Monthly Archives: September 2012

Book Review: Creative Girl — The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent & Creativity Into a Real Career


I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want a more creative job. As quilters, we fantasize about spending our days sewing award-winning quilts, designing incredible patterns, andcreating our own line of fabrics. But could we do it full time?

Author Katharine Sise began her career as an actor, with a part-time waitressing gig to pay the bills. But she did not like the acting lifestyle and knew that she did not have the singing/dancing ability for Broadway. One day she decided to stop waitressing and make her own line of jewelery. She now uses her acting talents at QVC and in making videos to promote her very successful line of jewelery. She clearly wrote this book based on her own experience.

The first part of the book requires self-analysis. Where are your talents? What kind of work do you want to do? What would suit your interests and lifestyle?  What do you want (and not want) in your career? Once your vision is clear, Sise guides you into preparing for a creative career. I like that she supports a transitional approach in which you stay employed while you acquire the needed skills, but may consider working part time, sharing a job, or approaching your boss about flexible hours.

Part 2 is “Get Where You Want to Go.” This is the nuts-and-bolts of interviewing for a creative career, or setting up your own business. I was glad to see that Sise focuses on being a “thriving artist” and not a “starving artist.” There is lots of practical information in this section — including finding a mentor, dressing for success, and how to write a press release. She also addresses how to deal with fear, which I know is a huge issue for people considering a creative career.

Interspersed throughout the book are profiles of successful creative girls.

This book is well-written, easy to read, and nicely laid out. The author has a great conversational tone that feels very supportive. Her information is practical and — I think — would be extremely helpful to anyone considering a more creative career.

You can learn more about the author at:

Color Theory for Quilters: Black and White and Grey All Over


On Tuesday, I mentioned that I was taking a color theory course. Our first assignment was to create a 12″ quilt using black, white and grey fabrics. The quilt had to contain at least eight different fabrics, as well as a pop of color. The teacher challenged us to experiment and use techniques that were new to us.

I had created a large black and white quilt last year, so I had a substantial number of scraps left over. Being a natural overachiever, I took advantage of these leftovers, cut the scraps into 64 two-inch squares, and arranged them from dark to light. My goal was to create a darker frame with a lighter center. I used two birds as focal points. I did a bunch of free motion stitching that was supposed to look like a tree (left side) with leaves, and then as water and clouds. I was somewhat successful. For the required pop of color, I added red stitching around the binding.

It is very easy to sew tiny squares into a quilt. I used fusible interfacing and marked 2″ squares using my ruler. I then arranged the squares on the fusible interfacing and ironed them on. This blog shows a great step-by-step demo of the process:

(If you can’t see the photo, please check out my blog at

Final project

Free Motion Quilting: Echoes and Swirls


Free motion quilting can be challenging for quilters — whether they use longarms or domestic machines . I find that it’s best to learn one design at a time. See the design and figure out how to do it. Next, sketch! Sit in front of the TV with your sketch pad in hand and continue sketching until you have mastered it. Then, try it on a practice quilt. Once the motions become automatic, it is much easier to be successful with free motion designs.

I came across this tutorial of a great free motion design that looks complex — but it’s actually just echoes and swirls. As you will notice if you watch the video, the design can be used on a large or small scale. Also notice that she begins the teaching process by sketching the design. Enjoy!


Color Theory for Quilters: 50 Shades of Grey Fabric


I am taking a color theory class. I think that most quilters are like me and choose our quilt colors intuitively, without really knowing why we like them or not. That’s why I’m starting a blog series — called “True Color Tuesday’s” — so that we can explore color theory together.

Grey fabric. Note that colors “change” depending on adjoining fabric.

At my color theory class, the first assignment was to bring in the greys from our stash. (This was not a huge deal as most of us didn’t exactly have a huge stash of grey fabric.)

The next step was to lay our grey fabrics on the table. It was very interesting to see that most of the greys changed color, depending on what shade was around them. Some of the greys began to look yellow, while others looked blue or green. After pulling out all the greys that were not a pure color, we were left with very few.

I admit that I’ve spent very little time studying grey fabric, so I was surprised. How can grey change color? Don’t you just mix grey from black and white? Nope. Grey can also be made from mixing a variety of colors. A warm grey will be composed with yellow, orange and red, while a cool grey will contain blues and greens. A true grey will be made from black and white.

So keep this in mind as you’re planning your quilt. If you’ve got a blue quilt, and you are adding grey, you probably want a grey that is made from a combination of cool colors. Ditto if you’re making a quilt with warm colors. Or maybe not. The trick is to realize that, just because you purchased a fabric labeled “grey,” doesn’t mean it will look grey on your quilt.

On this Youtube video, you can see grey being mixed from yellow, orange and blue.

Wikipedia has a great explanation of making grey, as well as examples of warm and cool greys.

College Tshirt Quilt


Exactly a month ago, my eldest child left for college about 400 miles away. We’ve heard very little from him over the past month, other than a quick call after visits to the health center, where they are treating him for mononucleosis that showed up on his third day at school. (I feel that this is cosmic payback for the last 25 years, during which my husband calls his mother twice a year and leaves the communication to me!)

As with most quilters, I wanted to make my son a Tshirt quilt for college. I wanted it to reflect both his past and his future, so I purchased three new Tshirts for the quilt. Since my son is into the Asian culture, I used a sashing/border fabric that pictured good luck Chinese lanterns. I used a soft flannel backing and a high-loft polyester batting.

Why polyester batting? My friends with college-aged kids had warned me that there is a lot of partying going on and quilts need to be easily washable.  From the limited comments we’ve heard from our son, I now  believe this to be good advice.

