After 20 years she finally has a name

Twenty years is a long time to be nameless.

Quilting old school

A post shared by Teri Lucas (@terilucas) on


I brought this gal in December 1995, she’s 20. Yep. She’s 20. We’ve done a lot of good work together. This is the gal that I learned so much about quilting on. If she could talk…I’m sure she’d have stories. She’s heard more than one most unpleasant word. I’ve walked out of the room on her when I was so frustrated I couldn’t speak.
All along she’s never had a name. Nothing ever seemed just right. I took her out this afternoon to give her a bit of a spin. I gave her a drop of oil, and listened to the hum of the machine that I fell in love with.
And then tonight, after listening to her for the afternoon I knew. Her name is Therese (with the appropriate accent marks). Whew. Finally. I have no idea what took so long.

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Do you have a bucket list?
I don’t have an “I need to do this before I kick the bucket” list.
It’s more of an “I’d love to teach here list because it’s wicked cool” list.

Asilomar – yep, it’s on my list. It’s on my list as both a teacher and a student.
Paducah – this would be a career highlight.
Ladyfingers Sewing – Oley PA – this one is pretty simple, just need to set a date with the owner.
Arizona – I just really loved this state and would love to go back. Then I can try and spend a day or so with Sarah Vedeler.
Colorado – yes, I’d love to teach in Colorado. I have vague memories of being in Denver when I was about 6. Jeannie Sumrall-Ajero lives there…spending a day or two with her creative self would be on the bucket list as well.
New Mexico – I love New Mexico. Oh my goodness I love NM. I’d love to spend a week, or more, there taking photos.

This is the short list…there are other places I’d love to teach and visit. All in good time…there is work to do before I go.

Happy Quilting!

10 things I love about quilting

IMG_20140713_205900the people

they are way cool

and this person Gayle Schliemann always makes me smile

She has a cool bit on We All Sew this week

radiance and aurifil


I just love Radiance. I love the blend of cotton and silk working together to bring best of each to the quilting party.


Notions – notions make everything better

sewing machines – yes my B 780 and BERNINA 1080’s rock it!

patterns – they are the stuff of life – whether it’s a tutorial, commercial pattern or whatever resides in your head

the variety – this just makes me happy seeing all of the variety out there

GenerationQ Logo



magazines for any and every quilter – there’s something that fits ever quilter

and yes this is a shameless plug for the one I work on but I love it

I’ve found home

quilt guilds – these are places of people, and I love quilterly people and all they bring to the quilt party


quilt shops – what would we do without them, they are sources of information, community, fabric, patterns and quilt shop employees who are willing to share their knowledge

quilt shows – sources of inspiration and great variety. And there are vendors and classes and batting and . . .


Here’s my top 10 for today!


Happy Quilting,



Peek a boo

why be normalI picked up this little poster probably 25 years ago when I lived in Americus, GA working at Habitat for Humanity through the church I belonged to at the time.  I put a push pin through the plastic to pin it to the door.  It was my motto for the year. 

I’ve been tidying up and rearranging my sewing room on and off for the last week or so.  I’ve been holding onto scraps of fabric I’ve quilted with the thought that I’d make more tote bags with them.  Nope.  It ain’t gonna happen.  Out that all went.  What I found really fascinating, encouraging really, the machine quilting has really improved in the last 6 years since starting machine quilting.  My method of practicing has changed incorporating fewer prints and more solids and tone on tones.  What I teach hasn’t.  Stitching on border prints, over and through highly details prints (kaleidoscopes), dots, prints to commit the idea of line and shape and understand stitching patch is essential to good machine quilting.



Or how to make sure the tension is balanced

Yesterday afternoon I started working on my practice piece for an upcoming competition quilt.  The piece told me what I needed to know.  Several photos went off to the piecer of  said quilt and I’m waiting for her feedback.  Since I knew I’d be waiting for a bit I picked up and started stitching on this beauty.  The top is a medium gray from Cherrywood fabrics.  I’ve already stitched out spiraled flying geese and started filling in several areas with quilting.  There are two things here that I want to share with you:

1) I’m using different threads on the top and in the bobbin.  I found this quite helpful when I first started learning how to machine quilt to help me get the tension balanced and really develop an understanding of when to tighten and when to loosen the top tension.

pebbling flying geese gray

pebbling flying geese gray backsideand 2) I play peek a boo.  As I’m stitching I’ll occasionally stop to look at the back of the quilt making sure that I’m not seeing the top thread on the back. 

