Quilting Fears – Do you defeat them or do they defeat you?

Today’s guest post is from Jessica J.E. Smith of The Quilt and Needle. A talented designer with a love of mystery quilts, Jessica hosts Mystery Weekends online and Mystery Retreats onsite, teaching at Lonestar Quiltworks in College Station. Her patterns are distributed by QuiltWoman.com. She’s here talking about overcoming quilting fears and how she helps her students do so.

Here’s Jess!

What is your quilting passion? Never mind, that’s an easy question. What is your quilting fear? You know, that quilt pattern you’d love to try but your inner voice keeps holding you back with:

“I am not good enough to make that!”
“I love that quilt! But I could never do that.”
“That’s just too much for me, I’ll stick with squares!”
“I’d never have time to do something like that!”
We all have one… that quilting technique or pattern that causes us to come up with any number of excuses to NOT try it because we are certain it will defeat us. Many quilters fail at a pattern or technique because they never give themselves a chance to try it. For me, once upon a time, that unclimbable mountain of a pattern was a Feathered Star. Determined to defeat my own self-imposed quilting obstacle, I set out to create a pattern that would help myself and others afflicted with the irrational Feathered-Star-a-phobia.


pic 1

Because I had postponed trying to make a Feathered Star for many years, I looked for a way to get other hesitant quilters to try my pattern. It finally came to me: create a mystery pattern! A well written mystery pattern is a great way to help quilters overcome their fears. Led through the process one simple step at a time, quilters don’t have a chance to feel overwhelmed or question their ability to complete the quilt.
For instance, it’s easy to make a few Half Square Triangles (HSTs).

pic 2

Scared yet? Nah! The next step is to to sew groups of HSTs together with simple shapes.

pic 3
Easy peasy. A few partial and several regular seams later…

pic 4

pic 5

And BOOM! A Feathered Star is born.

pic 6

Obviously this is a simplification. A ton of color graphics and simple instructions demonstrate this technique for quilters who might need the extra information to stay in their comfort zone. The point is, if you don’t know the end product, you aren’t able to keep yourself from trying a fabulous design because of self-doubt. The above pattern is Bella Cosa. There are no ‘y’ seams or similarly intermediate level piecing involved, which is why this made a wonderful mystery pattern.

Over the years I’ve often experienced the power of mystery patterns helping other quilters achieve their own “unachievable.” During one of my first gigs as a mystery quilt teacher, I met “Square Girl.” It was a six hour class. The students came in with their fabrics cut, ready to sew and complete a small top in a day. The mystery I was teaching was Phire’s Radiance, which is my take on a Lone Star. While Square Girl was sewing, I overheard her murmuring “I like squares… I like squares… I like squares…” as she pieced together this quilt full of strips, and diamonds, and triangles (maybe four squares in the entire thing!). I was still pretty new at teaching and I remember telling my husband when I got home that I blew it… I would never see this girl again! I have to give her props though; she persevered and completed her small table topper in class.

This was her third quilt ever! Pretty amazing I think. Anyway, my next mystery program rolled around a few weeks later, and you wouldn’t believe who showed up to that class. Yep. Square Girl. And she was smiling. And she was motivated. She’d made a Lone Star and now she was ready to conquer the quilting world! She has signed up for every one of my mystery programs since then. She’s hooked. She’s a fabric addict. Now Square Girl is selling commissioned quilts to support her habit. She was recently commissioned to make the King size version of Phire’s Radiance.

pic 9

Whoa. Just WHOA.

pic 10

After all, you never know what you don’t know until you try something that you don’t know you are trying. (I’ll understand if you pause here to read that sentence one more time.) So that is why I design and teach mystery quilts. I don’t get that massive surge of teaching inspiration from a new quilter who just had a lightbulb moment like many teachers do. I’ve never really been passionate about taking intermediate quilters to advanced levels with highly skilled training and precision piecing. But I love, I mean I totally go spider-monkey crazy when, at the end of one of my mysteries, an established quilter exclaims, “I’ve always wanted to make that, but I was too scared!”

The important takeaway is that when we come upon a quilty mountain that intimidates us, we must find a way to make that climb. With a friend, with a mystery, or with a nice glass of wine and a box of chocolates – the reward is in making the journey and never looking back.

How do you overcome your own quilting fears? Is there one quilt-a-phobia that is holding you back? Today is the day; don’t wait any longer. Go climb your quilty mountain!


Piece out,

Jessica J.E. Smith

The Quilt and Needle


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Featured Designer: Meet Cary Flanagan

“Jack of all trades” is a fairly apt description for quilt designer Cary Flanagan. From jewelry to music to dance, to pottery, plus a stint raising pigs, (not to mention renovating a 140-year-old house and barn and a 20-year career in social services) she has tried it all! As quilters and quilt lovers, we’re thrilled that Cary has found a home in the quilt world, creating beautiful designs that we all can use. Keep reading to learn more about Cary and Something Sew Fine.


Cary with her “Moon Dance” quilt in the background; it’s the cover quilt for her “Moon Dance” book featuring 12 patterns for using large-scale prints.


