September 13, 2019

Scrappy and Fabulous things are happening

School started and so has the rain in Portland. We're no longer trying to camp and play in the water every spare moment! We ate soup this week and baked an apple crisp with our homegrown apples. The little delights that make it easier to say farewell to warmer, drier days. And moving indoors more means it's finally time to open the computer and send a report!

I spent a large part of my work time this summer sewing my scraps together. How about these little crumbs and strings??

As you can see, when I use my scraps up I use them improvisationally, without cutting them to a specific size first. I love working this way. It is so intuitive and spontaneous. I feel like it is profoundly therapeutic to just sit down and match fabrics together and sew them up. 

Sometimes using a lot of scraps together can have a chaotic "too much" effect and so I used different techniques to control the chaos. Whether that's adding some solids for visual order, narrowing a color scheme, grouping by color or working light to dark, I think a little intentionality goes a long way. 

I often throw myself into sewing when the kids are at their dads. It makes the time go faster and I can immerse myself in color and shapes in a way I can't when I'm also being a mom. That focused, deep work pattern lends itself to big projects!! All these samples were done as I was preparing a new class for Bluprint! Some shots taken by my producer, Brandon, give you a behind the scenes glimpse.

Shooting these classes is exhilarating and exhausting. There are always three cameras going! I usually come away feeling a funny mixture of warm pride and extreme self consciousness. Ha! Anyway, I think this will be a really fun class! I hope it gets people using up their scraps!

Bluprint's editing of my last class was very well done. It made it feel upbeat and happy, two things I love. But that great work takes time, so it'll be a month or so before this one is ready to share. I'm sure I'll be back here with blog tutorials on a lot of these scrappy things too, because there's only so much you can fit into a class! If you have a request for a tutorial on any of the specific designs I shared above please let me know so I can prioritize!

And there's one more happy thing on the horizon: Just today the news was also released that this year I took on a new challenge in the quilting world: fabric design. Maywood Studio, here in Portland, brought me into their circle of designers. My first collection is called Moongate and we will be showing more of it next month when Quilt Market happens. What we made together is beautiful, versatile, unique and sparkly. I'm so. excited. to share more, but for now, just this little graphic with hints about the collection will have to do!! Happy weekend and happy stitching everyone!

March 14, 2019

FMQ videos on You Tube, and book news!

Hi! Just a quick post today, because there's good things to share!

First, I've figured out how to quickly make little FMQ videos where I draw designs and babble about them. I posted my first one to YouTube, here it is!

If you like the video, you can subscribe to my channel on YouTube to get notifications when I post more of them.

And I'm so thrilled that my new book seems to be arriving ahead of schedule! I haven't told you much about it so how about I do that! If you're interested, preorder info is at the end of this post.

Step-by-Step Texture Quilting is all about how to get lovely texture in your quilting. It pulls together a lot of the things I've learned and tried since my last free motion quilting book came out in 2015. It covers the material I teach in my in person classes on textures and grids: including side by side examples to show you how small changes affect the look of your quilting. 

Then we just jump into different free-motion (or free-motion and walking foot) designs that have great textural effect. All the designs you can see in these photos are in the book. 

You'll see some of the designs are geometric, stitched in a grid: I show you how to set up different walking foot grids that will fit your quilt. 

Other designs are done completely with the free-motion foot, what I call organic designs.

The photography and design of this book are beautiful. I could never have made such a beautiful book without the genius team at C&T Publishing. I hope this new book gives you lots of ideas of how to finish your quilts the way you want! The possibilities are endless, but I know when I sit down to quilt something I can forget how many options there are and I need something to help spark ideas. I wrote this book to share a bunch of ideas in a way that you could use them as is, or adapt them to your own style. I can't wait to hear what you think!

Amazon has Step-by-Step Texture Quilting right now for an unbelievable price. Seriously, I don't know how they can offer it this low and cover shipping. I wish I could do that. For my readers in the US, if you prefer buying from the little folks, I don't have as good a deal to offer but I can sign it for you! Ha! That's something Amazon can't do! The signed book is $27.50 total with shipping. To preorder, write your name in the text box below (so I know who I should sign the book to! For some of you the name you go by is not the name on your PayPal account.) and then click "Pay Now" to pay with PayPal.   Preorders are now closed but you can still order the book through your local quilt shop or online!

