Quilt Festival (Houston) Class Question

As you know I’m a member of The Quilt Show and many of the quilters have come over to facebook (here’s a link to my artist page) as well.  I love being friends with these quilters for so many reasons one in particular is that we get to share information and grow as quilters and I get to grow as an educator.  I’m excited to finally get to meet so many of these quilters and put voices with their lovely faces.

When I submitted to Quilts, Inc. in Houston to teach “And Now What?!” they asked and I agreed to let them change the name to “Designs in Machine Quilting” for their venue.  I also submitted two photos one of the original Serendipity and one of the drawing/mindful meandering I did prior to quilting Serendipity.  You can see both of these here.   One of my TQS friends sent me a private message essentially saying that this is listed as a Beginner level class but after seeing the photos of the drawing and Serendipity she wasn’t so sure and just wanted to check and make sure.

I’m going to answer her question in 2 ways 1) personal experience and 2) direct info on the class itself.

1)  When I started quilting years ago I would get to the end of piecing a quilt, look at it and think, and now what do I do with it?  Over the years with a lot of help from quilters both near and far I’ve learned how to figure that out.  There is only 1 quilt that stumps me right now and in part it is because it’s for a friend of mine who I think very highly of and want to do it right.

After teaching machine quilting  a time or two beginning to understand what students need I asked students to bring in quilts that we can discuss as a class.  I make sure to tell each person these are just ideas mean to spark your creativity and help you through the process of figuring out what to stitch out on the quilt surface.

2) Designs in Machine Quilting (And Now What?!) is a beginner level class.  My intent is to share with you the process of practicing machine quilting motifs.  If you can draw it out on paper you can stitch it out on a quilt top.  Through the class we look at available space on  paper and fill it in with motifs that you can later use as a resource of ideas for your quilts.  Hopefully you will carry on and practice on paper as a way of figuring out the stitching path for a new to you quilting motif.

I’d love for you to consider taking any of my classes in Houston.

This morning I challenged Maggie to do something with her Kaufman Radiance.  I have some coming in the mail for a special project.  Check out Maggies blog to see what she did.

Happy quilting!


Journal Beginnings

A couple of weeks ago I posted on facebook that I wanted to play with some lutradur.

At that moment I had no idea what I would do with the lutradur, I just wanted to play.  A blank piece of paper is inviting and I have a variety of pens with which to fill the vast expanse of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper (or in this case lutradur).  The opportunities to fill blank pages have been fewer since going back to work and needing to spend time at my machine.

The longing for lutradur was satisfied the other day at the Northern Star Quilt Show when I visited the booth of Jane Davila.  Then I went back later thinking about Shiva Paintsticks and picked up Permapaque markers.  The paint sticks may yet come home with me and join the Fabrico markers, Sharpie pens, Staedtler Triplus markers, and colored pencils I have.  Each one makes a different kind of line and they play nicely together.  The Sharpie pens and colored pencils are kept in/near my teaching supplies so that when I teach “And Now What?! Designs in Machine Quilting” they’re ready for students to play with.  The Staedtler markers are usually in easy ready of the chair in my living room with a sketchbook of some sort for zentangling or practicing some kind of quilting stitch.

As you can see I spent some time with the lutradur and the Permapaque markers.  The first line from the introduction of Melanie Testa’s book fills the center.  The next step will be batting and backing this.  I just recently purchased some Quilters Dream Green that I’m going to see how it looks with this and have some fun stitching.  Lutradur is flexible like that.

Happy Quilting!



As you know I participated in the Sketchbook Project with the Art House Coop in Brooklyn.  I loved the process of sketching, of thinking through the process of how to get the images in my head onto paper and hopefully later onto fabric.  I see the sketching/doodling process as a way to train my brain and hands to do what I want them to do when I get to the machine.  I love this process so much that sketching/doodling is part of  my lecture:  “And Now What?!”

