Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Thank you for your readership, your support, and your comments on this blog over the last couple years. To give our readers a more pleasant and full experience, AQS has launched a new, comprehensive quilting information site:

You can find all my past and future blog posts at this site. Since the Quilt Views site will include content from me as well as my American Quilter’s Society colleagues, I think you’ll be very pleased with the amount of information we have pulled together.

Our upgraded website already has over 500 articles, with more added daily. All my previous blog posts are already live on that site, including the most recent comments from readers.

This website is hosted at a new URL, so please be sure to update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and e-mail subscriptions.
Please visit us at our new, improved online location. Be sure to check out the site organization, including categories, tags, and techniques. And I hope you’ll sign up for e-mail updates to keep informed of the latest news.

You can find me now at

See you soon!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Barn Quilt Unveiling

This was a red-letter day in Fremont, Nebraska. Or maybe it would be better described as a red barn day! Candace Door, a Nebraska resident, was announced as the grand prize winner in AccuQuilt’s 2nd Annual Barn Quilt Design Contest, and her original quilt block design was unveiled on the side of the AccuQuilt headquarters building here in Fremont. From over 600 entries submitted, 100 semi-finalists were posted on AccuQuilt’s Facebook page where 10,000 fans voted for their favorites. The three top winners were then selected by Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims, and Eleanor Burns. (The winning designs are posted on AccuQuilt’s website, Eleanor was on also hand today to congratulate the winners and entertain the crowd with her rowdy Barn Quilt show, accompanied by music, laughs, and “live” farm animals including a rare flying pink pig, while promoting her new book, Quilt Blocks on American Barns.  

The idea for painting quilt designs on barns in rural America originated in 2001, where Donna Sue Groves meant to simply honor her mother and the five generations of quilters in her family with a colorful Snails Trail (or Monkey Wrench) design painted on the side of the family barn in Adams County, Ohio. In ten years, the concept has been eagerly adopted by historical societies and grass-roots art groups, and traditional block patterns now adorn over 3,000 barns all around America. The barns have become something of a tourist attraction in some states, with barn quilt trails popping up in rural counties nationwide.

Although the barn quilt contest event was certainly today’s highlight, the primary reason I am in Fremont is to participate in AccuQuilt’s first ever (and if you ask the attendees, first ANNUAL!) retreat for consumers, shop owners, or anyone who owns or uses an AccuQuilt Studio, Go!, or Go Baby! fabric cutter. Both the products and the company are quite remarkable, but I’ll save all those details for my next blog in a couple days.

In the meantime, take a peek at Eleanor’s book on the AQS website, She illustrates a variety of techniques to create 20 pieced blocks from 3” to 18”, including barn blocks. Sampler quilts photographed for the book showcase how the blocks can be adapted to a variety of styles and colorways as individual as America’s barns.  AQS members receive a discount on book purchases.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thank you from New Zealand

Just a few days ago I received this letter and photos from Yvonne Roberts, a 20-year quilter who is actively involved in the quilting community and quilting organizations in New Zealand.

Yvonne writes:
“When tragedy strikes, quilters want to do what quilters do: make quilts for all those who have suffered. Just after the devastating February earthquakes in Christchurch, I contacted some quilting friends in the U.S.A. for help and it and it snowballed from there.

From the quilters of Marlborough, New Zealand, I would like to offer thanks for the more than 2,000 quilt blocks and 20 tops that were kindly send by quilters around the world, including hundreds from the U.S.A. It was heartwarming to know so many people thought of us—without hesitation people packaged up blocks and quilt tops and sent them halfway across the world.
Beautiful, colorful blocks of all shapes and sizes arrived at my door daily. As the number of blocks arriving was beyond my wildest dreams, I asked five quilting groups in the Marlborough area for help: Picton, Linkwater, Havelock, Seddon, and Marlborough Quilters.
Over a weekend in May we held a 28-hour quiltathon, with 40 people coming and going and some stalwarts spending the full 28 hours there. It was a mighty effort by everyone, with 59 quilts made during this time.
Our quilts are being delivered through churches of all denominations. My sister,Coral Kay, is a counselor and has been able to target the areas most in need. The first quilt went to a baby born amongst the mayhem, which we thought rather appropriate—a new life, a new beginning. The oldest recipient so far is an 86-year-old woman, previously a survivor of the London Blitz in WW II. She is now too frightened to sleep in her bed so has made a nest under her dining table with her quilt.

What a delight we have had making these quilts! Already 180 quilts have been delivered to earthquake victims, and by mid-June when the project winds down, we are confident the total will be over 200.
To those for whom I don’t have e-mail addresses and haven't been able to thank personally, I’m sending this special thank you through AQS for your contributions. They are much appreciated.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Wedding Quilt

I wasn’t at the AQS Paducah show this year and there’s a very good reason. My only daughter, unaware that the 2011 show was one week later than usual because of Easter, scheduled her wedding for May 1st in South Carolina. As much as I love meeting all the contest winners and catching up with friends new and old every year in Paducah, I could not shirk my long awaited mother-of-the-bride duties and pleasures that week.

From all reports, it appears the AQS staff, teachers, vendors, AQ contributing editors, and attendees pulled together under dire circumstances and did a remarkable job of coping with the unexpected flood warnings and weather conditions. Special thanks go to my contributing editors Iris Frank, Kathie Kerler, and Marjie Russell; amidst all the chaotic conditions, they managed to interview the major prize winners and wrote the text you’ll read in the Paducah show section of the July 2011 issue of American Quilter.

