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January 23, 2015

The Babies are Coming!

By Edie McGinnis

edie_mug1I am looking forward to April and May this year. In April, my youngest son and his wife will welcome another little boy into their family. Their children, Jackson and Sophia, know they are getting a little brother, but I’m willing to bet they don’t have any idea what a difference that guy is going to make in their daily lives.

In May, my oldest son and his wife will also have a baby boy joining their family. Their two children, C.J. and Ceirnan, are very excited to be getting a new baby. Ceirnan was sorely disappointed to find that she is not getting a sister. But she is beginning to figure out that she might be able to dress the baby up in her doll clothes, so things are looking up for her.

So I will soon have nine grandchildren, four girls and five boys. The oldest two are now 8, the youngest is not quite 2.

So far, I have failed to get quilts made in time for any of the grandkids to be wrapped up and brought home from the hospital. I have most of the blocks made for our little Sophia’s quilt, but I still need to sew them together. I ran into a stumbling block and was out of time all at once. I am one of those people who truly understands why the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.sophia 1 block

But here we are in a new year, and I have resolutions to break.  The Drunkard’s Path is going back on the back burner.  I am going to replace that UFO with Sophia’s quilt. That makes more sense anyway.sophia blocks

Then I am going to get the new babies’ quilts made. I have the patterns chosen, and I have fabric. To say I have fabric is probably the understatement of the year.

Jackson and Sophia’s little brother will have his nursery decorated with vintage airplanes. I have printed out a paper-piecing pattern that I think will be just the ticket for a quilt. I haven’t chosen fabrics yet because scrappy might be the way to go on this one.airplane block

C.J. and Ceirnan’s little brother is going to get a quilt made from the Bright Hopes pattern. I changed it a little bit because I want the center square to be larger than the traditional pattern. The birds I’m using for the center of the blocks are so cute that they deserve to be seen. In the diagram below, you will notice there are circles in the centers of the blocks. That’s because I didn’t have bird fabric in my quilt program. You will find the directions for making this quilt at the end of this blog.Bright hopes boy

I am optimistic about getting these quilts made. Not only am I optimistic, I am determined to make it happen. So if you are wondering where I am on the weekends, you will be able to find me in my sewing room, giving my Bernina a workout.

Wish me luck!

Bright Hopes

Quilt Size: Approximately 40” Square

Block Size: 8” Finished

Fabric Needed

3/8 yards light blue

3/8 yards dark blue

3/8 yards light green

3/8 yards dark green

5/8 yard print for center squares

Cutting Instructions

From each of the blues and greens, cut:

25 – 2 1/2” x 6 1/2” rectangles. (You need 25 of each.)

From the print fabric, cut:

25 – 4 1/2” squares

To Make Each Block (This is going to seem backward to you!)

Sew a dark green rectangle to the left side of the center square. Line up the top of the strip with the top of the square. Sew about 3 1/2” down, and leave the rest of the rectangle dangling.first seam

Line up a light blue rectangle with the edge of the center square on the top of the block. Sew it in place.second seam pinned

Line up a dark blue rectangle with the bottom of the square on the right side. Sew it to the block.third seam pinned

Line up the light green rectangle to the bottom of the center square. Stitch it in place.last seam to seam

Go back and close up the first seam that you left dangling to complete the block.  Begin sewing where you ended your first seam allowance. Make 25 blocks.last seam

bh_finishedSew the blocks into rows, with each row having five blocks across.

Sew the rows together to complete the quilt top.

Layer the quilt top with backing and batting, and quilt as desired. Add binding, and you will have a quilt ready for the next little one who will steal your heart away.

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

January 22, 2015

Bobbins’ Bargains Takes a Trip Down Memory Lane

Mrs. Bobbins is a big fan of fan quilts – and she wants you to be one, too.

