Thursday, March 23, 2017

Books Update

The response for my books has been overwhelming today! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

To preserve stock of books so that I have some to bring to MQX in 10 days, only the next 10 orders will be shipped immediately. I will accept all orders, and they will be shipped in approximately 2 weeks when additionally ordered books arrive.

Thank you for your understanding.

Book Launch

Oh Boy, Today is the day I debut my 2 books on background fills!  I am nervous and excited (and seriously hoping there are not issues!).  They each list for $25, and may be purchased on my website   If you are going to MQX, I will have them there in my classes (or message me).  I will also have a table to sell them at on Saturday 2:30pm after my talk (Meet me at the MQX Lecture Zone).

About the books... they high quality paper, laminated cardstock covers, spiral bound. Both books discuss threads, techniques for stitching, and general ways to better accomplish these designs.  Lots of photos and illustrations.  Designs may be quilted on BOTH longarm and domestic machines! Here is the direct link to my website where the BOOKS may be ordered.  If you want one autographed, indicate that in the "instructions to merchant".

1. Dense & Dainty (93 pg) is all about dense fills that can be stitched free-hand.  These designs require minimal marking and next to no template use.  Though patterns may be scaled to the user's desired size, I like them small anywhere you might be inclined to stipple.   Over 100 designs presented.
Here is a sample from the book...

2. Beautiful Backgrounds (91 pages) is all about grid-based fills.  You'll learn marking, basic fills derived from the Sashiko and how to beautifully embellish them.  There are LOTS of non-Sashiko fills too, over 80 in all.  Fills are for all grids including square, point, triangle, rectangle and hexagon.

Here are a couple samples from the book.

Lastly, for those of you that want to practice the grid-based fills, my Spoonflower shop now sells gridded fabric for 1" and 1/2" square and on-point grids!  Each FQ has 12 5" gridded squares, and each yard has 48 squares.  This fabric is a great accompaniment to the book.  Go to and in the search box at the top right, type "beautifulbackgrounds" to locate these fabrics.  Please note I will not have these at MQX or on my website.
The image above shows what is available on a half yard of the fabric.  These are awesome for practicing and completely eliminate the need to mark the grid.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Large Custom and Small Sampler

The last week was a bust for stay-at-home parents.  We had a snow day (yup, only in Maine do you get 18" in March), a day off from school for conferences, and I even had one day that a kid stayed home.  It was not my most productive.  I did get a sampler for an upcoming class pieced together and quilted though.  This Narrow Border - Big Designs class will debut at Quilt Odyssey in July, and will also be taught at MQX Midwest in September.  I still need to do another sample for the class, but this is a good start (of course quilting this required that I drew no less than 10 pages of designs first!).  I am not sure if I will have the gumption to get a book together on these designs before July but it is in the back of my mind.  Recent issues with my AQS book leave me wanting to run as far and as fast away from books for a while.  It's not an issue that is insurmountable.  Its just that I had really hoped that the book would be available before I teach next month, and sadly, it does not look like it will be. My editor has been simply amazing throughout this process; I am truly lucky.  I'm fortunate that so much care is being put into the quality.  Not releasing until it is right is so much more important than any timeline.

Here is a client quilt I spent what feels like an eternity on.  It was on my frame nearly 2 weeks.  Its a large 90" Sedona Star with machine embroidered applique and lots of piecing.  Areas with the embroidery were very stiff and thick, as they sometimes are with the paper-type stabilizer.  The appliques don't, as a result, show as much relief as they could.

The fabrics are gorgeous desert-like shades.  It reminds me of a sunset, especially the fabric at the outer area of the circle.   

 First, the quilt got a whopping 8-9 hours of ditch stitching to stabilize the piecing and applique. Doing this first in a clear thread allows me to go wherever I want with each color thread afterwards, advancing the quilt as needed.  It has quite a few colors of thread used - peach, turquoise, a variegated, green and probably a couple I forgot.

I tried to choose quilting designs for the spaces that would reveal interesting patterns when the entire quilt is viewed.  The turquoise center circles have an unexpected pumpkin seed design because one of the fabrics has this pattern on it.