I play peek a boo even when I’m using the same thread top and bobbin because the tension can still be off meaning that some adjustment is necessary.  Because I prefer balanced tension in all of my quilts I frequently use different thread top and bobbin even on competition quilts.  I get dinged for this frequently in the judges comments however I’d rather know personally that I did a good job balancing my tension rather than hiding a problem.  No I’m not going after the judges or the critiquing process this is simply a statement of personal preference.

I’m off to a quilt show with a friend.


Go quilt your world!





Bang Head Here

Since the judging is over and the winners have been notified I now feel free to share Bang Head Here

dance bang head 1975

While I was in the middle of “@play” and “dance” I was very frustrated with the process of making both of those quilts.  “@play” became the unruly teenager for a while and “dance” has been temporarily put on hold.

dance bang head 1948I’d tried playing with another style for “dance”  and it was working except I didn’t have the patience to deal with the fabric bunching up on me.  My personal irritation level with quilting was at an all time high.

Don’t get me wrong I love to quilt.

I love quilting.kaleidoscope bang 1

I needed to do something fun and whimsical and Bang Head Here was born.

Sometimes poking fun at frustration make the situation easier.  And anything that makes quilting easier is great in my book.  It’s kinda like learning how to adjust the bobbin tension on your home sewing machine…we’re all told not to, however this is one fun way to break the quilting rules.

The majority of the quilt top is a beautiful rayon batik I purchased from Sew Batik.  The red is a silk  that I fused to the inside of a random hole I cut out of the rayon.  Thread is mostly Magnifico.

The Kaleidoscope at the right is from Bang Head Here.

Note: in late April/early May I’ll be able to share @play with you.  I just need to wait for the magazine to come out.  I’ve seen the cover floating around on facebook.  It’s beautiful and features Susan Brubaker Knapps’ work.

More blogging later in the week!

Happy quilting!


If you happen to be in Lancaster this week

tilde-competition-overall-3.jpegAnd you see this quilt hanging will you be nearly as excited as me?  Probably not.  The only thing better would be to have Keith there.  My friends and I are driving in Friday and staying until after the show on Saturday so I can bring the quilt home.  I know I’m going to need to purchase a bit of thread but beyond that I want to see the quilts and catch up with friends.

78 002The catching up with friends is important especially since they’re really great people.  Planning the trip is so much fun and I’m really getting anxious for Friday morning.

The above link is to the list of winners for the blog give away.  Just so you know I’ll be doing a give away in April on my facebook page only.  I’ll be giving away a copy or two of the CD Gallimaufry that “Twilight in the Bronx” is the cover art.

The sneak peak to the right is more beautiful Magnifico by Superior Threads, it’s an auburn color on dupioni silk.  I am loving Magnifico and Twist and can not wait to get my hands on more of them.

In April I’m teaching with MQX at the New England Quilt Festival.  I’m honored to be on the faculty and would love to have you in class.  On Saturday you get to bring your machine which means you get to work on a machine you’re familiar with.  I’m comfortable enough with problem solving issues that we can do this together.  I’m looking forward to seeing you!

Happy Quilting!


kal iris 2Gratuitous Kaleidoscope image

Slower is actually faster

sewing and day out 025Last night emailing a friend she’d had the “aha!” moment that when she slows down the piecing and quilting actually flow better.  It’s not an easy thing to do.  In fact slowing down and being mindful of the process is quite challenging.  (What she didn’t know as we chatted is that the essence of the conversation would become a blog topic.)

When most of us start learning how to machine quilt there is a thought in our brain that going pedal to the metal is the way to go.  There are quite a few problems that happen going pedal to the metal

1) teeny tiny stitches, stitches so tiny that the seam ripper can’t get under them.  Teeny tiny stitches are a pain in the posterior to take out.  And no matter how good you are the stitches sometimes have to come out.

2) it’s harder to control where the stitching goes.  Imagine trying to stitch in the ditch going full tilt, working on coordinating your hands at the speed the machine is going, staying in the ditch and trying to keep the stitch length consistent.  In my minds eye I can see the pig tails (technical term for a string of stitches) building on the back of the quilt.

3) eyelashing on the back of the quilt.  This is where the stitches on top look great and the stitches on the back look like eyelashes.  This usually happens when going around a curve.  While it looks pretty one good tug on the top thread and all of that stitching will come right out.

4) toe nail catchers aka stitches that are too long.  While teeny tiny stitches are more common toe nail catchers happen as well.  These stitches come out easily and will catch your toe nails in bed.  I do have a quilt where the stitches are too long and they’re starting to come apart.  It doesn’t make me happy but I’m not in a hurry to fix it because it’s something I can show my students what not to do.

Stitching at a medium speed allows the quilter to control the stitch length, where the stitches are landing (i.e. in the ditch or where you want them), the stitch quality will be good and it’s less likely that unquilting will happen.

Tilde tilde border close up

Slowing down often offers us the opportunity to see when things are working great or aren’t working well.  Perhaps its the wrong color, the wrong thread pairing, not a good fill for that particular area of the quilt.  When I quilted Tilde I unquilted 240″ section (60″ on each side) of metallic thread because of a poor thread pairing that I knew wasn’t going to work but went with it anyway.  I had metallic in the top and cotton in the bobbin.  It never works and I know it. My intention on this quilt was to use a turquoise on the back of the quilt essentially creating a whole cloth version of whatever I did on the front.  Cotton is very fibery and therefore grabby.  When the stitches form the cotton tends to pull toward the back.  The thread pairing did what I knew it would do, the metallic was pulled to the back.  I took out my favorite seam ripper and spent 2 days unquilting what took me hours to quilt.

It always takes longer to unquilt.  Always.  That said it’s often worth the unquilting process.

Back in 2008 I wrote about the time I learned how to bake bread.  I can remember the warmth of the day.  Carrying around the bread in the sunshine walking around with my friends.  I can still see the loaf coming out of the oven at the end of the day.  I think it’s one of my favorite childhood memories.

What does this have to do with quilting?  It’s a process.  There are steps taken to ensure a good end result.  In bread baking there is a clear a – z process to ensure a good tasting product at the end.  There is the science of baking and then there is the art of baking – making changes to create different flavors or styles.  Understanding the science of baking allows the baker to engage in the art of baking.   If you’ve ever made a loaf of bread by hand you know that certain parts of the process can not be rushed.  The yeast needs time to multiply and there is no getting around that.

So where does that leave us?  Slow down, it’s actually faster.  Use the a – z of quilting to problem solve when the quilting isn’t happening as you imagined.


I’m teaching April 12th & 13th at New England Quilt Festival.

Friday I’m teaching Beginner Free Motion Machine Quilting and Saturday will be From Inspiration to Quilt, Exploring Whole Cloth with a Twist.  On Saturday you get to bring your machine so you quilt on a machine that you’re familiar with.

There’s still time to comment for the Blog Give Away.


Happy Quilting!


Courthouse Quilters visit

Two delightful days of teaching Beginner Free Motion Machine Quilting with the Courthouse Quilters.  Oh man is this an amazing group of Quilters!  This group is close enough that I brought all my stuff including my machine and a good deal of my thread and some of the Houston swag including the Karen Kay Buckley Scissors which were used to cut batting.

Over the course of the 2 days there were 30 students.  Everyone got to feathers and a few students went well beyond feathers.  Oh I had so much fun.

Check out this smilebox that Carol Esch made.  I love the photos she took though I am surprised she didn’t get one of my feet because the shoes came off and I walked around in my teaching socks, highlighter yellow one day and hot pink and black the next.

I took the opportunity with the Bernina 440 owners to work with them using their BSR’s (Bernina Stitch Regulator’s).  By making simple adjustments these quilters were happily stitching along.

And then there was this quilter.  And a very focused student at that.  Mark worked all day.

I expect that Mark will be quilting his own quilts soon.  At one point he went out to his car for his ear buds cranked up the tunes and just quilted.

It’s a beautiful thing!


Kathie stitched this tea cup.  She’s been quilting a bit.  There’s a neat photo of the two of us in Carol’s smilebox.  Kathie is 5′ 8″ and I’m 5′  yep there’s a height difference for you.

And of course there was a little shopping – Carol and I went to Two Buttons next door to a delightful restaurant called lovin oven in Frenchtown.  Two Buttons is Elizabeth Gilbert’s shop.  And I’d left my camera in the car 😦 but its a feast for the quilters eye.

I picked up this ring for my thumb.  And no my thumb doesn’t hurt it just does this.  Until my early teens I thought all thumbs did this.  One of my nieces get’s upset cause she thinks her thumb should bend like this and it doesn’t.  Poor kid!


Happy Quilting!