QW.com: You came into quilting after dabbling in many different artistic pursuits. Can you tell us a bit about your diverse journey?
CF: Yes – VERY diverse! I sometimes feel like I have lived a number of different lives, but that’s what keeps things interesting.
I have been designing and making things since I was little, and I have tried about every craft imaginable. In my early teens, I designed enamel, copper and silver jewelry. My dream was to become a famous professional jewelry designer and have my own shop. I began college as a music major and thought I wanted to become a professional musician. Then I was introduced to pottery making and continued my work in silver in the college art department. I joined an International Dance group on campus. I ended up majoring in Sociology and Anthropology and spent the summer before graduation working at an archeological dig in northern California. I spent the summer after graduation at the School for American Craftsmen in Rochester NY, focusing on silver-smithing and pottery. Whew – that was all before I turned 22!
I married a year after college, and worked as a secretary (ugh) at MIT for several years until we decided to join the “Back to the Land” movement of the early 1970’s, as well as working as full-time professional potters. We raised most of our own food, including raising pigs for several years. We did that for almost twelve years.
Eventually, the business began to take its toll on us physically and we decided it was time to grow up and get “real” jobs. I received a Master’s degree in Counseling in 1987 and spent almost seventeen years on the staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Manchester. I loved the work but became thoroughly burnt out by the time I left in 2004. I have been running my own quilt design business ever since.

QW.com: What got you started in quilt design?
CF: I began making quilts around 1990 and joined the Amoskeag
Quilters Guild in Manchester, NH. I became involved with making charity quilts as part of the guild’s programs. Soon after leaving full-time work, I designed a technique that made it possible to cut all the blocks for a quilt in very little time, which was ideal for charity quilts. It is what I now call a “stack, cut and shuffle” design. That block became the basis for my very first commercial pattern, “Rule of Thirds.” I enjoyed the design process so much I just kept designing! For me, designing is a form of play. However, turning those designs into a finished quilt and salable pattern is hard work.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds” table runner

QW.com: What do you wish someone had told you before you started quilting as a pastime?
CF: Let me broaden that question. What I wish someone had told my husband and me before we became full time potters, was how to separate our business lives from our personal lives. With the pottery studio covering most of the second floor of our house (and a morning commute of “just down the hall”), it was too easy to allow our professional and personal lives to become all one. That turned out to be a serious mistake.
Because of that experience, when I established my quilt design business I knew the importance of keeping my business and private lives separate as much as possible. You have to set some boundaries and priorities so that the business does not suck you in to the point of neglecting home and family.

QW.com: Who taught you to quilt?
CF: I am primarily self-taught but have read many quilt books and taken many classes/workshops over the past 20+ YEARS. I learned to sew very early from my mother and have made clothes, curtains, slip-covers and so on before I discovered quilt-making.


QW.com: Could you share one of your favorite quilting tips?
CF: I would urge anyone who does not already belong to a quilt guild, to join one. I have learned so much from my fellow quilters, not to mention making many really good friends. For the past three years I have joined other guild members in making brightly colored and cheerful pillowcases for seriously ill children in several local and regional hospitals. Last year, as a group, we produced about 2500 pillowcases. Our goal for this year is 5,000 and we are well on our way, thanks to many individuals and quilt shops who donate fabric for the cause.
Being part of an active guild is one of the best things I ever did as a quilter. If you live in an area where there are no conveniently located guilds, start one yourself or join one or more online groups, of which there are dozens.


Moon Glow

Moon Glow

QW.com: A lot of our readers tell us they have trouble finding more time to quilt. What advice would you give them?
CF: This is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” responses. I am not nearly as organized or as disciplined as I would like to be. I have way too many interests and I become easily distracted. (True confessions).
So my advice is to get and stay as organized as possible (this is not to say you can’t have a messy studio – just don’t let the mess take over). Learn to stay focused. Make spending time in your studio (or wherever you sew/create) a priority, every day if possible. In my case I am either sewing, or designing, or writing most of the day, but I also make time for my husband and mother-in-law, (who turned 100 years old in March), and, of course, my friends and family. We have two dogs that we love and both of us enjoy going on long walks or playing with them every day. I also love gardening, reading for pleasure and for research, and so much more!
I am currently working on my first novel and hope to get that published in June or July of this year (2015), so that has been my primary focus for the last few months. The story is about a quilt maker growing up in the last half of the 19th and early 20th century in a small village in NH. Not coincidentally, the protagonist, Hannah, becomes possibly the first quilt pattern designer in New England and develops a successful mail order pattern business.
I am already planning a companion book which will showcase a variety of quilts that might have been made by Hannah and members of her Quilting Bee, along with diagrams and instructions for making these quilts.
One other tip – allow yourself time to do nothing, if that is what you feel like doing. Or do something for the sheer fun of it. I highly recommend it. As I get older I am letting go of the need to “do it all.”

QW.com: One more fun fact about Cary: Her “Take Four” Placemat Set is the top-selling Quiltwoman.com pattern of all time. Congratulations, Cary!


“Take Four” Placemat Set


Want to learn more about Cary? Find her patterns here. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Featured Designer: Mary Louise Gerek Designs

MLG Designs

Seashell Quilt Patterns

Mary Louise Gerek has been involved in needle arts as long as she can remember. Her grandmother taught her to sew and she continued to enjoy needle arts for the next 35 years. We had a chance to chat with Mary Louise about what inspires her, what her best tips for other quilters are and her life outside quilt design. Read on for our feature on Mary Louise Gerek Designs. 

Featured Designer: Mary Louise Gerek Designs

QW.com: What inspires your art quilt patterns?

