The Christmas Countdown is on…

17 Dec

Fellow Quilters,

Why is it that the days in December seem 2 hours shorter and my To-do list is 2 hours longer?  Can we postpone Christmas for a week or so?  No point – I still wouldn’t be ready!  Inevitably, someone on my list will get a “potential” gift, a.k.a. an I.O.U.  The people on my list have wizened up over the years, and stopped requesting gifts that might need to be made.  Now they ask for gift cards.

If you’ve been extra good this year and your significant other is looking for something special for you, I have the perfect suggestion:  a 15-day Australia & New Zealand cruise for mid-February 2016!  The folks at Quilt Camp at Sea  ( have asked me to teach 2 sets of classes on this cruise, so I will be doing hand sashiko

Sashiko sampler

Sashiko sampler

and fusible appliqué landscape.  The hubby has once again offered to carry my bags.  It seems like such a long way off, but I know that spots fill up quickly, and some of my classes are already full.  Pat and Len do such an amazing job of taking care of every detail on these cruises, and many of the cruisers already booked on this trip have been on several previous cruises with our group.   My quilting “bud” Dodi Poulson is also teaching on this cruise, and I am really looking forward to cruising with her again.   Dodi and I taught on the Panama cruise earlier this year, and her classes are always popular. Now, some of you are asking “What if I don’t have a significant other?”  Treat yourself, of course!  This will fit nicely in your own stocking.  Hands up, all those who put stuff in their own stockings.  I do!  Heck!  My stocking would be half-empty if I didn’t.  I put in “fun” stuff like new silicone spatulas, emery boards and tubes of hand lotion.  Of course, it would be nice to get quilty stuff like cones of variegated King Tut thread and packs of rotary cutter blades, but my family doesn’t even know what a rotary cutter is.

Speaking of quilty Christmas stuff, I was featured yesterday on Electric Quilt’s blog – they are doing a Christmas Countdown, with 21 days of free projects. 16-PattiCarey-Slider I posted the project that I made with Northcott’s Christmas Traditions collection that was patterned in Quiltmaker magazine’s Quilts From 100 Blocks earlier this year.  If you get a chance, pop on over to EQ’s blog and see all of the projects ( ).  My friend Linda Franz of Inklingo is today’s featured artist, and she has some terrific give-aways on her blog.  In 2015, I want to learn more of the fabulous features built in to EQ (wow! – a New Year’s resolution already).

I used EQ to design my eye-catching Emerald Dawn quilt featured in the January/February 2015 issue of McCall’s Quilting. patti-article It is made with the Artisan Spirit – Falling Leaves collection by award-winning Canadian fiber artist Elaine Quehl.  Elaine hand-dyes her own fabrics, and Northcott’s Creative Director Deborah Edwards managed to recreate Elaine’s look with printed fabric.  There is even a pre-printed fabric that looks like one of Elaine’s quilts.  The spread in the magazine looks fabulous.  I was especially thrilled to see that Sherry Bain Driver highlighted my quilt in her column on quilting.  The quilt has a fairly wide outer border, and I stretched myself with my quilting in the border to break it up and modernize it.  Sherry noticed!  Elaine’s next collection is Poppy Passion, based on her Poppy quilt, and I can’t wait to play with this one too!  The colors are luscious.

Speaking of quilting, I am waaaay behind on quilting tips for you!  In my post from forever ago (April), I said that I would include a quilting tip in each post this year.  I am 5 tips behind, so let’s get started.

1)  I baste the layers of my quilt together with a basting gun.  My favorite is the June Tailor or Avery Dennison one because the needle is small.  I don’t like the June Tailor Micro-tack because, while the needle is very small, the tacks are too short for my method of basting.  Use the needle of the gun as you would the tip of a safety pin.

