Olive Juice Quilts

To the people who clicked on the link to the naughty fabric from the last post: The permission is fixed – you can see the fabric now.

Warning: This post is very photo heavy. It may take a while to load. If you prefer to skip the commentary and just see the photos, view the Flickr set here.

Olive Juice Quilts is located at 1258 County Rd PH, Onalaska, WI. My GPS sent me the wrong direction and we almost missed the shop – fortunately, we were able to turn around and find it by checking house numbers. It’s in a semi-residential area and is clearly marked, with a generous parking lot.

Olive Juice Quilts

When we saw the shop, Jeanne and I both gasped. There may have been profanity. Seriously, the building is aqua, with white and orange trim. It’s adorable.

Olive Juice Quilts

The first glimpse inside…

Olive Juice Quilts

Just inside, turning back toward the door…

Olive Juice Quilts

Straight ahead…

Olive Juice Quilts

Special fabrics…

Olive Juice Quilts

To the right – the check out and one of three cutting areas…

Olive Juice Quilts

Turning away from the check out…

Olive Juice Quilts

Standing with your back to the check out…

Olive Juice Quilts

Two doors lead to a room of traditional fabrics…

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

(And the room isn’t really dark – the natural light from all of the windows was beautiful.)

Olive Juice Quilts

Another cutting area…

Olive Juice Quilts

And another…

Olive Juice Quilts

Looking from the back of the room toward the checkout area…

Olive Juice Quilts

Fantastic staging…

Olive Juice Quilts

Look at all of these buttons!

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

And ribbon…

Olive Juice Quilts

Back the way we came, past the check out on the left, is a wide hallway with children’s fabrics…

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

And a Notions room…

Olive Juice Quilts

It was a bit crowded, but full of notions and thread…

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

The hallway led to the most incredible studio…

Olive Juice Quilts

Here’s a panoramic shot…

Olive Juice Quilts

Inside on the left is a selection of batiks…

Olive Juice Quilts

And a Book Nook, complete with comfy chair and lamp…

Olive Juice Quilts

With a huge, open space for classes …

Olive Juice Quilts

They are a Bernina dealership and have lots of beautiful sewing machines…

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

Olive Juice Quilts

Including a longarm…

Olive Juice Quilts

And the most incredible kitchenette on the right…

Olive Juice Quilts

The ladies working in the shop were both very, very good. Anne on the left and Ana on the right…

Olive Juice Quilts

They encouraged me to take photos, were knowledgeable, helpful, and personable, but also knew when to step back and just let us shop.

At the end of April (28 & 29) the shop is participating in a 2-day shop hop in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

Olive Juice Quilts

Click here for information about the shop hop. I’ve been to a couple of the other shops on the list (Mill House Quilts and Quilter’s General Store) and they’re both wonderful.

I would absolutely go back to Olive Juice Quilts, even though it’s a 2-hour drive. I won’t do it often, but we’ll make a weekend of it again and check out some other shops on the way. I’ve been to some great quilt shops, but this one at the top of my list. Thank you Anne and Ana, and thank you Olive Juice Quilts! You topped off a fantastic weekend!


You meet the nicest people

I was away from home this weekend on a quilty road trip with Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts. We drove to Minneapolis/St. Paul (about a 4 1/2 hour trip) to meet Amy of Domesticat and her friend Jacob (no blog).

It was an awesome trip, and exactly what I needed.

I picked up Jeanne at 6:20 Saturday morning, which is about right for me – I told her I’d be there at 6:00. We made it to the hotel after a brief, unnecessary detour around St. Paul thanks to some road work. It wasn’t that the roadwork required a detour – I just got impatient sitting in a line of cars. Unfortunately, every turn I took led me to a dead end, more roadwork or the wrong side of the interstate. Ten minutes after turning out of the line, we found ourselves right back where we started.