I always felt that the reason to make a Tshirt quilt was to comfort your child with a quilt showing their past. But my son pointed out a much better reason to make your child a Tshirt quilt — it is a fabulous conversation starter in the dorm. New friends would drop by his room and ask questions about the quilt, or comment about TV shows or destinations that they had in common.

College dorm beds are extra-long and narrow. This quilt is 84″ long and about 48″ wide. It didn’t fit on my design walls, so the photographs were taken with it on the floor.

View from top of quilt




























View from bottom of the quilt


Book Review: Modern Blocks, 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers (Compiled by Susan Woods)


I was excited to get this book. After reading it, I have mixed feelings as to whether I like it.

As for the positives, the book delivers exactly what it says. Each block is featured (and beautifully photographed) on the left side of the fold, with full instructions on the opposite side.  Template patterns are at the back of the book. Most of the blocks are designs I have never seen before, although many of the designs are quite simple and wouldn’t be difficult to create.

The blocks are all 12.5″ and include a variety of techniques — piecing, applique, embroidery and paper-piecing. Each block is designed by a different modern quilter. There is a lot of variety and this book would be a great starting point for anyone who wants to create modern quilt blocks.

I think the book would be enhanced if it delivered more information about the modern quilt movement, as well as a short biography on the block designers. I would also have like to seen some of the blocks sewn together, even though it is out of the scope of the book to have finished quilts.

My big criticism — and this is just personal taste — is the fabrics. These blocks all look like they were made from fabric from the designers’ hippie era, where matching print polyester pants with a different print top was considered fashionable. I just did not find many of the combinations pleasing.

Overall, I rank this book 3 out of 4 stars! You can see the book, and read additional reviews, at the link below.

Craftsy Class Review: Machine Quilting Negative Space by Angela Walters


I took a live class from Angela Walters at the Machine Quilter’s Expo this spring. She was a wonderful teacher — fun, engaging, and clearly talented. I was thrilled to see that she offered a class on Craftsy. (For those of you unfamiliar with Craftsy, it offers 3 to 4 hour online classes in quilting and other arts, reasonably priced for $39!)

Angela Walters is known for quilting modern quilts, which are challenging because they have a great deal of quilting. Angela begins the class by defining negative space, and then sketches many designs. As the class progresses, she shows you how to combine and re-size the designs to create a lot of different quilting effects. Once the sketching is complete, she moves on to the longarm machine and shows how to stitch each pattern. You can make the project yourself by following class directions, or by purchasing an (optional) pre-printed panel from Spoonflower.

The most impressive thing is that Angela quilts with only one hand on the longarm machine. Seriously. I’ve taken a lot of classes from national teachers, and I have never seen someone consistently quilt with just one hand.

I learned a lot from this class. Although I believe that free motion quilting is much easier with a longarm, the information is totally applicable to a domestic sewing machine. She covers both in the class. She has a sweet, relaxed attitude that makes it look easy. I was able to immediately create the free motion designs she taught when I went back to my longarm machine. The class was totally worthwhile and I would highly recommend it.

For a list of Craftsy quilting classes, check out the link below. Machine Quilting Negative Space is about half-way down the page.

eQuilter Fabric Warehouse Tour


I think, at some point in their lives, most girls dream about moving into Cinderella’s castle in Disneyland. Not me. I would move into a quilt fabric warehouse and never come out. I’d fashion myself a mattress out of quilt batting, make myself bedding from the finest quilters’ cotton, and sleep on a cutting table. I’d read their magazines and audition threads. It would be a great life.

I think that eQuilter operates the warehouse I would most like to live in. The Youtube video below provides a tour. After shopping in warehouses in New York’s garment district, I had expected all fabric warehouses to require a hunt for fabric. Clearly I was wrong. The inside of eQuilter’s warehouse looks exactly like many of the quilt shops I’ve visited.

Over the years, eQuilter has given more than $1,000,000 to charity. I found it interesting what causes they support and how decisions are made.

Please know that I have no relationship with eQuilter, other than being a happy customer. eQuilter’s website is

Why Didn’t I Pay More Attention in Math Class?


Here’s my 10.5″ block. I ended up making 25 of them and sewing them into a quilt for myself.

A group of us are doing a friendship block exchange. It’s Americana fabric (of which I had none) and had to be red, blue and cream in color. I found a block I liked on the 2012 Quilting Pattern a Day calendar and purchased three appropriate-colored fabrics. I then cut and sewed the blocks together, assembly-line style, all the time congratulating myself that all 13 blocks were completed more than a month ahead of deadline.

Unfortunately the unfinished  blocks turned out to be 10.5″ instead of the required 12.5″.  At this point I stopped congratulating myself and started berating my stupidity … but I had (clearly wrongly) assumed it as a 12.5″ block.

I pulled myself out of the funk and purchased even more fabric, intent on making the new blocks during the monthly “Sit and Sew” at our local quilt shop.When I sat down to work out the math to convert the block from 10.5″ to 12.5″, I quickly discovered that 5 equal pieces don’t fit evenly into a 12.5″ inch block. Clearly it was time for Plan B — and possibly a review of 5th grade math.

Plan B involved searching the internet for 3 color, 12-inch finished blocks that didn’t require making  half-square triangles or flying geese. When that search failed me, I turned to my Block Bible called “5500 Quick Block Designs.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I spent more than 2 hours looking at blocks and — using a very old solar calculator — trying to reconfigure them to fit into the 3 color and 12.5″ final size parameters.  I was finally successful and made another 13 blocks. I was so glad to be rid of them that I forgot to take a picture! (They consisted of two 4-patches that were red and cream, and two 16-patches that were blue and cream.)

Today’s lessons are:

1. Think carefully before joining a block swap.

2. Measure a finished block before you make 13 of them.

3. Not all blocks can be easily scaled.

You can find the 5500 Quilt Block Design book at:

You can find the Quilting Block & Pattern-a-Day calendar at: