Posts Tagged ‘lecture’

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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Mother and Daughter Working Together
Mother and Daughter Working Together

This week, I drove to Pittsburgh to meet the ladies (and gentlemen!) of the Quilt Company East Quilt Guild. What a great group! They are friendly, cheerful, and talented. On Monday night, I gave one of my favorite lectures, Fabric Acquisition 101. We talked about what fabrics to buy, how much to buy, and what to do with it once you get it home.

Tuesday was an action-packed day. We started out with my Trees Workshop. Setting up in a spacious and well-lit space, we all shared fabric and ideas as we created our own personal forests. I was so happy to watch these ladies approach this new technique with such open minds. The technique uses freeform rotary cutting (much like Ricky Tims with his Caveman Quilting) and lots of steam. Each participant gets a pattern, but I always hope that every quilter will create her own trees in her own way. The pattern is there for when they go home without me.


What I love about teaching Trees is watching each quilter “get” the concept. They each bring lots of fabric and a vision. As the workshop progresses, many of the quilters abandon their original vision (some more willingly than others) in favor of following the creative process. More than one quilter remarked that the trees they created were not the ones they had planned when packing for the workshop — but in a good way.

Lots of Steam!

Lots of Steam!

After we were finished with the workshop, we were off on a road trip! Elizabeth and Charlotte took me to a favorite quilt shop in Finleyville, PA, called Quilters Corner. What a great shop! They have a little bit of everything. Looking for a nice Moda selection? Got it. Batiks? Um hmm. Black and whites, Anna Griffin, Lonni Rossi, Lakehouse, you name it. Books, magazines, notions, even a corner for holiday fabric and projects. The most striking samples, however, were the applique pieces designed by shop owner Mary Beth Hartnett. From design to fabric choices to execution, the applique work was exquisite. Do you hear me, Book Publishers? Hurry to sign Mary Beth before your competition does. These patterns have universal appeal.

Afterward, we drove through Pittsburgh so that I would have a sense of the city. It was beautiful! We drove on some very scenic roads and saw some amazing vistas. We saw the pink water in the fountains (for Breast Cancer Awareness month), lots of twinkle lights, and diverse architecture. And now I understand why the Steelers do so well. I’d hate to be a warm-climate football team and have to come play in that giant open stadium!

I’m not sure how we packed so much into two fabulous days, but we did. Now I have just enough time to rest up before I leave for the IQA Festival in Houston!

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Why do we wait until Thanksgiving to say thanks?  I guess we wait to be thankful for the same reason that we depend on the first of the year to awaken our resolve.  This has been an amazing year, and I have much for which I am thankful.

The Essential ThanksgivingI’m thankful for family that loves me.  And I’m thankful to be at peace with the family that doesn’t.  I am thankful for the family that is no longer here but whose spirits are with me always.

I am thankful for my husband, who continues to encourage me to pursue quilting full time and who cheers the loudest when good things happen. 

I’m thankful for the most supportive circle of friends anyone could want.  We celebrate accomplishments, recognize milestones, and share the passage of time.  We laugh together and we make stuff together.  And while I may choose to spend time alone, I never feel alone.  They are amazing people.

I am thankful for my clients, past and present.  They have trusted me to create art for them that merges their wishes with my vision.  I am thankful for the clients who are patient and who recognize that you cannot rush art.  And I am thankful for the clients who are happy enough with their finished quilts that they want to share them with the world. 

I am thankful for my students.  I treasure the time we spend together.  I am awed and inspired by their work and their energy. 

I am thankful for the people who hire me…to lecture, to teach, to present workshops, to write articles.  They make it possible for me to continue doing what I love.

This has been an amazing, wonderful year.  Last year at this time I would never have predicted that this year would have been so filled with opportunity and joy. 

Oh, and why this picture?  (My husband took this shot last year while preparing a message for his fantasy football league.)  I’m thankful for the tradition of Thanksgiving, for the reminder to say thanks. And I’m thankful for the football games that allow me time in the studio.

Last, I’m thankful that you took the time to read my blog.  I appreciate it.

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