Meet Annette Ashbach, a Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Missouri Star Academy is all about providing education and empowering you to create. From weekly tutorials to online in-depth classes, events and even classes held here in Hamilton, MO at our Education Center where there is something for everyone!

Annette Ashbach is one of our Education Center instructors and she teaches many things ranging from making full quilt tops to smaller projects like aprons and totes!

Annette first found interest in sewing after she became fascinated with watching her grandmother’s hand-stitching and embroidery techniques. Her love for sewing continued as she grew up watching her mother create costumes and dance uniforms on the sewing machine. Today, Annette has been quilting on and off for about forty-five years and teaching for the last twelve.

Annette has a very diverse taste in fabrics. She adores anything wool, but also enjoys batiks. She has a soft spot for appliqué and is always up for a challenging pattern!

Take a peek at our Education Center Class Schedule and sign up to learn something fun with Annette!

“Don’t be afraid to try something new… It’s just fabric! Have fun and be creative! That’s all there is to it.” she says.

Annette Ashbach

Introducing… Let’s Make Art

Two years ago, Sarah Cray was a freelance artist… selling her prints on Etsy, illustrating books, and just simply exploring her creative freedoms was the life Sarah had fallen in love with. But then, she got a call that would result in her being able to take those passions and share her love of art with the world. The call was from ours truly, Al Doan, the co-founder of Missouri Star Quilt Co. The pair had briefly known each other in college, but after a bad experience in shopping art supplies online, he called up the talented Sarah in hopes the two could create something better for others.

Together, they worked to transform the reputation of art from being intimidating, hard, and overwhelming to helpful, welcoming, and encouraging. In 2017, Sarah’s artistic abilities and Al’s master business mind proved a powerful duo in giving birth to Missouri Star’s sister company, Let’s Make Art! Since then, the team has welcomed modern lettering artist, Nicole Miyuki.

The business hopes to offer several different art medium services soon, but right now, Let’s Make Art offers monthly subscription boxes, supplies and step-by-step tutorials for watercolor taught by Sarah and hand-lettering taught by Nicole.

“The intention was to create a company that was way more accessible and not as intimidating for people who want to get into it. Something that sends the empowering message that anyone can make art.” – Sarah Cray, Co-Founder

When asked what they believe attributes to their success so far. Sarah answered by stating, “I don’t want people to think that I’m the best at watercolor and that I do it perfect every single time. If I make a mistake, I show them openly, and explain how they can correct it… Art is a process and we’re always learning. People are welcome to be open with no judgement here.” Others have found that they have been able to relate to the Let’s Make Art team. It’s a space full of inspiration in which people feel comfortable to begin their creative journey.

Sometimes the art they create has a mission of its own. With Let’s Make Art Matter, the Let’s Make Art team places an addressed and stamped postcard in each subscription box. There is a free tutorial per each card. Everyone then creates their postcard and sends it to a family, person, or organization that is suffering from the death of a loved one, an illness, or other disaster. “We send them to a family that just really needs a little bit of love. Art can be very healing.” says Sarah. Outside of the subscription boxes, people are welcome to walk-in, sit down at a table and Make Art Matter right there in the store and they will make sure it’s gets sent to the family for you.

When you stop in at Let’s Make Art, there’s always an opportunity to “try it before you buy it” and even participate in a make-a-take! With our Birthday Bash event coming up, Let’s Make Art invites you to come and create your own or join in on making art matter. Whether for yourself or for a family who needs a smile, stop by their booth and try it out!

Even if you aren’t quilter, you can still enjoy “Quilt Town, USA.” Bring your friends and stop in for a brew, go golfing, or grab a sweet bite to eat. And don’t forget to say hi to the Let’s Make Art team and discover watercolor and hand-lettering designs!

Learn More at LetsMakeArt.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram!

Meet Missouri Star Academy Instructor, Monique Jacobs

Monique Jacobs of Open Gate Quilts, is also the instructor of one of our Missouri Star Academy Online Classes! She teaches how to color coordinate and piece together beautiful quilts from just picking through the loose ends of your already-made stash. Learn more about Monique and then join her in Stash Busting with Style!

Have you always had an eye for color combinations or was it something you had to teach yourself to do/look for?

I’ll be honest. I had to learn. According to my mom, she had doubts about my sense of color when I was young. I used to change clothes at least 3-4 times a day and things didn’t always match. I loved trying different combinations and it was when I started quilting that I learned how to match colors. A lot of it was trial and error. As I was working with fabric, I would play around with it until I liked what I saw. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some quilts that weren’t great but I learned from those mistakes and the more I did the more I felt confident in my choices.

Tell us a little about your background – when/how did you first get into sewing and quilting?

I’ve always loved fabric. When I took Home Ec in high school, sewing was my favorite class. Both my grandmas sewed and made crafts. My dad’s mom made quilts and although I didn’t appreciate them when I was young, I sure do now! She used old dresses, curtains, whatever was available and hand stitched all the seams using a feather stitch. They are all crazy quilts and having to repair one, I know how much work goes into them!

I got into quilting because my sister-in-law mentioned that she liked quilts.  I looked at them and thought, me too! So, I took a class and that was the beginning!

Where do you find inspiration for trying new fabric and pattern designs – especially for using fabrics from your stash?

My inspiration comes in different ways. One, I will see a fabric that I like, whether in my stash or in the store and think, what can I make out of this? Or I see a pattern and adapt the pattern to my fabric. Sometimes, I will look at my stash and pull some out and think…what quilt can I come up with to go with this fabric? Truthfully, that’s how I started designing patterns, I saw all this beautiful fabric and couldn’t find a pattern to use it with. So, I started making my own. Same thing with designing fabric, I would see a pattern and think, what fabric could I use for this. Again, nothing would work for what I wanted to do, so I started designing fabric.

Do you have a favorite color combination to use in your quilt patterns and fabrics?

I love them all! If I’m doing a more traditional quilt, I tend to add red in and if I’m doing batiks or modern, I love purple. But, there isn’t much that I don’t like! 

Do you find yourself looking at color, scale and print in other aspects of life? (i.e. home decor, clothing, etc)

Funny that you ask that because I didn’t think about that until you mentioned it. Yes, I do. For sure, color is a huge factor in decorating. I like to have a warm, welcoming home but that doesn’t necessarily mean warm colors. I know what I like, just like my quilts and go a lot by what I’ve learned on how to put quilts together.

Take the class, learn something new, explore new color combinations and most of all, have FUN! Come back and show us what you’ve made out of your stash!

Start Stash Busting with Style


Congrats to Our Grads! 🎓

Congrats to Our Grads!

We are excited to announce that our first year’s partnership with North Central Missouri College (NCMC)was a huge success! The collaboration between Missouri Star Quilt Company and North Central Missouri College on this apprenticeship program culminated with 21 team members completing a registered apprenticeship program through the US Department of Labor, with 20 of those individuals earning a Business Management Essentials certificate through the college.

Apprenticeship Graduates
Front row (from left to right): Amanda Gray, Ana DeJesus Gutierrez, Sarah Garland, Jennifer Souza, Kelly Gallion, Estella Granville, Adriana DeJesus Gutierrez, Brooke Barnett, Brenda Glidewell (Missouri Star Apprenticeship Coordinator)
Middle row (from left to right): Sarah Harvey, Sara Thomas, Andrea Kinzler, Teresa Kinzler, Kaitlyn Cooley
Back row (from left to right): Julia Birkeness (Missouri Star Apprenticeship Coordinator),Kristeana Reed, Kelsey Stollings, Beth Snow, Kassandra Carr, Keslie Hays, Lisa Gray, Corey Adams
Apprenticeship Graduates
The students were invited to walk during the commencement ceremony in their caps and gowns at North Central Missouri College in Trenton, MO.
Apprenticeship Graduates
Certificates were handed out in the classroom space of Missouri Star’s warehouse by the president of NCMC, Dr. Lenny Klaver (back far left), Director of Business and Industry Partnerships at NCMC, Jason Helton (back far right) and Missouri Star’s CEO, Mike Mifsud (back, third from right)

Before handing out the Apprenticeship Completion certificates from the US Department of Labor, Director of Business and Industry Partnerships at NCMC, Jason Helton, said with enthusiasm, “This is a formal credential, it’s kind of a big deal. You should be proud of what you are about to receive.” Afterward, the students cheered, the Missouri Star leadership and management teams clapped proudly, and Missouri Star’s Apprenticeship Coordinator was brought to tears!

Between academic training by professors from NCMC AND on-the-job training here at Missouri Star, we are incredibly proud of our team members who have worked so hard to enhance their skills, both personally and professionally throughout this past year! Way to go, graduates! 🎓

Comment below or head on over to our Facebook page to congratulate this amazing team! ⇩

Meet Courtenay, a Missouri Star Academy Instructor!

