This story begins with my very first rotary cutter that I handed over to the TSA on a flight back from Minnesota Quilts after a way fab teaching trip. I miss that rotary cutter. A lot. Okay not so much really, but it was my first 28mm rotary cutter. And it is with this rotary cutter that our tale begins.

cutting winding ways fossil fernsI began collecting solid color fabrics to make a quilt for my Sweetie on a really fun road trip in 1994. Sometime in early 1995 I decided that I’d make a Double Irish Chain in Amish Colors ala Eleanor Burns. My supplies: an 18″ x 24″ self-healing mat, fat quarters and 1/3 yard cuts (I have since learned how to purchase fabric differently), the rotary cutter and my Nancy Crow 3″ x 24″ ruler*.
Easy peasy, cut 3 1/2″ strips, stitch them together, cut them apart, stitch them back together into blocks and make a quilt. Simple right.

Finally I have some time to work on the quilt. The supplies are out on the table. I’ve “read” the pattern to know what I’m doing. I get started cutting and for a while it’s going well-ish. Let’s just say that liberties were taken in the cutting of this quilt. I remember thinking that I’d remember that this strip was cut a bit short. Well, then it happened.
I place the fabric down, lined it up, put the ruler down, line it up. Placed my hand down to anchor said 3″ wide ruler. Set the rotary cutter, blade exposed to cut the fabric. And in true quilterly fashion zipped the rotary cutter along the size of the ruler at blazing speed. And then the stars shone so brightly.

The forefinger of my left hand was not quite where it was supposed to be, safely away from the edge of the ruler. Nope, it was over the edge of the ruler. Twas in seeing the stars that I realized that it hurt. I ran to the kitchen sink. Since my sweetie was gone for the weekend my mind started thing what happens if…will I need to go to the ER? It’s right around the corner. Will I need stitches? Where is my insurance card and id? Can I get them quickly? Thankfully I didn’t need to find these thing, nor did I need to get to the ER.

The quilting supplies were put away for a couple of months while my finger healed.

And there ends the tale of The Great Rotary Cutting Incident of 1995.

And now, I’m off to quilt.

Well, think about quilting.


PS – it’s a great cautionary when working with new students. I don’t have to say much, quilters have vivid imaginations.

AMB SolidsI shared this photo on fb, the inevitable question, “what are you going to do with the fabric?” cropped up.  I ask that question myself of quilters and of myself. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. As is, “I’m adding to my fabric stash” and “Who the heck knows, I just need it right now and I’m bringing it home.” There are other answers that work, “This is a ‘gift’ for a friend.” or “I’m making pajama bottoms for my nephew.”
My answer with these, “I’m collecting them” I love solid colors. I’ve had a love affair with them for a mighty long time. One of the first quilts I made for our home is all solids. I love the quilt, it’s the quilt I made for my Sweetie. It’s just perfectly flawed with tears in the fabric, mixed up quilting and a lot of love!

I’ve been considering remaking this quilt for a few years now. So while I’ve been collecting these with no purpose in mind I now know what I’m doing…remaking this quilt. I’m still in need of a boatload of black. And I’m thinking about what I’d change: the white may or may not stay. And the quilting will be different: the butternut or pumpkin seed will go on the “double Irish Chain” blocks. I’ll figure out what happens in the solid blocks later on. I don’t have a time line for this but I’ll take you on the remake journey with me.

One thing I share about this quilt is the “Great Rotary Cutting Incident of 1995.” If you need to hear that tale I’ll leave out most of the details. Because sometimes less is more.


