Embracing Quirkiness & Connections Quilt Festival

and a Reality Check

Live your brightest life 1One of the reminders from my time at the Dutchess Heritage Quilt Show is that I’m quirky. Shocking! I love being quirky.

Embrace quirk, let go of seriousness. Seriously.

So, this weekend during the lecture “Surprise I’m a Free Motion Quilter” the end of the lecture came, as I made decisions about quilts to share I picked up Shine Your Light, my tribute Quilt to Yvonne Porcella as the last quilt. I started talking about Yvonne, SAQA, the inspiration for the quilt, and how Donna ice dyed the fabric that year that Eastern MA got over 100” of snow. There came a moment when I got choked up, heart in throat, tears welling in my eyes. I didn’t realize how much this quilt means to me.

color fix 3

In just a few short weeks from now the Connections Quilt Festival will take place in Nashua, NH November 9 – 11. The Generation Q Magazine Quilt as Desired Exhibit will be there on display with all of the information on each one of the quilts.

I get to teach three different classes:

Thursday – Beginner Free Motion Quilting/Permission to Free Motion Quilt.

Friday – Let Your Foot Loose be Fancy & Free/Intermediate/Advanced Machine Quilting

Saturday – Go Mini or Go Home – Lone Star

this outta be so much fun, and I’m can hardly wait to see you there.

I’ll be participating in a facebook live on the Connections Quilt Festival fb page at 10:00 Eastern this morning. Come join us! Here’s a link to the video 

Happy Quilting


Connections Quilt Festival

Remember a few weeks ago that I mentioned I had some news. I’m teaching at Connections Quilt Festival November 9, 10, and 11. And! Bonus! The Generation Q Magazine Quilt as Desired Exhibit will be there!


Melinda Bula, Judy Damon, Lynn Wheatley, Tracy Zimmerman Szanto, Margaret Mew, Lynn Thibault and Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill are all headlining this event. Check out each teacher and sign up for classes as soon as humanly possible.


When you have a chance, go take a look at the image in this article. It’s an optical illusion and is so freaking cool.

Visit the Birmingham UK Festival of Quilts through Luana Rubin‘s eyes. Magnificent!

I’m working on the next step in the Quilted Block of the Month. It’s going to be fun!

For my Lucy’s Nickles Quilters – thanks for  your patience. I’m working on several quilts on deadlines right now. Eke!

Happy Quilting,




Quilted Block of the Month August week 2

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
The congratulatory messages on my new position with Floriani are simply awe inspiring.

Now onto our regularly scheduled program:center square


Oh I do remember giving  you this update sometime during the week in Instagram. Debby was stitching this motif on a postcard, and I was inspired by it. I’m not entirely certain that Debby posted this anywhere publicly so just know that I have permission to copy her homework at any time. Cool, eh? With this project you have permission to copy my homework. If you’re playing along please feel free to send me pictures and I’ll share them here on the blog.
Remember I tend to show all the stuff that I’m not happy with because I’m still learning how to machine quilt. 2017-08-11 19.29.52

Bernina 24 foot on ruler



The free-hand embroidery foot is aboutt 1/4” from needle center to the outer edge of the foot. I chose a spot roughly in the center of the square to start stitching a circle. Once the circle closed I very slowly started curving out until the edge of the foot was on the center circle. I kept stitching around, and around, and around, and around, and around and around. Once I reached the edge the ditch helped me keep the curves consistent. Using 80 weight thread in the bobbin means that there is little thready build up, and the fabric doesn’t distort.


I’m going to show this one in a very quick vid.

This should give you an idea of how this motif is stitched out. This one looks like a wonky log cabin block, however it’s stitched from the outside in. On the quilt itself I simply winged it. In the video I used a ruler to make the lines. Going from the outside in is what helps create the visual twist.

in block stitching square 2
It’s interesting how thread looks on different color. 80 weight thread is the best!
in block stitching square 3
I like the different texture with the straight lines in the square and the ribbon candy in the border.
in block stitching square
This is the first square I stitched in. While I’ve done this before I wasn’t quite remembering the rhythm of the stitching. It came back after the first full round.

square ribbon candy

Stay tuned next week for the next installment of the Quilted Block of the Month.
Quilted Block of the Month August week one

Happy Quilting,







July Quilted Block of the month part 2

Last week we focused on the “bones” also known as stitching in the ditch. When you’re working on a quilt it’s not a “have to do” rather, it’s a good thing to do. When working on something like @play the bones get stitched as these would be the ditch in a pieced quilt top. Finer thread makes this stitching almost disappear into the batting, which is the goal.