I'll send the books as soon as I receive them. Probably by next weekend! This is a limited time preorder and it will only be up for the next week.  Going to the Post Office for me is like getting close to a black hole: it ages me, so I only do it when it's super important. Haha! Thanks for reading to the end for my silly joke! Happy stitching!

February 28, 2019

Free-Motion Quilted Gifts: now playing!

I have a new online class! It is the prettiest thing I've ever done on camera and I can't wait to see what you do with it! Free-Motion Quilted Gifts is premiering today on Bluprint!

Making this class with the team at Bluprint has been lovely. They really understood what I wanted to teach and how. They took my ideas and helped me make them fresh and happy and energetic: just what I wanted to put out in the world.

This is a sort of choose your own adventure class. Do you want to learn how to quilt some new designs? I've got you covered! Do you have a quilted panel that you'd like to turn into something giftable? Boom, download the pattern, and watch the episode on making it: done.

In this class I teach you how to make three different gifts that each start with a fat quarter. First we quilt it, then we do the turning-it-into-a-gift magic! We make journal covers, baskets and zippered bags.

I worked to make the patterns simple so they could stitch up quick. Starting with an already-quilted panel it takes me about 30 minutes or less to make one. And every one can be different. In each project lesson I show how you can adapt the project for your own style. There's so many possibilities!

For those of you who enjoy watching free-motion quilting, we've got plenty of it! Three different lessons focusing on free-motion designs and variations. The free motion designs I teach each have a strong texture, and never leave you wondering which direction to go next.  If you've been saying you want to get better at free-motion quilting I hope this class gives you the motivation to sit down for some real juicy practice-with-a-purpose!

I could probably go on and on about Free-Motion Quilted Gifts (check out the bonus lesson!!) but really what I want is for anyone who is already a Bluprint subscriber to check it out and tell me what you think! If you've never tried Bluprint then good news, you can watch the class for just $7.99 and get a month of Bluprint as well. 

That's everything, except I wanted to let you know that my 6 year old son thinks Bluprint forgot the "e" in blue and he asked me when I'm going to let them know. Ha! Happy stitching everyone!

February 27, 2019

Auction report!

I finished the auction quilts!

Here is "The Clearing"

And here is "The Cave"

Each 47ish" by 57ish" quilt included patchwork strips from over 50 4th grade students. I pieced the strips together and then quilted them. That simple sentence makes it sound fast. It wasn't fast. It was fun but there was enough squirrelly construction and gobs of glue to make the quilting step rather difficult and I'm glad that's over!! I did enjoy the kids' energy when I brought the finished quilts in. They were delighted to sign the backs and wanted to spend time finding their strips. I wish I had gotten better pictures but it all happened in a rush because I was off to QuiltCon.

Oh and about QuiltCon: it was so fun! I taught 5 classes and gave a lecture. So many sweet people had nice things to say about my teaching. That felt so good.  And I even received a special QuiltCon delivery of a handmade gift and heart warming note from Brenda at Scraps and Strings, a longtime friend from this blog. Could it be more perfect? Wedges and free-motion quilting! I'm in love!

It made me glow. See?

I took that photo in front of my quilt Quasar. It looked downright humble next to so many artful and dynamic quilts in the show. I came home full of ideas and of course, wishing I could just go off grid for a week to quilt!

The night before QuiltCon I finished a quilt top for my beginning free motion class to baste and quilt during the class.

I can't get enough of ombres these days! This one is made from two jelly rolls of Maywood studio's Gelato fabrics. YUM! Here's my students basting it. Do you have any name suggestions? Should I write out the pattern?

I'm happy to report that together the student's auction quilts pulled in over $1500 at our school auction last weekend. WOW! I'm already feeling excited about next year's auction. Maybe I can work with my son's class next time!

Anyway, that's all for now. Big news coming tomorrow from Bluprint though... Here's a peek! See you soon!

February 05, 2019


Today I get to show the other quilt of mine that will be in the QuiltCon show: introducing "Quasar".

