Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

If it’s fall, then the IQA Quilt Festival in Houston is right around the corner. I love the Houston show. (Question: Why do we refer to quilt shows by the location rather than the official show name? Discuss.) The Houston show has more quilts, more vendors, and more visitors than any other show I’ve ever attended. Think really big. In 2010, attendance was over 60,000 people.


If you’re planning to be there, I’d love to see you! Here’s where you can find me.

Tsukineko Ink Basics (Class)

Set of InksThursday, October 31, 9am-noon, class number 446. This is my second year to teach this class at the Houston show, but I’ve taught it many times for guilds and at Artistic Artifacts, my local fiber arts shop.

I really like Tsukineko inks and the subtle color they can add to labels and printed photographs. What I LOVE about these inks is how much fun it can be to color black-and-white commercial fabrics. I like to start with a very light value and then add more ink to achieve darker color values. The inks can be heat set and then more layers added.

Design Your Own Memory Quilt (Class)

Celebration Quilt

Thursday, October 31, 2-5pm, class number 484. I taught this class last year, too! Many of the quilts I make are memory or celebration quilts, using materials and artifacts to commemorate an event or a person’s life. So many of the quilters I talk with want to make personal and original memory quilts. I teach this class locally and I travel to teach it at shows and guilds. It’s important to me to help quilters gain the confidence and skills they need to commemorate in quilts what’s important to them in life.

In this class, I show examples of memory quilts, walk students through the worksheet from my book on memory and celebration quilts, and brainstorm with them to inspire ideas and overcome potential roadblocks. Everyone gets a chance to share their ideas and ask questions. Students arrive with a topic and leave with ideas, suggestions, and a path to follow.

It’s Okay to Write on Your Quilts (Lecture)

Color!Friday, November 1, 11am-noon, event number 549. I love adding text as graphic elements in my work and I’m gratified that this has been identified as a trend in the art quilt world. I believe the writing on your quilts should not be confined to your labels. In this lecture, I share lots of examples of adding text using your sewing machine, paint, ink, and beads. The possibilities are endless!

Meet the Teachers

Creating Celebration Quilts Book CoverFriday, November 1, 2:30-3pm and Saturday, November 2, 1:30-2pm. The show organizers invite teachers to present a half-hour presentation to help us connect with show visitors. I’ll be there sharing my book, Creating Celebration Quilts, and talking about making memory and celebration quilts. If you miss this class on Thursday, this will give you an overview of how to get started on your own memory quilts. No tickets required; this is a free event.

Printing on Fabric with Wooden Printing Blocks (Open Studios)

WoodBlockShellSaturday, November 2, 4-6pm and Sunday, November 3, noon to 2pm. While I love using commercially available fabrics, it’s fun and gratifying to create my own fabric with paint and stamps. In these free demos, I’ll show how easy it is to create your own fabric using some paint and the wonderful wooden printing blocks from Colouricious (available from Artistic Artifacts online, at the store in Alexandria, Virginia, or at the show). These versatile blocks can be used for stamping, for rubbing as a texture plate, and for display. LOVE them. No tickets required; this is a free event.

I hope I see you there!


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Join me in the Caribbean!

I love it when I can combine a bunch of favorite things in one event, don’t you? Next March (2014), I’m teaming up with Quilt Retreats at Sea and Artistic Artifacts for an eight-night quilting cruise where I can enjoy:

  • Travel to warm places while it’s cold at home
  • Spending time with my hubby
  • Spending time with quilting buddies (quilters I know now and quilters I will meet)
  • Sharing my favorite original quilt pattern with other quilters
  • Giving out prizes and surprises
  • Food, food, and more food
  • Ocean view
  • Sewing!
Cruise Project, Ocean View

Friendship Chain, Purple Rain Colorway — Fabrics will vary

Sounds good, right? I’d love it if you’d join us! We’ll leave Baltimore on Friday, March 28, 2014 on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. Our ship was refurbished in 2012 and is just beautiful! Click here to read all about the ship. Our stops include Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, Bahamas; and Key West, Florida. We can have beach time, shopping time, sightseeing time, and just lazy time. We’ll return to Baltimore on Saturday, April 5.