The pattern put in the large sunset triangles (below) is intended to draw from the shapes in the embroideries.  I made a template, then marked all 9 spaces identically with chalk.
 This is the center star.  The quilt is unusual because all stars have 9 points and there are 9 similar pieces around the quilt.  Typically you see 8, or 12 or 16, but not 9.
Thanks to all of you that posted about my soon-to-be released books.  The second book set arrived this week.  I am all ready to make the link on my website live.  I am just waiting on delivery of some mailers that were ordered.  I am anxious for them to go onsale.  For those of you attending MQX in 2 weeks, I will have some there to sell.  I will have them in my classes, unless you purposefully flag me down or email ahead of time to let me know you want to buy one.  Unfortunately, I won't be at the Ice Cream Social, which would be a great time to have these available to students not in my classes.  I will be in Manchester Wed thru Saturday, and I am not teaching on Saturday.  If you are interested, and don't want to pay shipping, send me a private message with your email and I will message you from the show.

Monday, March 06, 2017


I cannot believe it has been a month since I was here last.  I have certainly been busy, with no shortage of great things to share.  Winter kind of puts me into a funk because I truly hate the Maine winters, and the seclusion they drive me to.  

But let me introduce you to one of the projects that has kept me moving steadily since last November, when I started to write the first of these.  Yes, I have 2 self-published books that will be for sale from my website in about 3 weeks.  They are intended to accompany two of the classes I love to teach, and expand on the material I present in these classes.
 The first is Beautiful Backgrounds...Grid-Based Fills.  These books are actually sitting in my studio right now, but I want to wait debuting them until the others are in house too.  This is a high-quality self-published book, 94 color pages.  Pages are heavy 80# stock, and the covers are a 100# laminated stock.  I labored heavily over self-publishing because I didn't want the books to look crappy, like they were made in somebody's basement.  I went so far as to get a proof printed at Amazon's service in January.  I discovered when the book arrived that more quilters wanted the spiral binding than a book binding, and that Amazon's paper and cover choices were not good enough quality.

I spoke to all local printing outfits in my home area, and also got quotes from several mail order services.  The best quality for the money happened to be a mail-order outfit.  Those of you that order these will agree too.  I am confident of that.  

Beautiful Backgrounds features  nearly 75 grid-based fills from the traditional Sashiko patterns to other more modernized fills.  There are good-sized color photos as well as numbered color illustrations of the steps for quilting.  My illustrations are easy to follow.  
Dense & Dainty...Freehand Fills officially went to the publisher this morning.  I spent the last weekend combing over the proof they sent, making modifications to this and that.  It features 95 color pages of over 100 unique freehand fills, suitable for everything from a traditional quilt to the modern alternatives.   Illustrations in both books are all hand-drawn by ME...and thankfully by the good graces of my scanner, Photoshop and Illustrator, they have a very professional finish.
Here is a snippet from the interior.  Like the grids book, this also features LOTS of photos and illustrations, as well as photos from actual quilts where fills have been used.
 I have done my research, and I know that both of these books are close to the most inclusive books on these two topics that are available on the market.  The each will sell for $25.

I will post a notice here when the website goes live (Presently it is getting some updates, and details worked out to link safely and properly with paypal), but the plan is to go live the beginning of April!

Have a great week!!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

On Hiatus

I have just finished quilting an 8-day very large custom quilt.  This top was immaculately pieced, and layed as flat or flatter than anything I make.  The pieces on this are all single pieces, and are enormous.  Every time I quilted something, it required rolling the quilt back and forth on the frame to be able to quilt the entire section.  I just cannot describe how tiring that was for my shoulders every day.  To say I was happy to have it done yesterday was an understatement.
 This quilt is similar to my Postcards from Venice quilt that I made in 2010-11.  Her's is better pieced! I decided to quilt the medallion similarly, but a little different.  I put feathers in the criss-crossing bands, and lines radially out the brown patches.  The biggest problem was finding a thread that worked on all 3 colors because if it didn't, there would be a TON of tying off.  I chose a Superior Fantastico for the feather bands, and then a turquoise SoFine for the brown.  Initially, I started the brown with brown thread, but tracking from one section to the next in brown looked crappy.
The center is fused applique.  It's a great design for this type of quilt, with the lovely Arabeque details,  Because it is fused, though, it lays kind of stiff, and not puffy like applique should.  The very center is a great piece of machine embroidery - a very nice touch.

