Palate Cleanser ✴ The Quilt Show ✴ Longarming Workshops

This post was originally sent out as my monthly-ish newsletter in July. Links etc. may no longer be live.


What do you do when you need a creative palate cleanser?

When I need a jump start, I drag my scrap bins next to my sewing machine and make string blocks. I don't have a plan in mind, I just sew different colors and textures together. This past month I have not spent very much time at my sewing machine due to teaching trips and summer vacation with my family (and as a bonus we combined a teaching and a vacation trip to Washington DC). I did spend a few hours in my studio on July 4th, and made the 4" (unfinished) blocks pictured above. There are projects waiting for me that require thinking and planning, but I didn't want to think. I just wanted to sew and making string blocks is perfect for that.


The Pink Rabbit (real name TBD), #11 in the Barnyard Series, is pieced and ready to go on the quilting frame. Animal #12 will be a sheep. The sheep is going to be hard, hence the string block palate cleanser before I jump into a wooly mess.

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As many of you know, in April I went to Denver to film an episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. Now you can watch the episode for free through July 14, just use this link Stay tuned through the credits to fully appreciate my nerdiness.

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August 15-17 World Quilt New England will be in my backyard - Springfield, MA. If you are new to longarming, want to try out a machine, or need a refresher on some basic long arming skills, please join me for Longarming 101, Free Motion Fills, Feather Play, and Template Play.

For those of you who have taken my color class, you know that I love color, but harp on the importance of value. This month I am the Ruby Ambassador for Wise Craft Handmade's Ruby Ruler, a value finder, that also acts as a quilt ruler. I've been using mine for a month or so and I am definitely a fan. You can read more about my thoughts on value here.

And just in case you haven't had enough of me, you can see more of my thoughts in a Create Whimsy Spotlight, and see my studio in the latest issue of Where Women Createwhich is on newsstands now.

A Postcard Birthday Map 🎂

This post was originally sent out as my monthly-ish newsletter in June. Links etc. may no longer be live.

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Besides meeting quilters, one of my favorite parts of teaching is learning from and being inspired by people in my classes. I love when someone takes the germ of an idea and then runs with it to create something completely different.

The Rising Star Quilters Guild in Arlington, MA had me out to teach a map class this past week. One quilter decided to focus on a small postcard size map of her neighborhood, rather than the larger print that is suggested on the supply list. I loved the tiny pieces she assembled and how intimate her project became. It inspired me to go home and make a 4"x6" quilt of my grandma's neighborhood. I used an image from Google Maps to get the layout. I had never noticed that all of the sidewalks have adorable rounded corners! Grandma Betty turns 93 this week, so I included the mini quilt in her birthday card. It was a quick, fun project. And I even practiced free-motion quilting on my domestic machine which is something that I need to practice A LOT more of. (I also had to take Grandma off of this email list so she wouldn't see the email before the card....shhhhh!

If you are near Arlington, MA in the next few weeks, stop by the Arlington Center for the Arts where they have two sobering, but fantastic, fiber art exhibits up. Unravel: Fiber Art for Our Times, "features artists whose work sheds light on tangled issues of our contemporary times" and Disarming: Memorial Quilts for Mass Shooting Victims.

There are plenty of ways to see my work, and me, over the next few months:

- Mississippi Meander II is currently hanging in and exhibit called Mapping Out in Paso Robles, CA

- My episode of The Quilt Show will be available June 30. For more info on The Quilt Show and how to see the show visit this link. There often is a week where the episode is free to non-subscribers. If that happens, you'll be the first to know!

- Where Women Create magazine did a feature on where I create - my studio. It hits newsstands July 2.

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- Registration opened June 1 for Craft Napa. In January I'll in California for several days, one of which will be teaching Map Making workshops there.

My peonies opened up this weekend, so it's officially summer in my yard.

THE QUILT SHOW and the quilt show

It's spring, which means it is quilt show season here in the Northeast. After being cooped up all winter, quilters are ready to see quilts and to hang out with like-minded fabric enthusiasts.

My guild, Hands Across the Valley Quilters Guild (HAVQG), is having their biennial show April 6 & 7 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus Center. There will be close to 300 quilts on display including a special exhibit of antique quilts on loan from Hancock Shaker Village. All of the other goodies that one likes to see at shows will be there too: vendors, raffle baskets, demonstrations, and excellent food.

In our house, we've been referring to the HAVQG show as "the quilt show". This is the first time since at 2001 that I won't be there working the show. Instead, I will be in Denver filming an episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. This is the show that we are giving capital letters to in our house - THE QUILT SHOW! Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can speak in complete and proper sentences while filming. Based on the conversations I've had with the producers I know it's going to be a fun time.

The weekend after "the quilt show" and THE QUILT SHOW is MQX, the Machine Quilters Expo, in Manchester, NH. If you want to see the best of the very best of machine quilting that is definitely the place to be. I am always in awe when I walk the show floor. 

The Barnyard continues to grow. I recently finished a llama and a duck. On my design wall now is a goat. If you need to find me this week, I'll be in the middle of all of my orange fabrics as I work on his background.


Modern Art Quilts by Sue Bleiweiss

Modern Art Quilts is a new book by Sue Bleiweiss. When Sue, a fellow Massachusetts-ian, asked me to participate in her blog tour I said yes right away. Sue’s techniques are so different from the way I work, I knew I would learn from her - and it would push me to try something different.

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I use fusible products sporadically. Sue on the other hand is the master at fusing quilts. The only stitching on her quilts is done in the quilting process. She also exclusively uses Mistyfuse as her “glue”. Having never used Mistyfuse this gave me a good excuse to give it a try.


I dove right in to the section “Creating Fabric Letters”. As some of you may know, I have a mantra every year that I reproduce and hang in my studio. This year’s mantra is “Breathe” but I decided I should have the sub-mantra of “Make”. I drew out the letters I needed (good thing I spent my middle school years practicing bubble letters), then followed Sue’s excellent instructions to translate my words into fabric. The key ingredient to making it all happen was of all things - parchment paper. Now I can add that to my arsenal of favorite kitchen quilting products.

Sue’s work is distinctive with it’s whimsical black outlines. I, of course, had to make my project with lots of pattern.

This project was super easy and fast. Now I have plans to make mini-mantra quilt for my friends using this process. I finished off my “Make” (7”x12”) with a stiff Pellon interfacing and a blanket stitch to anchor the letters.

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There are many tips and tricks in the book covering design principles, how to fuse a binding on, and Sue explains why she uses wool felt rather than a traditional batting. (National Nonwovens produces the wool felt in Easthampton, MA. Don’t tell them I cut through their parking lot after I drop my kid off at circus class twice a week).

C&T Publishing is giving away an e-copy of the book to one of my readers. To be eligible, leave a comment on what word or phrase you use for a mantra by Tuesday, March 5 at 8pm EST. I will randomly choose a winner.

Blog Hop:

February 25 - Deirdre Quirk

February 27 - Teri Lucas

February 28 - Kelly Nagel

March 1 - Timna Tarr

March 4 - Susan Arnold

March 5 - Sue Bleiweiss