On three of our days, we’ll be at sea, having fun piecing a quilt. I’ll be teaching the techniques you’ll need to successfully complete our quick and easy project. This is my favorite pattern, Friendship Chain. Back before the Dawn of Time (when I was in elementary school), we used to make these zigzag bracelets out of paper chewing gum wrappers. This quilt reminds me of those bracelets, hence the name. I can almost smell the Juicy Fruit gum!

Tangerine Sunrise Colorway

Tangerine Sunrise Colorway — Fabrics will vary

Quilt Cruisers will get to choose from two colorways: Purple Rain and Tangerine Sunrise. Our sewing machines are being provided for us along with an expert to troubleshoot as needed and keep us rolling in full bobbins! But the best part about our quick and easy project is that I will cut the kit for you. When you sit down to work, you will not have to cut strips or subcut blocks — it’ll all be ready for you to get started!

If you are a fast worker (and you know who you are!), you might want to bring a small UFO or two. While the ship has lots of distractions for your free time, you may finish your quilt top and want something to work on during the optional Stitch-and-Sail sewing times.

Toward the end of our cruise, I’ll have a surprise project for you to work on. We’re going to have lots and lots of fun!

Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas

So, what’s included on the cruise? The Friendship Quilting Cruise Package includes:

Snow on the Deck

March 2013 in Virginia – Wouldn’t you rather be in the Caribbean in March 2014?

  • Eight nights aboard the Grandeur of the Seas
  • All port fees and taxes
  • Prepaid onboard gratuities
  • Trip/travel insurance
  • Two group cocktail parties
  • All onboard meals
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Quilting classes and instruction
  • Project kits and materials
  • Open Stitch-and-Sail sewing times
  • Group events, prizes, giveaways!

I’d love you to join us! For more information or to register, contact Quilt Retreats at Sea. If you have any questions, e-mail me.

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If your quilt is ever going to hang in a show with pipe-and-drape construction, then your quilt needs a proper sleeve. This sleeve needs to be a 4″ tube, finished on both ends, roomy enough for the show pipes, and sturdy enough to hold up under the wear and tear of quilt show life. Here’s how to make it.

1. Cut the Fabric

From a sturdy woven fabric, cut a strip 10” wide by the one inch less than the width of your finished quilt. If your quilt is 18” wide, then you would cut a 10” x 17” strip of fabric.

Step 1: Cut

2. Finish the Ends

Hem the 10” ends of the unsewn sleeve by turning under ¼” hem, pressing, turning under another ¼” hem, and pressing again. Then, stitch in place. This covers the raw edges and creates a strong end for the sleeve. In case you care about thread color, this is the stitching that will show on your sleeve. Choose accordingly. The contrasting thread in the picture is for you, dear reader.

Step 2: Finish the Ends

3. Construct the Tube

Fold the strip WRONG sides together so that the hems are at each end and the tube is now 5” wide. I press at this stage to make things easier. Stitch along the raw edge side, taking a ½” seam allowance. Then, BASTE along the fold ½” from the edge. Yes, it sounds weird, but it’s important to do this.

Step 3: Construct the Sleeve

4. Finish the Sleeve

Press the sleeve so that the seam (raw edges) and the basting (folded edge) are nested together, one on top and one against the ironing board. I flip the seam allowance in one direction and the folded edge in the other direction. The task becomes more challenging for longer sleeves.

Step 4: Nest the Seams

Step 4: Finish the Sleeve

5. Attach the Sleeve to the Quilt Back

Pin the sleeve to the back of your quilt, centered left to right, about 1” below the top of the quilt. The raw edges should be toward the quilt and the basted fold should be away from the quilt. Do not take the shortcut of stitching the sleeve into the binding. Yes, it will save you time – unless you actually want to use the sleeve without it showing from the front. Resist the temptation.

