Tip Jar…

Do you ever feel like you’ll never know everything you should know?


It’s not the same as stuff you need to know, or even something you’d like to know just because I’m curious. As in, I should know a dozen different ways from my apartment to work. But I need to know how the defroster works on my car.

TIP: Don’t turn on the AC button at the same time.

And I’d like to know why the guy in the huge pick-up truck insists on texting while doing 80 mph when it’s snowing and the roads are a mess.

TIP: He’s a twit. Stay out of his way.

The same can be said for everything having to do with making quilts. I should know it all but I need to know how to thread a needle – hand and machine – and I need to know how to keep my fingers out of the way of my rotary cutter. I’d like to know more about English Paper Piecing.

TIP: Take a class. Meet Katy Jones.

When it comes to what I know about sewing and making quilts, I learned most of it by experience, trial and error – especially that last part, observation and little bits of information I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve read lots and lots of books and taken classes, and I ask a lot of questions of people who know more than I do. I’ve learned that what works for others doesn’t always work for me, and vice versa. And I’ve learned that for all the stuff I know, I can always know more… because I really don’t know that much.

Really. (I can provide references.)


I also learn by trying to find answers to questions I’m asked. If I don’t know, I want to find out.  So we’re going to make a trade here – I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years, especially some of the quirky little tips, and you’re going to help me learn about those things I don’t already know but should.

I’ve already started making a list but what have I forgotten? Yes, ¼” seam allowance and that whole “scant” thing is there, as is pre-washing, shrinking, etc. Rotary rulers and cutters – you are cleaning them, right? That seam trick, variously called collapsing, popping and spinning, depending on whom you’re chatting with – and clipping seams.  It’s on there.  Starching and sizing?  Done.  Binding – width, seams and corners.  Squaring up a quilt?  Crosswise vs. lengthwise – why it’s important to know the difference.  Seam allowance, pressing and a whole slew of other “old wives’ tales” that really need to be cast aside post-haste.

What do you want to add to my list?

Since I said would trade, I’ll go first. I heard about this from Lissa, who heard about it from Amy Ellis.

TIP: Use fusible thread to adhere a binding before it gets hand- or machine-stitched down.


First, attach your binding to the quilt as you normally would.

Wind the fusible thread onto the bobbin of your machine using the bobbin winder – do not run it through your machine as the texture of the thread and the tension of the machine can create some problems. I ran across several articles that all suggest not winding the bobbin more than halfway. Since the reasoning made sense and I wasn’t going to need much thread, that’s what I did.

With the fusible thread in the bobbin only, use a zig-zag stitch to sew through all three layers of fabric in the seam allowance of your binding.  Zig-zagging around the mitered corner was easily done, I stitched right up to the fold-seam then turned the corner and continued stitching.


I know… it’s hard to see but that’s the white fusible thread on the white background of the backing.

Fold the binding to the back and press it in place.  Voila!


The binding is adhered to the backing but the edge is still loose.  If you were machine stitching the binding, this could easily be applied either front-to-back or back-to-front.  No pins.  No clips.

Pretty cool.  But now I have a different problem… what am I going to do with all my boxes of binding clips?

Ask anyone who knows me… I have a lot of them.

TIP: Use binding clips for English Paper Piecing. (Tip coming soon.)


I’ll get to the end of the story first – Lissa, Ducky, Julie and I were home before the freezing rain and sleet started in Dallas on Sunday night.

It helped that the Moda Bake Shop booth went from this…


…to this…


…in one hour and 38 minutes – and for that we thank Bo and Claudia.  The four of us could have done it but not nearly as quickly.  Or as cheerfully.  

QuiltCon commenced Thursday morning and ran for four days.  That meant four days of demos, lectures, full- and half-day workshops, shopping a large vendor “mall” and lots of spectacular quilts to see.


This is one of the more memorable quilts from QuiltCon – Face #1 by Melissa Averinos of West Barnstable, Massachusetts.  Melissa challenged herself to make a large pieced face quilt without using a photograph, drawing or computer.  Drawing on her experience as a painter, she improvised with fabric squares and rectangles to create an image as she would a painting.  She wrote that after making her whole life, she cried with happiness when she finished this quilt.  Of everything she’s ever made, this is her favorite thing.

The short version – QuiltCon was inspiring, entertaining, informative, exhausting and a whole lot of fun.  With one or two cranky exceptions, quilters are really nice people.  Everyone was happy to be in Austin, happy to be at the quilt show and happy to be surrounded by so many other like-minded folk.

The long version – I loved every minute of it.  

Longer?  Okay.  Depending on the day and time, I was in Moda Bake Shop booth visiting with people attending the show, meeting with a few folks for business-stuff, taking a lot of pictures of quilts and some pictures of people, seeing the show, shopping the vendors – of course, attending a few lectures, demos and classes, and pestering Jen Kingwell.  (She brought TimTams – everybody was pestering her.)


