Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's in a name?

A block name, that is. It struck me when Barbara Brackman mentioned in the December issue of TQL (in If You Could Ask One Question feature) that "Names we assume to be folk tradition often were invented by needlework editors." Such power! I realize that happens these days, but never thought about it happening way back when. Those traditional names seem so right, so set, so generally accepted that they must have been handed from time immemorial. Barbara shot that assumption of mine down!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Skill building for charity

The Helping Hands department helps lots of quilters to find a way to use their skills to do good for others. The Sutter Cancer Center Quilt Auction is the featured charity in the TQL December issue and it offers a slightly different opportunity for quilters (in addition to the usual focus on quantity of quilts): quality of quilts! This event happens every three years, so you have time to give your all to a project to make it the best it can be or to make a sustained effort to perfect a new technique, and then donate it to the auction. I know I take my skill building a lot more seriously when it's used for something that will be seen and not just on a practice piece. And when you know it will be auctioned, well, that's even more motivation to master the technique. Check it out; December issue is on the newsstands now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Haitian quilters' work coming to Macy's

Hey, as I was driving home, I heard a story on NPR about PeaceQuilts Haiti, the charitable organization that we reported on in our August issue. It has partnered with Macy's, providing handmade items made by some of the Haitian quilters for the department store's new line of home decor products called Heart of Haiti! Since the article was published, Jeanne Staples, the PeaceQuilts founder, has kept me up to date on how things are going and sure enough, as soon as I got home and checked the email, there was the news from Jeanne. For now, you can find brightly colored pouches and oven mitts, and only at Macy's online but  it's a great start.
    This reminds me of what happened with the Freedom Quilting Bee, of the same rural Alabama area as Gee's Bend and with some of the same personalities. The Bee's quilts and quilting style became the toast of New York in the late 1960s and early '70s, promoted heavily in Bloomingdale's. That was during that period right before the bicentennial, when new life was breathed into quilting, which eventually resulted in its "revival" and flowering that we still are experiencing today. This is a fascinating story that you can read about in a book titled "The Freedom Quilting Bee" by Nancy Callahan, originally written in 1987 but reissued in 2005.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sunset Strip Revisited

What a fantastic version of Ricky's pattern that was in the August issue! Other than a few fabrics used in the houses, TQL reader Sue Ann Vannoy of Huachuca, Arizona, used all hand-dyes from her stash. That sounds like a good reason to go out and get more hand-dyes, Sue Ann. I love the way the waves of color flow from top left to bottom right. Thanks for sharing! If you've made a quilt, or a block, from a TQL pattern or the Cook-Off thanks-for-voting blocks, we'd love to see it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rights and copyrights

That pesky copyright question about what your rights are as a quiltmaker and as a copyright holder always creates confusion, doesn't it? Bonnie Browning, the AQS show chairman, has a very helpful post on the AQS website that addresses some of the questions. As an editor, people frequently question me about copyright law, thinking that it must be part of my job to understand it. And it is, to a certain extent, so I'm always eager to add to my imperfect understanding, but I must leave the legal advice to the experts. It's good for quiltmakers educate themselves, though, to prevent disappointment, as in "You mean this quilt of mine that was 2 years in the making can't be displayed? Or published? Or sold?" Bonnie's post is one that I'll keep as a reference. It even links to a chart. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Do you know these characters, oops, I mean caricatures?

TQL's esteemed expert on collecting antique quilts, Laura Fisher (who writes the regular feature For All It's Worth), sent over a request for our readers: have you any information you can share about this 1903 quilt from New Hampshire? The blocks have inked caricatures of folks that she thinks might have been real people in the Keene area at the time. The one shown below is inscribed "Thou art my own love. —Burton J." Laura is hoping to find out "the who, where, and why" of this quilt. I'm always amazed to see the unique examples that Laura comes up with for her TQL articles. Those one-offs must still be out there for today's collectors to scout out. Her column is like the Antiques Roadshow for antique quilt collectors and dealers. When I grow up, I'm want to travel the country hunting up treasures like these. I hope there are a few left when that time comes! Coming up in the October issue: a very unusual House quilt, pieced, showing the little "village" at night instead of the bright white of a daytime background. Look for it later in August on the newsstand.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hot for handwork

