Studio Tour

We”re doing a virtual studio tour over at the Color-of-the-Month forum, sharing photos of our creative quilting studios, and I thought I would share mine with you.  My own studio is the bonus room over my garage, and I share it with my husband, who has his office here too.  He often jokes that I take up 3/4 of the space in the room, which is about right.

This is my main sewing and writing nook, where I have my Bernina Artista 170 (which is about 10 years old) and my writing desk to the left.  My computer is normally on the table, but this particular day it was busy elsewhere.  My favorite part of this alcove is my husband made both my writing desk and my sewing table, which folds up into a sideboard when you’re not using.  But when am I not using it?  He built this for me when our children were infants and toddlers, and I was without a sewing space of my own.  I sewed in the den, after the kids were asleep at night, and I could open up this cabinet, sew to my heart’s content, and close it up with no pins, thread, or other items that might end up in a child’s mouth.

This is my second machine, the Bernina Activa, which I use for teaching, taking to workshops, and sewing campers during the summer months.  When the machine isn’t being used, this table is the Willow Ridge Press shipping area.  Multi-tasking anyone?

My armoire, with my sons’ drawings on the doors.  Open those doors and voila . . . .

all kinds of storage inside.  This was a prefab, unfinished armoire, and my oh-so-handy husband stained it and added the rods and hooks inside.  This was in the den along with my sewing sideboard before I had a studio.

My cutting table, assembled from DIY kitchen cabinet units from Home Depot.  My husband offered to build me a custom cutting table, but he’s a builder, and I knew my project would be put behind everyone else’s paying projects (as it should be), so I suggested we just pick some ready-to-assemble units and make our own from those.  I think he was secretly relieved.  It has three deep drawers on the end, great for craft supplies.

My design wall, but I can show you only half of it.  Other projects are in the works and they aren’t ready for their debut yet!

My thread racks and color collages, which I have all over my studio.  I used to post my collages in my bedroom closet when I didn’t have a studio, and every morning when I got dressed, they would greet me.  I loved it!  I also stored my fabric in wire shelving units in my closet.  Don’t let lack of space inhibit your creativity!

Red: July’s Color-of-the-Month

Welcome to the July Color-of-the-Month slideshow, offering tips on using red in your quilt palette.  This month’s show features Red in traditional, spare, summertime, and Christmas color palettes!   This month I host Buggy Barn, Henry Glass Fabrics, Debbie Grifka, Benita Skinner, and more, sharing fabric designs and gorgeous quilts.  Get inspired to create a fabulous quilting project and remember to support the participants of each month’s show! (If the text is too tiny in the presentation, click on the Fullscreen link to view it Full Screen.)

5 Fabulous Ways to Use Red in a Color Palette

Christmas Cabin Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Christmas Cabin, the July edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series.

July’s featured color is red, in a festive Christmas table runner, as requested by my loyal Color-of-the-Month e-pattern subscribers. They wanted plenty of time to complete their Christmas runner so they could enjoy it for the entire holiday season.  Christmas Cabin uses the traditional red as its main color, but the aqua and cream are anything but expected.  I was inspired by the retro Christmas villages of my childhood, complete with the chapel and town buildings my Mom lovingly placed under our tree every year.

Pantone has declared turquoise as the 2010’s color-of-the-year, and you’ll discover the difference between it and it’s cousins aqua, teal, jade, and other related blue-green colors and which is appropriate for your next quilt palette.  It’s easy to get these closely related colors confused, but not after you make this sweet holiday treat.

You get my original block Mountain Cabin, inspired by the Appalachian foothills of my home, along with the Snow Forest block, which together make a peaceful and charming holiday scene.

Christmas Cabin Pattern Update:  $5.95 (delivered early and automatically to pattern series subscribers – keep reading!) Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Christmas Cabin kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Christmas Cabin Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

In addition to learning how to piece the Mountain Cabin block and coordinate a fresh color palette, you’ll also discover how to:

  • make a yo-yo wreath for the cabin front
  • make Flying Geese without bias seams
  • quilt a wood grain design on the cabin walls and roof

So not only do you get a sophisticated and new Christmas design, you update your skills as well.

