Monday, November 9, 2015

AUTUMN TEXTURE, Nature Colors, Botanical Designs

With Christmas and Hannukah gift production in full swing, and the California autumn late in coming, I have not had time to give the season it's proper tribute.  This week, I finally decided to soak up the fall colors and textures and throw my shoulder into some beautiful gifts and home decorations on my quilting system.  I returned from some more traditional Holiday fabrics (will revisit in posts to come) to my current passion:  Batiks!  From warm pumpkins to browns and olives, and then to some cooler taupe gray brown color ways, I found lots of Autumn inspiration.

I decide to throw on some small table runners simply pieced or whole cloth to give as Thanksgiving hostess gifts and a house warming for a single male friend, and a throw quilt in browns with a pop of pumpkin for a male relative for Christmas.  

What else to go along with the earthy colors and patterns?  Botanical texture designs of all sorts:

Leaves!!  echoed all over leaf (on the left), swirly sashing leaf and oak leaf swirls in the pumpkin stripe (below).

And the swirl flower makes a fabulous edge to edge that is all about the texture it leaves behind!!!

And then the smaller projects which are always great for practicing or learning new free motion quilt designs I've been waiting to try!

Oyster clam is a great textural stand by, looks masculine and fantastic without competing with the print or pattern.

This is a new one I'm experimenting with, I call the Crinkle Rose, based on the loopy flower, but less 'fussy' or feminine.  I start with a swirl and then wiggle around to echo once, twice or three times and echo to travel to a new spot.  For smaller fill areas, I also add a couple of leaves here and there to reinforce the flower/botanical look.

Shout out to Angela Walters and Quilting Is My Therapy for this great place to launch:  the swirl chain with straight line filler.  So formal and yet adds a beautiful texture to a simpler print or a solid.

And Curl Feathers are always the right choice!  Love any kind of feathers, but this one is looser and less formal, with random curls and every couple of petals get an echoed center element.  Then echo around the entire feather and straight line quilt to accent the central design.

I hope you're finding ways to enjoy the fall and changing seasons and be creative!  Let's make something!!  

~Happy Quilting.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

NQR: Non Quilting Related...

Always laugh when I see those three initials posted on the various quilting forums and blogs I visit:


So here's my NonQuiltingRelated post for the week.  An online friend sent this link to a nice little article about my past life and I'm sharing the link here in case anyone wants a quick over view.   Thanks for looking, and I promise the next one will be all about everything quilty!!  

xo,  Beth

Sunday, September 13, 2015


One of my favorite quotes is:

"What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; 
          Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."  ~Goethe

Sundays are often considered the end of the weekend, the end of a busy week, but today, the Sunday after Labor Day, the Sunday after September 11th, I'm going to choose that it's the beginning!!

The beginning of a new week, the beginning of some new projects, and I'm hoping that I can be bold and just BEGIN!!

Hope you will too.  Let's do this!!  Have a good week and let's get quilting!

Friday, August 28, 2015


I don't know about you, but I had the most amazing grandmother.  She cared for us while our parents were at work, baked and cooked traditional recipes from the proud heritage of our people who grew their own food and shared with their neighbors and welcomed strangers in need to their depression homes.  She was the daughter of immigrants with her family spread out too far to stay close.  She was the bearer of disappointment and loss and the keeper of babies and flowers.  And she made quilts.  Nothing fancy; she made the kind crafted with love from scraps and worn clothes to warm and comfort her family.  None of the luxuries of our time distracted her work.  Only making do with the materials around her, and making her house a home with hand made and hand grown and hand cooked simple foods that raised two generations of children through the heartbreak and resilience that marked her generation.  She was gone too soon from me to teach me much about her skills, but I remember her hands.  Browned by making a warm and loving home.  Bent by making her way when necessary picking cotton and slinging hash in an early part of the last century in the poor country of the south and then the midwest.  Her hands dried my tears and tended my scrapes.  Her hands lifted me to see out the window.  They braided my hair.  They held me close.

