I’m Back and All Things QuiltCon

2022 has been a whirlwind of a year and I have sorely neglected my blog as a result. I spent a couple of months out of town helping an ill family member, and everything else was pushed aside for a while.

But I am back and with lots of updates. First a few impressions of my first QuiltCon in February 2022 in Phoenix.

Hills in Sedona

My husband and I got into Phoenix a day early so we could drive up to Sedona for a day. It was beautiful, if chillier than we expected (we ended up buying a sweater and shawl so we didn’t freeze). This is one of my pictures and an inspiration for a new landscape quilt, which is in progress.

QuiltCon 2022 by the numbers from the Awards Ceremony

While I did not win any awards, I was excited to see the exquisite work of my colleagues. I was also impressed with the number of quilts (it took me three sessions in the exhibit hall to see all of the quilts).

I was fortunate to take a couple of classes (sign up was very competitive). My first class was in foundation paper piecing, taught by Brigit Dermott. I was so impressed at how easy it was to get precise piecing.

New York Beauty block from freezer paper piecing class 2022.

I also volunteered and got to spend time “white gloving” or wear gloves so I could turn quilts so people could see the back. I highly recommend volunteering. It gave me a chance to sit in on a couple of additional classes, and to meet many wonderful quilters. Here are a couple of picture of the exhibit hall and my quilts.

QuiltCon 2022 exhibit hall with Playtime
Karen with Playtime
QuiltCon exhibit hall with Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight
Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight at QuiltCon 2022

I also participated in the Mini-Swap. Elaine is holding the octagonal Drunkard’s Path quilt I made for her using ombre fabrics, and I am holding the rainbow hexie quilt she made for me! I have done the Mini-Swap for the last two years, and I have met two wonderful quilters.

Mini-Swap at QuiltCon 2022

As much as I loved QuiltCon 2022, I was ready to head back by the end of the week.

One thing I discovered was that I was most happy and comfortable when I had something specific to do. I loved the classes and the time volunteering. So I decided to apply to teach at QuiltCon 2023. I knew it was a long shot, but I carefully read the information on what kinds of classes they were most interested in and submitted proposals for several classes and a couple of lectures.

I am so excited to share that I have been selected as one of the 20 new faculty members for QuiltCon 2023. You can see the full list of faculty here. Stay tuned for the list of classes, available Monday June 14th.

I hope you can make it to Atlanta in February – QuiltCon 2023 has fantastic faculty and should be a great experience!


Reflecting and Planning

As the year draws to a close, I often take time to reflect on what I have accomplished this year and to begin planning for the next. When I looked at my list of quilts for 2021, I was surprised at how far my skills have come in a year. And 2021 was the first full year of Better Done Quilts. The business end of it has been successful and it looks like I will end the year in the black – not bad for the first full year of operations.

A year ago the idea of teaching quilting classes was just an idea. Now, I have taught the Tree of Life class series twice, a class on curved piecing, and I have been contracted to teach several more classes in 2022.

In December 2020, I found out that my Playtime quilt had been accepted as the June 2021 quilt of the month for the MQG Journal . You can follow the link and see the quilt. I had only written one quilt pattern, and I was both excited and scared. But I got the sample quilt done, the pattern written and I was so excited to see it come out in the spring. The Playtime quilt will also be going to QuiltCon 2022 as part of a special exhibit of quilts from the MQG Journal. I even made a second quilt with the original colorway I designed:

I got to make a quilt to show off the fabrics for the Fall in Love With Fall collection from Dandelion Fabric and Co. Here is my picture of the quilt in progress – much better pictures will be released in the upcoming months.

Fall in Love, 2021

I made a couple of Tree of Life quilts this year. I am currently working on a series of seasonal Tree of Life quilts. I finished Autumn Abscission in August.

Autumn Abcission, 2021

I branched out and tried some new and different ideas in my quilts. I took an idea from a earlier quilt of using strip piecing to create a landscape, and expanded it to add a silhouette. The result is “Madison”. This depicts the skyline of one of my favorite places.