Learn New Techniques

Flying Geese traditionally have two bias edges that make them difficult to piece accurately, but I show you a technique that eliminates the bias edges for perfect Flying Geese every time.  The yo-yo makes for a decorative wreath, with a button sewn in the middle for a finishing touch.

Forget quilt as desired!  I’ve included quilting designs, the very ones I used in my own project, that give Christmas Cabin wonderful texture. The quilting is the finishing touch that enhances the runner design and gives it a truly sophisticated look.

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

The “I Can’t Believe It’s the Last Day of June” Post

Summer seems to slipping by ever-so-gently.  I’ve enjoyed these days of summer with my family, not doing anything particular, just being together.  So much has happened, I’ll need to catch you up:

  • my birthday gift of  two parakeets.  I named them Boo and Scout, taken from To Kill a Mockingbird
  • we adopted an adorable 7-week-old Lab mix puppy, who we’ve named Shadow
  • sewing camp every Friday with five little girls; this Friday we’re sewing American Girl doll clothes
  • sewing beach backpacks for our upcoming trip to the beach.  These were a project for sewing camp and I liked them so much I’m making them for my family.
  • enjoying lazy days on our screened porch, reading, all of us.  I finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, and now I’m onto The Surrendered.  Not an easy read, but something compels me to finish.

What are you filling your glorious summer days with?  You will share, won’t you?

Summer Sewing Camp

I’m getting my girl time on Friday mornings in my studio, when five young ladies arrive to cut, stitch, and play their way to adorable, funky projects.  Here Olivia and Abby show off their handbags made from a shower curtain, caribiners, and bungee cording.  Who would have thought all those unlikely players could be so cute together?  So far we’ve made pillowcases, a green shopping bag (complete with pink monogram, of course), and the handbag above.  Projects to come include a beach backpack, American Girl doll clothes, and a zippered case.  I’m not sure who’s having more fun:  the girls or me.

Are you sharing your love of sewing and quilting with the young people in your life?   I shared my Top Ten Tips for teaching the next generation of Project Runway designers how to sew in the Teaching Your Kids/Grandkids Wise Money Choices chapter of The Frugal Fabriholic, and here are the top three:

  1. Small isn’t necessarily better.  Large projects use large pieces, easier for small fingers to manipulate
  2. Let them pick the fabric.  Period.  Get over it if it doesn’t match.
  3. Realize that not every sewing session needs to result in a finished product.  It took me a long time to understand that when my son said, “Mom I want to sew,” he didn’t want to make a project, he just wanted to sit on my lap at the sewing machine and use it.

How Much Does Beauty Cost?

I guess that’s an unanswerable question, isn’t it?  How can you put a price on what each of us deems beautiful?

Since we’re quilters, our stash is a beautiful thing, one we would loathe to put a price on.  Those quilts are works of love going to cherished family members, people in need, and our own tables.  But the supplies do cost, don’t they?

They may be far less expensive than you think, and here’s why:  by making a few small changes, you can afford far more beauty in your quilting supplies than you ever thought possible.  I know, because I’ve done it.

My husband and I both started small businesses years ago, and we lived on our savings for four years.  Yes, that’s right.  Four entire years.  We weren’t independently wealthy; we simply were people who saved on a consistent basis, watched what we spent, and were able to benefit later when we wanted to develop our own businesses.

During that time, I still bought fabric, thread, batting, notions, and books.  All of it.  But I did so on a budget.  So, if you think beautiful quilts are out of reach because times are tough, think again.  I’ll show you how you can do it.

My latest book, The Frugal Fabriholic, gives you a 12-step plan for saving more cash for your quilting stash.  You can get all the details on the website here, and I’ll be posting a few tidbits and sketches on how I saved my family $13,000 last year and was able to use a portion of that for my quilting supplies.

Here’s a sketch from my journal that gives an example.  Symphony on the Green is an event we enjoy each year, and it’s free.  I also cooked a picnic dinner, instead of having it catered.  I saved enough from that one night to splurge on some lovely fabric supplies.

It’s Official

Now that it’s official, I can announce Color Mastery is a Benjamin Franklin award winner for Best Craft Book of 2009.  The Independent Book Publishers Association developed the awards to honor excellence in book publishing by independent presses.  David and I flew to NYC, attended the awards, and celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in Little Italy.

