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Quilts at the Stillman Inn Part Two

Posted by on in Stillman Inn Blog

Quilts at Bernadine's Stillman Inn


Part II


August 19, 2014


Wow - thank you everyone for your interest in the, Part II of the Quilts at the Inn.  On the previous blog I posted about the antique quilts and unfinished quilts I bought and finished over the years.  This one is even more fun because it's about, as I promised, the quilts I've made!


You may notice that a lot of them are decidedly Civil War period style.  The patterns and fabrics are more muted but still interesting.  I think I've leaned this way because 1) we live in Galena IL and 2) I love thinking about women as they sat around hand sewing with fabrics they had, usually from clothes they've worn out.  They would have quilted with these shades of fabrics.


I have, however, pushed myself out of the box on a few occasions to use brighter colors.  That was fun but not what my natural bent is.  I'm working on that!


So, here we go.  Hope you enjoy!  Mostly I hope it inspires you to give quilting a try!


Celebrating Women 


This quilt is from a book, as most are, that commemorates women throughout history that did "big things" that women just didn't do back in the days.  For example, one block represents a woman who owned real estate and rented out homes.  I used striped fabric as the background and hand appliqued all the pieces on.  These were all from my stash of civil war era fabrics.  I used the needle turn process and it took over 1 1/2 years to finish.  It was a great take-along project and I started keeping track of all the places I worked on this quilt but lost the paper I was writing on.  One place was on a riverboat ride down the Mississippi River.  Nice to sit out on the deck quilting away.  Another place was Walnut Ridge, a log cabin bed and breakfast in Platteville.  Worked on it twice there during our stays.


I entered this one into the local Fair.  Almost won best of show but the judge did not like the fact that I "quilted" over the applique.  This was a choice I made after much thought and I was proud of that decision.  Oh well.


Grandmas Garden


Here is another sample of the quilt above.  I believe the house is the one representing a woman from years past who owned real estate.


Lone Star


This was my first "Lone Star" quilt.  Piecing drives me crazy.  This was done using a fusible background that makes all of your points perfect.  What makes this special is that my husband saw this and wanted to hang it on his office wall right away! Awwww!  Dave, you are just tooo cute for me and soooo very smart!  I made this one in 2003


Eagle Lone Star


This Lone Star was made in 2012 using the same technique as above so I couldn't mess it up.  I added the eagles in the corners using a die cut from Accucut.  What fun.  There is a light colored background under this quilt.  I chose to quilt with a dark thread on the top and bottom of the quilt - not so smart.  You don't notice it on the top but the back looks kind of terrible.  Should have used a lighter bobbin thread.  Oh and learn as they say!


Pieced Table Runner


Several years ago I decided to perfect piecing.  I have a "how to" book that was actually quite wonderful.  Can't find it now though.  I especially like the middle motif.  That is called "card trick".  Turns out I have not been using an accurate 1/4" seam.  You actually need a "scant" 1/4" seam because when you open the seam it uses more fabric to make that turn.  I had these squares laying around for about 8 years wondering what to do with them.  Then my friend Susan decided to teach us one of the "quilt as you go" methods which was fascinating.  Now my squares are a table runner and I just love it.  Thank you Susan Hunter!




Then Susan decided to teach a group of us how to make a "Bargello" quilt.  Bright colors here that I just love.  It was a bit complicated but fun.  The more seams I had the more "unstable" the piece was so it's far from being in perect alignment but I don't care.  it's beautiful!


Hearts Runner


I found this pattern around Valentines day in a quilt mazagine and as if I didn't have enough projects, I decided to throw it together.  Glad I did.  I used all scrap fabric and I love it!  Back to the muted colors we go!  I guess I love the "homespun" look of these fabrics.




Halloween is not my favorite Holiday.  In fact I just don't like it.  The very theme of it is dark and, well, I guess I don't like dark.  So, I found this pattern for bright and perky pumpkins.  Helped me to enjoy the season a bit more! This was a kit. Everything was appliqued on by machine and I used some fancy stitches from my embroidery machine to decorate the background squares.  My friend Rosie inspires me to do this.  She does it on everything!