I wanted to bring the Arabesque feature of the center medallion out into other areas of the quilt, within a reasonable budget anyways.  I chose a 9" stencil, and embellished it as is shown.  The stencil itself is rather simple, but the shape is why I chose it. It is quilted in the same variegated aqua thread as the feathers were quilted in.
 I then added the arch above the stencil, and the pebbles on the stencil, as well as a line of echo quilting around the stencil.
 Next, in a 50wt turquoise thread, I added the feathered details.  I just wanted the texture here, not the thread.
The area under the arabesque arch is stippled in a brown So Fine thread.  It brings a subtle color to the turquoise fabric. It also works because this is a Shot Cotton, and it is woven with turquoise and brown threads.
The area outside of the arch is quilted with a fill, also in the turquoise thread.  The next photo is deceptive because it does not indicate how huge this triangle really is.  There are actually 8 of these triangles.
I copied the same stencil to the outer border, but in a smaller size.  I also added a rope stencil detail about 2-3" from the edge.  This is a nice way to subdivide a very wide border.

 Linework 1/2" spaced is outside of the rope, and a fill in brown SoFine is inboard.
With this behind me, my next 2 weeks are about getting my stuff wrapped up.  I loaded a piece of silk today to quilt off a teaching and book sample.  That should be finished up early this week.  I have one more class sample to quilt - just a nice small 20" star, nothing too taxing.  I am gearing up for my kids' vacation week in 2 weeks, when I have to get my daughter's quilt loaded and help her quilt this. Neither of us are all that psyched this year, but at a mere 36", it should at the least be relatively quick. Here's a sneak peek at a fills sample I have started...Lots more fills to come!
Hope your weekend is better than mine ... :-)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Big Surprises and Progress with a Client Quilt

Last week brought phenomenal news.  The Road to CA show in Ontario, CA -- where I hope to possibly teach in the future, took place.  This is a big show, on a level just beneath Paducah and Houston.  It attracts many well-known talented international quilters.  Much to my complete surprise, on Tuesday night, I received an email with the results of the judging. I had 2 quilts out there.

My new quilt just finished last October, won the top award!  Best of Show at a show like Road is still kind of unthinkable for me.  This is a fun and personal quilt for me.  It represents fabrics, colors and processes that speak to me, and to have it rewarded so well is sweet.  And yes, that is one monster-sized ribbon, over 3' long!
 My other quilt that was there, From the Bride's Trousseau, also did well -- Outstanding Traditional Quilt.  This is another of the top and very well paying awards.  It is hard to believe.  I was considering retiring this quilt before it was sent to Houston, where it ribboned.  It may have a show or two left to attend.  It has certainly exceeded my expectations for a little whole cloth quilt.
 While the show was going on, I was here in frigid new England quilting on my client's quilts.  This is Carol's.  She from Panama - can't you tell by her warm, sunny choice of fabrics?!  I love the orange. She hand pieces her quilts too.
I did a mini for her a couple years ago that was this same pattern.  This one is 70" square.  By the end I was getting mighty tired of ditch stitching these circles, but it turned out wonderfully.  When she gets it back, she'll be happy. 
 here's a closeup...It has wool batting, and orange YLI Polished poly thread.  I ditched every circle, and they were echo quilted twice to make the framing show more.  These are done with continuous quilting across the entire row.  How, you ask?...bu sneaking in the ditch now and then where it won't show.  I'd never do this with all the apparent stops and starts.  Her backing is crazy busy, so it hides everything.  It would have been totally different with a solid backing.
 I'm up to more little projects than I can count or show.  Here's a sneak peek at one of them.  I have started (well, now it is closer to done) hand-painting a part of this new show quilt.  It has a name now, "Taking the Uncharted Road".  It seemed like a fitting name with it's mariner's compass and the binding that most certainly did not come with directions.
I have a couple of other surprises, but they will come out in due time.

Right now, I am trying my best to prioritize that which must get done, and I am not entirely sure it will.  My mood is deep in the dregs of winter.  The new president and his petty, unnecessary ways have me feeling sad and depressed, and not as productive as I'd like to be.  Nobody wants to read about a political sob-story on a quilting blog, but suffice it to say he is a complete embarrassment, and I am ashamed to be an American right now.  He is everything I thought he'd be during his campaign and more.  Sadly none of it is good.  I have a bad feeling, and it is hard to shake.

There, said.  Done.  Now we can get back to the goodness you came to this blog for.
Have a good week,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Amazing News!

