Self Binding the Glam Clam Quilt

Several years ago, I got a stack of fat quarters from the then-newly-released Grafic collection by Latifah Saafir. Immediately I decided I was going to finally put that Clammy ruler to use and make myself a clamshell quilt. First I made a few patchwork squares, then cut those and the rest of the 10” square pack into clamshells.Then I stacked them neatly and put them on a shelf…where they would live for the next five years.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who planned to do a Glam Clam quilt and never actually finished it because in 2021, Latifah started a Glam Clam Finish Along. Brilliant! Lots of folks signed up to cheer each other on and it was just the push I needed to start putting it together.

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Accuquilt Gallery Spotlight

Last fall the folks at AccuQuilt invited little ol’ me to be a part of their gallery and, of course, I said “Yes, please!” I knew I would send some of my favorites, but also used the invitation as a starting point for the American Travels series I’m working on. You can read the interview on their blog or watch just the gallery tour and conversation below:

Make sure to check out the close-up of Wyatt Wolf–he’s a Luxe Cuddle/faux fur cotton version of Violet Craft‘s Wolf Abstractions pattern and several years later, I still love him.

Thanks, Accuquilt for the spotlight and for the fabulous cutting system. I use their dies often in my personal quilt making as well as for Shannon Fabrics projects and have come to appreciate their ease of use and longevity. I’m sure I’ll be using them plenty more in all my quilt making.

I’m glad I finally got to share it with you.

Happy sewing!

How to glue baste and machine stitch quilt binding

Truthfully, I always prefer a hand-sewn binding, but sometimes deadlines get the best of me and I have to take the faster route. I was able to finish four of the six quilt in the American Travels series by hand before I shipped them off to Accuquilt (they’ll be on display through March and April!), there were two more than had to get stitched on by machines. I thought I’d share my method with you since it works pretty well for being second best.

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Filming for The Quilt Show

One thing I never expected to happen in my life:

  • film an episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.

But that’s exactly what I did on Saturday afternoon.

The craziness began at Quilt Market in the spring when Alex came by the Shannon Fabrics booth, excited to share the Wyatt Wolf quilt with her audience. I’d made it with a bunch of Luxe Cuddle, Cuddle Suede and Kona Cotton –which is kinda crazy in and of itself– and used a paper piecing pattern from Violet Craft to do it.  She invited me to come on the show and I did.

We talked about the Wolf Abstractions quilt, as well as the Ascension quilt I’d made with Hawke, a denim quilt I’ve been working on as a commission and the Freewheelin’ Single Girl quilt I made for myself.  All include fabrics/materials that are atypical in quilting: plush fabrics, denim, knits, used clothing, silver lame and more.

I have watched a dozen or so episodes of the show and have always enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting the level of production or kindness that I got.  Ricky is incredibly talented and his quilts left my mouth gaping. Alex is a pro at making people comfortable. Everyone behind the scenes was happy to answer questions, fetch waters, help carry samples and be there when I needed them.

The best part, though, was that my daughter was able to join me and play personal assistant/cheerleader. It made the entire weekend so much better to have her there, supporting my work and calming my nerves.

The show will air sometime later this year or early 2019.

Free-Wheeling Single Girl, the quilt and me

I first saw the Single Girl quilt from Denyse Schmidt years ago and knew that someday I’d have to make it.  I’d been single again for a decade already with no intention on re-marrying and while I adore the double-wedding ring pattern (and in fact made one for a wedding gift last year), I knew it wasn’t for me. I needed a Single Girl quilt.

But those templates. Ugh.

Then two years ago Denyse came out with the Free-Wheeling Single Girl quilt pattern that uses paper arc templates to randomly piece together scraps and I was sold. I bought the pattern and, as we are wont to do, stuck in the pattern file and let it age appropriately before pulling it out again.

Back in March, I was up at Sew Expo and on my road trip from Seattle to Portland, I stopped at a few shops including the Ruby Street Quiltworks in Tumwater, WA where I found the Newsprint Gray fabric from the Compositions collection by Basic Grey for Moda. I bought the rest of the bolt. Sorry.

