Jenbenbry's Blog

Quilting in the Windy City

Christmas 2010 January 14, 2011

Filed under: Finished Quilts — jenbenbry @ 10:03 pm

It’s been so long since I posted.  I started working  on Christmas presents early this year (I had a lot I wanted to make!)  and then didn’t want to post them in case the recipients were checking the blog!  So, here’s what I’ve been working on over the past few months.


The first quilt was made for my Aunt Patti & Uncle Jerry.  Patti sent me a picture of a quilt she liked in an artist’s open studio that was made using batiks with circles.  So, I whipped up this wall hanging with some batiks I had.  I decided to to add the circles using raw edge applique because I haven’t quite managed circles yet.  I’d really like to learn how to piece circles sometime this year, but for now raw edge applique works for wall hangings.

I have to give a shout out to Weeks & Bill Ringle of Funquilts for their amazing binding method.  I definitely still have room for improvement, but I’m really happy with this method of binding.


The next project was a set of rag letters for my great nephew, my niece, and a daughter of a dear friend from high school.  I’ve read research about the benefits of tactile manipulation of letters in improving the understanding of kiddos learning their letters and thought these would be perfect for the little ones in my life.  They’re pretty time consuming to make but are great ways to use up small pieces of fabric and batting.  I also got to practice my free motion quilting and tried doing different patterns for each letter.  Here’s a link to the blog, Ohsohappytogether where I found the tutorial: Rag Letters Tutorial.  I made little drawstring bags to hold the letters using an alphabet fabric which I think complements the rag letters perfectly 🙂


The next project was for my Mom and Grandma, rice heat therapy bags.  These bags are great for aches and pains, they contain rice which  holds heat for about a half an hour after 2-3 minutes in the microwave.  I love to heat one up and put it under the sheets a few minutes before I go to bed in the winter, it heats those cold sheets up right away!  It’s very easy to make, but while the tutorial recommends putting essential oils in with the rice I found that to be too overpowering and  instead I cut up dried cinnamon sticks and put a few tablespoons of those in with the rice.  The tutorial is available from Sew, Mama Sew!


I made the next quilt for my Dad for Christmas.  I used all blue fabrics for the star pattern.  The back is a much more modern look with solid blocks of color.  I have to say that the back is a bit more up my alley, but I think Dad will prefer the front.   A friend from my quilt guild, Beth, helped me pick out the binding color which picks up a green some of the fabrics in the stars and gives the quilt a crisp, but slightly surprising edging.



First Chicago Modern Quilt Guild Swap May 17, 2010

Filed under: Quilts in Progress — jenbenbry @ 2:27 pm
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I attended my second Chicago Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG) meeting yesterday afternoon, and it was great! We had a wonderful presentation on color theory by Ebony which really helped me think about picking quilt colors in a new way. We also had our first swap! Everyone was asked to use four fat quarters to make a block and then bring the block and the leftover fabric from the fat quarters to exchange. We have a few months to add a border or finish the blocks and quilt, then we bring it back and regift it to the original maker of the block.

I made a zig zag block using three Kaffe Fassett patterns in blues. My inspiration for the block came from two hippos who makes simply amazing quilts!

I received a block with gorgeous, rich colors from Yolande, and I hope to do it justice! I’m thinking about how to continue the hexagon pattern she has started…


Wee Elephants Abound!

Filed under: Sewing Projects — jenbenbry @ 1:41 pm
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We’re going on a weekend retreat to Iowa to meet two other couples this weekend. I”m so excited, making a list of things to pack today so I don’t forget anything. We’re staying in a beautiful house with a huge deck overlooking the Mississippi river. I’m so ready for a weekend of catching up, bbqing, gameplaying, and of course wine drinking! My pear wine has been in fermentation for over six months now, and I opened a bottle, it’s delicious! That moment of truth is always a little nerve racking, after all that work, what if it’s crap? Wow, it packs a punch, though, I’d say it’s probably around 16-18% alcohol. Yum 🙂

So, one of the couples just had a baby in January, Olivia, you can see her with the quilt I made for her birth here. So, since I’m going to see her this weekend, I decided to maker her an elephant! Here’s some pics of it, I definitely did much better on this one than on the prototype. Now I need to make one for my new nephew, Asher, also born in January.

I used brown and white felt for the eyes this time, I think they turned out well!

I used green yarn for the elephant's tail, and even though it doesn't match exactly I think it looks cute 🙂

Here’s the elephant I made for Asher, pretty cute 🙂


Peanut, the wee elephant May 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenbenbry @ 9:26 pm

I’ve decided to attempt to make a stuffie! I’m using the how-to for a wee elephant from the book “Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts” by Joelle Hoverson. I got pretty stuck on the directions, they do NOT provide pictures with the instructions. I finally googled step by step and wee elephant and found a God send, the blog During Quiet Time which has step by step instructions with pictures! I’m pretty happy with peanut, I was thinking I’d give him to my friends’ three month old little girl, but now I’m not so sure! I love peanut! I think I’ll keep the prototype, it’s got a bit of a wonky curved trunk and a few imperfections. I had trouble joining the back piece to the belly piece and the under-trunk piece and they don’t quite fit together right.  I’d like to try again, I’ll have to get some cute pink fabrics for little Olivia’s elephant!


Quilts for Kids – Completed! May 5, 2010

Filed under: Finished Quilts — jenbenbry @ 11:39 pm

I just sent off the two Quilts for Kids that I finished, I thought I’d post some “after” pictures to share.  This was such a fun project, but I’m happy to send them on to their new homes, I hope they find someone who needs a little comfort.  The first quilt is entitled “Underwater Parade” and the second is “The Bug Parade”.  I think they turned out pretty well, I really like the striped border and “The Bug Parade”.  To get your own quilt kit, complete with fabric and label, go to


Foster pup April 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenbenbry @ 3:34 pm

Josh and I (along with the grudging participation of our pups Max & Einstein) fostered a 3 month old puppy for three weeks in June. Paws Chicago organizes foster care for puppies so they can rescue more of them. The puppy we got was named Ruffie, although we took to calling her Itty Bitty.  She was a whirlwind of puppy kisses, potty training, playing, and cuddling. I dropped her off last week for her spay surgery and it was so hard to say goodbye.  I found out today that her spay surgery went just fine and she was adopted over the weekend.  I’m so glad we had the opportunity to foster her!

Max and Itty Bitty

Bitty got a cherry eye while she was staying with us and had to have eye cream and the dreaded "collar of shame"

Itty Bitty and Einstein


Chicago Modern Quilt Guild April Meeting April 19, 2010

Yesterday was my first meeting of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, a group of quilters who just began meeting a few months ago.  It was such a blast!  Lots of the members brought ongoing or finished projects to share, and I really enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful quilts (and the poetry spool!).  We had a workshop led by Angela on ticker tape quilting.  Everyone brought a scrap bag to share and a placemat sized piece of material.  We dumped all the scraps out and started digging through for treasures!  It was so much fun getting to see all the fabrics people have used and combing bits and pieces in to a tickertape quilt.  I had trouble leaving the scrap table to actually assemble the quilt, and was one of the last stragglers of the meeting.  I’m so looking forward to next month’s meeting!


Chicago International Quilt Show 2010 April 17, 2010

Filed under: inspiration — jenbenbry @ 1:00 pm
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Wow!  I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Chicago Quilt Show yesterday.  The quilt show runs through Sunday April 18th at the Rosemont Expo Center just outside of Chicago.  It was amazing, humongous, inspiring, crowded (even though I purposefully went Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday to avoid crowds), and humbling.  I’d say about a quarter of the expo space was devoted to the quilt show and about three quarters to vendors.  I’d prefer something closer to half and half.  There were  vendors for everything from sewing machines, long arm machines, buttons, ribbons, patterns, fabrics, tools, books, thread, hand creams, back massagers, sewing tables, and so much more.  I picked up some really cool vintage Czech glass buttons, some great fabric deals, the tools to try painting on fabrics, and the newest Kaffe Fassett book – which I had signed by the authors!   How cool 🙂

But the quilts, oh the quilts, they were incredible.  By the way – if you want to see more detail on any of these quilts, just click on the image and it will enlarge.

These first few quilts are antiques – all over 100 years old, and some closer to 200 years old.

This quilt, Petal Palette created by Jean Smith in Florida, was my favorite of the more modern quilts at the show.  I’ve included a shot of the detailed embroidery in one of the petals below.

Crocus by Maggie Weiss of Evanston, IL. I love the contrasting greens and purples in this modern design.  I need to look up more of her work, she’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away!

Grape Hyacinth and Tiny Dancer both by Margo Fiddes of Edmonton, Alberta. These are lovely, bright, and bold while impressionistically portraying the flowers.

Grid Growth by Margie Davidson of Edmonton, Alberta – (second image is closeup).  I really like the juxtaposition of the organic leaves in this quilt with the structured grids.  The embroidery work on the leaves is beautiful.

The next quilt was created by a group of twenty quilters in Canada.  They chose a painting by a Canadian artist, Anne Savage’s Saint Sauveur, and cut it up in to twenty pieces which they created independently.  Then they rejoined all of the pieces in to the quilt below – and it turned out so amazingly lovely!

Seven Steps to… By Laura Libigs Colby of Holiday Island, AK.  This quilt is more realistic than a lot of the modern quilts I liked at the show, but I love the colors used and how the leaves feel so three dimensional on the quilt.

Five Pebbles by Dianne Firth of Turner Canberra, Australia.  Ms. Firth describes her quilt as embodying the character and quality of water flowing around pebbles in a stream.  The embroidery work is just amazing.

Evening Dandies-Lions, that is!  By Leighton Taylor of Indianapolis, Indiana.  What a creative and artistic quilt!  I was pleasantly surprised by the lions’ faces in the dandelions!

Autumn Rainbow by Debbie Cimaglio of Gurnee, IL

Bridging the Gap by Robin Robboy of Decatur, GA

Focal Point by Sylvain Bergeron of Oswego, IL.  This quilt just blew me away.  It won third prize in computer aided machine embroidery.  The quilt uses five waves of color – four that start in the corners and one that starts in the middle.  You can see the different colors and how they interact in the close up images.


New Fabrics! March 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenbenbry @ 2:19 pm

I just got some new fabrics in from Hancock’s of Paducah. I’m pretty excited about them, one is a collection of fat quarters in batik blues and one is a group of springy fat quarters. I’m debating on what type of quilt to make with them. This gives me some great incentive to get the quilts for kids made!

I only got a half of a yard of this, because it was pretty pricey, but I love the colors and swirls. I'll have to save it for something special!


Quilts for Kids March 19, 2010

Filed under: Quilts in Progress — jenbenbry @ 12:26 am
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Quilts for Kids distributes quilts to kids in need — whether they be in hospitals or shelters — around the country. They supply the fabric and suggested pattern for a small-ish quilt (36-40″ x 45-46″), you supply the batting. They also encourage volunteers to contribute an additional quilt of their own to “double the number of children we are able to wrap quilts around.”

The quilt supplies for my two quilts for kids arrived while I was in Columbus! Here’s what came in the package – enough pre-cut fabric for two baby quilts and a label, with directions on making a simple quilt.

Fabrics for the Quilt