Happy Hour

But before I get to the happy hour bit. I did a bit of a tidy up in my sewing room yesterday. Oh my goodness was I ever over due for that! A while back someone gave me thread stands for both Superior and Aurifil. These very useful stands were sitting in the middle of my sewing room floor taking up valuable floor space, making moving around challenging.

thread stand one

Until now the thread has lived in drawers, and that’s been okay.

thread stand two

The drawers have functioned okay, however having them free for other things like cones, patterns, and notions is such a good thing. Being able to see my thread is such a fun thing because thread. Now you may notice that there is a lot of non-Aurifil thread on this stand, and you would be correct, this is because most of the Aurifil that I have is in cones. There is more thread in one other place, as soon as I can get that situated I’ll share the space. I’m adding one more table to that space in the next couple of weeks. My sweetie has suggested a set up that just might make this space more functional, and will allow me to take better shots for the magazine and for me.
The fun thing is that I brought a project out that I haven’t worked on in a while. The quilt was started for a friends book and I pulled it because quite frankly it wasn’t going well. I hated to do do it as I didn’t want to let said friend down, however it was necessary. I will make some changes as I go, and do my best to mask the areas I’m not particularly happy with. The person who will end up with the quilt will love it.

So speaking of the magazine Tracy Mooney and I had our first GenQ Happy Hour last week!

We’re planning another Wednesday night and hope to be able to add our Editor-in-Chief Melissa Thompson Maher to the video as well. Timing wise it should be 9:30 eastern, 8:30 central, 7:30 mountain time. Watch our fb page for details.

Have a fabulous quilting day!


Decided to go ahead and do it!

tiara silk 1I don’t remember if I ever showed the full piece. A little taupe Radiance, a little silk batting, a little Superior Tiara Silk. Oh my. Have you seen this gorgeous variegated 50 weight silk thread? When they have the Tiara in the booth there will be a good chance that this little piece is in the booth. I am SMITTEN

Superior Threads Tiara Silk threa setI’m going to quilt to my hearts content because last night I purchased one of each. I ordered more thread however this one was so fun. 24 spools of Tiara silk will be here soon and the Big Quilt Idea.

Well the Big Quilt Idea I can’t show you but let me just say it’s going to be pretty.

Happy Quilting!


tiara nautilus



How I choose quilting motifs part 1

Twilight in the Bronx fullAs I mentioned the other day I’m going to share how I come up with the quilting motifs for a quilt. I’m going to start with Twilight in the Bronx which is entirely my own, move on to Tilde, Feather Zone and @play.  Each of these quilt are very different and each has its own story. And Twilight certainly has a story or 5 to tell.

Twilight is my first intentional whole cloth quilt. 1 1/4 yards of solid Kona cotton, a chalk pencil, ruler, batting, thread and an idea.
Briefly the idea: to stitch out an 8 pointed star (lone star) using a variety of thread to create the body of the design. Inspiration: the batik that had the center motif and the “suns” around.

Part 1: Mark the quilt top using the ruler and chalk pencil. I marked the center of the cloth with my iron by folding it in half selvage to selvage and pressing then refolding using that center line and the ends and pressing, being careful not to press out the first pressed crease.
Using my 6 x 24 Omnigrid plastic ruler I started drawing the star points. A quick glance shows you this is a 9-patch drawn on a 45 degree angle. Each point is one half inch off the center lines. The diamonds are 1/4 inch away from each other. This was to accommodate the center motif being fused down to the  cloth.

Part 2: I decided that I wanted the star to be raised so that meant trapunto. I layered a piece of Quilters Dream 100% cotton Request loft batting on the back. I didn’t do anything to hold it in place as I wanted to be able to cut a lot of it away when I was done stitching and 100% cotton batting tends to stick well to 100% cotton fabric. (When I teach quilting and we’re using fat quarters I generally don’t baste with pins or spray as the cotton sticks to cotton with out shifting)

Part 3: I liked the movement of color seen on other pieced lone stars so tried for that kind of look using the 3 colors I had: yellow, red and purple. I did this on the fly and made some decisions as I went along. Note: if I were doing this quilt now I’d be using a lot more colors of thread and perhaps splitting the diamonds in half from point to point the long way. For more movement not because I don’t like what’s going on here.

