Tuesday, September 28, 2010


After a stressful week, my husband and I were in desperate need of a little R&R. Thankfully, we already had a brief trip planned to the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. As a quilter, I couldn't resist stopping at the area quilt shops while I was there. My husband was a good sport about it and happily took me to each one on my list. One of our favorite area stops is Lulijune’s Quilt Shop—a charming country quilt shop just outside Cedar Falls. 

It specializes in 1930s and Civil War era reproduction fabrics. Shop owner LeAnn Hughes always greets us warmly and makes us feel right at home. We've known LeAnn for six years now and always look forward to visiting her shop each year. She and I are a bit like kindred spirits as we both love 1800s repro fabrics, doll quilts, and cats! My husband and I look forward to seeing her many feline companions almost as much as we do her beautiful fabrics! As usual, we were greeted by her friendly kitties as we approached the shop door. 

This little girl was sunbathing beside a bench just outside the door. Isn't she cute? She was just a tiny little thing. I wish I could have taken her home with me but Teddy and Poe are quite spoiled and I don't think they'd know what to do with a new little sister. 

Inside the shop, you'll find lots of fabric reminiscent of times past, plus inspiring shop samples made by LeAnn. She loves to make little quilts and is quite efficient at it. She showed us many of her projects-in-progress and I was amazed by how many she is able to finish all the while managing her shop.

I loved this scrappy churn dash quilt on the ladder. To the right of it is a cupboard filled with quilting-related gifts and vintage finds for sale.

This wall is lined with 1800s reproduction quilt samples featuring pattern designers such as Jo Morton, Kathleen Tracy, and Tara Darr of Sew Unique Creations.

1930s reproduction prints and quilt samples make a cheerful statement in this corner of the shop. LeAnn likes to display fat quarters with the matching yardage, making it easy for customers to find pre-cut pieces of the fabrics that they like.

The little dress in this shot is a clothespin bag pattern by Darlene Zimmerman.

LeAnn displays her patterns on this picket fence accent. She carries patterns by designers such as Civil War Legacies, Quilts Remembered, and Sew Unique Creations.

LeAnn tries to choose patterns with easy-to-follow instructions like this "Crossroads to Freedom" pattern by designer Teresa Rose (who also made this quilt). She likes this particular pattern because the instructions are thorough and there's no shortage of helpful diagrams.

If you're ever in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Iowa, area, I hope you'll consider stopping by this fun little shop. If you do, say "hi" to LeAnn from me! Lulijune's is located at 14303 University Ave., Cedar Falls, IA. The shop is open Wednesday-Friday 10-5 and Saturday 10-4. You can contact the shop at 319/961-0705.

After a visit to Lulijune's, we traveled to nearby Independence, Iowa, to visit Quilter's Quarters. That's where I found these wool bundles (nearly the size of a fat quarter) for $3 each. They'll make great pincushions and penny rugs!

From there, our journey took us to Merry's Stitchins in Jesup, Iowa. This was another fun country quilt shop filled with inspiration and fabric. 

This display of Sandy Gervais fabrics in blues, oranges, and yellows with the colorful quilt sample hanging above it caught my eye. 

The shop also has a nice selection of wool and wool-related patterns like penny rugs, pincushions, wallhangings, and bags.

Loving pincushions as much as I do, I couldn't resist this adorable turtle. It will be on my list of projects-to-do this fall! Iowa winters are notoriously long, so it's the perfect opportunity to surround yourself with lots of cozy quilt and sewing projects.

As you can see, there's plenty of quilting territory in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Iowa area! Cedar Falls also has an another quilt shop called Crazy to Quilt Shop. I'll be sharing more pics of past visits to Cedar Falls in future posts, including a visit to a historical house and an antique doll exhibit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


What is it about cats and quilts that seem to attract each other? Every time I bring a new quilt home, my curious companions Poe and Teddy can’t resist checking it out. Can you see Poe surrounded by my collection of bears and bunnies in this photo? He made himself at home on top of an old Dresden plate quilt. The 1930s quilt hanging above was a gift from my mother-in-law 10 years ago and is made of hexagons. The little vintage cupboard was found at an antiques shop in Marion, Iowa, several years ago and makes a charming display for some of my small teacups and saucers.

I've been collecting vintage doll beds for several years and set this one up to take a shot of one of my papier mache dolls on earlier this spring. Before I knew it, Poe had decided to take a cat nap on it. Believe it or not, he had only been there for a few minutes when I took this photo. But it looks as though he’s been there all afternoon!

When I bring a new quilt home, I like to take a photo of it for my records. My husband gave me this cheerful 1940s basket quilt for Christmas last year. Just as I was getting ready to snap the photo, Poe decided to investigate it.

While trying to decide where to display this 1930s yo-yo quilt, I draped it over one of my sofas. Teddy and Poe both instantly took to it. Don’t they look cute nestled among its pastel colors? I wish my little black catboys photographed more clearly so you could see their features better; they really are darling creatures.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


It's been a busy week writing magazine articles, so I haven't had much of a chance to get out and garden. While leaving the house to run errands this morning, I spotted this happy sight—volunteer seedlings from my red-veined sorrel. It's always a delight to find these unexpected garden gifts.

With showy foliage like this, who cares about blooms? Naturally adapted to dappled light under shade trees and woodland groves, this fun perennial loves moisture. In fact, it's an ideal plant for pondside landscapes and water gardens. Most of my garden is fairly sunny but I have just the right spot in one small corner where the soil stays fairly moist. It's what I call my moss patch, where I also grow moss harvested from my husband's family farm (I even named it "Ridge View moss" after the family farm!).

Red-veined sorrel (also known as Red Dock) eventually forms an upright leafy clump about 15 inches tall and wide. Its striking deep red veins make it a colorful addition to the garden.