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 Fan Quilt Memories: A Selection of Fan Quilts From The Kansas City Star, by Jeanne Poore.FanQuilt

The fan pattern, popular in Colonial days, when no woman was deemed properly gowned for a social occasion without a fan, found renewed interest among quilters familiar with The Kansas City Star’s patterns.  The 24-page full-color project book contains complete and easy to follow instructions, templates and illustrations for various size quilts and numerous setting options.

Click here to see a YouTube video of the book.

The book is on sale for $9.95. Your price using our Bobbins’ Bargains promotion code is just $2.49, plus your shipping on this book is free in the continental U.S.!

(SHIPPING NOTE! Please allow 14 business days for delivery after Wednesday, Jan. 28, 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.!

January 21, 2015

On the Homefront

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

A recent article in The Kansas City Star featured area women who had worked in local aircraft factories in World War II. These women, real-life Rosie the Riveters, proudly served their country by filling jobs vacated by men who joined the military.

But this isn’t the only way in which many women – and men – served their country on the homefront.

Throughout history, in times of war, civilians have volunteered their services to support military personnel. Many of the volunteer opportunities were through community service organizations, such as the American Red Cross.

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. Before World War 1, the Red Cross provided first aid, water safety and home nursing programs. During the war, the organization experienced phenomenal growth, from 107 chapters in 1914 to 3,864 chapters by 1918. There were more than 20 million adult and 11 million junior members in 1918. After the war, assistance extended to home care and relief for victims of major disasters, such as floods and the punishing drought that affected most of the country during the Great Depression.

During World War II, the Red Cross enrolled more than 104,000 nurses for military service and prepared 27 million packages for American and Allied prisoners of war. It also shipped more than 300,000 tons of supplies overseas, including blankets and kit bags donated by Red Cross chapters.

In an Aug. 20, 1942, letter, a representative from the Monticello, Ill., Red Cross chapter wrote: “The government has been constantly calling on the Red Cross to provide Red Cross Kit Bags for distribution to soldiers and marines embarking for foreign duty.”

Enclosed with the letter were instructions for making a Red Cross Kit Bag with Apron, ARC 451; Rev. July 1943; Code AF-61 (filled: olive drab); Code AF-62 (filled: navy blue). How’s that for official?

kit apron

The kits were designed to be quite practical. The bag had a drawstring top for securing the contents. When the bag was open, a short flap with ties on either end could be flipped out, converting the bag to an apron of sorts. This could be tied around the waist to keep the contents handy. A label was usually attached to let the recipient know which organization or chapter had contributed the item. In this case, it was the Clallam County chapter of the Red Cross in Port Angeles, Washington.

RC kit

The letter went on to say that not only was the Red Cross obligated to make the kit bags, it also was asked to fill them. The items that went into the bag cost about $1 and included soap and soap boxes, playing cards, pencils, shoelaces, razor blades, cigarettes, pencil, paper and envelopes, waterproof matches, double-edged razor blades and a sewing kit or “housewife.” The term for a pocket-size container dates back at least to the Civil War.

kit and contents

If soldier lost a button or tore his pants at the front, he had to make do as best he could because there were often no replacements available at hand, thus the sewing kit.

A list of the basic contents for the sewing kit was provided by the government but could vary some. The kit contained buttons, thread, needles and safety pins. The buttons and thread color depended on the branch of service the kits were made for: navy blue for the Navy and khaki for the Army and Marine Corps.

open navy kit
Nebraska kit

The Omaha, Nebraska, chapter made and donated this sewing kit from World War II.
Army kit

open army kit

This one might be from World War I. It was made by the Washtenaw County Red Cross of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

folded green
open green kit

This one, which is in “as new” condition, is probably from World War II. The American Thread Co., which closed in 1985, made the star bobbins.

The kit bag is something that would be useful today, especially for someone living in a dormitory or care center, or for travel. If you would like to make a piece of history, send me an email at ddinatale@kcstar.com, and I will send you a copy of the original pattern.

