Michigan Quilt Bloggers: Liz Burt

Michigan I love Mackinac Island! It’s a quaint place in Michigan that we rarely visit, but that I adore. As a former teacher, I always thought it would be fascinating to teach on the island. I was thrilled when I discovered Liz through her blog and learned that she is both a teacher and quilter!


quiltstackHi, I’m Liz and I am guest blogging today. I’m nobody special really: I’m almost 40 (insert audible gasp here), a quilter, the mother of two, a school teacher, and I’m one of the 500 people who live year-round on Mackinac Island. Cars are illegal on the island so we do everything by horse, by bike and by snowmobile. If you’re curious about my little island life, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and read all about it here.

I said that I’m a quilter, but I haven’t quilted much lately. I discovered, as many quilters do, that not much quilting gets done once children come in to the picture. My children are now three and five, and this is the first quilt I’ve completed since they were born.

yellow brick rd1I love this quilt; it’s just so sunny and warm. My friend Maggie made one years ago with the same colors and I just loved it. She has always been my quilting inspiration because she is so prolific. (Just check out her blog and you’ll see.) I borrowed her pattern before my son was born and started collecting fat quarters. I had it all pieced and ready for the boarder when I got pregnant. (Which was wonderful news since it took us two years to conceive.) Now, here we are, six years after I started it and my Yellow Brick Road quilt is finally finished.

yellowbrickrdquiltingUsually I quilt my own quilts on my trusty Bernina, but let’s face it, I wanted this one done. So I sent it to Marsha, a wonderful machine quilter in Fowlerville, Michigan. Marsha is amazing. She’s talented, willing to help you through the quilting design process, and her rates are very reasonable. I’m just so happy with this quilt; it hasn’t left the bed since I finished sewing the binding. Now I’ve just got to find the time to finish the other quilt top that has been languishing since I became a mom. All it needs are the borders and a little of Marsha’s time and then I can enjoy that one too. Hopefully it won’t take me another six years to get it done!

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Sabra Danks

Michigan Sabra Danks lives in the Genesee County area, and though we haven’t yet met, we were introduced by a mutual friend and talked via computer. It only seemed natural to ask her to be a part of the Michigan Guest Bloggers!


I’ve never written a blog before, I’m not sure I’ve ever read one, but when Caron invited me to write, I couldn’t resist. So as with any good quilt I decided to start with inspiration. I remember being 4 years old and riding the city bus with my 9 year old sister all away across Flint to my grandmother’s house to spend the night on a roll-away bed and be covered by a simple quilt. I would trace my finger from square to square until I found a match. I guess it was an old version of I Spy. I’ve never tried to duplicate that simple quilt, but I find it comforts my soul, just as today’s quilts comfort my body.

I lean towards art quilts. I prefer machine appliqué, probably because I’ve never learned how to hand appliqué. I love using as many different fabrics as I can in my quilts. When I learned how to string quilt in the Sunshine quiltearly ‘80s I bought all the yellow and white fabrics I could find and created a simple baby quilt of the sun. Little did I know that soon after making that small quilt I would receive a diagnosis that prevents me from going into the sun. I hung the quilt above my bed and could feel the warmth of the sun. As my illness continued, I gave away my fabrics, stopped sewing and felt – well, you know.

After years, I began to re-evaluate my need to sew. I could be successful, even if I could only work for 10 minutes a day instead of the hours and hours I had done in the past. Having lost the ability to enjoy the long summer days at the lake, I decided to make a tribute quilt for my parents who worked so hard to provide for me. I drew up some Are We There Yetsummer memories and created a photo album quilt called “Are We There Yet?” I’d never seen a quilt like that, and felt it was quite unique. I used free motion quilting on the forest green sashing in a fir tree pattern to quilt the piece.

I’ve discovered that my best pieces span time blue enviornment color wheel quiltand nature. They include all the seasons, or day and night. The inspiration for the color wheel quilt was to provide a “teaching tool” within the gift. It has a different environment for each color. Throughout the ocean are a variety of hand-drawn/dyed fish. I like curves. So I thought I would try curved piecing. I bought “Curves in Motion” by Judy B. Dale, read it, and jumped into my own design without practicing. I struggled, but created a small piece, added wide borders and had a baby quilt “Catch a Falling Star” It’s one of my favorite quilts. Catch a Falling Star-1

Most recently, I completed “Adventure.” The inspiration came with my comment of, ”This will be an Adventure,” upon seeing the ultrasound photo of my soon-to-be grandson. Our small family has been all girls–a boy, what an adventure! From a child’s perspective I began looking at Adventurewhat an adventure would be and where it would take place. I asked the family what they felt would be an adventure and I incorporated those into the quilt, thus King Kong lives! Suddenly, I had fallen into my four seasons. Someday, I’ll learn to draw to scale before I start. But some of the fabrics just took over and said they would not be cut (Fabric talks, right?).