I am always happy to share my garden's bounty. If you happen to live near the Des Moines area and want to try some, I would be glad to share. Just contact me at my email button.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It was a beautiful afternoon here in central Iowa—perfect weather for taking a stroll through a local antique fair with my husband. We were eager to go since there aren't many antique events in our area. We saw many lovely pieces of furniture. If only I had a place for this lofty cupboard in my kitchen. I'm always trying to find ways to squeeze in one more piece of furniture. I've even dreamt up ways to make room for an old cupboard in our upstairs bathroom by moving the clawfoot tub!

I thought the dark green glassware below looked so charming displayed in this antique pie safe—another piece I wish I could have brought home!

There was a surprising number of vintage quilts compared to recent past antique events in my area. I liked the creative way the first dealer displayed hers on a ladder. 

I decided to give this lovely red and green appliqué antique quilt a home. It was marked $20 and after my husband did some bargaining, I got it for $15. As you can see, it has some condition issues. The red fabric has disintegrated over time but I still fell for it and I think the overall piece is quite striking. It’s less-than-perfect treasures like this that have taught me an important life lesson—not to always seek perfection! After all, something doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Some of the treasures I hold most dear are tattered and torn.

The dealer said it was from the 1930s but it seems to have some characteristics of the red and green appliqué quilts of the late 19th-century. Although I love studying quilt history, I’m no expert at dating quilts. So if any of you who happen to read my blog have any insights on it, please feel free to email me or leave a comment. No matter what its age, I think it's a treasure worth preserving. I'd like to eventually reproduce the pattern and make a version of my own.

As some of you regular blog readers might have already guessed, I’m a pincushion fanatic. I seem to gravitate toward any display of them. This collection of vintage pincushion dolls was a welcome sight. The little lady with the green scarf in back went home with me!

Isn’t this small vintage chicken feeder cute with the little gourds spilling out from its lower compartments? I went back to look at it a second time but couldn’t figure out what I would use it for.

I always enjoy sifting through old books. There's something about these well-read treasures that adds instant warmth to a home. Our library shelves are filled with them and I like to accent tables with stacks of small vintage books.

As a dollmaker, I can never find too much vintage trim. This vendor had a bunch of fun ones in addition to some pretty buttons. I found a bag filled with lovely grey and white ones to use on my pincushions.

I hope your Sunday afternoon was as pleasant as mine. It seems it was over in a blink of an eye and soon it will be back to work as usual.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The Jo Morton Stitcher group I belong to is holding a pincushion exchange this month. The goal was to make a pincushion and somehow incorporate Jo's fabrics into the creation or send a few fat quarters of them along with the pincushion.

I decided to make a couple of my own published designs—a miniature strawberry pincushion and an appliquéd needlecase made with Jo's Crimson and Clover fabrics. I've been making these strawberry pincushions for quilt shops for several years now and had fun making this one up in brown wool and one of the pink fabrics from Jo's Complements line. I picked that particular fabric because the pattern sort of resembles strawberry seeds!

The inside of the needlecase holds a handy little pair of embroidery scissors for those projects-on-the-go. I'll be making another little needlecase in the same fabrics for my TDIPT offering next week. If you're interested, just click on my TDIPT button in the left sidebar for more details.


As summer days fade to autumn ones, I like to reflect on the past year's garden and some of its blooming beauties. In early spring, we were greeted by these soft-hued iris--passalong plants I received from a friend.

I've always enjoyed roses but with our colder climate here in Iowa, we have to be careful about which ones we grow. I usually stick with the David Austen English ones, Knockouts, and the Canadian Explorer series. So far I've had good luck because we have very good soil in this particular location, unlike the heavy clay like soil that plagued our garden when we lived in Des Moines. 

Summer blooms brightly thanks to perennial favorites like this dianthus and these Asiatic 'Lollipop' lilies. Do you notice a color theme here? Yes, I do love pink!

I can't get enough of summer-flowering bulbs like dahlias and gladiolus. I found these glads from Old House Gardens several years ago:

There's not a lot in bloom right now but one of my favorite late summer-autumn bloomers is this Japanese anemone. It doesn't like to be transplanted once it's established, so I've left it where it is. This year it rewarded me with some baby plants, which I will transplant next spring.

With autumn just around the corner, I become more and more thankful for my indoor garden, which consists mainly of African violets, rex begonias, and a couple moth orchids. 

I'll blog more about these fun houseplants in future posts. Hope you enjoyed this snapshot of my outdoor and indoor gardens.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The latest quilt book I edited, Cottage Charm: Cozy Quilts and Cross Stitch Projects by Dawn Heese, was released earlier this month and is now available in quilt shops!

I've met so many wonderful friends as a result of editing these books and Dawn is one of them. She is a gifted quilter with a passion for hand appliqué as well as an avid cross stitcher. Pairing her love of both in this book, she designed three quilts and three cross stitch projects. She has a knack for blending old and new in her quilts, which are inspired by vintage heirloom treasures and classic block designs. One of my favorite quilts from the book features bunnies frolicking amid blooms and carrots:

Dawn designed and stitched this enchanting cross stitch sampler:

The book also features Dawn's handy tips for needleturn appliqué and scalloped borders. For more details on Cottage Charm, go to the Kansas City Star Quilts website located here.

This is the second book with Dawn that I've had the pleasure of working on. The first, Geese in the Rose Garden, was published last year. The feature quilt combines the timeless charm of pieced geese-themed blocks with the classic beauty of appliqued rose blocks. The book also includes two companion projects—a wallhanging-sized quilt and a pillowcase—that showcase the versatility of two of the designs from the featured quilt. You can find more details on Geese in the Rose Garden here.