CAM00841Okay, I’m totally taking a conversation with the comments to heart and brain and in quilt-teacher fashion addressing the larger group of students as the information is pertinent to all.uhw wrought iron fence and gate

Where do I begin?
How do I decide what motifs to use? How do I choose what weight and color thread? What batting do I use? What backing?

At the end of the beginner free motion quilting class, if students bring in quilts we’ll take a little bit of time to talk about the possibilities. It’s all about the ideas, not so much directions to quilt it. A “here’s what I might do” and “here’s what thread I might use”. I approach the conversation with “might do/use” rather than “will do/use” as I might change some component when I sit a the machine to quilt.

Where do I begin?

If it’s a patchwork quilt (as opposed to a whole cloth quilt) do the stitch in the ditch work. This is good work to do, even if,  you are not entering the quilt in a competition. It’s more hours under the needle. You’ve been working with the fabrics already, however, as your stitching take note of the motifs you seen in the fabrics. Make a list for motifs you can choose from, note the ones you like and don’t like. From this list you like choose a couple to audition either on a sheet of vinyl with an erasable marker or use a printed photo of one of the blocks, draw the design on there. It’s practice either way.

How do I choose what thread weight?

Thread weight is as simple as asking, “do I want the quilting to really show or go into the background?” If the answer is “really show” go with a heavier weight thread, ie 4o wt and lower number; if the answer is “go to the background” then use a finer thread, ie 50 wt and higher number. The higher the number the finer the thread, the lower the number the heavier the thread.

How do I choose thread color?
In order to answer this with some clarity I’ll talk about why I chose certain threads and patterns for Tilde.


Tilde tilde border close upWhat are the colors in the quilt? Do I want the quilting to pop or fade to the background? Do I want to use a single thread across the surface?

So here’s a close up of Tilde.
Colors: red, orange, yellow, black, gray, white. There are shades of several colors and the background behind the tilde shapes is a reflective metallic.

I had a King Tut variegated orange/red/yellow that I used on the black and white circles on the right.

On the metallic I used two a variegated and blue metallic around the orange tildes. Notice two that I have different motifs on the right and left side. Both offer visual texture.

Tilde border

Tilde border

When I got to these borders, I chose Twist. Twist has a color tone change every quarter inch, so very close. On the two fabrics it looks different however it’s cohesive enough to work. It stands out just enough but isn’t so present that it screams, “look at me! look at me!”

Tilde pebbles

Tilde pebbles

In the center of the quilt I chose a motif, bananas, and a thread color, red, that would pop.  Around the center I chose to do some dense pebbling and swirling feathers. The pebble shape inspiration came directly from the fabrics that Keith chose.

Most of the color chosen for the quilting is taken directly from the quilt.

Having a simple explanation of how to use color helps when choosing color. I love Joen Wolfrom’s Color Wheel Poster from C&T Publishing.  While this seems a bit complicated and a bit of a fuss, this basic understanding of how to use color made a huge difference early on in the quilting. It allowed me to make bolder choices, knowing that the color wouldn’t look awful.

Let the quilt do the work for you. Ask for suggestions. Asking gives clues and insight as to what works for you And what doesn’t.

The most important thing, seriously, is to give yourself permission to play with color, weight and motifs. If you don’t like it you can always take it out. While that Feels like a huge waste of time it’s not, as it give you quilting experience and information about what works for you.

Happy Quilting!




Gratuitous photo of Jesse

One of my friends taught me how to ride a two wheeler when I  was a kid. It was a red bicycle. I can see in my minds eye the struggle getting my feet on the pedals while balancing. I’d get one on, then try the other. The first foot would land on the sidewalk. I’d go back and forth like this for a bit. After a while I’d get both feet on the pedals and ride for a bit, then I’d remember where I was and what I was doing and lose confidence in myself, the feet would, once again land on the ground.

Eventually I got the whole bike riding thing, except for hills. I don’t like flying down a hill. No. Just. No. Now, I’m not opposed to roller coasters. all buckled in and such.

Similar memories come flooding forward when I think about learning to machine quilt. The thing is, like learning to ride a bike, there were lots of awkward moments. There were lots of moments when I wanted to give up. And even as a woman of a certain age left the room with frustration welling up in my eyes.

I’m still learning how to quilt.







free motion machine quilt

thank you

there’s a distinct difference between this piece

tomorrow (as I write) marks the one month anniversary of working with MSQC. And I am just one year with Generation Q Magazine. I’m still learning the new job and figure I have months before I really get a handle on it, however I can see changes already. I’m still learning what it means to be an associate editor.

The thing about being open to learning, to admitting that you’re learning is that the possibilities are then endless. Permission is granted to learn from mis-takes. Mercy is extended to oneself and therefore to others. It’s taking the language from “I can’t”, “I’ll never” to “I can do this”, “I’m getting better”, “I can see improvement”. And honestly sometimes the stuff I quilt is simply awful. It’s a good thing.

Moon Set copy

and this piece

Side note, I was having a moment the other day where I was calling myself an idiot for something. And while my behavior was sub-par (and there is something behind the behavior while it mitigates it to a degree, it does not excuse it completely) I am not an idiot. Then I had a stern talk with myself about both the behavior and the verbal abuse I was giving myself. I’ve seen quilter after quilter do this. WE belittle ourselves because we’re still learning. WE are so hard on ourselves and sometimes we’re downright mean.

I’m still learning how-to. . .

Happy Quilting!


dupioni whole cloth playtime my brain on quilting“What do you do  with your practice pieces?” is one of those FAQ that comes up now and again.

A variation on the question presented itself the other day. Okay, an actual person asked, “do you do warm-up sessions before you start quilting a quilt?” I did answer said quilter directly and as a teacher I thought hey this is good info for the blog

Per usual it’s not a straight line answer.

There are always practice pieces (quilt sandwiches that have some to a lot of stitching over the surface) hanging around the sewing room that have been there forever. Some end up coming with me when I teach as I want my students to see that I practice and do some pretty yucky quilting sometimes. Some pieces get made into tote bags (note to self, it’s time for a new pocket book). One practice piece travels with me as a completed quilt. A friend made it wmy brain on quiltinghen we did the Hoffman Challenge, then I quilted it to test thread and batting.

And that’s another thing, I practice when I’m testing new batting and thread. I like to see what will happen when I this batting or that thread in the quilt. Practicing gives me great information including a rough tension setting, perhaps a needle change.

Practicing teaches me to slow down, be mindful of what I’m doing, listen to the machine. Watch the needle area for potential harm to the quilt (batting being pulled up). Stop and check for tension troubles.

Practicing reminds me of what I want to do, it helps me develop that eye, hand and foot coordination that needed to stitch out the motifs I want, and fit them in the space allotted. And practicing get’s me toward that 10,000 hours toward mastery. One day I will master this skill.

So, practicing offers more than just time at the machine, there is much information that is useful on the next quilt and the one after that and then there’s the one after that.

zen tangle

But then there’s this. This is practice. Mindful doodling I call it. Pen, pencil, marker, paper and time in the car, watching the ball game. It’s amazing what this kind of practice does.

feather tutorial paper 7


now I need you to know that I have stitched and doodled a lot of crap. But that crap has given me incredibly valuable information: like how to change tension, when to change tension, or what needle to use when I’m seeing skipped stitches and ooh I could speak forever but not so much today.

Today I have words to write in other places. And I get to see Debby Brown and Melissa K with GenQ.


Happy Saturday Quilterly Peeps! Yes I have promised you pictures of the Somers Quilt show and I will get there. Now that I have my laptop back. This is one happy quilter. I’ve been grateful to have one of the older laptops to use for work, but…it’s older and slower. It’ll be kept around as a back up and I need to use it to finish up some work.

quantum leap on machineI’m actively looking for a local place to teach machine quilting classes. As soon as I have that buttoned up I’ll let you know where and any dates that I have set. In the meantime I’ve updated the teaching gigs page. I’m going to Clamshell in CT and Warwick Valley in June, all in the space of one week. I love that part.

Last night my sweetie and I had a date night, with something of a purpose. I’m looking for a desk, a stand up desk. My sweetie found a table that had potential, so off we went. Now, one thing to NOT do in the greater NY City area is leave at the time of day, on a Friday when everyone else is heading home. Meaning, out of the City. Silly us. As the driver on this adventure there were times I would listen to the GPS and times I followed my own advice. I have a feeling that had I listened to the GPS this one time we would have arrived a bit sooner. But *I* knew better. We arrived at our destination. My sweetie did his shopping and we looked for the “desk” uh nope. Not in stock. This happens and I’m not in a hurry for said desk as my dining room table is perfectly fine at this moment. And…the space for my “office” is currently occupied. So there’s time to look

After getting what we needed we went to El Bandido for dinner. Best mole (sauce) I’ve ever had. And I had ceviche for the first time ever! It was so good. I can hardly wait to have it again. We were sad to learn that the local drive in movie theater has closed. That’s too bad because it was a nice one.

I’m heading up to the sewing room to quilt for a while. See ya latah

Happy Quilting!



@terificreations (twitter)



Moon Set copyIn a recent conversation with a friend we both had questions for one another. Most of her questions answered fairly easily. My question of her is something I know the answer to in several ways however I’ll be asking for comments later.
I’m going to preface the question with a little background for those who are recently reading my blog and a couple of classroom experiences.

I started quilting in my early 20’s learning mostly from patterns, magazines, and the basic sewing skills learned at home and in home ec. I have all the classic stories:
sliced the edge of my finger with a rotary cutter (as an aside this is an effective way to share with newbie quilters…I don’t have to say much and they get the PSA),
stitching my finger on more than one occasion, stitching safety pins to quilts,
over spraying with basting spray (nothing like Kimmy Brunner’s but still),
I’ve been a pin thief, I’ve made quilts from patterns and made up my own,
I’ve used icky batting,
bent and broken needles,
cracked more acrylic rulers than I cared to admit,
had a machine tech get irritated with me because there was lint in my machine (geez, seriously, lint…I quilt just about every day). Alright it was a lot of lint…but I’ve seen worse? I think.
I learned that using the good stuff makes a huge difference.
I’ve learned that not being afraid of my machine is a key component to good quilting.

I’ve learned a lot on my own, like so many other quilters I know. I was part of user groups back in the day and learned a lot from the experiences of the other quilters in those groups…internet groups, blogs, fb are all part of that learning experience. Quilters are some of the most generous people I know, sharing their knowledge freely.

CAM01438I’ve taken few classes over the years due to work, location and scheduling. When I take classes, I listen in to the instruction then want to (and usually) explore the technique on my own. I listen in for tips and hints, ask questions and pretty much want to, and need to, work on my own. None of the teachers I’ve taken classes from have ever said anything about it. The gift of taking classes is two-fold 1) getting to learn and hang out with quilters and 2) getting to hang out with the teachers. I’ve taken a couple of classes over the last few years just to see how other teachers teach. I’ve always thought I’m a bad student, however I’ve accepted that this is my learning style, by honoring that I end up getting more out of it.

My students teach me a lot as well. I feel, to some degree, I’m missing a some necessary component when I teach and in working on writing the book. So I’m coming to you and asking what you want in a class. Here’s the thing the comments must be positive and encouraging. Feel free to say I like this teacher and here’s why. Or I liked this class and here’s why. In the conversation with my friend she had some clear thoughts on what she wanted and needed in a class. I’m going to explore this more with her and a couple of other teachers as well.

Happy Quilting!


tiara silkThis is a Thursday morning quickie.

What an exciting week! First, I started with Missouri Star on Tuesday. Squee! This chick is excited and overwhelmed and excited. I’m learning new things and getting to work with Nancy Rosenberger, who I admire so very much. This job is going to be an adventure that’s for sure. As I posted on fb yesterday, shopping isn’t as easy as it looks. Ha! I’ll post more as I can as I’m overwhelmed enough to be without a lot of words at the moment.

The other thing that happened, and is still a little shocking, is Hartsdale Fabrics closed. I did post this on fb earlier in the week with the letter the owners sent out as to why the store was closing.

What I am doing is gathering information on stores and dealers that folks can go to and will post that probably Saturday. I have a list of local BERNINA and brother dealers for all of your machine needs, and I’ll list quilt shops for your fabric needs.

Speaking of Saturday, The Quilt Spot is celebrating their anniversary and my GenQ peep Melissa K and I are heading over to help them celebrate. Melissa is one of our new dynamic duo of Ad Managers and fits right in with the whole snarky but kind and sweet. Melissa doesn’t have a blog, yet. I’m going to help her work on that. The other half of this duo is Jamie Mueller, I can hardly wait to meet her.

Have a great quilterly day



susan anne teri red white having funRemember the Red and White Quilt exhibit? This afternoon I went to a panel discussion with Paula Nadelstern, Roderick Kiracofe, Sue Reich and Elizabeth Warren. The conversation was so good that it continued for just long enough after for me to miss doing any shopping or quilt picture getting at. all. Can I just tell you how annoyed I am with myself at the moment? Well I am, but the conversation was well worth staying.

I did manage to get to the City Quilter not once, but twice. The first time I stopped by for a gift for a friend having a birthday today. The second time was with EB of Cocktails and Thread I enjoyed a lovely chat with her.  I take the express bus into the City, leaving me several blocks to walk. It’s a lovely walk. Today was something very special indeed. As I walked I was thinking about this and that. Good things. I was not, however, paying attention. Next thing I know I took a tumble. Yep, I tripped and fell right on the sidewalk. It was kind of a cool experience as I had no idea I tripped and just sort of fell to my right, did something of a somersault, had a bit of help to get up. And kept right on going watching where I was walking much more attentively.

I did find some delightful French fabric, that I didn’t get to buy. Because the show closed. Sigh. There’s always another show, somewhere.
Happy Quilting!




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