Take a small "stitch" with the needle of the basting gun

Take a small “stitch” with the needle of the basting gun

To baste the layers, insert the needle down through all 3 layers at a slight angle, then come back up through to the top at a slight angle, taking only 1/8” of backing fabric.  Use your index finger on your other hand to hold the quilt down while you bring the needle back up and push the fabric onto the needle while you “click” the gun (push the tack through the fabric).  You can’t take a big “stitch” of backing fabric because the tack isn’t very long.  Notice that all 3 layers are held tightly together and cannot shift. Be careful not to put too much sideways pressure on the needle or it will break.  I always have 1 back-up needle just in case.  I put my tacks 8” apart because I am free-motion quilting and there is no pull on the quilt from the feed dogs on my machine.  It takes me 5 minutes to baste a small lap quilt, and 20 minutes to baste a queen-size one, including layering time.

2)  I wear Quilter’s Gloves by Nancy Odom.  They are the best $10 you will spend.  Once upon a time, I took a workshop from Laura Heine, and noticed that she had cut the finger tips off of her gloves.

Nancy Odom's Quilters Gloves with the tips cut off

Nancy Odom’s Quilters Gloves with the tips cut off

That day, I also took a workshop on ergonomics for quilters, and learned that the less pressure we apply with our hands and specifically our fingertips, the easier it is on our arms, shoulders and neck.  I went home and cut the tips off my gloves too, and now I don’t need to take my gloves off every time I need to wind a bobbin or rethread my needle.  I had actually worn holes in the tips of my gloves and darned them closed (by hand!).  You really want the palm of your hand to be the part of your glove making contact with your quilt – it has a much bigger surface area than the tips of your fingers.  Think of this like car tires – you have much better traction with big fat tires than with skinny tires.  Your gloves should be snug, so that when you move your hand on the quilt, your hand is actually moving the quilt and not just moving inside the baggy glove.

3)  Do not watch the needle.  I guarantee that it will just go up and down.  Instead, look where you want your next segment of quilting to be.  Here’s another car analogy:  When you drive, you look down the road where you are planning on going instead of looking at your hood ornament.  If you look where you are planning to stitch next, you will avoid boxing yourself into a corner and your quilting will be much smoother.

4)  Use heavier thread (King Tut is great) and choose something that contrasts nicely with your quilt.  When you can see your stitches, your quilting tends to be more evenly-spaced.  You will need some larger needles, such as 90/14 and 100/16 Jeans needles, so that the thread can run easily.

5)  When I stipple, I work from the bottom edge of the quilt up toward the top edge of the quilt.  This is opposite to how most quilters sew – we sew from top to bottom.  However, I find that if I quilt top-to-bottom, I am constantly backing into an area that I have already quilted, particularly if I am using a matching thread that is hard to see.  The sewing machine foot blocks my view of what is behind it.

When we went to Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, we took our graphic designer Ghazal, who is taking quite an interest in quilting.  Ghazal was like a kid in a candy store as she walked the show floor.  She saw a pattern that she had to have, in a book by Weeks Ringle & Bill Kerr called Transparency Quilts.  Ghazal set a goal of having her Jewel Box wall hanging done by August 1.

A jubilant Ghazal with her Transparency quilt

A jubilant Ghazal with her Transparency quilt

On our lunch hours, she worked diligently on her quilt while I provided instruction, including the 5 tips above.  She was a terrific student!  Her finished quilt is hanging in her home.  She is now onto her 3rd project, a quilt for her bed.  Ghazal’s style is modern, and it is refreshing to see the quilt world through her eyes.

I took on another interesting non-quilting project this year – my cousin asked me if I would make his daughter’s grad dress.

Emma and her prom date

Emma and her prom date

I made her mother’s wedding dress 25 years ago, and was honored and delighted to make Emma’s grad dress.  It was fun to go back to my garment-sewing roots, and this project certainly tested my skills and knowledge of dressmaking.  Emma showed me a picture of what she wanted, and I took it from there.

Emma with her friend

Emma with her friend

Some garments are engineered, and this was one of them (the top part of the dress had no back).  The sewing was fairly simple, although it was “interesting” sewing with the beaded fabric that I used for the top.  Emma looked stunning in her gown, and I was thrilled with the result.

May your holidays be filled with peace and joy, and of good food shared with great friends and family.



Earth Rhythms Rocks 100 Blocks

18 Nov

Fellow Quilters,

Today is my first day in sunny Florida, after a 3-day road trip driving my mom down to her winter home from Toronto.  It is also my day to post as part of the Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 10 Blog Tour.  How fabulous to be sitting outside in balmy weather to write this!

This issue of “100 Blocks” means that 1000 unique blocks have been custom designed for Quiltmakers’ readers – quite an accomplishment, I think.  I have participated in several of the blog tours and it has been great fun playing with many of these designs.  For this issue I again jumped at the chance to play.  I scanned the issue for blocks by designers who design patterns in partnership with Northcott, and found 4 – #961 by Karen Bialik, #976 by Chris Hoover, #989 by Celine Perkins & #998 by Shayla Wolf.

I recreated the 4 blocks above in Electric Quilt.  Then I downloaded the fabric collection that is featured in Northcott’s advertisement in this issue (Stonehenge Earth Rhythms).  It is so easy to download fabric collections into EQ7 from Northcott’s website – simply click on the “Download Fabrics for EQ” button.  I know that the quilt that I create in EQ7 will look identical to the real thing, without cutting into any fabric.  I can switch fabrics until I am happy with the final result, then start cutting.

Karen’s block was actually easiest for me to design as a quilt.

Karen's block

Karen’s block

It is so pretty in the Artisan Spirit Shimmer fabrics that Karen chose for her block.  Here’s my version using Earth Rhythms.

Karen sent me a sneak peek of a quilt that she has designed that uses her block, and it is stunning.  I think it will be featured in the next issue of “Quilts From 100 Blocks”.  Karen is a prolific designer, and her designs for Northcott continually impress me!  Not only does she design patterns, she also runs a terrific quilts shop, The Fabric Addict, in Lethbridge, AB.

Chris Hoover is also a talented prolific designer, and she also used Artisan Spirit Shimmer for her block.

Chris' block

Chris’ block

Chris designed Northcott’s 2013 Block of the Month program with the Shimmer collection.

Here is Chris’ block in Earth Rhythms.



Celine's block

Celine’s block

Celine Perkins has had a block included in “100 Blocks” for as long as I can remember, and I enjoy playing with her blocks.

Here is my Earth Rhythms version.



Shayla's block

Shayla’s block

Shayla Wolf and her mom Kristi are Sassafras Lane, a fairly new pattern company.  Shayla is young, and her designs tend to be modern, so I was not surprised to see that her block for “100 Blocks” was modern.

Here is my version with Earth Rhythms.



Of course I had to play with the blocks in some different layouts.

Chris', Celine's & Karen's blocks in a quilt

Chris’, Celine’s & Karen’s blocks in a quilt

Shayla's block in a quilt

Shayla’s block in a quilt

And of course I always give away fabrics, and the folks at Quiltmaker are giving me a copy of “100 Blocks Volume 10” to give away as well.  So…. for a chance to win the magazine and some Stonehenge Earth Rhythms fabric, please post a comment on my blog by noon tomorrow, telling me your favorite BLOCK and QUILT in this post.  Please visit the other blogs in the tour as well, and happy Quiltmaking!



Hootin’ Holidays!

29 Aug

Fellow Quilters,

I’m not much of a pre-planner, and my co-workers will certainly attest to this!  My brother thinks I procrastinate, but that’s not true.  I do a lot of last-minute stuff, however – maybe my name should be Last-minute Lucy.  When I have a quilt to make for a show, display or magazine, the first question I ask is “When is it due?”  Then I work back from that date, allocating time to the quilt project, and fill in other necessary activities/commitments around that.  Problem is, I sometimes (okay, usually) don’t allocate enough time – to any of the commitments.  The end result is that I still get the projects done, and in the time allotted, but I have to work much faster as the time runs out.  I get so much done in that “11th hour”.  A deadline is a real motivator!  Just ask any quilter who has committed to having a quilt ready for an upcoming show – he or she is working on it daily, right up to the day before the show.  Quilts always seem to take 10 or 20 hours longer than we plan, don’t they?  Some of you are saying “No”, but a lot of you are saying “I’m with you, sister!”

