Friday, November 22, 2019

Guinea Pigs

As a quilt teacher, most of my classrooms are far from home or on the computer.  Before I teach there, however, I teach a local group of quilters at the Quilt Basket (my local quilt shop) and they let me work out the class with them.  They show me where the handout could have been clearer, when there is too little (or too much!) information in a class, and how I can make the class fun for all.  I'm so grateful they take their time and let me work out my classes with them!

Last weekend I taught them a free-motion class that I plan to market to quilt shops.  I made a new sample:

I stitched basic shapes:

Collectively, we decided that this would make a great full-day workshop.  So look for that in the future!  I get to make another quilt soon to see what is reasonable for half-day workshop.  

Since I finished binding this sample, I stitched another design on my Stitch Therapy 365 quilt:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

New Video: How to Machine Quilt an Apple Core Quilt

One of the most often asked quilting questions is "How do I quilt this?"

It has been my pleasure to help answer this question in person and online for over a decade.

Since Quilt Market / Quilt Festival, I have been absolutely obsessed with hand piecing.  I had fun hand-piecing these curvy apple cores with Benartex Dreamscape fabrics:

I found a new favorite thimble at Quilt Festival and have been enjoying using it, as well as the cutest pair of scissors on earth!

I pieced together 25 apple cores and arranged them with other fabrics to make a placemat.

I filmed a video of how I machine quilted this using Hedwig and FabuLux Mellow Yellows thread:

This placemat will serve as inspiration for future apple core quilts, travel as a sample, and eventually be used to keep Mom's spaghetti from her tabletop.

For me, the best part of the placemat is that I bound and FINISHED it, which means I got to work on my Stitch Therapy incentive quilt.

Day 2:

I ran to the sewing room and asked myself, "What can I finish so I can stitch one of the designs?"  A simple binding on this placemat set me right up!

Monday, November 18, 2019

New Year, New Goals, New Project

As a traveling quilt teacher, my calendar is different than the rest of the world's.  Instead of Halloween, I say "Houston."  Instead of Father's Day, I say "Vermont Quilt Festival." Instead of New Year, I say "the day after I return from Houston." 

I bought myself a New Year's present -- a new stitchery kit with 365 daily patterns

I saw this quilt at Helen's booth in Houston and simply had. to. have. it!!!

Since my calendar is weird, I won't finish this quilt in 365 days.  Instead, I plan to stitch one day's design every time I finish a project.  Hopefully this will inspire me to finish up UFOs that have been languishing in my sewing room for far too long!

This incentive project is already hard at work.  I finished this little test quilt:

I saw leftover bits of pre-fused fabric from a top-secret project and started thinking (always dangerous.)  "What would happen if...?" 

So I gave myself a few hours to see what would happen if I--

--ran the pre-fused Benartex Fossil Fern fabrics through my Sizzix die cutter and made a bunch of one-inch circles?  And then drew 2" squares on a yard of gray fabric?  And then rolled a die to determine how many circles I would place in a grouping?  And then fused the circles to the fabric?

-- threaded Hedwig with FabuLux Cuddle, added my ViviLux, and used my walking foot to stitch along those chalk lines?

--used the "bacon (wiggle)" stitch to stitch through each fused circle?

--machine bound the quilt using Cuddle and a blanket stitch?

Well, this fun little quilt is what happened.

It'll stay with me for a while, be used as a sample or a springboard for a future "what if?" project, and then given away as a baby quilt or a wheelchair quilt.

Since I started and FINISHED this quilt, I rewarded myself by stitching Day 1 of my sampler.

Do you have a big goal and need daily rewards for the work?  Do you want a new project for the New Year?  Do you just want to play along?  I brought home several of these Stitch Therapy 365 kits and they are now available in my shop.  Shipping is free!

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Thankful Bowl of Cherries

Over the summer, I rolled out of bed while sleeping and broke my collarbone.*  If I could have scheduled this accident at a worse time, I'm not sure how.  No orthopedic surgeons are working the Friday after a Thursday 4th of July here in the States; they are all enjoying a long weekend as proper people do.  I, however, needed to see an orthopedic surgeon and was desperate.  I stopped in my rheumatologist's office and begged to see her assistant.  Since she's new and I rarely visit my specialist, we haven't met in person; we've spoken on the phone and I think she's quite lovely.  I introduced myself to her with "I left a quilt for you in the office last week.  Did you get it?"

