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I am currently booking lectures and workshops for 2023-2024. I have been teaching quiltmaking for over 47 years, and offer a wide variety of programs for your consideration. I invite you to visit the Course Offering section on my website to see the lectures and workshops available to you.
This past year, my most popular options have been the Borders on Parade lecture (over three dozen quilts in this trunk show, each with a different border treatment. Chock full of ideas!) and 1x1 (trunk show of over three dozen quilts all made with 1 inch x 1 inch half square triangles that were cutoffs from larger patterns. Very inventive and inspiring!)
I also offer you the following: I am in the process of downsizing my collection of quilts and quilt tops. Often times I make more than one quilt top as a class sample, so I have accumulated quite a stack of samples over the years. Following the presentation of a lecture, I will present a trunk show of 45 - 50 pieces available for purchase. This is a great opportunity for members to add to their collection.
Sizes range from quilt blocks to a few that are queen size. Most are wall hanging/laptop size. Prices range from $5 to $400. 10% of the proceeds will be donated back to the chapter. I am not set up for charge card purchases. All purchases are by cash or check.
As for workshops, I am known for my scrap quilt workshops (where how to do Fabric Selection is a popular feature), as well as my hand applique and hand quilting (stab stitch) workshops.
PLUS: mention "Twenty Five 2023" to receive a $25 discount on booking fees. Offer good on contracts signed prior to January 15, 2023 for programming in 2023-2024.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you. Contact me at
for further information.
I have had the honor of designing several commissions for churches around the country. Each is designed specifically for the client, taking into account the architectural features of the location. You can see pictures of these pieces in the Church Banners section of this website. Inquiries are invited.
I am so pleased to be able to share pictures of my most recent commission for St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Janesville, WI. I have completed several projects for them over the years. The newest pieces are for the church's Green Season.
The altar cloth features a multitude of symbols, as well as the phrase I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The shell of baptism, the stream of life, the word of Christ in the Bible, the host and chalice, and the path that follows the way of Christ. Note the footsteps that follow the stream.
The lectern and the pulpit also received new banners.
To complete the set, the chasuble features a cross with the interlocking rings of the Trinity on the front, as well as the vine of life, showcasing leaves in colors of the changing seasons on the back.
The stole echos the vine and leaf theme.
The day length is getting longer, we have had two days in the 50's, and it feels like Spring is a real possibility!
I am happy to announce that I have some classes coming up in the next couple of months. For those of you in the Sussex, WI area, I will be presenting my lecture Borders on Parade for the Common Threads Quilt Guild on March 23. It is a trunk show with over three dozen quilts, all with different border treatments. This is a real treasure trove of ideas for exciting ways to add borders to your quilts.
In addition to the program, I also will be offering over four dozen quilts, quilt tops, and quilt blocks that I am downsizing from my collection of work that has accumulated over the past 48 years of teaching. It is a great opportunity to adopt some pieces for your collection!
On April 13, I return to Mill House to do a full day workshop called Pickup Sticks. It is a fun burst of color, and a great pattern for using up strips of fabric. It is NOT done with paper piecing, but rather, some clever machine piecing techniques that are great fun to do.
NOTE: This workshop has been cancelled due to insufficient enrollment. Remember, if you see a workshop you are interested in, don't wait until the last moment to register. That may be too late. If a sponsor does not have sufficient enrollment to run the class, it will be cancelled.
May 13 sees me back at Mill House for two half day classes: Fabric Selection Made Easy, and Beginning Hand Piecing. If choosing fabric for your quilt has you at a standstill, the Fabric Selection class will open doors for you to make this process so much more enjoyable. And if you would like to give Hand Piecing a try, the afternoon class is the perfect opportunity.
For those of you who want to add Hand Quilting to your quiltmaking skills, my Mastering Hand Quilting workshop will be offered on June 10 at Mill House Quilts in Waunakee, WI. Rather than doing a running stitch, I quilt with a stab stitch, with one hand above the frame, and one hand below. With proper positioning of your hands and the needle, this allows you to achieve stitches that are not only even and straight, but they also look the same on the front as they do on the back. In addition, it is a much gentler on your wrists, preventing wear and tear that can occur from repetitive motions. To register, contact Mill House Quilts. They can be reached at 608-849-6473.