4th of July usually is the hottest time of the year where I live. Even at our cabin in the mountains, the nights are comfortably cool but the days are still hot, hot, hot! That's why it's a perfect place for me to do handwork. (Did I mention that there's also no electricity there to run a sewing machine? That's a good reason too.) Applique and piecing by hand have given me some of my happiest moments and I'm looking forward to a few more this weekend. I'm between projects right now, so I'd better head up to the sewing room to make some decisions, pull some fabrics, gather some tools, and pack up for the long holiday weekend. Safe travels, all!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Update on PeaceQuilts Haiti

This is the project that was covered in the August issue's Helping Hands section of The Quilt Life. I recently got a message from director Jeanne Staples: 
     "Since we last communicated, I traveled to Haiti—the first time since the earthquake. The devastation is just incredible. It was emotionally challenging, yet ultimately rather inspiring to see how the women have continued to create beautiful quilts, even though most of them either lost their homes or had serious damage, so that they are now living in tents. My colleague Maureen, a clinical psychotherapist, was able to do some personal assessments with many of the women, and provide some post-trauma counseling. We were also able to meet members of our newest cooperative in CitĂ© Soleil, the notorious slum in Port-au-Prince. They are amazing! 13 women are working there, and 10 girls are learning to sew and quilt in an afterschool program, shown here, that our co-op manager started. We are headed back in a couple of weeks, and part of our agenda will be to explore ways that we can create opportunities for those with disabilities (especially as a result of the earthquake) to become fully integrated members in our cooperatives. I hope all is well with you, and wish you continued success with the magazine."
     Wishing you and everyone at PeaceQuilts the very best, Jeanne. Keep up the good work.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer NIght Sky variations

Variations on Summer Night Sky, one of the patterns in the June issue of TQL, have been sent in by Elsie Campbell, the designer and maker of the original.
She had mentioned these other beautiful versions made by friends of hers and now we get to see them. They are very lovely, proof that anyone can take a published pattern and put their creative stamp on it. The original is at left.

At right is a version from Jean Tomson. I love love love this creative treatment!
And at left, one from Becky Schweitzer....

...and finally, a version by Judy Arnold, right.

Makes you want to organize a challenge, doesn't it? The full pattern is on page 76 in The Quilt Life June 2010.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

August 2010 issue now online

It's August! At least in The Quilt Life land it is, because that issue is available to subscribers at right now. The print issue will be making an appearance soon. I can't tell you exactly what date you will see it because it depends on where you live, mail service, and all that. If you're not a subscriber yet, take a look at the August issue Table of Contents at to see what goodies will be inside.
     TQL got a nice review at The June issue was the one reviewed, the one that focused on threads. "The Quilt Life has much to offer quilters at every level of experience," says the publication, which services library professionals. A good choice for libraries to offer, but I say you're going to need your own copy. This magazine isn't a "skim-and-toss." It's for your leisurely reading pleasure, and if you choose to make a quilt from one of the patterns or test out a technique, you'll want it by your side to guide you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Heads on Sticks?

Here's a treat for all of you who have your second issue of TQL, have read the Postcard from Ricky, and are wishing you could see the scene he described in the article. Ricky dug down, way down, in his collection of a million photos so you could see what heads on sticks really look like! That La Veta—for a small town, it really rocks. Such a creative bunch down there.
     So now the 2010 AQS Paducah show is history, and a good one it was. The new facility, a huge, white, inflated "bubble" that is known as the Pavilion, made its debut this year. The loss of the Executive Inn space for a merchant mall required a creative solution to make sure that all the legacy vendors would be able to have a booth because people come from far and wide for the show and have come to expect an impressive lineup of booths with fabric, tools, supplies, patterns, and more. The Pavilion had wide carpeted aisles, lots of room, and bright daylight streaming down on us, even when it was raining outside. I liked it a lot.

