Lisa Calle’s The Quilt Show 1703

Lisa Calle OCQ eventIn a rare time opportunity I watched Lisa Calle’s episode on The Quilt Show, #1703, what a great episode. Lisa’s Divide & Design class and technique does something really special, it shows the quilting decision making process like no other. While the process for the show goes to the bare bones of it all, Lisa does talk about the back and forth of trying things out, seeing if they’ll work, and trying something different. She may come back to an early part of the process and may not. Lisa keeps all of the quilt designs in tubes in her quilt studio. working with Lisas rulers

She points out that Divide & Design takes time, particularly when drawing in the feathers and fills. The layers of tracing paper serve a great purpose. Lisa uses her rulers throughout the design process, just as she would on a quilt. In this quilters view this serves two purposes 1) figuring out the design, and 2) practicing for use on the long arm or sewing machine.
On her website Lisa has a calendar with her teaching schedule. Head on over and check it out. I’ve heard that there are a few really exciting things ahead. Go Lisa!

Oh and check out her blog. The top story right now is that Lisa is teaching at Quilt Festival in Houston. Click here for Lisa’s interview.

Happy Quilting!


An Interview with Laurie Tigner

I met Laurie Tigner in Houston at Quilt Festival last year.  I had exactly 2 minutes to say, “hello, lovely to see you, I’ll try and drop by your booth again later.” We all know how that part goes! We “met” on fb sometime before that and connected in a most fun way.  I have 2 of Laurie’s Icons: one of Mary and St. Simeon hanging over my sewing machine.  I’m intrigued by Iconography and love how Laurie has incorporated this imagery into her quilting, so I asked if she’d be open to a blog interview.  Here goes.

Teri: How did you get started quilting?  How long have you been a quilter?
Laurie: I had no intention of becoming a quilter, but was getting burned out in nursing after 28 years. I went to a quilt show here in town, there were so many vendors, so many quilts!  
The colors, the patterns, the color!!!! Did I mention color? So, went home absolutely saturated with ideas and desires to create….an icon quilt. It was, at the time, the only reason I wanted to learn to quilt.
Went back the next day and asked one of the vendors if they sold fabric with gold on it, and she said they had some at their shop and asked me questions, and laughed because I wasn’t a quilter but already wanted to design something. She told me about a free one hour class she gave called “quilting for the clueless”.  I signed up and the rest is history.

I went to the shop the next week and bought all the fabric I needed for that first quilt. It is still in a box as it is not what I want to use now, but it is sentimental to me. As to the class, well it was great.  She showed us quilts, told us about machines, needles, thread, and showed us how to use a rotary cutter and mat….I still do it “wrong”, but it works for me.  It is the only class I have taken.  It was about 7 years ago.

Teri: What machine do you use for piecing?
Laurie: My sewing machine that I use consistently is my older Bernina 130.  It skips stitches once in a while, but otherwise works great.  It has been used to death, so a few skipped stitches doesn’t bother me….

Teri: Do you quilt on a domestic, mid arm or long arm?

IMG_0612Laurie: I have a Gammill Classic longarm machine for quilting.  It has a stitch regulator, but no computer.  Didn’t see a need or have a want for the computer at the time I bought it, but sometimes wish I had. For now, this is great….I actually bought it before I even  really learned to quilt….it was the part of quilting that I thought would be the easiest….you know, what you are “drawing” on the quilt is what you are quilting sort of thing, and I found that to be true. It came with a bunch of pantographs. I tried one, hated doing it, and gave them all away at the next guild meeting. Am so glad that I did. I can’t imagine doing pantographs all day!  I love doing custom quilting. It is so much fun figuring out new designs and patterns!

Teri:  Favorite threads?

Threads.  I love thread!  I use Aurifil 50 wt almost exclusively for piecing, although sometimes I use Superior Sew Fine.
For quilting on my longarm, well, it is just backwards…. I use mostly Superior Sew Fine and Aurifil 40 wt. If I am working on a piece that is thread painted, I almost always use Aurifil 50 wt. I am starting to use Silk thread a bit and have figured out how to get my longarm to tolerate it…..

IMG_2384Teri: Tell me about your patterns…how do you come up with the designs?