MLG: I really have dueling passions in quilting; art quilting and designing patterns. I started quilting after a trip to New Mexico and realized that it is all about the fabric. My art quilts are inspired by nature, music and poetry. I have a couple inspired by Grand Prismatic Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Two were inspired by the poetry of Kitty Jospé of Rochester, NY. She even chose them to be on the covers of her two books, Mosaicq and Gathering Lines. My first art quilt was inspired by the music at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. Listening to the music, I could almost see the notes as they rose into the starry night.

For my quilt patterns, I love to see how secondary patterns appear when identical blocks are rotated and mirrored. This is really evident in Blue Angles and Seashell. The most interesting patterns emerge from non-symmetrical blocks, which make the patterns look complex. However, I try very hard to have all straight line piecing in my blocks, making construction easier than it looks. The major challenge is ensuring the patches and blocks are constructed in the proper order.

MLG Designs

Shades of Color Quilt Pattern

QW.com: Many of our readers tell us they have trouble finding more time to sew. What advice would you give them?

MLG: It is amazing what you can do in 10 to 30 minutes. If you have a project going, have it organized and ready to sew. When you find a few minutes between other activities, try a little chain piecing; or put a few blocks together. Your work will come together more quickly than you thought. Another way to gain sewing time is to make an appointment with yourself. Put dedicated sewing time in your calendar each week – and do not schedule over it. This time should have as high a priority as any other appointment. After all, it is an appointment with you to take care of yourself.

QW.com: You are an expert on Electric Quilt 7 software. Can you tell us more about how it plays a big role in your designs and teaching career?

MLG Designs

3-D Chevron Quilt Pattern

MLG: Electric Quilt 7 is my major planning and designing tool. I have designed many more quilts than I will every make as I explore ideas and color combinations. I can start with a few lines and create my own block, or extract a unit from a block that comes with the program. EQ allows the drawings to keep up with my thought process. It also allows me to change size of a project very easily, or engineer the patches to eliminate Y seams.

I enjoy teaching EQ because I see the creative process take hold as students master the tools. I will be teaching a new class “Digging Deeper into EQ7” at The Sewing Circle in Fort Collins, CO starting February 5, 2015. Please visit their web site for details.

MLG Quilt Designs

Blue Angles Quilt Pattern

QW.com: So many of us learned to quilt and sew from our family members. What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned from yours?

MLG: I learned to knit from my grandmother, Louise Connell Robert. Along with my name, it created a closeness to her that I still treasure, even though we lost her when I was in college. My brother Shelby, started me in needlepoint after he picked it up from his wife. They both taught me the value of creating my own work and giving gifts from my own hands. I enjoy the tactile part of these activities; the feel of the yarn or fiber, and of course working with the colors. Quilting has allowed me to create pieces that are completed on a shorter time frame. It has also allowed me to work more with color and contrasting textures.

QW.com: Other than quilting, what else do you like to do?

MLG: My husband and I enjoy traveling both locally and internationally. Many of the pictures I take are for texture and interesting color/lighting on objects for quilting ideas. We also visit museums and natural areas which definitely adds to my inspiration.
Since we moved out west, we take walks in the foothills of the Rockies. But, when trapped inside, I love reading and cooking.

MLG Designs

Syncopation Quilt Pattern

QW.com: What are some of your favorite quilting tips?

MLG: If you find your tools moving from place to place as you work, you may want to create a basic tool set to have at each workstation. For example, I have small snips, ruler or measuring tape, pins, tweezers and large scissors at my sewing machine, ironing board, cutting table and serger table. There is a little extra expense, but having the tools where and when you need them really aids in productivity.

I really like to starch my fabric when I am piecing – especially patches cut on the bias. The added stiffness aids in accuracy and decreases distortion of the patches. You can starch each piece, or treat the fabric prior to cutting. There are many products you can use depending on the desired stiffness. Spray sizing and commercial spray starch have perfumes that may bother some folks. Your quilt store should have Best Press starch alternative. If using commercial spray starch, be sure to wash it out when the quilt is finished. Some bugs find starch great for lunch.

We hope you enjoyed our feature. Visit our website to find out more about Mary Louise Gerek’s patterns. Don’t miss any of our blog posts containing great tips for finding more time to do what you love! Sign up for our mailing list. 


Posted in Designers, QuiltWoman | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Featured Designer: Elaine Kosnac of Quilter’s Nook Studio

Quilters Nook Studio

Dancing Swords Quilt Pattern

Elaine Kosnac has been sewing since the 1950’s. She formed her quilt pattern company, Quilter’s Nook Studio, after her quilting co-workers encouraged her to try quilting. We took some time to chat with Elaine about her patterns and best tips.

Featured Designer: Elaine Kosnac of Quilter’s Nook Studio

QW.com: How did you get started in quilting?

QNS: I’ve been a sewer since the 1950’s. By 7th grade, I was making all of my own school clothes. Fast forward 25 years and I found myself working the stock room for a fabric chain store. The gals on the floor all quilted & encouraged me to give it a whirl. At that time, I leaned towards the camp of “why cut up that beautiful fabric into tiny pieces & then sew it back together again?” For my first project I thought, “What could be easier to make than a single shape quilt?” So I chose to make a 1000’s of Pyramids, in a queen size! Back then we were working with a lot of polyester and polyester blend fabrics – what a nightmare! I quilted it on a domestic (old Kenmore) machine. Even with all the issues, and believe me there were many – I was hooked!