Courtenay Hughes is one of our talented instructors here at Missouri Star. As part of our education team, Courtenay teaches quilting, embroidery, and appliqué classes through Missouri Star Academy. This includes our online courses, in-town classes, and some of our free tutorials!

Beginning Machine Applique

“I want to say I LOVE her teaching style! She is so funny, and I felt like I was spending an afternoon with a good friend. I really enjoyed this video.”

– Customer Review

Courtenay’s Creations

This quilting diva has been a wonderful component to our education team and you can see why! Her gorgeous projects continue to inspire all of us makers!


Now, let’s talk about appliqué, Courtenay’s area of expertise! If you’ve always wanted to try it out, but imagined it might be intimidating, we’ve got the tools, techniques, and tips to change your mind. Appliqué is a lot easier than it looks – and it looks pretty spectacular personalizing and decorating your quilt!

Beginning Machine Applique

We talked to Courtenay about machine appliqué designs and tips…

Q: Courtenay, how long have you been sewing machine appliqué? 
A: I have been quilting for over 25 years. I’ve had about 20 odd years of practice at machine appliqué. And I am really looking forward to sharing some of that with you

Q: What’s your favorite part of teaching appliqué for beginners?
A: My favorite part of teaching is when students who aren’t sure they can complete their projects get to the point where they realize that, yes, they can make them—and they will be beautiful! Whether that’s how to machine appliqué small pieces, how to hand appliqué in the car on road trips, or how to let loose and try something completely new, like a free-motion zig-zag “heartbeat” stitch that looks complicated but is actually very freeing, I love seeing students succeed!

Beginning Machine Applique

Q: What shapes can you make with machine appliqué?
A: Anything you can imagine – and any pattern in your library, really. I like to show you tips for leaves, stems, circles, stars, hearts, petals, and working in layers. While a lot of my patterns are flowers or animals – ask me about placing bunny ears – the sky is the limit. You can decorate any quilt with appliqué, in blocks, borders, even your quilt label.

Q: What are some tools you recommend for appliqué?
A: This depends a little bit on which method you’re using, but some of the applique essentials are:

For Machine Appliqué:

  • Fusible Web  – Use this to temporarily glue fabric pieces in place while machine stitching.
  • Appliqué Pressing SheetPlace over the project diagram to use as a guide while layering fabric shapes.
  • Marking PenUse a fine sharpie or marking pen to trace designs onto projects.
  • Scissors A good pair of scissors come in handy for cutting fusible and fabric pieces.
  • Machine Needles – A sharp needle that is great for stitching through layers of applique pieces. 
  • 50wt Thread – A strong thread that blends with fabric shapes. Or black thread for a “folk art” look. 
  • Self-Threading Needles An easy way to bury threads after stitching pieces to background.
  • Iron and Iron Cleaner – An iron for fusing paper shapes to fabric, and iron cleaner.
  • Embroidery Hoop – (optional) These come in handy when stitching pieces in place on background, especially when using the free-motion zig-zag “heartbeat” stitch.

For Hand Appliqué:

  • Appli-Glue or Lapel StickUse this to hold fabric pieces in place while hand stitching.
  • Freezer Paper Draw a design on the dull side, cut it out and lay the shiny side down on the project to use as a guide.
  • Bias Tape MakerUse this to make stems and more, especially when doing floral applique!
  • Marking PenUse this a pen to trace designs onto projects.
  • Precision Appliqué ScissorsA smaller pair of scissors come in handy for cutting smaller pieces.
  • Hand Needles A smaller point for hand stitching, but also a bit enough needle to prevent hand cramping.
  • Mini Iron – A tiny iron will give more control over tiny fabric pieces.
  • Appliqué PinsThese come in handy when fitting several pieces into place.
  • Fusible Web (optional) – Melts to adhere the fabric pieces together.
Applique Tools

We think it’s time to give appliqué a try!

We currently have two classes for beginners at Missouri Star Academy. You’ll learn multiple methods, troubleshooting tricks, how to machine appliqué a quilt or how to hand appliqué a quilt. Each class also comes with a FREE quilt pattern so you can show off your newly mastered skills! Try appliqué today!

Don’t forget to check in on our Education Center’s class schedule to see what class Courtenay will be teaching next!

If you’ve taken a class by Courtenay Hughes, show her what you made in the comments below ⬇️