     The Quilt Life had a prime location in the Pavilion, the first booth to the left as you come in the front door! I really really enjoy getting to meet all the quilters that stop by our booths to chat, especially when they have good things to say about the new magazine. And they sure did! Thanks to everyone for the great response. The second issue was hot off the press so subscribers wondered why they hadn't received their copies yet. Because they were too fresh! Had to wait for the ink to dry before sending them out. Most people opted to look through the issue rather than wait until they got home to see what was in it. Curiosity was high, that's for sure!


Monday, April 19, 2010

FarmVille Finalists

As promised, here are some of the FarmVille quilts that we liked a lot but that didn't make it into our second issue! The Facebook game that lets you grow crops in the design of a quilt scares me—everyone I know who plays says it's mighty addictive. In fact, Ricky talks about that very thing in the Digital World section of the new issue. He succumbed to it, though I think he has that under control now. Look for TQL June issue to find out more about FarmVille, if you dare.
       It's almost time to head to Paducah and I can't wait. I had loads of fun in The Quilt Life booth at Lancaster and I'm expecting to have even more at the AQS Paducah show. Sooooo many people came to the booth to tell me how much they enjoyed the first issue of TQL. That makes an editor's day. TQL has a booth at Paducah too. Come by to visit! I'll try to capture Ricky to spend a little time in the booth with me between classes and other commitments.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Time's running out-Ask Roberta by March 8th!

We've got three super celebs lined up to take your questions in future issues—Roberta Horton in the August issue, John Flynn for October, and Barbara Brackman in the December issue. If you have questions for Roberta, one of the most talented and respected names in quilting today, you'd better hurry! Monday, March 8th is the last day you can submit questions to this quilting celebrity. My favorite books of Roberta's are Plaids & Stripes; The Fabric Makes the Quilt; and Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do. That last one has to be one of my all-time favorite quilt books. Roberta travels a lot and picks up fabrics everywhere she goes. That book has lots of sample of her travel photos and the fabrics. There are some wonderful pictures of Eklutna in Alaska, along with the quilt that resulted from that trip. I liked it so much that I had to take a cruise to Alaska to see that place. Unsuccessful, though, and will have to back for another try at Eklutna.
    Think up some good questions for world traveler and scrap maven Roberta. Ask away!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thanks, Meg!

TQL regular columnist Meg Cox had some kind praise for TQL on her e-newsletter I thought you might like to check it out. Lots of other good info too.

Kit and pattern questions

Thank you to everyone for the glowing reviews of TQL! Not every subscriber has gotten it yet, but I swear it's almost there. There's been a lot of interest in the Burnished Chintz pattern and the kit that's available from Liza Lucy's online shop You can also order it by phone: 800-269-0309. Warning: if you are a fan of Kaffe Fassett's Collective lines of fabric, you'll be in heaven when you get to this website. Liza does a great job of designing quilts that show off the fabrics, but you can do that too. If you fall in love with the fabrics you see there, try this: pick a simple block pattern with just a few patches, enlarge it, repeat it, and voilĂ , there you have it—a pattern that presents a good opportunity to play around with those luscious, mouthwatering prints.
    And one of the quilts that was shown in Alex's article "Quilting in the Garden" has aroused some interest too. Welcome Home is a great scrappy quilt, shown here hanging from a tree with beautiful blue California sky behind it. This quilt was made from one of Alex's published patterns that's still available at When you get there, click on Patterns at the top of the page.
     Myself, I'm a hand applique girl; I love the relaxing nature of it. But piecing also provides that Zen feeling when I'm deep into it. Both of these quilts would be good candidates for an absorbing day of piecing. So easy, yet so visually inviting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's here!