Part 4: Choosing the actual stitching motifs. I decided each color would be a different motif. If this were piece the fabric may or may not be from the same fabric line and therefore would have a different look. Each motif is something I wanted to practice and get better at stitching. Once these and the black lines defining the center spokes were all stitched in and I’d stitched around each one of the circles all extra batting was cut away, another layer of batting and the backing were layered and basted and the intense quilting began.

twilight finished 1Part 5: I won’t go into a lot of detail here because I did in previous posts – Twilight in the Bronx was quilted twice. The black area on the lower right is evidence of the first time it was quilted. The rest of the quilting was done after I’d picked most of it out. I left some as a personal reminder and because I liked it. I sat down to stitch not quite knowing what I’d be doing motif-wise. I had no active plan for this quilt and I’ll tell you quite honestly I don’t for most quilts.  When I had stitched the motif enough I moved onto another motif and/or another color.
I tried out motif after motif just because it was something I wanted to stitch and I liked it.

This quilt was completed within a year of my 40th birthday and is a personal “defining” quilting moment as “my style” is starting to emerge here. I’m still not sure what one would call that style however that’s not as important as the fact that I’m quilting and trying motifs and thread weights/colors and seeing how they play.

Looking at dates (ever thankful for my blog) I attended the Ricky Tims Quilt Seminar in May 2008 and started this quilt in early 2009. Ricky reminded us frequently over the two days that we are “smart and intelligent and you can do this!” Is there anything more important than that? Well, uh, uhm, No. There’s not.
We are smart
We are intelligent
We can do this

We can stop worrying about what others will think of our quilts and quilting. While I am well aware of the quilt police and their role in our quilting society, most of us do not encounter them on a daily basis. Oh we do hear their “voices” whispering in our ear that “this isn’t good enough” or “this doesn’t like right’ or “are you sure this motif needs to go here?!” or “this really sucks and you need to take out the seam ripper” or “this is awful and you should just toss it aside like an old rag”.
I’ve heard those voices I started telling them to go to H3LL! I started listening for my own voice and those around me who were encouraging me.
When I teach and students start showing me their flaws I quiet that voice down and show them what’s working and why so they have something beautiful to hold onto as they move on to the next quilt.
For most of our quilts “good enough” is good. And it’s enough.
Truthfully the only time that “good enough” needs to meet the seam ripper is when we’re competing because that’s different. And that needs to be thought through differently. And we’ll get there in these blog posts.

Happy Quilting!


Making progress

CAM00828Every once in a while I have a Southern Comfort Manhattan in memory of my mother-in-law. The other day was one of those days where her memory was very present in my heart. Here’s to you Joy!CAM00837

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…QUILTING!I’m continuing to work on “I feel enormous in your Lilliputian world” section by section with the great hope that I’ll have it finished Tuesday night as I leave bright and early Wednesday morning and would like to be able to deliver it on the other end.  The light from the sun and the 780 hit the thread on the left just right so it looks like it’s glowing.  As I stitched the nautilus pattern my eyes were drawn to the glowing. I guess I can call that section “glow worm”.

CAM00838 I decided to switch up the thread changing from Magnifico to Kimono Silk.  The look, feel and texture just work. I’m not sure if each color pictured will be used or if another color or three will be used.  I’m planning on repeating one section however I may have passed the point where the look I hope to achieve will work the way I see it in my head. This is one of the hazards of not planning ahead. It is something I can live with.

CAM00841After I finished the “macaroni” section (after the nautilus section) I wanted to see the overall look and feel of the quilt. I like it, which is nice because there are moments where I don’t like what’s happening.  In those moments uncertainty will settle in with several options cropping up:
1) ditch the quilt
2) keep going and hope it all works out
3) get out the seam ripper
4) show the offending bit to friends privately or publicly and get some input
A side note on quilterly advice: it is there to help us weed out the choices in front of us.  There is no obligation to use the quilterly advice given.  The follow-through to that is when asked and I give advice there is no expectation on my part that you will follow the advice.  It’s your quilt. It’s your rules.

CAM00842Someone asked me if I have “Superman” eyes with all this teeny tiny stitching I’m doing.  Uhm, nope, just bifocals.  At some point I will need to use a magnifier however at this point I’m just stitching and looking through the lower portion of my glasses.
As I show these last two pics I realize the section I want to repeat isn’t going to work visually the way I want it to.  Oh well these things happen.  I’m still happy with it.  I do know what I’m doing with the border once I’m out there, I’m stitching in the title of the piece and signing it.