Paper Dolls


"Paper Dolls" quilt design.  Last year my New Years resolution was to work only on projects I had waiting to be put together.  I broke that promise just once for a small table runner.  I had this quilt kit sitting around waiting to be made for about two years.  I had purchased it at the Paducah quilt show, the first one I ever went to (thank you Susan) and I'm so glad for my resolution because it's done and cute as can be.  Again, civil war, homespun colors.  Glad I bought it. This was pieced and pretty easy to do.  It would be a good quilt and more precise if I had paper pieced it.


Gramas garden


Here is my "Grandma's Garden" quilt.  All hand pieced hexagons from fabrics in my stash.  Wow, this one took years.  A great take-along project but wow what a lot of work!  Don't think I'll be making another one so this is quite special.  Have you ever done these hexagons?  Jo Quilter in Bellvue IA has a quilt store and she is THE QUEEN of hexagon quilts.  Check it out!


star table runner


Table runners are fun because you can actually finish one in less than a year or two!  This one was paper pieced.  Again, my dear friend Susan taught a group of us how to do it.  Love, love, love the precise points you get with this method.  Give it a try!


Rosies Indian


I'm cheating now because this is actually a quilt my friend Rosie is making.  She saw a picture of a Lone Star quilt that looked like an Indian with headdress on.  She asked me to "figure out" how they did it.  That was not easy and I still don't have it right but they are turning out just great!  I think she's ready to quilt hers.  I still have to finish piecing mine!


paisley cats


Paisley Cats!  This was made in 1991?  So it was probably my third or fourth quilt.  It's a lap top quilt and I adore the paisley fabrics and I used denim for the hearts.  I was brave from the beginning of my quilting life as you can see I tried the interesting border on this one.


Beccas Quilt


And last, but not lease, in fact this was my first ever quilt.  I made this for our daughter, Becca.  I had no idea what I was doing but just had to do it.  It's actually my own heart design.  you can hardly see it but I added lace around the hearts.  Again, being "brave as a bear" I used the prairie points around the outside edge.  I quilted a heart in the blank squares.  Not bad for a first time, do it yourself project!  It's been in protective custody for years because Becca is afraid of ruining it.  I'll have to give it to her now that she has a daughter!




Okay, so this is technically the "last" example.  I just have to share it.  I went on my first "shop and hop" about 7 years ago.  I bought a book at one of the first stores that had his pattern in it.  I used the rest of the stores to find all the various fabrics.  That was smart.  Always go on a shop and hop with a project in mind to buy for otherwise you buy a bunch of mismatched, "what did I buy this for" stuff!  Believe me, I know!  Also a good idea if you go to a large quilt show.  Know what you want before you go!  I used machine embroidery on this one with the Poppies.  It's an applique pattern so the possibilities are endless with it and I just love that!


What fun I have had over the years, what friends I have made and what places I've been all because of this lovely art!  Want to come quilt with me?  Just make your reservation at Bernadine's Stillman Inn and let me know you'd like to quilt and we'll sit down with a cup of tea and a UFO and get it done!


Happy Quilting,










Bernadine's Quilts - Part 1


Bernadine's Stillman Inn

Galena, IL 815 777-0557


Redwork detail



Welcome to my wonderful world of Quilts! - Part 1


I have been quilting for about 27 years now.  The first quilt I ever made was for my daughter, Becca.  It had a variety of pink calico hearts pieced together in strips and sewn on to ivory muslin.  It was so much fun and she loved it!  What a blessing it was to have a daughter to make a quilt for.


The second quilt was for my son and it was a "Trip around the world" quilt using a variety of calico fabrics.  It is lovingly stored because it is quite worn out from all the use.  


Our kids are adopted and I started their quilts as we waited to bring them home.  East square was made with a special prayer that everything would go well and that we would be happy together!  We are!


I then went on to make a couple of pieced quilts. One has paisley cats on it the other is a field of Christmas trees using as many green fabrics as I could find.  Right now I can't find any of these quilts.

I WILL find them and I WILL put them in part 2!


