Challenge, accepted.

“Petal Pusher”

-my entry for the Michael Miller Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.

45″ x 55″

When I started this challenge, I knew I wanted to incorporate the design of the main Petal Pinwheel focus print. I’ve also been wanting to challenge myself to draft and make a New York Beauty block, so the center of my blossom was decided. I machine appliqued the large petals using additional prints from the collection.


The background is Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Aqua. I added some grey Michael Miller prints from other collections to get a scrappy look for my leaves.


A detail of the blossom; showing the New York Beauty center block and quilting:




Quilted by my Row House Creations business partner, Trina Kirkvold.


Happy Sewing,



100 Happy Days

I started my own version of #100HappyDays in April 2014, just as the shock of losing my husband was starting to wear off and the numbness was replaced by an ache and a pain that would not stop. Everything “normal” I knew was suddenly gone from this world. The #100HappyDays challenge is to post a picture each day for 100 days of something that made you happy. I decided I could do it, despite the fact that I was having trouble seeing anything but my despair–and it could be a tool to help me heal.


So. The challenge. While it might not be a happy day, let’s face it, I had watched Leukemia rob my husband of his good health, his vitality, and his life, in the span of roughly ONE month, I should be able to find joy in at least one thing every day. Something that made me smile through the tears. Something that gave me a feeling of gratefulness despite the hole in my life.

Screen Shot 2

(A few of my #100HappyDays: sewing with friends, tulips for Easter, bouquets from friends for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary, lilacs, gifts from friends, our silly cats…)

Today is Day 43. I haven’t posted yet, but there is a movie night planned at my house tonight and I know I’ll have a GREAT happy post for this evening! Some days have been a challenge. But, I have much to celebrate, much to be grateful for, and yes, even joy in my life despite all that has happened.

Sometimes we believe that we can’t love or enjoy life…or have joy…unless all is right in our life, relationships, and world. But, we have the ability each and every day to choose to love life and enjoy it–to choose joy.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Life knocked me so hard this time–I wasn’t sure I wanted more. Sometimes, the best thing you can choose to do with your day is to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. I’ve had many days where I just wanted to pull the quilt up over my head and stay in bed. But I knew Frank would not have wanted me to do that. He found good in every day no matter how challenging it had been. Heck, even as he lay dying in the ICU, he found good in a seriously frustrating situation. He is my best role model in getting myself through the grief and loneliness by smiling despite the pain and sorrow, and finding a little slice of joy.

God’s goodness is always there. It may take training our eyes to see it again but it is always present. I was SO MAD at God for taking him. SO MAD. I was so angry that he made me wait so long to find him, and then took him away before our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. Every time I was out in public, or saw something terrible on the news, I was so upset that he took such a good, true person who made this world a better place for so many people, even strangers, and left terrorists, criminals, and the truly selfish behind.

I was beside myself that God did not answer our heartfelt prayers. Until my  cousin pointed out to me that He did. He just didn’t answer them the way I wanted them answered. He was relieved of his labored breathing and his pain. He was cured of cancer. He did get to leave the ICU and go home. He was made healthy again. This all happened at 9:07 pm on March 15, when our Father came to take him to his Heavenly home. And I was not left alone (which I prayed for OFTEN and begged Frank not to do–leave me alone, that is).  Even though the loneliness is SO pervasive in my life right now… he left me surrounded by family, friends and good people.

Screen Shot 3

(a few more #100HappyDays posts: lunch with my brother & sister, photos from the last family gathering before we knew Frank was sick, Seeing our grandbaby, spending time with friends and family, painting the guest room, playing with fabric…)

I know that God wants to give us all an abundant life, a life filled with His blessings. But, I’m having a hard time accepting losing Frank as a Blessing. However, everything I have read about grief tells me that eventually I will be able to see it that way. We’ll see.

The truest and purest blessing is God Himself. God is bigger and better than anything we might be facing. Choose today to take one baby step at a time to begin to enjoy life once again. Little by little, you’ll get there. I’m trying with this #100HappyDays project, and finding joy and blessings in the day when there is sometimes very little to feel good about.

Praying for Peace & Blessings for you today,


Freelance Adventures

Occasionally, I have the opportunity to work on projects outside of my University job and my quilt pattern design business, that utilize my editorial skills or some other skill in my toolbox. In Fall 2013, I edited quilt patterns for a magazine publication, and the patterns for Mary Fons upcoming book. In the publishing world, one works on projects so far in advance, that it’s a fun reminder to see them again when they become reality! Her book will finally be released in May…

Make + Love Quilts By Mary Fons

(Click on the book cover to go to Amazon and have a look see inside!)