Laurie: My patterns are all fusible appliqué because that is what I started out doing.   Remember, I bought the longarm first because that was the easy part.  One of my first quilts was my Pumpkin Patch pattern.   I made it, took it to show and tell at the local guild and several people asked me to make a pattern, so I did.  No one told me that I couldn’t, or that I should maybe wait until I knew more. I had only made two quilts before that and they were from patterns, so I reviewed them, saw how they wrote their directions, adapted that to fit my pattern, and it was…!  Fun trying to write directions so that others could make my design!  Someone had told me to write the directions very simply, so that is what I did.  Anyway, I draw and paint, so drawing designs is easy for me, and with an very active imagination, my patterns vary from whimsical to the seriously beautiful. I love Halloween, so I have a series of witches doing different needlework. While I have taught myself to piece and paper piece, and have won ribbons on those quilts, I haven’t had the nerve yet to write a pattern for those designs….mostly because I wouldn’t know how….I just figure them out as I go…..and that wouldn’t make for a very good instructional pattern!

Teri: How did you get into Iconography?  Tell me a little bit about Icons (please)

IMG_9964Laurie: The Iconography interest started when I was 11.  My Dad was in Vietnam. It was summer and I had just had major chest which meant that I couldn’t play at all, so I did lots of drawing and painting and reading….I read “the Agony and the Ecstasy” about Michelangelo….pretty big read for a 6th grader, but it is still my favorite book. I also read “The Kitchen Madonna”. It is about a young socially shy English boy who makes a Madonna icon from a newspaper picture and toffee wrappers for his families’ Russian cook, who missed her home and her Madonna that had once hung in her family kitchen.  By giving to someone who was sad, he found himself. I loved it. (My husband found me a first edition copy of this book a year or two ago, best present and surprise, ever!)   Anyway, I found all the books I could on icons, and fell in love with them. Even when I went to art school at University, no one taught it. There are only a handful of iconographers in America that work with the traditional methods/materials. About 26 or  27 years ago, I found a priest who painted Icons, with all the traditional materials and methods…..we are talking about cooking your own rabbit skin glue, etc. I was in heaven. I worked with him for over a year, every chance I got.

We moved to Italy ( I was a nurse in the Air Force) and I was able to actually go find these real icons in Europe and see them. I have continued to paint “write” them over the years.

The writing of Icons is specific, traditional, with rules and recipes that have been handed down over the centuries. Non-wavering. It is all about tradition.

IMG_9971That is why most Icons look alike, the same poses, same facial characteristics, with little variation, for the different stories that they tell. The only differences are due to the skill and abilities of the individual iconographer. Icons are traditionally not signed, which throws some people. People almost always ask me to sign them. Once in a while I will sign the back for them if they are adamant, but that is all.

Teri: How did you translate the Icons from the painted images to quilt making?

Laurie: While traditional icon writing is my very favorite thing to do, I also struggle with doing only that.   When you have an active imagination and are creative by nature, you need to express that, and that is where quilting Icons comes into play for me. I will never, ever, break with tradition in “writing” an icon, but quilting is fair game.   I don’t even need to look at pictures of icons to draw them anymore, because I have spent so much of my life doing them. I know people think I “copy” them for my quilts. I may refer back to a picture for the lettering or a specific hand gesture, but they are mine and I am slowly getting away from the most traditional aspects. For my newest gold Christ Icon, I made my husband pose for me. He got a kick out of that.   It is a traditional pose, in traditional dress. Anyway, I started out trying different media to do an under painting of the picture, and then I thread painted over it. I finally ended up with using some ink pencils that give you a permanent and soft look, while also leaving the fabric soft…. 

IMG_0306I love the old icons that have the heavily worked metal overlays that were used to protect the icons while the monks traveled.   I wanted to recreate that and tried everything I could think of. I spent many hours and lots of money none of the results pleased me. They just weren’t right. Then I saw the spandex used by a Scottish quilter in a project that seemed perfect.  I contacted her for details and “permission” to use it, she must have thought me crazy for asking permission to use a commercial product, but I wanted to be honest and fair. She encouraged me to try it and it was perfect! It took a while to figure out how to best stabilize it, as it is stretchy in four directions, but it is incredibly fun to quilt once you get the hang of it, and I am hooked. It is fun to “break the rules” and do what I want with an icon. I have been dreaming of some incredibly different designs and colors for some new ones, and can’t wait to try them. I know that I probably need to branch out and do “other” things with my quilting to stay current and viable in the industry, and I try to I do that with my patterns and the odd show quilt or two, but my heart is with the Icons….written or quilted….they are where my heart and soul are…..