QW.com: What are your favorite quilting patterns and why?

QNS: Over the last 14 years of having a brick & mortar store, quilting studio and teaching, I have found that patterns that appear to be complicated (either by design or fabric choice), but really aren’t, truly build enthusiasm & confidence in every quilter, no matter their skill level.

Quilters Nook Studio

3-D Explosion Quilt Pattern

QW.com: What is your favorite part of the quilting process and why?

QNS: Currently, I am enjoying long arm free motion quilting, especially when my customer allows me free reign to get creative with the quilting. Since I don’t use pantos and my machine is not computerized (by choice), my creativity just blossoms.

QW.com: You have a great skill for choosing fabrics for patterns. What advice would you give our readers about picking out fabrics?

QNS: Sometimes the fabric is the inspiration for a quilt. Sometimes it’s the pattern that initiates the hunt for the perfect fabrics! Work with colors, patterns and styles that excite you! If you don’t like what you’re working on, it becomes a chore and then it takes forever to get it finished. If after you have your fabrics, while you’re starting to work on the project, if some of your choices really aren’t working, don’t be afraid to change them out. After all, it is your quilt! I feel that done is better than perfect & never finished.

Quilters Nook Studio

It’s a Mystery to Me Quilt Pattern

QW.com: A lot of our readers tell us that they have trouble finding more time to quilt. What advice would you give them?

QNS: I think it all goes back to the old saying that if you value something, you find the time for it –even if it’s only a short time. Due to my current commitments, I can only block out three hours on Sunday afternoons for things that make me happy. It’s amazing how I look forward to that time each week, planning what I’ll do with it! Sometimes it has nothing to do with quilting – like painting the kitchen – but as long as it’s something that makes me happy, that energizes me for the rest of my week!

QW.com: What are some of your favorite quilting tips?

QNS: Have as many multi-purpose rulers, templates, etc. as you find useful. Single purpose items that might get used only once, waste space and money.

Quilters Nook Studio

No Way That’s a Sweatshirt Pattern

QW.com: Besides Quilting and Sewing, what else do you like to do?

QNS: Since moving to the south I am learning how to garden all over again! But that’s ok. In the evenings, while keeping my Mom company, I find myself crocheting prayer shawls, or knitting socks and finger-less gloves for the grand kids back north.

To learn more about Elaine and Quilter’s Nook Studio, visit her pattern page at QuiltWoman.com or website.



Posted in Designers, Helpful Tips, QuiltWoman | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Featured Designer: Nan Baker of PURRFECT SPOTS



How does a talented quilter who also loves animals combine her two passions? Years ago,  Nan Baker of PURRFECT SPOTS decided to form her company for a special feline who inspired her, and to form a special cause to help animals at the same time. I sat down with Nan and was almost moved to tears when I heard the story of Casey. Nan also has some killer tips for getting organized so you can find more time to sew and for quilting in general.

Featured Designer: Nan Baker of PURRFECT SPOTS


Casey: The Cat behind THE CASEY PLAN

QW.com: How did you come up with the name “PURRFECT SPOTS” for your quilt pattern company?

NB: When I sold my first design, it suddenly became crunch time to pick a name. I wanted something that spoke of my two passions – needlework and animals. As a disaster responder for The Humane Society of the United States for Florida and the rest of the country, I went from designing to disasters and I started my company in memory of my kitty, Casey.  I had to tie the two together.

While petting one of my kitties, I kept going over different names. I just wanted it to be the perfect name.  Rina had a very loud purr and her motor was really going that night. It just kind of came to me – PURRFECT and because I love Dalmatian dogs – SPOTS. Therefore the name stuck and it could be anything – no limitations. At the different needlework markets my company name and my other profession gave me a wonderful opportunity to educate shop owners about The CASEY Plan (explained later in this interview) plus I offered brochures for their shop.


Memphis Ribbon and Blues Quilt Pattern

QW.com: What are your best-selling patterns? What are your personal favorites?

NB: My best selling patterns include Memphis Ribbon & Blues, Night Watch, Bullas Bears, and Splendour in the Grass. My two newest patterns Ruffles & Ridges and The Point of It All are looking very promising to be big sellers as well.  Also my cross stitch patterns are still selling as well, particularly my Christmas animal series.

It is difficult to pick a favorite quilt because they all have different meanings for me and I remember what was going on in my life when they were made. Having said that, I would have to pick “Denny’s Hopscotch Quilt”. This was a hand pieced and hand quilted quilt that I made for my husband. He loved it, but so did our cat, Denny. Finally my husband had to relinquish the quilt to the cat! Denny loved that quilt and spent hours on it napping. It brings back fond memories of a very special kitty when I see that quilt. RIP my dear sweet Denny.

Denny and the Original Hopscotch Quilt

Denny and the Original Hopscotch Quilt

GetAttachment (1)

QW.com: Tell us more about The CASEY Plan and how PURRFECT SPOTS supports that cause?

NB: PURRFECT SPOTS was started because of Casey – a very special cat. He was a stray cat that hung out at the house next door. The owners were military and were deployed. He was not their cat but he just found a place to call his own where he wasn’t bothered by anyone. When I discovered him, I started feeding him every day, but couldn’t get near him. When we had to evacuate for Hurricane Opal, I took all my kitties with me except for Casey as I couldn’t find him and if I had, I don’t think I could have caught him.