NYB tension check

Our post ended with this delightful conundrum, makes you kind of tense doesn’t it. Changing thread weight and color means that the needle, and tension need some kind of adjustment. For the top Wonderfil FabuLux Hush a 40 wt. trilobal polyester (means shiny!) designed by Debby Brown, for the MicroQuilter by Superior, an 80 weight polyester. Finer threads in the bobbin take up less room in the stitch, allowing tighter, closer stitching without skewing the quilt.
Clearly the tension was off in the first few stitches. This is a simple adjustment of the tension.
– lift the presser foot lever
– increase the tension (move dial to a higher number)
– take a few stitches, stop and check
– if the tension is good, keep stitching
– if the tension isn’t good, tweak it

Using the Sewline Marking pencil I placed a dot, about an inch up from the arc, about in the middle. I stitched from the peak of the spikes to the dot, then from the dot to the next peak. Using the same thread, I arced back. Just a small curve from the top of the peak, to the same dot.

NYB corner making thread choices
What choice thread? Lime Green or Orange?

Next up the big expanse, other wise known as the corner. The options are limitless. A long time ago this would have completely freaked me out. Now either there’s something on my brain. Sometimes I wait. This is a time to doodle, write blog posts, articles, walk up and down the stairs for the heck of it. Then there’s the old phone a friend, and the send friend a picture of the quilt.

The thinking led me to straight lines. It’s a basic principle – opposites attract. Straight lines highlight, and help define curves; curves soften the feel of straight lines. General rule. Lots of straight lines can do something dynamic to a geometric, square, block style quilt. Straight lines chosen, because why not.


Purple and orange are my favorite colors so I chose the orange Magnifico, another 40 weight, trilobal polyester thread. Stitch, stitch, stitch. Using the edge of the #24 Free Motion Embroidery foot, which measures 1/4 inch from needle center to the outside edge of the foot.

NYB straight lines

I started in the ditch (seam allowance) Next week I’ll show you the finished straight line quilting, including a wee bit of unplanned stitching, and what happened in the corner.

A wee nip o’character

This one section of the Quilted Block of the Month that starts on Saturday.


I just want to point out that my lines aren’t perfect. Sometimes when quilting I get to thinking about things, or looking through the wrong part of my lenses. If, and only IF this were a competition quilt I’d rip that stuff out. It’s not a competition quilt, so it’s staying. There’s another little bit that happens later in the block that lends a little bit of “ooops what happened here” but ends up being something I like.

Saturday I’ll give all the information from fabric, thread, batting, and needles used, where I used them, and why I made those decisions.

How’s that for a tease?

PS After an email conversation with a friend last night I went over to the Road to California website. I don’t know when it got an makeover but Wow! I have a goal to get two quilts ready, and October 2nd seems almost reasonable for me. As long as life doesn’t throw me any more left-hooks!

Happy Quilting!


Language Barrier: A Serious Look

JOURNEY*Authors note: I started this blog post a couple of years ago and now have no clue why I started this post, though I have some suspicions. The longing to be a better teacher will remain constant, as well as the longing to learn more about quilt making in all it’s variations. This is NOT a serious Look, nor is it meant to be.

I long to be a better teacher. There are some very practical things I know I can do to achieve that goal, tweaking handouts, listening to my students, reading comments, and simply teaching. Part of this is understanding what I do better from the practical and technical, to the artistic, recognizing that I don’t know everything, that there is more than one way to piece, and quilt.
In this wondering how to be a better teacher an experience has come right to my doorstep that has really had me reeling, in a way that is similar to the experience of learning to machine quilt. This has brought back not only those experiences to the forefront of my brain, but going further back to school. There were times that I just could not wrap my head around a concept no matter how the teacher/instructor explained.
Perhaps the first 10 years as a quilter the progress was subtle, the learning curve not quite so steep, because the goal was to simply quilt. Watching Alex Anderson, attending guild meetings, participating in message boards, and reading blogs were the greatest source of education. Each quilt built upon the next with subtle changes along the way. I had time to learn the language of quilt making in a way that made sense to me, that engaged my brain, allowing me to process information about the hows, whys, and wherefores of the quilt making language, there was time to learn the colloquialisms and subtleties of the language that give greater understanding of the whole of quilt making. All of this puts me, currently, squarely in high school tutoring the younger kids.

It also puts me back in kindergarten learning how to color. sketch color freeOkay that’s not exactly right, not all the way back to kindergarten, but more like when I was first learning to machine quilt. Those moments when I really wanted everything to just go smoothly and come out right the first time, and it’s just not happening. There are things that need to be tweaked and changed and I need to know what they are in order for those changes to happen.
In a way it’s a simple thing however, having the right teacher use the right language makes a huge difference.
There are a few components that make it easier:
1) having the right teacher,
2) being willing to learn, and
3) a willingness to admit/accept that you’re not in the right student teacher relationship. I know I’m not the right fit as a teacher for everyone, however I submit that we can all learn from each other. I do have a lot to offer in part because I teach both the “rules” and “break the rules with reckless abandon”. I teach these types of classes because of my own experience as a quilter.

As a beginner quilt maker, I needed to learn the Language of Quilting,  which like English, which is an incredibly complicated language  with it’s nuances and colloquialisms, most are dependent upon the country, state, and region. There are a lot of commonalities that make communication possible. The opportunities for learning to communicate well are endless, as long as we’re willing to learn.
Once you “get” the Language of Quilting things become so much easier and complicated in the same moment. Easier in understanding the steps to take while making a quilt and knowing how to ask questions to get the answers needed to complete the quilt desired and find the region of quilt making that is “home” for us. Some quilters float easily between regions learning local dialects, giving them a broad range and understanding of The Language of Quilting.

The Language of Quilting is, like Latin, the foundation for language formation in the Western world.
Tradition! – Tradition! has a wide range and is, like Latin is the foundation for many Western language, the base language of The Language of Quilting. This is where most Quilters begin to learn the language and where a lot stay. Tradition! is the most easily understood, and like English the most complicated (though, enough) with phrases like “scant quarter inch seam”, “accurate quarter inch seam” and “personal seam allowance” all having similar meanings but clearly different pronunciations. A quilter does not need to have a full and complete understanding of Tradition! to learn any other dialects.

ArtSpeak – has a wide range of dialects that are interrelated and varied. This dialect has as its foundation Tradition! and a strong relationship with “Art Speak” in the every day Language. With colloquialisms such as “color wheel”, “found objects”, “what is a quarter inch seam”, “flowing line” and “this quilt is meant to hang on a wall” ArtSpeak has an eclectic air about it. ArtSpeak is an essential dialect as it keeps Tradition! on it’s toes, broadening it’s understanding and depth.

AuthorEase – This is the written language of Tradition! with nuanced Pattern Writer and Quilt Blogger dialects. AuthorEase becomes complicated in the substructure, rather than in what we hear and read in it. Pattern Writer and Quilt Blogger are essential components of this dialect as they add to the overall understanding of The Language of Quilting in general and AuthorEase specifically. Most quilters encounter AuthorEase through Pattern Writer and Quilt Blogger.

Teacher – This is the interstate dialect. Not everyone can speak Teacher as it incorporates all other dialects and is dependent upon the speaker pronouncing and the hearer listening closely. In reading Teacher it is a warm, welcoming dialect that sometimes sounds a lot like ArtSpeak and AuthorEase as Teacher makes full use of these dialects. Everyone can understand Teacher, though I’ve heard there are exceptions to this rule.

FreeMotionMachineQuilting – this is a dialect that many quilters want to speak and can. It is at once quite common and esoteric incorporating the base of Thread, Needle, Tension, and Other Factors*. Many quilters find this language frustrating to learn, however once the speed and rhythm slow down it’s quite easy to speak. There are two approaches to learning FreeMotionMachineQuilting – home sewing machine and long arm quilting machine. Some Teachers (and speakers/quilters) of the language know both as there are so many commonalities. FreeMotionMachineQuilting is highly expressive, vibrantly colored, and a joy to listen to.

Happy Quilting!




Here’s to new beginnings

Here’s to new beginnings


For a long time Linda Poole posted a Color Fix at the end of each blog post.  I’ve blogged about how much they’ve inspired me. I find stitching like this just fun. It’s a good way to figure out what a thread does, and approximate tension settings for said thread. Then there’s batting, I can explore how batting and thread work together and how the stitching is defined – does it sink in, or sit on the surface?

Stitch outs make a great reference library. So, starting mid-July I’m going to start a “Block of the Month” here on the blog. It’ll definitely be different. Stay tuned for details over the next couple of weeks.

Happy Quilting!