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First, let me explain my belief that every visit of a customer to my studio is an educational opportunity for both the customer and me!  One of the characteristics I most appreciate in the quilting community is the generosity with which quilters share their knowledge, tips, techniques and experience.  So when you do come by the studio, try to do so when you'll have time to visit and to share what is currently exciting you, or challenging you, in your quilting journey.

What I Wish I'd Been Told When I Started Quilting:

I spoke recently at the Edmonton Creative Stitches show about all the things I wish someone had told me when I first started my quilting journey. For those of you who missed it, or who were there but missed the handout, here is the link to the document.

What I wish I'd been told...

Placemat Instructions:

The following link takes you to a document I've created to show how to create 4 placemats from 4 quarter-meter cuts of fabric. You'll need extra fabric for binding and backing.

Mix 'n Match Placemat

Frequently Asked Questions on Working with Kimono Silk

Here's a link to a document I've created that shares my experience with working with kimono silk to make quilts. FAQ Kimono Silk

Fabric conserving technique for creating blocks with inset half-circles.

Here's the link to an article I've written about how to save fabric with blocks of this type:  A Fabric Conserving Technique for Half-circle Blocks

Washing vintage kimono silk quilts -- Information about Retayne and Synthrapol. 

Here's a link to an article I've written about my experience and that of others with washing vintage kimono silk quilts, and including my recommendations: Washing kimono silk quilts

Layout for a throw starting with a Noren panel. Now I've put together packages of coordinating fabrics to let you make your own custom Noren panel throw. Mine looked like this:

Here's the layout for this quilt, in a pdf format... You can use it as a starting point for making your own quilt design.

Layout for a throw-size quilt using Yukata cottons.  I've been putting together "Mine to Design" kits composed of 9 M of Yukata cotton and also an indigo fabric for binding and accent stripes.  The throw I made looks like this:

I've been asked for the layout of this quilt and have included it here as a starting point for your own designs for those of you who would like it.  Here's the link to the pdf version of the layout:  Layout for Yukata Throw

Making an Infinity Scarf with vintage Kimono silk.  I've been selling kits of vintage kimono silk, along with a pattern to make an infinity scarf.  With Reyna's help, I've just made a video for my first time to show you the construction process from start to end!  Here's the video... Infinity Scarf video and here are the instructions... Infinity Scarf instructions. My earlier version of an infinity scarf started with a rectangle that was about 20" x 75" and turned this into a bias tube.  This produced a scarf that is thicker and shorter than my new kit makes.  If you would like to convert a scarf, into a longer, thinner scarf, here are the instructions Converting to a longer, thinner infinity scarf.

Creating blocks consisting of 4 quarter-square triangles without cutting triangles is a new trick I've learned, and I'm sharing it with you here with a confession.  I had to call a nephew who teaches math to get his help with the calculation for the size of the starting squares.  Isn't that what nephews who teach math are for?  Here's the technique:
Creating Quarter-square Triangle Blocks

Calculating the size of those pesky side and corner setting triangles when making an on point quilt always used to make me start to feel faint.  And I know I'm not alone in having that reaction.  So one day I decided to check with Google and, sure enough, was able to find the simple calculations needed to cut the exactly right size of triangle every time.  I'm happy to share them with you here:

Here is a great article about cotton thread and the characteristics that determine its quality.  

Want to learn to make quick flying geese with no waste fabric?  My quilting colleague Maureen R. showed me a technique that works like a charm.  I've written up instructions, along with some photos, and put it up on the web for you to refer to:

Insetting circles in quilt blocks seems to feel threatening to many of us quilters, and we shy away from trying.  You'll be glad to know that it is actually both simple and easy (not like riding a bucking horse... an activity for which the instructions are simple but doing it is not easy:-)).  Here are some instructions I've developed to help you along your way towards being comfortable insetting circles:

I've been asked for instructions for creating an Antique Braid, and have created a Google Doc with the explanation.  Here it is:

Since acquiring some vintage kimono silk, I've been doing research into the safest cleaning products, including Orvus.  I found two very helpful articles on the web, which I've combined into a Google document for your information:
Soap vs. Detergent -- Is Orvus best for fabric?

Here is a Google document courtesy of Superior Threads discussing the topic "Will Polyester Thread Really Tear Cotton Fabric?":

Programs for Guilds

I give a couple of talks at guilds, and these are the descriptions of those talks.  Of course I show lots of quilts with both talks, but the points I'm emphasizing are different, and the quilts vary of course...


Discovering my "right brain"...


I enjoyed a 34 year career that was pretty much entirely left brain, working in the computer industry for 22 years and then as an Associate Dean at BCIT for 12 years.  My retirement has allowed me to discover that I have a right brain too.  Quilting started as an antidote to "new-retirement blahs", and has become a passion -- a source of joy, creative exploration, new friends, and of opportunities for personal growth.  In my talk to the guild, I will describe the path I've followed as I learned to trust a right brain creative process, and some of the life lessons I've picked up along the way.  I will also share some of my favourite techniques for adding variety to my quilt designs; and I hope to hear some of yours!


and the second option...


I Want to Start Designing my Own Quilts...


Most of us start our quilting journey by following quilt patterns to make our quilts. Some of us start with kits, and some of us start with a pattern, selecting our own fabrics.   At some point along the path of our development as quilters, many of us start to have a desire to come up with our own quilt designs. If you are at this point, but feeling uncertain about how to go about designing a quilt that you will be happy with, come and spend an hour to hear about how other quilters are making this transition. I’ll start with my stories, sharing what has worked and not for me, and will encourage all participants to learn about what are your fears, your breakthroughs, your successes and your “not so successes” in transitioning to a quilter who designs your own quilts!


I am also available to deliver workshops as follows:

Workshop 1: Technique and Artistry of Set-in Circles

Set-in circles are scary stuff to many experienced quilters.  As a result, many hesitate to undertake making a quilt that uses set-in circles as part of the design.  Truthfully, there is nothing to fear.  With instruction in some simple techniques and a bit of practice, anyone can learn to easily cut and sew blocks with set-in circles.  Beyond the technical skill is the art of using the design of background blocks to create a sense of movement and flow that enhances the drama of the circles which form a focal point for the quilt.  This workshop builds on ideas presented in Reynola Pakusich’s “Circle Play” book, and adds a number of practical techniques for both design and construction.

In this workshop, we will learn to:

1.       Cut and sew plain blocks with set-in circles

2.       Cut and sew blocks of half squares, and of quarter squares with set-in circles

3.       Use colour value to create a sense of movement in quilts composed of blocks with set-in circles.

Fabric requirements (for a 5 x 7 block quilt, about 8” finished blocks):

For each of two colours, bring about 6 cuts of ¼ meter ranging from very light to very dark in that colour

For one accent colour, bring 4 cuts of ¼ meter ranging from medium to very dark

About 1 meter of a focus fabric in colours that are harmonious with the other two colours you’ve selected (for the circles)

Supplies to bring to the workshop include:

Sewing machine in good working order, with a presser foot that has a ¼” seam marking

Extension cord and task light

Cutting mat, rotary cutter, 6” x 18-24” ruler

A “framing window” of light cardboard with a 6” or 7” circle cut out of the centre

Piecing thread, straight pins (small appliqué pins (optional) and longer quilting pins)

A design wall of some sort:  flannel sheet, Styrofoam, batting  –  must be at least 60 x 60

Lots of pins for pinning blocks to the design wall

A personal ironing station, or shared with a friend taking the workshop

Circle-cutting rulers and quarter triangle rulers will be available for class use in the workshop.  A handout will be provided.  The book by Reynola Pakusich, and appropriate rulers, will be available for optional purchase after the workshop.


This workshop will run 2 days from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM, with a 45 minute break for lunch.  Set-up of working stations will take place from 9:00 until 9:30, at which time instruction will begin.  Take-down of working stations will be from 3:30 to 4PM.

Fabric Selection Review (or Purchase) Opportunity:

If you would like assistance with your fabric selection, I will set two drop-in days at my studio/shop for class participants.  Irene and I will be there at those times for you to bring along the fabric you intend to use, to get our thoughts on whether it will produce a quilt you’ll be happy with.  Or you may choose to have us help you select some or all of your fabrics from those for sale at my studio.  Address is 2726 W 38th Ave., Vancouver, BC (between Trafalgar and Mackenzie).  Phone is 604-250-8698.  Alternatively, you may email me photos of your fabric choices and I will respond with any suggestions I have.

Alternate Design Option

It has become clear to me through discussion with some participants that the “learning outcomes” I aim for in this workshop can still be achieved while choosing a design approach that is simpler than the half-square triangle based design which is shown in the quilt photo on the first page.  This simpler design approach would yield quilts like these:





Both of these designs are characterized by more subtlety in the movement because there are not clear lines created by the value play in the background block design.  They are also, in my experience, somewhat easier to design and faster to construct.

If your preference is to construct a quilt using one of these design approaches, here are your fabric requirements for a quilt that is about 52” x 70”.

Fabric Requirements

For a quilt design such as the one on the left above, select 12 fabrics for background blocksIf you want high contrast as the leftmost quilt does have, these fabrics should range from very light to very dark… about 3 very light, 3 quite dark, and 6 in between those in value.  Bring ¼ M of each of the 12 fabrics.  Also bring 5” x WOF strips for 4 fabrics that will be your quarter-circles… these colours are intended to be in clear contrast to the background fabric tones.  Finally, for 8 of the 12 background fabrics, bring an additional 5” strip x WOF for the colourwash border. If you want low contrast such as the quilt on the right above, but want to use the design approach of the leftmost quilt, make all your fabric selections lights to mediums… including the accent fabrics for quarter circles.

For a quilt design such as the one on the right above, select 11 fabrics.  For this quilt design I recommend staying with a low contrast palette, so make your fabric selections range from lights to mediums only, in a harmonious scheme.  Bring .6 M of each of the 11 fabrics.  This quilt requires more fabric because there is a lot of lost fabric due to the size of the circles relative to the size of the blocks. 

Please don’t hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions about any of these, and please run your fabric selections by me so that you don’t find yourself disappointed with the design you are able to create in the workshop.  Thanks!

Workshop 2: "Feature This" Quilt Design and Construction

This two day workshop is for quilters who have a stash of favourite fabrics that seem too beautiful to cut up, but also too beautiful to stay hidden in your stash.  Day one of the workshop you will develop your design concept. You will bring your feature fabric along with any fabrics you are hoping to use with this fabric in your finished quilt.  We will discuss different quilt styles that can be used to feature a particular fabric; give you time to work on your design ideas for your fabric individually, and then discuss these design ideas one at a time as a class... giving everyone a chance to hear others' ideas and to share and get feedback on their own ideas.  We will finish the first day with a discussion of the characteristics of the supporting fabrics you are looking for to allow you to create your design.

You will use the week between class days to gather your supporting fabrics and to further explore ideas you may want to incorporate in your quilt.

Day two will be your day for turning your design concept into a completed design on your design wall.  We will start with some basic principles I've developed that make the design process more fun, less stressful, and less wasteful of fabric.  You will then spend the majority of the day alternating between designing your quilt top on your design wall and getting and giving feedback on the designs in progress.  Before concluding the day we will spend time discussing strategies for incorporating accent features into your quilt design, and discuss the construction process each person will use to take their quilt top from the design wall to completed quilt top state. 

DAY 1 Supplies:

     Your feature fabric(s) and any supporting fabrics from your stash that you might want to use in your project

      Sketchbook/Notebook, with at least some graph paper pages, that you will use for making notes and drawings during the day.  Pencil, eraser, ruler.  (Optional – coloured pencils – I don’t use them, but some people like to.)

      Photos or examples of quilts with a feature fabric and a design you like.  These can be in one of the following formats:

o   Paper photos large enough for others to see, or

o   In a file on a memory stick so that I can project them from my computer

o   An actual quilt is also allowed:)

DAY 2 Supplies:

Your design on graph paper along with the Sketchbook/Notebook from Day 1.

A design wall large enough for your complete project and a means of attaching this to the wall/making it stand upright.  I use a king size flat grey flannel sheet that I bought on sale and push pins to secure it to my wall.  You will want to be able to take your project home on your design wall so think about portability of the project.

Fabric, feature and supporting, for your complete project… with alternate choices only where you are uncertain of which supporting fabric will work best.

Straight pins for attaching cut pieces to the design wall.

Tape measure, ruler (6 x 24), cutting mat, rotary cutter, fabric scissors.

Irons and ironing boards.

Sewing machine, extension cord.

Optional – opera glasses or binoculars, peeping hole, digital camera, iphone (all of these help with getting a more distanced view of your design in progress and with comparing alternate versions of the design as it progresses.

A sense of humour… not optional.