Madison, 2022
Madison (detail), 2022

There is a lot of detail in this quilt, from the columns of the capital to the shapes and placement of the windows on the buildings. It was challenging to figure out, and a lot of fun to make! I am excited to share that in 2022 I will be teaching classes in making strip pieced land-, sea-, and sky-scapes.

I also finished several large quilts this year. I am so happy that I finished the Singapore Sling quilt. I still have to get outside to get good pictures, but here is one that shows off the fun fabrics from the Good Vibes collection by Christa Watson for Benartex.

Singapore Sling, 2021

I had some challenges with the quilting on this one. I quilted it on my Juki, but with the curves, there was some distortion in the fabric and the points don’t match as well as I would like. While I was quilting it, all I could see was the rough spots. When I was about 1/2 way through quilting, I considered taking it all out and quilting it on a long arm. After encouragement from experienced machine quilters, I kept going. And I love the texture now that it is done!

Singapore Sling (detail), 2021

As I begin planning for 2022, I am thinking of making a few less quilts. Some will be more complex, and some are new ideas that require me to learn new techniques. I am planning a trip to Phoenix for QuiltCon in February (virus permitting) and I plan to be at the Mid-Appalachian Quilt Guild retreat in July, 2022.

Stay tuned for more adventures in quilting in 2022.

Uncategorized WIPs and PhDs

UFOvember, 2021

Last year I participated in a blog hop for November. The topic was unfinished objects or UFOs. I pulled out my Bear’s Paw blocks from the early 1990s and turned them into a quilt coat. The coat is one of my favorites and it has been worn a lot. For that alone, I am glad that I participated last year. But participating in the UFOvember also made me think differently about my UFOs. My quilty colleagues had so many ideas and insights into why we create UFOs and what to do with them.

This year Bobbi Gentili (also known as Geeky Bobbin) is hosting the blog hop again, and I am enthusiastically joining in.

Just like last year, I will start with a reckoning of my current UFOs. (This is always the painful part.) I am starting with last year’s table so you can see how many UFOs got finished!

Quilt NameYear StartedCurrent StateWhy I Didn’t Finish
Bethlehem Star Wallhanging1993Needs quiltingWas hand quilting, which I took out because I would never finish it hand quilting.
Double Irish Chain
Quilt Your Weight Off
2018Pieced, assembled, long arm quilted by Prairie Folk Quilt Company. Waiting to be bound.Waiting for me to lose more weight I decided that I like the quilt and there was no reason to wait.
What My Grandma Gave Me – English Paper Pieced Carpenter’s Wheel2019Still piecing I will be piecing this for a long time – it is hand sewing and takes me forever!
Rainbow Hand Dye2020Front pieced, back partially piecedSet aside to finish Tree of Life quilt and pattern
Tree of Life Table Runner2020Partially quiltedSet aside to work on other projects with deadlines.
Completing this is my one monthly goal for November!
100-Day Improv Quilt-a-Long2020Still piecing Pieced, assembled. Backing selected. Still needs quilting.100 days ends 12/23/2020. Quilting is already planned out.

I got 5 UFOs finished this year, rehomed one, and made progress on two more. Here’s my current UFO list:

Quilt NameYear StartedCurrent StateWhy I Didn’t Finish
Bethlehem Star Wallhanging1993Needs quiltingWas hand quilting, which I took out because I would never finish it hand quilting.
Double Irish Chain
2018Pieced, assembled, long arm quilted by Prairie Folk Quilt Company. Waiting to be bound.I decided that I like the quilt and there was no reason to wait.
What My Grandma Gave Me – English Paper Pieced Carpenter’s Wheel2019Still piecing I will be piecing this for a long time – it is hand sewing and takes me forever!
Rainbow Hand Dye2020Front pieced, back partially piecedSet aside to finish Tree of Life quilt and pattern
Tree of Life Table Runner2020Partially quiltedSet aside to work on other projects with deadlines.
Completing this is my one monthly goal for November!
100-Day Improv Quilt-a-Long2020Pieced, assembled. Backing selected. Still needs quilting.Quilting is already planned out.
Christmas Table Runner2020Pieced, assembled, basted. Didn’t finish before the holidays.
Singapore Sling2021Pieced, assembled, basted, and partially quilted.Ran into problems with quilting and didn’t finish in time for QuiltCon2022 submission deadline.

Over the past year I have completed 5 UFOs and only added 2, so I have a net loss of 3 UFOs. That makes me very happy!

Later this month I will share more about how I power through these UFOs.

Here is the list with links to all of the UFOvember blogs. I encourage you to check them out:

November 1 – The Geeky Bobbin –

November 2 – Strawberry Creek Quilts –

November 3 – Katie Mae Quilts –

November 4 – Pretty Piney Quilts –

November 5 – Mary Go Round Quilts –

November 6 – Exhausted Octopus –

November 7 – Just Get It Done Quilts –

November 8 – By Hilary Jordan –

November 9 – Sew Hooked on Treasures –

November 10 – Sunflower Stitcheries and Quilting –

November 11 – Blue Heron Quilting –

November 12 – Carrington Creates –

November 13 – Sarah Goer Quilts –

November 14 – Better Done Quilts –

November 15 – Ashli Montgomery/Virginia’dele Smith –

November 16 – Puppy Girl Designs –

November 17 – Lovingly, Lissa –

November 18 – Art East Quilting Co –

November 19 – rjbosscher –

November 20 – Love to Color My World –

November 21 – LynsAvenue –

November 22 – Quiltfox Design –

November 23 – Maeberry Square –

November 24 – Karen Bolan Designs –

November 25 – Tina1802 –

November 26 – Lazy Cozy Quilts –

November 27 – True Blue Quilts –

November 29 – Sarah Ruiz Quilts –

November 30 – Lyric Art –

How are your UFOs?



The last couple of months have been crazy busy between work, home, family and quilting. I finally got to reveal my super-secret project from the winter: my Playtime pattern was published as the June quilt of the month by the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG). I can’t share the pictures here, but I can give you the link to the Playtime article in the MQG Journal, Issue 02. Everyone can see the quilt and read the article, but you have to be a MQG member to download the pattern. It is really exciting that my second pattern ever is published by such a well-known organization.

While I can’t share the pattern or pictures, I can show you the new quilt I have made from the Playtime pattern. This was my original color plan. I learned so much from the process of submitting this to the MQG. They contacted me (before the deadline) to let me know they were interested in the pattern. They sent me a palette of seven colors and I had to use those fabrics to recolor the design and have it approved. They also approved the design for the back (which was not part of the original submission). Once the color plan was approved, I sent fabric and batting requirements and waited. From the day I got the wonderful box full of fabric and batting, until when the quilt and pattern were due to MQG was 36 days, so I got sewing right away.

The MQG sent very clear instructions on fabric preparation (do not wash), quilt preparation (add a hanging sleeve the same color as the back, add a label the same color as the finished quilt, do not wash the finished quilt), and pattern formatting. I really learned a lot about how to be clear in my instructions in a pattern.

Playtime: Black Edition

After I sent off the pattern and quilt, I waited to answer questions, give more information, and make sure they REALLY wanted the pattern and quilt. I sent off a head shot and brief biography – that was the hardest part for me!

Then I waited, and waited (3 months seems like a long time when you are excited) until I got the information to set up payment and next day, the MQG Journal was released!

I have really enjoyed the process and making another Playtime quilt. There is even a video on the Capital Quilts website of me talking about some of my recent quilts, including Playtime. You can see the video here. This is a still from the video with the Playtime quilt.

For the Playtime: Black Edition, I had a really short time to make it, so I didn’t wash the fabrics and didn’t put as much quilting in as I would have liked. As a result, the quilt doesn’t hang perfectly flat, but it is perfectly usable. I may try to add some quilting later. In any case, we are looking forward to this being our TV-watching quilt.


Pattern Testers Needed

I am looking for a few adventurous quilters to test my Mai Tais quilt pattern. This is one of my “cocktail” quilts and uses curved Drunkard’s Path blocks. I really value the contribution made by pattern testers. No matter how clear I *think* I am, they always point out some critical edits.

This pattern will be available in four sizes: Baby (40 x 40 inches), Throw (70 x 70 inches), Extra Long Twin (70 x 100 inches) and Queen/King (100 x 100 inches). There are two different color options shown, but you can change the colors to your taste. Here are some mock ups of the various sizes and and color options:


42″ x 42″
40″ x 40″
72″ x 72″


70″ x 70″

Extra Long Twin

72″ x 102″
70″ x 100″


102″ x 102″
100″ x 100″

Here are a few photos of the actual quilt:

Mai Tais on the Lanai – 2020
Detail of Mai Tais on the Lanai

This quilt will get you over a fear of curves!

Pattern testers will get to choose the size and colors they use and will keep their quilts. I provide a small stipend to help defray the cost of materials. Testers will have at least four weeks to make the quilt top.

If you are interested in being a pattern tester, please e-mail me and I will send you more information. It is really a lot of fun!

Applications close at 5pm ET on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. I plan on selecting testers and sending out the pattern by May 24, 2021 with comments due on June 23, 2021.

I hope you decide to join Better Done Quilts as a pattern tester.


Quilting Goals for 2021

As we are coming to the end of 2020 (a year we all want to end), I am thinking about my goals and plans for 2021. At this point in my quilting life, I have two kinds of quilting goals – personal goals and business goals. I try to limit myself to three of each. My first personal goal is to complete three 100-day quilting projects in 2020. I find having a project that only requires a few minutes a day, but that leads to a complete quilt top in 100 days is an awesome way to keep my momentum quilting. The act of sewing a few minutes a day has also become important in taking care of myself. I spend a few minutes doing something I want to do, no matter how crazy life gets. My second goal is to address my UFO list. I want to get it down to no more than 3 UFOs and up to 3 works in progress (WIPs). I actually cleared four projects off since the beginning of November, one by finishing, one by reworking, one by sending it to a long-arm quilter, and one by sending it to our service quilters to finish and donate. I am combining my first two goals by moving forward on my Irish Chain Quilt. This was listed as my Quilt-Your-Weight-Off quilt. When I thought about it, I realized that while I have lost (and maintained) 35 pounds, and I may lose more, I am not likely to get to the 121 pounds needed for the 11 by 11 blocks in the quilt design. I really love the traditional double Irish chain and the fabrics, and I have 45 blocks done, so I can do one or two blocks a day for 100 days and finish the top!

My third personal goal is to complete one of the cruise-inspired quilts. I have a design in mind. And I know I can break it down into a 100-day project. You will hear more about it later in 2021.

My business goals are easier in some ways because I know I need to stay flexible with them. If I have learned nothing else in 2020, I have learned that flexibility is an absolute necessity. My first goal is to post on this blog at least four times a month. I would love to say I will blog faithfully every week, but I know I may miss a time or two. I hope you will bear with me when I have busy weeks. I also hope to get more tutorials posted.

My second goal is to publish at least three quilt patterns. I have two already in mind and I think that planning on one more is reasonable. It doesn’t matter if I self-publish or if they are published elsewhere – I just want to get them from my head out into the world. One will certainly be the Singapore Sling pattern I submitted to EQ8. I have all of the fabrics, so this will be a priority.

My last goal is to work on one technique I need to improve to make some of the quilts I have in mind. There are a lot of skills I need work on – free motion machine quilting, foundation paper piecing, hand piecing, hand applique. I am leaning towards focusing on foundation paper piecing, but hand applique is also something I want to learn soon.

I have no doubt this will keep me plenty busy, along with my jobs and my family. I am definitely looking forward to what 2021 will bring.

Do you set quilting goals, or do you work on projects as they arise?


Reflecting on Quilting in 2020

One year ago, none of us could have imagined the year that we have had. In January, my husband and I took a Caribbean cruise (that he won) and I took dozens of pictures to plan a quilt or two to commemorate the trip. Little did we know that would be our last trip for a long time.

While my day job has been busier than ever during the pandemic, I have been on full-time telework. Which means that the 5-7 hours a week I formerly spent commuting have been available for quilting. A year ago, my goal for 2020 was to plan and contract for at least one guild presentation (which I did), and to write up my Tree of Life wall hanging pattern (which I also did). I had not planned on getting Better Done Quilts launched as a business, or of getting this website up and running. I certainly didn’t plan on the EQ8 October Design Challenge win.

I started the year with a plan of taking one day a month for quilting. Not piecing, quilting. Whether done on my Bernina or renting time on the long arm at my local quilt store, I would spend the second Saturday each month finishing the tops I had sitting around. Appropriately, my first quilt finished for 2020 was a top I pieced in 2019, Everything Old is New is Old Again.

Everything Old is New is Old Again – Picnic Petals Pattern by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill 2020

I started piecing this in a workshop with Sheri from Whole Circle Studio at Mid-Appalachian Quilter’s Annual retreat. I loved the modern take on the traditional flowering snowball block. I chose old fashioned colors and prints to coordinate with another quilt I have, so I could use them in my guest room. The top was done, and I spent time in January quilting it. The quilting is simple, but I love the way it turned out.

My next two quilts of 2020 were baby quilts for family. I forgot to get a picture of the first quilt before I sent it, but the parents were kind enough to send this one. The quilt was on their doorstep when they brought the baby home. This one is particularly meaningful because the medium green fan print is from my mother-in-law’s fabric stash. I kept a box of her fabrics and I include some in special quilts for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The next baby quilt was the first quilt I designed using EQ8. Bunnies for Belinda is a fun, gender neutral quilt. The mother’s favorite colors as a child were lime green, orange and purple. I tried to design a quilt with these colors that did NOT look like a Halloween quilt. I think this quilt succeeded. The purple fabric is rabbits, which is fitting because we raised rabbits. It is also quilted with bunnies (quilting by Sesvold Designs).

The first weekend in March, which was the last weekend that I was not in quarantine or pandemic lockdown, I used the longarm to finish my daughter’s T-shirt quilt.

I started collecting T-shirts for all my kids when they were young. I planned to make them each a T-shirt quilt when they graduated from high school. None of them got them as graduation presents, but I am slowly working my way through the box of T-shirts. This one had clear ideas of what she did and did not want in a T-shirt quilt. She selected the batiks and helped me lay out this extra-extra long twin quilt. She also wanted a “fun” back, so it would look good no matter which side was up.

This quilt definitely has a “party in the back”. I ran short of the purple and teal batiks and finished up with similar fabrics from my stash.

I also finished “Mai Tais on the Lanai”. I won a pack of Island Home batiks designed by Natalie Barnes for Anthology Fabrics in September 2019. I designed the first of my “cocktail quilts” using the Drunkard’s Path block. I only used fabrics from the collection and the only fabric I purchased was for the border and binding. The back is pieced with the fabrics in the collection that were left over from the front. This has become my TV watching quilt.

Next I turned to my guild small group challenge. We decided in 2019 to make 2020 challenge quilts. They needed to be 20 inches square, use black, white and one color (no gray) and somehow include “20”. It could be 20 items, the number 20, etc. I am a nurse, and 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, as well as being the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale. I decided to honor Florence’s contributions to nursing with my quilted portrait of her.

I am really proud of this little quilt. It was a real stretch for my skills. It is raw-edge applique based on a photo and poster. The hardest part was replicating Florence Nightingale’s signature.

Next was “From Every Direction”, which was described in my last post.

Then I decided to write up the Tree of Life pattern, so I made the Triadic Tree with fabrics I had selected for it about a year ago.

This is the point where I started the blog, so you have already heard about my Mama Bear jacket and “Which Way?” quilts. I have a couple of other quilt tops I made this year in 100-day projects. I finished one other small quilt, but it is for the Modern Quilt Guild mini-quilt swap, so it is a mystery until we exchange quilts in 2021.

2020 was also the year of the masks. All together I have made nearly 100 masks, and continue to make them as they continue to be needed.

While this year has certainly been filled with the unexpected, it has not all been bad. I have finished some big projects and started a few more. My most important quilt accomplishment has been getting Better Done Quilts launched and publishing my first pattern. I hope you had a productive quilting year, and that you stay safe and healthy in 2021!