While the Red Cross no longer provides these kit aprons or sewing kits to our armed forces, it plays a major role in disaster relief for Americans at home and abroad. Go to www.redcross.org to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

Also, the American Rosie the Riveter Association is trying to locate women who worked on the homefront during World War II to document their stories. If you are one of these women or a descendant, call 888-557-6743; send email to americanrosietheriveter2@yahoo.com; or write American Rosie the Riveter, P.O. Box 188, Kimberly, AL 35091, for more information.

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

January 19, 2015

2015 Block-of-the-Month Quilt Debuts

This year’s Kansas City Star Quilts block-of-the-month project has a 1950s look, with appliquéd wildflowers over pieced blocks. The quilt is 92 inches square.

2015 bom hazel

Shelly Pagliai of Wien, Missouri, designed the quilt, Hazel’s Diary, which tells the story of her mother, Hazel Ilene Hyde, who was born Sept. 19, 1936. Hazel’s parents gave her a diary for Christmas 1950. She faithfully wrote in the book every day for the next few years.

Look for a new block the third Sunday of each month in The Kansas City Star. To read about the block in the newspaper, go to www.kansascity.com. Go to the Living tab, then House & Home.  Nonsubscribers should get five free clicks a month.

Click here to read about the first block, which is 18 inches finished.


We will no longer offer a free download of the patterns. We realized that over time it’s not fair to the authors to give away their creative efforts.

If you’d like to participate in the program, the blocks will be available for purchase on our store site, KansasCityStarQuiltsStore.com. To buy the first block, click here.

To read the complete transcript of the diary, including more stories and pictures, with recipes and additional quilt patterns, click here.

January 16, 2015

A Stunning Art Quilt

By Edie McGinnis

edie_mug1There are quilts in this world that speak. Not only do they speak, they shout. Some shout about injustice in our world, some about women’s rights or lack thereof, some make political statements and some knock your socks off because of the incredible talent displayed by the artistry of the quilter.

Marilyn Lee of Debs, Minnesota, is a “knock-your-socks-off” art quilter. In 2008, Marilyn was challenged by a member of the Headwaters Quilt Club of Bemidji, Minnesota, to make an art quilt of our then newly elected president, Barack Obama.

She accepted the challenge and, after 900 hours of work in three short months, came up with a stunning portrait of the president.

“There are over 500 pieces of fabric in 17 different shades that make up his face alone,” Marilyn said.

Bama Quilt

She began her quilt by drawing her pattern and color-coding all of the pattern pieces so they would coordinate with the fabrics she had chosen.

“Each pattern piece was designated a number and each color was designated a number,” she said. “I then numbered all of my fabric choices to match with the color numbers so I could keep the whole business organized.”

face in progress

After making her paper pattern, Marilyn pinned it to the background fabric. She then cut out each piece, traced around it onto the fabric she was using for that particular piece and fused it in place immediately. She says it was the only way she could keep track of the hundreds of tiny little pieces and shades of fabric that made up the portrait as a whole.

After Marilyn finished the top, she did the free motion quilting, the embroidery and chenille work on her vintage 1929 Singer embroidery and chenille machine.seal

The quilt measures 8-by-10 feet. The stars on the outside border are free-floating. She added 50 flags around the outer edge, with each star representing a state.  She also added roses, our national flower, to the border.


Marilyn said she has been sewing since she was a little tot. She is self-taught and has learned by trying out different techniques and methods. The Obama quilt was a new experience for her.

Now I don’t want anyone to get confused about this blog. It’s not about whether or not you like, admire, despise or hate our president. It’s not an invitation to vent your personal, political opinions. It’s just about the quilt. It’s just about the talent and sheer determination and artistry it takes to create a piece of art of this caliber.

Look at the time and patience it took to create the president’s teeth. Then check out the detail in his eyes.teeth


Thank you, Marilyn Lee, for allowing me to share your marvelous quilt!

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

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