Before the ceremony, I corresponded with all three nominees for the Craft category, and guess what?  All three were independent publishers of quilting books!  Crafts is a huge category, with winners in previous years covering weddings, beading, sewing, crafting businesses, and other crafty mediums; for all three to be quilting books is a tremendous coup for indie quilt book publishers.  David and I sat together with Linda Teufel of Dragon Threads, and we had a delightful time.  It was inspiring to be around so many talented, creative, and innovative publishers.  The third nominee, Gyleen Fitzgeral of Fitzgerald Publishing Inc, couldn’t be there, but she sent me a copy of her book and it’s gorgeous.  You really must get it.

David and I did all the sites we could in NYC in two days, considering I was attending Publishing University during the day.  I learned all kinds of wonderful strategies for delivering amazing content to you, the quilting consumer, in innovative and exciting ways.  I’ll be talking more about that in the weeks to come.

Times Square at night was electric, very safe, and totally fun.  Of course, I wanted my photo taken under the Liberty of London ad for Target.  Fabric really is everywhere.

David and I had our anniversary dinner at Lunella’s in Little Italy, a charming and authentic section of the city.  Interestingly, you walk through Chinatown to get to Little Italy.  Vendors were practically dragging me into their shops to see their knockoff handbags.  I had to chuckle and graciously say no thank you.  I make my own, you see.

And no trip is complete without a visit to a museum offering quilts.  We visited the New York Folk Art museum, and it did not disappoint.  It had wonderful quilts, embroidery samplers, and a Howard Finster sculpture I had never seen before.  Here is my favorite quilt, full of proverbs and made by a 79-year-old woman in 1848:

Here are the three winners in the Crafts category:  I highly recommend them all, and your quilting library is sorely lacking without them.  Congratulations to us all!

Fiberart Montage by Judith Baker Montano, DragonThreads (Gold award)

Color Mastery:  10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts , Willow Ridge Press (Silver Award)

Quilts:  Unfinished Stories with New Endings, FPI Publishing (Silver Award)

And for some light reading, here is the background on the Benjamin Franklin Awards:

Titles that enter the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ are judged for their overall editorial and design excellence. The judging pool is developed from industry professionals: acquisition librarians; bookstore buyers; wholesalers and distributors; reviewers; editors; designers and artists. Each category has three judges who judge independently of one another and return the judging forms to the IBPA office for tabulation. That is a total of 150 judges over 50 categories. Three finalists are announced in each category (out of the three, one is chosen as the winner based on highest total points received, and the remaining two are the silver award winners for that category).

The concept of expanding the awards to include individual titles was developed both to honor the best in the trade and to assist the independent publisher in becoming better at his/her chosen profession. Based on this philosophy, the judging forms are returned to the participants in the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ after the winners are announced, so that they can determine where their specific title is excelling and where it can use a little help. The judges are also encouraged to make comments on the forms to assist the publisher in further developing his/her line of titles.  This is the only award that allows participants to obtain comments on how to become better at the art and craft of book publishing and is the main reason why the Benjamin Franklin Award™ has become one of the outstanding awards in the field of publishing.
Today, the Benjamin Franklin Award™ is given in a variety of specific genres, as well as recognizing specific design and/or marketing excellence. These awards are open to all publishers. The 2010 Awards experienced more than 1,300 entries.

Blue: June’s Color-of-the-Month

Welcome to the June Color-of-the-Month slideshow, offering tips on using blue in your quilt palette.  Blue is a perennial favorite with quilters, and this month’s slideshow shows you how to take blue to an entirely new level!   This month I host Marcus Fabrics, Yolanda Fundora, Barbara Campbell, and Edyta Sitar, sharing fabric designs and gorgeous quilts.  Get inspired to create a fabulous quilting project and remember to support the participants of each month’s show! (If the text is too tiny in the presentation, click on the Fullscreen link to view it Full Screen.)

5 Fresh Ways to Use Blue in a Quilter’s Color Palette

Stars & Stripes Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Stars & Stripes, the June pattern update to our year-long color-of-the-month series.