After Hurricane Opal hit and we returned to our house, I ran next door and Casey came running to me and practically jumped in my arms. Thank God, he was not injured, just scared. He became my cat. Unfortunately as he was a feral cat, he hadn’t had the proper nutrition and had lots of medical problems. I lost him all too soon, but I am so glad that he had a loving home his last few months. When he died, I decided his life should not be in vain, so I started The CASEY Plan (Caring for Animals Safely in Emergencies during the Year).

As a member of the State and National Disaster Animal Response Team, I knew all too well what happened when pets were left behind in disasters. The CASEY Plan was a way to educate people how to make preparations for their pets in times of disaster. The CASEY Plan won an award from the state of Florida and also a National Award from The Humane Society of the United States.

A portion of sales from PURRFECT SPOTS goes to support that effort.



QW.com: Many of our readers tell us they have trouble finding more time to sew. What advice would you give them?

NB: This is the hardest thing for many of us, including me. There are always distractions, but I have learned to make time and set boundaries. I am blessed in that I have a sewing studio otherwise known as the C.A.T. House – Creative Arts & Textiles (but the kitties use to live there). Having this space, I can just close the door and start where I left off the next day. I know this is a problem for those who don’t have space as it is time consuming to take everything down and then set it up when you want to continue on your project.Sometime you don’t feel it is worth the effort because by the time you get it together, your sewing time is gone.  Again, you just must make your sewing time a priority for many reasons.

Cat House

QW.com: Other than quilting, what else do you like to do?

NB: I love to help animals and try to find ways to do that whether it is making Kennel Quilts for animal shelters or writing blogs for animal organizations.

I love cross stitch and almost any kind of needlework as I do needlepoint, crochet, knit and of course sewing for my home or dresses for my nieces. I also like to garden and decorate my house whether it is a re-arrangement of furniture or holiday decorations.

QW.com: What are some of your favorite quilting tips?

NB: I keep my projects organized as I am usually working on three or four at a time. I have boxes where I keep all the fabrics, directions, etc., for each project. I have found that it is easiest to do all my cutting first so when I have a few extra minutes, I can just start sewing. I print a copy of the block and tape or pin my fabric in the proper place so I can get right to work without having to review the project.

I keep a pair of scissors in my glasses case along with a couple of tapestry needles as the needles have big eyes. I use these when I pull my threads through after quilting. As I need my glasses to sew, I find it is very handy to have the other items next to me.

My ironing board is set up next to my machine and when I turn on the machine, I plug in the iron so it is ready when I need it.

I heard someone once say – “My day is not complete until fabric, thread and needle meet.” We need to make this a priority and we will be much happier which will be reflected in our actions and attitude.


Posted in Designers, QuiltWoman | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Featured Designer: Jude Spero of Little Louise Designs

Little Louis Designs

Little Louise is the adorable cat who loves fabric

Jude Spero, of Little Louise Designs has been quilting in some form or fashion since the 1970’s. Influenced by her Grandmother who worked in the textile industry, Jude designs original patterns for several companies including Timeless Treasures, Island Batik and Quilting Treasures. Her adorable feline, Louise, is the inspiration for her company name. Read more to discover her best advice and tips for quilters and to learn more about her quilting companion, Louise.

Featured Designer: Little Louise Designs

QW.com: How would you describe your quilting style?

LLD: I would describe my quilting style as rather eclectic. I love the Vintage Modern look and I’ve been working with a lot of Batiks. I do everything from Modern, Traditional, Folk Art, Northwoods to 30’s styles.

QW.com: You named your company after your cat, Louise. Can you tell us more about her?

LLD: Louise has always loved playing around with my fabric. Any time I would be working on a project she would come down to the studio to help. I love making scrap quilts and have many baskets of scraps of varying fabrics. Louise would dig around in the baskets and low and behold she always managed to pull out just the right piece I needed. Over the years this has escalated into her being an outright cat burglar! Every night Louise goes down to the studio and steals fabric. It could be anything from a bunch of pieces I have cut out for a project to a Jelly Roll or Charm Pack. She particularly loves Fat Quarters. Every morning when I wake up I find fabric or quilt blocks, you name it, all over the house. She has even per-washed fabric in the dogs water dish.

Little Louise Designs

Louise loves to pre-wash fabric in the dog’s waterbowl

QW.com: What are your best-selling patterns?

LLD: My best sellers are Danish Delights, Saturday In The Park, Gateway To Paradise and Monkey Bars to name a few.

QW.com: A lot of our readers tell us that they have trouble finding more time to quilt. What advice would you give them?

LLD: My best advice is #1, always do a test block before you begin. #2, organize yourself and cut everything out and have it ready to sew next to your sewing machine. This way you can just sit down and sew for a few minutes or a few hours and still accomplish something.

Little Louise Designs

Danish Delights Quilt Pattern

QW.com: What patterns would you recommend to beginning quilters and why? How about the more advanced?

LLD: For beginners, I would recommend Danish Delights, California Dreaming and Gateway To Paradise. These patterns are easy, straight forward and are a great introduction to pre-cuts. For more advanced quilters I would recommend Twisting With The Stars, Celtic Landing, Outside The Box and Monkey Bars. These patterns are a little more challenging but a lot of fun to do.