Working with Mary was a treat; we corresponded mostly via email, once or twice by phone I think. She’s full of joy and enthusiasm and it’s nearly impossible for some of that to not rub off on you. Here’s the video she shared about promoting her new book in NYC:

Mary Fons Book Promotional Video No. 1 from Mary Fons on Vimeo.

So proud of her finishing this book and I’m looking forward to holding it in my hands. Congratulations, Mary!

I also made a quilt recently for another freelance project, my sweetie said it might be his favorite of all the quilts I’ve made (not sure what appealed to him, but he does like vintage and this is made from 30s prints and Moda shirtings) I never did get a great photo of it, but this gives you an idea of the project…


Maybe one day I’ll be able to make a living with the pattern design and freelance work. I’d be thrilled to work from home. However, giving up those full-time benefits would not be easy. Until then, I’ll continue to be grateful for my job and the great people I get to work with.

Happy sewing,


It’s Quilt Week!

It’s here! AQS Week in Des Moines, this will be the American Quilter’s Society’s largest (to date) quilt show–and Des Moines, and the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild have the honor of playing host!  I’m using a few vacation days from work to attend the show and take a full-day class on Thursday.


We are excited–because our (Row House Creations, LLP) new pattern, Mums for Melissa is being featured in a demo in Booths 1003-1005 by Denise of the Iowa Falls Sewing Machine Co.–you can visit their booth to purchase our pattern.


Denise paid us the best compliment, she called to order more patterns and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me how awesome this pattern is?” Seriously, does it get any better than that?! She told us she thought it was a snowflake quilt waiting to happen (We Know!) and/or a sunflower quilt waiting to happen (Great idea, Denise!) — so many ideas, so little time.  So stop by and see Denise at booth 1003-1005! Tell her Trina & Doris said hello!

Chrysanthemum Mums for Melissa Modern Quilt

Living History Farms, a living history museum complex in Urbandale (a Des Moines suburb) will be hosting a vintage quilt show, also October 2-6.  It’s always worth a visit!


Also, on Wednesday, a new exhibit opens at the State Historical CenterThe Sum of Many Parts: 25 Quiltmakers in 21st Century America. It will hang until January 31st. This exhibit is traveling from China, but consists of contemporary American Quilts.  Des Moines is the only U.S. city that will host the full exhibit.  I’ll be finding time next week to pay a visit to that one, I think…

Des Moines is a great City in which to be a quilter!  We also happen to be home to Meredith Corporation, publishers of American Patchwork & Quilting, and all of the Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications.  Just outside of Des Moines, in Winterset is the home of the Fons & Porter Love of Quilting publications.  We are also home base for a major publisher of quilting books, Landauer Publishing.  We have more than one active & thriving quilt guild, a Modern Quilt Guild chapter, numerous quilt retreat opportunities, a handful of great local quilt, fabric & yarn shops, and really friendly people! Like we said, Des Moines is a great place to be a quilter.

Are you planning to be in Des Moines this week?

Tutorial: Make a professional studio design wall

I created a tutorial for small design wall boards using Foam core that worked great in the small space of our condo. But, I wanted something larger and a little more professional grade for my new studio; and I wanted to be able to use either side of it.

Grey Design Wall Tutorial Banner


  • One FULL size set of solid-color flannel sheets*. I used these from Amazon.** NOTE: a friend told me last weekend that she tried this using the same sheets and when she washed them some of the grey washed out (like “tie-dye”); so I advise reading the reviews before buying them. I washed mine with no problem…
  • One 4′ x 8′ insulation foam board, 1″-thick (Purchased from our local home improvement store)
  • Sewing machine, tape measure, pinking shears (or scissors) for cutting fabric, seam ripper, thread, pins.

*You can use flannel yardage, but it will either need to be pieced, or you need to find extra wide flannel.  The only source I found was here, but it’s a little darker grey than I wanted, and roughly the same cost as the sheet set.

**note: many designers recommend grey for a design wall, as it is a “true neutral” as opposed to white or black.  It’s really your preference; I wanted grey.


1. Wash, dry, and press your flannel sheets.

2. From the fitted sheet, cut one rectangle 49.25″ x 98.75″ using pinking shears.  If you use scissors, you will want to zigzag stitch or serge around the edges first to avoid fraying.  The width of my board was really 47.5″, and the thickness was a true inch, so my fabric width was cut 47.5″ + 1″ + .75″ = 49.25 (the 1″ is for .5″ extending over each side, and the .75″ is for two .3875 {3/8}” seam allowances) The length has an extra 1″ for bottom side.