June’s featured color is blue, a perennial favorite with quilters of all styles.  Stars & Stripes shows you how to coordinate different blues while avoiding an over-matched appearance.  Discover how to coordinate varying color intensities, from dark and deep to bright and light, and make them sing together in a beautiful harmony.  You’ll also learn the secrets of why the traditional red, white, and blue color palette works, and what you can do to make it your own.  Subscribers to the enhanced e-pattern series get exclusive access to a video tutorial on how to apply the rick-rack that you can follow along with as you apply your own, especially around those tricky corners.

Stars & Stripes Pattern Update:  $9.95 (free to pattern series subscribers – keep reading!) Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Stars & Stripes kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Stars & Stripes Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

In addition to learning the latest color techniques, you learn how to create harmony among the three blocks which are different and unique:  the Mock Eight-Pointed Star block gives you the set-in look without the set-in seams, while the original Rick-Rack Old Glory block provides unity, harmony, and contrast.

Learn New Techniques

Jumbo red rick-rack provides a whimsical finish to Stars & Stripes, and I show you how to apply the rick-rack so that the corners turn with ease and the start/finish point is invisible.

Forget quilt as desired!  I’ve included quilting designs, the very ones I used in my own project, that make Stars & Stripes really shine. The quilting is the finishing touch that unifies all the design elements in the runner, and it’s super easy.  No free-motion needed!

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Yellow: May’s Color-of-the-Month

Welcome to the May Color-of-the-Month slideshow, offering tips on using yellow in your quilt palette:  yes you can successfully coordinate yellow with other colors and make it behave!  You can do it!  This month I host Yolanda Fundora, Barbara Campbell, Maribeth Schmidt, Exclusively Quilters, and Rochelle Martin, sharing fabric designs and gorgeous quilts.  Get inspired to create a fabulous summer project and remember to support the participants of each month’s show! (If the text is too tiny in the presentation, click on the Full icon at the bottom to view it Full Screen.)

Ready for more color excitement?  Participate in my Color Mastery social media scavenger hunt for your chance to win over $75 in prizes (fat quarter bundle, table runner kit, and a new book – oh my!).

Sunflower Summer Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Sunflower Summer, the May pattern update to our year-long color-of-the-month series.

May’s featured color is yellow, which so many quilters find to be challenging and avoid using.  No more!  Sunflower Summer shows you how to make yellow play well with others, giving yellow a chance to mingle and be social with its friends from around the color wheel without overwhelming the quilt and giving it that “oh no!” look.  Yellow can be overwhelming in any project, and Sunflower Summer reveals how you can coordinate yellow in any quilting project.

Sunflower Summer Pattern Update:  $5.95 (free to subscribers – keep reading!) Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Sunflower kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Sunflower Summer Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

Yellow is the brightest color in any quilt shop, and using it in your quilt’s color palette takes special care and handling.  Without savvy color skills, your quilt can have an off look, even if you use limited amounts of yellow.  I show you the why behind yellow’s glare and how to avoid yellow overload.

Learn New Techniques

May’s Sunflower Summer pattern uses a modified Dresden Plate block, and you’ll learn how to make perfect points without having to turn them under using hand applique.  All of the sunflower petals are done on the sewing machine!  I also demonstrate how different backgrounds can make a color completely disappear or look too strong, and how you know when your colors have achieve a wonderful harmony.

Forget quilt as desired!  I’ve included quilting designs, the very ones I used in my own project, that make Sunflower Summer really shine.  I created wonderful textures throughout the quilt, and you can too!

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Don’t Blink – It’s a Whirlwind!

What a week we’ll be having:  Judith won last week’s Color Mastery Goes Viral contest, I’ve announced a new social media scavenger hunt contest this week over at Color Mastery (the quilting industry’s first ever!), and tomorrow debuts the May color-of-the-month!  Wow – I think I need to sit down and prop up my feet.  Oh, excuse me, that was yesterday.  I hope moms all across the globe had a wonderful Mother’s Day.  I spent the entire day with my family and relished every moment.

Okay, enough reminiscing:  onto the fun!

Let the Games Begin

I did promise prizes didn’t I?  Contests too.  I deliver on my word:  Over at my Color Mastery blog I announced the first of four weekly contests I’ll be holding to celebrate Color Mastery being a Best Craft Book of 2009 Finalist.  What’s up for grabs?  That gorgeous Wildflower jelly roll, a Love Apple table runner kit, and a set of my watercolor note cards.  Just for spreading the good news about Color Mastery.  Details are over at my Color Mastery blog, but here’s a secret:  I make winning this completely easy.  You won’t believe how simple this contest is, so get on over there and get started!

