Teaching at Running Stitch Fabrics in Kent

A personal recommendation is always nice. One of my students from a class I taught at Quilted Strait talked me up to Alice Marshall the owner of Running Stitch Fabrics and I was delighted when Alice called to invite me to teach there in early June. The store is on 1st Avenue in the heart of downtown Kent.

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It was inviting and Alice gave me a warm welcome. There was a cozy area for looking at the books, plenty of fabric, and a long-arm machine available for rental and in use for much of the day.

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I taught Kaleidoscopic Pinwheels and the class was full with nine students. Here are some of my students cutting out their colorful fabrics. You’ll notice the fan. It was an unseasonably warm day for our area, over 80 degrees F! You can also see some of my class samples hanging on the walls.

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We began by cutting eight identical squares which are stacked into two piles of four and then cut into eight triangles. You get eight sets of eight identical triangles, enough to make eight pinwheel blocks. It’s fun to see the Kaleidoscope patterns emerge and you never know exactly how they will look until you lay them out. My technique differs from that of Bethany Reynold’s in that my Pinwheels float on the background. There is a margin of about 1″ between the pinwheel points and the edge of the block. The blocks may all be trimmed to exactly the same size and there is no loss of Pinwheel points. Here are some of the blocks my students produced. Everyone was successful and we had an enjoyable day.

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Gateway to Mongolia Class

In May, I taught my Gateway to Mongolia class at Quilted Strait in Port Gamble. I teach regularly at this store and I love it. The classroom has an abundance of work walls which is great for displaying my samples.

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I had a small group of students and there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out and lay out the block components.


The block looks rather funky until it is pieced and the background setting triangles are added. It’s always fun to see it come alive at this stage. We put the background fabric on the wall and pin the block to it, then the woven effect pops and is very pleasing. Here are two examples from the class. Every student chooses different fabrics and I love to see what they bring to class.

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When this is posted, I will be in South Africa teaching at the 17th National Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and they are keeping busy. I’ll be teaching workshops for six days, two lasting one day (Gateway to Mongolia and The Bears come out at Night), and two lasting two days (Bargello Quilts with a Twist and Op-Art Kaleidoscope Quilts). On two of these six days, I’ll also be giving lunch time lectures. This conference only takes place every other year and is a big deal. There are at least 20 teachers, one from New Zealand and the others from all over South Africa. The location of the conference, which includes a quilt show and several vendors, rotates around the country and is hosted by the local quilt guilds, this time by the Oranje Quilters’ Guild. The theme is Kaleidoscope, so my new template-free technique is very appropriate. You’ll be hearing more about my experiences after I get back. Perhaps I’ll even learn some Afrikaans!

Quilting tools

One of the aspects of teaching that I love is that I learn from my students. Among other things, they introduce me to new quilting gadgets. Here are two little beauties I discovered when I taught a workshop for Quilters Anonymous in May. The first is a Seam-Fix tool.

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It is a combination of a seam ripper and thread eraser. The white plastic tip shaped like a honey utensil picks up those pesky threads that are caught in your fabric when you’ve been unsewing. Simply roll it back and forth applying some pressure over the seam line and the little threads stick to it and come away easily.

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The second tool can be obtained from a hardware store. It is a small wallpaper roller used when applying wall paper to help get the edges to stick down. Here it is being used as a pressing tool and is convenient when you are sewing small pieced sections and you don’t want keep leaping up and down to the iron.

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When this blog posts, I will be in transit on my 26 hour journey to to Africa, flying from Seattle to Amsterdam and then on to Johannesburg. The blogs for the next month, which I’ve written before my departure, will keep coming while I’m away, then I’ll write all about the trip when I come back. I’m excited to be teaching at the 17th National South African Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein, taking in some wildlife and other sights, and then returning to Johannesburg for some more teaching just before I come home at the end of July.

Teaching at Moonlight Quilters, Bellingham, WA

Just before going to Quilt Market I had a trip up to Bellingham, almost at the Canadian border, crossing the bridge on I-5 that recently collapsed. I had a great group of students for my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop and wanted to share some of their work with you.