That’s why, when I make a holiday or seasonal quilt, I like to make something that is really quick and easy – I want to get the quilt done and on the bed long before the holiday is over.BCQ14_Cover_800  Take my Hootin’ Holidays quilt that is in the 2014 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter’s Best Christmas Quilts, on newsstands now.  I used Northcott’s Holiday Hoot flannel collection, with its adorable owl border stripe.

Best Christmas Quilts 2014 cover

Best Christmas Quilts 2014 cover

This stripe is doing most of the work in the quilt.  I used it in the border, of course – great big 9” wide strips – and it makes a very interesting border. The effect is that it looks like I sewed lots of strips together, when in fact it is just the fabric. Then I also used the stripe in the blocks, cutting upper and lower triangles, and piecing them with bright flannel textures to create sashed square-in-a-square blocks.  The flannel textures are from the Stonehenge Kids flannel coordinates, and I pulled colors from the border stripe – golden yellow, orange, chartreuse, turquoise, red, royal and dark green – not exactly Christmas colors!  The end result is a cozy twin/double quilt that is cute and fun – just perfect for a kid’s bed.

Holiday Hoot flat shot

Holiday Hoot flat shot


Northcott also designed a sew-easy advent calendar to coordinate with the Holiday Hoot fabrics, and it is the easiest advent calendar ever!  You simply fold the panel along the lines indicated to make rows of pockets, and then stitch vertical lines between the columns to create the individual pockets for treats.  My boys are 22 & 20 and they still look for their advent calendar every year, as they count down the days till Christmas.

Holiday Hoot advent calendar

Holiday Hoot advent calendar

Each December 1, I pull out the Christmas stuff and decorate my home for the holidays.  This includes putting a special Christmas quilt on each bed.  I started making these quilts several years ago, and have made one almost every year since.  They usually include a panel or lengthwise border stripe, as the Hootin’ Holidays one does, so they really do go together quickly.  I also have 5 holiday wall quilts that hang in place of pictures for the month of December.  One of them was made by my Nana – hand-quilted, it is my first quilt, and I love it!

How about you?  Do you decorate your home with holiday quilts?  Is there one that is extra-special?  Please post a comment on my blog, sharing your thoughts, for a chance to win a complimentary copy of Best Christmas Quilts.  I will include some fabrics from one of Northcott’s Christmas collections – Holiday Hoot, Christmas Traditions, Old Time Christmas, Stonehenge Starry Night – or winter collections – Winter Wonderland, Alpine Getaway – if you tell me which collection is your favorite.  See the collections on  Comments received by midnight tonight are eligible.  I will choose 1 winner for the magazine and fabric, and 2 more winners for just fabric.  And enjoy this year’s Best Christmas Quilts – there are some fabulous projects in it.



Back to School With Love

22 Aug

Fellow Quilters,

My awesome piecer Susanne and I have been busy this week with a fun project.  I was invited to participate in a blog tour with the folks at American Patchwork & Quilting and their One Million Pillowcase Challenge, and today is the tour day.  Northcott has been a proud sponsor of the One Million Pillowcase Challenge for a few years, and this is my 3rd time participating in a blog tour about it.  Last year we made a pillowcase using the popular train pattern.  This year, we got to choose our own pattern from the extensive library of patterns on the AllPeopleQuilt website ( But which one to choose – that was the question!

For inspiration, I looked in the Northcott warehouse at the newest fabric collections that had come in, and found 2 that I really wanted to use: Stonehenge Prehistoric by Linda Ludovico, and Bella Ballerina by Diane Knott. I couldn’t decide, so Susanne and I used both collections. I scanned through the free patterns, and chose Pattern 38 Diamond Band for the Prehistoric pillowcase. The fabric collection includes a lengthwise border stripe that is printed sideways on the fabric, and this type of print is perfect for the body of the pillowcase. I used some of the Stonehenge coordinates for the 4-patch units and a delicious dark marble-looking coordinate for the setting triangles.

