Archives for the month of: August, 2006

I spent two fantastic days studying with Libby Lehman in two different classes that basically boiled down to using your sewing machine. One class was called Primadonnas and the other was called Super Machine Stitching.

Stop what you are doing (after you read this blog entry!) and then RUN don’t walk to the nearest Libby Lehman class. Do whatever it takes. You won’t regret it! She is a fantastic teacher and I would take another class from her in a hot minute.

Good things about Libby Lehman’s teaching:

1. Dry sense of humor.
2. Knows about more machines than just her Bernina and shows what foot to use for the major brands. Doesn’t treat non-Bernina owners like second class citizens.
3. Willing to take requests.
4. Willing to repeat herself if you weren’t paying attention and explain something again in a different way, if you didn’t understand.
5. No problem with letting students take pictures of her quilts and samples (I do ALWAYS ask).
6. Knows her stuff and can teach it.
7. She uses pieced backgrounds a la the Pushed Neutral idea that Mary Mashuta teaches.
8. She uses any fabric; e.g. she is not a hand-dye only person. YAY! I admire those who can hand-dye, but I don’t want to hand-dye. There is lots of great fabric in this world and I want to use ALL of it.
9. She likes quilts that make her want to look at them some more. She said to keep her intersted.
10. Down to earth and not holier than thou.

In Primadonnas, we learned to couch, bobbin-draw, and use sheer fabric. This is one piece that I made:

In Super Machine Stitching, we did things with satin stitching that I would not have believed possible. This is a techniques class not a project class. You have to think about how you would use the techniques. These are the samples that I made:

I am very proud of the writing as well as the freemotion satin stitching. It is fun, even though I don’t know what I would use it for. I am not planning on making any earthquake quilts in the near future. I was thinking that I could finish See, the piece I started in the David Walker class, using this technique, though not quite as messy, perhaps.

I am particularly proud of my “hippy-dippy flower” (as Libby called it) and the circle. If I have the right threads, I may stitch some of these circles on the Thoughts on Dots quilt. We will see. It would certainly add a bit of interest and dimension. Also, a lot of work.

Libby also has a fantastic teaching set up.

She uses Powerpoint for her presentation as well as video camera projected on the screen to show the details of what she is doing with her sewing machine. It was refreshing not to have to run up to the teacher’s sewing machine every other minute. No more standing around trying to jostle for position behind the tall people who are trying to see what the teacher is demonstrating. No more crowding the teacher. I think it helped provide a relaxing environment for the class and allowed everyone to see the demonstration equally. She has really moved the bar up a notch for quilt teaching. If you are a quilt teacher, step up to the plate.

In all the goodness there is also badness. This may be the most expensive workshop of my life. I want to buy a new sewing machine. My sewing machine performed flawlessly, was wonderful, did not break any needles or cause any thread blobs in the bobbin area. BUT. It also could not keep up with those newer machines and, especially those Berninas (Libby uses a Bernina). They can do things that my machine can’t do, like right and left justify their tapering satin stitch. I never wanted a Bernina before, but the thoughts actually crossed my mind. I feel like a traitor. I tried to assuage my guilt and make my machine feel better by buying two new feet – an open toe embroidery foot (the better to satin stitch, my dear) and the Beading Foot set. I wanted a couching foot, but, apparently, Janome doesn’t make one. I will try the Beading feet for couching and see what they do. I intend to add a lot more couching on my quilts. 😉

If you want this fabric call Quilting Adventures at (804) 262-0005.

I actually put this in the washing machine tonight and plan to go and switch it to the dryer now. I am capable of ironing it and may even do that tomorrow. I want to make Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks out of this fabric and I want to do it soon. I want to keep up momentum.

I have to say that I almost didn’t wash it. It felt so good in my hands (YAY P&B!) that I just wanted to start cutting it up.

Above is pretty much how the piece was before I started working on it again last night and this morning.

Here you can see I got the piece into what I thought was a final stage. I particularly like the upper lefthand corner section.

Two concerns I had were adding the new fabrics from Seattle and the sewing.

After contemplating the construction of the piece (AKA how to sew it together), I realized that adding an additional row would allow me to sew the thing in 4 patches AND leave the two bottom rows unsewn so that I could work on uniting the two halves. (In case I forgot to mention it, dear readers, I plan to make this piece twice the size it is now and add a couple of rows on the right hand side as well.) St. JCN sugested that I keep the bottom two rows on the design wall to aid in uniting the two halves. I decided that it would be easier to work with the bottom two rows if they were not sewn together. All of this meant that I needed an extra row otherwise I would have an orphan row which would ruin my 4 patch sewing model.

You might ask why not sew the thing in rows. I find that sewing large pieces in chunks (e.g. 4 patches) rather than rows facilitates squareness of the entire piece.

Adding an additional row also meant I could start to incorporate the Seattle fabrics into the piece, so the two halves would not look like completely different quilts.

Go back and take a look!

7/29/2006: I have had Thoughts on Dots on the wall for a few weeks again, but haven’t moved any of the squares around nor have I sewed anything.

I moved some squares around this morning when it was very quiet in the house and, as a result, today was the first day in a long while that I have felt like being creative. I really need a table to which I can walk up and glue and paint and cut, because I had a massive desire to experiment with the Tsukineko inks.


I did move a number of squares around after I took the above photo, but think I may have the final layout now. It is an interesting exercise to get the colors/fabrics in the right place in order to give the right feel.

One wrench in the mechanism are the new dot fabrics that I cut last weekend while in Seattle. I had planned to add them to this piece, but am wondering if I don’t like the light, fresh, airy feeling of Thoughts on Dots as it is now? Or am I being a chicken and need to, as Lorraine Torrence says, make visual decisions visually? This quilt is destined to be a cuddle quilt, as I may have mentioned, with the express purpose of making me feel better when the life or the monkey chatter gets overwelming. I think, as a result, that the layout has to give the right feeling more than be designed as a great work of art.

I have more sets of squares waiting for my attention in this same exercise and am looking forward to working with them.

Mull over these photos from the weekend. Check back, I may annotate them. Until then, make up your own stories!




The photos above are of a tuffet. The pattern is sold through Quiltworks Northwest in Bellevue. I took the photo in order to see better how to make it. I urge you to buy the pattern.


Coneflowers, or echinacea, which I feel in love with over the weekend. Yes, I have seen it before, but somehow they struck me. I may have to plant them in my garden.


Sideways sunflowers. I am not sure if I get enough sun in my garden to grow sunflowers, but I may have to try.




Two packs of Denyse Schmidt fabric.


Some of the fabric which was purchased during the Seattle weekend. Once again, St. JCN came to my rescue and the fabric came home washed and ironed.

I am shocked that it has been a month since I have posted anything. No sewing has taken place except some beading that I did on Kissy Fish. I worke don it in the car as we drove, but the beading doesn’t show up very well in this photo. Here is a detail, but it is also difficult to see the beading and embroidery. I am off to a quilt show in Seattle this weekend and will hopefully have a cleaner (more sewing machine friendly!) house and lots of inspiration when I return.