And then, like a good quiltmaker, I let that age on the shelf for a few months.

I figured I’d get around to making it sooner or later, but then my friend Paula said she didn’t think I’d ever actually make a quilt for myself. I’ve been quilting for 25 years and have yet to keep a bed-sized quilt for myself.

Challenge accepted.

A week later I’d cut out all the background pieces. 

Then I knocked out the arcs over the next two weeks, using scraps from a variety of projects as well as some sent by Instagram friends.  Another weekend later and the quarter-circles were ready to get together into full circles. I threw in two empty squares because there are empty bits of me, too. And a silver ring made from a crazy metallic suit jacket that I cut up, adding it because I wear silver rings all the time.

I pieced it together, sent it off to the super talented Karen at Cosmic Quilting down in Laguna Hills and waited a whole three days for her to return it.  Seriously, she turned it around so fast it almost made my head spin! A quick machine binding and it was ready to go for my housewarming party that weekend.

So finally, two decades after making that first quilt, I have a quilt for my own bed. I can’t really explain why it took me so long, though I’m sure it has something to do with being a mom, a woman, and not putting myself first. I’ll dig into that later. But for now, I’m going to enjoy seeing it on my bed and wait patiently for it to cool off enough for me to use it.

If you haven’t used Denyse Schmidt’s patterns before, I’d definitely recommend them. She writes clear and concise pattern instructions, plus gives you leeway in the making that allows you to trim to perfection. Check out her array of patterns here






A Few Road to California Favorites

If you’re a quilter, you’ve probably heard of Road to California, held in Ontario, California every January. I’ve wanted to go for years, but never had the opportunity until last week when, for five days, I hung out there in the Shannon Fabrics booth telling people that Cuddle fabrics are beautiful, soft and not nearly as difficult to sew as you’ve been warned.  I also got to talk up garments and blankets made from Embrace, the company’s double gauze fabric.

I always love the opportunity to get out there and chat with other quilters; this was no exception. Annette and I talked with hundreds of people over the time there, handing out patterns and charm squares, answering questions, and being the faces for Shannon Fabrics at Road2CA.

On Wednesday night, before the show officially started, I was back in the classroom and boy, was I thrilled. It’s been months since I’ve taught a class and I have truly missed it. We made up the Be Brave kit and out of 18 students, all but two were able to finish during class. I was so proud of everyone for working with a new-t0-them fabric in a less-than-ideal classroom (the tables were way too narrow so many of us took to the floor for the spray basting). We all had a great time and honestly, teaching feeds my soul. I didn’t even care that it ended at 10pm; I would have kept going if they would have allowed it!

collage of photos from class at Road to California


The show happened to coincide with one of the biggest storms So Cal has seen in years, Sunday was a slow, slow day with torrential rains and a chill that invaded much of the convention center. I took advantage of it by checking out quilts and buying a few things for myself (what else is a sewist/quilter gonna do?!).  Here are a few that stood out to me

Wickedly Green” Made and quilted by Deborah Poole of Shelley, ID.
“This quilt was an experiment in linear precision, hence the “Wickedly.” I wanted the majority of the background fills to be lines. It’s kind of fun, the blue thread highlights different areas from different angles of observation, exactly what I was hoping for, and the reason I didn’t us e a lighter weight thread. This quilt has 293 hours of hand-guided quilting that took nearly 8 months to complete.”

Insanity” Made and quilted by Kristin Vierra of Lincoln, NE.
“This quilt is based on a photo of an antique quilt made in the 1800s.  One hundred and thirty 2-inch Lemoyne Stars seem to float across the top, accented by traditional feather and grape leaf quilt designs. All of the stars are appliquéd to the quilt top.”

Summer Lake Sandhills” [detail] Made and quilted by Joanne Baeth of Bonanza, OR.
“Large groups of Sandhill Cranes arrive in early spring in SE Oregon and NE California. Summer Lake is a large refuse with extensive wetlands and a ridge that rises to 7000′ in elevation. The feathers for each of the 34 Sandhills were inked, cut out, and fused one feather at a time. Silk organza fabric was used to create a receding shoreline at the bottom of the quilt.  Bushes and grasses were thread painted.”