We had a nice light, large room with plenty of space to spread out. I always enjoy seeing the variety of fabrics that my students bring to class. Everyone makes different choices and they all make unique quilts. They are often inspired by one another when they see fabric combinations that they wouldn’t necessarily select for themselves. Everyone pieced several blocks during class. Here are some of the results as they auditioned different block orientations and sashing fabrics.

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After the workshop, a group of us went out for dinner before returning to the hall for my evening trunk show. Some of my students shared their work at Show and Tell and two people brought beautiful large Bargello Quilts with Twist quilts made from the bigger 9-1/2″ blocks. This is such a versatile technique with so many possibilities for creating different patterns.

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Gateway to Mongolia Workshop at Quilters Anonymous

Last Saturday, I thoroughly enjoyed the day in Edmonds teaching my Gateway to Mongolia class at Quilters Anonymous. I’ve been a member of this group for almost 20 years, but with my teaching schedule becoming much busier in the last two or three years, I’ve been unable to attend the meetings as regularly as I would like. I was delighted to be invited to teach a class for them. My class of 14 students was a mix of quilters I knew and others I hadn’t met.

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We had plenty of room for everyone to spread out. When the Olzii components are laid out for the large 20″ center block it’s great to have enough space for them next to the sewing machine. Small sections can be sewn and easily put back in the right position so they don’t get mixed up or turned around during piecing. Most of my students completed the large block during the class. Here is a sampling of their work.

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This Olzii pattern is a traditional Mongolian design, often painted on the door of the ger (Mongolian yurt) and thought to bring long-life and prosperity to the people living there. In Tibetan Buddhism, it symbolizes the universe and unending cycles of life and death. The block looks really funky during piecing, but as soon as it is placed on the background fabric, the Olzii motif pops and you can really see the under-over look of this never-ending knot. As each block was completed, we pinned them onto their backgrounds and oohed and aahed, congratulating the maker. It’s always fun to see the fabrics that students bring to class. Every choice is different and students learn from one another as well as from the teacher.

Counter-intuitive Quilting

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Yesterday I took a workshop entitled “Counter-intuitive Quilting” sponsored by Kitsap Quilters Guild and taught by Patricia Belyea who lectured at the guild last week and share her wonderful Japanese yukata cottons (see earlier blog posting). These photos show Patricia’s cheerful quilt (overall and a detailed shot), Wabi Sabi, which translated from Japanese means love of imperfection. If you look closely at the quilt, you can see some repeated elements. The basic technique involves choosing fabrics to work with and then designing three very simple blocks which are pieced together in a free-form way (we made three of each). When the blocks are put together, pieces are added to fill in any spaces, for example, some of the large flowers. The blocks may trimmed or divided into smaller sections if they don’t fit and the pieces that were cut off may be moved to another area of the quilt top.


Here is Patricia examining my work. For me, the whole thing seemed too chaotic when I put all my blocks adjacent. I liked them better when I separated them and put some space around them. This reflects my tendency to want my quilts to look more organized and symmetrical. It was quite a stretch for me to cut the fabric with scissors to the approximate shape needed and to piece them together without much regard for straight seams – in fact creating wonky blocks was encouraged. The first set of blocks I made, I used my rotary cutter and had very straight seams, than I took the plunge and used my scissors to make some that were much more irregular. The class was inspiring and I enjoyed trying a different approach. Usually I design a pattern, and then choose fabrics for it, although my initial inspiration may come from a particular fabric that I like. In this case we chose the fabrics we wanted to work with and more or less designed the blocks as we went along.



Elizabeth Mador made some interesting blocks using purple and chartreuse fabric and a burgundy that had embroidered spirals. Lisa Jowise had some beautiful oriental fabrics for her blocks. We had a very enjoyable day.

Lecture at Quilters By the Bay

On Wednesday evening I presented my trunk show for the Quilters By the Bay in University Place near Tacoma. They are a small but active group. It was nice to be able to drive – I could take more quilts to share including several large ones that I can’t carry when I go out of state to teach. I was so excited that one of the ladies brought a beautiful Bargello block quilt to show me. Here is Delores Slingerland with her quilt, Buggy Barn with a Twist.