I only have one of her quilts.  It's a tattered crazy patch, tied with yarn, and repaired with newer fabrics as the years passed.  There are little pieces of embroidery here and there all hand done when she had a free hour.  Some of the threads are faded but the designs are still happy, little daisies with faces and teapots and baby animals dancing.  The quilt is yellowed and frayed, but I use it every Christmas as a tree skirt, no matter what the decor or where we now make our home.  I keep it safe, the way her hands kept me.

My mother sewed a bit from time to time, but was never that keen.  The gene must have skipped a generation.  Because from my first home economics class and the first costume crew I worked on in high school, I was never far from a needle and thread.  And now, as I quilt, I see my own fingers starting to bend from arthritis and age and the hard use of making a home, raising a child, growing our food, tending pets and livestock.  I see the shape of her hands in my own now.  And I am so comforted.  I'm thinking of my Grandmother today as I look at my hands to sew.  I can almost feel her hand on mine.  Smiling that I continue her good works.  I am blessed.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I have had several people ask me at my Facebook page who are some of my quilting idols or favorite teachers or bloggers.  So I've decide to link you up to a few must see spots and quilting gurus online.

For doodling whimsy, Lori Kennedy at is a figural quilter extraordinaire, and she even has a new class on how to break up your quilt with fun scribbly designs using your domestic machine.

For a super star of long arming, with her very own free motion quilting filler design named after her, check out the excellent and wacky Karen McTavish at her website:
and she even opened a new quilt shop where she teaches and sells APQS long arm quilting machines.

Modern Quilting maven and free motion superstar Angela Walters can be found here:  
and she too is remodeling a retail spot where she'll sell long arm machines by Handi-Quilter and teach quilt retreats. 

All three also have Facebook pages that help you see what they're up to...authors and quilters for hire by some of the industry's most famous fabric designers and show quilters, these ladies are inspirations in their outreach to spread the good word of quilting with everything they touch.  You can find them all on YouTube as well, with lots of free tutorials and content to help you find your own unique voice.

For learning and shopping, another awesome and inspiring quilting celebrity who always has a warm smile and a hug in her voice is Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  She has loads of free tutorials for piecing quilts with pre-cuts in fast and furious designs, and has a quilt shop with several members of her family, as well as a great online store here:   Jenny also teaches a couple of classes on, where you can learn blazing fast techniques to put together those adorable quilt tops to get quilting!

And speaking of if you haven't checked it out yet, run don't walk to the website and look through their amazing selection of everything crafty to learn/cook/craft/do.  Lifetime access and money back guarantee that you'll love your class and the platform which allows interactive learning.  You can ask questions of the teacher and your classmates, post pics of your projects and get the help you need to learn a new skill, craft, technique.  Love it!!

If those tips and places don't get you started finding lots to learn and do, and inspiration and motivation, I don't know what will.  

Check them out when you have a minute,
and let's get quilting!!

;)  Beth

Monday, July 27, 2015

Small Projects, Big Benefits!

To get back to moving after my knee surgery, I found I could stand at the quilter for limited amounts of time.  The best way I could think of to get back to it was to mount a batch of smaller projects all using the same backing and batting to work on design ideas, and not have to stand for too long at a stretch.

It was a bonus to get several great smaller projects finished for gifts and my summer table.  

Here I loaded two pieces of Batik fabric, 20" by width of fabric, side by side.  I used my channel locks to create work space instead of piecing.  Then I filled the areas with free motion designs I've been dying to try.  I then cut each quilt into two pieces (total four in all) and made summer place mats for my table with gorgeous quilt designs and bright, delicious colors.

In each of my little projects, I got to take my samples from my new sketch book and apply them with 'instant gratification.'

I could tell quickly what would work and what wouldn't for a customer quilt or on a project I'll sell or use as a sample in future articles or books.  And no harm done.  It's turning into a place mat. (I hate wasting anything, so do a lot of my auditioning this way, so I don't have to throw away piles of muslin and batting.)

