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May 1st is “Merging Day”

May 1, 2012

Hello loyal readers!

I’ve had a lengthy “to do” list that I compiled in December. One of the 53 items was to merge my this blog (Quilty Passions) with my new blog ( Today is the day!

I’m a much better quilter than I am computer operator. I have 14 pages of instructions on how to merge blogs. I’d love it if you’d subscribe to Quilt Notes so we can continue our relationship, in the event that I screw up my merging.

Why do I have two blogs? I started Quilty Passions before I got my longarm machine, so it was a labor of love rather than a vehicle to showcase my business. Over the course of the last 160 posts at Quilt Notes, I’ve realized that the blogs are actually very similar.

Enjoy your day. Wish me well with adventures.



First Ever Longarm Quilt Cruise (That I know about, anyway!)

February 29, 2012

The longarm email lists are buzzing this week with Stitchin’ Heaven’s announcement of a longarm cruise. They have assembled a fabulous crew of teachers — Linda and Rick Taylor, Kimmy Brunner, Pam Clarke, and Deloa Jones. I have taken more than one class from each of the women, as well as Rick’s longarm maintenance class (I think it’s the only class he offers). All of them are fantastic instructors. I understand that all classes are lecture format and that each class will be offered more than once.

The cruise will be held  from February 2nd to 9th, 2014. I am already envious of everyone who is going. You can find more info at


The Quilt Police

December 16, 2010

I’m finishing up Christmas gifts. It’s hard. I just completed a 36″ x 36″ wall hanging, which I will reveal on the blog after Christmas. It’s based on log cabin blocks, with some fusible applique . My piecing is getting pretty good and the quilting would have been fine, I think, on my longarm machine. It didn’t turn out quite so well on my Janome, however. I admit there was some puckering, the edges weren’t completely straight, and it was — well — nowhere close to perfect.

My friend Vicki and I had a long talk about our recent quilting projects. Like me, she’s become pretty good at piecing. She’s making a gorgeous quilt and attempted a difficult design in the quilting. Probably, I think, too difficult for a domestic machine. But she’s challenging herself and she’s becoming an awesome quilter. But, guess what? Her quilt isn’t perfect either!

So our conversation went something like this: Some of our first attempts at quilting actually looked the best. We used simple blocks and quilted in straight lines. The designs were easy and they looked awesome. Now we’re trying harder stuff (Vicki’s latest quilt had a bunch of trapunto), with more difficult free motion quilting or template designs. And then we’re not happy with the results.

This, my friends, is incredibly frustrating. To grow as quilters, we need to challenge ourselves. But it’s incredibly difficult to have our work, that we’ve spent dozens of hours completing, turn out to be sub-par.

Fortunately, we are our worst critics. Most people, even seasoned quilters, don’t notice our mistakes. They see the whole and not tiny errors. After all — how many of us show our Christmas gifts to quilt judges? Secondly, most gifts go to non-quilters. I showed this wall hanging to the carpenter fixing my studio and his comment was: “Wow! You used a lot of different fabrics!” He certainly didn’t notice the puckering or wavy borders.

I think the quilt police do exist, but they’re in our own minds. And they can be a nasty bunch. However, they only triumph when we refuse to finish our projects, because we let perfectionism get in our way. We have to be willing to finish our quilts, imperfections and all, and let them out into the world. It’s tough. But this process enables us to become better quilters, and doesn’t deny our loved ones treasured gifts because of our pride.

Nikon School … my adventures with learning photography

December 15, 2010

I’ve had a pretty decent camera for several years now. And I’ve been interested in photography since I was a child. However I’ve never gotten around to learning what those buttons do, or how to take decent pictures. The extent of my adjustments with the camera is to turn the little wheel from “auto” to “sport” or “flower” mode. I’ve never had any idea what any of those other buttons were for. And I’ve never dared touch them, for fear my camera would explode!

I admit there are people out there who are tinkerers. They get a new gadget, make themselves a cup of coffee, and start playing. When they can’t figure something out … they consult the manual. Within a few minutes or hours, they are proficient users of their remote control, camera, or GPS system. Not me. I still do not know how to program in the radio stations on my 4-year-old minivan. (And, yes, I should pull the manual out of the glove compartment and figure that out some day.)

So that’s why I agreed to spend last weekend in New York City attending two-days of seminars conducted by the Nikon School  ( I needed somebody to tell me how to use my camera, and to explain what those buttons were for. Well — they did! The first day was an introductory seminar, and the second day far more advanced. The teachers were experienced professional photographers who explained everything in layman’s terms. (Even I understood, so they must have done a good job.) Not only that — they were very entertaining. These guys travel all over the world, and their demo photos were a travelogue. The audience contained people from complete novices to photographers with 30 year’s experience, and everybody I talked to was delighted with the seminar.

We also covered a lot of stuff that I hadn’t thought of previously — for example storing my photos (backup systems), how to manage your photography files (software), lenses and filters, flashes, and making sure that the colors in your photos come out correctly when the picture is printed.

What does this have to do with quilting? Well, a few things.