3. Before cutting the flat sheet, I had to remove the seam for the top fold, and the side seams. If your sheet is large enough, you can avoid removing the side seams and just cut them off.  If you are using flannel yardage, you can skip this step.

Design Wall from a flannel Sheet

4. Cut a rectangle from the flat sheet, that measures 49.25″ x 98.75″, using pinking shears.

5. Align your two large rectangles, right sides together, and pin every 6-8″ along edge.

6.  Sew along three sides, using a 3/8″ seam allowance, and reinforcing your corners (needle pivot point):

Sewing diagram

7. Turn right side out, and with the help of an extra set of hands, slide the flannel “sleeve” you just made onto your insulation board (it should fit nice and snug):

Sleeve Shot

8. Once you have the top and side edges fit the way you want it (seams should be along sides of your insulation board; adjust if the seams have twisted onto flat side of the foam board) pull the sleeve as taut as you can, and safety pin both layers of flannel together along the bottom edge of the board.

9. To finish, either hand sew the opening at the bottom closed like I did, or if you prefer a short-cut, use a stapler to close the bottom edge (It will never show!)

My design wall is free-standing, and reversible. Why reversible? If I have something lined up on it that I don’t want to take down, I can flip it around and use the other side for a different project without disturbing the first layout. This is how it looks in my studio:

Design Wall

If you do not want to be able to move it, or prefer to have it attached to the wall, you could use screws to attach it to the wall, like Katie did (I also love her dual design wall roll-up!) or use 4 pieces of mitered molding to hold the board in place (like a picture frame) and screw the molding into the wall instead of the board.

Angela has a great tutorial using quilt batting to cover a board and even includes how to make a cut out for an outlet.

If you want something that takes a little less time and money, consider the quick-and-dirty design wall how-tos here on the Martingale Blog.

Do you have a design wall, or do you use the floor–like I did for YEARS?

If you do have one, what do you use for a design wall?

It’s late September and I really should be…

Name that tune! (Sorry, for some reason I have all kinds of song lyrics going through my head this week) It all started with seeing an Earth, Wind & Fire feature on CBS Sunday Morning (my favorite show!) and seeing footage of this tune. Watching that video just totally cheered me up. Anyway, back on track:

September is National sewing Month (yep–has been since 1982!). A proclamation in 1982 from President Ronald Reagan declaring September as National Sewing Month read “In recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.” Hooray for the home-sewist! In 1982, my Mom was raising five kids, her oldest was headed off to his first year of college that Autumn, the second was a Junior in high school, the middle (ME!) was an 8th grader, my little brother in 7th grade, and my baby sis was a 1st grader. My mom sewed ALL of my Dad’s shirts (button down with collar and set-in sleeves, thank you very much), many clothes for my brothers, and nearly all of my and my sister’s clothing, including our lovely box-pleated plaid school uniform skirts (ick). She also did in-home daycare. How she found time to sew, I have no idea. But, I know some of she did to save pennies. I’m not sure that one could sew clothing cheaper than buying it anymore, but in the 70s and 80s, she could.  I really need to dig us some photos from my childhood to show you some of my mom’s mad sewing skills.

So, what have I been sewing this September?  I’m working on a quilt for the grandbaby:

Gemma PiecingI have 18 blocks made (thanks to our MQG sew-in time this past Saturday!) but I’m torn on the layout. Updates to follow.

I’m working on some wonky log-cabins using hoarded Heather Ross, Amy Butler and Sandi Henderson prints (a gift for someone):


I have grand plans to do some garment sewing for myself (I have since January 2012, but not much is happening on that front). Maybe next month. sigh.  You’ll notice these two are both sleeveless dresses, I could have them ready to wear by the time Summer comes around again…

Clothing Sewing Vintage Pattern1


Trina and I have been sewing blocks for the recent launch of our Building Foundations Sampler QAL, here are my blocks (Moda Bella white with all Kaffe Fassett prints):

Building Foundations QAL Collage

Building Foundations Sampler QAL

Join us over on the Row House Creations blog, and follow along or join us and share your pics with us via the Facebook page or the Flickr group!

We’ve also been busy marketing our patterns to wholesale distributors. Last week we were picked up by United Notions/Moda and Quilt Craft Distributors (in Canada)! A major accomplishment for our business.

What have you been sewing lately?

Do you join in Quilt Alongs? Will you join in on our’s?