The Bella Ballerina collection features ballerinas in ruffle-y dresses, so of course Pattern 1 Ruffle Trim was perfect. This collection has a fabric that has pre-printed blocks of the ballerinas, and is printed sideways, so it became the body of the pillowcase. The width of 3 blocks was a bit smaller than the 26½” piece required for the pattern, so we made the band a bit wider to compensate. It still turned out great!

Last year, I donated the pillowcase to a charity supported by my quilt guild – Yellow Brick House, a shelter for abused women and their children. Along with the pillowcase, I donated a backpack of school supplies, because this was one of the things listed on their website as being greatly needed at this time of year. This year is no exception, and they provided me with a list of supplies. Since Susanne and I made 2 pillowcases, we filled 2 backpacks – one for a boy and one for a girl, to match the pillowcases. I was thinking, as Susanne was sewing, how fun these 2 fabric collections were, and how easy it would be to make a matching cuddle quilt to accompany each pillowcase. The Stonehenge Prehistoric collection includes a 24” x 42” panel that would be a great center to a cuddle quilt – simply add a border (or 4, as it turned out), and you’re done. The pre-printed blocks from Bella Ballerina also made a great quilt center, so we added 4 borders, and voila! In less than 2 hours, Susanne and I had those quilt tops done. I quickly quilted them on my longarm, and Susanne added the speedy machine binding. Two kids will now head back to school knowing that people care about them, and their mom will have a couple less things to worry about.

Susanne and I with our pillowcases, cuddle quilts and backpacks of school supplies

Susanne and I with our pillowcases, cuddle quilts and backpacks of school supplies

My final step was to go to the One Million Pillowcase Challenge website and add our 2 pillowcases to the count. ( Wow, it’s up to 568,688! How awesome is that?!? I know that total will increase on September 19 & 20th when American Patchwork & Quilting hosts their 24-hour sew-a-thon. If you can’t make it to Des Moines (me neither), you can go to one of the many participating shops across the USA and Canada (for a list of shops go to  If there isn’t a shop in your area, don’t despair!  You can still make a pillowcase or 2, maybe with a quilting friend, and donate it locally.  That’s what the Challenge is all about – spreading the love and comfort.  Don’t forget to add yours to the count on the One Million Pillowcase website.

I’m proud to be part of the awesome list of bloggers below that are participating in the blog tour. Please visit as many as you can, as we share our stories with you.

It’s no secret that I like to give stuff away.  For a chance to win a packet of yummy Northcott fabrics, please post a comment on my blog, telling me which current Northcott collection (in the drop-down on the Fabrics tab) you would most like to use for a pillowcase (  I’ll give away 3 packets.

Thanks for visiting, and keep those pillowcases coming!



A Tribute to Dad

15 Aug

My dad passed away August 3 – he was 78, and had battled prostate cancer for several years.  His funeral was a week ago, and it was an honour to deliver the eulogy:

Dad & I at my wedding

Dad & I at my wedding

Who was my Dad? He was the son of Mabel and Jim O’Rourke, his namesake.  He was the oldest brother to Peter, Sandy and Bill.  Family was very important to Dad.  As a kid, I recall weekly visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Sunday after church. We were often joined by Peter’s, Sandy’s and Bill’s families, or some of Dad’s many cousins. Great debates would ensue, and the verbal sparring could be heard throughout the house.  It was always a great time – Peter was the loudest, youngest brother Bill would join in, quickly followed by Sandy’s husband Bob, while Dad tried to be the voice of reason.  He would listen to the arguments, weigh the evidence, and consider the options before he voiced his opinion.  The siblings became great friends in later years, and not a Christmas went by that they didn’t get together to celebrate.

Mom’s family was equally important to Dad.  For many years, we got together regularly with Mom’s brothers Al’s and Ken’s families.  Dad got along especially well with Ken, and enjoyed teasing his daughters Kathy and Karen.  Kathy commented to me that Dad had such a great laugh.  Dad loved my Nana, Mom’s mom, and she adored him.  He would make her special cocktails, and he always took care of her (she was widowed long before Dad met Mom).  He called her Mother, and I thought that was so fitting that I call my mother-in-law Mom too.  I sometimes think Dad called Nana that because she cooked much better than his own mom!