"Yes," she said.  "I love it!  My boyfriend loved it too and asked me if I could get one for him.  I told him that it probably didn't work that way."

After our discussion, she helped me find an orthopedic surgeon who would fit me in that day.  I cried tears of gratitude and asked what her boyfriend's favorite color was. 

His favorite color is green:

I spent all of the 4th of July making two Bowl of Cherries quilts -- an orange one and a green one.  I knew that it would be a while until I had two hands again and was able to machine quilt the top, but I decided on the spot that this green quilt would be a perfect thank you gift for my doctor's assistant.

And it was.

The moral of the story is:  Bribe your medical team with quilts in case you need a favor on a holiday.
*I thought that was the most bizarre thing that could happen.  My house, however, said, "I can beat that" and proceeded to be crushed under a falling tree.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Toasty Toes

I love my job!  I have the best work subject (quilts), best colleagues (quilt industry professionals), and clients (quilters).  One of my online friends took a class with me in Houston and she gave me a pair of hand knit socks.

The temps dipped into the 20s this week in New York and I can happily report that these warmed my cold tooties right up!

Thank you a million times, Pauline!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Autumn Mug Rug -- online class

As we're expecting our first snow today, I'm enjoying a warm cup of tea on my new pumpkin mug rug that I made when I filmed a class for Annie's Creative Studio:

I'm a fall gal; I could wear sweaters and boots all year long and adore the smell of fallen leaves.  If you want to enjoy autumn with your coffee/tea every morning, check out my new class:

Prepare your table or workspace for fall with these fun Autumn Mug Rugs!

In this Learn, Make, Create! episode brought to you by Annie’s Creative Studio, quilting expert Debby Brown demonstrates how to make the festive fall Pumpkin Mug Rug. As an added bonus, the pattern download also includes the Black Cat and Autumn Leaf Mug Rugs.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:
•             Use a childhood product to baste fabrics together.
•             Easily turn a small fabric stem right side out.
•             Machine stitch raw-edge applique.
•             Free-motion quilt vines.

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn from experts (like me!) how to quilt, knit, crochet, and more!  If you aren't a member yet, sign up for a free trial to watch the entire episode. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Why is My Thread Breaking?

When machine quilting, do you ever have trouble with your thread breaking?  It happens to all of us; I've written about it before.   And I've written about it again, this time in Quilter's World Magazine:

I'm tickled that I share the pages of this magazine with my friend Robin Koehler:

She designed a super-cute quilt in this issue and is an amazing teacher.  I keep suggesting that my guild should bring her to speak and teach a workshop.  Your guild should should do this, too!

Ask for Quilter's World Magazine at your local quilt shop, look for it on the newstand, or subscribe now! 

Friday, November 08, 2019

A Bowl of Cherries... Orange You Glad?

When I made an orange Bowl of Cherries Cutie Quilt for my daughter-in-love, I didn't expect the number of "I'm going to steal that quilt!" comments I'd get.  Since rotary cutters aren't allowed in prison (just my guess), I decided to keep quilters on the right side of the law and make this orange quilt available for all.  Legally.

Orange You Glad Cutie Quilt kit is now available in my online shop, and the sample quilt is available for purchase, as well!

Happy quilting!

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Houston Quilt Market / Quilt Festival 2019

This was my 14th year in Houston for Quilt Market / Quilt Festival and I can honestly say that it was the best one ever!  Part of it was because I finally figured out how to prep for all of my classes without over-stressing (hint: take a day off to cut my fabric when I get to the convention center) and I also figured out that it's ok to pass on evening fun activities in favor of rest.  Quilt Market was great, Quilt Festival classes were great, and spending eleven days with the quilt world was WONDERFUL!

I love that I get to travel with my quilting friend Teri Lucas.  She brings me cake.

Fortunately, there is a FedEx inside the convention center in case someone (not me, surely!) buys too much to carry home

Standing in line for the restrooms makes me want to commandeer the men's room to help all of us poor women out!

