Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quilting the BlueJeans Quilt

Here's the finished blue jeans quilt

I laid it across the dining room table and flipped over 10 inches of the backside in order to hand stitch the binding in place. 

Let me back up a couple of photos, and show you how I quilted it on the frame.

Every job has a beginning, a middle, and an end. 

This is the beginning of the long arm quilting process.  

The dark blue fabric backing (underneath) is attached to the frame and is rolled on the leaders of the middle rail (belly bar), and the upper rail (take up rail).  Those rails advance the quilt during the quilting process. 

I like to "float" the batting and top during the quilting process.  Floating means the batting and top are laying on the backing and are not pinned to rails.  I like this method and it allows me to make minor adjustments if necessary.

Upper left of photo is the take up rail with the leader cloth rolled, then moving down you see the leader cloth with reference marks so the batting and quilt top are straight.  And as you can see, I've already started my swirl and fish tail design.  Ha Ha my new design I call Fish Feathers.  

I had such fun making the blocks for this quilt with 3 pair of old blue jeans, including pockets, and a zipper.  I put the zipper block at the bottom of the quilt.

Mamma mia, the quilt got heavy using even small portions of blue jeans along with the cotton scraps, so I opted to use polyester batting (lighter weight).  The denim shows the quilting nicely.

I didn't quilt the blue jeans pocket blocks for several reasons.  1) I wanted to keep it fun so the pockets can open.  Hey, even the zipper works on the zipper block.  2) I didn't want to risk beating up my quilting machine stitching over the blue jeans heavy duty seams.  3) Not quilting the pockets made the block puffier, and it stands out from the other blocks.  

For fun, I embroidered bugs on some of the blocks: grasshopper, bee, dragonfly.

Some blocks I hand sewed fabric yo-yos and buttons.

Here's the beast, coming off of the frame--quilting finished.

After I removed the quilt from the frame, I turned it over on the back and draped it so you could see how I make the backing wider, to make a 90 x 100 ample queen, and to accommodate the side clamp tension during the quilting process.

I like adding the swath of extra fabric--to reintroduce the colors used on the top.

Working in the studio--I am reminded one of grandpa Bert's favorite sayings, "The Early Bird Gets the Worm"

This is a great way to plow through piles of fabric scraps.  For me, it is more than using up the scraps, it's modern art
every block is different

This morning, I finished sewing another quilt top 90 x 100 Queen.  It is the arrowhead block, designed by  Anita Grossman Soloman--a class I took on  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Projects at the Old Victorian

The color is Oak Moss by Sherwin Williams.  

Last June we started scraping, priming, and repainting the house.  We painted until October, until the weather forced us to quit.  However, between all the summer rain we managed to finished most of the exterior.  

Next spring we'll finish painting the remaining high gable soffets the soft vanilla ice cream color.   And, I'll start scraping the old barn.  

I've been saying for the last three years that I'll be scraping the barn next spring--but other projects always seem to come up and we have to adjust our "to-do list."  

Here are some of the things I'm doing in the studio recently:

Today I'm working on a blue jean quilt.


Jon finally cleaned out his clothes closet and I drug a 32 gallon black plastic bag of his blue jeans up to my studio (just before our Halloween open house).  

For fun, I dug out a pair of jeans, thinking I'd try my hand at making a blue jeans purse, bag, or whatever . . . 

While chopping up the pair of blue jeans, I decided to do a crazy quilt with the blue jeans and put to good use the mounds of fabric scraps I accumulated this year.  The blocks are 12.5" sq.

I'm using the back pockets too!


In the evening, while watching TV--I like to hand sew fabric yo-yos.

I might even hoop up some of the blocks and embroider some bugs in the denim areas.

You'll have to stay tuned to see where this quilt goes.

I just love scrappy quilts.

Blue jean quilt blocks so far

Here's Scrappy Quilt #2 
I quilted it with warm and natural 100% cotton batting.  The top is sewn from a variety of cotton fabric scrap strips.  It is queen size, 90 x 100.

If you look closely you can see the long arm quilting stitch pattern.  My signature free-style design, "Squirrel Feathers."

I turned off the lights, and did some photographs so you could see the quilting stitches.

Below are photos of removing the finished quilt off of the frame.

It took 6 hours to finish the quilt after removing it from the frame.
I trimmed away the excess backing and batting.
Squared the quilt.
Made the binding fabric strips, installed the binding,
turned and hand stitched the binding. 

Did you know, it takes 17 yards of fabric to make one queen size quilt?

Look at the top rail--see the backing rolled up--see the two scrappy strips added?  

