Classes · Sewing

Teaching Schedule through Late Summer

I’ve signed up to teach a few classes at our local quilt shop, The Quilter’s Cocoon, and thought I’d let you know about them.  The first three are mini quilts, where you learn a new skill with each one.  There’s a discount for signing up for all three.  Then in June, I’m teaching the Wonky Baskets quilt, to use up a lot of scraps.  July’s class is Machine Appliqué, making an originally designed Lollypop Tree block (pattern included in class) in either Christmas colors or summery/spring colors.

Finally, we’ll finish off with Beginning Machine Quilting, using your domestic sewing machine.  Hope you can join me for one or all!

Rolling Rainbow Star_labeled
April 19, Tues: 10:30-2:30 Rolling Rainbow Star
This brightly colored mini quilt is where you’ll learn about the color wheel and how to piece Y-seams (easily). Class materials fee is $2.00.  I’ll be teaching a series of three mini quilts.  It’s $30 for one class or $75 for all three.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
May 3, Tues: 10:30-2:30 Spectrum
This mini quilt is composed of multiple Kaffe Fasset fabrics, all done by hand with English Paper Piecing.  Class materials fee is $10 (pattern included). You’ll learn the basics of paper piecing, and some tips in working with the color wheel. I’ll be teaching a series of three mini quilts.   It’s $30 for one class or $75 for all three.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
May 17, Tues: 10:30-2:30 Home, Sweet, Home
This fun neighborhood centers around a town star!  Pick up the cutting directions when you pay for the class, and come with all your pieces cut. We’ll talk about how to get the perfect points on a half-square triangles and snowball blocks. Cost: $35.  Class materials fee is $10 (pattern included).  This is the third in a series of three mini quilts.  It’s $30 for one class or $75 for all three.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
Wonky Baskets
June 7, Tues: 10:30-4 p.m Wonky Baskets Quilt
A scrap-happy quilt with wonky baskets.  You’ll need one short ruler to help you cut the sides and one long ruler (to cut the bias), but other than those two things, it’s wonky happiness!  Bring a collection of scraps (more info on class handout, available when you pay) and we’ll sew sew sew all day long.  Instructions for the borders will be handed out at the end of class. Class cost: $45, at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
Christmas Treat final
July 16, Sat: 10:30-4 p.m Christmas Treat
This Christmasy wall hanging can also be made in spring colors in Kaffe Fasset fabrics.  (See below).  In this class we’ll talk about combining fabrics, freezer-paper machine applique.  Instructions for the borders will be given out in class, in case you don’t get to them.  See class supply sheet for more information. Cost: $35.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)

Spring version of Christmas Treat

Thread Doodle MiniSmall
August 27, Sat: 10:30-2 p.m  Beginner’s Free-Motion Quilting
If you know your machine well, and are ready to finish off that stack of quilt tops in your closet, this is the class for you. I can not do tech-support for your machine, so make sure you are familiar with the basics of your sewing machine, have a free-motion quilting foot (see your dealer if you are not sure) and are ready to learn how to quilt with your domestic sewing machine.   Cost: $35. Class materials fee: $15.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)


Sept. 8, Thursday: 10:30-2 p.m Beginner’s Free-Motion Quilting
If you know your machine well, and are ready to finish off that stack of quilt tops in your closet, this is the class for you. I can not do tech-support for your machine, so make sure you are familiar with the basics of your sewing machine, have a free-motion quilting foot (see your dealer if you are not sure) and are ready to learn how to quilt with your domestic sewing machine.   Cost: $35. Class materials fee: $15.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)

Classes · Quilts

Not All Dirt and Rocks

The quilting community is priceless–I see it on blogs, on Instagram, in quilt shops, and in smaller groups that gather together.  And in my case, this week, the comments I received about my frustration with my quilting buoyed me up and gave me lots to think about.

quilting tools

The first thing I did was buy a couple of more tools to help me.  Both Amie and Pip, in their comments, steered me back to Leah Day’s FMQ site, and then to Diane Gaudynski’s blog, where I learned tons of things by reading through all of her posts (loved the one about *batting*).  One of the things I learned was continuing education is invaluable, as new tools (above), ideas and techniques are always evolving and I Need To Keep Up.  Practice is mandatory, other commenters reminded me, and to not despair that my quilting is not like that of the long-armers. I loved the quote that Dot sent over, and also this one by Ursula La Guin:

If you see a whole thing, it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives… But up close a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.

And I guess I should add that quilting seems to be best looked at as a “whole thing.”  I am thankful for those who read my blog, reminding me not to focus on the dirt and rocks, but to keep the vision–to not lose the pattern.

Lollypop Class

One of the little miracles this week was teaching my Lollypop Treat class at Bluebird Quilts & Gallery.  I had six great and enthusiastic students (one was camera shy), shown here the second week, bringing back in their own Lollypop Treat blocks.  Each is so different and so wonderful, and I had such a great time.  A couple of them became readers of this blog, so to them I say–thanks for joining in the adventure!

New tote bag fabrics

The owner, Janet, saw my Tote and thought it would make a great class, so she picked out some fall-themed fabrics, with a fun pop of Halloween for the lining.  It’s an evening class, just one day, on October 22, from 6-8:30 p.m. if you’d care to join us. (You can reach the shop by calling (909) 514-0333.)


This is the tote that I made–I’ve been using it as my purse and I’m really liking it, even though it’s probably not what you’d see in the fashion magazines.  But I need a purse that I can throw stuff in, and that has pockets, and that I can set on the floor if needed.  I also love my higher-end leather purses, but in truth, that’s not always the kind of life I lead.  And this suits me.

May you have a good week, working on the Dirt and Rocks, but keeping an eye on the bigger whole.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Lee’s Freshly Pieced blog.

WIP new button

Classes · Creating

Bostonian Bag and a Wrap-up

While this post has lots of pictures of my recent class, the Bostonian Bag (which they titled Bag Bostonian), it is NOT a tutorial nor are there any patterns.

Class 6

For this you’ll need to take the excellent class from Kathy Ranabarger at Sewing Party in Orange County, California; our class was held last Friday, March 22nd.  And because it’s a wrap-up of some of the details of the class, the post itself may not make any sense to you at all.  (Hey, I have many days like that!)  In the photo above I’m on the right in the aqua sweater.

Bostonian Bag side view

First off, here it is.  It’s a good-sized bag. . .

Class 1

. . . and the ten-member class made excellent progress. But nearing the end, I was nervous about beating the traffic home, so I left a few minutes early but not before taking lots of photos of Kathy’s samples to jog my memory.  I told the class I’d post them in case they needed them too (so, this post is picture-heavy).

Bostonian Bag details ESEFirst, here’s some details, just for visual ideas: the bag bottom with decorative piece, the side trim piece wrapped to the inside and stitched down by hand, and the pockets I made in class: a double pocket (one on top of the other, and on the other side, a zipper-closed pocket.

Class 2

Class 3

So, after the fabric’s been quilted, the pockets made and the lining basted to the bag on the sides and top (wrong sides together), the decorative trim is attached to the zipper-opening edges (shown).  Kathy showed us how to install our zippers in class, and I’m pretty sure we were all successful in getting those in before we left for home.  Next was sew the side seams together, lining right sides together, so the seam allowances ended up on the outside of the bag, which is covered with a decorative trim piece.

Side Cover Strip ESE

(Click to enlarge so you can see detail.)

I did end up interfacing the side trim piece, as my 1/2″ seams were pretty bulky.  I pinned down the trim piece, then stitched it by machine as she showed us in class.  I kept going at the end: I stitched right off the edge of the bag on my trim piece, continuing along the pressed-under seam allowances, top-stitching them down.  I then folded the piece over as Kathy showed us, then trimmed and hand-sewed it down as I was using two colors of thread (one dark, one light) and it just wouldn’t have worked to machine-stitch. (See very top grouping of photos, illustration in upper right.)

Bag Corner

“Boxing” the corner, with a five-inch measurement, centering the seam at 2 1/2″ inches.  Stitch along that line.  In that same top grouping of photos, you can see my bag corners in the lower pocket photo.  In the final bag, I wasn’t really keen about how the bottom trim piece stopped an inch short of the boxed corner, so in the future versions of this bag I’ll either 1) box the corner in deeper (maybe at 6″) or 2) make the bottom decorative piece longer.

Hardware Bostonian Bag

Attach the bottom trim piece to the side, by sewing the point to the side trim piece. The ring moves freely, and is not sewn down.

Class 4

Handles are next.  Flatten out the bag, take the handles out and let them relax, then place them near the top, centered on the bag.

Handle Placement

I put a couple of pins to anchor mine, then did a backstitch all around the outside, starting about 4 holes down from the upper left holes, taking it up to the end, then backtracking all the way around the tab. I wasn’t really keen about how the inside looked and ended up cutting some more lining fabric to applique it over the stitching, so it will be unnoticeable.  I have to say that attaching the handles was one of the more frustrating parts of the bag and it took me some time.  Sit in really good light, use a heavier hand-sewing needle and thimble on your finger for pushing it through the hole (which is sometimes not easy to locate and yet other times it is), and work steadily.

Now here are a bunch of photos of the samples we saw that day in class.

Teacher Bag 1

Teacher Bag 2

When she attached this particular bag handle, she used a running stitch, which looks like this on the back.

Teacher Bag 3

Teacher Bag 4

Teacher Bag 5

Teacher Bag 6

Handle attached with a back-stitch.

Teacher Bag 7

Teacher Bag 8

Teacher Bag 9

Teacher Bag 10

And here’s a few more of mine:

Bostonian Bag unhooked

Bag unhooked.  I think I could fit a small laptop in there, or at the very least, a tablet.  It’s quite roomy inside.

Class 5

Our class.  This was a fun group of ladies to sew with.

Full Bostonian BagAnd that’s it!

Another March finish for me.  Actually I took this class the last day of Spring Break.  I started Spring Break with tune-up visits to doctors, getting the have-to’s out of the way before I quilted all week. So in the spirit of a teacher giving a grade to things. . . I’m at an interesting place in my life right now, and so content and calm about what I’m doing that I’m sure the proverbial “other shoe” will drop from the sky at any minute.  I have a job I mostly enjoy, love my church and congregation as I’ve been going there for nearly a quarter-century and know their histories, and they, mine, and we have both endured each other’s quirks and habits. My husband and I have worked out a good balance between together time and “cave-time,” and really enjoy each other’s company when we are together. I could make a list of all the good things in my life, of which family and friends would occupy the top spots, and I’m sure that your list might echo mine in magnitude and depth. I also have this blog, and love to write and quilt and have the wherewithal to do both.

As I listened to others talk while our class was in session, I caught whiffs of the same sort of feeling: one woman expressed pride over her daughter’s achievements, another woman was having her sewing room re-made which I gathered was something she’d looked forward to for many years, and several of us found we had connections (via our children) to UC-Davis, of all places.  Perhaps it was the beautiful weather, or a relaxed and informative class or the fun of getting something done in a creative environment, but I could see that many of us were living in a “parallel contentment.”  Maybe we’ve just learned not to sweat the small stuff. . . and at our age have figured out which is the small stuff and which isn’t.

While the grading will pick up to a dull roar in the next few weeks of the semester, it’s really nice to feel this way — especially tonight, when some nice tunes are on the playlist and the fragrance of the wisteria blossoms is drifting in through my open window.

Happy Quilting.

Classes · Quilt Shows · Quilts

Long Beach Quilt Festival, classes

I still have a bag or two to unpack, but I wanted to post about my days at International Quilt Association’s (IQA) Quilt Festival at Long Beach.  I went two years ago, when the quilt portion of it was okay with a couple of stand-out exhibits, missed last year, but happy to report that this year’s quilt display was waaaay better than the first time I saw it.  Or as my friend says, they only had one way to go–Up.  And they did.

I left my town at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, headed through the Los Angeles traffic to Long Beach, arriving there around 8:15 a.m.  I left my car at the hotel, along with my luggage, and their shuttle gave me a ride over to the Long Beach Convention Center.  I stayed at the Hilton, only about a 10-minute walk, but there are three hotels that are closer if that’s too far.

Kaari Meng of French General fame.  She’s wonderful as a teacher, explaining everything crystal clear.

This was on our table when we arrived: the jewelry kit, tools and a fat quarter of her fabric to use as a working mat.  Like many others, I tucked the fat quarter away in my bag–no way I was going to get glue on that!

Pieces spread out: the cabochons and the bezels and the charms.  You had to be there.

Gluing done, we worked on attached things with jump rings.  I learned a lot, which gave me confidence to do the kit I ordered from her store over six months ago, and which has sat unassembled as I had no idea what I was doing.

The bracelet, modeled.  I put this and a few other pictures on my Instagram account: occasionalpiece, if you are interested in following me there.

She had a few other kits there to buy, so I took this one home.

I took two classes from Karen Stone, who is amazing, lovely and has great lines that she’s always throwing out in class:  “Have I told you more than I know?” and when working with piecing curves, she noted that instead of wishing away our troubles with piecing, we should “Learn to love the devil that you know.”  Good advice on so many fronts.

Karen Stone makes me laugh.  Like when she brought out this first quilt (above, and detail just below it), a sample for another class, and asked, “Do you want to see some irrelevant quilts?”  Of course we did, and I loved this one with all the raw edge applique leaves coiling around.

This sample was for another class also, but her combination of colors is just inspiring–not any that I would have gone for but that work together beautifully.  She says to mix everything up: batiks, 1930s prints, modern, calico, Kaffe Fassett. . . everything.

An earlier quilt, which she says was  snapshot of who she was as a quilter at that time.  As I work on my Quilt Journal, I feel the same way about my earlier quilts.

Clamshell quilt.  A lovely and invigorating riot of textures, design, colors.

All of these were laid out on the floor, so you are looking at a tilt in all the photos.  (Sorry.)

Hexies.  One-inch hexies, sewn by machine.  And that was the thrust of our class: Old Favorites, New Ways.

It looks like a puzzle on the back.  Using a lightweight cardboard template, iron just three sides of the hexagon, then fit them together, joining them with a narrow zig-zag stitch done with monofilament thread.

A closer view.

Lay out the hexies on heavy-duty water-soluble stabilizer, using a paint brush with water to “glue” down the pieces.  Notice how we are weaving them: raw edges under a pressed edge.  When I first started this technique, I was thinking how wierd it was.  But as I picked up speed, using the grid to align them and glueing them down as I went, I thought about the possibilities.

My sample complete, but not yet stitched down.  I then took it to the machine and zig-zagged along the folded edges.  It’s practically invisible that way.

And now the New York Beauty class, the block that catapulted her to fame and reknown.  I had purchased her book at the end of my first class and that night went home and read it from cover to cover.  It’s a great book with lots of tips and tricks about how to assemble these blocks, as well as a whole section on color selection.

Showing us how to cut curves–use the natural movement of the arm to cut an arc.

It was interesting to me as she talked about fabric choices, that it makes a difference when picking fabrics for the pieced arc, as to which fabric is used for the pointy things and which is used for the background.  Choose the fabric that pops off the other, she said.  In this photo you can see she draws from many many fabric types and colors, but she noted that each block should have the colorway of the whole quilt so it’s harmonious.

Upper corner of this quilt, showing the borders.

“Irrelevant quilt,” as she would say, but I was interested in how she used interior piping to set off a series of blocks as the borders of the quilt.

Demo-ing the piecing of the arcs.  “Learn to love the devil you know.”

My little wobbly block.  She said don’t trim them, as it will all work out.  I was interested that these fabrics “worked” together, as I never would have chosen them.  But this block does work and that interesting animal spots background that changes sizes works to pull the viewer’s eye into the block.

After classes, we all headed into Preview Night, where we could get first crack at the vendors and see the quilt show.

Here’s the booth selling Ghanian fabrics.

Another vendor booth showing a bright Log Cabin quilt.

Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts–I follow her in Instagram and also read her blog.  She’s written a book and I’m happy to say that it’s a solid effort, with clear concise directions, and few new tips and lovely quilts.  She is very talented and recently relocated to Southern California from Philadelphia.  It’s a family affair–her mother was working the booth, beaming from ear to ear at her very talented daughter.

Sandy Klopp, of American Jane.  I told her my camera was a “younger-lighter” brand, explaining that it was magic and made the person in the photo look 10 pounds lighter and 10 years younger.  We wish.

Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli of Quarter-Inch Publishing.  Amazing coat.

The last night I was there, the traffic was backed up all over the freeways, so I parked the car after dinner and went in for the last hour.  All the tour busses had gone home and the vendor area was pretty empty.  I felt like this guy, tired and wanting a nap.

So I went over and found my friend Heather, of Superior Threads, and we walked around.  It was pretty interesting being at the side of a vendor, as she greeted her fellow vendors.  I told her was like those children’s stories that when after the children are tucked away and are asleep, all the toys come to life.  She laughed, but agreed.  I have to remember that I show up at quilt shows a few times a year, but all these people see each other about every month.  She knew their stories, asked them about their vacations, commented on new products they had in their booths.  When I’m there, I just see them as temporary brick-and-mortar shops where I can glean new quilt fabrics and buy the latest.  But with her, I realize that we are all part of a large industry, all of us like pieces in a incredibly wonderful quilt.

More, next post, on some incredibly wonderful quilts in the show.

Classes · Quilt Shows · Quilts

Long Beach Quilt Festival: Getting Ready

I believe in taking classes, when they interest you or teach you a new skill.  I’m headed to the Long Beach International Quilt Festival (or LB-QuiltCon, as I like to call it) and I’m taking three classes: two from Karen Stone and one from Kaari Meng, of French General.  Here are snapshots of the projects:

I discovered today that there is a Preview Night on Thursday night, where we get access to the quilt displays, vendors plus they have a Take-It-Make-It sort of set up of learning new skills.  I finally got organized this afternoon, printing out class supply lists, which led me to notice one curious thing.  I need no fabrics for the Stone classes, but did have to pay for a kit.  And they’ll have sewing machines for us to use (and charge us for, of course).  When I went to Houston a few years ago, I dragged a roller suitcase full of fabric with me to each of the classes I took.  What a change.