Little Louise Designs

Monkey Bars Quilt Pattern

QW.com: What are your some of your favorite quilting tips?

LLD: I love any kind of quick piecing techniques. Some of my favorite tools I use are the “Quilt In A Day Flying Geese Ruler” and “The Angler 2 by Pam Bono Designs”. For half square triangles I like to draw a grid on the wrong side of the lighter fabric. I then draw diagonal lines across the squares. Place the right sides together with the darker fabric and sew ¼” seams along both sides of the diagonal line. Cut it out on the drawn lines and presto, you have a whole bunch of half square triangles in no time!

Little Louise Designs

Saturday In The Park Quilt Pattern

QW.com: Besides Quilting and Sewing, what else do you like to do?

LLD: Besides quilting and designing I play the guitar and mandolin. I also do Tai Chi and am beginning to learn to do the Chinese Swords. Sounds kind of crazy but it’s really cool to watch, it’s like a dance. These activities are great for my mind, body and spirit. Kind of a mental health break!

QW.com: Where can I readers lean more about you?

LLD: I am having a new website built ,www.quiltpatternsplus.com, where I will finally have my own Blog. I plan to possibly have a weekly “Little Louise Cat Burglar Challenge”.
This would involve the challenge of making something with Louise’s stolen goods.

Thank you for joining us for uur interview with Jude Spero of Little Louise Designs.


Posted in Designers, Helpful Tips, QuiltWoman | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Featured Designer: Sandi Colwell of Quilt Cabana Patterns

Quilt Cabana Patterns

Sandi proudly poses with her book, Little Quilts for Big Occasions

Sandi Colwell is a talented quilt designer who also enjoys working with polymer clay, crocheting and scrapbooking. Read on to discover how Sandi’s love of paper piecing led her to try her techniques with fabrics and ultimately resulted in the founding of her pattern company; Quilt Cabana Fabrics.

Featured Designer: Sandi Colwell of Quilt Cabana Patterns

QW.com: How did scrapbooking lead to designing quilted wall hangings?

QCP: In all the years that I have been scrapbooking, the one technique that I continuously go back to is paper piecing. I find such joy in cutting pieces of colored paper into shapes and making little scenes on my page with them. Most people can tell which scrapbook pages belong to me without hesitation. I guess that is my “style”. I realized early on in my quilting career that I could transfer these design ideas to wall hangings and table runners. Instead of paper and glue sticks, I am creating with fabric and fusible web!

Quilt Cabana Patterns

Happy Cupcakes Quilt Pattern

QW.com: You feature a lot of fusible applique in your designs. Tell us more about that.

QCP: I find fusible appliqué to be creatively freeing. It’s a fast process and you can try out your design before you fuse and commit to it. I enjoy machine appliquéing with a beautifully practiced blanket stitch. Neat stitching around the edges of the appliqués add warmth and charm to any design. Fusible appliqué is a wonderful technique for new quilters and experienced ones as well.

Quilt Cabana Patterns

First Seasonal Trio Quilt Pattern

QW.com: How did you break into the world of designing projects for magazines?

QCP: My first published craft project was a polymer clay covered pen with a S’more on top of it! I submitted the design idea to Sculpey Clay and it was accepted! I couldn’t believe that I could make money from an idea (at the time we weren’t required to submit the finished project just the instructions). I went on to make and submit many clay projects and had the good luck to be published in several issues of Pack-O-Fun magazine. This gave me the confidence to submit quilt patterns to magazines and also to Leisure Arts who published my book, Little Quilts For Big Occasions. I have also enjoyed writing humorous articles about crafting that were published in Polymer Cafe magazine. You can read one of my articles here. 

QW.com: What are your some of your favorite quilting/crafting tips?

QCP: The quilting tip that I like to share the most is to urge quilters to pull fabrics and get the first step of a new project laid out as soon as you finish your current project. This gets you excited and inspired to get back in the sewing room without delay! My favorite oganizing tip is to keep a hamper in your sewing area that can hold batting, rolls of fusible web and stabilizers. The hamper keeps them neat and all in one place.

Quilt Cabana Patterns

Third Seasonal Trio Quilt Pattern

QW.com: What is something you wish you had known about sewing and quilting before you began?

QCP: That I would need a bigger house! I had no idea how fast and to what extent multiple hobbies can take over a home. I have a beautiful sewing room that also stores most of my scrapbooking and clay supplies. My fabric stash currently lives in cabinets in the master bathroom, extra scrap and clay supplies live in a closet in my basement and quilting templates hide under my bed.  I even have a Featherweight machine set up in my dining room so I can stitch while I wait for dinner to cook.

QW.com: Other than quilting, what other crafts do you like to do?

QCP: All of them! I mostly enjoy scrapbooking, crocheting and working with polymer clay.  I have an on and off again love of garment sewing.  When my daughters were younger, I made them many outfits but as they have grown older, they aren’t as interested in a handmade outfit.  Once in awhile, I will sew a garment but I’d rather be quilting.

Quilt Cabana Patterns

To learn more about Sandi and see her quilt patterns, visit our website.