Also on June 10, I will be teaching Beginning Hand Applique. There are several ways to accomplish applique. I teach a technique that gives you invisible stitches, and I am told by students that they find this method easier than other ways they have tried. This is the same stitch I use to finish bindings on quilts, so even if you don't have an applique project in your future, this technique is a great one to add to your quiltmaking skills.
Keep an eye on the Newsletter for more class updates coming soon. In the meantime, Happy Quilting!
Deciding what fabrics to put together for a quilt can be overwhelming. Whether you are in a quilt shop or working with fabrics in your personal collection, how to combine fabrics can be a challenge. This class addresses that by helping you build a Fabric Selection notebook, building pattern recognition skills that will unlock ideas on how to combine fabrics. Regardless of if you are new to quilting or an experienced stitcher, this class has something for you!
August 25, Wednesday morning, Half Day Workshop
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Mill House Quilts
There is nothing quite as lovely as Hand Quilting. When I became a quilter many moons ago, I wanted to learn how to make stitches that looked the same on the front as they did on the back. This was not possible with the traditional running stitch. That is when I developed my stab stitch (or poke-pull) method of quilting. Using a 14 inch lap frame, I place one hand above the frame, one hand below, and the needle is passed back and forth between both hands. Not only did I get uniform stitches on both sides of my quilt (once you know which hand goes where and how to position your needle), but there is the added advantage of not getting carpal tunnel because there is not the repeated twisting motion that is used in the running stitch method. This method is great for those with limited flexibility due to arthritis or mastectomies. No callouses, no stabbed fingers, and best of all, lovely stitching.
I will have lap frames available for purchase in class.
August 25, Wednesday afternoon, Half Day Workshop
1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Mill House Quilts
To register for either class, contact Mill House Quilts either on their website https://millhousequilts.com/classes or call 608-849-6473. Both classes have a supply list. No prior experience is required for either class.
This is one of my most popular workshops. Machine Piecing combines with Hand Applique to create Prairie Lilies, an explosion of joyous colors you are sure to love. Not only does this class take you through Fabric Selection, but the construction of the quilt is such that the cutaways made in the process are used to make a Bonus Quilt. That is two quilt in one class! Don't miss it!
September 21, Tuesday. 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Cable Car Quilters Guild
For information on either of the Cable Car Quilters Guild programs in Dubuque, IA, contact Barb Orfield
2432 Briarwood Drive
Dubuque, IA 52002
Quilting with Laura is a book, 8 1/2 x 11. 32 pages, with templates drawn on the pages that you trace onto sturdy template material and then use those templates to trace around onto fabric to cut out the pieces to construct the patchwork blocks by hand. When doing so, you cut the fabric 1/4 inch larger than the tracings to create a seam allowance.
There are patterns/instructions for 14 blocks related to the Little House stories. The 14 designs can be seen in the sampler quilt on the cover of the book. This book does not have directions on how to construct the particular sampler quilt shown on the cover, only how to construct the individual blocks. Readers are encouraged to pick and choose which blocks they would like to construct to create their own Little House adventure. The cover quilt is merely an illustration of all of the patterns.
I would call this a technique book, teaching how to construct 14 different blocks. This book also has a brief bit on how each pattern relates to the Little House stories (the Nine Patch being the block Mary and Laura created when they were learning to sew, for example)
When Laura was a child, patterns were given merely as a line drawing of a block and quilters just knew how to create their pattern pieces and construct the blocks on their own. As time went on, by the time Laura was an adult, patterns were a line drawing that included directions on how to piece a particular block, and quilters just knew how to then create a quilt out of the pattern of their choosing. This book is most like that style.
The Little House Sampler is a pattern leaflet, 5 3/4 x 8 1/2, 21 pages plus the cover, with directions on how to cut out and construct 9 different patchwork designs that are then used to construct the sampler quilt seen on the cover. These blocks are constructed by machine. The only block in this leaflet that you have to create trace-around templates is the schoolhouse block. Because it is then constructed by machine, the seam allowance is included in the templates for this block.
The other 8 blocks are all constructed with various machine piecing techniques that involve cutting strips, squares, or rectangles, again, each containing the seam allowance, as that is what is required for machine piecing. As in all machine piecing, achieving an accurate 1/4 inch seam when you sew is vital to the success of each block. Each design has step by step illustrations to guide you along the way. Again, because this leaflet is a pattern for machine piecing, the seam allowance is included in everything that you cut out.