P.S.  The Color-of-the-Month show will be here next Tuesday, featuring my May project, which just happens to be peeking out from all the goodies that are begging to be yours.  I’m delaying the slideshow and pattern for one week due to all the festivities.

Come Celebrate with Me

If you asked God to grant your biggest dream, what would it be?  My answer would be different depending on when you asked me.  Some dreams come and go, while others stick with you, and others you work diligently to see to fruition.

My first dream?  A happy, healthy marriage.  No small feat for any couple, but my parents experienced an acrimonious divorce, my dad’s been married three times, and my mother all but swore off men.  Not exactly a start that holds hope for marital bliss.  When I married David, I had no experience with what a stable, Christian marriage could be.  This month we will be celebrating 20 years of just that.  Thanks God.

My second dream?  Motherhood.  I didn’t grow up imagining being married or having children.  I came from a unique family, and my mom really encouraged me to get my education and be a career woman so I could be independent and support myself no matter what happened to me in life.  I did all that, married a delightful man, and five years later we had a son.  Another five years later I gave birth to our second son.  Two of the most wonderful boys you will ever meet.  Again, thanks God.  I was, after all, a good mother.  Maybe even a great one.

My third dream?  Interestingly, I didn’t even have the imagination for this one.  All I knew is that I loved books.  I grew up quite the bookworm, often getting lost in the library shelves at my school, rereading my favorites and discovering new volumes with glee.  Librarians loved seeing me come through the door and would guide to me the newest titles.  On Career Day, we students heard from laywers, doctors, policemen, and of course, teachers.  Not a single author in the bunch.  It never occurred to me I could become one.

So it is with great pride, humility, and joy that I share my latest news:  Color Mastery is a finalist for the Benjamin Franklin 2009 award for Best Craft Book of the year.  I am being recognized for excellence in publishing.  I’m a publisher.  Not just the author and quilt designer (which would be quite enough, thank you!), but I’m also the editorial director, sales and marketing team, and finance department.  It’s a job whose work never ends, but on most days it doesn’t seem like work.  Instead, it feels like. . . . .bliss.

So again, thanks God.  And thanks to all of the quilters who have been so loyal to me in supporting Color Mastery.  Quilters are really the big winners here, as you are getting some incredibly creative, beautiful, and outstanding books from independent presses.  In fact, all three finalists in the Craft category for the awards are quilting books.  Wow.

Come celebrate with me this enormous accomplishment.  It’s going to be a month-long party here and at my Color Mastery blog.  I’ll be holding contests, giving away stuff, and will be offering many surprises along the way.  Let the party begin!

My Emotional Week at Paducah

I spent the last two months getting ready for being a vendor at Paducah.  I’d heard wonderful things about the town and its residents from other quilting vendors, so I was excited to learn I’d gotten a premium booth with Susan Edwards at Wildhair Studios, just one block from the National Quilt Museum.

Richard, a friend and fellow quilter and watercolor artist, spent days cutting and assembling jelly rolls, charm packs, and fat quarter bundles for me.  I was furiously printing patterns from my Color-of-the-Month series, making hotel accommodations, and packing my van.  I was ready.

I arrived on Friday, set up on Saturday, with much help from Diane and Lowell Cook of Details by Diane.  They were generous with their time and would later become so important to me.  Susan set up her t-shirt booth in the back of her store, and Betty of Village Mercantile set up a mini-quilt shop in her booth.

Traffic was slow before the show, and while it increased through the week, estimates from other, more experienced vendors than I were that attendance was down by 1/3.  The AQS show was uncrowded, restaurants had empty tables, and the streets of Paducah looked like tumbleweeds should be blowing through.

Then on Tuesday morning my husband woke me up with a 6:30a.m. phone call, starting with the words, “I’ve got some bad news.”  It was too early for me to recognize how grave he was, but he continued to tell me one of my best friends, Virginia, had passed away unexpectedly.  Virginia was 41 years old, was a nurse who worked in a hospital everyday, and was diligent about her healthcare.  She was afraid of dying young, because both of her parents had passed away at a young age.   We met in childbirth class when we were both pregnant with our first child:  we both had sons, who were best friends.