Section ofJoyeous TreasuresA few years ago, I won Observer’s Choice at the Planetarium Quilt show. The Quilt, “Joyous Treasures” was for my granddaughter. I wanted to make an I Spy quilt with 5” squares. Each square would contain an appliqué. My daughter suggested that I use a back-ground color to match the environment of the appliqué, blue background for the fish, and starry fabric for the moon. What happened was a watercolor technique background from the sky to underground, from mountain, streams and trees, from sunrise to the night sky, from a meadow to a pond. Then if you look closer, you will see the appliqué, and a closer look still will show detailed stitching. Around the border I used free-motion embroidery to write the name of all 70 objects. Additionally I wrote a 3 page poem about the objects in the quilt. I’m slowly writing a book utilizing the poem and including simple instructions and patterns. It’s the copyright process (I don’t know how) and the fact that I never make patterns that is slowing me down.

Pinwheel on design board 3 This year I hope to complete “Wayward winds.” I’m not a traditional quilter, but I have been working on a pinwheel quilt for the last seven years. Currently it has 98 four-block pinwheels completed. I made about 12 of each ½ square triangle out coordinating fabrics. I used all colors and prints. I’m looking for that childhood memory of scanning the quilt for a matching fabric. I call it my unemployment quilt because that’s when I started it. Luckily, I found employment and now have very limited time to finish it. I have my 5 year old granddaughter helping to lay out the squares so no two alike touch each other (get ‘em while they’re young). She can’t wait to lay out the 8” squares next.

Like “Adventure”, inspiration is everywhere. Thank you Caron for letting me ramble. I guess I’ll go sew something now or work on my book.

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Carol Drudy

Michigan is divided into two parts: the lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. If you’re from Michigan, you know that we call people from the U.P. “Youppers.” We sometimes refer to people in the lower peninsula “Trolls,” because they live “under the bridge.” That is, the Mackinac Bridge. Our next Michigan quilt blogger comes from the Grand Rapids area towards the west side of the lower peninsula. Welcome Caroll Drudy!



When Caron asked me to become a guest blogger, I was flattered and thrilled. What a wonderful place to write about the things that excite me! I’m hoping this post will excite you too and encourage you to become a joyful quilter.

What are your quilting fears? When I first started quilting, color was my greatest fear. Consequently, I stuck to using only 30s fabrics. They all went together. No agonizing over did this go with that. I stuck my toe out of the box (so to speak) when I participated in a Sampler Class at the Attic Window Quilt Shop.

The fabrics we received each month were bold and bright. That didn’t scare me. After all, I wasn’t choosing the fabrics. At the end of the year when I finished making this colorful quilt, I was hooked. Working with color gave me joy.

Can you find the mystery? Recently when Deb Karasik of Quilt Maven talked before the West Michigan Quilt Guild, she said that she started quilting during a time of stress. I think all quilters turn to this when the outside world starts to close in. The mindless piecing process can be soothing. There are stressful days when I need this kind of piecing. I call it Zen quilting or zoning out. However, most of us quilters also put aside those pieces in order to start a new project. Mary Lou Weidman says that there are so many UFOs because quilters lose the mystery in their quilts. I know this is true for me. I want to be thrilled, excited, and mystified making my quilt from beginning to end. Combining UFOs can give you that sense of mystery. I had several orphan blocks made out of 30s fabrics on my design wall. I didn’t know what else to do with them. You know the theory, out of sight out of mind. One day when working on another quilt with bright colored fabrics, I placed a large block on the design wall, and went to get coffee. When I came back into my sewing room I looked at the design wall, and it hit me: those blocks all look nice together. Thus, another mystery was born and I created a quilt using the 30’s blocks and the block with bright fabrics. My heart sang with joy.

Do you have the courage to create? Mary Anne Radmacher said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.” Courage allows you to move forward. Why beat yourself up because you don’t like a technique. You can find another one that suits you better. For instance, I’ve noticed a lot of people use foundation when string piecing. I didn’t know you should do that and never have. My method has allowed me to take little pieces of discarded fabric and “make fabric.” Knowing I’ve been frugal gives me such joy. Just because others do it one way, does not mean your way is not correct. Another example, my method of appliqué here is slightly different from most quilters. It works for me and that’s what counts.