His other family was his Northcott family, where he worked for 30 years, and eventually became president.  He was willing to give almost anyone a chance, and some even got a 2nd chance.  He treated the staff like family, and they appreciated that and respected him for it.  They would do just about anything for my dad.  He offered kind words of encouragement, and handled every situation with diplomacy – he found the right way to say difficult things.  He retired 13 years ago, and the staff still speaks of him with great fondness.

Dad formed fast friendships with school chums Serge, Reg and Harold – a friendship still going strong 60 years later. Together with the 4 wives, they called themselves the POPS – Pig Out Pals- because they would have weekend get-togethers also known as eat-ins.  Dad so enjoyed the camaraderie of these friends, and aging gracefully with them.

Friendships were also forged on Lake of Bays. In the early years, our family rented a cottage next to the Whartons and Callbecks, and Ross Wharton was an even bigger jokester than Dad. For 3 solid weeks each summer, we played hard – waterskiing, horseshoes, BBQing, and epic water fights.  When the lake water got too warm, we used ice-cold well water.  During one such fight, Laurel Wharton snuck up on Dad.  At the last second he stepped aside, and the bucket of well water she had thrown cascaded down Nana’s back as she sat quietly in a lawn chair minding her own business.  In her email to me the other day, Laurel referred to Dad as “your beloved dad”, a sentiment that has been shared with us many times in the past week by numerous friends, colleagues and family members.

In recent years, more friendships formed in the golf communities at the lake and in Venice FL. Mom and Dad loved to entertain, and their door was always open.  Dad thoroughly enjoyed golfing, and didn’t let a bad hip or failing eyesight from a couple of minor strokes deter him.  His desire to golf got him back into shape after his hip replacement, and he simply found ways to get around obstacles like not being able to see the golf ball very well.  When his failing eyesight prevented him from renewing his driver’s licence, he took it in stride with grace – always that positive outlook! He had a quiet determination that saw him through a range of health issues over the years.  When my colleague Susanne was battling cancer, he encouraged her not to give up hope, to stay positive, as he had done.

Dad with my boys Chris & Alex

Dad with my boys Chris & Alex

One of his greatest pleasures was spending time with his grandsons Christopher, Alex and Dillon.  In every photo with them, he is positively beaming. He enjoyed spoiling them to no end, and particularly enjoyed their visits in Florida and the cottage.  At the end of each and every visit, he would say to them “Papa loves you”.

He even let them drive his boat! When my colleague Hania announced 3 years ago that she was going to be a grandma, he told her that grandchildren are life’s greatest joy.

Dad gave my brother, sister and I many things, but the best ones were intangible.  He instilled in us his terrific work ethic – work hard and smart, think outside of the box, value and encourage the contribution of others, but save time for family and fun, for they come first.  Debbie and I have his eyes.  Brian has his hairline.  He liked working in the garden, whether it was growing vegetables, or tending to the perennial flowerbeds.  Every time I putter in the garden, I think of him, and wish he was there, advising me on whether the particular plant in question is a weed or a flower.  When it came to decorating, he was right there beside Mom, choosing fabrics, wallpaper, style of furniture, etc.  He had a great eye for colour and design.  Most of all, he showed us how to be good partners, good parents and good human beings – be patient, loving and kind, and sometimes eat humble pie.

His greatest love of course was Mom, and it showed in all that he said and did for her.  From the jewellery trinkets each Christmas to stylish outfits, he loved to shop for Mom and make her feel special.  When he retired, he took on several household chores to lighten her load, including operating the g.d. vacuum.  I don’t know what brand that is, but it doesn’t work very well.  He liked dressing up in his tux for special occasions, and they made a handsome couple on the dance floor.  She was his honey, his darling, and his blue eyes sparkled when he spoke of her.  They made a perfect couple – he knew when to step in, and when to defer to her. They were soul mates.

