Character & Confidence

Character & Confidence

uhw wrought iron fence and gateSlowly, ever so slowly, there are changes happening here. Much ado about character on the blog lately. This conversation will continue. Character and confidence work hand in hand, they build each other, and with that. when we show up to do the work our creativity increases. All of this takes practice. I’ve struggled with confidence in quilting. Oh hell, I just struggle with confidence sometimes.

I have, with some hard work, and a husband who believes in me, some really great friends grown in that area. There’s room to grow. Of course there is, and that’s the best thing ever. There is room to grow. There is room to grow in quilting, there is room to grow in teaching, there is room to grow in confidence.

Just show upWhether I get it or not I’ve applied to offer three seminars later this year. If I do get to offer them then I’ll be expanding the type of work I offer. It’s a bit of a leap, however sometimes ya gotta take a leap off a cliff so you can fly.

And the winner is:

#6 – Jean Congdon! Congratulations. I’ll contact you for your address.

Happy Quilting!


Teaching – a new style

serendipity 3rd time with Bernina 1080Teaching people how to use their sewing machines is almost as fun as teaching quilters how to best use their machines for quilt making. It is in teaching Machine Guide Classes that new machine owners learn what they can do with their new machine from basic maintenance to making a blind hem and a buttonhole. It wasn’t until I started sewing in machines (sewing on them with several different stitches, sometimes they need a wee nip of oil) that I learned how (remembered how?) to do a buttonhole on the non-computerized machines. It must be remembered because I did make them on my old Singer, and in home ec class. For years though it did befuddle me, because – Quilting!
Most times these classes are pretty straightforward. Every now & again someone just gets excited about learning About their machine. What can it do? How can I do this? I want to do this again! How does that work? Oh my goodness this makes the classes so fun. I just love watching people “get it”!
diamond play quilting closeupGetting to know your machine is such a huge part of quilting – the better you know your machine the easier it is to quilt. A basic understanding of tension, and where to change it makes a huge difference when free motion machine quilting through all of the layers of a quilt. Knowing how to adjust the tension is necessary. For most sewing (piecing, garment construction, home dec) the machine tension should stay at the preset, whatever this is. Most machines are between 3 and 5, with most around a 4. On the more computerized machines the tension adjustment is in different, preset increments, however it’s still towards a higher or lower number. For quilting with a walking foot, the preset *should* be fine, however because stitching through the layers, with the interplay of batting and everything else, make sure to check now and again. For Free-Motion quilting this is where understanding machine tension is necessary.

BERNINA Ambassador bobbin work 2 bobbinsI’m going to pause here and tell you something very, very, important: You are smart, and intelligent, and can DO This.

If tension seems a problem when I get started making sure the machine is threaded properly is key, try re-threading first. When free-motion quilting basically if you’re seeing the bobbin thread come up to the top, the top tension is too tight – move the tension dial towards a lower number; if the top thread is showing on the back – move the tension dial towards a higher number. Towards is key here, the adjustment may not be a big move, frequently a small adjustment goes a long way. Sometimes adjusting the tension doesn’t work, that’s when we look at a couple of other things 1) needle and 2) speed. That’s a blog post for another day.

There is a lot of information in that class, particularly on the high end, computerized machines. One thing I realized a few weeks ago, when quilters are kind of uncomfortable with their machines, is that if you own a smart phone or some kind of tablet, you’ll be able to use your machine well. We don’t need to understand all of the features, we just need to be able to use them to our best advantage.

Happy Quilting!



I heard something the other day.
And when I heard it I had to stop.

So in order to listen, a bit more completely, I need to tell a story.

I started quilting over 22 years ago. As I started this journey much of the work was to learn to listen and learn. That listening had to be, must be active listening. Listening to, listening for the rules, to learn how to quilt. I needed, wanted, craved knowledge. I subscribed to magazines, I watched Simply Quilts, participated in message boards, and user groups, joined a guild, visited quilt shops. Taking notes along the way for that which spoke to me, whispered, capturing my attention.

044In and among that learning are friends, who quilt, create art, create art quilts and have vivid imaginations. They are bloggers, facebook friends, vendors, editors, other teachers. Listening. Gleaning. Sharing. Each person contributing to and informing my quilting. One teacher’s words are repeated over and over and over again…more on that later. And then one day I “met” then met Linda M. Poole and happened upon her color fixes. And the whispering started.