But back to the wedding! Of course there is a wedding quilt in the works. After showing my daughter (Leslie) and her fiancé (Jonathan) a dozen or so books from which to choose a quilt pattern, they found three designs they liked. All were from the same book, City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House (C&T Publishing). The couple currently lives in Denver, and Jonathan originally hails from New York City, so the contemporary quilts in this book were right up their alley.

Of their favorites, the design most suitable for a signature quilt was City Lights, featuring brick-shaped blocks set in vertical rows. I redrew the design in Electric Quilt (EQ7), working with the couple to come up with a color plan that felt right for both the wedding theme and their home décor. My rendering, which is slightly modified from Cherri House’s original, is shown above with permission from C&T (it is a copyrighted pattern).

Before the wedding, I cut out brick-shaped blocks and taped the edges with masking tape so guests wouldn’t write within the seam allowance. Many of the wedding guests had never seen or even heard of signing fabric blocks for a quilt, but our wonderful wedding planner made sure there was a table and chairs both at the outside reception and later indoors at the wedding dinner for this purpose. I asked my quilter friend, Pat Thompson, to handle this task, and she did it beautifully.

It will probably be the couple’s first anniversary before they receive my completed gift, but like all wedding quilts, I hope that this one serves as a permanent reminder of a special day filled with love, respect, commitment, and the importance of friends and family.

City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House is available for purchase at and AQS members receive a discount.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fabulous freeform filler strips

Quilter, author, and pattern designer Gail Garber has come up with another winning concept for interpreting traditional quilt patterns in a more contemporary style. She calls her technique Freeform Fillers—they’re basically curved rows filled with a variety of foundation-pieced designs such as Flying Geese and Picket Fence. These colorful pieced fillers can be used to create an entire quilt, or they can simply add a dramatic border or center to your next project. As you can see from these photos, Gail's fillers have a graceful swooping and dipping bird-like quality, not surprising when you learn Gail is also director of Hawks Aloft, a New Mexico non-profit organization that works to protect indigenous wild birds.

Gail outlines her technique and shows you how to design your own fillers in the July 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine, which will be mailed to AQS members the first week of June. If you’re not yet an AQS member or if you joined after May 3, 2011, you can purchase this issue on newsstand in mid-June or order a copy now through our member services department at 800-626-5420. (This issue is supersized to 114 pages and features all the winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah AQS shows. It's always a quick sellout.)

And if you want to explore Gail’s technique even more, check out her book Flying Colors – Design Quilts with Freeform Shapes & Flying Geese (C&T Publishing), available for purchase at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Breaking the border-cutting "rules"

American Quilter magazine pattern editor Marje Rhine shares her views on cutting fabric borders:

"Quilters are usually taught to cut quilt borders parallel to the selvage. There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, there is less stretch in the fabric parallel to the selvage so less likelihood of wavy borders. Second, the borders would not need to be pieced with adequate yardage.

But we all know there are no quilt police and there are good reasons to occasionally break the quilting 'rules.' I often cut my borders across the width of the fabric (WOF) from selvage to selvage. The borders usually need to be pieced but less fabric is required. And if the fabric is one of those large-scale prints so popular today, the borders may look better cut across the fabric width.

For example, here is a large-scale print I want to use as the outside border for my quilt.

For the next figure, I have superimposed cutting lines on the fabric to show the difference in the appearance of the borders after the fabric is cut. Although there is quite a bit of the blue I want in the print, some border strips cut parallel to the selvage will have almost no blue. Also, the same motifs repeat often in a lengthwise border strip. The border strips cut selvage to selvage have more variety in color and motifs.

See the difference in these quilt mock-ups below. The quilt with the borders cut across the WOF is more balanced and interesting to look at.

Don't be afraid to break the rules if, in the end, you like the quilt better."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Springtime in Colorado

Having lived in wonderful Colorado for nearly 20 years now, I often joke that the unpredictable weather is perfect for people with short attention spans. It’s not unusual to have 40 or 50 degree temperature variations between morning and night on the same day, and the weather can go from heavenly to devilish in a matter of hours.

Well, this week has been remarkable even for Colorado! It was 81 degrees in Castle Rock two days ago, and since then we’ve had over six inches of snow. And it’s still snowing! The hummingbirds are usually busy finding nesting places in the nearby scrub oak but when they see the snow piled up on my feeder (photo above), they’ll probably head back to the Gulf of Mexico for an extended winter stay.

The good part about this kind of weather—and with the advantage of working from a home office—I’m spending lots of extra time indoors, exploring new ideas for future issues of American Quilter magazine. One of the things that makes AQ unique is the variety of voices in which the articles in each issue are told. Quilting does not have a narrow spectrum, and one of my goals as editor is to encompass fresh new stories, techniques, patterns, lifestyle ideas, and author voices to make each issue special and unique. Maybe that “short attention span” thing comes into play here, but you won’t find a humdrum formula in AQ from one issue to the next.

The supersized July 2011 issue, with photos of 77 winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah AQS shows, goes to press today. AQS members can expect to see that issue arrive in their mailboxes (though delivery is highly dependent on your local post office!) beginning the first week of June. But please be patient, and perhaps read my posting from March 25, which offers a little detail about magazine delivery. If you just joined AQS and did so AFTER May 4, your subscription will begin with the September issue. However, you can still order a copy of the July issue through our member services department (800-626-5420 or or purchase it on newsstand after June 14th.

What is springtime like where you live?