Amy was in town visiting Jacob and his family and they picked us up at the hotel for a little fabric shopping. The first shop we went to was Twin Cities Quilting, a small shop tucked into a strip mall. They had a nice selection of fabric ranging from batiks to more contemporary fabrics including Malka Dubrawski’s line “A Stitch in Color” (which is very intriguing in person – I was drawn to the vibrant colors) and a decent selection of black & white and black & grey prints that made Jeanne very happy. The fabrics were almost exclusively clear colors and contemporary designs. There were a number of quilts on the walls, leaning toward simpler designs, and they had a reasonable selection of patterns. I didn’t take any photos in this shop – when one of my companions did, the shop owner (rather sharply) informed us that if we wanted a picture of the quilt we could buy the pattern. Other than this exchange, the staff were friendly and helpful. The shop also does long arm quilting, and the frame was visible, though roped off, from the main quilt shop floor. The shop website states that they carry about 1500 bolts of fabric. They did not have a lot of pre-cuts, but they would cut fat quarters for you from the bolt. The shop was clean and open, well lit, and obviously had room to add fabrics as it grows. I purchased these fabrics at Twin Cities Quilting:


Left to right: Montage by Michele D’Amour for Benartex, Style P2667-9 (Small Stained Glass WhiteBlack)
Citron Greyfrom Michael Miller, Style CX5183 (Citron Soleil)
Modern Textures from the Riverwoods Collection for Troy Corporation, Style TRO 1210 22
Citron Gray by Michael Miller, Patt# CX-5181 (Stitch Petal Citron)

After the quilt shop we walked across the street to Ol’ Mexico for lunch. After our oh-so-healthy McDonald’s breakfast, the Spinach Salad with pineapple-mango vinaigrette, walnuts and grilled chicken was welcome and delicious. Amy, Jeanne and I wandered over to Just Truffles, conveniently also within walking distance. Not enough distance to walk off the two truffles I had, but I could live with that!

Our next stop was Treadle Yard Goods, an incredible shop that would get me in a lot of trouble if I lived closer. This isn’t a quilt shop, but a fabric store, with knits, silks, cottons, lace, trim, a nice selection of oilcloth and laminated fabrics, wool, and just about anything else you can think of. They packed a lot of very nice quality fabric into a fairly small space. Their quilting fabrics also leaned toward contemporary, with fabric by designers such as Ty Pennington, Aneela Hooey, Valori Wells, and manufacturers Free Spirit and Riley Blake. They had a small selection of batiks, some flannels, and a good selection of children’s prints, as well as a substantial notions area. I picked up a little set of sewing machine screwdrivers here, as well as a couple of fabrics.


Left: Stella Dot by Dear Stella Design, #Stella-1 in Gray
Right: London by Dena for Free Spirit, PWDF122Green

The staff was very friendly in this busy store, and they will cut 1/8 yard pieces. They cut straight yardage – no fat quarters or fat eighths – and there were no precuts and very few project samples.

After a short decompression at the hotel, Jeanne and I joined Amy at Jacob’s home, watching their three kids while Jacob and his wife, Holly, had a grown up’s night out. The kids were fantastic, and entertained themselves while we gabbed about fabric and life and enjoyed some really awesome pizza. How can you resist a pizza called “It’s Not Easy Being Green”? We swapped a little fabric – I got to bring home a couple of pieces of Liberty fabric, which I had never seen in person and am totally in love with now. It’s so light and richly colored and delicately printed.


Amy also gave us the most hilarious fabric with X-rated illustrations of sexual positions.

We finally crashed back at the hotel, and the next morning spent another hour chatting with Amy over breakfast. Before heading out, we noticed words on the bathroom mirror, revealed by the condensation. Someone had written “kindness” and “forgiveness” at the top of the mirror with their finger. Lotion, soap, or even the oil in your skin will linger behind and steam will reveal the lines.

Jeanne and I wanted to get home before dark, and there were two quilt shops we wanted to hit on our way back. We figured the first shop was about 2 hours away and didn’t open until noon, so we left around 10:30. Unfortunately, it was more like 3 hours, so we were only able to go to the one shop (we missed Quintessential Quilts in Reedsburg, WI). However, the one we did get to was incredible. I strongly recommend that you make the effort to stop at Olive Juice Quilts in Onalaska, WI (near Eau Claire) if you are within reasonable driving distance. And by “reasonable” I mean an hour or two. In fact, this shop deserves its own post. They not only allowed us to take pictures in the show, but encouraged us to photograph their sample quilts. As you’ll see in that post, I can’t say enough good things about this shop. Here’s what I bought at Olive Juice Quilts:


Left column, top to bottom:
A Walk in the Woods by Aneela Hoey for Moda (opens a PDF), 18525 13 Cloud
A Walk in the Woods by Aneela Hoey for Moda (opens a PDF), 18526 13 Cloud
Stockholm by Robin Zingone for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, ARZ-12033-12