Step 5: Attach the Sleeve

Now, hand stitch around all four sides of the sleeve, including the ends where the sleeve is open. If you don’t, the people who hang your quilt are likely to slip the pole between the sleeve and your quilt instead of inside the sleeve, leaving potential yucky residue on your artwork. When you stitch, try to catch the sleeve and the quilt backing only. If you go all the way through, your stitches will show on the front. If you catch too much batting, the quilt front could dimple a bit.

Step 5: Attach the End of the Sleeve

6. Finish the Sleeve

Now, rip out the basting that you stitched ½” away from the fold. This makes the outside of the sleeve a little longer than the side that’s against the quilt back, creating ease to go around the pole. If you don’t create this ease, the top of your quilt can appear rounded when the pole is in the sleeve. If you’ve seen this effect, you know why you want to avoid it.

Bonus Tip!

If you’ve decided not to bind the quilt, but use an escape hatch (or knife edge, pillow case construction, stitch and flip – whatever you want to call it) instead, cut the opening you use to “birth” or turn the quilt where the sleeve will go. The sleeve will cover the opening and your secret will be hidden. Laura Wasilowski calls this the trapdoor or encasement binding technique; check it out in her book Fusing Fun! Fast Fearless Art Quilts. Or click here to read Melody Johnson’s explanation of the escape hatch technique. I learned it from her at QSDS…but that’s a story for another post.

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Image of Trees quilt

Trees Quilt, pattern available

Recently, I was contacted through e-mail by a new art quilter. She found my Trees pattern online and had a few questions. What started as a conversation about my pattern has morphed into a discussion about where to start when you are drawn to making art quilts. She tells me she loves to see nature represented in quilts and prefers organic art quilts to geometric patterns. She has sewing experience and she’s ready to dive into quilting. I thought this might resonate with others, and so I’m sharing my advice to her.

Her first question was how to begin, specifically, asking for beginner books. My response:

  • First, subscribe to Quilting Arts Magazine. Seriously. I like it for inspiration, new techniques, and exposure to what’s going on in the quilt world. There’s no substitute.
  • Next, look around to see what resonates with you. I can recommend books on specific techniques, but it’s best to narrow the field and figure out where to start. And so, what appeals to you? Collage, surface design, photorealism? Go into your local quilt shop (or, in the absence of a decent shop, go online and Google quilt books) and just look at the covers. If something pulls you in, then open it up and investigate.
  • Generally, it’s a good idea to find books on basics that include a survey course on a variety of techniques. For the price of one book, you can cover a lot of territory. Get yourself a copy of The Painted Quilt by Linda and Laura Kemshall. You can find a link to it and more books I consider essential on this page of my website:  http://www.moonlightingquilts.com/FavoriteThings.htm.
  • Most important is to find a group of like-minded individuals. Do you have a local quilt guild? Also, you are really, really lucky to be close-ish to Pacific Grove and Asilomar. Go online to  http://www.emptyspoolsseminars.com/. Attending this “quilt camp” is a life changing event for many quilters. Pricey, but worth it.

In a follow-up e-mail, my new friend told me she bought Joan Colvin’s Quilts from Nature, drawn in by the cover. With this in mind, I offered a book list:

