Hello! From here you can access your My Star Collection subscription (button on the left) and visit our bookstore (button on the left or top menu). Also, enjoy your favorite cartoon Mrs. Bobbins, read some fun blog posts, and get to know our authors. Enjoy!

July 29, 2014

Stronger Seams: Quilting and Friendship

By Tricia Lynn Maloney

Quilting has been bringing people together for a very long time. Consider the popularity of friendship quilts through the years. And quilting bees? A lot more went on than just quilting the layers of a quilt together.

Today, we quilters have a lot more options for the social side of quilting than our grandmothers did. Books, magazines, radio and television gave quilters access to information and inspiration, but the Internet has made sharing ideas and reaching out to other quilters so easy. The Internet has influenced an entire new generation of quilters who are involved in blogging, challenges and guilds online.

As fun and exciting as the Internet is, though, there is something to say for a good old-fashioned friendship formed face-to-face.

Cathey  Laird (left), Leslie Lattner and Tricia Lynn Maloney took a workshop in 2010 with Mark Lipinski, host of the "Creative Mojo" radio show.

Cathey Laird (left), Leslie Lattner and Tricia Lynn Maloney took a workshop in 2010 with Mark Lipinski, host of the “Creative Mojo” Internet radio show.

After admiring quilts and textiles for many years and even collecting a few along the way, I decided to finally teach myself to quilt in 1996, after graduating from college.  My first quilt, although not the loveliest piece – I fondly call it “Big Ugly” – was finally completed and I found myself eager to begin another project, and another, until I was well and truly hooked on quilting.

In my early quilting days, I quilted in isolation. I read a lot of books. I tried a lot of different techniques. I made a lot of mistakes. Then I began visiting a few local quilt shops, and I began talking to people about quilting. Before long, I had worked up enough courage to inquire about working at one of the local shops, and I was hired. There was a different person for each day of the week, and I became the “Saturday Girl.”

When I worked at the quilt shop, I learned so much about quilting. I happily immersed myself in “quilt culture” by taking a few quilt classes, going to local quilt shows and teaching myself new skills, such as free-motion quilting. It wasn’t very long before I found myself learning to use Electric Quilt computer software, and I began designing quilts.

Then I finally went on my very first shop hop. On that bus trip to many area shops, some of which I had never been to, I met two other quilters, Cathey Laird and Leslie Lattner, who were new to quilting and also on their first shop hop. We hit it off.

Cathey and Tricia in what Tricia calls "our first (and last) modeling experience" in 2010 at Quilting Around Chautauqua at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.

Cathey and Tricia in what Tricia calls “our first (and last) modeling experience” in 2010 at Quilting Around Chautauqua at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.

A few months later, we found ourselves on another bus trip, to Quilting Around Chautauqua at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. After this trip, we began calling each other and making plans to go to quilt shows, visit quilt shops and take many other fun excursions. We became the Three Musketeers.

It’s amazing how having a couple of close quilting friends made my quilting experience richer and even more rewarding because I now had someone – make that two someones — to share it with. Sure, before Cathey and Leslie, I talked about quilting to my family and other friends, but they just didn’t get it like my quilting friends did.

A photo with the bus driver is a memento of a 2008 trip to  Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The  friends, (from left) Cathey Laird, Tricia Lynn Maloney, Leslie Lattner and and Mary Lee Minnis,

A photo with the bus driver is a memento of a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Cathey (left), Tricia, Leslie and and Mary Lee Minnis took in 2008.

But our friendship wasn’t just about quilting. We supported and helped each other, too.  Quilting was at the heart of our friendship, though, and made everything else more meaningful. Cathey ended up getting a job at the children’s center where I worked.  Leslie’s daughter visited my classroom when she was crowned Harvest Queen. We went on a quilting bus trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and even began renting a cottage at Quilting Around Chautauqua. We added a fourth friend to the group, Mary Lee Minnis, who was my teaching partner at a monthly quilt class. Mary Lee became D’Artagnan to our Three Musketeers.russian_cover_LR

When I wrote my first quilt book, Orphan Block Quilts: Making a Home for Antique, Vintage, Collectible, and Leftover Quilt Blocks, Cathey, Leslie and Mary Lee were there every step of the way. They helped with projects, read instructions and provided a lot of moral support. They did the same thing when I wrote my second book, A Russian Journey in Quilts: The Story of Nicholas and Nina Filatoff. I like to tell people when I lecture that it takes many friends to write a quilt book, not just the person whose name is on the  cover.

As I began to get more involved in professional quilting opportunities, so did my friends. I still find it really fascinating how we all found our own niches in the quilt world. Leslie eventually began helping out at one the local quilt shops, started teaching classes and did a little quilt designing. Cathey began working at another local shop, taught classes, and began designing and marketing her line of patterns. Cathey then encouraged Leslie and me to teach more quilt classes at the shop she was working at. Mary Lee and I still teach our monthly class, and Mary Lee has added a few other classes to her repertoire. As for me, I teach, lecture, write, design for magazines and continue to work on new ideas for quilting books.

