a smaller group of people, and with a small block a month commitment you get a personal quilting community and a quilt out of the deal! If you are interested in learning more about or joining an online quilting bee, this flickr group is a great place to start.

Quilting Bee Group

Bee Block Group

Hopefully that gives you a quick rundown of how to become more involved in the online quilting community! Best of luck, it's addicting!


Saturday Series: Even More Holiday Gift Making Ideas

Hi quilters!  It's Kristin "MissEnota" Schwarze here.

Still stumped for a few, tricky recipients on your give list?  Or maybe you just want to congratulate your gorgeous self on successful completion of shopping/sewing tasks with a little something extra. This year, my ideas are outpacing my production so I thought I'd just brainstorm a little bit and maybe we'll both make something nice.

Minnesota can be a cold place (especially at the foot of the bed!) but even if you're someplace sunnier, a little warmth can feel so good when you're old, young, sick, hurt, or just plain lonesome. Hot water bottles are as low-tech as it gets but that's the beauty of them.  I personally recommend Fashy brand, from Germany.  Well-made, they come in loads of colors, and they stay warm all night long! And because we sew, the sky is the limit for coziness and customization.  

Hot Water Bottle Covers for Everyone!

Fleece, Flannel, recycled garment, Minky/Cuddle, quilted or not... I've assembled my favorites on this Pinterest board and linked them below.  My favorite modern quilted cover is by Rebecca Mae Designs, she has the pattern for sale in her Craftsy shop.   

However, there are lots of good free tutorials already available online as well.  Teresa Down Under has a great stipple-quilted version utilizing fat quarters and bias tape.  Georgina Giles made one from a button-down pajama top.  Rachael Rabbit offers an easy no-quilting pattern with a hand-sewn touch. Esther at Happy in Red has a terrific and clear tutorial for a cover with a drawstring.   I'd love to make up a few of these with funny sayings, animal ears, or perhaps just a name on them.

Pet Bed with Piping

Next, for the pet lovers out there.  A long time ago, when I was a new sewist, I stitched-up a doll mattress and sheet set for a little cradle I found on the curb.  It's one of the most fun and adorable projects I've ever made and as it turns out, the Punkin Patterns tutorial I used for the mattress is by the lovely and talented Vanessa from our own MplsMQG.  We're talking gusseted, piped, covered-button tufted and fully customizable...I said it was adorable.  

I used a simple tutorial for a crib sheet (with finished, French seams) and together, it makes an ideal pet bed for my older cat who needs the cushion and the warmth these days.  The cover is the key because I can easily clean it or switch it out for the seasons.  I'm thinking a larger mattress with something fuzzy and fur-matching for the winter.

What Time is it? Fabric Cuckoo Clock Time

Ever since Tracy wowed us with her Hexie Clock, I've been thinking about making a cuckoo version.  Truthfully, the quilt block can be whatever you want it to be with something to stiffen it up and an added clockworks but I'd just love to make it up with this foundation pattern from Charise Creates.  You could add a couple of chains and pinecones for more effect.  And let's face it, the woodland critter/Black Forest themed stuff just keeps popping up around here so why not embrace it?!

That's it for now.  I'm a bit embarrassed to make a link-heavy post with no projects to show for it but these are my top three favorite ideas in  my sketchbook right now.   I hope they spur you to creativity or bolster your shopping lists, or maybe help you out for some future holiday gift-giving.  If you make one, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Happy Stitching!

MMQG retreat

Last weekend was the first MMQG retreat. It was held at Camp Wapo in Amery, WI.

At the retreat, it's just like going to camp, except you can sew and sew all day (and even into the night).  Meals were included so we just showed up at the dining hall at breakfast, lunch and dinner and the rest of the time we were sewing in this beautiful space.

There was room enough for several quilts to be laid out on our "design floors" making it fun to get up and walk around every few hours to see what was laid out.

Fresh Stash Fabrics, one of our guild sponsors, brought along some fabric bundles, fat quarters and a few other things for sale - just in case you needed more fabric.

Not letting anything go to waste on the retreat, all of our fabric scraps were collected to make a little dog bed.

Of course I think one of the best parts was the door prizes!  There were fabulous donations from Moda, Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman, Aurifil, Andover Fabrics, Newcastle Fabrics, Fresh Stash Fabrics, Mini Mushrooms, Crafty Planet, Sewtropolis, Glad Creations and Quilt Sticks.

At the end of the fun weekend, we had a little show-and-tell of what we made there (or worked on).

Rebecca L's



Back of Maria's

Kristin L's

Kristin L's Sew Together Bag












Amy's hooded towel








Back of Colby's









Lisa's cherry pit neck wrap


Next spring we will be joining the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters for their spring retreat (March 21-23, 2014) and the next MMQG fall retreat is already scheduled for November 21-23rd, 2014.  So mark your calendars and so you can join in the fun! 

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