That’s Julie and Ducky with Jen in the middle.  Jen had just told them she’d found another package of TimTams.  (I’m kidding!  Jen was on her way to the airport for the journey home and a photo booth picture was required.)

I loved the two workshops I was able to attend – English Paper Piecing with Katy Jones and 15 Minutes of Play with Victoria Findlay-Wolfe.  Both women exceeded every possible expectation anyone might have had about their skills and talents as artists, teachers and quilters.  They were both smart, funny and engaging.  Katy’s method for English Paper Piecing didn’t involve gluing the paper to the fabric, or basting through the paper so it was new to me.  The little tack-stitches I used at the corners to keep the seams together worked perfectly for me.  I enjoyed the stitching so much, the afternoon passed too quickly.  Victoria’s workshop was more about an approach than a technique – piecing and making “fabric” that is then cut up to make the pieces for whatever “it” is that you want to make.  While I was only able to stay for the morning session of the workshop, a couple of days wouldn’t have been enough.  (If you don’t already have them, both of her books are must-haves in my very-biased opinion.)


Victoria Findlay Wolfe modeling a pieced, quilted jacket made with polyester fabrics from the 1970s.  She collects polyester quilts and has quite a collection of them.

I also loved the amazing variety of people attending QuiltCon.  Like many people, I wondered if the attendees would be noticeably younger.  I would say “yes” and “no”.  There were definitely more younger women than I see at most quilt shows, more women in their late 20s and early 30s.  But in both workshops I attended, my guesstimate is that one-third of the students were 60 and older, one-third were mid-40s to 60, and the remaining third were mid-40s or younger.  And from my vantage point in the Moda booth and walking around the convention center, I think the age-breakdown of the attendees was probably close to that.

The best part was that there were so many groups of friends attending together, and a lot of moms and daughters.  I met groups comprised of three generations of women – daughter, mother and grandmother.  And there were so many more kids that I usually see at a quilt show – infants, toddlers and kids as old as eight and nine.  And yes, there were a lot of men there too.

The shopping?  Terrific.  Patterns and books, any kind of thread you could possibly want and lots and lots of fabric.  I’d show you what I bought but rulers and templates aren’t very photogenic – I saw several Bloc-Loc rulers I hadn’t seen before.  When I make something with any one of my purchases, you’ll be the first to see and hear about it.  Scout’s honor.

As for the quilts, it was a spectacular show.  As it is with every quilt show, the very best quilts in the show were amazing – a stunning design well-executed by a skilled quiltmaker.


i Quilt by Kathy York of Austin, Texas.  This quilt won Best in Show and it is gloriously vibrant – I love it.  In her description of her quilt, Kathy wrote… “At times I feel alone, but I am not.  I am supported by many friends and family.  These are the little “i” blocks that make up the big central “i”.  The other “i” blocks in the field are for all the people I have never met that support my life.”

I wish I could show you every one of the quilts I saw at QuiltCon over the five days but this sampling will have to do…


  • One Third Street Neighborhood by Amy Stevenson of Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Dots by Svetlana Sotak of Batavia, Illinois
  • Paint Chip by Sarah Lowry of Carrboro, North Carolina
  • Back to Basics by Melissa Corry of Cedar City, Utah
  • Tune in Next Week by Chawne Kimber of Easton, Pennsylvania
  • Playing with Little Bits by Rose Daley of Columbia, Maryland
  • Floating Jewels by Tanya Heldman of Los Angeles, California
  • Funky Junk by Renee Tallman of Aptos, California
  • Geometric Rainbow by Nicole Daksiewicz
  • The Rabbit Hole by Nydia Kehnle of Monroe, New York
  • Squaring the Circle by Jo Avery of Linlithgow, United Kingdom
  • Read Between the Lines by Stephanie Ruyle of Denver, Colorado
  • Under the Sea by Barbara Cline of Bridgewater, Virginia
  • The Power of Three by Kristin Shields of Bend, Oregon
  • The Dishes Can Wait by Rachel Kerley of Hillsboro, Oregon
  • Churn Dash 2: Complementary by Martha Peterson of Woodinville, Washington

I took a lot of pictures.

I’m already looking forward to the next time.

P.S. If you’re interested in attending QuiltCon, especially the lectures and workshops, I recommend joining the Modern Quilt Guild.  You can join as a regular, not-affiliated-with-a-Chapter Member or you can attend a Guild in your area.  http://www.themodernquiltguild.com/)



This is a well-known mural painted on the side of Roadhouse Relics – an art gallery – in Austin, Texas.