Detail from the handwork  of the Tentmakers of Cairo group who had a large display at the event.

As always, I was awed and inspired by the work of others. If you get the chance to visit a local quilt show, do it; it’s always amazing to see the beauty that others create with fabric and thread.

Books to Buy: The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook

Many moons ago I wrote book reviews as a part of my job. No matter what, we had to find something nice to say about the book and encourage folks to buy it, but the truth is I never liked that. I love getting advance copies of books and getting the time to peruse them, but I don’t like having to recommend a book when I wouldn’t actually do so in real life.

These days I don’t work for any publications or marketing avenues, so I get to tell you the truth about my opinion on sewing/quilting books. I’ve decided I will only share with you the books to buy, so I’m kicking it off with one of my favorite authors: Thomas Knauer’s The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook: 91 Modern Art-Inspired Designs and Exercises.

Years ago, I spied Thomas Knauer at Quilt Market sporting a shoulder tote made with his new-at-the-time Pear Tree collection with Andover Fabrics. It’s still one of my favorites and so is Thomas. He is talented, opinionated, understanding and generous. What you see is what you get with Thomas and, for that, I adore him. And did I mention how smart he is? Well, he is and incredibly so. Best of all, he’s more than happy to share that with you and he does so brilliantly in his latest book.

The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook came out from Storey Publishing last year and my admiration has only grown over the months of reading it, exploring the concepts and putting the workbook to use. I’ve read over it on planes, taken it to bed to draw out shapes, sat at cafes with it and colored. It’s become a favorite, indeed, because it’s for quilters like me.

I came into the quilting world from the craft side. I’ve long been a maker and I love being able to create useful and pretty things, but I do not have an art background and most of the fancy art-world lexicon goes right over my head. I feel reticent to share my designs with the world, unable to blather on about them with any sort of intelligence. That’s where  The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook comes into play.

Thomas divided the book up into seven different sections focusing on different aspects of modern art: Space, Balance, Chance & Intuition, Simplicity, The Grid, The Geometric Environment, and Repetition & Iteration.  Then he walks your through each, gently explaining with clear examples what he’s talking about with each. {Read his take on it here.}

It is awesome.

Each section dives into the topic, then shares examples of art and quilts that show off that aspect. But that’s not it, he then gives you the opportunity to put it to use and for me this is really the kicker. I can read about art. I understand about balance and negative space and how things are laid out on a grid, etc., etc. Except when it comes down to it, I don’t know how to take that and make it into a purposeful quilt design. The whole point of the book, it seems to me, is to help the reader do just that.

In short, I think it’s a magical book and you should totally buy it.

For a bit more info, let me share with you what I did. First, I read the entire book cover to cover on a flight home. Then I went and made copies of the different design and coloring pages. I’m one of those, yes. Then I started with the first section: Space.

Thomas talks about the idea of filling space and using space, then tells us how Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse all worked with this idea of space in their varied styles of art. He includes pictures and explanations and at the end of reading it, you just feel like you had a mini art history lesson. I kinda love it.

Then I decided to jump in and just do it. I started with the easier part: coloring. (There are seven coloring exercises and five design exercises in this section.) The Stutter Step exercise says to “[d]evelop a color system that repeated, but with an offset (that is, the shapes that are repeated are int eh same color one row up and two columns over). Play with creating a color system that is not strictly horizontal or vertical to produce a secondary visual rhythm.”

Then I picked six fabrics that would work well together, I thought and just randomly used them in place of the colors I’d used on the page. They are 2 1/2″ tall with 5″ wide bases, just in case you wondered.

Then I set to arranging them in strips, then sewing strips together until I got this lovely thing:

I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but that wasn’t the point of this exercise. It was to explore the use of color and rhythm and an offset repetition. And I’m happy with it. I like the way it jogs over. I like how it made me try to make my points match. I like how it shifts and moves.