I just read a great quote that I think is worth sharing:

“When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is that annoying backseat driver” Brene Brown
Check out this post on A Quilters Heart.

Happy Quilting!



Mini-me Round 2!

It’s hard not to sometimes, post on facebook that is but I know not everyone who reads my blog follows me on facebook.  I’m okay with that so for those of you who follow me on facebook, some of this will be a bit of a repeat.

As an opening aside Keith sent the next quilt, we’ve named it “Arsenic and Old Lace” I am desperately trying to understand the “color” of arsenic, apparently there is no general consensus as to the color and I was provided with this link which left me more options than I thought.  Yiyiyi what is this quilter to do…I do have something percolating in my head and it’ll all come together at the right moment.

CAM00102A couple of weeks ago I shared Mini-me where I’m piecing a series of small log cabins using 3/4″ strips.  The log cabin will come together shortly.  These strips for this next quilt are cut at 1 1/4″, significantly larger just cause I wanted them to be. 🙂 Good reason, eh?  I’m still working with small strips and one of the things that becomes even more essential is keeping that 1/4 inch seam allowance.  For me there are 3 components: A) needle & thread; B) patchwork foot and C) pressing.


In the first photo the BERNINA patchwork foot #37 from needle center to the outside edge of the foot it’s 1/4″.  The other thing I like are the front and back notches that are 1/4 in away from the needle position great for piecing and binding.

It’s hard to see the color variation in this photo however this is part of the color run of gray and the red to yellow from Cherrywood Fabrics.  Pardon me a moment while I swoon.
CAM00108Thread & needle – I prefer to use MasterPiece by Superior Threads for piecing.  Look what happened today!  I use an 80/12 needle with it – either a microtex or top stitching needle.  Depends on my mood and what I’m doing.  I love quilting with this thread as well particularly when I want the quilting to fade to the background it’s fine.

So as I’m stitching those strips my bobbin runs out.  Holy cow it’s weird when that happens on my Bernina 780.  And I do mean weird.  So I wound another bobbin and 1/2 with this and soon the spool was empty.  Shock!  Horror!! What’s a quilter to do?  Rummage through every drawer of her thread cabinet looking for the other spool that I know I have.  Success!

Pressing.  Essential to the art of piecing is knowing when and how to iron and when and how to press.  Iron yardage, press piecing.  On the advice of a friend I’ve started pressing with vodka (cheap vodka, but vodka) and it works very well.  When pressing I use a multi-step process: press to set the seam; spritz and finger press open the seam; press to set the seam; flip the piece over and press from the front.  Something I’ve noted as I press the seams open I can feel if I’ve got the seam all the way open.

CAM00113Back to the piecing.

Because I’m cutting this on a 45 degree angle later on I’m offsetting the piecing by 1 1/4″ (the width of the cut strips) this save fabric later on.  I’m using the see through drafting ruler.  It’s handy, light weight and fits under the extension table on the machine.  This is Cherrywood people, gotta use it to the best advantage.  Yes, I know I can get more, but I have this here, I’m inspired now and chomping at the bit to stitch.


And here we go, the first finished star point.  I’m using all the square inches I have available to me to get as many of these stitched up as I can.  I’m not sure of the layout just yet.  Right now I’m thinking it’ll be dark in the center and lighten up as it goes out.  I say that now, it could change.  But probably not.  As I stitch I use the peek-a-boo method to make sure my seams are lining up, the seam ripper came out a couple of times just to get things lined up.  I have something in mind for this quilt.



an Interview with Jake Finch

From the Cover of Jakes book "Comfort Quilts From the Heart"

Facebook has certainly made connecting with quilters so easy and such fun.  Working in a quilt shop I get to see all kinds of books come through and “Comfort Quilts From the Heart” is one of the earliest I remember as it arrived within a short period of time after I started working.  What prompted me to interview Jake is 2 things:

1) Jakes blog on the Generation Q Magazine website  where Jake describes her first quilt and her first sewing machine.  Megan & Melissa have also told the stories of their first quilts.

2) Jake, Melissa, Megan and Scott  have been writing an on-line magazine that will shortly be in print!  I mentioned their kickstart program here.

okay there’s really three, I find quilters interesting.  We come from a wide variety of backgrounds, we like a wide variety of quilts and have different quilt making styles.