Posted in Designers, Helpful Tips, QuiltWoman | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Announcing Barb Sackel’s New Video Series

New video series
It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Barb Sackel’s new video series, a QuiltWoman.com exclusive. Barb Sackel is a prolific quilt designer and talented teacher. QuiltWoman.com is proud to carry more than 150 patterns designed by Barb. In the next few weeks, we will begin to share Barb’s videos, which are certain to not only help you sharpen your skills but will also inspire you. We asked Barb a little more about what to expect…

Batik Diamonds Quilt Pattern

Batik Diamonds Quilt Pattern

Barb Sackel’s New Video Series

QW.com: How did you get started in quilting?

BS: It was 1990 and I was making doll dresses and oil paintings on wooden crafts like buckets and butter churns and sharing a booth at festivals with my father selling all sorts of crafts. I quickly got tired of making doll dresses and picked up a quilt magazine in August. I then joined a Guild and started the process of teaching myself learning from as many different avenues as I could. By December, I was president of the Guild and designed my first quilt (as a charity quilt for the Guild) for Ronald McDonald House.

May 1991 rolled around and while at a festival I was asked to start a teaching program at a local fabric shop. I did a lot of investigating to see what was missing in beginning quilting world and made my Beginning Class comprised of 8 classes. My classes included all that I will be teaching in the video series, including 4 things that were missing in classes at the time: 1. Using the 1/8” marks on the ruler, 2. Using directional material, 3. Scant ¼” and the biggest of all #4 Squaring up.

The Beginning Quilt Pattern will be offered along with the video series so everyone can learn and quilt along with me. I have taught this class to hundreds of students with wonderful results. Many students followed me with my “Quilting College” as we explored every avenue of quilting together including Introduction to Intermediate Quilting (also a pattern and will be a full quilt video series).

new video series

Playing in the Wood Crib Quilt Pattern

QW.com: How long have you been designing for QuiltWoman.com?

BS: I had just finished working at a shop in town as the manager for 4 years. They closed their doors and not much later, Nancy Dill the owner of QuiltWoman.com, opened her quilt shop doors and I went to apply for a job. During our talk, I was telling her that I only taught my own designs in my classes and I would love to take them to the public. She responded to me by saying, “I sure love to market, I love everything that end has to offer.” So we joked that we would make a perfect pairing and I left.

When I got home I decided to call her to ask if she was indeed serious about our conversation. Indeed she was! We decided to start putting th

Introduction to Intermediate Quilting Pattern

Introduction to Intermediate Quilting Pattern

e patterns out to the public. About 2-3 months later, QuiltWoman.com came up for sale and Nancy decided to purchase the company. The rest is history. Nancy and I are best of friends and beside me being one of her designers, we try to work together once a week bouncing ideas off of each other and inspiring one another on the creative side.


QW.com: What do you find the most challenging thing about quilting? How do you overcome that challenge?

BS: The most challenging thing about my quilting journey was learning to use the computer and the programs that go along with designing virtual quilts. Again, I am mostly self-taught. Once again Nancy was always there cheering me on and being as helpful as she could. Perseverance was the key to success. My first pattern handed in to her was typed on a typewriter. I have indeed come a long way.

QW.com: You have a new series of videos that you have introduced that will be a QuiltWoman.com exclusive. Tell our readers more about that.

BS: The videos will start coming out around the end of November or the beginning of December.

As stated earlier, I will start with the Beginning series which includes such topics as Basic Quilting Tools, Identifying parts of a Quilt, (to take the intimidation out of them), Perfect ¼” seam allowance and Squaring Up. I always told my quilters that they should practice what they have learned in class so some of the quilt blocks will have a beginning pattern to go along with them to practice their skills. Of course cutting directional fabric and squaring up are on the top of my list for everyone to see. Directional fabric gives so much excitement to a quilt that I challenged all my students to always put one piece in their quilts.

To this day, they are proud of themselves when they do because it is not always easy to do!

bs2-376 (1)

Back Splash Quilt Pattern

Barb Sackel's new video series

Back Splash Quilt Pattern

QW.com:  What do you think quilters most want to learn to improve their skills? Tell us how your videos will help with this?

BS: I think what most quilters are looking for is a way to improve their quilting. Tips and Tricks are my favorite thing to share and they start with the basics. I had a class called “Back to the Basics” that was offered to all levels of quilters and it was a big hit. Everyone can benefit from going back to the basics and learning to increase precision and accuracy. After all, most of our quilts will be passed down to future generations and we want to be proud of them!

We can’t wait to see what Barb has to teach us! Stay tuned!

P.S. All of the quilt patterns shown here and on the video series can be found at on the QuiltWoman.com website. 


Posted in Designers, patterns, QuiltWoman, Techniques, Video | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Interview With Kits By Kalt

Genevieve Kalt is like many of us. We love using our skills to create things for friends and family. A few years ago, Genevieve decided to turn her hobby into a business and created Kits by Kalt. In our interview we learned that not only is she a talented ornament pattern designer, she is also an avid paddle-boarder and dog lover.

kits by kalt

Genevieve and her Sister Virginia

An Interview With Kits by Kalt

QW.com: How did you get started in designing your ornament patterns?

KBK: I first learned how to do this method at a class. I used to make them as gifts for everyone I met, I branched out and started making the pinecones and trees just for a change of pace.  I made them as gifts for over 10 years with all of my friends and family telling me that I should sell them.  I knew that selling the finished product was never going to be lucrative.  It wasn’t until I had a few weeks off between jobs that I made about 100 kits and took them to local stores to see if they would even sell, that was in June 2010 and it has been growing ever since.

kits by kalt

Starry Night Wreath Pattern

QW.com: Your sister is part of your design team? What roles do you play? What is it like working with family?