I made the quilt backing 98" wide by adding two scrappy strips.  I did this on purpose.  The strips add interest to the backing, and . . . 

having  4" of extra backing fabric on the top, bottom, and sides, is required to quilt the quilt on a frame.  

While long arm quilting, the left and right hand margins of extra batting and backing fabrics give me a place to attach machine side clamps.  The tension of the side clamps keeps all three layers straight and smooth.  

Monday, October 6, 2014


Halloween Weekend – Friday Oct 31 through Sunday Nov 2 – 10:00a to 4:00p

Take a historic tour of the Wrolstad-Quien Victorian at 255 Mill Street in Scandinavia, Wisconsin this Halloween weekend.  We are asking for a modest donation of $2 per person--all going to The Humane Society of Waupaca County.  Enjoy chili and brats by Scandinavia Library.


Our Queen Anne Style Victorian was built in 1893 by John and Mathea Wrolstad--owners of successful logging business.  

Back row, left to right standing: sons and daughter Alfred, Sina, and James.  Second row, seated: son Martin, parents John Olsen and wife Mathea, and son John.  Littlest ones: Henry, Mabel, and Josephine.  
I believe this photo of our house was taken about 1905
The girl second from the left is Mabel Wrolstad youngest daughter of John Olsen Wrolstad and his wife Mathea.  

Wrolstad Logging Business

The second owners, Thomas and Maren Quien family owned the house for 90 years.

Standing, left to right: Bessie, Gusta, Peter, Ragnhild, 
with parents: Thomas and Maren (Gurholt) Quien.
photo c. 1910

Thomas Quien with grand-daughters Mary Jane and Donna (children of Ruth and Peter Quien)
photo taken about 1926

Jon and I purchased the house in 2007 beginning a 7 year house restoration.  We are delighted to show you all the ornate features of the house; faux bois woodwork, pocket doors, fret work (spandrels), 5-window bay, corbels, 3-window cut-aways, wrap around porch, summer kitchen, Juliet balcony, stained glass window, etched glass doors, wavy-glass windows, spoon carved woodwork, 1917 cook stove, 1916 parlor stove, and original hardware.  Be sure to see the displays of photographs and personal items belonging to the Quien family.

Kitchen - March 2008

Original Tall Kitchen Hutch

Visitors will be greeted by 11 artisans demonstrating and selling their work at the Victorian House Tour.  

Rug weaver Jerry Johnson, wood carver Kay Durrant, wool spinner Claire Nordness, basket weaver Barbara Johnson, long arm quilter Linda Durrant, watercolor/acrylic artists Sue Martin and Doris Weed, gourmet dog treat chef Sue Moerke, and repurposed furniture and home décor designer Becky Stevens.  Talk with business owner Amy Powers of Village Hive Bakery of Amherst, and Tom Spoerl of Trout Bum Bakery Scandinavia about their new businesses and enjoy some of their bakery samples.

In the spirit of Halloween fun, Donna Rickel the Library Reading Grandma will entertain you with ghost stories, or you can step into the parlor of Madam Sams to hear a fortune told.

Before: North Bedroom Upstairs

After: North Bedroom Upstairs

Let me tell you a little bit more about our Artisans—

1. Jerry Johnson of Iola is a master rug weaver for more than 35 years.  At the Halloween Victorian Tour and Artisan Exhibit Jerry will demonstrate the frugal Scandinavian method of turning old clothing into beautiful woven rugs for the home. 

As a teenager Jerry was already helping his Mother and Aunt sort old clothing by weight, texture, and color in preparation for rug weaving.  Jerry says, “cotton and wool make great rugs, but the real artistry of combining fabrics to create pattern, color, and texture—it all begins with my 1932 Singer hand crank sewing machine Model 99 . . . made of good old cast iron, and no plastic.” 

Jerry told me, “Did you know it takes a full day of sewing narrow strips of fabric together, and winding it all into a colorful 2 lb. ball just to weave a single 24” x 36” rug on a loom?”  Jerry has several rug weaving looms, but says his favorite is a Union brand wooden loom. 

Jerry studied with master weavers: Ken Colwell of Mineral Point, Joanna Ericksen of Boston, and Peter Collingwood of England.  Jerry says he loves to weave rugs, because it keeps a connection to the past alive.  He says, “people relate to the art of rug weaving—many people share stories of family members who made rag rugs, and that makes me smile.” 

You can see Jerry demonstrate rug weaving at many events throughout the year:  Iola’s Taste of Norway in October, Tomorrow River Christmas Show at the Lettie Jensen Center Amherst in December, and next year at Nelsonville Art Show Memorial Weekend, Iola Strawberry Fest in June, Symco Thresherie and Shake Down in July and August, and Bear Lake in Manawa on Labor Day weekend.

2.  Sue Moerke of Stevens Point joins us at our Victorian House Tour Halloween Weekend.  She has good news to share about healthy snacks made from Dry Oats, Eggs, Cinnamon, Honey, Pumpkin, Molasses, Apples, Bananas and Peanut Butter.  Mouth-watering right?   

Sue is a chef who makes healthy treats for dogs.  Her business is called Andy’s Treats.  Her best sellers are: Cinnamon Paws, Critter Crackers, but that’s not all—there are lip smacking, tail wagging treats called Pumpkin Biscuits, Peanut Butter Bits, Honey Apple Drops and Nutty Banana just to name a few.  

When you visit with Sue at our house, will you ask her if she makes gourmet people treats too?  Yum.


3. Tom Spoerl of Trout Bum Bakery will offer delicious bakery samples Saturday in the red dining room at the Victorian House Tour.

The Red Dining Room

The name of Tom's business Trout Bum Bakery is inspired by his love of trout fishing with his Dad.  Tom says he and his fiancé Arian are excited about opening the new bakery on Main St. in Scandinavia. Tom brings years of experience as an accomplished chef and baker to our little community of Scandinavia—gee how lucky can we get?  

Tom beams, “we welcome early morning folks to pick up delicious bakery, coffee, and tea.”
Store Hours are:
Thursday 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friday 6:00 am to 4:00 pm
Saturday 6:00am to 4:00 pm
Sunday 6:00 am to 4:00 pm

The Trout Bum Bakery opened Saturday October 4, 2014.  I bought some cherry cheese croissants, and some apricot, and chocolate Danish to take home to Jon, but before I left I sat down in a booth and enjoyed two great cups of blueberry tea.

Trout Bum Bakery will bring more wonderful food to the bakery soon . . . enjoy stromboli on Thursday nights (dining or takeout), and delicious pastries, breads, and rolls throughout the weekend. 

4.  Susan Martin’s paintings tell us much about human behavior—and that’s why I asked her to display her watercolor and acrylic art work here at our Halloween weekend Victorian House Tour and Artisan Exhibit.   Susan is from Waupaca.

I purchased Susan’s painting “I’m having a bad hair day” because it made me laugh out loud.  It is a portrait of a colorful rooster with head fathers in total disarray.  Oh my gosh, that’s what I look like every morning!  Susan’s paintings remind me that we can’t always take life so seriously.  I love that about her work and you will too.  

You can check out Susan Martin's website  Her wood carvings and paintings are available at the Blue Dolphin Gallery in Door County WI, the Silver Coach Restaurant in Stevens Point, WI, Village Hive Bakery in Amherst, and featured at many Waupaca WI locations: Cronies, The Revival, Little Fat Gretchen’s, and Simpson’s Restaurant.


West Bedroom - Restoring Walls and Installed New Ceiling

West Bedroom - Wall Repairs Finished Smooth - Ready for Paint

5. Barbara Johnson of Iola, WI - Meet and greet Artisan Barbara Johnson –who will demonstrate the art of basket weaving, and offer a variety of her exquisite baskets for sale in the North Downstairs Bedroom (back in the day it was the parlor).

The beauty of her baskets is that no two are alike; each one is unique. Most of her handcrafted baskets are traditional or functional and are handwoven, hand-dyed, hand-stained, and signed.

"Basket weaving is my stress reliever, " says Barbara Johnson

Want to learn more about basket weaving, weaving supplies?  Go to Barbara Johnson’s websites:  and


6.  Claire Nordness of Iola will demonstrate the art of using the spinning wheel to make yarn from natural fibers.  Claire has been spinning 30 years.  You can visit with Claire in the Living Room.

I sat and watched Claire spin earlier this summer.  It’s fascinating to watch her hands as she spins.  She makes spinning look easy—her hands metering out strands of fiber, her foot tapping rhythmically keeping the spinning wheel moving smoothly.  The strands are uniformly twisted and gathered on a spool. 

What to know more about spinning?  I know you’ll enjoy talking with Claire in person to ask questions.

Also, you’ll see her display of beautiful crocheted purses and a variety of all natural body butters, and lip balms she handcrafts.

Arched spandrel, east window bay, Living Room
(June 2007 - blowing insulation into walls, installing new ceiling)

Linda touching up faux bois finish on woodwork with artist brush and oil paints.
Living Room  - 2008

Repairing Walls - 2007
Repairing Downstairs Bedroom (formerly the Parlor)

2008 - Downstairs Bedroom Finished


7.  Kay Durrant of Sheridan, WI demonstrate the time honored tradition of wood carving.  What started out as a hobby for Kay turned into teaching wood carving classes at Fox Valley Tech.  Currently she is teaching several classes a week and her classes are always full.