Teri: I see that your first machine was a Singer from Price Club, what are you stitching on now?

Jake: I am a die-hard Janome fan. I have a Janome 6500 that I bought in 2006 and it’s a workhorse designed for a quilter. They should hire me. I’ve sold more than a dozen to students and friends over the years. In my fantasies, I own the new 7700 Horizon, but for now my 6500 will suffice. I also have two small Janome Gems and a Janome serger. The Gems are taken to classes and my daughter uses one of them.

Teri: What are the classes you like to take and the teachers you’d love to take a class or 2 with?

Jake: Okay, so believe it or now, I’ve hardly taken ANY classes. My story is that I am a self-taught quilter and I made quilts for 13 years before I finally came out of the stash closet. Coming out for me meant joining my hometown quilt guild, something I had tried once before this and ran terrified and intimidated from. But this time, I was 6 months pregnant and knowing I would be home from then on, I could attend meetings. So, in joining the guild, I was suddenly surrounded by quilters and the opportunity for classes (which I didn’t know existed) but now I had a newborn and no time to go to classes. Even today, with my daughter now 11, it’s still a “luxury” in my mind to take a class. I’d rather work through a book, pattern or tutorial at home and on my schedule most of the time.
Teri: Do you have a preference for hand, machine or check quilting?

I LOVE freemotion machine quilting. I love the speed, creativity and the flow it requires. I am a dense quilter and a lazy quilter. I hate marking. Even when I try to air out my quilting, it still contracts. But that’s the fun, eh? I appreciate good hand quilting, but I have carpal tunnel and a young kid, and that leave me little desire and time to do hand quilting.

Teri: What threads to you use for your free motion?

Jake: This is an important question. The secret to successful free motion quilting is to find the perfect formula for what works with your machine and hands. In my case, I SWEAR by two threads: Libby Lehman’s Bottom Line thread from Superior and Aurifil’s machine cottons. Both are supper thin and fill a bobbin with more thread that we are used to from other threads. Because of their thinness, they flow much better through the bobbins, creating less snags and jumps in our quilting. The bottom is way more important than the top threads in free motion. On the top, I will use just about anything. I really like rayons, the kinds used for embroidery, but have a huge selection of Sulky, Superior, Aurifil and other threads that have something a little extra. The trip with the top threads is found with the needle used. For most of my quilting, I work with a topstitch needle, and ALWAYS a fresh one. Never, never skimp on your needles! Change them frequently, especially with quilting.

Teri: Dark, milk or white chocolate?  In what form?

Jake: Milk, high quality, with nuts and something chewy at times is perfect. (Nougat, caramel…)

Teri: Quilting has been part of your life since 1989, what are two or three of the most significant changes you’ve experienced in the quilting community?

Jake: Changes are many. I love how our craft constantly evolves and grows. I believe strongly that this is why quilting is flourishing while scrapbooking, for instance, struggles. Changes I believe significant in the last 20 plus years are: art and modern quilting movements, variety of fabric available and the improvement of tools. Art and modern quilting reflects style shifts and the fabrics and tools (including computer tools) available enable us to exercise our creativity better.

Jakes Quilt Inspector Jane

Teri: I’m so excited about the GenerationQ Magazine!  When will the first issue be published?

Jake: Our first issue is scheduled to debut at Spring Market in May. We are launching our Kickstarter campaign this week to help raise the initials funds needed for print and Market travel. After that we should be fine on our own. Anyone interested in supporting us should visit our Kickstarter page. Pledges are rewarded with issues of the magazine as well as even better bribes like Moda towers, fresh quilt books, tools and other products. Kickstarter is an all or nothing method of fundraising so we have to be pretty aggressive about it.

Teri: Has being a quilting magazine editor influenced your own quilting in a particular direction?

Jake: As an editor for a publication that focuses on the modern and contemporary quilter I do see my choices in patterns and techniques following what I track. But, I come from traditional quilting and still do appreciate much of what I see in that style range. Still, I’m completely jazzed by innovation I see happening today and I love the simplicity of many of the designs. Fits my life-spot very well.

But, my first quilt class was with my now very good friend Rose Hughes, who is an amazing teacher and very nurturing. It was the start of a beautiful friendship for us. I’d love to attend a retreat center like Asilomar, but again, I have to wait until my kid is a little older.