What a very nice change.  (I may sneak some of my fabrics in anyway.)

Classes · Creating

Becky Goldsmith/Quilt Class

I had asked to be put on the waiting list of Becky Goldsmith’s class, hosted and organized by Orange Grove Quilters Guild, and by some incredible stroke of luck, I was in!.  I arose at 5 a.m., and was out the door by 6:45 for the long schlep across Orange County; traffic was thick, but not brutal at the early hour of 7:30ish.  I was among the first there, and watched as Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’Cake Designs set up.  She is very prepared.  She also set out an array of tools and notions and books and patterns for us to choose from.  I picked up a few new tools and a couple of Piece O’Cake books.

After she was set up, she indicated that now was a good time for photographs, and she was gracious admiring about the quilt I’d made from one of her patterns.  I’ve taken loads of classes from many of the more renowned quilt masters, and what I appreciate most is when they know how to tamp down the ardor from fans, while acknowledging the fan herself.  I found Becky to one of those excellent teachers who are intent on teaching, not on ego-stoking and I knew it was going to be a good day of learning.

We were learning a type of appliqué that was on top of the appliqué piece, with clearly visible stitches that would act as almost an embroidery of sorts.

I took several pictures, but only this one was not blurry.  You can see the stitches here, a technique she calls “Applique with Attitude,” and for which the Piece O’Cake team has written a book.  I had been contacted by Marie from the guild about the spot in my class, and she had recommended a place for me to order some of my supplies.  I was really grateful for that, as I felt well-prepared even though I only found out the week before.

One of the techniques she covered were tracing the design onto a vinyl overlay so as to place the pieces accurately.

I didn’t take a picture of every step, but another tip was the idea of how to pin: we should use the shorter appliqué pins in order to really anchor our appliqué pieces down for stitching.  She taught us a fine technique for marking (place your fabric on a sandpaper board, or fine-grit sandpaper, so it doesn’t shift, then mark a strong line).  At each step, she helped me refine what I knew about appliqué.

Some really speedy quilter in class finished up their class sample.  I know you are thinking what?  Just a tulip?  But in between we were taught about why we should wash our fabrics, not use spray starch, the importance of good and useful tools, the use of color, the idea of varying our quilts, and of not using a ruler to cut–allowing a bit of wonkiness to slip into our art.  I took eight pages of notes, and we only had about a 20 minute break for lunch!

She gathered us round to point out differences in ways of doing things, and I must say as a sidelight, I was really impressed with this guild and this class; such lovely ladies and they made me–a stranger–feel very welcome in their midst.

I liked the little vignette of this quilter’s station.  About all those balls of color: we were using perle cotton for our Applique with Attitude and I look forward to fall when I spend less time in major quilt projects and more time hand-sewing to finish this up.

Then it was picture time.

That’s Marie on the left, Linda (I think?) on the right.

Another quilt of appliqué.  I found it really interesting when she talked about how she laid out her quilts.  While it’s not easy to see, nearly every block background in this quilt is different. She said she cuts out her backgrounds, smooths them up on her pin wall.  Then she cut the shapes out of her fabrics (sometimes cutting up to 10 different fabrics, if the first one doesn’t work) and lays them over the backgrounds.  She then moves to sashing, then borders, making sure the colors balance and work well together, harmonizing but interesting.  By the way, I love the border treatment.

Not the best lighting for a quilt, but I’m trying to capture the varied colors and shapes.  I like it when the flowers “break the border” of the block, continuing the eye in movement across the quilt.

The label contains the title, info about the maker, date, her address (blurred out for privacy) and the fiber content.  Both labels were of the same type on these quilts.  I don’t know if you noticed that she also appliquéd her initials and the year on the front of the red quilt (above).

During class, a folder circulated and we all wrote a short note to Becky Goldsmith.  I’d never seen this done before and I thought it was quite sweet. And speaking of sweets. . .

. . . people brought little snacks to share, again reinforcing my belief that this was a really neat group of quilters!  I had a great day, leaving right at the end of class to make it home in time for a reception at the outgoing university dean’s house.  We were a little late, but I was able to take the class and still make it.

I found this quote by Daniel J. Keys:

Accomplished artists are those who have proved themselves to be the best at what they do. ‘Master’ is the title often given to such a person, and rightly so: They’ve established themselves as worthy of the title through many years of study, and devotion of their lives to their craft.

I have taken many quilt classes in order to learn from the masters of the quilt world.  Only a few times have I been disappointed; nearly always I have learned something.  I have my favorites, and I have to say the Becky Goldsmith is in that group.  A most enjoyable day!