This leaflet does contain step by step directions on how to construct the quilt shown on the cover. I would call this pattern leaflet a project leaflet, telling how to construct this particular quilt. It does not contain the brief bit on how the pattern relates to the Little House stories. It has, as I said, a project focus. This is how most patterns today are, something that shows how to make a particular project from start to finish.
Between the two, you see a sort of evolution of the style of patchwork patterns that have been available to quilters through the years.
As you may know, some of my work focuses on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie books. I have written a book of hand pieced patterns that tie in with Laura's stories, as well as a pattern for machine piecing many of the same blocks for the construction of a sampler quilt. Both are now on sale. This is a great time to add to your library, or gift a Little House fan. See details below!
Published 1999; Reprinted 2015
Children and adults alike continue to be fascinated by the engaging tale of what life was like during the era in which Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up. This book is a charming collection of traditional quilt blocks that tell the story of Laura and her adventures. Whether joined into a sampler quilt, as shown on the book's cover, or made a quilt of an individual block, this book will take you on your own Little House adventure. Quilting with Laura includes blocks that are actually mentioned by Laura in her books as well as traditional blocks whose names reflect events of this pioneering time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books were among my favorites as a child. Reading about Laura's adventures planted the seed that got me interested in quilting. When a Mom approached me years ago asking if there were patterns available that were inspired by the Little House series that she could use to teach her daughter how to quilt, I was off and running.
I began collecting patterns inspired by the Little House books, both patterns Laura wrote about and patterns whose names reflected the adventures of the Ingalls family. The quilt shown on the cover is a sampler quilt displaying the 14 patterns within the book. Don't be put off by the thought of making something with so many blocks! This is not a direction manual for making this particular sampler quilt, but rather, it is a book that will teach you how to do patchwork as Laura did. Blocks are arranged in order of difficulty, so quilters will learn a new skill with each block they make. Quilters are encouraged to pick and choose which patterns appeal to them, either because of the design itself, or because of the story behind the block, and create a quilt that tells their own story.
The book has been out out for a number of years now, and has proven to be very popular with moms, aunts, grandmothers, homeschoolers, girl scout leaders, you name it. It is a wonderful way for you to share your passion for quilting with the youngsters in your life.
Everything from what tools you need to how to make templates is included in this hand-piecing guide book. Each of the 14 patterns is accompanied by what links them to the Little House stories. It is the perfect companion to the Little House series, and a way to pass your love of quilting on to the next generation.
School teachers and youth group leaders find Quilting with Laura also makes an ideal teaching tool that dovetails with a wide range of subject areas. Patterns are for hand piecing, so it works well for those wanting handwork or pioneer projects.
SALE price! $10.00 plus shipping.
Go to the Ordering Tab on this website for Ordering Details.
The Little House Sampler pattern is a 22 page booklet containing directions for nine patchwork blocks that tell the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House adventures. The booklet includes a color photo of the quilt, as well as full size templates for the blocks constructed from templates. Non-template blocks are constructed with precision machine piecing techniques. The detailed directions include step by step colored illustrations, making it good for all levels of quiltmaking experience, from the beginner to the advanced stitcher.
Patterns included are:
Price: Originally $15.00, SALE PRICE $7.00 plus $1.50 shipping
Directions for ordering this pattern are given on the Ordering section of this website.
If you are like me, January always feels like a time of renewal, a time to set goals and make resolutions. And if you are like me, most of these goals have to do with the creative side of my life. Make more time to quilt. Finish more projects. Get more organized. Learn something new.
Of all of those, I think learning something new is the most important. It is what keeps things exciting. It is what motivates. It is what helps all of the other goals fall into place. Taking a class is a great way to learn something new.
I have always thought of classes in three different categories: technique classes, project classes, and inspiration classes. In a technique class, it doesn't matter what you are making, but rather, how. Think of it as a skill building class, something that teaches you a process you can use as you create future projects. My Fabric Selection Made Easy class, for example, teaches how to look at fabrics, whether in a store or in your own collection, and see them with new eyes. Yes, there is a bit of color theory in there, but also, it deals with the visual textures of fabric and ideas to consider when you are combining fabrics for a quilt.
Selecting what fabrics to use in a quilt is different than choosing what clothes go together when you dress yourself, and it is more than buying kits where the fabric is preselected. Often times kits use fabric from one manufacturer, or one line of fabric. Your collection of fabrics in your stash is more varied than that. Learning how to make different fabrics play well together is a skill you will use every time you start a new project.