Now onto one of the design exercises and see what that teaches me. When you get the book, let me know and we can work on one together!

Life Quote Quilt

life quote crinkle dreamsI finished a quilt –for myself!!– last month. It’s been on my to-make list for years, but in my life somehow for much longer.

Let’s start back in 1999. Despite the amazing Prince song that most people are reminded of, there was no partying happening. It was the year I got divorced and embarked on a road that I have stayed on for the next 17 years…solo parenting. (Long story short, their father is not a part of their lives.) I grew up in a religious family that holds tight the conservative ideas of American life: birth, school, marriage, work (til you have kids), buy a house, play it safe. Getting divorced and all that it entailed for me and my two kids made me rethink everything I’d believed in.  I knew I could either feel bad about the path my life was on or I could embrace it fully and that’s when I came across the Helen Keller quote that inspired this: Life is a daring adventure or nothing.

You’ll notice in the mock-up I have the quote with an additional “at all.” That’s how I originally knew the quote, but before I got to cutting out letters,  I did a bunch of searching for the original. From what I can gather, that part just got tacked on by someone, somewhere along the line and suddenly there were two versions of the quote. From what I could find, the shorter version is actually what she said (but I could be wrong!)

Anyway, this quote has long-guided me in my choices, both as a mom and as a person. We get one shot at this, I figure, we might as well make it interesting (hence college in my 30s, living in SE Asia, making a hodgepodge career, random road trips, etc).

I wanted a quilt that would exemplify that idea, so I started with a big box of scraps from work. I cut dozens and dozens of strips, divvied up by color intensity. Then started sewing them together. 

I used my handy Strip Tube Ruler to cut out a ton of triangles, then laid them out. Then chain-pieced like a crazy person. Soon enough, the top was done . Then came the scary part–the letters. 

I made templates out of file folders and traced around each, hoping to spell out the quote correctly. I worried about that a lot.cutting out letters

I stitched around each letter, then carefully cut out the patchwork to reveal the Grunge (Moda) that I’d backed the quilt with. It headed off to the quilter (Kazumi Peterson) and came a few weeks later looking just as good as I’d imagined when I first came up with this crazy idea. I love love love the way “or nothing.” just fades away, giving it a bleach-dipped look.  

I’m happy to announce that the quilt will be hanging at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon on July 9, 2016.

Trying to Catch Up

You know how life is, right? Too often the daily bits get in the way of doing the things I really want to do…like update the blog, add new tutorials, finish that pattern, etc. Every New Year’s Eve I think this will be the year to get stuff done. And then suddenly it’s New Year’s Eve again and I feel like nothing was actually done.

It was the same for me this past year, but then I started looking through my pics and realized that I finished 18 quilt tops (none of which were for me) and made more than 200 projects overall, including lots and lots of store samples and custom work. I taught classes at Fabric Depot and Nic & Fig’s. I released two patterns. Despite not getting more clothes sewn for myself (my real goal for last year), I got plenty finished.

So far this year, I’ve already finished two more quilt tops and onto a third. I’ve started, but not yet finished, a coat and a dress for myself. I have two patterns at the pattern-testing stage and my teaching schedule is nicely filling up. I’m doing okay, I remind myself.

Sometimes I struggle to savor the little accomplishments, instead worrying that I’ll never actually get to the big ones.

There are big things to come this year and I’m looking forward to every one of them: my first retreat teaching gig, new patterns, my daughter will graduate high school and I have a road trip to plan for late summer.

For now, I need to get back to planning out the classes for my upcoming Fancy Forest Quilt Along at Fabric Depot. We’ve just added our third session and the first one hasn’t even started yet…this one is gonna be a doozy. I can hardly wait!

Small stitching 

Life has been a little stressful lately with some pretty serious health problems for my dad, relationships that aren’t smooth sailing and having more month than money. So what do I do about? I start stitching little stuff, like this mini Bartow quilt using Kona mini charms from Quilt Market. Because sometimes I need to concentrate on totally insignificant things, like 1/4″ strips and 1/8″ seam allowances.