Second column:
The Fiona Collection by Anna Griffin for Windham Fabrics, Pattern #19562-6
The Fiona Collection by Anna Griffin for Windham Fabrics, Pattern #19562-2

Third column:
Pimatex Basics by Robert Kaufman, Screen Print D# BKT10533 (This fabric is extremely smooth)
Flights of Fancy by Paula Prass for Michael Miller Fabrics, Pattern# DC3895 Cobblestone

Right column:
Clothesline Club: Little Blessings by Darlene Zimmerman for Robert Kaufman, Screen Print #8688
Weekends by Erin McMorris for Free Spirit,#EM 20 Pink Kaleidoscope

(A few of these don’t have links – they were on clearance and I couldn’t find them on the fabric manufacturer’s websites)

After leaving Olive Juice Quilts, Jeanne and I could not stop talking about how wonderful it was, and it inspired some excited chattering about opening our own quilt shop. You know, when one of us wins the lottery. We spent the next two hours driving back to Janesville talking about all of the things we’d do in our shop, then, because it was only 5:00, stopped at an Indian restaurant and talked for two more hours. Jeanne even brought in her laptop and documented all of our ideas, just in case.

It was a long, exhausting trip, but I haven’t had such a great time in years. I’m so glad we went, and I want to do it again!

Ironwork* Quilt Along: Part 3

The next step is turning the + blocks into * blocks. For the smaller quilt, both the small and large blocks use 1″ cut strips for the “iron” or black fabric. The large quilt uses 1″ cut strips for the smaller blocks, and 1 1/2″ cut strips for the large blocks.

Start by cutting the blocks diagonally.

If you are making the large quilt, the jumbo block is a little more challenging to cut diagonally. Fold it in half diagonally, corner to corner, and align the folded edge with a line on your cutting mat. Slide left or right until the point lines up with a perpendicular line. Place your ruler (in this photo I’m using the straight edge that comes with the cutting tool, but you can just use a regular ruler) on the fabric so it aligns with the line on the mat that goes through the point. Make sure it aligns with that same line at the folded edge as well, then cut.

Sew one half of the block onto a black strip, chain piecing just as you did in the last post. Add as many as you can to a single strip, but leave a little extra room, maybe an inch, between the pieces. For the larger blocks (the ones that finish at 20″) you might want to increase that 1 1/2″. Remember, only sew half of these to the strip!

Cut the pieces apart and press to the black fabric. Here’s a little trick I found to help line up your strips:

Lay the piece WRONG SIDE UP on your cutting mat, aligning the piece with the 45 degree lines on the mat.

Place your ruler on the block, aligning the markings on the ruler with the markings on the mat, and with the edge of the ruler at the very tip of the color fabric in the block. For the smaller two block sizes you can trim on this line, or use a ceramic pencil or other tool to mark the point all the way across the black strip. On the largest block you MUST draw a line – do not cut! (There’s a line at the 2″ mark in the photo below. Trust me.)

This is where you will line up the point of the other half of the block. In the picture below, I’m showing how the other half of the block is lined up so the tip of the point just touches the edge of the black fabric.

Sew each of the second halves to the blocks and press to the black.

For the jumbo block in the large quilt, it may help to extend the lines on the cutting mat with a ruler, as shown below.

The two pressing photos below illustrates how much “play” there is in the seam allowances. The first photo of the smallest block looks like the seam allowances are going to bunch and overlap. With a little nudging and pressing, instead they lay completely flat.

After you’ve sewn and pressed each of the blocks, repeat the diagonal cut in the opposite direction. For the largest blocks, you may want to lightly press it in half to give you a straight edge to line up on the cutting mat.

As before, draw the line (or trim for the smaller blocks), sew one half to the black strips, leaving a little space between them, then sew the other halves to the opposite side of the strip.

Trim your blocks to size. They should be pretty close already – the smallest blocks are 5″, the medium sized blocks (used in both the small and large quilt) are 10″ and the largest blocks are 20 1/2″.

In the photo below of the largest block, you can see why you want to draw the line rather than trimming to the point – if you’d trimmed, you would have cut off fabric at the corners!

Trimming the largest blocks are a challenge – just work one side at a time and use the lines on the mat to keep your block square.

And here they are: one block in each size!


Ironwork* QAL: Part 2 (Addendum)

I have part 3 nearly ready to go, but I need to  share a little extra info (plus a recommendation).

