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Tips from Quilt Designers and Teachers

Get tips and learn about some of the top-notch quilt designers and teachers that provide quilt patterns to American Patchwork & Quilting.

Amy Butler


Timesaving tip: I do all my cutting at one time, then organize my rows and blocks and mark them.

Go to Amy’s Pink Bliss quilt and visit her Web site.

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Alice Berg


Finishing tip: As a beginner, I wish I’d known years ago about batting having a right and wrong side.

Go to Alice’s Pumpkin Patch quilt and visit her Web site.

Amy Butler


Timesaving tip: I do all my cutting at one time, then organize my rows and blocks and mark them.

Go to Amy’s Pink Bliss quilt and visit her Web site.

Ann Hermes


Tip on quilting miniature quilts: Machine-quilt very tiny stitches; they are better proportioned to the quilt’s small size.

Go to Ann’s Rolling Stones quilt and visit her Web site.

Avis Shirer of Joined at the Hip


Quilting as relaxation: Relax, have fun. When I goof up on a measurement or accidently cut something I didn’t mean to, I’ve added a patch or just added an extra length of fabric to make a border, etc., come out right. When I realized that quilting was not about perfection, I was able to enjoy it more. (Avis, right, with Joined at the Hip partner Tammy Johnson)

Go to Q&A with Avis and visit Joined at the Hip’s Web site.

Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of FunQuilts


Quilting without fear: We love all kinds of piecing, whether is an extremely precise kaleidoscope piecing technique or loose improvisational piecing. We’re not afraid of any techniques. We’re only afraid of running out of time.

Go to a slide show of tips and projects from Bill and Weeks and visit their Web site.

Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.


Quilting without fear: I am afraid of any technique that claims to be the right, best or only way to do something. And that paper-bag method for really random scrap quilts—I will NOT do that! Beyond that, I’ll try any technique that doesn’t involve toxic fumes or rotary cutting while wearing a blindfold.

Go to Carrie’s Scrappy Stars quilt and visit her Web site.

Cindy Blackberg


Tip for choosing fabrics: When choosing fabrics for a quilt, I usually start with the design. If it is more formal, then I want crisp contrast. If it is meant to be a cuddle-up quilt, then I want the fabrics to have less contrast and be more cozy. I almost always add brown to my quilts to warm them up.

Go to Cindy's visit her Web site.

Cindy Taylor Oates of Taylor Made Designs


Tip for beginners: I think everyone should sew on the best machine they can afford. There is nothing more frustrating than a machine that doesn’t work properly. If you buy a new machine, take advantage of any classes that come with it.

Go to Cindy’s Fabric Gift Bag and visit her blog.

Cori Derksen of Blue Meadow Designs


Foundation-piecing tip: I use a pin to mark my sewing lines when paper piecing. On the right side of my paper piecing pattern, I put a straight pin along the line I am going to sew, then when I flip the pattern over to sew on my fabric—I can use it as 1/4" guide. It cuts out the guesswork, especially when sewing angled pieces and wastes less of the fabric. (Cori, left, with Blue Meadow Designs partner Myra Harder)

Go to visit Blue Meadow Designs’ blog.

Cynthia Tomaszewski of Simple Pleasures


Favorite part of quilting: The whole creative process! I love working with color and I love textiles. I love how they smell, how they feel. I love getting a seed of an idea and seeing it grow and blossom into a wonderful idea and a beautiful quilt. Many times my designs end up exactly as I envisioned them and other times they take on a life of their own and I end up with something totally unexpected but wonderful. That’s really exciting for me!

Go to Cynthia’s Crazy for Spring quilt and visit her Web site.

Jackie Robinson of Animas Quilts


Pressing tip: Press LESS. Too often quilters press themselves into a corner. Only press the individual units, and NEVER press a block during block construction (until it is finished!) so you maintain your "ooch and scooch" factor!

Go to Jackie’s Good Cheer table runner and visit her Web site.

Janet Nesbitt and Pam Soliday of The Buggy Barn


Crazy-piecing tip: We sew with a lot of prints, stripes, and plaids, and many of these fabrics are homespun wovens. When using our "crazy" method of piecing, make sure you have a flat cotton fabric (not a homespun) on top of the stack of fabrics. (Try their crazy method of piecing on the Crazy Star quilt.) Once you iron the freezer-paper pattern to the top fabric in the stack, it's much easier to remove from the flat cotton than it is from a homespun. (Janet, left, and Pam, right)

Go to Janet and Pam’s Star Power quilt and visit their Web site.

Jo Morton


Tip for beginners: A beginning quilter should take a class to cover the basics to learn about grain lines when cutting, accurate piecing, and accurate cutting. I guess it all boils down to being accurate so it is a pleasure. Do your best work.

Go to Jo’s Midnight Garden quilt and visit her blog.

Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts


Quilting without rules: To learn to take a compliment without making up excuses. We as women are so unused to taking compliments about our work graciously. We always feel the need to point out a hundred different ways why it’s not really that good. It IS that good, and you ARE creative! Try calling yourself an artist and see how it feels!

Go to a behind-the-scenes profile on Joanna and visit her Web site.

Kevin Kosbab


Machine-appliqué tip: When doing machine appliqué, you may want to starch the background blocks lightly before appliquéing to stabilize them.

Go to Kevin’s Birds of a Feather quilt and visit his blog.

Laura Boehnke


Favorite tools: The knee lift on my sewing machine is invaluable because it frees up both of my hands to hold the fabric. I also like using an item called the Purple Thang. It helps to guide the fabric underneath the presser foot with more precision.

Go to any color option slide show to see Laura’s quilts.

Lila Taylor Scott


Favorite part of quilting: Designing a quilt. Having my family use their quilts, love them, and ask for more. I like to share my love of quilting with others. There is nothing better than seeing a grandchild wrapped up in a quilt whether they are sleeping, reading, watching TV, or just because they want to.

Go to a Lila’s Halloween Log Cabins & Stars quilt and see a slide show of her past projects.

Linda Lum DeBono


Machine-appliqué tip: When doing zigzag stitching around machine appliqué, don’t sew the stitches too tightly together. If you do, it will show your mistakes and you won’t get smooth curves.

Go to Linda’s Funky Place Mats and visit her blog.

Mabeth Oxenreider


Tip for beginners: Take the time to be as accurate as you can—without being compulsive. Your project will be more fun and you will like the results. Don’t be sloppy!!!

Go to Mabeth’s Pastel Delectable Mountain Ensemble and see a slide show of her Bargello Quilts.

Mary Lou Weidman


Why I love quilting: I wonder what story I will do next and what will my quilts look like in five years. I never tire of the infinite possibilities and the joy quilting brings me. You will never make friends as dear and wonderful as quilting friends.

Go to Mary Lou’s visit her Web site.

Mary Sorensen


Favorite technique: I love needle-turn hand appliqué. It is soothing, takes almost no special (read that as expensive) equipment, and you can do it almost anywhere!

Go to Mary’s Web site.

Myra Harder of Blue Meadow Designs


Quilting as relaxation: Never sew when you are too tired. When you are a little drowsy, or in a great hurry, you make mistakes, and those mistakes can cost you a lot of time and money. So get your beauty sleep—the quilt will still be there in the morning. (Myra, right, with Blue Meadow Designs partner Cori Derksen)

Go to Q&A with Myra and visit Blue Meadow Designs’ blog.

Nancy Mahoney


Piecing tip: Cut those leftover bits of binding into 1" lengths and keep them in a basket by your machine. Use these little thread savers to begin and end all your seams, especially when sewing small pieces together and for chain piecing.

Go to Nancy’s Sea Glass quilt and visit her Web site.

Pat Sloan


Quilting without rules: I feel a beginner should watch out for being told too many rules. Rules KILL your creativity. They cause people new to a craft to develop habits or techniques that may not suit them because someone told them it was the ‘rule’ and the ‘one and only way’ to do it. I am against rules. But guidelines, like using a 1/4" seam for piecing, are great. Most things won’t work if you don’t have that (but remember that some things DO work without a 1/4" seam!).

Go to Pat’s Mini Messenger Bag and visit her blog.

Renée Plains of Liberty Star


Quilting without rules: Part of the charm of vintage quilts is imperfection, so remember that when a point isn’t perfect—relax and enjoy stitching.

Go to Renée’s Designer Album Covers and visit her Web site.

Robyn Pandolph


Hand-appliqué tip: When tracing around templates to prepare pieces for needle-turn appliqué, I use an extra-fine-point permanent marker. Be sure to check the marker on scrap fabric to make sure it doesn’t bleed; as some pens age, their ink separates and tends to bleed.

Go to Robyn’s Artfully Inspired quilt and visit her Web site.

Roseann Meehan Kermes


Tip for beginners: Avoid learning too many shortcuts too quickly. Learn the basics first and get them down, then learn techniques that help you cut or sew more efficiently.

Go to Roseann’s Snowflakes & Hearts Table Mat and visit her blog.

Tammy Johnson of Joined at the Hip


Fusible-appliqué tip: I like Wonder-Under fusible web. It is lightweight and barely noticeable in fusible appliqué. Some products make the appliqués too stiff. I also like to use it with wool appliqué. I use it for both machine and hand appliqué when using wool. It stabilizes the wool shapes, holds them in place, and is easy to stitch though when doing a blanket stitch by hand. I like having wool projects to take with in the car and having the pieces fused in place makes the project road-trip friendly. (Tammy, left, with Joined at the Hip partner Avis Shirer)

Go to Q&A with Tammy and visit Joined at the Hip’s Web site.

Valori Wells


Machine-quilting tip: When you are machine quilting, use quilting or gardening gloves to help you grip the quilt. They make life so much easier because they will help you move the quilt around and you won’t get so tense.

Go to Valori’s Web site.

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