Do you give yourself permission to play? Angela Monet said, “Those who danced were thought insane by those who could not hear the music.” I often wonder if my children think I am insane. They cannot hear the music that I hear when I’m creating a quilt. Do you hear the music when you quilt? You do not have to be an artist to step out of your box and do something that is different, that is joyful. Someone once told me that Art quilts were just a bunch of embellishments tossed on a background and called art. I understand that no one likes everything called art, but so what. Do you like everything everyone does? Of course not. So take the plunge. Give yourself permission to play. One day I was watching Quilting Arts on TV and saw a demo that I thought I’d try. I rather liked what I did, but didn’t know what to do with it from there. I figured, what the heck just go for it. So I fused on a fish (which is against my nature because I don’t like raw edges) and am now attaching beads and other embellishments. So what if no one likes it. I’ve had fun, and given myself permission to play.

In the book, Rose of Sharon by the American Quilter’s Society, Jane Wells of Fort Wayne Indiana says, “Quilting is a gift I give myself.” Give yourself a gift today. Become a joyful quilter.

Thank you Caron for letting me share my thoughts on your blog. It’s been a delight!

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Joe Cunningham

I’ve known Joe Cunningham since the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. Though he no longer lives nearby, Joe grew up in the Flint, Michigan area. Now living in sunny California with his wife and two sons, Joe is more active than ever before with the world of quilting. I was thrilled when he quickly agreed to be a part of the Michigan Guest Bloggers on Michigan Quilts! Please visit his website and have a look around. He has numerous lectures and workshops, should your guild or organization be interested.


A couple weeks ago my friend Roderick Kiracofe was showing some of his wacky antique quilts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, an afternoon lecture, and he asked me to help hold up the quilts while he spoke. It was a pleasure, of course, but what I did not know was that we were going to be in front of the largest quilt I have seen for a while, a big quilt. It was coordinated by Allison Smith, an artist who is doing a residency at the museum right now and creating lots of cool, community oriented stuff. The quilt was based on an early Quaker quilt, and was made by a group of 35 people. Pretty amazing stuff. You can read about her here: http://www.sfmoma.org/events/series/1325

About a week later I was in South Carolina and doing my one-man quilt musical show, “Joe the Quilter,” when I mentioned that I would rather see some old quilts than see a new quilt shop. So my hostess Vickie Perry arranged to take me out to the country to visit her mother Margaret’s quilting group, The Saluda County Quilters. They were quite excited to have a visitor from California, so they had created a huge pot-luck lunch with several casseroles, several salads, turkey and stuffing, chocolate cake, sweet potato pie, tea and bread and on and on. Oh, it was great. Anyway, after lunch we looked at a bunch of quilts and I showed them how I quilt in a frame like they use. Here are some of my new friends:

I loved this string four patch quilt, a sort of scrap Indian Hatchet quilt. Lots of wonderful quilts in South Carolina.

Happy Quilting,
Joe Cunningham

They’re COMING! A great line-up of GUEST BLOGGERS!

Michigan Quilts! isn’t just about me and my silly ramblings. It’s about all the quilters in or from the state that make quilting here what it is. So in honor of our quilting past, present and future, Michigan Quilts! is going to share blogging space with some quilters you might know by name… and some you may have never heard of before.

They’re coming soon…
  • Ami
  • Liz
  • Carol
  • Beth
  • Kaye
  • Elsie
  • Joe
  • Sabra
  • Julie
  • Kelly
  • Janice
  • Dolly
  • another Julie
  • and several more (but I’m going to leave you hanging on those until another day).

Are you interested in joining the group?

Your article can be short, medium or long in length, and be about anything you’d like… a quilt you’re working on, something quilty, random thoughts on fabric, appliqué, whatever. It’s entirely up to you! A picture or two (or three, or four, or… whatever) is helpful to add pizzazz. Links can be to whatever you’d like them to link to, as long as they are clean and family-friendly (duh). I don’t mind if your business is mentioned with a link to a business website, but that should not be the focus of your post.

Now, some people may not think that they have anything worth contributing because they have just started quilting. Every single person on the list above at one time was a beginning quilter. Shucks, there are still lots of things I don’t know and need to learn from someone who knows how to do them, and I’ve been quilting since the mid 1970’s. Yes, I was two years old when I started. AHEM.

So if you’re new to quilting, tell us why you first picked up a needle, what you made, what obstacles did you face, what have you learned since them, and show us a picture or two. We won’t laugh. Really. See the picture here, circa around 1980? Who ever thought Flying Geese had
to have points??? Certainly not me!

So shoot me an email and hop on board. We’d love to meet you!

Summer 2008 Caron with Granddaughter Samantha, floating around Scott Lake in the Waterford area. Can’t believe she’s going to be two in a few weeks!