I love Austin – it’s cool and funky, it’s a college town and a state capital.  It’s small-town-ish and a big cosmopolitan city – the 11th largest in the U.S.  Austin is the home of the University of Texas, the Longhorns and Bevo.  It’s also the unofficial Live Music Capital of the World and it makes a lot of those “most liveable city” lists.  The food is great – terrific BBQ and world-class sushi – and the FBI has named Austin one of the safest cities in the country.  (Or it was before a whole bunch of rowdy quilters with rotary cutters came to town – Austin has a well-earned reputation as a great party town.)

Hello QuiltCon 2015!

Full disclosure – as you read this, I’ll be doing one of the following – working in the Moda Bake Shop booth, pursuing higher-quilt-related education or tracking down some of the Moda designers scheduled to teach and demo at QuiltCon.  If you’re on Instagram and Facebook, you can see what we’re all up to at #modaatquiltcon.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone but the list already includes Malka Dubrawsky, Amy Ellis, Jen Kingwell, Vanessa Christenson, Lynne Hagemeir, and Julie and Eric Comstock.  Vanessa is teaching a couple of classes, several are here signing books and I’m sure one or two are here to see what all the hoopla is about.

Moda is at QuiltCon as an Exhibitor, not as a Vendor.  That means we’ll be there to show some neat fabric goodies, play some games and give away some cool stuff but we won’t be selling anything.


This is it – the Moda Bake Shop booth.  These pictures were taken Wednesday night, shortly before 7:00 pm… when we were told that we could finish in the morning before QuiltCon opened at 10:00.  We finished – “we” being Holly Hickman, the genius designer and builder of the booth structure and Jamie Chupik, uber-everything and yours truly.  Girls and power tools.  It was work but it was also a whole lot of fun.

The trash bags on the floor and the wood crate were removed that evening, and the pallets were adjusted and “fluffed” with the quilts.  However they might look in the picture, the finished look was very cool – everybody thought so.  And the photo booth was a hoot.

Where can you find the Moda booth?  Booth 926.  It’s to the left when you come in the Main Entrance.  We’re next to the Aurifil booth, not far from the Small Quilt exhibit… about 15′ feet away from the Tattoo booth.

I’m guessing that’s a first for a quilt show.

I don’t get to many of the big quilt shows so I’m can’t be entirely sure.  Are you surprised by that?  It’s the truth.  I always seemed to have scheduled something else at the same time as the “big shows” so I’ve only been to a few.  Have you been to many big shows?  Is there anything I should make sure “not to miss”?

I know I mentioned that I’m taking some classes – 15 Minutes of Play with Victoria Findlay-Wolfe and English Paper Piecing with Katy Jones of I’m A Ginger Monkey fame.  And something else that I know I have the book for but haven’t yet packed for.  I will have to come-and-go a bit during class and I feel badly about that, I seriously considered dropping out of the classes.  But I know that even if I’m not there the entire time, I will learn something that will make it all worthwhile.  That one little tip – that nugget.

I did get to see a little bit of the show today and the quilts are terrific.  The show is quite crowded, I’ve heard that attendance has exceeded expectations.  I was able to attend two lectures I’d signed up for on Thursday, one on Copyright and Quilting with Rossie Hutchinson and one on Teaching with Jacquie Gehring.  I have followed both of these ladies’ blogs for years and they’re even more impressive and brilliant in person.

I’ll have more quilt pictures soon, and pictures of the various vendors and stuff.  Yes, I’ve done a little shopping.  But as always happens, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people that I’ve heard or read about, and I’ve gotten to spend time with people I’ve met a few times.  Like Jen Kingwell.  I know the proper thing is to always say nice things about people no matter what, but really, Jen is the coolest, nicest, most down-to-person ever.  It’s official… I’m the uber-fan.

So is this man…


It was a really nice day and I’m looking forward to the rest of the show… even dismantling the booth on Sunday evening.

So you know what’s coming, don’t you?  What is your expectation when you take a class?  Or even go to a demo?

Do you go to have your world rocked?  Or are you looking for just one or two little things to add to your bag of tricks?

My goal is always to not expose myself as a colossal twit.

It’s happened before.  Steam-A-Seam.  Lisa Bongean.

Fortunately I can laugh about it.

Update: Marianne Fons Picks a Winner

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we told you about Marianne Fons and her Libby’s Log Cabin quilt? (If not, you can read about it here.) Marianne stitched the quilt from Moda’s Collections for a Cause Community line, which is benefitting Libby as she recovers from a stroke.

Libby's Log Cabin

Libby’s Log Cabin by Marianne Fons

We just wanted to let you know that there is a lucky winner. At the end of the day on February 13, Marianne put the names of all those who contributed funds into a stocking hat and selected Anne Nee of Milwaukee. Congratulations, Anne!

Marianne wanted to thank everyone for contributions that ranged from $10 to several hundred dollars, including a $500 donation from a family friend. One donor wrote to Marianne “Libby stepped in to lecture for me when my mother died, then made sure the lecture fee went to me. It was $350, so that’s the amount I’m sending to Cathy Arnold [Libby’s sister] for Libby now.”