  • Nature’s Studio and The Nature of Design, both by Joan Colvin. If you like her style, continue to collect her books. I find her portraits haunting. The Nature of Design is a journal where Joan discusses her process.
  • Personal Imagery in Art Quilts by Erika Carter. This artist has a completely different take on landscapes. Her trees are at the same time geometric and graceful. The book lays out her work in periods, which allows the reader to see a progression both in technique and palette.
  • Serendipity Quilts: Cutting Loose Fabric Collage by Susan Carlson. While this book may prove inspirational, I’m recommending this book also for technique. Quilters who are discovering the world of art quilts are often stymied by the challenge of moving away from patterns and toward techniques. When I survey my incoming Art Quilts 101 students, I often hear about the desire to translate the visions in their heads into art quilts. This book provides an easy technique that takes the “how to” off the table and allows you to concentrate on design and composition.
  • Luminous Landscapes by Gloria Loughman. Process, technique, and inspiration. Gorgeous work with a liberal dose of design and color theory.
  • Intuitive Color & Design: Adventures in Art Quilting by Jean Wells. Some trees and landscapes, but mostly process and technique. Visually rich.
  • A Fabric Journey: An Inside Look at the Quilts of Ruth B. McDowell by Ruth McDowell. Ruth does the most amazing pieced pictorial quilts. This book is about her process, which is straightforward and well-developed. If you decide you want to learn her technique, she has other books aimed at specific subject matter that you may enjoy. Her approach is worth investigating.

I’m eager for progress reports from this new quilter. I’m also eager for recommendations from you. What advice would you have for a new quilter? Or, if you are a new quilter, what questions do you have?

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Recently, I received an intriguing e-mail from the folks who bring us the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I’m teaching there again this year and they were asking their teachers to send their top five tips for quilting or whatever our specialties are. Here’s what I sent them. You may see these tips on their website, but why wait?

  1. Technique counts! If the points are supposed to match, then take your time and make the points match. If you’re adding a traditional binding, take the few extra minutes to make sure your binding is full and tight with nicely mitered corners. And “Art Quilt” is not code for sloppy and haphazard – unless you are intentionally going for a sloppy and haphazard effect in your work. Whatever you’re doing, do it well.
  2. When you’re choosing fabric to represent something, think outside the box. For my Trees workshop, students often show up with fabric that has bark printed on it to use for tree trunks. While that may seem logical, the scale of these prints is almost always off. Instead, look at your stash and think color and feel. You may be really surprised by what works best!
  3. Use your thread! As quilters, we collect pretty thread and then stash it in boxes or line it up on shelves and racks for display. Why do we do that? Instead, go ahead and use it. They’ll make more!
  4. Be purposeful in your work. Sometimes we all need to throw together a quick quilt from a kit or our favorite fabrics, but it’s important to also make the time to create purposefully. Think through your decisions as you choose fabric, thread, paint. Are you adding those beads because they move the quilt forward or because you just took a beading class and everything suddenly looks like it needs a few beads? Do you really want that focal point in the absolute center of the quilt? Maybe you do, but you might want to consider the effect of that bull’s-eye before you commit to it. Be present in your work and consider what you are doing.
  5. Teach someone to quilt. Share your knowledge and your love of the art. Pay it forward. You may never know the good you’ve done, and that is perfectly fine.

If you’re going to the Quilt Festival in Houston, I hope to see you there. My trees class is Friday night and I’d love to see you at my lecture, The Anatomy of a Commission, on Thursday at 10am. And I’ll be in the Bernina booth on Saturday trying to create change in the world one gift bag at a time.

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Vermont Quilt Festival LogoI enjoy traveling to meet quilters, and I looked forward to my trip to the Vermont Quilt Festival from the time they contacted me with an invitation to teach there.

I planned and packed, pulling quilts and supplies for my classes. I knew I wanted to drive because I didn’t want to ship supplies for four classes. A few days before I needed to leave, I decided to plot my course from Virginia to Vermont. How long could this drive be, right? Well, pretty long, as I found out. MapQuest said it would take me about ten hours. Hmm. I went to my GPS for a second opinion: ten hours. Okay, ten hours, then.