Well, Heavens to Betsy...Look at that - Somehow half of January crept by without me realizing that my blog hadn't been updated.  I have certainly been busy (perhaps not quite as productive as I ought to be, but definitely busy doing something!).

Much of my time recently has been spent working out the details and creating the samples for my new classes which will debut this April at MQX.  You all know by now that this is definitely my favorite quilt show.  It's a real good thing too that it is under 2 hours from home!!

Oh, and a tidbit of book news.  My AQS book, though delayed, is moving as quickly thru the editing process as possible.  Nobody wants it done and published more than me and my AQS editor.  Due to their downsizing, a small yet pertinent detail that the book WAS supposed to contain the quilt patterns seemed to slip through their cracks.  It has been resurrected, and they have this detail to get put onto CD, and then she's off to the printers!  AND <>  I have the complete manuscript for a second book which I am self-publishing all done.  I have already printed a proof copy, and am currently researching possible local print shops to run the books for me.  It is about the Grid-Based fills, and will accompany one of my favorite classes that will be taught at MQX.  Now, if I can get kids in school, husband outta the house, I just might make the other self-published book I have on my back burner, if not by April, then soon after.  Phew... yes, I have been busy.

I have learned today that I have actually been nominated for this!...Really not sure how this happened, but mighty grateful.  I have spent years trying to make this blog an informative and educational experience for quilters.  More recently, I have been teaching them in a classroom setting too.  Somebody must have been learning something :-)

Let me tell you about this award.  It does not have to be given to a teacher that is teaching at MQX this year.  It will go to the teacher that inspired and educated the most.  If you find it in your liking to nominate or vote for a teacher, here is the link.  Be sure that you write something though about how or what this person did because those voting on the recipient are looking more specifically at what the teacher did, than the quantity of votes.

I am gearing up to custom quilt a couple of beautiful client quilts, just as soon as their batting arrives. In the meantime, here is a glimpse at some of my craziness.    This is my quilt that will actually debut at MQX.  I have yet to choose a name, but it is coming right along.  The very-crazy binding/edging has been an adventure and a half, and I am sure you'd love to hear about HOW exactly I made it, just as soon as it goes to show.  I am getting ready to (maybe) add some hand-painting to the interlocked arches around the NYB blocks.  It's still a big "maybe", because I am kind of chicken to take the first step!
When not writing or editing, I have been busy like a bee creating some samples for my new classes. This is a sneak peek of one of them.  When I am done, I will have several similar mini-quilts, all geared to assist in showing my design process.  Thank goodness to my mother, who made time to whip up 2 of these star blocks for me.   Though my class is technically full, I am very likely to be trying to teach this class at other venues as well, including MQX midwest in late September.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Christmas Projects

Last week I foolishly decided on Dec 20 to make up a couple of very last minute presents.  I often make gifts, but have been turned off in recent years because I never but never see what I make in one of their homes.  Maybe I should take a hint. Probably, definitely.   But Christmas was being done at my house, and both sides of the family would be there.  It would be more awkward to make something for one and not for both.  Seriously, it is not like I had the time for this.  I have a couple client quilts I really needed to get quilting on, but I have been working out issues on my new machine, and one of them is still prohibiting doing anything very large.

Last Sunday, I sketched these runners up, and had them mostly cut out within about an hour.  No time to overthink anything.  They are simple and use the pretty fabrics as the "show". I had the tops pieced within 3 hours on Tuesday, still quilting on a client quilt. My window to do the quilting was when the client quilt was done...Wednesday.  Keep it Simple - that was the rule.
I have made a couple of other seasonal runners for my MIL - spring and fall I think.  This is the Christmas/winter one.  Not sure if I hit the mark or anywhere close to it judging by her always questionable expressions while opening, but I like it.  It has some great red and gold fabrics I have hoarded for many years.
 The other runner is in blues, my mom's favorites.  It's dark, but hopefully not too dark.
 Gray is something of an unlikely choice, but it lightens up the design, and shows the feathers.
 These were done with Glide and YLI Polished Poly threads.  Single batting.  These dots have the worst machine applique known to man, but I lacked time for the handwork.
I even did both bindings by machine.  Happily, the binding is just about the best machine binding I have ever done.  Not having the corners did help.
 Few more close-up shots...

