Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hooray – Preseason Has Started!

Maybe I’m not the normal everyday quilter, but I am a HUGE sports fan, as in football, basketball and hockey.  Baseball, not so much.  In fact, not at all.  So the weeks (Months! Feels like years!) between the NBA Finals and the first football exhibition games are L-O-N-G and boring.  So when I started hearing about the guys heading back to training camp, both pro and college (although I don’t follow college sports nearly as much as the pros), I got excited.

Some quilters have told me, though, that they may not be great pro or college football fans, but they are totally into Friday night high school football where their sons and grandsons are playing and/or daughters and granddaughters are cheering them on.  It’s a whole family event!  Which brings me to the quilting connection:  Football games are held at night.  Even here in perpetually sunny California, by mid-October, it is really cold at night, at least in my high desert.   Could be 60’s, but more likely 50s, maybe 40s.  In any event, that calls for a quilt!

I have very definite football quilt standards:

1)      No white!  Even if it is one of your school colors, try to minimize the white in it if you can’t eliminate it entirely.  Yeah, it looks snazzy in a contrasty, school mascot-y, kind of way, but doesn’t look so great when the people in the stands above you spill their soft drink (or, even worse, beer) and snacks all over you.  It only took one batch of catsup covered fries bobbled by a 5 year old to get that concept through to me.  My high school colors were red, white and black; easy to eliminate the white.  UCLA: light blue and gold; the blue could be a little darker, right?  Remember the catsup!  And mustard is much much worse and doesn’t always come out.

2)      Also remember that it occasionally, if you are not in perpetually sunny Southern California, rains at a football game.  Quilt will get wet and sodden, so I prefer a batting that dries pretty fast, like a cotton/poly blend, rather than 100% cotton that will take longer to dry out.  (More on batting HERE.)  When this happens to me, it goes right into the washing machine and the dryer when I get home.  Reason?  Some fabrics will run forever, even if you’ve prewashed the fabric and washed the quilt a dozen times.  I’m a better safe than sorry person on this issue and Color Catchers are a must!

3)      Football quilts, at least in my house, should be big enough for two!  That way, especially if your team isn’t playing well and you aren’t jumping up and down cheering, you can wrap up and share some warmth!

My favorite football quilt is this one – all autumn colors, no white!  Batting is Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly blend.  Size is 64”x80”, although Dan did say that he thought it could be another foot longer to give us some “wiggle” room – I wonder if he is referring to our middle aged spread?

On the cover of the latest issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited is another great football quilt – lots of brights!  It’s made with ombre fabrics in five rainbow colors plus black ombre from the Shades collection by Kinkame for Clothworks.  The quilt measures 62-1/2”x77-1/2”, rated beginner level and all the directions are in the magazine.  There is a kit available as well if the fabric isn’t easy to find in your area or if you think you’d like something else.  The piecing directions are specifically for the ombre, though, to get the shading just right.  Once I read them through, it made perfect sense why the strips were cut and joined the way they were (all very simple and still definitely beginner level). 

So do you have favorite football traditions?  Favorite quilts?  Dishes for tailgating parties?  It’s only going to be 93 degrees today, a respite from the 100+ we have been getting for much of the summer.  I am so ready for fall!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know

Am I a genius?  Well, yes, yes I am.  :)  But CRAFTSY has an amazing, genius, FREE, 18 page guide available for download! 

Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know is a free PDF guide available exclusively from Craftsy, featuring 18 pages packed with tutorials, quilting tricks, and tips from the experts!   Download it instantly for free now (even print it out if you'd like!) and enjoy it forever in the comfort of your own home!

What You'll Get

  • Instant access to foolproof tips and insider quilting tricks for making each project easy and efficient
  • 3+ step-by-step, easy-to-follow tutorials

What You'll Learn

From mastering the Magic 8 Method for making 8 half-square triangles at once, to organizing your quilting studio - you'll discover genius quilting tricks that'll help you streamline each and every quilting project!


  • How free-motion quilt on a regular sewing machine
  • The secret to a perfect quilt binding
  • How to make 8 half-square triangles at once
  • And more!


Happy Hacking!! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Craftsy Experience -- 10,000 Students!!

One of my biggest teaching goals has been to reach as many students as possible who want to learn how to quilt their own quilt tops on their domestic machines.  After a few years of running myself ragged all over the country – my average teaching year is about 30 weeks away from home – I was making good headway, but… just can’t reach everybody!  There are so many places, and five states, where I haven’t traveled and don’t know that I’ll ever get there.  So when I was in initial talks with Craftsy two years ago, I thought that this was an ideal match.  Craftsy, with their marketing expertise and world wide reach, and me, who wants to teach everybody I possibly can.