Today I got notification about my QuiltCon entries. Last year, I submitted two quilts for two different shows. The one I thought would be accepted, AnteMeridiem, was rejected for QuiltCon2020.

Ante Meridiem – Original 2019

The one I entered as a lark, Tree of Life, got accepted for American Quilters Society Lancaster show. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cancelled that show, so while it was accepted, it was never shown.

Tree of Life – Original Design 2019

This year, I submitted four quilts to QuiltCon. Which Way? was my entry for the Modern Quilt Guild 2021 Fabric Challenge.

Which Way? Original Design 2020

I’m not in love with this quilt and I’m not at all upset that it was rejected. In fact, I would not accept it. The spacing is off. I had a great idea, but couldn’t execute it. This is what I did with the pieces left over. I have found that it is the perfect size for a lap quilt at my desk, so it is getting a lot of use.

My second entry was my Triadic Tree of Life.

Triadic Tree – Original Design 2020

While this is not screaming “modern”, I thought the colors brought it up. Again, I’m not upset it didn’t get selected. I didn’t think it really fit the esthetic of QuiltCon.

My third quilt was From Every Direction.

From Every Direction – Original 2020

This is my coronavirus quilt. I made it as part of a challenge from my local quilt store, Capital Quilts. They sent small amounts of fabric to people who accepted the challenge and we needed to make a quilt reflecting on coronavirus using the fabric. The twist was that each quilter got a different fabric. I was sent the orange and yellow print at the top and bottom of the back. I only used materials I had at home, with the exception of that print.

I am sad this one was not accepted. It may not be technically difficult, but it is striking visually and to me it has come to represent the chaos of information about COVID-19.

My fourth submission was AnteMeridiem again. I had heard from other quilters that a rejection to QuiltCon did not mean it was not a modern quilt or that it was not good, just that they did not want it for that show. So I tried again. I took new photos with better lighting. I included pictures of the back, corners and details, as requested.

Ante Meridiem 2019 back
Ante Meridiem 2019 corners
Ante Meridiem 2019 detail
Ante Meridiem 2019 detail

This quilt is very personally meaningful. Changes in the color of the sky from midnight until noon were the inspiration for this quilt. Each strip represents 15 minutes, and each quilting line represents five minutes. The time of nautical, astronomical and civil dawn and of sunrise varies with the time of year and the latitude. I researched the times based on the latitude of Madison, Wisconsin on June 18, 1981, which is where and when my husband and I began our romantic relationship.

Amazingly, this year, Ante Meridiem was accepted and will be displayed in QuiltCon 2021!

This is a huge step for me – it will be the first time I have a quilt displayed in a juried show. I am really excited, and humbled. I don’t think my work is “good enough” to be in a show. I see all the flaws, corners that don’t match and things I would do differently. I was sure the holes in the corner from the push pins I used to display this quilt would keep it from being considered. But I am glad that someone sees something interesting in my quilt. I am looking forward to QuiltCon Together in February. I will let you know how it goes.

Patterns and tutorials Uncategorized


I am so excited! This week I heard from the Electric Quilt Company that my submission in the October EQ8 Design Challenge – the Good Vibes challenge, was selected by Benartex as one of this month’s winning designs! You can see the announcement here and the original challenge with all of the entries here. I am particularly excited because I really love the Good Vibes fabric line from Christa Watson (also known as Christa Quilts).

Good vibes bundle from Benartex

I would like to encourage all of you that use EQ8 to participate in some of these monthly Design Challenges. I started trying them in January to learn how to use the EQ8 program my daughter gave me for Christmas, and to practice my design skills. This is the first design contest or challenge that I have ever won, so even though it may seem like a small little thing to you, to me it is a great opportunity.

Aren’t these fun? I can’t wait to get started!

So what does this have to do with UFOs? It gives me another project to get started. And another pattern to write up. This is another of my cocktail quilts based on the Drunkard’s Path block. In this instance it is distorted to be taller and skinnier, so I think it needs a name of a cocktail that fits in the tall, skinny Tom Collins glass. Maybe “Zombie” or “Singapore Sling”. What would you name this quilt?