Workshopping with Dingbats!

A couple of weeks back I visited with the Camarillo Quilters Association and they chose to have me teach Dingbats at their workshop.

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Dingbats is one of those sneaky patterns… on first look, you think there’s a set-in circle to contend with. But nope… it’s all straight seams. I just quilt it to look like circles! If you can sew a straight seam with a mostly consistent 1/4”, you got this!

The Camarillo ladies are a friendly and talented bunch, and they took such good care of me. Everyone showed up with great fabric, and we started the day talking about fabric values and contrast. We took the first hour of the day to really look at everyone’s fabric choices as a group and discuss different options. One of my favorite parts of any workshop, as a teacher or student, is checking out everyone else’s fabric… there is always an unexpected combo in there that knocks my socks off, or challenges me to look at a color that I don’t love so much (hello PINK!) in a different way. And was there ever a lot of PINK in this group!

We got to cutting and sewing. And of course, lunch and chocolate. And then back to sewing… and all but one person was well into their second block before they left.

IMG_4431Above was the same Kaffe Fassett stripe, cut in different sections.


Above was the surprise palette of the day… the deep, espresso brown background was a perfect choice for these funky stripes.

IMG_4435This striped fabric had fish and seahorses in it, and we played with fussy-cutting it for maximum effect against the perfect confetti background.

IMG_4434A sweet pink that will become the center of a baby quilt – the perfect solution when you only want to make one block!

IMG_4429Setting the stripes along the arms of the Dingbat – lovely visual movement!

IMG_4428A beautiful textured background that let the striped fabric shine.

IMG_4427And another cheerfully bright color combo!


And the “almost got it done” block!

Ladies – thank you for a lovely day!

Want me to come teach at your guild? I would love to! Go here for the info and get in touch!



Last week I spoke at the Camarillo Quilt Association in Southern California – a friendly and welcoming guild of ladies and gents. I love, love, love working with quilters – they are the sweetest people!

Before we got started Gayle Moyer, one of their members, showed me a group of quilts that she made from one of my patterns:


And here’s the story behind the quilts, in Gayle’s words:

“My son is currently active duty in the Navy. He is the rescue swimmer/door gunner on a helicopter. This summer, while the squadron was deployed into the Red Sea, he was on a detachment on the USNS Rainier. This detachment consisted of 2 helicopters, 4 pilots and 5 air crew (of which my son was one of). A rogue wave hit the helicopter while chained on the deck of another ship. This wave ripped the helicopter from the deck of the ship and it sank deep into the Red Sea. The one air crewman, which was still on the helicopter, was thrown free but the two pilots went down with the helicopter. It was a very stressful time for our family, not knowing if our son was involved. Before we even knew who the 2 men were that were lost, I decided that I wanted to be involved in making Home of the Brave quilts for the family. I had made some quilts for Home of the Brave in the past, including 4 that I made when 2 members of my daughter’s Army unit were killed while she was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. When I heard that each of the pilots left behind 2 small children, I decided that I wanted to make the children quilts to comfort them and to remember their fathers by. The youngest child was born only 2 months before his father was killed and had never met his dad. The others were ages 4 and two 6 year old’s.  I decided not to use the Home of the Brave pattern as these were young children. I wanted to use bright patriotic fabrics that they might still love when they are older. I had made several quilts from your Mouse Trap pattern and decided to use the pattern because it was an easy pattern that looked good with many different fabrics. I made the 4 tops and quilted 2 of them. A friend of mine quilted the other 2 as I wanted to get them finished to be able to present them at the Memorial service that was scheduled for January 17.”

photo3“I wrote each child a little letter explaining who I was, my relation ship to the squadron, and to let them know that their dad was a true HERO. I was able to present these quilts as well as an official Home of the Brave quilt to each of the widows. My prayer is that as these children wrap themselves up in the quilts, they will imagine their daddy giving them a big hug.”


“The service went well. It was a wonderful service. I was glad that my son was able to sit with me and also was with me as I presented the quilts. He was able to tell them that he really enjoyed working with their husbands. We did not spend much time with the widows as there were more people wanting to talk to them. I was able to hand them over without turning into a puddle.”

photo2Gayle – this world is a far better place because people like you take the time to make important quilts like these. Thank you so much for including me in this. Now excuse me while I go turn into a puddle…

Workshopping in Modesto

Ursula, her daughter Lori, Lori's daughters Maddie and Bella (in arms) and me!

Ursula, her daughter Lori, Lori’s daughters Maddie and Bella (in arms) and me!

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Modesto Country Crossroads Quilters, and the Turlock Quilt Guild. My dear friend Ursula is a member of both guilds, and managed to help them coordinate a visit from me. I have the greatest pals!

Modesto also booked me for a workshop, and chose the Back To Square One pattern for me to teach. This quilt is a bunch of fun… part strip quilt (like a jelly roll race) and part log cabin.

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It can be made with a jelly roll, or you can bust some stash by cutting strips. In the workshop, we sew all morning, and then spend the afternoon playing with the block units.


The guild’s workshop space was wonderful – plenty of room to play with block setting, plenty of power for the irons, and plenty of AC to keep us cool!





The block units are triangles, with the longest edge showing the dominant value. You end up with equal numbers of light and dark units to work with, and then play with those to make squares.



Like log cabin blocks, the layouts can be changed to use the light and dark edges to make dramatically different compositions.



Those cheap flannel backed table cloths make wonderful portable design surfaces. And when you roll them up the blocks only stick to the flannel side, not the plastic side, so they are easier to unroll when you get home.


In addition to playing with the blocks you make, you also get to wander around the room to look at what other people are up to. Its amazing that one setting will look great for one set of blocks and dull in another, and your neighbors’ will look just the opposite! This workshop teaches a lot about looking at value and color to get a pretty quilt top.



What I like best about the workshop is that every time I teach it, I learn new things about color. There is always at least one student that brings in a color combination that I (privately) though might be doubtful, and the finished blocks are absolutely knockout.

It’s also wonderful to hang out with quilters – they really are just the kindest and funniest groups of gals!

Three nights after the workshop I lectured for the guild, and several of the workshoppers brought in their finished tops for all to see (what a go-getting group!):

IMG_3847 IMG_3833 IMG_3837 IMG_3838 IMG_3839 IMG_3842 IMG_3846

Thank you, ladies! Let’s play again soon!


Bag Ladies!

Yesterday my gang of merry pattern testers and I headed to New Moon Textiles and took over the big classroom to test my latest pattern, a chunky little handbag. I can’t thank my testers enough… they make my designs better!

Thank you to Mary Ellen S, Mary Ellen G, Sandy, Alyssa, Jessica, Minerva, Barbara, Frances, and Noni! And thank you again to New Moon for hosting :-)

Here’s what came out of the classroom – check out the fabulous fabric choices!

And the Orange Robot Bag is MINE!!



Big Block Tumble Quilts

I taught Big Block Tumble last weekend to lovely group of ladies over at New Moon Textiles in Pasadena CA. Jamie, Donna and Pam got lap sized quilt tops finished and borders well on the way; Janet was close behind with a half a twin sized top done (and the other half in big enough chunks that I’m betting she was finished before bedtime).

Pix of their efforts are here on Flickr – the ladies kindly gave permission to photo and publish.

It was such fun to see everyone’s fabric choices… we had a great mixture of styles, from a vintage floral (Janet) to the latest bold prints by Alexander Henry (Pam and Donna). Jamie played it cool with smooth blue and purple tones. Nice work, ladies!