Teri: What tools help you exercise your creativity?  Is there a tool or book that really gets your creative juices flowing?

Jake: All books and tools developed by Joen Wolfrom about color and design are my fave inspirations. Color is the most important tool a quilter has and learning about how color works and then being willing to experiment in your work is the cornerstone to all great quilting. Also, a huge box of crayons, selection of good quality markers and art pencils and a sketchbook are musts!

Also, an excellent sewing machine is so important. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, but it needs to carry out your vision. Example: I had a new Pfaff when I ramped up my quilting 10 years ago. This machine loved to piece. That built in walking foot was brilliant and I tore through tops. BUT, this Pfaff was a pain in the butt and it hated free motion quilting. When a friend let me try out her Janome 6500, I knew I’d met my future and I haven’t regretted it since. This machine takes what’s in my head and on my sketchbook and enables me to recreate it in fabric.

Teri: Congratulations on the Kickstart campaign doing so well.  Can we tease the readers about what MAY be in the first print issue?

Jake: Oooh, I LOVE teasing! I’ll tell you that our covers will be different from the norm and that we enlisted the help to two of our fave people to dress up our first cover. Also, look for a huge fun factor and some in-depth pieces.

Thanks Jake!

Happy Quilting!


The Quilt Speaks

I’ve been working on Serendipity As Well for a few weeks.  What started out as an experiment learning, playing & practicing with Superior’s silk has become a series with two (nearly) complete pieces.  I have 3 pieces of silk left that will become part of the series.  One is a cream & light brown plaid is on the back of Serendipity as well and takes the color & texture of the silk very well.

When I started playing with the silk my original intention was to make a little art piece for Pokey Bolton’s new office.  After I started this piece I needed to put it on hold whilst I finished getting ready to submit for Mary Kerr’s book and preparation for the classes I’m teaching in Knoxville.  While I still have packing etc to do before I go I had a bit of time to quilt today (Wednesday).  Oh, did I quilt.


I needed to flatten out some of the areas because of the silk batting however adding color wasn’t what I wanted to do so tone on tone stitching became necessary.  Because of the space available I chose some micro stippling and other small stitching motifs.  The whole quilt is small stitching motifs in part ’cause I like to see how small I can stitch a motif and mostly because  the Kimono Silk is very, very fine taking up much less space than say – King Tut which is significantly thicker.

I’ve taken pictures of this (like the one above) quilt with the curves running horizontally across the surface of the quilt with careful intention.  Like “Twilight in the Bronx” & “Moon Over Manhattan” the quilt speaks sometimes in unexpected ways. . . yep, once I got finished quilting and looked at the quilt a little later the curves now run vertically.  There is just something in this direction that makes more sense to me as the quilter.  I think perhaps it’s the yellow stars that just anchor the quilt in a way that I wouldn’t have known until the quilt was finished.

I think too this is a response to Jane Davila‘s talk in May with the Pelham Quilters.  Jane’s talk presents the basic principles of design in Art.  Then Esterita Austin’s lecture Classic Rock and workshop “Creating the Illusion of Depth”.  As Jane talked I took notes in a dark room that now live in my sketchbook that have become part of my talk Quilting is a Beautiful & Complicated Art.  As Esterita worked with her students on workshop day I commented, somewhat naively, that she gave them permission to use all of the crayons in the box, however I see now that what both Jane & Esterita are working towards accomplishing is something more than the crayons analogy.  We’re working towards more of an understanding of the whole picture of quilting using color, shape, line, size, texture, direction, value. Whether we are “Art”, “Modern”, “Traditional” or “Contemporary” quilters these same principles of art apply to the quilt making process.  While we as quilters often apply the principles we aren’t familiar with the principles and how to use them effectively so we get stuck trying to figure out what comes next.

For a beginning to understand the principles and how to use them effectively check out Jane & Elin’s Art Quilt Workbook.  Take one of Esterita’s workshops (she loves teaching the portraiture workshop).  Whether or not the area of  “Art” quilting is where you want to go as a quilter both of these will be incredibly helpful in understanding the process of quilt making in a way that make the process easier.  As we understand more of what we’re doing the easier the process of quilt making becomes.


Yesterday as I made the copies for my upcoming classes my kitty Barnum decided that he needed to be right in the middle of things.  He’s sitting on the first set of copies and is taking notes on what works and doesn’t.

Happy Quilting!