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November 26, 2014

It’s the Holiday Season

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Thanksgiving week is traditionally the beginning of the holiday season at our house. That means there are three weeks left to make gifts – two weeks if I’m going to mail them. It also means deciding how to decorate the house, inside and out, for the season.

We like to keep things simple when it comes to decorating. And natural or nature is usually the theme, with lots of small lights tossed in for a bit of bling.

There was a time when I thought all decorations had to be real – a real tree, real wreaths and real evergreen garland. A couple years ago, I finally got tired of still vacuuming up pine needles in July and switched to fake greens. A lot of artificial greens are very real looking, and there aren’t any needles to fall off before the holiday arrives. Each year, I add something new to freshen the look. This year, I’m adding garlands of tiny triangles.

Strands of triangle banners for birthdays and other celebrations are quite popular, so why not make seasonal banners? I decided to make small banners that would look nice across the mantle and could also be used as garland on a tree.

Making the holiday banner

To extend the season, I took two fabrics – one fall and one festive – and cut them into 2 ½-inch strips. I calculated that I could get 16 – 2 ½-inch triangles out of one width-of-fabric strip. I fused the fabrics together with some thin cotton batting in between. A bit of free-motion quilting to hold everything together, and the strips were ready to be cut into triangles.

Cutting the banner triangles

Using the Strip Ruler by Creative Grids made this job quick and easy. You do need to exercise caution, though. I’m right-handed, and cutting the right side of the triangles was easy. Turning my wrist to cut back down the left side meant keeping my left hand out of the way in case my right hand – the one with the really sharp rotary cutter – slipped. In no time at all, I had my triangles cut with all my fingers intact.

Attaching holiday banners

I found this lovely cording in the drapery department of my local craft store. It is 100 percent cotton and comes in white or natural. I came across the miniature clothespins in the hooks and hangers aisle of the same store. These can also be found in some art shops or scrapbooking stores.

Fall banners

You can attach the banners to cord with glue if you wish, but I chose to simply pin them to the cording using the miniature clothespins. For now, I’ve strung my banners across the mantle with the fall fabric facing out. This goes well with the (fake) fall leaves above the mantle. The cording shows because I’m lazy and didn’t want to rehang the banners for Christmas, plus I don’t mind the primitive look at all.

Holiday banner

In a couple of weeks. I’ll turn the string over and display the festive side. I’ll add some miniature lights to the greenery and possibly a candle or two, and that should do it.

Pillow Sham banner

Vintage Button banner
This project went so quickly and smoothly that I decided I wanted to make more for after the holidays. A trip to the thrift store resulted in a lovely set of quilted pillow shams. I cut these into larger (4-inch) triangles and embellished them with some of my vintage buttons. I used my handy hot glue gun to attach the triangles to some of the cording left from the holiday banners. Won’t these look nice on the mantle come February and Valentine’s Day?

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

November 25, 2014

Minnesota Shop Owner Q&A: Sue Poser, Gruber’s Quilt Shop

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0To celebrate our Warehouse-on-Wheels sale in Minnesota, we’re talking with the participating shop owners to find out how they got started, why their shops are special and what changes they’ve seen in quilting.

Our special sale at five quilts shops in Minnesota continues through Dec. 7, with books as much as 75 percent off!

We kick off our interviews with Sue Poser, president of Gruber’s Quilt Shop in Waite Park, Minnesota.


What made you decide to open a shop?

Sue Poser

Sue Poser

I am a third-generation, with fourth working here also.

What are you most proud of about your shop?

It is a great shop for every quilter. We are blessed with the most outstanding staff to help you.

What trends do you see in quilting today? Have tastes changed since you opened your shop?

Simple, something I can accomplish in a short period of time, but looks like I took more time to make the quilt. Tastes have changed drastically and always will.


Gruber’s Quilt Shop, 310 Fourth Ave. NE, Waite Park, Minnesota 320-259-4360

November 24, 2014

Warehouse-on-Wheels Sale: Minnesota

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0The Land of 10,000 Lakes is the next stop for our popular traveling book sale!

Kansas City Star Quilts is working with five Minnesota shops to bring you great prices on 30 beautiful books during the sale, which runs through Dec. 7. During this special sale, books will be as much as 75 percent off, with prices as low as $5.50.

In the next few days, we will run interviews with the shop owners on this blog site to give you a behind-the-scenes look at these great shops.