I caught the hand-piecing bug while I was in Houston.  It's highly contagious.  I plan to spread it to you so watch for it!

I visited with the fun folks at Bluprint.  It was weird to see my Bluprint machine quilting classes on their televisions every time I walked down that aisle (close to the food court so lunchtime was interesting).

Are you a member of Bluprint?  Consider a Free Trial!

Quilting friends are a huge part of Quilt Market and Quilt Festival.  I've been privileged to call Angela Walters a friend for nearly a decade and it was fun catching up with her.  On camera, even!

Oh, and did you you know that there were quilts in Houston?  This hugely amazing blue and white quilt exhibit took my breath away!

The next Quilt Market is in Pittsburgh, PA in May and then we get to enjoy Quilt Market and Quilt Festival in Houston again next October.  It seems so far away and I know from experience that it'll be here in a snap!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Gripping Your Quilt for Machine Quilting is a Cinch!

I regularly film for Annie's Creative Studio and am so excited to share a recently released episode!

In "How to Grip Your Quilt for Machine Quilting," I demonstrate and discuss a variety of products that are designed to help you get a grip on your machine quilting.  (See what I did there?)

Class Description:
Love to machine quilt, but find that you tire easily while holding your quilt under the needle? Finish projects without the fatigue!

In this Quilt & Sew Tips episode brought to you by Annie’s Creative Studio, quilting expert Debby Brown highlights a number of tools to help you hold your fabric securely as you piece and quilt your textile masterpieces.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:
·               Three types of specialty gloves.
·               Two types of gripper pads.
·               How to make machine-quilting easier.

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn from experts (like me!) how to quilt, knit, crochet, and more!  If you aren't a member yet, sign up for a free trial to watch the entire episode. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Boardwalk Quilt

I regularly film for Annie's Creative Studio and also regularly fall in love with the project I demonstrate!  The Boardwalk Quilt is one example:

In the video I showed how to free-motion quilt swirls, but I quilted another version of this quilt with ribbon candy.

Isn't this quilt just perfect?!?!?  These Riley Blake fabrics are so happy that I just had to use them!

I will shortly mail this quilt to a relative who needs a hug right now.  I will miss the quilt, but it will have a lovely new home with a lovely new lady.

If you'd like to make this quilt along with me, the pattern and video instructions are available on Annie's Creative Studio -- Boardwalk Quilt.

      "The eye-catching Boardwalk Quilt mixes straight lines with quilted swirls for an engaging counterpoint that will lift your spirits!

The Boardwalk quilt is shown in cool blues and greens with white sashing, but will pop in any colorway. In this Learn, Make, Create! episode brought to you by Annie's Creative Studio, quilting expert Debby Brown demonstrates tips to piece the blocks and adds a bonus free-motion swirl design tutorial. The pattern calls for batik fabrics, but any may be used.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:
•             Piece the stunning Boardwalk Quilt.
•             Machine-quilt a free-motion overall swirl design.

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn from experts (like me!) how to quilt, knit, crochet, and more!  If you aren't a member yet, sign up for a free trial to watch the entire episode.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bowl of (Spooky) Cherries for Halloween

Like many quilters, I have an extensive collection of scraps.  I dug into them on the 4th of July and pulled out a lovely collection of orange fabrics.  My quilt-loving daughter-in-love is a Halloween loving gal.  I showed her a photo of the fabrics I was pulling and she agreed that this quilt was for her.  She thinks that every quilt I make should be for her so this isn't unusual, but when she said she'd die without it, I knew I was onto something special.

I designed my latest Cutie Quilt, Bowl of Cherries, on paper and made my first sample from these lovely orange fabrics.

This just glows, doesn't it?  My daughter-in-love chose an orange bat fabric for the border and black and white ghost fabrics on the quilt backing.

I was only recently able to finish this quilt.  The second half of 2019 has made quilting difficult for me since I broke my collarbone on July 5 and a tree flattened my house on September 16.  I've been either unable to quilt or too busy with house stuff to get much quilting done!

Finally, I stitched my favorite ribbon candy using a rust-orange thread on the black fabric strips and free-motion leaves everywhere else.

Several people have tried to claim this quilt as their own and my daughter-in-love has a generous offer for them:

If you want in on the rental offer, you can contact me. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

New Episode: Diamond Twist

I'm so excited to show you another episode I filmed for Annie's Creative Studio:

I had so much fun piecing Diamond Twist; I know you will too!

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn from experts (like me!) how to quilt, nit, crochet, and more!  If you aren't a member yet, sign up for a free trial to watch the entire episode.

Class Description:

Give your quilt blocks a twist by adding angled pieces and the result is this stunning Diamond Twist Quilt design that dances across the rows. This gorgeous square throw quilt pattern by Linda Miller makes a 69 3/4" x 69 3/4" quilt.

Learn how to complete the original and reversed Dog Tooth Violet blocks in this Learn, Make, Create! episode with expert quilter Debby Brown.

In this episode, you'll learn how to:

  • Make accurate flying geese units.
  • Piece with templates.
  • Keep blocks organized.
  • Complete the Diamond Twist Quilt.
Sign in to Annie's Creative Studio, download your pattern, and make this quilt along with me!

Friday, October 11, 2019

New Cutie Pattern -- Sneak Peek!

I'm tickled to be speaking at the Dutchess Heritage Quilt Show this weekend.  I'm even more tickled to give you the first glimpse of the Cutie Pattern the show asked me to design for their show.

This weekend is the 135th anniversary of the birth of Eleanor Roosevelt and the show's theme is one of her quotes:

"The way to begin, is to begin."  -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Working with this theme, I designed a Cutie Pattern named Beginning:

This quilt contains quarter-square triangles.  I have tips for insuring these blocks end up the right size and a fun trick for easily trimming the blocks.

On Monday, October 14, I'm teaching Beginning as a full-day workshop.  This quilt contains applique and the students will learn several different applique techniques and hopefully find one they love!

There's still time to sign up for this workshop.  Visit the Dutchess Heritage Quilt Show this weekend, sign up on site to take the workshop, and shop the quilt show vendor mall to pick up your supplies for class. 

We're going to have so much fun!

For those unable to attend the quilt show, check back next week and I'll have the pattern up on my website.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Life is Sweet (Tooth)!

Of the dozens of quilt patterns I have designed, Sweet Tooth might be the one I have made the most.

I can explain my love for this quilt in two words:  Ribbon Candy.  Are you a fan of ribbon candy?  Can you stitch it freehand?  Or would a stencil help you?

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Stress Sewing -- Strings edition

I'm under a wee bit of stress since a tree smooshed my house.  While I am dealing with phone call after phone call after phone call and trying to figure out what the next six months of our lives will look like as we rebuild, I'm doing a little sewing.

Since I'm packing for our move and downsizing my possessions, I started de-cluttering my fabric with the smallest bits possible.  That'll help, right?

I'm working on stitching up my strings:

I had my strings in a huge basket waiting for me to twist them into twine for trivets and rugs, but decided that stitching them up would be quicker.  And I'll always make more.

I stitched up a bunch of black/white/gray blocks:

Some neutral blocks:

And a bunch of "anything goes" blocks:

I recently finished a quilt of anything goes strings and cheddar fabric and have just listed it for sale on my website.  There's nothing wrong with the quilts that I'm selling; I simply want fewer quilts to pack and move!

I didn't finish enough blocks of any one kind to make a quilt but these blocks are now completed and stored, waiting for another "stress sewing -- strings" so I can make more!

Are you a string piecer?  I've made these blocks to fit my Big Cheese Cutie Quilt pattern, but there are many more ideas in Bonnie Hunter's String Frenzy and String Fling books.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries!

Have you seen my newest Cutie Pattern -- Bowl of Cherries?

Am I allowed to say that I really, Really, REALLY love this pattern?  I've made six of these quilts so far, and see many more in my future!

I put together a kit for this pattern using Cherry Guidry's new My Little Sunshine 2 fabrics.

This is the perfect quilt for a little girl's "big girl" bed.

I can't wait to release the class on how to quilt this quilt top!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Traveling in Washing, D.C. with a Chronic Illness

If you've followed me online for any length of time, you probably know that I have a rare disease called Relapsing Polychondritis.  It's rather well controlled now, but it has damaged my body and I have to deal with those losses as well as very serious medications every day of my life.