This is a wedge quilt. But instead of the wedges being the focus, they become the background or "negative space" in the design and the focus is on the pieced strips between them. So the QuiltCon category I chose for this one is "use of negative space". If you have my book Wedge Quilt Workshop, I talk about using strips between wedges. This is one of the many possibilities with that approach!

This uses a 10 degree wedge template. I drafted my own because neither of the 10 degree rulers out there were the right size for this quilt. But working with paper templates is almost as easy as using a wedge ruler so no biggie. You have 72 seams creating that circle there. I knew it would be precise work, which is not really my strong suit, but it came together pretty well and with minimal exasperation!

I used only two fabrics for the quilt: the solid is from the Cotton Couture line and the rays are a Gelato ombre from Maywood Studio. Maywood studio is based here in Portland, and some lovely friends of mine work there. It feels just perfect that their fabric made the sparkly magic happen in this design! I had a great time quilting this on my domestic machine and I was a little sad when I was done. I wanted to get a lot of texture in there!

The pattern for this quilt will be published in QuiltCon magazine, which is available online now or later this month in print. And how about this: they put my quilt on the cover! I had to go back and check my email an hour after I read that: I started thinking maybe I had misunderstood. But no, it's real. What an honor! I'm tickled and I keep looking at the photo of the cover because WOW.

Thank you to the many volunteers who offered to help me pattern test. I'm finishing up my auction quilts for the kids' school, and then I'll be emailing you!

January 29, 2019

Modern Traditional Texture Sampler

I have two quilts that will be at QuiltCon this year. This is one of them!

I made this quilt to feature different free motion textures in my upcoming book. Rather than quilting a bunch of individual small samples I thought I would rather have one nice finished quilt to show. The stimulus to create it was practical, but I think it turned out really lovely! I designed the quilt during the Winter Olympics last year and I'm pretty sure I was under the influence of seeing all those different flags from around the world!

I picked the colors from the Pure Elements Solids line, and Art Gallery Fabrics sent me some to work with. I forced myself to work outside of usual color scheme and that was downright successful! It feels very energetic.

The most fun thing about this quilt is that my sister helped me make it! So the very first quilt she ever made is already in a quilt show, how about that? As usual I was behind schedule on the book because how does anyone get it all done you guys and she offered to help. It was so fun helping her do cutting and patchwork for the first time! Every block that was squares and/or rectangles she put together herself. The ones with angles I took care of. I think it worked out great.

When we started I gave her free reign to use whatever colors she wanted from the 13 that I had picked, with the recommendation that in any individual block the colors were analogous (lying right next to each other on the color wheel). I am certain that her color instincts are different than mine and that is where she really left her mark on this quilt.

I arranged the blocks and pieced them together. Then I got to quilt the top in all the lovely designs I had put in the book.

It was fun! I'm glad it will hang at QuiltCon. I'm a little self conscious about the back of the quilt: there was some funny stuff with the thread tension on the back in a couple of the blocks and I didn't notice when it was happening. It wasn't terrible, but I thought that some people might look at the back of the quilt too and I felt a little embarrassed. I tried to see if I could darken the red thread with a marker to match the backing better but that didn't work, so oh well. I can be calm about it.

It is sometimes hard for me to pick categories for my quilts from among the ones available for QuiltCon. I picked "Modern Traditionalism" because it is a sampler quilt, with a definite modern flair, incorporating some classic blocks as well as a ton of negative space (because how else are you going to show off your FMQ?).

I kept reasonably good notes of what I did when I made this quilt. Right now I am working on testing the angular blocks to make sure I wrote it down right, so I can get a pattern written! My goal is to have the pattern out around the time the book comes out, in early April. Does anyone who works kind of fast want to help me test a few blocks?

January 25, 2019

An Auction Quilt in the Making

Here is a project I'm working with for the annual art auction at my children's school. I'm working with the fourth graders and it's going SO WELL!!

When I signed up to lead the project for all of the over 100 (!!!) fourth graders I thought it would be fun to do something with fabric. I thought about it for a while and came up with a scrappy quilt (well, two scrappy quilts) based on value. Now unfortunately I would only have about 45 minutes with each class of 26 or so kids. I didn't think sewing machines or irons were going to be feasible or safe with so many students. I assumed hand sewing wouldn't fit in the time provided. So I settled on something verrrrrrrry similar to sew and flip foundation string piecing. I'll call it "glue and flip".