I’m so happy to have Kay here as a featured artist so you can meet her in person and watch her carve. If you ant to know more about wood carving, Kay is the person to talk to.  She'll have a selection of her wood carvings for sale at our open house.


8.  Doris Weed of Waupaca, WI - you are in for some fun meeting Artist Doris Weed at our Victorian House Tour and Artisan Exhibit.  

I’ve been following Doris’ work for 30 years.  I am completely smitten by her “women with attitude” paintings.  How can I say it simply?  Her paintings are more than bold, fabulous colors--I’m captivated by the characters she creates.  Her paintings are women of the 1920s and 1930s--the flapper era of drinking, dancing, smoking. 

Fun titles she gives her paintings say what many women are thinking, sometimes a bit naughty, tongue in cheek, or utterly outrageous.  Doris’ humor always catches me by surprise and leaves me appreciating her work all the more.  Women with Attitude is her unforgettable trademark.  

Doris’ paintings can be purchased at our Victorian House Tour, as well as her Waupaca home studio by appointment, The Green Fountain Inn and Little Fat Gretchen’s in Waupaca, and Village Hive Bakery in Amherst. 

Long Hallway Upstairs - 2011
Process of Saving the Walls throughout the House

Long Hallway Upstairs - 2013
Wall Repairs Finished and
Jon re-installing picture rail found in attic


9.  Amy Powers is the owner of Village Hive Bakery of Amherst, WI.  Friday October 31—opening day of our Victorian House Tour—I want you to meet the vivacious Amy Powers an enjoy some delicious bakery samples.  

Amy will be at our Victorian House Tour and Artisan Exhibit to talk about her business, Village Hive.  And a fascinating business it is!  Let me tell you more . . .

Village Hive is a certified, fully equipped commercial kitchen for use by growers, food processors, caterers, restaurants, chefs, special even food vendors, bakers, groups, and classes too!  Rented by the hour, the kitchen is available for baking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Village Hive is also a retail bakery and local foods collective.  There is a full range of delicious food to purchase: pies, artisan breads, egg rolls, and pasta to name just a few.  The bakery is open to the public Thursday through Saturday each week.

If you'd like more information about Village Hive, you can check the Facebook page for daily updates--The Village Hive: Bakery and Local Foods Collective, or call Amy at 715-340-8989.  


Wall Repair - Stairwell 2013

10.  Becky Stevens of Waupaca is a my choice for "Woman of the Year"   

Becky will be at our Victorian House Tour and Artisan Exhibit to showcase her line of repurposed furniture and home décor.    Becky will greet you in the summer kitchen of our old Victorian and tell you what inspires her as a designer.

The more I listen to Becky the more fascinated I become.  Her skills are far beyond my own as a old house restorer--that's for sure.  She's quite at home restoring vintage cars and motorcycles, and recently talked about how much fun she had restoring a mid-century camping trailer.

She can handcraft a gone-missing element from a fine piece of furniture to make it whole and beautiful again.  And she knows instinctively what it takes, putting her spin on it.  Come see Becky's repurposed furniture.  Her warm personality will brighten your day.

Jon working on bathroom 
Installing 3/4" beadboard

Kohler Clawfoot Tub
born May 12, 1903, Plant Line #2 Kohler, WI, about 11:30 in the morning
according to tub serial number and Kohler mfgr. records

11.  Linda Durrant - long arm quilter, Scandinavia WI.  My husband and I are the restorers of this old Victorian.  I have a long arm quilting business.  I'm the lady you bring your quilt top, batting, and backing to.  I quilt the three layers together on a large quilt frame, and my skill can be described as edge to edge free style quilting.  Here are some pics from quilts I did for myself and clients this year.

Quilt top, batting, and backing loaded on frame--ready to stitch

Finished quilt and quilted pillow sham

Bohemian Quilt finished

Bohemian Quilt loaded on quilted frame 

Diamond Quilt - West Bedroom, our Victorian house

Diamond Quilt - on frame during long arm quilting

Long arm quilting finished and rolled off of frame, ready for binding.
Nine Patch quilt, finished and rolled off of frame, ready for binding

Detail of Nine Patch Quilt on the frame

Detail of Linda's free style long arm quilting process 

Linda's signature "Squirrel Feathers" edge to edge pattern,
free style long arm quilting

Detail of "Squirrel Feathers" edge to edge pattern

Quilt loaded on frame, ready for long arm quilting
of the top, batting, and backing

Close up of Linda's long arm quilting

Detail of Log Cabin Quilt


I'm looking forward to seeing you at our Victorian House Tour--Halloween weekend.  Can't wait to talk to you!