Wow! We knew quilters were a giving bunch, but that story really shows how it all comes full circle. In the end, 61 people donated $4066. On behalf of Libby and all her sisters, Cathy wrote, “We thank all for what they have done for Libby! The funds will really make a significant difference in her recovery. Bless you!”

Geysers and geezers…

Old Faithful.

I’ll get to that in a moment.  Did you have a good weekend?  I spent it with Bern Ina, a lovely older Swiss gentleman with impeccable manners.  He helped me finish my Go Four It quilt – picture coming soon – and the Snapshots Block No. 1.

For those who asked about the pattern for the black-and-orange four-patch quilt, the pattern is in the April 2015 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, available now through the end of March at a quilt shop, book shop or grocery store near you.  There are three very different four-patch quilts from ModaLissa, April Rosenthal and Edyta Sitar.  Mine is a variation of April’s Buried Treasure quilt – it’s the same block in a different setting.


This will be a busy week with QuiltCon starting on Thursday.  Moda folks will start heading to Austin this afternoon and a few will be staying through Sunday afternoon.  I’m excited about going and seeing the sights, quilts, people and vendors.  (It’s a quilt show so there has to  be shopping, right?)  Did I tell you that I’d signed up for some classes last Summer?  I’ll let you know what I learn.

No.  I will not be getting a tattoo.

It isn’t that I think I’m too old for that sort of thing, it’s that I know it isn’t “me”.  But apparently I am old… “old faithful”.

Okay, so the comment was in the context of patterns and how “I” – Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. – was like “old faithful” in that many of the older patterns were still sought-out by quilt shops and quilters.  (P.S. Thank you!)  Still.

With the advent of PDF. patterns, online shopping, and social media, there is no question that the quilt pattern business has changed since I started writing patterns in 2002.  The “shelf-life” is still relatively short – less than a year – and many come-and-go pretty quickly.  Timing can play a huge role in how well a pattern does, and the level of difficulty generally has very little to do with it.  Dear Jane and the Farmer’s Wife quilts continue to be popular, but in the fourteen years since Terry Atkinson published Yellow Brick Road, it hasn’t been out of the Top Ten Patterns sold by distributors.

It is THE Old Faithful of patterns – it’s the perfect beginner quilt, it’s the perfect baby-graduation-going off to college quilt and it works in every style of fabric.  (And yes, almost every pattern-person I know wishes she’d thought of it.  But that’s why Terry is so good, we didn’t “see it” until after she’d done it.)

But back to patterns.

I’m often asked if I look at, buy, read and use other people’s patterns.  Of course I do!  I’m a quilter and I buy patterns because I love the quilt and I cling to the notion that I’ll someday be able to make every one of them!  I’ve even made several… though I will own up to sometimes often usually changing one or two teeny, tiny things.

So what are the most popular patterns right now?  Bags.  Lots of bag patterns – the Weekender Travel Bag by Amy Butler and the Beatle Bags by Abbey Lane top the list, followed by a couple of bag patterns by Terry Atkinson.  Do you make bags?  I enjoy it but I’d rather make a quilt.  Like one of these “best selling” patterns – I have a couple of these patterns.


Row 1 – Atkinson Designs Yellow Brick Road / Basic Grey’s Mesmerize / Bunny Hill Designs’ Merry, Merry Snowmen.  Row 2 – Bunny Hill’s I Believe in Snowmen / the stack of everything I pulled in the warehouse / Bunny Hills’ Christmas Wheels.  Row 3 – Crab-Apple Hill’s Gingerbread Square / Jaybird Quilts’ Toes in the Sand / Thimbleblossoms’ Swoon.

Do you have any favorite patterns?  (Bonus points to anyone who mentions one by Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co.)  I probably have every pattern published by Sandy Klop of American Jane, and most of those from Jen Kingwell.  Steam Punk has been on my “to do” list for almost two years.

But when I’m asked if I have a pattern that I love, once that I would consider as an “old faithful”, you-can’t-go-wrong=with-this-pattern… Vanilla & Blooms by Fig Tree & Company – Joanna Figueroa.  I.  Love.  This.  Quilt / Pattern.  It’s out-of-print as a paper pattern but still available as a PDF download.  Both versions are terrific and I can’t think of any pattern that shows off gorgeous fabric better than this one.  It looks good in every style of fabric.  Especially Fig Tree fabric.

Fig Tree Vanilla and Blooms

The other one is Swoom by Thimbleblossoms – Miss Roskelley.  Even though I’ve seen what seems like a thousand versions of Camille’s quilt, I’ve yet to see a single one that wasn’t spectacular.  Not one.

Camille's Swoon Quilt

“Old Faithful”.  It’s much prettier than it sounds.