Virginia was a devoted friend to me at the awkward times in life when most people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing, something entirely wrong, or they just avoid you altogether.  When I had my first miscarriage, Virginia took care of me and comforted me.  When my mother passed away, Virginia flew out from Colorado with her kids and visited me, again comforting me.  When I was told I had to have surgery, and she was too many states away to visit, she sent me a care package.  I sent my son on his first solo airplane flight to visit Virginia and her family.

I couldn’t believe what David was telling me.  How could it have happened?  I got a speeding ticket driving to the store that morning.   I couldn’t focus on anything the rest of the week.  I broke down into tears after a customer said “life is too short for me to complain about my wife buying fabric.”  Poor man, he was just making conversation and this crazy woman from Georgia starts sobbing.  Susan’s husband Robert hugged me, and Diane and Lowell were wonderful with their Christian love and support.

On the last day of vending, Saturday, I felt like things were getting back to normal for me.  I talked with Virginia’s ex-husband and her memorial service wouldn’t be until next week, so I still had time to attend.  I talked with my kids and husband:  my older son was barely awake after an all-night lock-in with his youth group.  Life was normal – good, uneventful, normal.

Then my husband called me 30 minutes later to tell me my older son was being rushed to the hospital.  I asked him repeatedly to explain, because I couldn’t register what was happening.  He was frantic and couldn’t really tell me much.  All I knew was that my son was ill, being transported by ambulance to a hospital, and I wasn’t there.  I couldn’t hold his hand, tell him he would be okay.  I wasn’t there.

Again, Diane, Lowell, and Robert came to my rescue.  And my friend Pat, who drove from Georgia to stay with me and help me in my booth.  Again I was crying in Paducah, and again they comforted with hugs, words, and actions.  They packed my booth and my car in 10 minutes.  I drove through severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail to get to my son.

He was fine, but shaken.  His younger brother hugged him a bit tighter, as did we all.

So, Paducah next year?  I can’t even think about it.  All I know right now is I will never again talk to Virginia, and I can’t make sense of that.  I miss her, and I ache for her son and daughter, 14 and 12.  Life will never be the same for them, or for me either.

Secrets of Accurate Half-Square Triangles

The Spring Tulips table runner uses a lot of half-square triangles (HSTs) in the pieced tulips blocks.  In fact, every table runner I’ve designed so far uses them.  For much of my early years as a quilter, cutting and piecing accurate HSTs was a mystery to me.  I followed all of the instructions, tried the triangle paper, triangles on a roll, and just didn’t find a way that suited me.  I even did Debbie Caffrey’s method of cutting bias strips, seaming them, and then cutting the HSTs.  It was accurate, but a headache too.

I needed something simpler.  I like simplicity:  clean, accurate, easy, no weird tools, just the basics on how to do it right.  I finally figured out the secrets of accurate HSTs, and now I’m sharing them with you in this checklist.  I’ve become a huge fan of checklists after reading Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto.  It’s a fascinating look at how pilots, surgeons, architects, and other creative and technical people nail down a procedure so there are no mistakes.  So here’s my gift to you:  a HST Checklist for getting them right.  Every. Time.

To view this full-size and print it out, click here for the link.  I suggest putting it next to your sewing machine or cutting table:  someplace visible so you don’t miss it!

Green: April’s Color-of-the-Month

Welcome to the April Color-of-the-Month slideshow, offering tips on using green in your quilt palette and featuring stunning color palettes that celebrate spring.  This month I host Susan Branch, Jan Patek, Franchelle Contreras, and Pat Sloan, sharing fabric designs and gorgeous quilts.  Get inspired to create a fabulous spring project and remember to support the participants of each month’s show! (If the text is too tiny in the presentation, click on the Full icon at the bottom to view it Full Screen.)

Stay tuned until the final slide to see an announcement from me:  be the first to get the scoop, because I’m sharing the word here first!

Spring Tulips Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Spring Tulips, the April pattern update to our year-long color-of-the-month series.

I’m celebrating spring’s arrival with a picnic on the new Spring Tulips table runner.  I’m so excited to see spring’s explosion of color after such a harsh winter that was spare in its color landscape.  My favorite part of spring is the warmer weather and stunning colors that absolutely beckon me to to the outdoors.  That’s where I notice the green everywhere in in nature:  in grass, flowers, shrubs, and perennials and annuals that beg to be planted.