Dad had an easy smile that showed his warm heart, and an infectious laugh that could spark a room full of laughter.  He was a proud man – proud of his family and his friends.  He was thoughtful and wise. He was kind and gentle.  The past few weeks have been tough, as we watched Dad slowly slip away, but every cloud has a silver lining.  We rarely get the opportunity to tell the special people in our lives how much they mean to us. I am grateful that we were given that opportunity with Dad.  He is gone, and we are going to miss him, but he will live on in our cherished memories of him.  They are his gift to us.

I’m “celebrating” 100 Blocks Volume 9

29 Apr
Celebration straight-set quilt

Celebration straight-set quilt

Celebration on-point quilt

Celebration on-point quilt

Celebration panel quilt

Celebration panel quilt


Fellow Quilters,
Once again I have been invited to participate in the blog tour for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, this time for Volume 9, on sale May 6. I usually scour the issue, scouting out the designs either done by pattern designers who also partner with Northcott to design patterns for our upcoming fabric collections, or designs that feature Northcott fabric collections. Then I recreate these blocks in the fabric collection that Northcott showcases in the advertisement in the issue. This time around there were a whopping 8 blocks! They are #817 Square Dance (designed by Northcott fabric designer Sue Beevers), #818 Triangle Trick (made using Stonehenge), #856 Lavender Lattice (designed by yours truly and made using Lavender Market), #866 Pinwheel Polka (designed by Marilyn Foreman of Quilt Moments), #872 Banner Day (designed by Chris Hoover of Whirligig Designs), #890 Building Blocks (designed by Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods), #894 Face In (made using Passion & Kaleidoscope), and #898 Two Tulips (designed by Margie Ullery of Ribbon Candy Quilt Co.) I thought I would change things up a bit this time around. Since my block was included in this issue, I recreated it in a quilt setting using the Stonehenge Celebration collection featured in the magazine. I came up with 3 different settings: a straight set with alternate blocks, an on-point set with the same alternate blocks, and a setting that starts with the panel in the center and frames it with borders and blocks. Which one do you prefer?
Thank you to all of you who commented on my last blog post. In the post, I talked about fears, and overcoming them. I would say from your comments that my post resonated with many of you, and I was moved by your feedback. Bloggers sometimes feel that they are talking but is anyone really listening? It takes a lot to acknowledge your fears, and to share them with others. I appreciate you sharing yours with me. Many of you commented that you have overcome a fear of, or at least resistance to, free-motion quilting. Many more of you have not quite overcome this fear. Good News! I can help!! In every blog post this year (and maybe next), I will give you a tip, hint, or advice on free-motion quilting. Tonight before I sat down to write this post, I was preparing for a free-motion quilting class that I am teaching tomorrow to the guild in Beaverton. Pretty much all of my quilting these days is done on my longarm, but as I was preparing my samples, I recalled the many quilts that I quilted on my sewing machine. Tomorrow I will try to ease the fears and frustration of the students as we work through various techniques.
So, my first piece of advice is… read every issue of Quiltmaker magazine this year. June Dudley and her staff have called 2014 the Year of Machine Quilting, and each issue contains helpful tips and hints for machine quilting. Even those of us who have been machine quilting for 20 years can learn from these issues. I plan on following along with contributor Natalia Bonner as she guides us through various techniques. Won’t you join me?
My next piece of advice is… practice, practice, practice. Anyone can free-motion quilt with enough practice. Anyone! Check out the clearance table at your favorite quilt shop and pick up a couple of crib-size panels. Quilt them to death – try every technique you can think of until you feel comfortable with it. Quilt around every motif on the panels. Focus on achieving a consistent stitch length. Practice different background fillers such as stipple in all of the open areas. Quilt every square inch of those panels. When you are done, take a look at where you started, and notice how much you have improved. Yes you have!
Okay, time to talk about giveaways. I randomly chose a winner from the comments posted on my last post- congrats to Kimberlee who is trying her hand at making some clothes. Kimberlee will receive a delicious bundle of Artisan Spirit Shimmer fabrics. Today’s giveaway is a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 9, and some Stonehenge Celebration fabric too. For a chance to win, please comment on which of the 3 Stonehenge Celebration quilts you prefer. Please post your comment by end of day on May 1. And don’t forget to visit the rest of the blogs in the blog tour. Details at