So I flew to Denver  got my name on a star on the dressing room door and a team of excellent people, from Tiffany who did my makeup to my producer J.C. to Rob the camera guy to Dana the film editor.  It was an amazing experience with a very experienced crew and I was happy about how the class turned out. (Even got to see the rain!)

And VERY happy with the reception that it has had!  My class went live in September 2014 and we just passed 10,000 students!  I am amazed and humbled that so many people have decided that they want to learn my quilting methods and I hope they are downloading lots of classes from the wide variety of instructors and subjects available!

Take a look at some of the STUNNING photos from students that have taken my Craftsy Class...

I am absolutely delighted with this whole thing and to celebrate, I will GIVE AWAY MY CRAFTSY CLASS to three people!  If you've already taken my class, this would make a great gift for a quilt-loving friend!!  To win, like us on Facebook or sign up for our Newsletter!  

Happy quilting!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Congrats to Redlands Sewing Center!!

Over the past few years, I have been delighted to be a spokesperson for Amann-Mettler Group, maker and distributor of Mettler threads.  I’ve used their 100% cotton silk finish thread in all of the available weights since I first started quilting in 1990, so it was a great fit for us to work together.

One of the things that Mettler has done to promote this partnership is a drawing at each of the Quilt Markets and at VDTA for dealers carrying Mettler threads to participate in to win a two day Fluff & Stuff event where I come to their store and teach for two whole days, courtesy of Mettler!  So far, I’ve been to Ashby Sewing Machine Company in Atlanta GA in April 2015, Spool in Chattanooga TN in October 2015, and Wandering Stitches in Orlando FL in February 2016 .  Still to be held are B Sew Inn in Tulsa (not yet scheduled), Common Threads Quilt Guild in Vestal NY in October 2016, and our newest winner...  

Redlands Sewing Center in Redlands CA on December 9-10 of this year!! 

The events are awesome – with thread, gifts, and door prizes provided by Mettler and two days of beginning to intermediate machine quilting instruction.  Check out our last event HERE.  FUN and GOODIES!  

See you there?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kissing Baby Fish

Something fun and fresh for summer... Kissing Baby Fish!

This cute little quilt gets its name from the way the blocks look like little kissing fish!  It makes a GREAT scrap quilt!  With careful cutting, a 6" print square (plus solid white) will get one "kissing fish".

Get the free pattern HERE.  Craftsy has lots and lots of free patterns... holidays, seasons, special occasions, just for fun, and so so SO many more!  Check them all out HERE

A little info on this quilt:

Sizing / Finished Measurements:

  • Finished size: 40" x 51"


  • A total of 1 3/8 yards of brightly colored prints
  • 2 yards of solid white (such as Kona Cotton in White)
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for binding
  • 1 3/4 yards for back
  • batting

If you make one, send us pictures!!  Hope you're having a wonderful summer!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I {love} July!

I love everything about July!  The significance of the fourth and  what it means to be an American in an unsettled and divisive world has an importance that we are reminded of every day through events happening both on the domestic and world stage.  I have been fortunate in that I have been able to travel to foreign countries and continents (all except Antarctica) without incident, proud to be an American but humbled and enriched by the cultures and peoples experienced during those travels.  But the red, white and blue will always bring love to my heart and tears to my eyes.

And color to my quilts!  Here are pics of a few of my favorites:

This year we stayed home over the fourth and barbecued for friends.  I marinated a tri-tip in my favorite mixture, found in a recipe printed in the Los Angeles Times a few years ago:  Pour ½ c.. each soy sauce, lime juice (it calls for fresh, but I buy it in a bottle because that’s about a kazillion limes) and bourbon whiskey into a large ziplock bag.  Add 2 T. freshly grated or shaved ginger, 1 T. currant jelly and 1 T. crushed dried red chili pepper.  Mix well and then add a 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 lb. tri tip roast.  Recipe calls for it to be refrigerated for 24 hours, but I usually leave it for about 48 before putting it on the grill.  That’s Dan’s job – it usually takes just about 40 minutes to get to medium rare on our gas grill set on medium heat, depending on the size of the roast.  He starts testing with an instant read thermometer at about 30 minutes and we’re looking for an internal temp of about 140 degrees.  Then he pulls it off the grill, tents it with foil and lets it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it thinly.

We also made barbecued chicken and a salad that I made with a Hello Fresh meal service delivery.  It had potatoes and green beans and basil.  Really yummy!  If you want the recipe, let me know and I can do a blog post on it.

Happy July!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Madcow Creationz -- Do You Know What That Stands For?

I didn't either... 

When I was teaching in Oklahoma City a few months ago, I stayed with my friends Mary and Phil Newton.  Phil is the brand manager for Amann-Mettler Group, the company that makes the wonderful Mettler threads that I use all the time, so he came into my class and did a presentation on the Mettler Me app for the iPhone.  This is a very cool app that you can download for free from the App Store!  It helps you keep track of your thread inventory, tells you where you can buy more and you can even take a picture of your fabric or quilt and try out different threads to see what color(s) will be best.  It’s such a cool app!  And Free!

Mary’s sister Martha Sheriff was with us for dinner most evenings and she brought me a surprise – a small fabric and vinyl bag with snaps at the top that is just perfect for hauling around things like spools of thread, seam ripper, Batt Snips, etc. – all those little things that seem to get lost when I travel.

My gift bag was full of chocolate – hooray!

Martha’s company is called Madcow Creationz and has a cute logo with a cow pic and the website address on it that’s sewn into each bag that she makes.  She asked me at dinner one night. “Do you know what Madcow stands for?”  Had to admit that I was clueless and she explained that she was part of a group of women who regularly get together with their daughters to make things on the weekends when everyone had a bit more free time.  So it stands for “Mothers And Daughters Crafting on Weekends”!  Is that the coolest thing?

You can see all their stuff on the website.   Martha also has bag patterns available on the Craftsy website that you can order if you’d like to make your own.  They're not up on her website yet, but she also has about 40 colors of snaps to coordinate with any fabric you’re thinking about making a bag from -- I love the red snaps and the foodie fabric that mine is made of!   The snaps are $4 for a set of 12 in one color.  Email her at to place an order.  Plus Martha gave us a special promo...  if you mention "Batt Scooters" in the email, you'll get free shipping!    

I’m leaving on another teaching trip pretty quick, so I’m going to go load it up!  And I won’t forget the chocolate!!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Flying Geese Two Ways

I'm still working on the Main Street pattern that I started at Cindy Needham's retreat in March. I had some time when I was in Salt Lake City to do a little sewing with my friend Josephine Keasler, so I worked on the (what seemed like) kazillion flying geese for Block B. The pattern directions used 2-1/2" squares and 2-1/2" X 4-1/2" rectangles to construct the flying geese.

Everybody is probably already familiar with this method: Draw the lines corner to corner on the squares, place a square on each end of the rectangle, stitch on the line, trim and press.

Unless you love to work with itty bitty pieces, chances are those extra little triangles that were just cut off are going to end up in the trash. Yes, you could sew them together and press them into miniature half square triangles, but will you really? I know I won't, so into the wastebasket they go.

My friend Dawna Harrison, owner of Bolts in the Bathtub, my fabulous local quilt shop in Lancaster CA, showed me a better way to cut and sew these so that I get many more flying geese from the same amount of fabric without wasting those bits.

The ruler I'm using for this is the Companion Ruler to the EZ Angle, but there are a lot of rulers out there with these same angles. You cut out one triangle and then rotate the ruler to match up with the cut side of the strip and cut the next one. You keep rotating the ruler back and forth until you have cut all of your triangles from the strip.

Now it is time to cut out the white pieces that would have been 2-1/2" squares. For this, I'm using the Easy Angle. I'm doing the same thing -- cutting a piece and rotating the ruler. To save some cutting time, I usually stack two or three strips together while I'm doing this step.

Then sew it up and I have my flying geese!

Okay, now let's look at the math:

Using the rectangle and squares method, I can cut 9 rectangles and 16 squares from each strip. That's enough for 8 flying geese with a rectangle left over, so I would just cut more white strips to make more squares.

Using Dawna's method, I can cut 14-15 of the larger triangles from each strip (mathematically, based on a 42" strip I thought I would get 14, but I got 15 out of the strips I was using from a Moda jelly roll) and 24-26 (I got 26) of the side pieces, enough to make at least 12 flying geese and, in my case, 13.

So lots more flying geese from the same amount of fabric -- enough to either make a really cool pieced backing for my quilt, add another border or use for another quilt. Just from cutting a different way!

Thanks, Dawna!!

And yet another way to do flying geese (and my absolute favorite way)  is with a little help from a laser!   There's also this way to do them which is pretty much the same, but just without help from the laser.

Any way you do it, flying geese are fun and beautiful. 

Happy stitching!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Free Motion Quilting Retreat

I'm so excited to teach at the Free Motion Quilting Retreat next month!!

New products, new techniques, and new friends!  Are you coming?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mermaid Hair!

Hair day seems to take forever -- it really does take all day! So I just bring a good book and enjoy the talented and creative people who enjoy working on someone who will let them do anything they want.

First, I go to Krista, who sews in some extensions to give my hair more fullness:

Then to Tina, who adds the color and does the cut.

The mermaid hair comment came from an adorable 10 year old, who said "Nana, you have mermaid hair! I liked it better when you had unicorn hair."

I said, "Unicorn hair???"

Lauren answered, "You know! When it was pink and yellow and sparkly?"

Ummm....maybe next month?
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