Hey, Quilters, what do you do when you have a long drive ahead of you? Not a long ride, a long drive. I print out directions, pack maps, borrow the plug-in cooler from my friend Kathy (Seriously, this kind of travel is not possible without Diet Coke), and load plenty of tunes and books on my iPod. For this trip, I downloaded The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Ya Can’t Get Theah From Heah

Off I went, leaving as early as I could be awake and presentable. I stopped only when I had to, and I always hurried back to my car to hear more of the book and to try to beat the ten hour estimate. I drove through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware (waving to my old apartment as I crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge), and New Jersey. Once I hit New York, I felt like I was getting close to my destination.  I drove and drove and drove. Just when I was sure I had missed a turn, my GPS warned me that I would be turning right in two miles. Puzzled, I replied “I can’t turn right; there’s a lake over there!” At the appointed milemarker, I did turn right…right into the parking lot for the ferry!

Waiting for the Ferry

Waiting for the Ferry

Yes, the ferry. Do you have a GPS? I have a TomTom that I call Yoda – it’s a long story – and it always asks me if I want to avoid the toll roads or if I want to avoid the HOV lanes. Don’t you think it could have asked me if I wanted to avoid leaving the road entirely?! As I stopped my truck next to the ticket booth, I asked the attendant if there was a bridge nearby or if I had missed the road most people take to Vermont. Nope. The ferry was my only option unless I wanted to add two hours to my trip. She recommended ice cream from the place next door, since I’d be waiting twenty or thirty minutes for the next ferry.

“Driving” on the Ferry

  Truthfully, the ferry ride was the highlight of the journey. It was a beautiful day to be on the water and I met other quilters on the boat. And what a view!

The added bonus? I got to see what the GPS screen looks like when you’re on the water, but not on a bridge. Interesting.  

At the Vermont Quilt Festival

After ten and a half hours (I had to wait for the ferry, remember?), I drove onto the campus of St. Michael’s College where most of the classes were held and many teachers stay during the show. The campus is absolutely gorgeous with lots of trees and beautiful buildings. Check-in was a snap and I was able to set up my classroom the day before classes began. Too cool!

The students were amazing. They really brought their “A” game. Just about everyone came in with all of their supplies and a solid idea of what we’d be doing. One student really surprised me when she unpacked photos from my website. I guess she did her homework! Everyone was cooperative, helpful, positive, and ready to get the most out of each class. What more could a teacher want? I had a blast! For those of you keeping track, I offered Finishing Techniques for Art Quilters, The Pen is Mightier Than the Needle, Design Your Own Memory Quilts, and Trees (from my pattern).

 I really had a great time at the show and I hope I can make it back next year. At least I know to expect a ferry ride!

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What a weekend this has  been!

bigdaisies1It started in Williamsburg with the Colonial Piecemakers’ Quilt Guild. I had such a good time with these quilters! On Friday, we spent all day playing with Tsukineko Inks. We used the Fantastix applicators to learn how to control the ink and then we mixed the inks with aloe gel to see what kinds of effects we could get. We colored in commercially available black-and-white fabrics and we explored rubber stamps and traced designs. It was great to spend the day with such talented artists!

sherrystreesOn Saturday, I started the day at the guild meeting. I’ve never seen such a show and tell. This guild is working through a year-long UFO challenge and the first round of finished quilts was literally a parade around the room.  Impressive. I presented my lecture, “Overcoming Quilter’s Block,” and then we had a full house for my “Trees” workshop. I love seeing all of the different results that can come from the same pattern.

cherryblossoms2009Back home again, my husband and I went into D.C. to see the cherry blossoms. I’m always wowed when I see all of that lovely color in a metropolitan setting. And did I mention the people? Apparently, today was a great day to visit D.C. I know this because there were more people than there were blossoms! I was happy to see so many people enjoying the beautiful day. And you’ll be pleased to know that I did not correct the tourist who pointed to the Washington Monument and exclaimed, “Look! There’s that pencil building or whatever you call it!”

And so, the weekend is coming to a close. I’ve put some miles on the truck and I’ve met some wonderful quilters. I’ve seen some sights and I’ve had some fun. Now it’s time to rest up for the next adventure — or whatever you call it!

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