Spring Tulips Pattern Update:  $5.95 (free to subscribers – keep reading!) Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Spring Tulips kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Spring Tulips Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

April’s featured color is green, nature’s neutral, and one of the most abundant colors in the quilt shops.

Spring Tulips’ color palette of green, blue-green, and blue, uses similar colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, meaning they blend well.  Because they are so similar, you use value and intensity to create contrast in the tulip designs.

Learn New Techniques

April’s Spring Tulips pattern uses my original Hawaiian Tulips applique design, and you’ll learn how to cut the design from paper before you touch your fabrics.  I also show you how to play with greens in your color journal to achieve just the right balance of color harmony (look for an upcoming color journal article in Quilter’s Newsletter).

Forget quilt as desired!  I’ve included quilting designs, the very ones I used in my own project, that make Spring Tulips really shine.  Color-of-the-Month subscribers also get exclusive access to several new videos on how to do freemotion quilting.  It’s a terrific bonus:  learn about color and machine quilting techniques!

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Too Beautiful to Be Inside

Please excuse my absence from my blog this week.  It’s just too gorgeous and warm to be inside.  Look for the April Color-of-the-Month slideshow and pattern next week.  Until then — get outside!  What are you waiting for?

The Winner of the Kennesaw Mountain Kit is . . .

Maeve Binder!  Congratulations!  A kit of Kennesaw Mountain’s reproduction fabrics are on their way to your mailbox.  Thank you to everyone who forwarded my newsletter on to their friends, guild newsletter editors, program chairpersons, Pres. Obama’s press secretary, Geronimo Stilton,  Matt Lauer, and ooops!  Found myself getting carried away.

If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, you can click on the tab at the top of my blog and start getting my latest news every month.  I always include a delicious recipe, so you can feast on color in your studio and at your table.  Wow, that fits table runners, doesn’t?  Something from your quilting studio for your kitchen or dining room.  Serendipity.

What’ll Ya Have?


A newsletter, please.  March issue, with the recipe for Varsity chili dogs on the side.  That’s right – my March newsletter is out and I’m including all kinds of exciting news, another giveaway, and my own recipe for Varsity-style chili dogs.  Did you know the actual recipe for Varsity Chili dogs chili actually appeared in Gourmet magazine several years back?  Food writers Jane and Michael Stern, authors of RoadFood, profiled the Varsity and their chili dogs.  Living in Georgia for almost 40 years (!!!) I grew up eating Varsity hot dogs, attending Braves baseball games, and loving every minute of it.  You can see a photo here of a sketch I did of the Varsity’s famous sign from a family outing with my husband and kids to the Varsity and a Braves game.

So order up a chili dog, onion rings, an FO (Frosty Orange for those who haven’t experienced the Varsity), and enjoy my latest newsletter.  You can sign up here to get them delivered automatically to your email Inbox, almost as good as the car hops who still come out to your car at the Varsity!  You can see previous issues here in the archives.

Lucky Winner of Dolls & Dresses to Applique is . . . .

Sherry Hogan!  Congratulations Sherry on winning Kay’s precious book, Dolls & Dresses to Applique.  I’m also excited to announce Kay Mackenzie will be my special guest on the Color-of-the-Month forum in April, so if you haven’t joined as a subscriber, now is the time.  Kay will be sharing her applique wisdom and answering questions during our live chat.  You can subscribe to the pattern series here.

Girls’ Day Applique!

My buddy and applique guru Kay Mackenzie (Easy Appliqué Blocks)  has a brand new book out called Dolls & Dress to Appliqué and it’s just perfect for the mom, grandmom, or woman wanting to play with fabric paper dolls!  Here’s my exclusive interview with Kay about her newest offering:

Q: What was your inspiration for Dolls & Dresses to Applique?

A: The original idea was ‘Paper Dolls to Appliqué.’ But when I drew them with their hands and feet out into the seam allowances so that they would connect up when the blocks were sewn together, I was not a fan of the look, so it became just Dolls. Then, I had so much fun thinking about the fabrics for the dresses, it evolved into Dolls & Dresses to Appliqué.

Q: What fabrics do you recommend for the doll faces?  For their dresses?  What should we look for?

A: I ordered the Complexion Medley from Keepsake Quilting, but I think it’s discontinued now. You can use any solid or near-solid that looks like skin-tone to you. Or hey, maybe you can find freckle fabric! For the dresses, whatever looks good to you and represents the flavor you’re going for! One thing to think about is scale.

Q: What advice do you have for quilters who are still a bit intimidated by appliqué?

A: I would say, find your method. There are a gazillion ways to appliqué and they’re all good. Some prefer to work by hand, others like machine sewing. Some want a prepared edge, others have no issue with turning the edge as they go. Some are glue or starch gals, some like freezer paper templates, I could go on and on. Just find the method that works for you and gives you satisfaction in your results. Don’t think you have to do it a certain way. There’s lots of information about appliqué, all kinds, on my blog All About Appliqué. There are photo tutorials and links to other sites that have tutorials too. Just investigate the Categories and enjoy!

Q: What was the most fun part of developing this project?

A: Choosing the dress fabrics and the embellishments. I used the embellishments with restraint but I have a tub full of ribbons and beads and buttons and flowers and lace and rosettes and bows… it was so much fun rummaging through that stash to fund just the right touch! Including a little dog that is a 3-dimensional scrapbooking sticker.

Q: Did you ever do paper dolls as a young girl?

A: That’s funny. Not so much! I ran around the neighborhood in dungarees, went fishing, and rode the horse for miles through the countryside. I did a blog post about the dichotomy of the tub o’ doodads and my tomboy childhood.  Now I love floral fabrics and the shabby chic look.

Q: I just created some paper dolls with the kids in the Sunday School class I teach.  One little girl wanted to do paper dogs, and asked me to draw them:  that was a challenge!

A: Now that’s a cool little girl. I’m a total dog person.

Q: Have you thought of combining your teapots (in Kay’s books Teapots to Appliqué and Teapots 2 to Appliqué) and your dolls for the ultimate little girl tea party quilt?

A:  What a great idea! Synergy! A friend of mine, Kim Jamieson-Hirst, already combined one of the dolls with a dog design from my book Easy Appliqué Blocks into a Wizard of Oz project. I love it!

Thanks Kay for stopping by and chatting about such a fun appliqué book that’s bursting with possibilities!  You can win your own copy of Dolls & Dresses to Applique!  Just leave a comment here and I’ll choose the winner on Friday.  Good luck!

Colorful Quilt Inspiration

One of the questions I’m most often asked is “Where do you get your inspiration?”

My short answer?  “Everywhere.”

That’s usually not the answer people are looking for.  They want specifics, like publication name, date, and page number, so they can see it too.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

I don’t rely on any one source for inspiration, as I don’t want to be too heavily influenced by any one artist, quiltmaker, or writer.  I want my work to be uniquely my own, taking inspiration from the corner bakery, blooming Tulip Magnolia, sunset over the Appalachians, and smiles on my beautiful children’s faces, as only I see them.  My quilts are an expression of the beauty I see in everyday life.

I do capture much of that beauty in my journals, so I can refer back to it later.  That’s where photographs, magazine images, fabric swatch exercises, and sketches come to live and gather and multiply into stunning quilts.

I’m truly amazed every time I sit down to design a quilt.  I never run out of ideas, color palettes, or possibilities.  I’ve heard other writers complain of writer’s block, but that was never a luxury I allowed myself.  I continued writing, pushing through the fear of “this sounds awful” to some really great stuff.  That doesn’t happen when I design a quilt.  It’s all joy.  Playing with color, shape, and fabric is as good as it gets.

Red-Violet: March’s Color-of-the-Month

Welcome to the March Color-of-the-Month slideshow, offering tips on using red-violet in your quilt palette and featuring the most diverse range of fabrics, quilts, and accessories so far.  This month I host Patty Young of Michael Miller fabrics, Marcus fabrics, art quilter Michele Hardy, LazyGirl Joan Hawley, and me, sharing fabric designs, traditional quilts, art quilts, and even handbags in this month’s jam-packed show.  You’ll never look at red-violet the same again! (If the text is too tiny in the presentation, click on the Full icon at the bottom to view it Full Screen.)