Sadly, I’ve noticed that life has been getting in the way of our friendship lately, and we’ve begun to drift apart a bit because of jobs, family and everyday stresses. But underneath it all, I know it’s quilting that still holds us together. The seams of our friendship might strain a bit at times, but quilting is a strong thread.

July 28, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins



For more quilty laughter from Mrs. Bobbins, get The Big Book of Bobbins by clicking here! Just $16.95!

July 25, 2014

Fresh Air and Sunshine

By Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

About a month ago, I purchased a quilt top that was offered on eBay. The pattern is called Mill Wheel, and it is a beauty. The seller said the quilt is from the late 1800s. Judging from the mourning prints, neons and shirtings that were used, I think that could be about right. But then I’m no fabric-dating expert by a long shot.

I didn’t buy the quilt because of the advertised date anyway. I bought it because I love the pattern Mill Wheeland the wide array of fabrics used. I am drawn to the shirtings and the plaids especially. And it didn’t hurt that the quilter did an exquisite job on the piecing, either. She used such tiny stitches – about 12 to the inch.

The fabrics are still crisp to the touch and don’t have that faded appearance that tops  often get when they have been left out in the light too long. It had to have been carefully tucked away. And whoever cared for it did her job well because it is also missing the brown age spots that so often appear on antique quilt tops that have been stored on wooden shelves or in cedar chests.

Tiny little stitches!

Tiny little stitches!

I look at this quilt top and I can’t help but wonder why it was never quilted. There are no lumps, bumps or puckers, and it lies as flat as a flitter. I find no places where a best friend might comfort the quilter maker with that all-too-common comment, “Don’t worry, Madge, it will all quilt out.”

quilt_shirtingsI love this top, but she and I are not getting along at the moment. I want to sit down and examine every piece of fabric used, but instead of doing that, I am carting her outside every day and hanging her on a linen rack in the fresh air. It’s times like this that I would give just about anything for a clothesline.

It’s also times like this that I wish I wasn’t allergic to perfume and to fabric freshener in particular. When I first opened the box and pulled the quilt out, the perfumy aroma was overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting that because the eBay description specifically said, “There is a no odor to this quilt top and it does not appear to have been exposed to smoke, pets or abuse.”

I find not being able to breathe very annoying, so I needed to find a way to get rid of the smell. I sure didn’t want to send the top back! I didn’t want to wash it and risk having all the seams fray, but I wasn’t sure how to resolve the issue. It seemed to me that it was time to ask for advice.plaids_neons

You know what they say, “Ask and you shall receive.”  Here are some of the tips I got from other quilters:

Several said to sprinkle the quilt with baking soda and shake it out the next morning. One said to put it in a bin with a dish of baking soda, snap the lid on the bin and let the baking soda do its job.

One person suggested that I use the trick guilds often use of placing the quilt in a plastic bag and tying a strip of Odor-Eaters into the top of the bag. I needed to make sure the quilt never touched the deodorizing strip, though.

A couple of people suggested that I wrap either a bar of Safeguard or yellow Dial soap in a paper towel and put the quilt and the soap into a plastic bag and give it a few days. The soap is supposed to absorb the aromas and leave the quilt top smelling fresh.

Others suggested that I put fabric softener sheets in with the quilt top. They had had good luck with that, and it even worked to get bad smells out of cars.

The majority of the people who commented said I needed to take the quilt outside and let it air. The methods of airing the quilt quilt on rackvaried – hang it on a clothesline, spread it on the grass, cover it with a sheet, don’t cover it with a sheet, put it in the sunshine, don’t put it in the sunshine.

quilt coveredSo I am trying to let common sense rule. I take my quilt outside and put it on my linen rack after covering the wooden rungs with old pillowcases. I drape the quilt through the second set of rungs and cover the whole affair with a sheet to keep the bird droppings and sun off of the top. The fresh air can still flow around the quilt and do its job.

I think this is going to be successful and, best of all, I’m not going to damage the top. I just wish I could hurry the process along. And as long as I’m doing some wishing, maybe I ought to wish for patience, too.

Edie McGinnis is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Friday.

July 24, 2014

Bobbins’ Bargains heads west

This week, Mrs. Bobbins is hitching up the wagon and crossing the frontier.

bobbins bargains logo - 200 wideShe is always one to find a good deal out there in the quilt world. Now she brings her amazing talents to you … with her weekly Bobbins’ Bargains!

Every Thursday, Mrs. Bobbins will select one of our books and offer it to you at a very special price … 75% off the current listed price!

Better yet, your shipping is FREE in the continental U.S.

Better, better yet, “Five Gets You a Freebie!” If you order a Bobbins’ Bargain just five times (from five different sales), you get a free copy of any of our books! Take your pick. We’ll contact you by email once you’ve qualified for a free book and take your order.  Plus your shipping on that one is free as well. Easy as pie!

This week’s Bobbins’ Bargain is Leaving Baltimore: A Prairie Album Quilt – Combining Traditional and Dimensional Appliqué, by Christina DeArmond, Eula Lang and Kaye Spitzli.LeavingBaltimoreWeb

Imagine living in the mid-1800s. Now imagine leaving your home and heading west in a covered wagon to your new home on the prairie. The flora, fauna and landscape are all new to you, and like the ladies of Baltimore, you want to record this journey by creating an album quilt.

Using both traditional and 3-dimensional appliqué, you record the wildflowers, fruits and vegetables, and animals you see along the way and around your new home.  You add the Prairie Schooner that brought you to this new land, the cherished Bible that provided guidance when the journey was rough, and the bald eagle that symbolizes the strength and freedom of this young country.

Included in this book are large photographs and full-sized patterns for the nine album blocks and four cutwork blocks, with clear, detailed instructions for embellishing your quilt with 3-dimensional appliqué. Additional projects include a Prairie Chain quilt, a table mat and an embroidered wall hanging.

Click here to see a YouTube video of the book.

The book is on sale for $22.95. Your price using our Bobbins’ Bargains promotion code is just $5.74, plus your shipping on this book is free in the continental U.S.!

(SHIPPING NOTE! Please allow 14 business days for delivery after Wednesday, July 30, the last day of this week’s sale.)

Be sure to use this promotion code before checkout:


Please make sure to click the “Apply Promotion Code Now” button after entering the code. The discount won’t apply unless you do so. Please verify that you’ve received the discount before checking out.

Click here to order.  And remember  …  your shipping of this book is free in the continental U.S.!

July 24, 2014

The Art of the Quilt Kit

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

A quick visit to Lincoln, Nebraska, over the weekend to see family included a visit to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. I’ve been there several times, and each time I marvel at the exhibitions and displays.

Native Nebraskans Ardis and Robert James founded the museum in 1997, when they donated nearly 1,000 quilts and an endowment to maintain the collection. The physical structure, built with private funds, opened in 2008, and the collection has grown to more than 4,000 quilts. IQSCM



This is not your typical quilt museum. Yes, there are quilt exhibitions, but the main focus is on education and textile conservation. It is an academic program of the Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The master’s degree in textile history with a quilt studies emphasis is the only program of its kind in the world, according to the university. Research, studies and training are continuously taking place at the center. You can plan your visit to include a public lecture, workshop or a Quilt Identification Day.

Modern Marvels
I went to see one of the current exhibitions, “Modern Marvels: Quilts Made From Kits, 1915-1950.” Marin Hanson, the museum’s curator of exhibitions, and graduate student Deborah Rake curated the exhibit. They have done a fine job of explaining quilts from kits and selecting quilts representative of the various manufacturers and designers.

Before I go any further, let me apologize for the poor quality of the photos. No flash is allowed inside the museum, and the only camera I had with me was the one on my phone. These photos will give you some idea of the exhibit, but you really need to see it in person or view the quilts on the museum’s website. display 1
display 2

display 3


display 4

display 5
In the center of the exhibit, displays explain kit quilts from 1915 to 1950. From the early years, there were boxes and packets of squares and diamonds all cut and ready to be sewn into a quilt. Later, toward the ’50s, kits started moving away from precut shapes, instead containing fabric and instructions for cutting the fabric, much like quilt kits today.

May Tulips


Pink Dogwood
The exhibit includes well-known quilts, such as Marie Webster’s May Tulips; Poppy; and Pink Dogwood.

Dresden 1

Royal Aster
Anne Orr is represented by her Dresden I kit quilt, taken from a crochet pattern she designed. The Royal Aster Quilt by Home Art Studio, a Hubert ver Mehren design, is front and center as you walk into the room.

Daisy Chain

Blue Baskets

Snow Flake
Also included are a Daisy Chain quilt designed by Mary McElwain and two kit quilts from Paragon Needlecraft Co. – a Blue Basket quilt and a Snowflake quilt. The Snowflake is one I hadn’t seen before. I would love to find an original kit for this beautiful quilt, with all its unique appliquéd shapes.

Trip Around the World

Broken Star

Floral Basket

Other quilts displayed from unknown designers are pieced quilts Trip Around the World, Double Wedding Ring (not shown) and Broken Star, and a lovely appliquéd quilt called Floral Basket.

If you have made a quilt from a kit – whether vintage or modern-day – the museum encourages you to share it on its Pinterest board.

I am a member of the museum and encourage others to become members. It is a marvelous place, and we as quilters are fortunate to have such a center. “Modern Marvels: Quilts Made From Kits, 1915-1950” continues through Feb. 28.

Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.