31 Jan

Fellow Quilters,

Happy 2014!  As I sit down to write this post, it seems pointless to say Happy New Year, since it is actually the last day of January.  Was January shorter this year, maybe by a couple of weeks?  Maybe it seemed shorter because in our region we spent most of it huddled under layers of quilts, trying to stay warm.  I suspect that this will turn out to be one of the coldest January’s ever.  Well, I can’t complain too much, because cold weather usually brings lots of snow, and snowboarding this season has been epic.  We’ve even had 3 days of powder so far.  The feeling you get while snowboarding in powder is so euphoric, it almost defies description.  And it’s legal!  Suffice to say it should be enough of a reason for any skier to take up boarding.  I have yet to convince my hubby, but my 2 sons have converted, and my son Chris is in my adult boarding class this year, showing me up, of course, because that’s what kids do.  Each week, instructor Tim tries to teach the group a new skill, such as turning in circles, moguls or riding switch (backwards).  Everyone but Chris is older (45+), and we don’t bounce back as easily as when we were teenagers.  In fact, instead of bouncing, we “splat”.  After splatting a few times, we develop hesitancy to attempt to perform that particular move that precedes the splat.  The trouble is that we won’t improve if we don’t keep practicing.  It reminds me of a great quote by Jack Canfield that I read last week:

Everything we want is on the other side of fear.

How true!  Our biggest fear is usually fear of failure, so we avoid failing by not even attempting.  So we stop attempting, and resign ourselves to the fact that we can’t do whatever it was we were trying to master.  This brings me to another great quote, this one by Noah St. John:

The number one secret to success is giving yourself permission to succeed.

Aren’t we our own worst critics? We say “I’m so terrible at ____”.   It usually takes recognition of our ability/skill/talent from someone else before we acknowledge in our own mind that aren’t as bad as we think we are. We can shorten our road to success by granting ourselves this permission.  For 2014, I will attempt to become comfortable with riding switch on my snowboard.  I will try to practice every week, because I know I can do it, and with practice I will become competent.  I will fall less and less as I practice (fewer splats).  By April, I will have added this skill to my snowboarding “toolbox”.

I can extend this into another area of my life – quilting!  I recently purchased several new books on machine quilting.  I can do one of 2 things with these books – I can add them to my growing stack of unread how-to books on quilting, or I can crack the covers and read them, practice the techniques in them, and give myself permission to successfully use these techniques on some quilts this year.  Maybe this time next month, my blog post will be a book report on these books.  Will my quilting improve?  Not initially, but it will if I practice, because I know that eventually I will be able to competently stitch out the designs.  I have already given myself permission to succeed.  My quilting splats are much smaller and less painful than my snowboarding splats.

My quilting bud Betsey is going to add skills to her quilting “toolbox” when she takes my Borders and Bindings workshop on the upcoming Panama cruise in April, organized by Quilt Camp at Sea.   This is currently my favorite workshop – I love teaching this class, because the participants take away several new “tools”.  It’s great having Betsey in my class – she is very methodical, and takes her time, but she makes sure that she understands the process.  Right now Betsey doesn’t have a roommate, and I would room with her again, as I did on a previous Quilt Camp at Sea cruise, but this time around Hubby is joining me.  Betsey is an awesome roommate – we laughed until we cried.  If you know anyone (such as yourself!) who would like to join us on the cruise, please have them contact Kathy at in the next few days.  Just thinking of this cruise helps defrost my fingers and toes right now.  By April I will definitely be ready for some fun in the sun!

I haven’t done a give-away for a long time, so let’s do one today.  For a chance to win a bundle of Northcott’s new Artisan Spirit – Shimmer fabrics, please tell me about a fear that you have overcome, or would like to overcome, or a skill that you learned despite thinking that you “could never be able to do that”.  Please send your comments by February 6.




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