The shops are:


Bay Window Quilt Shop, 116 Second Ave. SW, Perham, Minnesota  218-346-7272


Bear Patch Quilting Co., 2199 Fourth St., White Bear Lake, Minnesota 651-429-1039


Gruber’s Quilt Shop, 310 Fourth Ave. NE, Waite Park, Minnesota 320-259-4360


All in Stitches Inc., 308 S. Main St., Zumbrota, Minnesota 507-732-4101


Heather’s Book Nook and Sew Much More, 682 Prentice St., Granite Falls, Minnesota 320-564-0074

For more information and a list of all the sale books, click here. And if you’d like to see our Warehouse-On-Wheels sale come to your state, let us know on our Facebook page!

If you have questions, please call the shops for more information or send email to weaver@kcstar.com.

November 24, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins


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


November 21, 2014

Inspector 21 Does Not Approve

By Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Lone Star quilts are some of the most striking quilts ever made. It is easily one of the most recognized quilt patterns and goes by many names.

Hearth and Home titled the pattern An Aesthetic Quilt. Ruby Short McKim had more than a little trouble deciding what the quilt should be called. She published the pattern under three names: Lone Star, Star of the East and Star of Bethlehem. Blazing Star, Rising Star, Pride of Texas, Star of Stars and Overall Star Pattern are a few more names this quilt pattern travels under.

Quilts made from this pattern are lovely if they are made well. Accuracy in cutting and piecing are essential. Each point is made up of many diamonds that radiate from the center.

Before the advent of the rotary cutter, each of the diamonds was cut with scissors. Often, the template the quilter used was made from cardboard.   Each time the pattern was traced onto the fabric, the template wore just a little thinner. It didn’t take much for the whole top to go completely awry

Inspector 21

Inspector 21

Another issue quilters encountered when cutting their pieces with scissors is that at least two sides of each piece was cut on the bias. A little pulling while marking or sewing could wreak havoc.

One of the most discouraging aspects of having problems with this quilt pattern is that the quilter doesn’t really know until the whole quilt has been put together that she has a mess on her hands. Each star point may lie flat as a flitter but when sewn together with the triangles and squares that finish it off, wads and wrinkles and waves appear. No amount of smoothing, pulling or tugging will make the top lie flat.

It is clear to even the most casual of observers that nothing is going to “quilt out” or “quilt down.” I’m sure that is why we find so many Lone Star tops for sale on eBay.

I was an inexperienced quilter when I bought a red and white quilt top many years ago in a crowded antique mall. The top was folded,  and there was no place to spread it out. The price was within my budget, and that alone should have set off warning bells and sirens.red_white_2

When I got the top home, I spread it out on the bed and saw the faded pieces and became more than just a little heartsick. I also discovered all the bulges and bumps. I put it away with the intention of fixing it. After all, it couldn’t be that hard, could it?red_white_best faded pic

As you can see, fixing that quilt has never risen to the top of my priority list.

After shoving the quilt top into a bin and letting it mature for years on end, I eventually forgot all about it. And when I forgot about the top, I also forgot about the important lessons I had thought I had learned. Not too long ago, I bought another Lone Star top.

The top was folded and hanging on a hanger. But it was made from a riot of feedsack fabrics. It wasn’t laid out in regimented shades of color, and I loved that about it. I didn’t love the ugly orange and green feedsack fabric that was used for the setting triangles and squares. It looks as though there is a war going on between the center and the background.background fabric

But, hey, I could replace the background squares and triangles and keep the scrappy star in the center. I was all excited to bring this home.

Then I laid it out on the bed. I was quickly reminded of the red and white top. Bubbles, bumps, wrinkles and pleats stared me in the face. And, even though I knew it was fruitless, I pulled and tugged and smoothed it with the hope of getting it to behave.feedsack_top1

I am determined to figure out how to fix this one. Even though the workmanship leaves much to be desired, I am still drawn to that center star. My first step will be to remove the background pieces. Then I will separate each star point and press them. Only after I do those things will I be able to determine what to do next.

I think I might draw the line at taking each diamond apart. There’s got to be an easier fix, right?

And in the future, if anyone sees me fondling a Lone Star quilt top, please tell me to step away, just step away. If you do that, I promise to buy you a cup of coffee. Shoot, I’ll even add a piece of pie to your order.

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