I'm happy! And from the email congratulations I've been getting, many other people are happy with The Quilt Life too. If you haven't gotten yours yet, hold on, it's almost there. In the magazine, I promised you a photo of the "Happy Goat with the Bulging Belly" and here it is. I know that if you've just gotten your TQL you may not have had a chance to read it yet, but in Alex's article "Sparked by a taste for faraway places," she mentions the goat with the bulging belly that she saw on her vacation to Door County, Wisconsin. The goat was scheduled to have a photo in the article, too, until he got "bumped" by the chicken. I couldn't bear to have him disappear altogether because it's a unique sight, so here he (or she) is.
     Yes, it's quite a tubby little goat. It's standing on the roof of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in the heart of downtown Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Al's has been there for 60 years, but it wasn't until a 1973 renovation that grass became part of the roof, followed by the first goat, Oscar. You can read all about Al's here. Next time I'm in Wisconsin, I'm going there!
     Do notice throughout TQL that there are opportunities for you to let us know about people and stories that would fit some of the regular features in the magazine. Celebrities taking questions, suggestions for Ricky and Alex's Cook-off, "unexpected" quilters, and more. The Submission Guidelines are available at and you can also email us at Think outside that box; TQL is about more than making quilts!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Countdown! The Quilt Life issue 1 has gone to press! We'll get to see the new baby within the next week. The wait is almost over. I speak for the whole TQL team when I say, "We can hardly wait!"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look who's writing for The Quilt Life now

Look who's ________ing now. You can fill in the blank with many different verbs and this comment still makes sense. Have you ever said, "Look who's quilting now" when you were surprised to find that someone you know is a quilter?  I'm happy to tell you that Meg Cox will be writing a regular feature in The Quilt Life about that very thing: the unexpected quilters among us. Not only is Meg (that's her in the photo) an experienced writer who has been a reporter for the Wall Street Journal; she's also the author of The Quilter's Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide and a quilter in her own right. The feature in TQL is called "Look Who's Quilting Now." I don't know how she does it, but she can find a quilter anywhere. That skill must come from being a curious journalist who knows how to find a good story.
      Next time you say, "Look who's quilting now," hold that thought long enough to email it to With well over 27 million quilters in the U.S., there must be tons of tales to tell about unexpected quilters. Be on the lookout for them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Facebook Farmers, Merry Band Members, and Celebrity Queries

Little did I know that we'd be buried in submissions from the FarmVille/Farm Town farmers. Thank you everybody! The comments were a treat to read, too. You'll see the fruits of the harvest in issue 2 of The Quilt Life (June 2010).
      If you were planning to submit one question to Eleanor Burns, also for issue 2, you missed your chance, but shortly, we'll have three more quilting celebrities lined up for future issues and you will be able to submit your questions to them. If you have any suggestions for celebrities you'd like us to invite to be the "Answerer", you can post your comment here or send your suggestion to
      What fun it has been to hear about the Merry Bands of Quilters. You all epitomize the best about the quilt life--creativity, sharing, having fun, and building lasting, loyal friendships. Are any of you planning to travel as a group to the AQS Paducah Show and Contest this year? Or the new AQS show in Lancaster in March?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Merry Band of Quilters

Show season is approaching quickly. I've started making my travel plans already, starting with the very first AQS Lancaster Show, March 24–27. If you're planning to go, stop by The Quilt Life booth. I'd love to meet you and hear your ideas for articles in The Quilt LIfe. By that time, the first issue (April 2010) will be out and you can let us know how you like it. Better yet, how much you love it!
     One thing that I often see at the large quilt shows that makes me smile is a group of friends traveling together, enjoying their quilt life together, a merry band of quilters you might say. It's obvious they are together; they may be wearing identical patchwork vests, or a particular hat, or sewn and embellished name badges that match (I've been meaning to make my own embellished name badge for years; it's on my to-do list).
     These groups of quilt fans are soooo representative of the quilt life and therefore, perfect subject matter for The Quilt Life. If you are part of a Merry Band of Quilters (does your group have a name for itself?), click here to tell me a little about it, in 100 words or less, putting Merry Band of Quilters in the subject line. Your group could be featured in an upcoming issue!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Calling all FarmVille Fans

Does your farm take the form of a quilt pattern? If so, you may get your farm published in The Quilt Life! We're looking for particularly quilty FarmVille creations. Hurry, the deadline to submit is January 15th! Information on how to capture your farm and how to submit it to TQL is here. Please tell all your quilting FarmVille neighbors too.