Thank you so much for sharing your story with me Laurie.  Your quilts and Icons are just stunning.  I look forward to spending some time in your company very soon.

Happy Quilting!


Classroom photos

It is a rare occasion that I get photos from my classes.  I’m sure you understand why.  My visit to Olde City Quilts was a fluke.

This time around Maggie Szfranski took a number of photos for me.  Thank you!  This first photo I’m sharing is a fun one for me because Maggie gave me that pin.  It says, “Will Quilt for Wine”, it’s true, so true.  It’s also fun because I’m wearing my faculty name tag.  A little later in the day Jeanie & I picked up our finalist ribbons at the Information booth.  And I could have one more since it was my first time even being in Houston for Quilt Festival.  Talk about an amazing moment in my quilterly life.


Whatever I’m saying in the photo below must have been really, really important because my fingers are closed.



This is the Designs in Machine Quilting (And Now What?! Class exploring machine quilting designs and how to practice them effectively.  Whether you are quilting on a long arm or a domestic machine practicing on paper is an effective means of developing skill as a machine quilter, and practicing with your dominant and non-dominant hand really helps develop muscle memory as we quilt with both hands.

One other tip: quilt one of Paula Nadelstern’s kaleidoscope prints.  Oh my these prints are gorgeous and provide plenty of quilting area.  Figuring out the stitching path on these will go a long way towards figuring out the stitching path on many other quilt designs.



I get my 10,000 steps in during the course of every class I teach.  I’m all over the place talking with and encouraging my students to look at the “quilts” and “quilt blocks” on the pages in front of them.  This group was certainly game for opening themselves to creativity and seeing what’s in front of them in a different way.

One of the quilt blocks we work on is a “New York Beauty” and a student created a Ferris wheel.  I can totally see how to draft and stitch that out using a variety of colors of metallic to create the lights, a combination of Aurifil Lana and Superior’s SoFine to create the structure and a deep purple or an ombre for the background of the quilt.

I can see a very large NY Beauty block used to create this.

As a side note when I quilted “When Alex and Jinny met in NY, Beauty Happened” no two blocks would quilted in the same manner.

One of my favorite parts of both the Beginner Machine Quilting class and this class is doing a quilt consult.  I offer quilting and thread suggestions.  The quilter is free to use the suggestions or not, my only goal is to get their creative juices flowing.  If I do that then in essence I’ve done my job.

The next afternoon this quilter was in my beginner class and showed me the thread she picked up for her quilt.  I like it and think the quilt will be quite stunning when she’s finished with it.  Oh what am I saying, the quilt is stunning now and the quilting will enhance its inherent beauty!

I loved being in Houston, the vibe, the students. Sigh, this is one happy quilter!

The next couple of months will be full with 4 quilts that fall into either the “super secret project” category or “I can’t share it publicly until I get it into the competition it’s intended for”  That partly frustrates this quilter because I love to share my work with you!  I’ll be able to share the back of at least one piece I’m working on after I get the old stitching out!

Happy Quilting!




Quilt Festival Houston, some of the quilts

I think quilters in general are fascinated with the glass work of Dale Chihuly.  It’s no wonder why.  Like we do he sees the potential in the molten liquid and produces some amazing works not just in glass also writing and drawing.  There is a lot of prep work that goes into creating one of these pieces. I imagine a lot of broken glass, a lot of pieces that just don’t quite fit the way Dale envisioned.  And yet, here it is…one more piece of evidence of Dale’s hours and hours and hours of hard slog creating beautiful glass sculpture.  

In a quick, very quick reading of Dale’s website there are two things I see immediately, Dale learned from others both in school here in the states and from Venetian glass blowers the work of his trade including technique, working concepts and artistry; further he works at his trade and through that work applying the accrued knowledge and experience continues to create beautifully designed, well constructed pieces of glass work that capture our imagination, our deep appreciation, and a sense of longing for just a little bit of that talent.

