Whole Cloth Challenge Update & a wee bit more

CAM01733I know I say this a lot, but, I love to quilt.

I am loving this whole cloth challenge.
I am loving the process of creating.

I like that after several hours of quilting the piece looks very, very different.

I like that silk thread allows me to add teeny tiny stitching and detail work.

I love that with each stitch the piece takes on a whole new look. It’s exciting to watch what happens.

CAM01738 (2)

I like how adding a bit of King Tut – a 40 weight 3 ply, variegated cotton thread in orange/yellow & purple added a sense of light and helped create movement in the quilt.

When I got to this point last night I thought maybe I’d finish the background in a similar color to the Radiance, but as I look at it now, I think not. There is more to add to this quilt top.

CAM01729Paula Nadelstern‘s visit was quite delightful. The quilts were hung in a way that she was able to take the attendees on a tour, talking about each quilt and her process. One thing that I love that she says when anyone asks her how long it took to make her quilts, “as long as I’ve been quilting”. It’s experience. The experience of this quilt leads to the next and the next and the next. We learn as we go along.

If you get the chance to see any of the trunk shows that Benartex puts together with Paula please go see it. These trunk shows are amazing!


I was invited to dinner that same evening with this delightful quilter, Luke Haynes. I must admit to getting all giddy when helping to show one of his quilts – with Joe Cunningham. Oh my goodness. Two quilters that I admire. A lot.

Well I’m off to do a little more blogging and quilting before heading out to work.

Have a fab quilterly day!


Top Ten for Monday

radiance options fixHey there! It’s Monday. I’m going to my sewing room shortly (after my sweetie makes a delicious french bread, french toast breakfast).

I thought I’d do another top ten and today it’ll be fabric!

Fossil Ferns – I will always love Fossil Ferns by Patricia Campbell with Benartex this was the second mottled/textured line I fell in love with.

Marbles by Patrick Lose – another mottled line that has been with a couple of companies.

Kona Solids – I love the let me count the ways!!!

American Made Brand Solids – LOVE LOVE LOVE

Any of Paula Nadelsterns kaleidoscope fabric lines including Palindromes these are great from a teaching you to learn to free motion quilt

curved feather on black silkJinny Beyer fabric lines! again from a teaching quilting stand point these are fabulous and the variety of quilt blocks that comes from these prints is amazing

Stonehenge by Northcott – How I love thee let me count the ways. Every time I see the great variety of color and that stony texture I am happy! Cue music!

Toscana by Northcott another softly textured solid. Did I mention it’s softly textured? Oh my

Suede by P & B, oh me oh my.

I guess I have this thing for softly textured solid type fabrics.  I can’t leave out

Radiance by Robert Kaufman. Immediate Drool Response. I love the shiny and supple texture of this cotton silk blend. Then there’s the matte side with a depth of color that makes my heart go pitter pat!

Happy Monday y’all!


Don’t forget I’m teaching at the City Quilter Saturday September 13th – Let  Your Foot Loose be Fancy & Free.  It’s one of my favorite classes to teach. Oh heck they’re all my favorite classes to teach. Students are fun and amazing.

Mail Art & a quilt shop

Mail Art

The Introduction to Art on Coursera is fun so far.  Mail art speaks to this quilters heart, we’ve been sending postcards and making artist trading cards for ages.

mail art backI’m titling the mail art “Treasured Memories”

Part of the fun of any project is figuring out what will work and working with what I have on hand.  After reading the guidelines I decided to make a party invitation.  I like all the background work of the party, making the invitation, planning the food and decorations, giving thought to what the party is about.  Then I’m done.  Y’all can party, let me start cleaning up. Okay it’s not quite like that I do enjoy my friends.

side note: I’m going to need more lutradur, just sayin’.

mail art full viewTo give the envelope some body without using quilt batting I fused fabric to lutradur with Mistyfuse.  Around the edge of the card and the envelope I used Wonderfil 50 wt cotton thread to do a zigzag stitch all the way around.  (Love the BERNINA 780 for this!)  Keeping with the “what I have on hand” theme I used bits and pieces to decorate the back of the envelope, evoking memories of letter writing marathons I’d have with a few friends in my early teens.  This was our only way to chat with each other as we lived in different states.

When we first started letter writing I was a novice.  It took a little while to get the hang of answering, writing back took more than a simple, “yes” or “no” to her questions.  I can imagine the perplexed look as she read my pithy missives.

Once the pieces were stitched together I used a gel pen to address the envelope and make the “place stamp here” in the upper right hand corner.

If you were to take the invitation out of the envelope this is what you’d see.  The inside is more of the Paula Nadelstern Fabrique-Istan collection that I used in “Name” and “Woman”.

mail art lets have a partyI need to get a slightly better shot of the invitation as it is right now.  The yellow from the inside showing at the bottom is intentional, in the right light the words “Let’s have a party”.  On the inside of the invitation I broke out the Derwent Inktense pencils and played just as I did when I would write letters.  Just a little something to make the paper interesting.lets have a party inside

I think one day I’d like to have this party. Make all of the invitations.
Each unique and fitting the person being invited to the celebration.



Mariner’s Compass Quilt Shop

mariners compass 006Tilde and Feather Zone are headed for Ohio for the National Quilt Associations Quilt show.  I forgot that Feather Zone needs a regular sleeve again as it had been mounted on fabric for hanging at Quilt Festival in Houston. So this morning I took a quick trip to Mariner’s Compass in Bath.  This shop is 3 blocks from Halcyon Yarn.  I was |   | close and didn’t get there before today.


When I walked in both Amanda Campbell and Deb Boucher (Tea Rose Quilting).  It’s a delightful shop that just became a Brother dealership!  Congratulations!!!  I now have a BadAss Quitlers Society Pin thanks Deb.  We wore them to pose for a photo that one of the customers took for us.

mariners compass 004I picked up the purple for the sleeve, stork scissors, a Nancy Drew book panel and a spool of Wonderfil, another good thread to use quilters!

Happy Quilting!


I figure I’m about 1/2 way there


it takes 50 hours to become comfortable with machine quilting

it takes 500 hours to become proficient in machine quilting

it takes 10,000 hours to become a master machine quilter

While the principle comes from a work of fiction (Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell) the essence of the truth remains the more one practices machine quilting well, the more a quilting will improve.  When I teach I break this down into 50 = one work week; 500 hours = ten work weeks and 10,000 hours =well right now we won’t go there.  I’ve noticed that quilters (frequently including myself) seem daunted by the time it takes to build good skill and master the technique.  While I think this is more complicated than I have the wherewithal to cover in this blog I’m going to attempt to share some of my experience on my way to one day mastering machine quilting.

Saying:  How do you get to Paducah/Houston? Practice, Practice, Practice.

Benartex, Paula Nadelstern, Patternista

Practice is essential and there is no way to get around this.  Each quilt we make takes us through a learning process that allows us to learn along the way.  I’m going to focus on machine quilting as this is the skill I’m working on mastering.  Notice my language: working on mastering.  I haven’t mastered machine quilting though I’d say I’m rather adept at it.  The current quilt I’m working on has made it clear I’m not in charge, not just yet.

Challenge#1 – the need for a basic understanding of the mechanics of machine quilting.  I started learning at home without the benefit of a class.  While this isn’t necessarily a problem having an understanding of the mechanics would have helped the process along as I would have had the foundation in place to correct problems as the happened.  Having some experience while taking the beginner class helped an awful lot as I wasn’t particularly concerned about making mistakes in class.

Challenge #2 – a fear of making mistakes.  I did and still do have a fear of making mistakes.  Oh sure, I’ve embraced my seam ripper and sing it’s praises well.  One might say I like my seam ripper a little too much.  Well maybe not.  So what I’ve learned is that mistakes happen.  Sometimes we can work around them and sometimes not.  When I can’t work around them I can either put the project away til later or take out the seam ripper.

There came a moment where I chose to build enough skill to compete.  While choosing to compete is my choice and focused my effort on mastering machine quilting as quilters we can work on improving our skill.  The first step in this is to stop comparing our quilting to other peoples quilting.  Developing an appreciation for their work will help change our focus to something good.  By changing how we look at other quilters work we won’t be quite so daunted by he learning process.

zen tangle

Challenge #3 – figuring out how to build skill and by that I mean practice.  This actually took a while and some commitment on my part.

I have several ways I practice including practicing motifs with paper and pen with both dominant and non-dominant hand. Paper and pen is effective as it creates muscle memory and aids in figuring out a path of stitching that works for me as a quilter.  This stitching path may be different for you.  As a little aid I mocked up a paper version of two different types of feathers which can be viewed on the December Free-motion Quilting Challenge Bonus Tutorial.

Then there are border & kaleidoscope prints that offer great stitching paths.  Stitching the lines on these gives me time at the machine and lines to follow.  These can then be used to make totes, table toppers and wall hangings.

Jeanie Summrall-Ajero’s Kaleidoscope Kreator has so many options for creating stitching paths that a quilter can grow by leaps and bounds.

One block wonder quilts are an endless source of stitching path and offer enough ditch path that allows for ease of movement from block to block.

Get some solid colors, make 8″ quilt sandwiches and stitch for 20 minutes a day as warm up exercises.  Use stencils and grid lines at first then just go for it.

Bottom Line: there is no improvement without practice.

Remember we work 6″ from our quilting so we see everything and I do mean everything!

Practice effectively.

Seek advice when needed.

Be confident and don’t make excuses for your work.

Take photos and look for perspective – it really helps!

Just the other day I emailed a friend of mine for advice and not only heard what I needed to hear but got encouragement to keep going, that and a deadline will do it for me.  I still have a lot of hours to put in towards mastery but it sure is fun!

Have fun!

Happy Quilting!


Sonora Clever

Didja ever have a moment where you wonder, “why didn’t I think of that?”  Well I had one of those moments at 4:00 this morning when Ellen Highsmith Silver author of the book Floorquilts and friend from the quilt cottage.  Ellen is one of the most creative and clever people I know.  I don’t think her clever brain shuts down!

So when Ellen sent me this Handbag Panel link I can only say that I thought, “why didn’t I think of that?”  She designed this from the Sonora line by Benartex.

This hand bag has a certain Jinny Beyer and Paula Nadelstern type of quality it looks harder than it is and this is super easy as the clever Ellen has done all of the work for us and I do mean all of the work.  The complicated look of these bags is made even easier because this is a panel.   The complicated looking designs aren’t a whole bunch of pieces cut and stitched – it’s a panel.

A panel you say.

Yep, it’s a panel.

Cut, stitch and start using today.

With the 3 different styles that will suit our purse needs!  Ellen would love to see you sporting one of these.


Happy Quilting!





Cozy Quilt Shoppe

Saturday my Sweetie & I went to visit family in NJ.  Whilst in NJ there are a couple of requisite stops:

1) Vitamia in Lodi for sausage bread.  We’ve had sausage bread from other Italian bakeries/pasta makers and it’s just not the same.  It’s like Italians, sandwiches from my home town in ME, there are other hoagies, heros, grinders etc from different place, but there’s nothing like Italians from Sams in Lewiston.

2) filling up on fuel.  NJ has the lowest gas prices in the area so we fill up right before coming home.  With a 40 – 50 cent difference it’d be silly not to get fuel before coming home.

3) a quilt shop if we see one.

I’ve known about the Cozy Quilt Shoppe since working on publicity for a quilt show.  Google maps is great for finding so many things.  Timing was never quite right then they were in the process of moving to their current location in Maywood NJ.  As we were on our way to our family we stopped in Maywood looking for a fruit stand.  As my sweetie is driving down the main street we both noticed the shop.  First stop the market just adjacent to the shop, we picked up a couple of apples then I went to the shop.

The owner, Denise, could not have been any more welcoming!  She opens her shop for customers to come in with their projects to be there for the day.  For a small fee she provides a little snack, the iron, spray starch and access to the Accuquilt.  And you’re in a quilt shop so if you need fabric. . .

I chatted with some of the quilters in the classroom.  There is a definite camaraderie and they are most welcoming.  One of the gals pointing out sale fabrics on the shelves.  I did some of my shopping there, including the back for Staten Island Sunset.

No this isn’t it. 🙂

I enjoyed this fabric from Lakehouse Dry Goods when it came out years ago and thought my nieces might enjoy it.  It’s bright and fun.  I love the warm & cool color play.  Hmmmn.  It may just stay in my stash.  There were several other Lakehouse fabrics on the shelf and I picked up one of their stripes with the gold circles.

Then I happened upon the hot pink and the orange batiks.  The orange one just made me so happy!  I love the shapes and the positive/negative of it all.  I asked for a yard of each of these, then Denise mentioned that the orange is on the sale rack.  I checked with her as I’d picked it up from the shelves in the main room of the quilt shop.  It was indeed on the sale rack so I got the rest of it, another 4 yards!  This is going to be the back of Staten Island Sunset.  I’m getting more and more excited about working on this quilt.

Like all my quilts there’s a certain amount of serendipity that happens and I’m loving how this happened.

So if you’re in Bergen County NJ the Cozy Quilt Shoppe is a great stop!  For my NY friends this shop is easy peasy to get to!

Happy Quilting!


Quilting is a Beautiful & Complicated Art

While I’ve had the title of today’s blog listed as a lecture for a while – the thought has always been that it’s a trunk show however after my first (impromtpu) trunk show I’m am now understanding that the trunk show needs a new title and “Quilting is a Beautiful & Complicated Art” is a lecture in and of itself.  I’m not going to put the whole “talk” here on my blog however I am going to begin this conversation.  Part of this post comes from a thread on a discussion board & an email from a friend.  I hesitated answering at first because I needed a moment to think through the response in a way that would help define the talk and would make sense to my friend.
(c) Elizabeth Rosenberg
In and of itself art is as defined by my good friends Merriam- Webster, as a “skill acquired by experience, study or observation.”  Further, “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.”  M-W then goes on to give synonyms such as skill & craft to further define “Art”.  Wikipedia has a whole series of information on art!  Oh my goodness I could easily get overwhelmed by it all if I wasn’t totally happy with Merriam-Webster!
Let me start by saying that all styles of quilting can be an art form from traditional work to the avant-garde.  Whether we’re traditional quilters in the same line as Jinny Beyer & Alex Anderson honing our piecing and quilting skills or rather defined “art” quilters in the line of Hollis Chatelain, Laura Wasilowski.  Please know that with both lists I could go on and on…I want to keep this brief.
When I give thought to all that goes into quilting from choosing fabrics, designs, cutting, piecing, determining batting, & thread design  I’d say most quilters by the very definition are artists.  As we work towards honing our skills we develop a style that suits our nature, that gives us life, that brings us joy.  As I work toward developing my skill as a quilter I can and will share with you some moments where I felt like banging my head on that wall right over there because I was so bleeping frustrated with some part of the process.  Walking away from the quilting room for sometimes a couple of days while I think things through is sometimes the way to go.  “When Alex & Jinny met in NY, Beauty Happened” is a clear testament to working through a frustrating process to achieve the goals of making a NY Beauty & learning paper piecing.
Think about the choices we face in each one of the following components:

Chloe Blue/Ocean

fabric – color, texture, developing an understanding of what works & why; developing an understanding of what style of fabric appeals to us, we don’t need to know why it does just that it appeals

designs – whether changing up someone else’s pattern or designing a simple, effective 9 patch there is a geometric understanding of how things work.  The more complicated the design, the more the fabric choices need to work together.  Quilters often have an intuitive understanding of math, specifically algebra & geometry although a lot of them would say they struggled with math in school.  We problem solve, figure out how much yardage we need (algebra) & the geometry is a little more obvious.
cutting – accuracy is essential – the better the cutting the better the quilt, unless of course you’re working on an “art” piece where free form cutting, ripping, snipping, fusing are embrace for the texture and style necessary for the piece
piecing – piecing well taking time & care gives insight into how much skill a quilter has, it’s why we admire the Amish so much, their skill level is often off the chart.  Yes the patterns are not complicated however they are accurate.  Then there’s all the different kinds of piecing with pins, without pins, foundation piecing – including paper or fabric, appliqué (raw edge, fusible, needle turn, etc)
batting – has an effect on the look of the entire quilt when we’re finished, we have to give consideration to loft and how we want that loft to effect the look of the quilting when we’re finished
thread design – thread weight, color and type all have an effect on the look of the quilt.  We can hide or highlight piecing issues here.
I’ve also been thinking about what kind of quilter I am and I’m going to start a new movement and define myself as a quilter – I’m not traditional, though my work has tendencies in that direction; I’m not contemporary (though by current quilting definitions that certainly seems to be my niche) I’m not an “art” quilter as currently defined.  I’m also not particularly bothered by the sometimes encountered perception that quilts are “just blankets” because for a long time that’s what they were, no matter how ornately made.
I am an artist as consistently defined by Merriam-Webster.  I spend a lot of time & energy honing a craft that I love, that is my passion and in that I have a lot to offer as an artist and as a teacher.  The talk itself goes into more detail with each topic.
Happy Quilting!