I’ve been watching how other quilters sketch and the impact it has with their quilting process.  It’s amazing.  A lot of quilters have started doing Zentangles.  After the sketchbook project I wanted to keep up the sketching exercise.  So here’s the first of what will be an ongoing project of working through the process of filling the space.

Linda M. Poole used this kind of exercise as she created her fabric line “Seahorses” .  I can see how useful this process would be in designing quilts, fabric, and keeping the mind sharp.


I also get inspiration from fabrics.  We’ve been getting new batiks in the shop where I work/teach that jog the mind toward fun, effective quilting patterns.  Like this red purple on the right.


And these:




By sketching or doodling I can figure out the path for stitching these out and incorporate them into a quilt.


Working on drafting a 5 pointed star for a quilt

One of the reasons why I picked up a compass & protractor set last summer is for this: I want to make a 5 pointed star for one of my quilts in the “Twilight in the Bronx”.  Yesterday I figured it out.  I’d been doing the math incorrectly.  I’d been looking to make the center point a 22 1/2 degree angle and it never worked out.  Yesterday I started fiddling and realized that with the 22 1/2 degree angle I’d get too many arc sections not quite what I’m looking for.  I began playing with circles, angles and the compass and oh yeah, the math and figured to get what I’m looking for I need to rework the math.  Not quite remembering how & why I was looking for that 22 1/2 degree angle I went simple (isn’t that usually the best!) and divided 360/5 and came up with 72.  So using the protractor (the pic to the left below) I marked the 72 degree angle with my protractor, then marked the 144 degree mark and measured the distance with the compass and came up with the above photo.


I worked at drawing the lines for quite a while until I achieved the above 5 pointed star.  See the little eraser sitting just below the compass – one of my hard and fast quilterly rules: Erasers, like seam rippers, are a quilters best friend.  I used the eraser quite a lot through the process of figuring this out.  Yes, I could have done this in EQ6, however I need to figure out how to draft this on fabric later on so working the star shape out on paper was essential for me.  I’m sure my drafting teacher and my geometry teacher would be proud…and maybe one of my algebra teachers…

Next I started playing with more circles & arcs.  I think what will happen next is that where that ginko leaf shape is now will end up being 2 star point shapes and I’ll build out from there.  Playing with the compass, protractor and rulers is helpful in other quilterly ways too.   More often than not as a quilter I’d like to just go to the computer with whatever program I have and get the shape I need with the different tools that are available.  As quilters we DO have a good understanding of geometry whether or not we realize it and can work out some amazing math problems.  We think with numbers like 36 (yard) and 44 (width of the fabric); we can work out how many 5 1/2″ square we can get from a fat quarter with alarming speed (thanks to our 3rd grade teachers for helping us memorize our multiplication & division tables).

We can work out hexagons and octagons and equilateral triangles with relative ease.  Okay so no we can’t but we can figure out how much backing we need for a 80 x 100 quilt and why we need that much.

No this isn’t a math/drafting class for quilters though I’d be happy to step out how I got here and how I get to a finished quilt.

Happy quilting!


New sketching

The Sketchbook Project allowed me to begin to enter into a new phase of something.  Doodling is one way of improving machine quilting technique as I mention in my article in the Feb/Mar issue of Quilting Arts.  I started doodling a long time ago in a quilterly way, however it wasn’t until I really began focusing the doodling on machine quilting technique did I begin to see how essential the doodling is to the machine quilting process.

As part of the Sketchbook Project I picked up some of the new Sharpie pens.  I’m really hoping that they increase the color range because these are so much fun to play with.

Recently I picked up some color pencils – in part to finish the project, in part just to play and see what happens when I combine the two with the compass & protractor I purchased last summer.  When I originally bought the compass & protractor set I had in mind that the next in the “Twilight in the Bronx” series would be a 5 pointed star rather than an 8 pointed star.  This will still happen I just need a bit more time to think through the quilt design and how I’m going to draft the center of the star to work out how I see it in my head.

The first sketch is a freehand go with the flow piece.  I wasn’t quite sure where this was going and I like where it went. I’m not sure where it started – I can tell you that it ended with the black in the center.  Part of the experiment is shading with the pencils.  That was fun trying to control the intensity of the color and the color changes through out the piece.

The next sketch is a snowman sitting at a piano.  This was given to my husband & me years ago by our neighbors and freaks out our cats when the snowman starts playing and singing.  They stop mid walk, look at the snowman with those wide panicked eyes and then bolt out of the room.  I must learn to keep this in mind whey they’re being particularly naughty or fighting.

With this sketch I just went for it  to get the general feel for the snowman sitting at the piano…I’m quite pleased!  I wasn’t aiming for perfection or straight lines and voila!

Next I started just playing with the color pencils.  This sketch started with the red/pin curve just off center.  I like the color play.

The 4th sketch started with an idea thats been rattling round my head for weeks.  I’m noticing it’s not actually finished.  It’s a work in progress.  I liked the idea of adding a curved line around the highest adjoining parallelograms of  an 8 pointed star and wanted some idea of what it would look like. Playing is very relaxing.  I used the compass and a drafting ruler for this piece. I like it overall and hope to someday see what this looks liken in cloth.

I have a few more sketches that I’ll share another day.

Happy Quilting!



PS – if you’re not aware our friend Melanie Testa has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.  The link to the blog where Leslie Jenison shares this news for Melly is HERE.

Feelin’ Goofy

Before getting started on today’s post I’m sharing this link to Ricky Tims Jingle Bells Vid.  Hil-ari-ous!

In a quilterly moment of clarity whilst trying to stitch out one of Linda M. Poole’s color fixes one day I realized that the quilting does not have to look exactly like the picture I’m stitching out.  My pieces can be inspired by, however making exact replicas would be:

a) be rather difficult as the color fixes that inspire me are complex color schemes and motions that flow from one color to the next with some amazing fluidity

b) nerve wracking!

There are enough other things in life that are nerve wracking …why add more?

I’m always telling my students to doodle, it’s the best way to play with quilting design without using fabric & batting.

I’m also working on the sketchbook project and the whole idea, for me at least, is to branch out a bit, expanding

what I can do as a quilter.

The other day I posted this – I sketched this face out the other day and seriously it still tickles me silly when I look at it.

From that face came these three others.

I have no idea where these came from or where they’re taking me in this crazy journey of quilting.  They fit though.



They’ve been fun to play with.  Each one only takes a couple of minutes and on to the next one.


I read Lisa Fulmers’ blogs when ever she posts…some of the inspiration came from her blog on snoring.  Check THIS out!

Happy Quilting!




sketchbook project update

At the quilt show I took a photo of a woman’s .   For some reason it looks so blurry right now.  The other day I had a chance in between classes to play with sketching a possible design inspired by the broach.  When I first saw the broach I was thinking that Superiors Silver Metalic might be the way to go – and it still may be – though while I was playing in the sketchbook the idea of color is rather intriguing.  Using a variety of Superior Metallic might be the way to go.  I just visited their website and look…

They have violet and quite loads more Metallic colors!  INSPIRATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then there’s this idea.  I picked up a compass & protractor set a few months ago to play with and do some quilt design.  I would like to draw this out on fabric and see what comes next.  For the quilt design I like the idea of the curved lines extending beyond the perimeter of the circle.  I’m thinking this will be a 12 to 15″ quilt with swirling feathers & pebbles, lots of pebbles!


I taught the other day – one of the students has a shirt with a similar flower in fabric, stitched down that she purchased somewhere.  We talked about how she could make a similar shirt herself  and incorporate some stitching design in it.  So while we were talking I drew this out for her to see how she might be able to work this out on her own.  It would be fun to see her make a few shirts with raw edge appliqué like this or in a design that is completely her own.


I’m going to play with this idea a little bit more before calling it a day.  The circles were all drawn with a cd that I had in my tote bag.  This allowed me an opportunity to share with the student some of what I offer in the Advanced machine quilting class I’ll be offering after the new year.


Happy Quilting & Happy Thanksgiving!