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.

20130511_132330 20130511_132406

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.

20130511_132243 20130511_132232

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.

20130511_145429 20130511_145324

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.

Western Washington Shop Hop

June 19th to June 23rd is a crazy time for quilters in Western Washington. Many go on the annual Shop Hop and drive hundreds of miles to visit all or some of the participating 52 quilt shops. They travel from Vancouver, just across the river from Portland, OR, all the way up the I-5 corridor to Lynden which is practically in Canada, then out west as far as Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. Each shop designs a special quilt block to give away with one piece of Shop Hop theme fabric, one coordinating fabric, and a fabric of the shop’s choosing.

20130616_162618 20130616_162837

The poster shows a quilt containing all the quilt blocks created by the stores, with the theme fabric in the border. This colorful floral fabric was designed especially for the Shop Hop by In The Beginning Fabrics and the coordinating fabrics come from Clothworks Textiles.

20130617_145047 20130616_162947

The left picture shows the coordinating prints, and the block with appliqued hexagons designed by Quilted Strait, Port Gamble. The palm tree block on the right was designed by Esther’s Fabrics, Bainbridge Island. I’ll be spending today, (Friday, 21st June), at Quilted Strait demonstrating my template-free Kaleidoscope and Bargello block techniques.  Quilted Strait, this wonderful store in a spacious red barn, is my home base for teaching and they hang several of my quilts in the store on a rotational basis, to promote classes and pattern sales. In these pictures you can see the Ohio Star Lattice – Harvest Stars, my Feathered Star quilt – Brideshead Radiance, and one of my Kaleidoscope Puzzle Quilt – Arctic Spring

.20130617_144547 20130508_145956

20130508_150012 20130508_150021


Visit to the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum

The La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum is a regional gem and should not be missed if you are in the vicinity (northwest corner of Washington State). Apart from the outstanding quilt and textile exhibits which I’ll get to later, the building itself is spectacular and has an interesting history.

20130512_152253 20130512_162242

The museum is housed in the Gaches Mansion. The British Gaches brothers, James and George, had a successful mercantile business in La Conner. They purchased the land in 1875 for $125 and built two homes. The Tudor-style Victorian mansion (known as the Gaches Castle) was completed in 1891. The mansion featured over 20 rooms with two staircases (one for the servants). There were three floors, a basement, an attic and a “widows walk”. Louisa Wiggins Gaches (George’s wife) decorated her grand home with furnishings from all over the world. The Gaches eventually moved to Seattle and in 1905 sold the building to Dr. Howe who set up Skagit County’s first hospital there. Next the property belonged to a grocer and then to a lady who converted it into apartments and removed the grand staircase.

In 1973, there was a devastating fire after a tenant left a cigarette burning. The third floor and attic were destroyed and in the absence of a roof there was significant water damage over the winter. Volunteers from the La Conner Landmark group succeeded in getting the mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were awarded a matching grant for critical repairs and restoration. The museum was used as an art gallery and then it was sold to the Town of La Conner.

In 1997, La Conner resident Rita Hupy founded the La Conner Quilt Museum and rented the space from the Town of La Conner. By 2005 they had hosted over 64 exhibits and become renowned nationally. The Board of Directors secured a private loan to purchase the Gaches Mansion. Since then, major renovations have taken place, both inside and outside, funded by a variety of grants, donations and fundraising events. They recently completed redecorating the downstairs to restore it to its Victorian splendor with woodblock printed wallpaper borders in authentic Victorian designs made by a specialist in California, drapes and new flooring. This is the dining room. On the table is a quilt from 1915 made from tobacco flannel panels.

20130512_162112 20130512_154017

The Museum now has a sizeable permanent collection including this lovely 1930’s cubes quilt hand-pieced from hexagons. Rotating exhibits on the ground floor usually feature pieces from this collection or award winners from the annual QuiltFest. This exquisite quilt, Ladies of the Sea, 85½” x 85½”, took Joanne Ellsworth three years to make. It is hand appliquéd and hand quilted and based on patterns by Susan Garman.

20130512_153027 20130512_153045

Here are two more quilts on the ground floor that captivated me. Rumple About, 57” x 64”, was made by Ingrid Willhoft. Techniques include machine piecing, hand appliqué, machine quilting and hand Sachiko. Tulips Forever, 39” x 45”, by Linda Fogg is a spring time Skagit Valley scene. In the La Conner area, the fields are bursting with colorful blooms of a huge variety of tulips. The quilt is made with raw-edge appliqué and utilizes a variety of materials including cottons, Ikat organza, tulle netting and twill ribbon.

20130512_153319 20130512_153533

Visiting exhibits, both contemporary and traditional, from nationally and internationally known fiber artists are displayed on the top two floors. Photography on these floors is not permitted. The stair wells are appropriate for small quilts, such as the 22”-26” 2013 Blooms Challenge Quilts which were there when I visited in May. Typically, exhibits change every three months, so there is always new material to see every time I go there. The quilts I saw in May will be hanging for another week before the opening of the next exhibit on 26th June. On the top floor was At Home in High Places, by Karen Frazen from Alaska. Karen was inspired after assisting with ornithological research on Golden Eagles in Denali National Park. She uses a variety of techniques in her work including combinations of appliqué and piecing, and fabric painting on layers of sheer fabrics to produce stunning images of cranes, grouse, eagles, ravens and song birds. On the second floor which also houses the museum store, there were beautiful antique quilts in an exhibit on loan, Historic Quilts from the Latimer Quilt & Textile Museum, Tillamook, OR.

I always enjoy visiting the museum and feel inspired when I leave. There is such an abundance of talent, and in the realm of quilting this can be expressed in so many different and exciting ways.


Exhibit at North Point Church, Poulsbo, WA

At our last Kitsap Quilters Guild meeting, quilting friend Amy Constant introduced me to her friend and artist, Leigh Knowles. Leigh coordinates art exhibits at North Point Church, on Hostmark Street (opposite the High School) in Poulsbo. She invited me to exhibit my work at the church and a couple of days later came to my house to select suitable quilts. She went away with seven of my quilts and three Mongolian silk pieces. The following week, I visited the church to see the quilts hanging in the large entrance hall and the sanctuary.

20130607_105929 20130607_104337_4

As you walk into the entrance hall you see my quilt, Sunset in the Cloisters, and a Mongolian silk piece of blossoms. High above the quilt is Leigh’s beautiful 5 feet by 10 feet painting which she called For the Glory of God painted especially for this spot. The painting looks quite quilt-like to me and I love the colors and all the elements from the sun, heavens, earth, land and oceans. Here’s a closer look.

20130607_104933 20130607_103738

My large Mongolian Olzii quilt, Tribute to Mongolia, 103″ x 103″, is in a great spot appropriate for the size, to the right in the entrance hall. Then on the left by the fireplace is an easel with the Mongolian silk silver unicorn.

20130607_103827 20130607_103852

In the sanctuary there are stands on either side adjacent to the large stage. My Midnight Mosaic hangs on one side and a lovely Mongolian silk piece made from 16 fan blocks on the other side. The quilts will be rotated over the next few weeks until the end of July and will also include some from other artists.

20130607_103634 20130607_103555



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.

20130513_160120 20130513_160552

20130513_162350 20130513_160734

20130513_164314 20130513_155601

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.

20130513_200629 20130513_200512

Visit to The Quilt Barn, Puyallup

A few weeks ago when I was in the Tacoma area, I went to Puyallup and visited the wonderful quilt store, The Quilt Barn.


The Quilt Barn used to be housed in a red barn, but moved to this larger 6,000 square foot facility a few years ago. Pam Hewitt, owner for 10 years, has a huge inventory of 10,000 bolts of fabric with rows arranged by color, a large section of batiks, and areas with novelty and seasonal prints. The fabric bolts are a colorful feast for the eyes, but in addition, there are many inspiring quilt samples hanging high on the walls where they are nice and visible.

20130328_102846 20130328_102825

In the back there is a big classroom with more beautiful quilt samples hanging and Pam offers a wide variety of classes. She also has a long-arm Handi Quilter sewing machine which is available to rent after you’ve taken a training class. In another area, there is a comfortable book nook with couches and lamps so you can settle down for a few minutes to peruse the great selection books and patterns. I love this.


If you are in the Puyallup area, or you go there for Sew Expo in early March, it’s worth taking some extra time to visit this awesome store.