KBK: My sister and I have been crafting since we were little. She was a Girl Scout and I was a Campfire girl so we would always share the latest projects and crafts that we were working on and learning.  I learned how to do Counted Cross Stitch when I was 9 years old, and taught her how, and we both still really enjoy cross stitch.  She has been one of my biggest supporters. She helps with Social Media, but mostly with distribution and shipping.  Because it is on such a part time basis, it really works well for us both.

kits by kalt

Pinecone Ornament Pattern

QW.com: What are your best-selling patterns?

KBK: The best selling patterns have been the Pinecone and the Starry Night wreath.  They have run neck and neck for the last 3 years.

QW.com: How do you decide what fabrics to use when doing prototypes for ornament patterns?

KBK: I love picking out fabrics. I used to quilt a lot, I made baby quilts for all 7 of my nieces and nephews. I try to stick with somewhat traditional fabrics , but I have just used scraps if that is all I had at the time and was inspired.

kits by kalt

The Evergreen Tree Ornament Pattern

QW.com: A lot of our readers tell us that they have trouble finding more time to craft, quilt and sew. What advice would you give them?

KBK: I really have a hard time quilting and crafting for myself (for fun) now that it is a business.  Most of my creative energy gets taken up by new designs and prototypes. I do find that on Sundays when I have the football games on in the background, I can snuggle on the couch and cross stitch.

QW.com: Besides Quilting and Sewing, what else do you like to do?

KBK: Aside from quilting and crafting, I spend a lot of time doing Stand Up Paddle Boarding, usually in the ocean, I surf the waves on my board.  I usually am in the ocean at least 4 days a week. I also dabble in gardening, and I have an awesome Labrador that I rescued 3 years ago.


Paddle boarding in San Franciso

Stout, Genevieve's rescued Lab

Stout, Genevieve’s rescued Lab






Thanks for reading our interview!









Posted in Designers, Gift idea, patterns, QuiltWoman | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

5 Tips Friday- How to Find More Time to Quilt Part 3

How To Find More Time to Quilt

We are back with our 5 Tips Friday series! This is our third and final segment of How to Find More Time to Quilt which features some great tips and techniques from our designers. Don’t miss the first and second segments of this mini blog-series.

If you like what you see, make sure you sign up for our mailing list to get new blog post notifications. We also offer free drawings from time to time and you are automatically entered if you are part of our list. You don’t even have to enter! Read on to discover some great time saving ideas…

how to find more time to quilt

Nan Baker’s “Midnight in Manhattan”Quilt Pattern

How to Find More Time to Quilt Part 3

1. Maximize peak times.

Do you consider yourself a “morning person” or a “night owl?” Carol McDowell of Quilted Fabric Arts says that you should maximize your own peak productive time-frames. She states, “Use this to your advantage because your most productive work will be at that time.”  So if you are your most creative and productive during the evening hours, save the heavy lifting for that time. If you are a morning person, leave the more monotonous, mundane tasks for later in the day.

how to find more time to quilt

Skiing Under the Moonlight by Carol McDowell

2. Go To Retreats.

Reeze Hanson of Morning Glory Designs schedules at least four quilting retreats per year. According to Reeze, “By planning ahead I arrange my work schedule well in advance, and have the projects laid out and ready in the order I need to work on them. Three or four solid days of sewing can really make a dent in my project pile and I get to enjoy some wonderful friends in the process.”

how to find more time to quilt

January Carnation by Reeze Hanson

3. Stay Focused. Don’t Get Distracted.

Nan Baker of Purrfect Spots claims that she is able to get so much quilting and designing done by staying in sharp focus. It’s easy to get distracted, says Nan, but you simply must make your quilting a priority. Nan says, “Schedule a time every day that you can say, ‘I am stitching for 30 minutes’ and stay focused. Don’t get distracted by house cleaning, phone calls or computer. Commit that time to your projects. As I have heard it said, my day is not complete until fabric, thread and needle meet. I definitely feel that way!”

how to find more time to quilt

Dresden Mum Quilt Patterb by Laura Estes

4. Tote it.

Like many of us, Laura Estes of Laura’s Sage Country Quilts is challenged with a small studio space. She has found a great organizing system. “I have to keep projects corralled and organized so I use clear Super Satchel Totes by ArtBin. All the fabric, tools, thread and pattern go in the bin. When I have 10-15 minutes to work on a project I don’t have to waste time searching for all the parts. When the blocks are cut out, I place the pieces as they are to be sewn on parchment paper and layer in the totes. Then all I have to do is flip open the lid and start sewing. The totes makes it easy to transport or put away quick as well.”

how to find more time to quilt

Elaine Kosnac “It’s a Mystery to Me” quilt pattern

5. Keep it out.

Most of our designers mentioned that keeping the sewing machine set up and the ironing board out was a huge time saver that leads to having more time to quilt. Elaine Kosnac of Quilters Nook Studio says, “Have an area where your machine is ALWAYS set and ready to stitch. Even if it’s a card table in a corner. That way when you find your self with a few extra minutes you can stitch up a block without wasting the set up and prep time!”

Thank you for joining us today. We would love to hear your time saving tips.


Posted in 5 tip Friday, Designers, patterns, QuiltWoman | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments