Feeling Recharged

For six years now, I have traveled to Waite Park, MN in July to spend a few days with some of the best friends I have ever known; a group of women that felt like forever friends almost immediately after our first meeting. My Grubers Retreat is a non-negotiable event on the calendar. I’ve written about the joys of this retreat in the past; but really, words cannot explain what this week means to me and does for me emotionally. Group8                               L to R: Amanda, Rene, me, Mary, Michelle, Terri, Cindy, Shelly, Stephanie

Amanda produces like crazy every year–many things with her new fabric collection for Connecting Threads this year! She free-motion quilted like crazy, and she and I made micro quilts. Amanda2015CollageRene worked on a scrap vortex quilt most of the weekend. Her 51 Kisses quilt, made for her sister, Michelle, is fabulous. Go check out her MUCH better photos!Rene2015CollageI finished up my Rock Pools quilt top from a class I took in May (it’s Christmas fabric), and worked on my Quick Curve Ruler project from last year’s retreat! My micro quilt is at the bottom left:Doris2015CollageMary made us the adorable egg-cup pincushions (top right photo) with the smallest EPP hexies I’ve ever seen. She worked diligently on a Moda Bake Shop pattern most of the weekend. Mary2015CollageMichelle first joined us for retreat in 2011 (year two). She is Rene’s little sis, and at the time she was just a newbie to quilting. She has come a long way! The girl is obsessed with foundation paper-piecing (and the movie Pitch Perfect, which we watched as a group Saturday evening). The quilt on the top right is the beauty she made for Rene this year:Michelle2015CollageTerri is fun to watch work; she makes the most of her time at retreat. She goes back and forth between projects, starts new ones when inspired by something she sees (see the blocks at bottom right, inspired by one Michelle shared-in my collage above), her creativity is inspiring. She came prepared with her suitcase of fabric (LOVE IT!)… Also, she made us those beautiful Dresden coasters this year:Terri2015CollageCindy accomplished much more than I took photos of. I couldn’t resist snapping the pic of her with the matching Hello Kitty sewing machine! She made us all one-hour baskets with fussy cut license plate fabric–so fitting! A friend made the cute bag at the bottom for her, it’s just too adorable not to share:Cindy2015CollageShelly and I share a ride from Des Moines to Waite Park, about 5 hours in the car (each way). She’s afraid she talks my ear off, but I love the laughs, the sharing, the brainstorming…and she tells the BEST stories. She was working on some top-secret stuff, so not many pics of her work, but she was very productive! I’m still tickled pink that she made us those perpetual journal calendars in the pint box (it’s one of the first projects I ever added to Pinterest and I have YET to make one–don’t need to, now!):Shelly2015CollageStephanie sat next to me this year, I was amazed at how quickly she made the Mini Disco quilt in the Allison Glass fabrics (the back is just as beautiful, photo on bottom right). She worked on a Quick Curve Ruler project as well, a current QAL on the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog.Stephanie2015CollageEach year we make (or “outsource”) happies for each other. Seriously, it’s better than Christmas:Happies4I gave the Cotton & Steel charm packs and scissors key fobs this year, Anna Maria Dresden coaster from Terri, Perpetual Journal Calendar & flashlight from Shelly, Egg Cup pincushion from Mary, Work in Progress bag and pattern, and mini-charms from Amanda, fabric tray and chocolate from Michelle, Her OWN honey and “Sew Sisters” bag from Stephanie (and fresh Michigan blueberries!), License plate basket from Cindy, and Mug and mini-charms from Rene.

Every year I come home feeling recharged and inspired–Love my Grubers gals!


I have it Sew Together (yeah, right)

Social media drives trends in every area nowadays, including sewing and crafting. Remember when everyone was making Swoon quilts and Granny Square quilts (in 2012)? I tend to avoid projects when everyone else is making them–sometimes, I get around to making them eventually a few years behind everyone else (I’m starting my first Swoon quilt next week!).

Such is the case with my Sew Together bag. I bought the pattern and the fabric after watching Terri, Stephanie and Cindy make theirs together at retreat last summer. I didn’t get around to making it until November, when my friend Jill taught a class on it at a local quilt shop. (Note: Doris dislikes reading patterns. If you take a class, you don’t have to read the pattern!)

Fun to make and really, not as complicated as you might think. My sewing themed fabrics and pretty colored zippers:FabricsZippersThe zippers are done:

SewTogether1Sides attached (note the cute little tag, added from some printed twill tape I bought a few years ago):

SewTogether3My finished bag:

SewTogether4And the bags we all completed in class:

SewTogetherAllMost people I know that have made this bag have made more than one. There was one available in our MQG holiday swap this year (filled with chocolate no less) it was a coveted gift! They do make great gifts, good for stashing makeup, sewing notions, drawing tools, etc. You can get the pattern here. How SewDemented ever came up with this, I have no idea… but I’m glad she did! Elizabeth came up with a worksheet for downsizing it into a smaller bag. Smart, and she did so without “giving away” the pattern. I haven’t tried the smaller version yet, but I plan to!

Have you made a Sew Together bag yet?


A message of support

In August, my friend Karen and I checked out an installation of The Monument Quilt in downtown Des Moines. It’s a powerful project to experience. The Monument Quilt (this link has many more photos from across the country) is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse, with the purpose of creating a culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.

I studied art and art history in college and graduate school, and I’ve always appreciated that art has the potential to deliver difficult messages and instill understanding and compassion across cultures.

The full installation originally took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and since then, parts of the quilt have been displayed all over the country. This image of the mall in Washington is wonderful (one of support materials distributed when the quilt is displayed):


The portions displayed in Des Moines included the same message:

IMG_6014The quilt has interactive components, one can create their own 48″ x 48″ panel to submit to the project, or share their story at one of the installations by adding to an existing panel:


IMG_6002Some of the stories are shared behind pieces of fabric (a flap that can be lifted); allowing the viewer to choose whether or not they want to read the survivor’s words… These stories have the potential to be emotionally draining, difficult to “hear”. There are volunteer “supporters” on hand for viewers to talk to about what they are feeling as they view the installation.



The myriad of fabrics, mediums, colors, images and words create beautiful and strong messages. If you have the opportunity to visit this project in person, I highly recommend it.

The Des Moines installation as photographed from above (photo by Eric D. Sammon):



“Your Positivity Truly Inspires Me”


An Iowa Quilt

When we saw the Sum of Many Parts exhibit last January, we also saw the Iowa Sesquicentennial Quilt on display at the State Historical Society. I don’t believe I’d ever seen it before. The log cabin border is stunning, and the quilting is great:

ISQuiltFullIowa became a state in 1846, the Sesquicentennial (150 years) was celebrated in 1996. Each of the 99 counties submitted a block in the shape and scale of their county. Some are embroidered, some appliqued, some just drawn or inked on:

ISQuiltDetail1Polk County is where Des Moines is located (orange block with star on it) and we have a beautiful state capitol building which is in the center of the block. Madison County is famous for its covered bridges

ISQuiltDetail2The one with the John Deere logo is where I grew up, Black Hawk County, home of John Deere Tractor Works and the University of Northern Iowa and named for Sauk war chief Black Hawk.

ISQuiltDetail3This little quilted heart on the Iowa County block is very small, but it really stands out. The hand embroidered sites in the Keokuk County block impressed me as well:

ISQuiltDetail4The background quilting is full a different motifs, corn stalks, stars, banners, eagles, wild roses (our state flower), a goldfinch (the state bird)…


ISQuiltDetail7I was glad we got to see this, I’m not sure if it is on a semi-permanent display or not. But we both enjoyed looking it over for little details and surprises.

Happy Birthday to my big brother, Steve, today!



Wrapped in Love (Part III)

In July, I received a second comfort quilt. This one came from my Grubers Retreat friends, at our 5th annual July retreat. Though they live in eight different states, they each made two blocks from the same pattern, sent them to Michigan (I think) for Stephanie to piece the back and front of the quilt, then sending it off to Missouri for Shelly to quilt it, and back to Minnesota for Amanda bind it–all in a matter of a few short months. GrubersQuiltFull

It’s wonderful–they know my tastes so well, many of my favorite fabrics and favorite designers in there (including a Ghastlies block!) as well as some blocks that represent them and their fabric faves! It was fun trying to guess who made each block (but not that easy!):


The back has a signature block from each of them, such a sweet touch…

GrubersBack1Of course, we had to haul it outdoors for a photo shoot (it helps to have two willing quilt holders!) GrubersQuiltFullPeekingI slept under this quilt at the retreat center, as I have many nights since then. Here it is on the bed at the Grubers Retreat Center (I can hardly wait to spend another weekend there this July with this crew–counting the days…):



Coming Soon: Iowa Quilting Events

If you are near Northern Iowa, you might want to consider signing up for NIACC’s Quilting Treasures: Workshop for Quilters on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Yours truly will be the Keynote speaker, along with my business partner

Quilting Postcard 2014 copyTo register, call or email the contact information on the image above.

And of course, AQS Des Moines is just around the corner. You can see my Diamond Dust Quilt up close and personal in the AQS Juried part of the show:



And I’m supposed to be moving to a new town home somewhere in the midst of all of this… wish me luck!

Happy Sewing,