Recommendation: Be very, very careful cutting your small quilt from fat quarters. Twice I’ve lined everything up and started cutting, only to realize that I’m cutting the wrong direction. It really does matter if you’re cutting the 18″ side or the 20+” side.

I have not sewn all of my blocks yet, but either I’m not following my own instructions very well or I accidentally used extra fabric left over from my first  experiment piecing the smallest blocks. You *may* have an extra block or two. But better too many than too few!

Here’s what you should have when all of your blocks are sewn and your plain sections are cut:

Color A Color B Color C Color D Color E
1 large block 1 large block 1 large block 1 large block 1 large block
3 small blocks 2 small blocks 2 small blocks 2 small blocks 2 small blocks
0 large squares 1 large square 1 large square 1 large square 1 large square
2 rectangles 0 rectangles 0 rectangles 1 rectangle 0 rectangles
3 small squares 2 small squares 3 small squares 1 small square 2 small squares

Any questions so far? Please let me know! I’ll be gone this weekend on a quilty road trip, so I may not get back to you until Monday. And, because a blog post just isn’t as fun without a picture or two, here are some more colorways (I surfed my Color Palettes board on Pinterest):

Logo Color 17 Logo Color 16
Logo Color 15 Logo Color 18
Logo Color 14 Logo Color 13
Logo Color 12 Logo Color 11

I just can’t get enough of coloring this! If you are curious about how a particular color palette would look in this design, leave me a comment with a link to the color palette, and I’ll pop it in EQ7 for you.

Vintage quilts

I’ve had a series of busy weekends lately. Sunday found Mom and I visiting some family friends, people I thought of as my second family when I was growing up. Just before we left, Mary took us upstairs to show the changes they’d made to the house and I spotted a quilt on a rack behind a bed. She pulled it out and told us it was about 100 years old. At first glance, I never would have guessed it was that old. The fabrics were vibrant and the color choices are in keeping with today’s popular choices.

100 Year Old Quilt

When you get closer, you can see that some of the fabrics have disintegrated, probably because the dyes were caustic.

100 Year Old Quilt, Worn

The quilting was done by hand, and the stitches are tiny and incredibly even.

Hand quilting

Mary pulled out another quilt to show us, a signature quilt that was made for her grandmother. Again, the fabrics are vibrant and current…

100 Year Old Signature Quilt

…and then you see that the blocks are dated 1907 – 1909!

100 Year Old Signature Quilt

She also showed us a WIP that is about 75 years old. Her mother pieced it when she was just 16 years old! This Grandmother’s Flower Garden was hand pieced in traditional 30’s fabrics, probably from feedsacks.

75 Year Old GFG Quilt Top

In addition to the portion of the top that is assembled, there are a couple dozen completed blocks and some green yardage. She always wanted to finish it, but never found the time.

75 Year Old GFG Blocks

Sew into Solids

Sew into Solids

Jane at Sew Create It and Katherine at Sew Me Something Good are doing a Sew Into Solids Quilt Along. It’s very informal – choose your own pattern and your own colors, just do it in solids. They have a Flickr pool for you to share your projects, and they’re making inspirational posts on both of their blogs as they progress through their own solids projects.

Now, you KNOW I don’t need to be doing something else, since I’m struggling with my own QAL commitments already, but the small Ironwork* quilt I’m working on is, conveniently, made entirely from solids! Here’s the colorway I’m working on:

Logo Color 5

It is TOTALLY not my color palette – in fact, of all of the EQ7 mock ups I created, it’s the one I was least drawn to. However, it’s also the most masculine, which is good because the large version I’m doing is in floral prints. You don’t get much more feminine than that. I wanted to stretch a bit, and I’m enjoying working with the colors so far. I have all of the mustard blocks done, and am working on the blue and brown blocks now.

Hop on over to Jane and Katherine’s blogs and join in if you’re doing a solid Ironwork* quilt or are looking for inspiration for another solid quilt!

Ironwork* Quilt Along: Part 2

The next step is the block construction. The most common construction method I’ve seen for the asterisk block starts with a square that you cut corner to corner and insert the black strips. Instead, we’re going to strip piece the + block, then cut the diagonals. If you’re making a lot of identical blocks, this is especially easy because you can sew entire width-of-fabric strips together.

