20 Years and Counting

design, fabric, general crafts, inspiration, just a thought, needlework, quilting, sewing

Happy New Year friends. It’s going to be a big year for us as we celebrate our 20th anniversary in May. There will be special events, new products, new online tutorials, new classes, new publications and lots of new fabric throughout the year as we mark this important milestone. Many of you have cheered us on since the beginning and we’d love to hear what’s of interest to you.

Mostly we want to help you find time and space in your life to make things that bring joy to you and your loved ones. It doesn’t matter to us if it’s modern. It doesn’t matter if it’s made with our patterns. It doesn’t matter if it wins ribbons or gets accepted to prestigious shows. What we know for certain is that the art of making things is an inherently optimistic pursuit. Who couldn’t use a little optimism at the start of a new year? Regardless of how the rest of your day or year has gone, there’s a wonder in our eyes and minds when we’re making things. We need more of that.

So as we start this first day of 2019, join us in committing to a year of great making. Let’s clear space in our homes, our minds and our days to make whatever brings you joy for even 30 minutes per week. Even daydreaming about projects counts! Let’s make 2019 the year we take a cold, hard look at the barriers that get in our way of making and commit to removing those obstacles. We’ll do our best to share our tips throughout the year for everything from taming your stash to helping you figure out what to do with all of those UFOs. Let us know on our Instagram and Facebook pages as well as in the comments below, how we can help you to have a great year of sewing, quilting and making. Fresh starts. New possibilities. Ready, set, go!



design, general crafts, inspiration, quilting


We wanted to start a new tradition that encourages quilters to reflect on their year of quilting, to celebrate each other’s successes and to encourage each other to try something new in the New Year. We envisioned an online holiday party of sorts (that you can attend in your pajamas!) in which quilters around the world would share what they’ve been working on and what they’ve learned in 2018.

So we launched #MyYearinQuilts on December 1 on Instagram and Facebook. If you haven’t joined us yet, all you have to do is to post a picture relating to the daily prompts above and share it on any social media platform using the hashtag #MyYearinQuilts. You can also follow the same hashtag to see what others are posting. If you miss a day or a week, no worries. Just post when you can.

We hope you’ve had a good year. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement and enthusiasm for our work this year. Next year marks 20 years for our business and we have a LOT of fun in store for you!

Nancy Zieman: The Rest of the Story Giveaway


Nearly ten years ago I was setting up our first ever retail booth at Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Quilt Expo is one of our favorite shows as it’s produced by Wisconsin Public Television and Nancy Zieman Productions because has a friendly feel to it. It was a hot and humid September day and my t-shirt was damp from the sweat of pushing a heavy cart repeatedly between our booth and our van. In the distance I saw Nancy Zieman in a crisp suit and dress shoes carrying a single quilt over her arm. It was the first time I had ever seen her in person and admired her for being so successful that she had staff to delegate the heavy lifting.

The following day, the first of the show, we sold out of almost all of the merchandise we had brought! Bill drove three hours in the middle of the night with a van full of fabric and we made more kits until 4am. “It was spotting Nancy Zieman that was our good luck charm,” I told Bill.

A few years later, the day before we launched Modern Quilts Illustrated, I spotted Nancy in Houston going up an escalator. I hoped it was a good omen. It was. A few months later Nancy and I were copied on the same email for a blog hop. I told her she was our lucky charm and we had a good laugh about it. A friendship developed over the years and we even spent the night at her home once and enjoyed a delicious meal cooked by Nancy herself. Nancy graciously wrote a blurb on the back cover for our book A Kid’s Guide to Sewing and featured us three times on Sewing With Nancy. Mostly, though, she was a deeply caring and considerate friend and our family adored her.

When she was struggling with cancer we happened to be traveling through Europe. I emailed Nancy that we were praying for her in every cathedral we could find in France, Spain and Italy and we did. We even brought her back some Papal Holy Water from the Vatican, even though neither of us was Catholic. “Gotta cover all the bases,” I joked when I gave it to her. Periodically during her treatments,  I emailed her pictures of our foster kittens because I knew she loved kittens and hoped her suffering would come to an end. It didn’t end the way I hoped.

When we got the email last summer that her cancer had returned, our whole family was saddened. In any field it’s hard to find someone who is encouraging and is rooting for your success as a business and as a person. Nancy was one of those rare people for us.

It was our last conversation, however, that always stays with me. It was the morning of Quilt Expo 2017 and we had already been told that Nancy was too ill to attend the show. Many of us were sad but knew that carrying on that show and making it successful would be one way to honor her. Around 7:15am as I was getting in the shower, my cell phone rang. I saw that it was Nancy and picked it up with great excitement. She said, “You told me once that I was your lucky charm so I wanted to wish you a great show.” Naturally I burst into tears. It was an emotional phone call and she said that she was very weak. I knew that this would be our last phone call as her cancer was progressing quickly. I told her that we loved her and thanked her for her friendship over the years. Hanging up the phone was extremely difficult knowing that we would likely never be able to speak again.

For those of you who have read Nancy’s wonderful, inspiring and occasionally heartbreaking, autobiography Seams Unlikely, there is now a followup book written by Nancy’s husband of 40 years, Richard Zieman, entitled Nancy Zieman: The Rest of the Story. The book chronicles where Seams Unlikely ended and documents the unimaginable struggles Nancy faced in her last few years. It also includes lots of family pictures of Nancy with her family and describes how she kept her faith close throughout her life and especially in her final weeks.

If you’ve admired Nancy’s sewing skills, you will be even more stunned at the strength of her spirit as you read all that she endured from a lifetime of medical challenges. Nancy Zieman Productions has graciously provided us with two copies to share for a giveaway. If you’d like to enter to win a copy of Nancy Zieman: The Rest of the Story, please leave a comment below sharing with us what you learned from Nancy.