1. I need to take photos of my quilts to enter shows and contests.

2. I wanted to take better photos for downloading photos on fabric.

3. I wanted to learn how to manipulate photos using software. (They touched on that using the Nikon Capture software.)

4. I wanted to take better photos for my blog.

So … I highly recommend you invest a weekend in these seminars. They are very affordable. Even some of the more technical info (such as lighting) was applicable to quilting. You do not need a Nikon camera to attend. (PS: I am not affiliated with these seminars in any way.)


Catching up, car accidents and Christmas

December 15, 2010

It feels like confession time … “Dear readers — it’s been three months since my last post …”

Lots of exciting news. Some good, some not-so-good. But I’m moving forward.

In October, my wonderful new A-1 longarm machine has been delivered and installed. I love it! I attended the Innovations conference in October and came back brimming with excitement. My living room has been renovated into a studio and painted a beautiful blue. The trim is white and the crown molding was installed today. It is a restful, creative space. My intention is to rent my machine, once I am proficient enough to handle all problems and give good lessons. The longarm is truly an industrial machine. While I am a great creative person, it takes time to learn the mechanics of the machine, and I have not spent all the time necessary to be accomplished with sewing, maintaining or teaching with it.

The not-so-good news was a car accident on November 4th. My van was hit from behind and the driver’s side when the guy behind me blew a tire. It was raining, and my car spun out. Thankfully, due to the slipper roads, I did not roll the car. I also did not hit any other cars. Unfortunately, I do have whiplash, and my physical therapist has been making me stay off of the longarm until my neck is better. Boo. Hiss. And, yes, I feel sorry for myself.

I spent the first month on pain medication and felt pretty good. Now that I’m drug free, however, I really feel those muscle spasms in my neck. I’ve been using my domestic machine and working mainly on quilt tops. I did a couple of small pieces that involved quilting — very hard on my neck and also unsatisfying when I know there’s a longarm sitting idle in the next room. Plus my days are now busy with physical therapy, chiropractic visits, and lots of annoying paperwork from the insurance company!

I’ve made a couple pieces for Christmas. They’ll wait for future blogs, since they are surprises. I’ve also finished some quilt tops. I have hangers for my studio, which I hope my husband will get up this weekend, and then I will take some photographs.

It’s nice to be back blogging again!

Class with Terry White

September 22, 2010

Terry White speaking to Empire Quilt Guild (NYC) on Sept 11

I am very fortunate to be a member of Empire Quilt Guild in New York City, a large guild that brings in excellent speakers. Terry White was the speaker at our Saturday meeting, and then gave a workshop the following day (which I also attended).

This was a perfect workshop for me. Lots of playing with threads, couching, and bobbin work. Best of all, Terry has created a method of adding beads to the top of a quilt using the sewing machine. Basically, you move string the beads to a thread, move the beads to the side, and then couch the threads. She has written a couple of books on her methodology and I won’t attempt to describe it here. It takes some practice, but it’s very do-able and ultimately a lot faster than applying beads by hand.

She’s a very nice lady and great teacher. I was fortunate that there were just four of us in the class, so it was a great day with lots of personal attention. I’d highly recommend taking a class from Terry.

I have a small Janome machine that I use for classes. I used the machine exclusively for six months, and have taken dozens of classes with it. Terry was the only person who realized that I’ve been putting my bobbin in backwards. Oops! Anyway … she’s got a great knowledge of machines on top of her sewing skills.

Pig Quilt

Ricky Tims Seminar

September 21, 2010

Libby Lehman, Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims on Stage

Ricky Tims has a unique approach to teaching quilting — nothing hands-on. No sewing machine. No fabric. No thread. Just 2.5 days of listening and lectures. And you have to wonder how effective it is. Well here’s the truth — it is VERY effective.

Each 2-hour lecture covers a different topic and/or style of quilting. All lectures are informative and entertaining. You can see the sewing part on the big screen via a camera aimed at the BERNINA sewing machine (yes, they are all Bernina fans and you will get several Bernina testimonials throughout the event). There is a fabulous book that goes along with the course … so you have all the information with you at home.

All three lecturers bring something different to the seminar. Ricky has a gentle spirit and is a man of great humility. You can tell that he has an artistic gift and that he feels the need to share it. He brings his quilts to the seminar, including his very first quilt — and proudly points out the mismatches and errors in his piecing. Ricky is a man who inspires you to believe that you can, with enough practice, do anything.

Libby Lehman is hilarious. Also an incredibly talented artist, she missed her calling as a standup comic. I would consider her quilts to be art quilts, and she admits that quilting is just an excuse for her to work with threads.

Alex Anderson is the traditionalist of the bunch. She is the hand quilter and her quilts are also exquisite. Alex was the kind of person you can imagine who would be the perfect quilting teacher — patient, sweet, but with a great sense of humor as well.

All in all, I can’t say enough good things about this seminar. I learned a lot. There were a couple of times that Ricky went too fast and lost me … but I can figure it out with the help of my book (which I haven’t had a chance to look at since the seminar). It was inspiring and fun!

Ricky (with the help of Libby) showing his kalaidescope quilting technique.

Ricky's Christmas tree quilt (I love this one!)