Delores took my Bargello Quilts with a Twist class when I taught at the Gig Harbor Quilt Festival three or four years ago. She used Buggy Barn fabric, their ice and mocha line and based the design on my quilt, Savannah Sunrise, shown below. What fun to see this quilt in such a different color way. Thanks to Delores for sharing her work.


The meeting took place in the Pierce County Environmental Services Building, a beautiful facility on the bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. Half way through the lecture, I told the ladies to turn around and look at the sunset because it was so spectacular. To get to University Place, I drove over the Tacoma Narrows toll bridge, a huge suspension bridge spanning the Puget Sound Narrows. Here’s a view of the bridge from Titlow Park, where I had a picnic before the meeting.



Teaching at The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild, Houston

This week I traveled to Houston to give a lecture and teach a workshop at The Woodlands Area Quilt Guild on the north side of Houston, not far from the airport. The quilters gave me a warm welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. Around 120 quilters attended the meeting and before my lecture they installed their new officers and all the members pledged allegiance to the group. I always like the Show and Tell at guild meetings and was particularly impressed by the applique quilts that were shown. The following day, I taught the Bears Come Out at Night workshop, one of my variations on the Bear’s Paw block. Emphasis is on precision piecing and the small Sawtooth Star mini-blocks within the Bear’s Paw blocks can be a little challenging. My students all did well and we had an enjoyable day.

20130307_143253During the day of the lecture, the Program Chair, Carol Ayre took me out for a pleasant walk at the Mercer Botanical Gardens, then we went to Old Town Spring for lunch. Here’s a photo of the local quilt shop, GRS Creations & Fabrics, which they refer to as “The Hidden Fabric Shop”. From the outside it looks very small, but inside, the store extends back and includes several rooms with a large inventory of fabrics. If you are in the area, it’s worth a visit.


Old Town Spring also boasts this supposedly haunted house which is over 100 years old. It has a colorful history as you’ll see from the sign – ranging from a hippy commune to a funeral home and for over 30 years, 200 insect eating bats lived in the attic! The tall screened-in section housed several cooing doves.



As you can see, we had glorious sunny weather and the 70 degree sunshine felt wonderful after the 48 degrees in Seattle. It was a good time of year to visit.

Teaching in Forks, WA

On Friday afternoon I drove 142 miles to Forks, out by the Pacific Coast in the northwest corner of WA. A couple of years ago, I taught at the Piecemakers Quilt Club and I was delighted to be invited back to teach again. Forks, a logging town, has received attention in recent years as the location of the Twilight series and this has resulted in a much needed mini-economic boom after the demise of logging when the Spotted Owl became a protected species. It is one of the wettest places in the USA with an annual rainfall of around 100″.

I stayed for two nights and was treated to fabulous cooked breakfasts at Misty Valley Inn. Here’s the wonderful view from the dining room complete with Steller’s Jays eating breakfast too.


I thoroughly enjoyed the day with my students whose skill levels ranged from a new quilter to a lady with 60 years of experience! They were an easy-going relaxed group and we had plenty of laughs. I taught my 9-Patch Lattice class – insert a lattice into any 9-Patch block to create an innovative twist and a new look. Here are some of the class samples – Ohio Stars and Simple 9-Patch.


In this detailed shot of my Monkey Wrench sample, you can see the lattice more clearly. It’s fun to experiment and vary the colors in the lattice strips.


Here are some of my students at work. It was spacious room with excellent lighting and everyone had their own large table.


Kitsap Quilters Guild Show

I had a sneak preview of our Kitsap Quilters Guild show this afternoon when I went to help with set up. The show is at the Kitsap Fairgrounds in Silverdale, WA and will run for two days – tomorrow and Saturday (15th and 16th February). If you are in the vicinity, do stop by. It’s a feast for the eyes with almost 200 quilts and some wonderful vendors. Here’s a photo of my newest template-free Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilt, Large Hadron Colliderscope, hanging in the show.

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I love to see the work of my students and two who took my template-free Kaleidoscope class have their quilts hanging at the show.

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This is Amy Constant’s quilt, Mouse-Ca-Scope.

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Here is Keitha Unger’s Kaleidoscope.