Antique Crazy Quilt 2



You Don't Have To Make Quilts to Have Quilts!

This is an antique crazy quilt we found at an antique store in Kalona, IA.  It's unusual because it uses orange.  Also, this was a quilter after my own heart as she tried many things on this quilt; embroidery, painting, ribbon work, etc.  It was an unfinished top so I had to square it up and put a back on it.  It is beautiful.


Buy One


Another quilt, this one was finished.  I found this at a quilt store.  It is all hand pieced and hand quilted.  I love thinking about who made these quilts.  Life without cell phones, Netflix, computers and all that.  This was something special to someone at one time and I continue on with the tradition of loving it.


Red Quilt



This is an antique redwork quilt. The detail photo is at the top of this blog.  It has stains but I still love it.  I imagine someone resting at night after a long days work, pulling out her sewing basket and just relaxing and loving what she/he was doing.  This came from my mother-in-law.


UFO I finished



Another unfinished quilt I found at a local antique store.  The top was all hand pieced and the stitches are gorgeous.  It cost $45 and I needed to try out my new mid-arm quilting machine so I didn't have much to lose by choosing this quilt to try it out on.  It was beautiful unquilted but like most quilts, when you put together the layers, top, batting and backing, and then quilt it it comes to life.  It is yummy and cozy looking with a feel of antiquity!  Again another quilt that someone put a lot of effort and time into and I finished it for them!


I have attended a lot of quilt shows which are so inspiring.  I have made many friends because of the art. I have gotten together with friends to quilt for hours on end.  It is a pleasure in my life I can't imagine being without.  It reminds me of the slower days when people had time to do this kind of thing and it was considered valuable.  I especially like stories of the Amish young girls who have had a goal to make so many quilts by the time they were married for their home.  There are plenty still doing that today and I find that refreshing. 


I hope you have enjoyed my Quilt blog and will return for Part II when I share the ones I've personally made from beginning to end!  They each have a story and I hope they inspire you to pick up some fabric, a needle and thread and some scissors and get to it!


If you are interested in seeing these quilts first hand, visit me at Bernadine's Stillman Inn.  I love showing them off!  If you are coming to stay with us and want to quilt with me just let me know and I'll meet you in the parlor with my current project!


Have a terrific Quilt day!








Stenciling Around The Inn

Posted by on in Stillman Inn Blog

Stenciling Around The Inn


Bernadine's Stillman Inn!


We get a lot of very nice comments from guests about the different stencils and painting techniques that have been used around our Bed and Breakfast.  So I thought I'd share some ideas and inspirations.  I've spent many years pouring over stenciling and painting books because I find it absolutely fascinating.  I suppose it's because it creates a one of a kind piece of artwork.  Although others may have stenciled with the same stencils I purchase, the chances of them using them in the same place with the same colors, etc would have to be very rare making them unique and individual!


garden tote



My Toolbox - This is one of my favorite pieces and I stenciled this many moons ago.  I love the intriciate detail.  I also love, love, love, to crackle my surfaces first for a more interesting background.  You simply put on the paint color you want in the "cracks" of the crackling. Paint a layer of crackle medium over that following the manufacturers suggested application and drying time and then the fun comes.  You take your top coat and layer it softly and quickly over the usually tacky surface of the crackle medium.  This has to be done in as few strokes as possible or you will drag all the top coat off of the slick surface.  When it's dry you are ready to stencil.  And don't forget the topcoat.  I use a waterbased indoor/outdoor sealer.  There are great ones out there now!  I love Polycrylic.





This is one of my favorites here at the Inn.  I just love how unique these doors are now with just a little bit of effort.  Here is a closer look:


doors 2


Of course I crackled the background of the center panels and added a very simple stencil layout.  I drybrushed the stencil very lightly so it would look aged.  Then I painted the trim and door with coordinating colors.  I tried to get a "milk paint" look with the yellow so it would look worn as well. I prushed on one very thin coat for this affect.  


I don't understand chalk paint other than it gives you the feeling that it's an "old" looking paint with a certain satin finish.  There is a brand new store downtown Galena called "Isabella's". Two of our guests just told me about it and she specializes in a specific brand of chalk paint.  Apparently she has been painting furniture with it and the finish is supposed to be beautiful.  Can't wait to see it!  Will rush down there today!  Apparently it's imported paint so it's not a local brand we are used to seeing.


hall 2



This is a very simple stencil I used in our hallway with just a few colors of acrylic paints.  It really makes the hallway look longer.  It's subtle, fits the decor and looks aged like the rest of the 1858 mansion.  There is one area where there used to be a built in bookcase that is now gone.  This left about 8 inches without the stenciling.  Do you think I can find that stencil to fill that in?  Nope.


bath cabinet



This is our personal bathroom cabinet.  It has one of those bowl sinks on top.  The first time my son saw this sink he asked why we were using a salad bowl for our sink!  I used to take horticulture classes and learned the formal name for many many trees while I was creating this cabinet.  So I used a metallic pen to write various tree names on the doors.  Here's a closeup:


our kitch cab 4


I did not crackle this cabinet.  Imagine that!  I used various shades of neutral tan colors along with a bit of white to "pounce" the colors on to the background.  It almost looks like worn parchment paper.  I love that!  Then I used a gold metallic pen to write in the names of trees and added a quick rose stencil in the bottom corners.  I often tell my husband that when we move we take this cabinet with us.  We will see about that.  But it is one of my favorites. I painted the top with burgundy acrylic paint and covered it all in the Polycrylic finish.  It has held up to water spots on the counter for about 14 years.


kitch 1



These are the kitchen cabinets on the first floor of the Inn.  We cook breakfast here for our guests and they can see these cabinets as they pass through the hallway to the Parlor.  On several occasions I've wanted to paint over these and start over but then Dave rally's the troops and gets friends, family and guests to tell me not to do it.  Everyone seems to love them but to me they seem to be missing something...not sure what, but they are fun!  It was one stencil moved around and up and down the cabinets to make it look like on long grape fine.  The lower cabinets do not have stenciling. 





I used a goldish, light brown metallic paint for the vines.  I ran some of the stencil off onto the cabinet frame.  That worked out well I think.  The center panel was just whitewashed and you can do that with any white, waterbased paint product.  Simply apply it a little "full" not "dry" with a brush and then wipe it off before it dries.  You can leave a little white buildup in the corners for that milky look.  Be sure to seal them.  We got too busy and didn't so now we have a lot of cleaning to do on them before we can seal the doors.  I usually don't like one solid color. You can't see it here but I painted the light green around the rames then drybrushed some of the dark green paint over it here and there.  It makes it look worn out.  I did some sanding aroudn the door handles to make it old looking as well.


our kitch cab 3



This is our kitchen in the lower level.  I love these cabinets.  I wanted a European, thrown together kind of look so I painted one cabinet on the end of this bank of cabinets a warm blue.  I wanted it to look like we found the cabinet "somewhere else" and added it.  Wish I had a picture of that here.  I purposely used fabric to cover the doors under the sink rather than the hard wood doors.  It just seems to warm the whole thing up.  


our kitch cab 5



This is one of the cabinets.  You can tell I like these colors, especially for the Inn.  I used them on the hallway doors throughout the inn as pictured above.  Same thing, I just had to "crackle" the backgrounds and then add the stencils with a very dry brush creating that nice aged look.  I also drybrushed the yellow trim with a bit of the background red...just a bit!  These cabinets did get sealed so they have stayed very nice over the years.  The base cabinets are simply painted ivory.


rest 4



The stencils in the Wedding Chapel/Reception building are very unique.  I did not have the time to stencil this room so we hired someone to do it and they did an excellent job.  The stenciling is soft, subuded and has a nice patina.  I love the color variations she used.  Enjoy the rest of the pics of the restaurant and if you have any questions...please call!  

Bernadine's Stillman Inn

815 777-0557

rest 6 




rest 2


The person we hired also created a marble effect on all the supports throughout the building.  

We think they are beautiful too!  These are not stencils but done by hand.


Have a great day and go out there and Stencil!









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