Teaching started. Trying new things. Experimenting. Trying thread and batting. Listening. Trying new guilds. New magazines. New

Voices. Some voices waxing, others waning and still the whispering is asking me to listen. Seeking my attention but waiting to be heard and yet, the new, different teachers, via all of the different social media vied for my attention. Through all of this the whispering continued.

@berninausa #berninareunion15 #quilting #b790

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The whispering is my own voice. I sift through the other voices to hear my own. It is in tuning out the other voices, perhaps incorporating the wisdom that I can hear my own voice. That my own voice becomes clearer and stronger. As my own voice becomes clearer and stronger my quilting gets better. Mmmm as my quilting gets better my own voice becomes clearer and stronger. And I hear that I am the voice other people hear. And I need to be that voice, a source of encouragement. I’m not paying back or paying forward; giving what was given to me. I’m doing what comes naturally to me.IMG_1041

There will always be noise. It’s just part of life. I am the noise for other quilters. Some to whom I add beauty, some to whom I have not added beauty. The rose above and the sunset speak to how beauty happens. How the noise affects…it creates depth, depth creates beauty.

B 780 back inside of projectEventually the noise settles down and beauty happens. Something is created, new things are learned, new motifs, and yada, yada, yada. (Get it? Yada, oh never mind.)

I’m off to reduce the level of noise a bit, by sitting in front of my sewing machine, cranking up the tunes and stitching.

Happy Quilting!


PS I’m teaching at HMQS this year.

PPS I met Annie Smith but more on that in another blog. Like soon.

The Great Rotary Cutting Incident of 1995

This story begins with my very first rotary cutter that I handed over to the TSA on a flight back from Minnesota Quilts after a way fab teaching trip. I miss that rotary cutter. A lot. Okay not so much really, but it was my first 28mm rotary cutter. And it is with this rotary cutter that our tale begins.

cutting winding ways fossil fernsI began collecting solid color fabrics to make a quilt for my Sweetie on a really fun road trip in 1994. Sometime in early 1995 I decided that I’d make a Double Irish Chain in Amish Colors ala Eleanor Burns. My supplies: an 18″ x 24″ self-healing mat, fat quarters and 1/3 yard cuts (I have since learned how to purchase fabric differently), the rotary cutter and my Nancy Crow 3″ x 24″ ruler*.
Easy peasy, cut 3 1/2″ strips, stitch them together, cut them apart, stitch them back together into blocks and make a quilt. Simple right.

Finally I have some time to work on the quilt. The supplies are out on the table. I’ve “read” the pattern to know what I’m doing. I get started cutting and for a while it’s going well-ish. Let’s just say that liberties were taken in the cutting of this quilt. I remember thinking that I’d remember that this strip was cut a bit short. Well, then it happened.
I place the fabric down, lined it up, put the ruler down, line it up. Placed my hand down to anchor said 3″ wide ruler. Set the rotary cutter, blade exposed to cut the fabric. And in true quilterly fashion zipped the rotary cutter along the size of the ruler at blazing speed. And then the stars shone so brightly.

The forefinger of my left hand was not quite where it was supposed to be, safely away from the edge of the ruler. Nope, it was over the edge of the ruler. Twas in seeing the stars that I realized that it hurt. I ran to the kitchen sink. Since my sweetie was gone for the weekend my mind started thing what happens if…will I need to go to the ER? It’s right around the corner. Will I need stitches? Where is my insurance card and id? Can I get them quickly? Thankfully I didn’t need to find these thing, nor did I need to get to the ER.

The quilting supplies were put away for a couple of months while my finger healed.

And there ends the tale of The Great Rotary Cutting Incident of 1995.

And now, I’m off to quilt.

Well, think about quilting.


PS – it’s a great cautionary when working with new students. I don’t have to say much, quilters have vivid imaginations.

She has a name!

#bernina #berninausa #b790

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Jeannie it is!

Oh yes, I remember this quilt. #Quilting #quilt #superiorthreads

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We’ve had some fun stitching this weekend.

Love the back. Silk thread rocks!

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This is the back. Yes, it is Dupioni Silk. Yes, that is some seriously tiny stitching.

On the top I’m using Superior Tiara 50 wt, variegated silk thread. In the bobbin it’s Superior Kimono 100 wt silk.

I love quilting.

I love teaching too, so I’m actively working on applying to teach at shows next year.
The teaching part is going to, somehow, include a retreat. This is something that’s been on my mind for a few years now and I have a group of quilters to figure this out with. If you’re interested in a 3 day retreat please feel free to contact me and we can get this on the schedule.

Happy Quilting!


Go With the Flow

rock in burr grinderAs a quilter I know it’s important to listen to the needs of the quilts as I’m working piecing and quilting them. It takes time to learn how to listen and trust that the quilt is giving us good information. Reality is it’s learning and informing our brains to know what works and what doesn’t, a good bit of this is subjective (our own personal taste) and some is objective (developing and applying an understanding of color and other principles of art).
One of the simplest things is using the fabrics in the quilt, the shapes, textures, and colors to select colors and patterns for the quilting. I say it’s simple because it’s what I do. It’s what I showed quilters when they asked for help in the quilt shop. It’s what I share when I teach free motion machine quilting. The fabric designers have done some serious work and we can take what they’ve done and let it inspire us.

One of my biggest goals to listen to and meet the needs of my students and write this book.  As I’m listening to the members of the Clamshell Quilt Guild and the Warwick Valley Quilt Guild I’m hearing a lot that is informing how I move forward as a teacher and with this book. Earlier this year I put the book on hold for a few reasons, as I write this I’m beginning to see that I needed several experiences and conversations to wrap my head around a few concepts that were niggling at the back of my head and have recently become clear. As I’m writing this morning I’m having a strong urge to take a red pen to my introduction. Words that I thought were important are becoming less so.
JOURNEYAnd I’m going to be honest here: there is a level of fear. Kind of like entering my first quilt show and doing my first lecture and teaching my first machine quilting classes. Screwing this up is a total possibility and it’s a risk i’m going to move forward with taking. This morning my mind is reeling with possibilities in part because of the two lectures and class I just taught. I’m going to have that same class, with some tweaking with  the Warwick Guild.
I can not thank these quilters enough for allowing me to be part of their journey. More importantly I’m grateful for you all being part of my quilting journey. I love quilting and teaching and writing so much.

Happy Quilting!



JOURNEYWaking up at 4 a.m. because my face hurts from this silly summer cold I have is ridiculous. And I knew it was time to get up because my mind was thinking about the things I need to do. I have a book review to do for Generation Q Magazine that needs photographs to demo technique. What I’d like to do is take pics of a friend using the technique. I’ll bet I can make that happen pretty quickly here. Then there is the work for MSQC and this and that and I’m making pillows for my sister.

One more round of stitching and this one is yours

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My word of the year is Journey. While I’ve been writing more on my other blog about the Journey of it all I thought I’d take a moment and write here. The journey of quilting is something akin to a quilter puddling thread onto a quilt top to see how it looks. We pull several yards off and let it fall where it may. It gives us a sense of how the color will look on our quilts with no straight line in sight. Bliss. Sometimes we think we’re not moving forward however in all reality we’re backtracking to create beautiful feathery designs. Sometimes we think we’re moving forward and out comes our friend the seam ripper. Something goes haywire and out have those must come. It’s a bang head here moment and while it feels frustrating there is often something beautiful that comes from it…better stitching, a better understanding of tension, better color choices, better needle selection.

The quilting journey is the life I love to lead. I love to see what happens when I thread up the machine and just go. Last week I made. I need to finish the directions and a couple of diagrams to go with it.

Next week the quilting Journey takes me to the Clamshell Quilt Guild; the following week the Warwick Valley Quilt Guild. I’m thrilled to bits that I get to talk about quilting and teach. Did I mention that I love to teach? Next weeks class is “Go with the Flow”. Yep. Hopefully I’ll remember to bring my camera and take pictures. I’m giggling already because it rarely happens that I take pictures during class.

I’m loving this quilting journey! I love that I get to quilt, teach, write, edit, buy fabric (as a job), be a BERNINA Ambassador and get to know so many amazing quilters. I love that I get to learn something from them and add their wisdom and experience to what I know/teach/do.

Happy Quilting!