Each block size is constructed exactly the same way. The largest block uses larger “iron” strips, while the two smaller blocks use 1/2″ finished (1″ cut) strips. I tried using skinnier strips for the smallest block, thinking that the proportions would look better. They did, but the block was much more difficult to construct because the seam allowances overlapped. When I switched to the 1/2″ finished (1″ cut) strips, the block went together easily and it still looks good.

The photos below are of the 9 1/2″ finished block. I pressed all of the seams toward the black strips, which I think results in the cleanest finish. Here’s a photo of the back of the block:

We’ll start with the 9 1/2″ blocks since both quilts use this size block. This uses the 5″ strips of colored fabric. If you’re doing the small quilt, cut all of your 5″ strips in half so you have two 5″ wide strips that are 10″ long (or slightly longer). This is indicated by the blue line on the cutting diagram. If you’re doing the large quilt, cut the 5″ strips for fabrics B – E into two 5″ wide strips that are 20 – 21″ long (blue line on the cutting diagram). You may have a little excess fabric left over from the strip – you can discard the extra. Fabric A is slightly different in the large quilt, since you need to make an extra 9 1/2″ block in that fabric. For fabric A, cut the long strip into three 15″ segments. The small 5″ strip should also measure 15″.

Place a black strip right sides together with one 5″ wide colored strip. Sew along the long edge until you reach the edge of the colored strip, then place another (different) colored 5″ strip with the black strip, leaving a small gap between the colored pieces, and continue sewing. You should be able to fit two 20″ strips (large quilt) or four 10″ strips (small quilt) on each black strip.  By sewing these long seams, you’ll save a little time over sewing smaller individual pieces. Remember, you are only sewing HALF of the colored strips to the black strips! 

Press toward the black strip, then line up the edge of the other 5″ piece in that fabric and sew it to the other side of the strip.  I like to keep the black side on top so I can control the seam allowance. As you can see (below left), the edge of my sewing machine foot just catches the seam allowance from the first seam. This can cause the fabric to be pushed slightly to the side, which throws your block off.  Instead, lift the seam allowance so the foot runs under it.

Press toward the black strip. Because this block has such close seam allowances, you need it to fit together just so.  I found that pressing the fabric, then spraying it lightly and gently pressing again gave a crisp, flat edge that helped maintain an accurate seam allowance. You can use plain water, spray sizing, spray starch, or my favorite concoction of 3 parts water to 1 part vodka. Yes, I said vodka. Be careful not to scrub across the fabric with the iron as this can distort it. Just gently press, guiding the seam allowances flat with your other hand.

I also found that pressing from the back worked better, especially for the smaller blocks. The two seam allowances should lie flat, without any overlap.

After pressing, cut the strip set into 5″ sections.

Sew half of the sections to a black strip, just as you did in the first step. Be careful crossing the seam allowances so they don’t flip back and get caught by the needle.

As before, leave a small space between the segments. Make sure the segment fits on the black strip before sewing – you don’t want to sew half of the piece on and realize that the black strip is an inch too short!

When half of the sections are sewn to the black strips, trim them apart.

Sew the second segment to the other side of the black strip. Spend a little time here lining up the center strip. You might even choose to pin here. I did on the largest blocks.

You will end up with cross blocks. Although the photo below shows four identical blocks, this was just my practice session to see how the construction method worked. You should have one of each color if you’re doing the small quilt, and two or three of each color if you’re doing the large quilt.

The blocks are not done – we still have to do the diagonals – but this is a good stopping point. Go ahead and sew all of your 9 1/2″ finished blocks to this point, then continue using the same method for your larger or smaller blocks.

For the large quilt, follow the same steps with your 10″ wide colored strips, this time using 1 1/2″ cut black strips. When you cut the strip set into segments, cut them at 10″.

For the small quilt, follow the same steps with your 2 1/2″ wide colored strips, again using 1″ cut black strips. The smaller block requires a little more attention. Sew scant quarter inch seams (a thread or two less than a quarter inch) and be diligent in your pressing. The first time I pressed the small block seam, it overlapped and I thought it was a disaster. I tried pressing it again from the back using a little misting of vodka water and it made all the difference – the block laid perfectly flat and the seam allowances did not overlap. When you cut the strip set into segments, cut them at 2 1/2″.

I’ll be back this week with the diagonal step for block construction. It’s fairly obvious, but I have a couple of tips that will help with accuracy.