Christmas is just not my holiday.  Too much greed, and hyperness.  Why can't people just give one appropriate gift, selected specifically FOR the recipient?  It always bugs me when a gift is chosen because it is something YOU like, but then the recipient is like "huh?"  I always get these.  There's a few that are special, and then piles of not-so-special.  We all need to work harder to just seek out the special, Oh well, it is all over.  Everything but the lingering 400 boxes in our garage, and the stuff all over the living room.  I need another nap just thinking about it all.

Anybody with a 14, soon-to-be-15 year old knows that they don't willingly say "take my picture", so we have to hold onto the few we get. It may have come with a bribe of Thai food.  I'll never tell.
 And here you have it, the 2016 forced-smile family photo.  "Smile once, and we can all go eat.  Be goofy and grumpy and we'll try this all night".

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A newly finished oldie & a discussion on ettiquite

For those of you that don't know, I sold my Fusion 2 weeks ago.  It was a bittersweet moment as the new buyer and I took her apart, a month more than 7 years after I first put her together.  We made hundreds of great quilts together and started a business together.   What you may not realize is that while I was in Houston, I bought a new machine...a new Fusion!  It was installed 10 days ago - just 3 days after the old one headed to its new home.  I have been working on a few of my own quilts to "work out the kinks", before tackling a custom client quilt.

I finished a couple of small things 2 days ago when I got that wild hair to do something for myself. Somewhere near 6 yrs ago, I made this runner for myself.  The blocks were made from fabrics used in a block swap I participated in.  For whatever reason, I had 9 or 10 leftover blocks after the quilt was made, so a few runners were made.  I kept one of them.  This would have been sometime during the first year I had the old longarm.

 These particular star blocks were actually made by me, although most of the blocks on the quilt were made by others.  You'll see that in a moment.  I quilted it fairly simple.  It was pretty, but nothing terribly special.  A 50 wt So Fine thread was used.  This thread is great, but it is flat and appears somewhat utilitarian.
I didn't know how to make feathers then (or not at all well!).  It was also apparent that my machine was having a timing issue too, as there are places of skipped stitches.  What always bothers me is that when clients come to drop off or pick up quilts, we use my dining room.  It always has a runner on the table, and not a one of my runners were quilted in recent years.  They may have nice colors and piecing/applique, but the quilting is not in any way indicative of what I can do.   I am often ashamed. It was time to rectify that.
 Here is the quilt where most of the swap blocks went -- all in the same color scheme which I love.
I quilted this right before I went to the Handi Quilter retreat in the fall of 2010.  It was done knowing it would likely be in the ad that was being shot during the retreat.  I tried to quilt it as good as I could! Here's a peek at what the ad looked like...This is actually a banner that hung at trade shows.

 So, rather than doing this the right way (remove binding, then skin the quilt top from the batting and backing, I foolishly did it the hard way!  I basted fabric to the binding and loaded it all to the longarm.  I then proceeded to remove the quilting section by section, requilting as I went.  Had I done it the right way, I'd have added a layer of batting...something it really needs. Oh well.

 I used Glide threads on all of it.  This 40wt thread has a pretty sheen, giving this a more formal look.  It is also much more densely quilted -- more to my aesthetic.  There's much better ditching, and more ruler work, feathers and cross-hatching.  It is just a nicer quilting, representative of my added 93 million stitches of experience!  Yup, that was the stitch counter when my machine was sold.

If you have gotten this far, then I have a very important thing to discuss.  You may have discovered that you are not able to right-click and save photos from my blog.  Many people do this so that they can repost them somewhere else.  Less reputable folks do much worse.  I believe that these are my work, and my property, and I don't want people to do this.  You may also have noticed that I have an explicit copyright statement on the right sidebar too, asking you not to use my materials or photos without my consent.  Artists should not have to write this, but I have.  And I do expect others to respect that.  I make quilts for show, and create techniques that I teach, and do NOT want them to be widely dispersed by others.  This is my livelihood.  Please respect it.

I have recently discovered many photos were taken by a website called QuiltersHub, as well as many others that post them to Pinterest.  Quilting Hub posts quilters photos, but receives income for every person that visits their site.  They are profiting off of us, without our consent, and it is wrong.  Please take note that I will stop sharing things if this continues.  The large watermarks on my photos above are really irritating to look at, I know that, but I don't want my information copied against my will just because some of you know how to do it.  Too many people that post and repost to Pinterest don't bother to give credit to the artist.  Even if you do credit the artist, GET THEIR CONSENT!

Thank you.