And in this quilt “The Garden” by Helia Ricci, this work of art I see the same level of commitment, passion and artistry.  The same hard slog learning techniques, listening to other quilters for support, encouragement and correction.  Doing something to quell the negative voices creeping about saying I’m not good enough for this and putting her work out there for all of us to see and enjoy or not enjoy as we will.

Quilting – whether making bed quilts or art quilts – is hard work.  No matter what the style.  Each quilt we do informs the next, each quilt we see allows us to help define who we are as quilt makers. There are many styles of quilt making and as I write this I see in my minds eye the artistry of each of them.  


One of the most moving things about the set up of the quilt show in Houston is that there is room to look and take photos of the quilts.  I couldn’t get enough of Linzi Uptons Yurt.  Talk about hard work!  Each quilt is different and given time I would have spent hours and hours in there enjoying the beauty and marveling at the idea of the quilted yurt.    Talk about an oh my  moment.  

And then there is Randall Cook’s “Trapped in the Game”.  I am moved by this on so many levels.  Sometimes I feel trapped and sometimes I feel free.  I want to play by the rules and do the work as a quilter  and I often feel free by the rules because I understand the rules.  Although in the quilting world there are a variety of rules and frequently the rules are meant to be broken.  

I love that I got to meet so many of the members of “The Quilt Show”.  Maggie and Frances were my “Teachers Pets” and in true teacherly form I gave them both homework!  Here I am with Maggie and Annie (another TQS member) after my lecture on Friday morning.  Maggie took photos in one of my classes and as soon as I can I’ll share those with you.  Maggie hit the ground running at home and has been working!  You go girl!  

Now that Jeanie has had her booth there is a little bit I can share.  There is a lot I still can’t…however here’s a sample:

Jeanie has been working with incorporating embroidery into the kaleidoscopes.  This adds such great detail to the kaleidoscopes it’s amazing.  She’ll have more information on her website once she gets home and has time to update everything.  

This is made with Robert Kaufman’s Radiance on the top and I used an orange/brown batik on the back and wool batting.  I used Superior Silk and SoFine (bobbin).  This quilt is easily made with either fat quarters or quarter yards.  I’ll share more later this week or early next week. 

One of the things I love about working with the kaleidoscopes is that the stitching path is already worked out for you creating a beautiful design on the back of your quilt.  


Happy Quilting!



Quilt Festival

I feel so blessed to have made it to Houston this week.  Because of my sweetie’s schedule I ended up at the airport at 5:30 AM and managed to get on the very next flight out of town – the first flight out of Newark since the beginning of the storm.  Thinking I would not make it to Houston I didn’t pack the supplies necessary for my time in Open Studio however I did bring the samples I made.

This and a couple of others were finished.  I gave one to Cheryl who works in Jeanie’s booth, it said ‘Bang Head Here” and had 3 layers of batting.  Two others were put up for the mug rug swap including the one on the right here.  I gave “homework” to my Teachers Pets Maggie and Frances – for them to finish at their leisure.  These are a great way to practice machine quilting, they’re fun and can be done in a short amount of time.  I’ll be making more samples and posting them over time.

On a side note: I really wanted to have Tilde with me in Houston.  I mean who wouldn’t want to share the quilt that just won them a first place ribbon?  Keith and I were discussing getting the quilt to Houston in time for the show.  It became apparent that I wasn’t sure when I’d get there, if I’d get there with all three of the major airports closed.  I’m closest to LaGuardia and they weren’t going to open until late Thursday and that being the case, well you get the picture.  I didn’t want to have Tilde sent and place the responsibility of the quilt and  for getting the quilt back to me on any other person in the event that I didn’t get to Houston.  I very much appreciate everyone’s understanding.  I am going to pick up Tilde this morning on my way to work and will have it for my upcoming visit to the Courthouse Quilters.


Jeanie had this beautiful smile on her face in spite of being wicked tired.  We had a bit of fun and thanks to the lovely quilter who offered to take our picture.

Texas is a big state, they do quilt shows on a grand scale.  Tomorrow I will show just a few of the quilts I was able to see and take photos of.  Weirdly my camera didn’t make it out very much.  I know right, I take pictures of everything.  Let’s just say my level of awe over the sheer enormity, my excitement for just being there, the sense of relief for getting there and the love of quilters just overwhelmed me.  A couple of times I headed over to the Brother Sewing room and just chatted with Paula Reid when she wasn’t helping students.