Gratuitous Rose Photo

Happy Quilting!


happy days 121For months and months I’ve been thinking about my home office. Remember this post? I talked about the colors for that space. Well, this girls, dream is coming true! My Sweetie painted the Behr Marquee Showstopper Purple


Showstopper Purple during the day

A photo posted by Teri Lucas (@terilucas) on

We have commitments over the next little bit so it’ll be next week before he’ll be able to paint the rest of the room. I’m so flipping happy. I’ve been imagining how this would look for months! and it’s even better than I thought.
I’m still going to paint one wall in my studio pumpkin orange. I just saw a Sunset color on the Behr website that I’m excited about.imaginative stitching

The other day I had an idea for a new class – Liberated Free Motion Quilting. More than once my forehead and either the front of the sewing machine or the nearest wall met in sheer frustration. There’s a reason that, “a seam ripper is a quilters’ best friend is my motto” and, I have more than one, and I have a favorite. Getting to where I am with free motion stitching is hard-won.

But with every single one of those frustrations there is a bonus of getting something that I can share with my friends, quilters, and students. Like needle and thread pairings, and an understanding of tension. I may have shared this before so, if you’ve read this bear with me.

When I first tried machine quilting on my BERNINA 1080, I’d just figured out one component of tension. Feel free to laugh because I do now. The numbers actually mean something. Duh! A higher number is a tighter tension, a lower number is a looser tension. There is something that I had to learn through experience, or someone might have shared this tasty tidbit of information, the tension will not change unless the presser foot lift is in the highest position. One afternoon while I  was quilting, I’m thinking this tension changing this is a lot of horse poop because no matter what I did NOTHING Changed! I was still getting pokies on the top of my quilt. Bleep! Now I make sure I offer this bit of information to most of the classes I teach. (The 7 Series and 8 Series the tension can be changed on the fly.)

So this new class will have some reminders of the basics and we’ll move on into some serious stitching. I’m also thinking this is the class that has retreat potential. This and Go With the Flow. Its that place to take the time to explore free motion quilting and take on those bits and pieces that completely freak you out. I can help because at one time, they completely freaked me out. I’ll have thread and suggestions and most importantly I’ll have a calming, you can do this presence. Because you can. Because you have an imagination. You can see quilterly things. Like I saw how awesome the Showstopper Purple and Pistachio would be in my office.

So, quilters, take me up on this class and let’s get stitching.

Happy Quilting!


This is the end result for me.  Yep after all that tidying up when I get out...the level of stuff left over is astounding.

This is the end result for me. Yep after all that tidying up when I get creative…watch out…the level of stuff left over is astounding.

I’m tidying up my quilt room.
Pray for me friends.
If I’m not out by the end of the day please send my Sweetie in, because more than likely I’m buried under magazines and books. Yes, you read that correctly, magazines and books not fabric.
I woke up thinking about my gorgeous shelving unit and how to better utilize it, some things that can be passed onto a few places.

I’ll let you know when I come out on the other side of this.

Happy Quilting!


who needs to quilt!

Lisa Calle OCQ eventIn a rare time opportunity I watched Lisa Calle’s episode on The Quilt Show, #1703, what a great episode. Lisa’s Divide & Design class and technique does something really special, it shows the quilting decision making process like no other. While the process for the show goes to the bare bones of it all, Lisa does talk about the back and forth of trying things out, seeing if they’ll work, and trying something different. She may come back to an early part of the process and may not. Lisa keeps all of the quilt designs in tubes in her quilt studio. working with Lisas rulers

She points out that Divide & Design takes time, particularly when drawing in the feathers and fills. The layers of tracing paper serve a great purpose. Lisa uses her rulers throughout the design process, just as she would on a quilt. In this quilters view this serves two purposes 1) figuring out the design, and 2) practicing for use on the long arm or sewing machine.
On her website Lisa has a calendar with her teaching schedule. Head on over and check it out. I’ve heard that there are a few really exciting things ahead. Go Lisa!

Oh and check out her blog. The top story right now is that Lisa is teaching at Quilt Festival in Houston. Click here for Lisa’s interview.

Happy Quilting!


dance bang head 1948I read “Compared to. . .” by Seth Godin and said, “there’s a quilt related blog if I’ve ever read one.” More than likely there were different words and it’s barely 6 AM here, and I’m just taking my very first sips of my morning Joe I seek your indulgence for a few moments.

Comparison is, as a human being, rather natural. A mom of a toddler aged boy shared the story of her boy and another same aged boy comparing anatomical differences at 3. Comparisons start early in life, and probably continue through until our days of dwelling in the local bone orchard. There are places where comparing is good, comparing thread is good. I like comparing thread. There are quilters who do not agree with my thread choices and that’s okay. I know why prefer the threads I prefer. Because I’ve compared them, on the machines I use and they work. And the threads I don’t prefer, some people do prefer them. Because they’ve compared them, on their machines and they work, for them.


This is my preferred thimble. Because it was my Gramma’s. That is all

Comparing thread, machines, needles, rulers, cutting mats, storage ideas is great. These are useful TOOLS. They are inanimate objects where some comparison is necessary. In the quilt world this comparison has something of a subjective air about it, and it’s important that it does, as what we are doing is highly personal. I like my current cutting mats and have been eyeing another brand but seriously do not want to invest money in a new cutting mat right now so there will be no cutting mat comparisons anytime soon. Though I want to compare them. And Rulers. I’ve been flirting with new rulers for a long time. Again, the investment for comparison is higher than I’d like at the moment, so no comparison there. I have compared seam rippers and know my preferred brands. Yes, brands.

In an effort to find a particular blog post I found “I figure I’m about 1/2 way there” and had an idea for a quilt at the same time. And in my mind flashed a quilt I’ve been working on and why it’s working. And “You are enough” is whispered in my ear.

The thing about comparing is learning to know what to compare and when to compare it. Remember too, that Masters were once Novices. A novice comparing themselves to a Master is a good thing only when they are looking for the places to improve their own skill, looking for the right questions to ask, seeking direction. A Master will not compare their work to a Novices, they will be reminded of the learning curve, how hard things were at one time, and how they learned along the way. The Master will offer insight and encourage.

There is a further level to this, if we want to acknowledge clear differences between our work and a Master’s work, that’s fine. This is an appreciation of hard work, and skill, that is not in any way to diminish our own work. Acknowledging someone’s hard work, and effort, that’s good. Saying our work is crap because it doesn’t meet the skill level we see, eh, not so much. Wanna compare time invested in developing said skill? Great! I’m all for it. Time invested is objective, not subjective.

trees needle 1

The quilting I did 6 years ago is very different from the quilting I do now. I can compare my work and appreciate how different the quilting is now. I can see growth and changes. I can see the quilting taking a direction.

Where were you 5 years ago?
How has your quilting changed?
Is there anything that surprises you?
What’s the most significant change?
Write yourself a note to take stock of your work and see how it’s changed.
And give yourself the reminder that comparisons belong to the things we use, not our person.

Happy Quilting,


TDVDB101_outhere are people in your life that you just admire for one reason or another. I “met” Paula Reid on Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson 100 years ago. Her comment, “Oh Alex!” in answer to Alex’s, “Do you ever do handwork?” question still makes me giggle. At my very first teaching gig Paula took me under her experienced teacherly wing, having dinner with me and listening when I was struggling for a moment. Having dinner with herself, Karen Stone and a few other teachers is still one of the highlights of that teaching gig in Knoxville. I love meeting up with Paula any chance I get.
It was Paula’s fluff and stuff technique that helped me break through the whole, “I can’t quilt this on my home sewing machine” fear. She did. I did. I can. I teach it now. Paula and  I still have different approaches to that, and this shows there’s plenty of ways to machine quilt. And plenty of reasons to take classes with a variety of teachers.

A while back I got to review Paula’s Craftsy Class. (her class is here)

NeopolitanTeri:  How did you get started quilting?
Paula: A good friend of mine was a quilter; I was not knowledgeable about sewing, but really liked what she was making and was fascinated by some of the tools – mainly, rotary cutter and rulers.  Both of us with our husbands attended a quilt show in Glendale CA in March 1990. While Mary and I were looking at the quilts, my husband bought me a rotary cutter, a 6”x24” Omnigrid ruler and a big self-healing mat.  A few weeks later, I locked my keys in the trunk, stayed home from work for the day and made a very simple quilt on an old machine that I had been given 20-some-odd years before. Decided I loved this! Now that I am traveling 30 weeks a year teaching people how to quilt big quilts on their home machines, I wonder if Dan ever regrets that initial purchase.

Teri: Do you do anything on your quilts by hand?
Paula: The only thing I do by hand is attach the binding to the back. I’ve tried various “by machine” methods, but just don’t like the look. I’ve also done a little beading by hand, although I try to do most of that by machine.

Teri: What is the most controversial quilt you’ve ever made?
Paula: The Rodney King beating incident was one of the first police actions that was videotaped and broadcast across the country.  The acquittal of the officers involved was such a huge thing in Los Angeles – many fires were set, cars overturned, stores looted, rioting in the streets. I made a quilt that was composed of strips of “hot” colors as my background, then shadow appliqued a silhouette from the video and put a LAPD badge made of organdy over that. Quilted the badge and the silhouette in monofilament and then quilted flames in orange, red and yellow rayon threads over the entire background. This was shown quite a lot when it was still politically relevant. I live in a very conservative area in a pretty darn liberal state so this was not the most popular quilt I’ve ever made, although probably the most shown.Bead Embellishment Close-up - Small

Teri: I’ve seen on your blog that you love kits can you share why and what’s the best kit you’ve ever made?
Paula: I do love kits and I know you think I’m crazy, but sometimes I don’t want to design or have to think about what I’m sewing. My favorite part of the whole process is the actual machine quilting, so the originality of the piecing is much less important to me. The best kit I’ve ever made is difficult for me because I like so many of them! I do a lot of the Cozy Quilts patterns because they’re made from pre-cuts which makes getting to the good stuff even faster! Right now, my favorite is “Spooky Ride” from Tiffany Hayes of Needle in a Hayes Stack. (I’ll send you a pic) Haven’t decided how to quilt it yet, but it’s so fun and I love all the fabrics.

Teri: What’s the most enjoyable part of the process for you?
Paula: Definitely the most enjoyable part is the machine quilting – here is where a quilt, in my opinion, really becomes a quilt! Choosing the designs, whether marked or freehand, that enhance the piecing/applique to make a quilt stunning – that’s the whole end game for me!

Positive Negative Cover PhotoTeri: What are you quilting on these days?
Paula: Right now, I’m working my way through some of the kits and patterns I have around. In the summer, I tend to catch up on my piecing because it’s so dang hot here (I realize that’s a drawback of being a domestic machine quilter rather than a longarmer; I’ve got the thing in my lap!); in the cooler weather, I start working through the stack of tops and backings and get some quilts finished.

Teri: And, if you wouldn’t mind a little bit on how you pair needles, thread and batting
Paula: First, I choose my batting, using two criteria – 1) How far am I planning to leave open (some battings need to be quilted a lot more closely than others) and 2) What am I going to use the quilt for? (Is this an heirloom, an everyday user, a gift, a charity quilt?) Once I make the batting decision, then I choose my needles. For cotton batting, I use a jeans/denim needle; for most others, I use a microtex sharp. If I’m in doubt, I try both on my test sandwich (I ALWAYS make a test sandwich so I’m not experimenting on the actual quilt) and choose the one that gives me the best stitch. As far as threads go, I generally use 50 or 60 wt. cotton in the bobbin and anything I love that is high quality in the top of the machine – cotton, polyester embroidery thread, metallics, silk, glow in the dark – whatever meets my color/shimmer/thickness wants for the particular quilt. Once I’ve chosen my thread, then I go back to my needle style and choose the appropriate size within that style. So I have denim and microtex needles all the way from size 70 for silk up to 90 for metallics and thicker embroidery threads.

FullSizeRender (1)

This is a great time to catch up with Paula because she’s offering a sale on her Craftsy Class. Visit her website here. You can also catch up with her on facebook. And while the “challenge” is over, head on over to 2015 Free-Motion Quilt Challenge at Quilt Shop Gal for Paula’s Tutorial, and then stay for the rest.

Happy Quilting!



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