Borders On Parade is what I would call an inspiration class. It too is another skill builder. In this class, you don't need to bring a thing except your camera and notebook. It is trunk show of over three dozen quilts, each with a different border treatment. Borders are more than just the four strips of fabric you slap onto the edges of a quilt to make it big enough. They frame the picture. They relate to the center of the quilt and help to enhance it. They are as much a part of the quilt design-wise as the interior that you have pieced or appliqued.
You don't have to know what border you are going to use when you start the quilt, but rather, you wait until the quilt blocks have been assembled then audition different fabrics and ideas for the border to determine what will best make that quilt sing. This presentation may just provide the solution you have been looking for to complete some of those unfinished projects.
The last group of classes are project classes, those classes which call to you because of the specific quilt being made. These are great fun because you know what the finished project will look like, and you are sure to learn a thing or two along the way that you can add to your bag of tricks.
I sometimes hear people bemoan that they just can't start a new project because they have so many others that are unfinished. Here is a thought for you. Know that when you take a class, you are not signing a blood commitment to finish it. You are signing up to learn something. If once you have learned that something, you decide, for whatever reason, that you don't want to continue with the project, you are under no obligation to complete it! Do something else with it. Make a table runner. Make a pillow. Make a lap quilt. Add the balance of the unused fabric to your stash and use it in other projects. Pass it along to another quilter who may enjoy it. Once you buy fabric, you own it and can do with it as you please. Fabric is not project specific. It can be used for other things. It is ok to change the final outcome of a project if it better suits your needs. Don't let projects guilt you. Remember that you are in charge, not the project.
With those thoughts in mind, check out some classes.
Go forth and learn something new. You will be enriched. Starting something new may teach you just the thing you didn't know you needed to know to finish some of those other projects you started.
Inspired by reading the Little House series as a child, I remember searching for years to find the Doves in the Window pattern that Laura told of making for her wedding quilt. I too had started sewing at an early age, and loved that Laura made quilts out of fabric scraps to keep warm. But what was the Doves in the Window pattern? The quilt she made did not survive the fire that destroyed their home just before their 4th anniversary. I learned that there were several patterns called Doves in the Window. The only clues I had as to which version Laura made were bits of decriptions she mentioned in her stories. She made a quilt block with bias edges that were so tricky, Ma made her take it apart and re-do it until she got it right.
A visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder site in Burr Oak, IA sent me down a path that has lead to what I believe may have been the pattern Laura made for her wedding quilt. Join me in this one day workshop where you will learn how to draft this unusual patterns, make your own templates, and use a combination of machine and hand piecing to create this unique Doves in the Window pattern.
In celebration of the spirit of Laura, I have created my version of her Doves in the Window quilt, combining this intriguing block with the nine patch blocks she and her sister Mary learned their piecing skills on.
This is a full day Skills workshop rather than a Project workshop. You will learn how to draft your pattern, create your templates, create one Doves in the Window block. This may be framed, made into a pillow, or used as the start of your next quilt. The emphasis of this class is to teach drafting and precision piecing skills rather than teaching a project. Students will, however, receive the pattern and directions for making the quilt shown.
Interested in having me teach this workshop for your group? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking details.
One of the things that has always fascinated me about Laura is the quilt she talked about making for her hope chest. It was a Dove in the Window pattern and a very tricky one because of all the bias seams. Ma, Laura clearly remembers, made her take out the seams several times until she got them right. We have all had that experience! I have always wondered what that quilt looked like. Sadly, early on in their marriage, Laura and Almanzo lost everything in a house fire, including the quilt. When I was writing my book Quilting with Laura, I had come upon a pattern called Dove in the Window that indeed did have lots of bias seams, and I made a guess that it might have been the design Laura had made, but of course, there was no proof.
Fast forward. While visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum in Burr Oak, IA, where the family lived for a short time while Pa helped manage the Masters Hotel, I saw a quilt block on display that was made by Laura. It was a very unusual pattern, one I had never seen before.
As I was doing research for my lecture on Laura, I came across a line drawing of a block called Dove in the Window in an obscure quilt book called Old Patchwork Quilts by Ruth Finley from 1929. I was struck with the similarities between Laura's block and this drawing. When Laura was learning to quilt, there were no quilt pattern books. They did not come until much later. She may have seen the design at a county fair or at a friend's quilting bee, or someone may have sent her a sketch of the design. That was the way patterns traveled from person to person before catalogs offering quilt patterns became commonplace.
The block at Burr Oak is an odd one, that is to say, I have never seen a whole quilt made of this pattern. What struck me was the similarity to the drawing of the Dove in the Window block shown in Ruth Finley's 1929 book. The Burr Oak block has some variations from the Finley version. The outer diamond in the center section of Laura's Burr Oak block are cut as one piece, for example, where the shape in the Finley version is three pieces sewn together.
Construction-wise, the center octagon would be assembled first, then set into the center of the main block. It turns out that this shape is not a perfect octagon, but rather one that is slightly elongated. It would be easy to rotate that center octagon by one turn, which would then coincide with the Burr Oak block. When the octagon is rotated by one turn, it doesn't fit smoothly into the block. The edges are all bias, and it would certainly explain Ma making Laura take out the pieces and re-do them until they were correct, and why Laura's Burr Oak block does not lay smooth.
My theory is that Laura, in later years, wanted to reconstruct the Dove in the Window pattern from her youth and was trying to do it from memory. It would explain the minor variations from the Finley block. The offset of the center octagon in the Burr Oak block, which caused it to not lay flat, would explain why Laura did not continue to make an entire quilt of the pattern.
Death on the Prairie
My journey with Laura continues. I was recently contacted by author Kathleen Ernst that she was writing a mystery book with Laura Ingalls Wilder as a theme. Kathleen has written several young adult books as part of the American Girl doll series, as well as a fun series of mysteries for adults. Her newest book, due out in October, picks up on the adventures of her main character Chloe Ellefson, a Collections Curator at Old World Wisconsin. While Chloe is fictional, Old World Wisconsin really exists. It is an open air museum in Eagle, Wisconsin. In the story, Chloe has been given a quilt that was supposedly made by Laura. In an effort to try to authenticate the claim, she and her sister take off on a road trip to several of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites to see if they can match any fabrics from the quilt given to her to fabrics used in quilts known to have been made by Laura. And because it is a mystery, and because these things just keep happening to Chloe, dead bodies start turning up.
When Kathleen told me the premise of her book, we began talking about the quilts at the various historic sites, and I told her about my research on the Burr Oak Block. I am thrilled to report that my theories made it into the story line! What fun! Kathleen has commissioned me to make a quilt for her to take with her on her publicity tour that consists of the blocks Laura talks about in her books, including the Burr Oak block. Both the book, DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE (Publisher Midnight Ink Books) and the pattern I will publish of the commissioned quilt, will be available in October.
Through the wonders of the internet, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in West Grove, Pennsylvania found out about the church banners I had made for St. John's Lutheran Church here in Boscobel. As a result, they commissioned me to make banners for their parish in remembrance of one of their parishioners.
They recently completed construction on a new community center and wanted artwork for both the general meeting room as well as the stair well. Once again, I used their stained glass windows as inspiration to create a series of banners for them.
This set of banners expresses the guiding principle of their parish: To Know Jesus, To Love Jesus, To Serve Jesus. The white lilies are the symbol for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the name of their church.
The other set of banners was made for their stairwell, an imposing 12 foot high space that was beautifully filled by these banners which create a cross in the white space between them. Again, the white lilies are used in honor of their parish.
I flew to West Grove to install the banners and was able to be there then they were presented to the congregation. To see such color and pattern bring otherwise blank spaces to life was a joy.
In 2011, I was commissioned to make banners for our church (see details in article below). As luck would have it, the sister of one of our parishioners saw them, and told her church about them. When a member of her church expressed a desire to do something special in memory of her husband, the banners came to mind, and I was commissioned to make some for their church.
Check out the What's New section of this website for more details, but here is a look at the finished results.
They were installed in January, 2014 on the face of the choir loft in St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Janesville, WI.
In other news, don't forget to check out the TIPS AND TRICKS section of the website. On the first of every month, I list a new tip. Also, the WHAT'S NEW section of the website is updated more frequently than the NEWSLETTER with late breaking news, so be sure to visit it frequently.
In case you missed it, I was the featured guest on Sarah Uthoff's blog radio show Trundlebed Tales. The topic of our interview was Quilts and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Check it out, and enjoy! Trundlebed Tales: Quilts and Laura Ingalls Wilder
For additional booking information, visit the Schedule section of my website.
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