Hope my small projects inspire you to try a few of your own.  I'm getting ahead for Christmas gift planning, rehabbing my knee, and learning and growing all at one time.  
I love to quilt!  

Downtime, Coloring Books and Sketchbooks!

I recently had knee surgery, and it took a little longer in the recovery than I expected.  But in those long days of ice and anti-inflammatories, I had lots of time to scour the Internet, reading blogs and checking out photos of quilting designs.  I even took several online classes at, and watched tutorials and used my down time wisely.  It was like summer school!

One of the most useful new things I explored was creating for myself a design sketch book.  I have been scribbling quilting designs, doodling, and sample drawing for years on every scrap piece of paper close at hand, but I had never officially started a sketch book.  

I thought that practicing designs I was learning or about to use in a quilt was enough.  I'm no artist, and an official 'sketchbook' was a little intimidating.  But as I've grown in my free motion skills, I've started to think of my own designs instead of copying those of my teachers and ideas I saw from other talented quilters.  I've actually started sketching quilt design maps for projects I'm working on instead of either quilting as I go (letting ideas and the fabrics and piecing inspire me) or just laying out each quilt as I load it on the quilter.  

Additionally, as I decide on a theme for a project, I've used the sketchbook to try variations for the designs I plan to use.  Recently I made a Batik table runner I called "Sea Change" since I used colors of the ocean and sea glass.  I wanted each different quilt area to be 'oceanic' in design theme, but needed several different types of designs, two borders, and three areas of Batik negative space that didn't fight with the print of the fabric.  It was so fun letting my creative process find a voice, and I can use a lot of the ideas I sketched that I ruled out for this application, on projects in the future.

The other advantage that I never thought I would need, is the record making part of a sketchbook.  I now have the drawings to go back to in an organized way, as a reference for future use.  I have pages dedicated to border designs I've used and liked, and I've made notes in margins and kept track of where these have worked best.  

And the another fun aspect of this process has been the discovery of the Adult Coloring Book craze to use motifs and line drawings as inspiration for free motion quilting designs!  No crayons necessary!  The Dover graphic design work books and collection books have long been a part of my publishing library, and now I can adapt those for free motion quilting elements as well!!  Inspiration sources from my other creative endeavors are finally starting to 'cross train' and speak to each other.  This is a pretty exciting break through for my process, and I'm going to be a little sad when I go back to work shortly and have to limit my playing with coloring books!  

I didn't have to be an artist or have special training to find a way to make my sketches clear and organized, and to use the sketchbook to log and develop my ideas.  I'm having the best time!  I hope you are way ahead of me, or perhaps use my success to inspire you to try one of your own!  Pass the colored markers, please...

Happy Sketching!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

QUITLING Samples and Shrinkage Fun!

For the last few weeks, I've had deadlines and traveling commitments and no time for quilting just for fun...
So now that I'm home and settled back in, I've been experimenting with some small quilting samples and trapunto and raw edge appliqué.

I recently made an Internet Faux Pas...bought an entire bolt of bleached muslin advertised as cotton, but wrinkle resistant...and it arrived with the content being mostly polyester.  ;(  

I wanted to try it to see how much shrinkage I could get before using it as backing on some larger projects.  I've now decided not to use it at all in the future for quilting, but the results were a good experiment to see how much the cotton batting and binding and dense quilting could actually impact the shrinkage even when the fabric was not going to shrink much on its own.

This sample is the mystery muslin top and bottom.  Dense quilting with poly thread #40 weight So Fine from Superior and Hobbs 80/20 Heirloom batting.  So again, mixed materials.  Poly thread, and 20% poly batting.  The binding is 100% cotton Kona jelly roll.
Interesting results:  before laundering

This has an added layer of Hobbs 80/20 under the Shamrock, which I cut away before the McTavishing.  Then threw it in the washer.

These are close ups of the quilting after washing and drying on regular perma press settings.

Then I moved on to two samples with the mystery muslin as backing and regular high quality quilters cotton as the quilt top. 
The quilting is traditional McTavishing.  Same 80/20 batting and So Fine #40 poly thread.  Binding is still 100% cotton as well.  The finished sample before laundry.

Then I threw it in perma press washer and dryer and experienced this shrinkage and puckering (which I LOVE).

And the last sample is a seafoam design, waves and bubbles.  Similar products as above.  First pictures before laundry.

And then I threw it into the washer and dryer with this result.

I would say the quilt top fabric is significant in the shrinkage, and the mystery muslin when used as top and backing did not shrink enough for the vintage "grandma made it" look I like.  But it's good to have as a potential alternative if the quilting needs to stay more formal and flat.

I just love that I can noodle around in my studio and have the fantastic APQS Millie as an essential tool to save time and make high impact design ideas a reality.

Stay samples will be Dupioni Silk!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More Batiks with finished Free Motion Quilting

Love the modern aesthetic...less piecing (not always, but considered acceptable), lots of solids and negative space, and an agreement that artsy free motion quilting, sketching with thread, doodling with a needle...all are part of the package.

Here are a couple more just off the long arm:

When all else fails...add more filler and keep on stitching!!  


Thursday, February 19, 2015

INSULBRIGHT: Demystified!

Getting to know my new APQS Millennium, I've wanted each project to teach me something new about either the quilter, thread, buttons, attachments, functions, techniques, or products that make quilting easier.

This week, as I finish a gorgeous custom quilt, I have picked backing fabric that is much wider than my project, and loaded extra wide batting also so I have a whole side margin in which to practice on smaller projects.  I load little pieced table mats, baby quilts, and am now working on a series of 'hot pads' using up favorite fabrics from my stash.

On the quilter, I already have the neutral backing fabric loaded and on top of that is Hobbs 80/20 (80% cotton, 20% poly) heirloom batting.  To make the pads heat proof, or at least heat resistant, I added this fantastic product:

InsulBright Heat Resistant Batting

Above, you can see in the first photo, that the polyester batting in the InsulBright is needlepunched around a thin and plyable foil layer which is the reflective heat resistant part.  The batting can be used on its own as the only batting layer, but I like the added thickness and padding that the regular batting allows.  

So our sandwich is four layers:  Backing, batting, InsulBright, topping fabric.

This makes my sandwich nice and thick and puffy, so I chose an all over meander to match the fun cowboy rope in this western style calico.  It will match a western/cowboy themed table topper I'm also quilting in my margin area, but this set of hot pads will have the heat resistant extra layer needed for hot bakeware, taking things from oven to table, and use as a trivet for serving.

The quilting in progress, and then a closer look.

The product and others like it, are available at your chain fabric stores, and stocked at most quilt shops, as well as online at fabric websites and even  

Add this awesome product to your arsenal for great sewing projects that need to be heat resistant, like oven mitts, trivets, table runners, hot pads, and BBQ accessories.  A cute set of hot pads are a fun hostess gift when you add a candle, or a pretty pie plate or serving bowl to the gift.  

Make something this weekend!!  xo

Friday, January 9, 2015

Batty for Batiks

Special Fabrics from Indonesian and Beyond!  I am having a blast working with gorgeous color and print on these one-of-a-kind luscious fabrics.  The biggest problem I'm facing is actually cutting them apart.  I gathered an assortment to use in some masculine holiday throw quilts gifts, and I just couldn't do it.  I just couldn't cut them up...

So instead, I devised a great way to keep most of the fabric integral, by just adding some solid fabric stripes.

I ended up making several versions and a .pdf tutorial (available at my Etsy store).  And I may even get up the nerve to actually cut the remnants into blocks for the original project...

There are some aspects to working with these gorgeous fabrics that require a little extra care (see my quick tips in a short video on my YouTube Channel) but they are just so beautiful and fun to work with, please don't hesitate to jump in.  I'll follow up with my finished project if I ever get up the nerve to make small bits out of this gorgeous stuff.  Meantime, let's quilt!!!