I enjoy traveling because it adds to my quality of life.  I do a lot of planning to make my travel as comfortable and healthy for me as possible.

This week I was on vacation in Washington, D.C. and had so much fun!

We kayaked:

Visited some museums:
(I'm not big on dinosaur bones)

and generally Monkeyed Around:
Every time I thought about how much fun I was having, I also thought about all of the planning and preparation I do to make the travel reasonably stress-free.

In case travel is difficult for any of you, I decided to share some of my travel tips for those with chronic illnesses.

I made a list of things I have to do, things I wanted to do, and things my husband could do without me if I needed to rest.  We accomplished all of the "have to"s (his and mine) and quite a few of the "want to"s.  We didn't have to resort to any plans for my husband to do when I was resting, so yay!

On any vacation, there will be more on the to-do list than there is time to do them.  I pick and choose.  Vacation isn't supposed to wear me out or make me sick!

Sun Protection
It was rather warm in Washington, D.C. this week (80*F - 95*F) and much of our time was spent outside in the sun.  I take medications that leave me with no resistance to the sun's harmful rays; I burn in mere minutes.  Believe it or not, sun exposure can also cause my in-remission disease to flare up.  In short, the sun and I aren't friends.

I wear a hat whenever I'm outside.  This week I wore a logo hat from my husband's company.

I wear clip-on sunglasses.  I don't have to carry a large bag and keep switching my glasses as I change from indoor to outdoor and back again.  All.  Day.  Long.  I simply slide the flat sunglasses into a pouch in my small purse when I walk inside and pull them back out when I need them again.

I wear UPF 50 shirts.  I wear long-sleeved rash guard shirts when I adventure outdoors.  They aren't the coolest tops I could wear and I bake a bit in them, but they allow me to be outside during the day.  Thank you Lands' End!

I wear UPF 50 pants.  Before I discovered these pants, I had sun-exposure issues when I was in Greenwich/London.  Yes, I spent 10 days in the UK without a drop of rain and bright sunshine every day.  Who knew this was possible?  Anyway, these pants have a key pocket that is perfect for my Metro card and/or Hotel Key, they are super comfy, they pack/launder well, and they protect me from the sun.  I won't travel without these pants.

I wear sunscreen.  Can you believe this is last on my list?  I don't actually wear much sunscreen since not much skin is exposed to the sun.  I cover my face, neck, ears, and hands.  I'm currently using All Good Reef Friendly Sport Sunscreen.  It came in my CAUSEBOX and I'm loving it!

Foot/Leg Pain and Mobility Issues
I wear Compression Hose.  I have a lot of issues with my legs due to past damage and wear compression hose often.  Not only do they help my legs, but I've discovered that I no longer get sock blisters during walking vacations when wearing hose.

I wear my sneakers/tennis shoes/trainers with inserts.  I've found shoes that, while they don't keep my feet pain-free, do keep me on my feet for 10+ miles a day.  That's a HUGE win!

I have a fold-up cane that travels with me in case I have a bad day.

I always carry my smart phone and extra battery.  I use the phone for walking maps, bus and subway routes, and to summon an Uber when my body gives out.  In addition, I'm able to track my steps/miles with my phone and can brag about the distance I covered each day!

You might think I carry a huge tote bag or backpack on my adventures.  I don't.  When I'm out and about and touring, I carry a Potato Chip bag.  Anything larger becomes too heavy for me to carry around all day.

I have dietary issues.  Sometimes my sugar drops and I need to eat RIGHT NOW.  When touring in a city, this isn't a problem.  I know the most effective foods to buy at a convenience store/pharmacy to get me back in shape quickly.

I research restaurants before I leave home.  I know what I can eat and want to find places I know will work for me.  I am happy to grab meals wherever we happen to be at mealtime, but if nothing there works it's great to know where there is a restaurant with fresh fruits and veggies for me.


This trip was made on trains, subways, buses, and on foot.  I have different tips for car vacations, airplane vacations, etc., and I'll share those tips during those next vacations.

I hope everyone is able to find happy travels, whether it's an afternoon out or a week touring a city.  If something like an illness is stopping you, I hope you can find a way to overcome the obstacles and add a little adventure to your life.