Friday, December 31, 2010

Suggestions, Please

I'll be teaching a class on free-pieced letters in the next couple of months, and the shopowner asked a few questions, like "What will you call the class", "How many students," "... a brief description," "how many hours will the class be..." as well as a supply list, etc.

It's the "how many hours" bit that stumps me. I want the students to make basic letters, but I also want them to play with pushing the letters around... using different fabrics, angles, etc. If you make wonky letters you know what I mean. I think a one day class from 10 - 4 would be overkill, partly because making letters is a completely new thing, and free piecing really takes some time to wrap your head around, and nobody does that in one day.

I am thinking that for most students, NOT measuring and NOT cutting even width strips and NOT planning will be a bit of a mind-freak; particularly if they have traditionally made things from kits, patterns and books. Getting over that hurdle will be my biggest task.

My son, who is an associate teacher at his karate studio (remember his is 3rd degree Black Belt), and is one of the best teachers I have ever seen, made an extremely good observation the other night, as he free pieced his own name. He asked me what new skill set students would need to learn to make the letters.

I thought about it. Skills? None. They already have them.

"If you can convince your students the skill set they[already] have is the same skill set they need, they'll make the leap by themselves."


So quilters, this is your time to weigh in on opinions, thoughts and suggestions. If you've never made letters before, what would YOU like to learn about making them?

If you have made letters before, and you got to spend a few hours with ME, what would you want to learn from me?

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

If He Can Do It...

you can do it!

This is my son, and the free-pieced name panel he made. It was the result of a discussion.

We had been talking about the best way to introduce free-pieced letters to students. I felt that having students make their own name was a powerful motivator to get started. My son felt students should start with the easiest letter - the upper case "L", and then gradually move to the harder letters. I didn't want students to create any self-imposed barriers by describing any letter as "hard". He disagreed.

"OK," I pointed to the sewing room. "Let's find out. I'm going to show YOU how to make the letters."

This was not without small amounts of angst. My son had never used a rotary cutter, never operated a sewing machine, and didn't know the first thing about ironing, but he insisted on doing everything himself. He cut the strips, sewed the pieces together, and pressed them. He added the spacers and decided how to join the letters together.

Whose theory was correct? I could tell by the smile on his face and how he took a picture of the panel when he was finished. "Would you be so proud if you had made the letters L, O, T and U?" I asked.

"Probably not," he admitted, "but I did -start- with the letter L."

So what was the hardest part of the process for him?

Pinning two pieces of fabric together. "How the hell do you get the pin to come back up?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends! You have made my quilting life so wonderful, thank you for reading. Have the happiest of days!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quilted Threads

Yesterday I drove to my favorite quilt shop, Quilted Threads, in Henniker NH.
I love this shop; it has a great selection, it's well-organized, it's spotlessly clean, it's well lit, and the sales staff is knowledgeable, helpful and very friendly.
Millie and I did a little shopping. She really likes these...I like... everything...Isn't this a terrific shop?
Oh, and did you notice this...
Yes, it's my Letters From Home quilt, currently on display. The shop has just received Tonya's book Word Play Quilts, (Yes, they looked for my quilt immediately) and were in the process of bar-coding it into their system for sale. The ladies tell me the quilt has been drawing a lot of attention, ("Everybody wants to know how you did it.") and apparently they are all amazed when they are told it is NOT paper-pieced. "Everybody loves it."

Some time in 2011 I will be teaching a class on free pieced letters at Quilted Threads. We haven't yet worked out the details, but it's going to happen, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you are in the area, you can drive to Henniker to see this beauty.

And my quilt!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Here!

My copy of Tonya's book has finally arrived! Millie got to check it out first...When she was finished, I looked it over, very carefully and very s-l-o-w-l-y, savoring each word, every illustration and picture; until I got to the page I had been dreaming about for months...

A dream come true! I am so happy. Thank you Tonya!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

R-E-A-D, part two

A bag needs two sides. I'm making a carrying case for my Kindle, and this house is one side. (The other has the word READ).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Am a Glasses Junkie

For some women, it's clothes; for others, it's shoes; but for me, it's eyeglasses. I love having different glasses to wear. If I won the lottery, I'd probably have at least a dozen pairs.

These are my new "working glasses." They are no-line bifocals with middle distance (for computers and cutting fabrics) and close vision (for paperwork and sewing).

I've been waiting three weeks for these, and I am positively thrilled.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


No, really. Curtains. Before I moved the studios around last summer, this room had red curtains. They were too dark for a sewing studio, so I moved the ones (with cranes) from the old sewing studio with me and put the red ones in the other room. But they made THAT room too dark. I didn't want to go through the rigmarole of choosing fabrics for curtains for that room.I had bought some white fabric with tiny colored dots on it that I had planned to use in Julie's quilt, but the dots were too tiny and wimpy for use in that quilt, so I put it away with the rest of the fabric in the stash. Last weekend I made new curtains for the "new" sewing studio
I am happy with them. They let in more light (the room faces northwest and needs all the light it can get), and I put the other curtains back in the other room.

I now have no more excuses to get to work on a couple of projects that need to be completed by Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


because, you know, my Kindle needs a carrying case.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Word Play Quilts is Published Today!

Tonya's book, Word Play Quilts, is published today.

For the last 19 days, I have shown you my free pieced letters.

Now it's your turn. I hope you will try them, and I hope you will...

(and be sure to read Michelle's post about our Heroine, Tonya)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Word Play Countdown... Only Hours to Go

As you are no doubt aware by now, I -love- making Tonya's free pieced letters. In this piece, I wanted to see how I could make each word slightly different. I wanted to push the boundaries and see where the letters would go.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Word Play Countdown... 1

If you've been following my blog faithfully, you know I started this quilt over New Year's and just finished it last month. It represents everything I think is wonderful about free piecing. It has energy, verve, excitement and fun.

It was inspired by Tonya, and her free pieced lettering technique. Her book, Word Play Quilts, is due out Tuesday, December 7.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Word Play Countdown... 2

I made the "Daft Zebras" because I liked the phrase, and thought it was silly and fun. So I made the letters silly and fun.

And daft.

And zebras.

One of my co-workers looked at it and said, "OH! That is so BRIGHT!" I laughed, because I wanted this quilt to be bright like a neon sign with a blinking marquee.

This one is definitely over-the-top!

Tonya's book is coming soon! I can't wait!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Word Play Countdown... 3

Julie and I did a swap, and Julie wanted a Rules quilt with all kinds of fun extras. You can see more pictures here, on her Picasa album of the quilt. You'll have to look at Julie's photos, and some of mine, here, because I made each letter out of several different fabrics, which you can't see in this photo. You can also click here to see the fabulous quilting by Chris Ballard.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Word Play Countdown... 4

Tonya saw the Rules quilt for Helen and asked me to make one for her. Who was I to say no? Tonya's four cats are represented in the exclamation marks.

You can click the photo to enlarge, then click again for details. Tonya asked for a lot of "cat action" and there are lots of hidden surprises in these letters.

The folks at Martingale asked for some photos of my word quilts to post on their Flick page. I told them I already had a Flickr account, so they checked it out and added my word quilts to their "Word Play Quilts" collection. You can check it out here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Word Play Countdown... 5

Helen and I did a swap earlier this year. She said she liked my letters, so I made a quilt based on Katherine Hepburn's famous quote. I thought the free-pieced letters would really poke fun at the "rules."

This quilt had a lot of letters packed into a very small space, so I worked the letters out on graph paper first, but they were all free-pieced.

My alphabet sampler quilt, Letters From Home, is currently on display at Quilted Threads in Henniker NH.