This trip along with the Portland trip confirmed for me that I need to focus on some serious writing and work toward getting the book that I’ve been muddling around in my head and on my computer written and published.  Part of me has been fearful that it wouldn’t be successful  and I need to let that go and just make the commitment to get it done.

More coming soon!


Quilt Festival Houston!

I’m impressed with the students in Houston.  Both of my classes ended up full.  My teachers pets, Maggie and Frances were such a great help!

Really, truly impressed.  These quilters worked and worked.  In my Beginner Free Motion Machine Quilting class all of the quilters stitched out feathers by the end of class.  Every single one of them. A huge thank you to Janome for providing the machines and educator for our classroom!  Terry did a great job meeting the needs of the students throughout the day.  I mentioned to my students that as a quilter I’m an amalgamation of all of the quilting teachers I’ve come in contact with whether that be national, local or guild friends.  I take what works for me and apply that to my quilting.  Feel free to take what works, what makes sense and use that in your quilting.

As you know this week started out a little rough and I made it to Houston a day later than anticipated.  I missed the Open Studio, sadly.  Seeing the whole set up for the studio the whole experience would have been amazing.  Pokey and Craftsy did a great job setting that up.

I was so happy to be there.  Of course time with friends takes precedence over sleep so by the time Jeanie and I went to take pics of our quilt together we were both pretty punchy so a little silliness ensued.  Quite frankly I couldn’t help be silly happy – this is my first trip to Houston, I taught the most amazing students and I had a quilt in the show!   I need to check with Jeanie and see what pics I can post.

I also got to see (no pics yet) the quilt Jeanie and I will be competing with some time next year.  Bob from Superior let me borrow a few cones of thread to take over to the Kaleidoscope Collections booth.  Thank You! Thank You!  A few spools cones of thread came home with me for this new quilt.  A quick trip to the Sew Batik booth found the perfect backing and of course the perfect batik for the front of the next quilt floating around Jeanies creative bean!  Diane and Bruce are the sweetest people ever, Bruce loved the pic of Diane & I from MQX.  I’m going to use silk and wool for the batting.  Alas my dear quilterly friends no pics until we get this puppy quilted.

My roomie this time was the delightful Cathy Franks.  This photo was taken last night as we waited for the gal to call us for dinner at the restaurant.  Our waitress very kindly figured out a way to make  our evening by finding us one last piece of flourless chocolate cake.  Oh! My!  Thank you!!

I loved the vibe of Houston.  As tired as I was getting there, the long hours, meeting the quilters and visiting vendor booths and all that goes into the experience of teaching.  I love what I’m privileged to be part of the quilting community.  I’m looking forward to this next year and will definitely be applying to teach there again!

Happy quilting,


PS there is more, much more I want to share it’ll take a few days.

Celebrate and quilt back

Twenty years ago my sweetie and I married.  Part of me wonders where the time went and part of me is filled with memories of love, growth and love.  We celebrated with a lovely dinner at Ruths Chris Steakhouse.  I love him now more than ever and am grateful for the gift of himself.  I can not imagine my life without him and am grateful for the gift of quilting which he brought into my life.  Thank you my love!  We went to dinner with our friends last night and they gave us red roses.  Thank you so much dear friends!

These last couple of weeks I’ve been quilting with purpose on things that I can’t yet show.  All will be revealed shortly.  I can show the quilt backs.  The back on the right is rather fun.  I used Superior’s Nature Colors in a shade of pink on the back and Magnifico in a shade of a blue/purple on the front.    I’m quilting for Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero and as I’m quilting for her she’s working on our next show quilt, which will hang in her booth at Quilt Market and Quilt Festival in Houston.  So if you’re going to either please stop by her booth and see the projects I’m working on right now.  I can tell you there will be a tote bag, two pillows, a small one panel Kaleidoscope quilt and a small two panel kaleidoscope quilt made entirely with – oh – I’ll share with you later.

I can share the back with you though.  The front of this is so pretty.  Oh my, it’s pretty.

Once Quilt Market/Festival starts or Jeanie says the word I’ll have a blog post ready to go.  We have some time, I have a bunch of classes and other things going on in the meantime.  A reminder blog will happen in a few days.

In the meantime. . .

Happy Quilting!