• Category Archives Classes
  • These posts pertain to my classes

  • Quilt It Yourself!

    There are two attitudes to machine quilting your own quilts – one is “Oh dear… now I have to quilt it”; the other is “Oh boy… now I get to quilt it”. Which camp are you in? Many quilters throw up their hands in despair and simply hand their quilt tops over to a long-arm quilter to do for them. I am not disparaging having a professional quilt your quilt there are plenty of skilled and talented long-arm quilters out there who can do beautiful quilting jobs but if you are a prolific top maker, the dollars start adding up.

    My own ‘Cheater’ Trapunto

    It can cost a pretty penny to have your quilt top quilted and a good long-arm quilter deserves every penny, the question becomes ‘what can your pocketbook bear’? A simple allover design or pantagraph is the best bargain for a utilitarian quilt but a gorgeous quilt deserves gorgeous quilting. This is usually referred to as a ‘custom’ quilting job in the industry and now the dollar signs start to add up. Among my long-arm friends and acquaintances, a custom quilting job for a bed sized quilt starts at about $400 and goes up from there. By the time you get to the quilting stage, you have probably already invested anywhere from $250 – $400 in the materials if you are buying good quality fabric and adding a long-arm quilter’s fees can escalate the out-of-pocket cost of making a large quilt to $650 – $1000 and up; this does not include the hours and hours you put into making the quilt top (and non-quilters wonder why getting a custom made quilt so expensive, can you imagine going to a lawyer and paying only for the printing fees and paper to get you case handled?).

    Quilting: thread color contrasting fabric

    My preference is to quilt my projects myself whenever possible and there are a few good reasons to do this. My main reason is that I believe the quilting plays a crucial role in the artistry of the whole quilt and this is something I want to control myself (yeah – I know – so I’m a control freak). When you hire a long-arm quilter you can discuss your ideas and preferences with them and a talented long-arm quilter will usually have very good judgment about which stitching designs will enhance a quilt but it comes down to relinquishing that final decision to someone else. I try to consider my quilting designs carefully before stitching; better to approach this with caution than have to rip out stitches after the fact; but even with years of experience, I’ve had times when a little ways into the quilting I realized my best idea simply isn’t working as well as I envisioned and I have to stop, rip it out and reconsider my choice. This is not a decision I want to surrender to someone else who may have a different vision than I do.

    Shell Form – fabric painted with Seta-Color paint then quilted in various colors of thread

    Now – I will admit, there is a size threshold to consider. I can quilt anything up to a throw-sized quilt with relative ease; on a twin sized or larger quilt I might have to compromise what I want as a design with what I realistically think I could do on a domestic machine given space and maneuverability limitations. For a queen or king sized quilt, I would definitely consider having it done by a long-arm quilter. But, I love the quilting process; seeing to colors and textures of thread and design unfold and develop as I stitch; the quilting is the icing on the cake.

    My Aztec Sun Calendar quilt (hand quilted)

    So – which camp do you want to be in? Afraid to quilt your own quilt, or excited at the opportunity to do so? If you are the former, I teach a comprehensive class on Machine Quilting at various locations in Portland; here are some dates for up coming classes: Jan. 25 & Feb. 1 at Sharon’s Attic in Aloha, Jan. 31 at Montavilla Sewing Center in Gresham, Feb 17 & 24 at Ace Sew & Vac in Tigard, Feb. 29 & March 7 (and again on July 11 & 18 ) at Cedar Ridge Quilts in Oregon City, April 6 & 13 at Ace Sew & Vac in Newberg. These are all my full 2-session classes (see the class project below)

    Machine Quilting 101 Stitching Sampler

    I also have some 1-session and focus classes coming up: my ‘Free Motion Magic’ class on Jan. 31 (and then again on April 25) at Montavilla Sewing Center in Gresham; and a couple of ‘master’ classes at the Lake Oswego Montavilla Sewing Center . The master classes focus on specific quilting situations; ‘Pushing Borders’ (on February 25) and ‘Machine Quilting Textures’ (on April 15). See the various class samples below.

    Between the various dates and venues, I hope you can find a class that will accommodate your schedule and location.

    Detail of a block quilted in an Aztec theme

    And finally, I will be giving a program on the ‘Art & Craft of Quilting Your Quilt’ for the Metropolitan Patchwork Society in Beaverton on March 24 at 6:30 pm to be followed with a workshop – ‘Freestyle Quilted Medallions’ in which you will learn a variety of methods to create inspirational quilted medallion motifs (see examples below) on Saturday March 28. Contact the guild for more information.


  • Stitch Away the Gray Days

    OK, Christmas is past and in a few hours 2020 will be upon us and winter is just getting started up here in the Northwest. You may not want to be thinking of Christmas 2020 yet but what better time to begin some projects for next year’s yuletide? If you start now you will have a whole year to finish your projects. To that end, I am offering my Hand Embroidered Folk Art Ornament class at Sharon’s Attic in Aloha on Saturday January 11 from 10 am – 4 pm. This has been a popular class over the years and I keep adding critters to the menagerie. The best part of these hand embroidered whimsies is their portability; everything you need to make one will fit nicely in a Zip Lock bag and with a few stitches here and a few stitches there, you can finish one between other day to day tasks – on your lunch break, waiting for an appointment, watching a football game, bingeing Netflix…
    I have made quite a collection of these I could show you and you would say “Ah – but you are an experienced embroiderer…” so rather than show you my work, I would like to show you what has been done by my students. Keep in mind that many of these were made by stitchers who had little or no hand embroidery experience.
    Feeling inspired? Come join me at Sharon’s Attic in a couple of weeks and see what you can do.


  • From Acorn to Oak

    I am honored to be the ‘Featured Quilter’ at the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland Oregon this September! The show organizers have asked me to display a retrospective of all my work from the earliest quilt to the latest. Those attending the show will get to see some of my early work from when I did not grasp that perhaps a mink coat was not a good material to include on a quilt. My plan is to hang about 50 panels of work in every imaginable style and technique.

    Most of my early quilts are embarrassingly bad and few people ever see them but they are my roots from which all I now do grew. I really hope everyone – especially novice quilters who may feel insecure about their skills – will take heart from seeing my humblest most awkward attempts at making a quilt; sometimes when I look at these old quilts, I am amazed I did not give up in discouragement.

    Over the many (47 at this point) years I have been quilting, I have explored many techniques and styles – traditional to contemporary but with an emphasis on pictorial quilts. This exhibit will be a sampling of all of these explorations from the smallest miniatures to my largest quilts. The show has graciously offered me table space to sell patterns and I plan to supplement this with occasional demos as time allows.

    I will also be offering a couple of classes at Expo, one on Kantha embroidery and the other on small scroll-like wall hangings inspired by the stone pathways in a Japanese Garden that I call Zen Pathways; pictures of these class projects are below. You can get more information from the Northwest Quilting Expo website.

    A kitty in Kantha stitching
    Folk Art cat stitched in the Kantha style
    Ardie’s Kantha Kitty
    Leaf design in Kantha Stitching
    Joy’s Kantha Kitty
    Stacie’s Kantha Kitty
    Mary’s Kantha Kitty
    Kantha Bird
    ‘Under the Ginko tree’ – a Zen Pathway quilt
    Zen Pathway #2