Since a lot of people are liking the look of this and asking me how I did it, let me share quickly how I approached it. I started by cutting a 30" strip for each student. The strips were 2" to 2.5" wide. I made them variable size so that when I inevitably had to cut some down due to mistakes it wouldn't be obvious. I cut up SO MANY of my scraps (if you decide to do this, you need more scraps than you think, or at least I did!). I bought a bunch of glue sticks, the purple ones so they could see where they had put the glue. We stapled each kid's name to the end of their strips to keep the classes straight and make sure we didn't misplace one.

Scraps were sorted into three different groups: light, medium and dark.

I showed them a quilt, I'd made, talked briefly about what a quilt is, told them we were going to make a quilt together and showed them a finished strip I'd made. I pointed out how it was dark at one end and light at the other. I pointed out how you couldn't see the fabric strip between the fabrics, or the raw edges. Then I demonstrated the technique three times.

The technique is:
First, put a dab of glue on the end of the strip and just place your first scrap over that. Show them that the scraps go beyond the side edges and they are supposed to do that. You'll trim them up at the end. For each piece of fabric after the first one, here is how they add it:

Using the glue stick, apply a strip of glue to the raw edge of the last scrap AND a strip of glue onto the foundation piece. 

 Lay the next piece face down aligning the edges. Some kids really do not get this face-down-edges-aligned thing. Clearly point out what you're doing during your demo. After it's in place, press it down to get the glue stuck.

Next flip it back, leaving a little bit of a "seam allowance" (I didn't use this term with them, I called it the folded underside). This was the hardest part for them. Some kids want to pull it back too far and expose all the glue and raw edges, some want to leave like an inch or more. Show them clearly during your demo how far you are folding it back. Double check as they start that everyone is getting this part.

Finally, have them roll the seam flat. I had a few seam rollers available and for the rest of the kids we gave them ink brayers, which the art teacher had plenty of. They worked great! It gives the folded edge a nice crease without needing to sew or iron.

Now, not everyone gets value. And that's why I sorted the scraps for them. Seriously I asked another mom to help me sort them and it was clear that it was stressful to her and based on where I found the fabrics I think seeing value is just hard for some people. If you had more time you could make this part of the project, maybe have some of that red film for people to look through, but we didn't have that. My solution was only putting one group of fabrics on the table at first (the darks) and not adding mediums until they'd gotten about 1/3 of the strip filled with the darks. Then once they were about 2/3 of the way done I distributed piles of lights. It was really fun doing this part, I felt like the fabric fairy and I loved hear audible gasps as I set down handfuls of fresh fabric for them to choose from. Having only a small pile on the table kept them from pawing endlessly through a bag. Only adults got to paw through the bag in the interest of time and crowd control.

A few students work slow, of course. As we were approaching our last 15 minutes the adults started doing 1-on-1 support with kids that weren't going to be able to finish without help. I would glue, they would choose the fabric, they would roll. We had an adult to child ratio of 1 to 8 in the morning. That was doable but 1 to 6 that we had in the afternoon was a world of difference. Some kids got almost to the edge but not quite. For those I just tucked under the final raw edge and glued it down (see the picture above of a finished strip from the back).

Once I got home I did a quick line of stitching up one side of each strip, about 1/8" from the edge, just to make sure no one's creation disintegrated. Then I pressed and trimmed them (I think you could press before the stay stitching if you prefer, I just really wanted all those fabrics locked down). Then I started sewing them together. There is a row of strips on the top and a row of strips on the bottom of the quilt, with the dark ends of the strips meeting in the middle of the quilt. Here's a closeup of the first strips on my design wall.

They sure look pretty and I'm having a great time putting them together! I'll update when there's progress to share. My first session with the kids was three weeks ago and when I was back at the school yesterday several of the students told me they had fun doing the project. I can't wait to bring the finished quilts back and show them what they created together! I hope this helps those of you that want to bring patchwork into the classroom! If you try doing this with kids in your life let me know how it goes!!