Panels!  A Love/Hate Affaire

I love panels.  Lisa hates them.  Why???

Well to start with, a panel quilt takes all the fun out of quilting for my sister. She is the Perfect Piecing Princess. There is very little piecing in a panel quilt.  She also loves appliqué!  And there is no appliqué in Panels. So for Lisa, a panel just sucked all the joy out of quilting.

But for me??? I love how fast they are! I can have a quilt top ready for quilting in little over an hour. And I love the quilting part. The thread painting, the meandering, the sculpting of a flat surface with thread and adding beautiful dimension and texture. Yes, I can get carried away. To me Panels are fast and can be beautiful and fun.

Against Lisa’s will, Material Girlfriends has design two patterns using panels. Of course, Lisa has added her love of piecing and has coaxed a simple cut of fabric into something gorgeous. Our new pattern is called Bella Notte. It uses a panel in its center blocks.

This old pattern is Livermore Run. It was design several years ago. It used a smaller panel. I’ve just remade it using a fall wreath panel by Robert Kaufman. Super fast and fun for me, pretty piecing for Lisa.  A happy ending for a plain panel.

And I have a freebie for you! This is a pattern I wrote!  Yep.  Me, myself and I.  Lisa didn’t even have to help me (much). MaterialGirlfriends.PanelBorders.Pattern It is simple borders on a larger panel. There is obvious differences in Lisa’s and my quilt design skills. Ha!! This simple Panel border is great for baby quilts and wall hangings too.

Sew fun,


Lisa’s Note: It is true. I confess to be a Perfect Piecing Princess, but these ARE lovely, aren’t they? If you want a kit of any of these, we will have all at our booth at the Alden Lane Nursery show “Quilting in the Garden” the third weekend of September. And…. let me show you Lora’s quilting. She said she just followed the lines on the angel and then did a little meander in her background. LOVE IT. You can do this too on your domestic goddess, I mean, machine. Need a little coaching? Come hang out with us at Lisa’s Finishing School. I’ll ooh and ahh while Lora coaches you through. (Use a smoke mono-poly “invisible” thread on top and a cotton or cotton/blend in your bobbin that matches your backing.)



Make a list, check it twice and then…


Part 3 …sit next to my sister.

by Lora Zmak

In Between Stitches Preview Party – Lora is in the middle

Whether you sit next to your sister-sister, sister-friend or your sister-quilter, we are in this together!

If you forgot to bring something to class, it is okay to ask if you could borrow the missing item.  It is a great way to start a conversation with a sister-quilter you’ve only just met.  Most of us go to class for the giggles and fellowship that women need and enjoy.  We need to get out of the house and make connections.

Just on a side note, there are a couple of things you really shouldn’t ask to borrow, unless you are best buds or truly related to the lending quilter. The first is a rotary cutter.  Those blades dull and are expensive.  One or two cuts is okay, but if you have a whole project to cut out?  You might need to buy another or buy a new blade for the lender.  Specialty fabric marking pens and pencils – these too dry up or are used up.  Consider picking yourself up another one.  Usually quilters are very sensitive to not borrowing something that can get ‘used up’.  Sometimes a new quilter doesn’t have that understanding yet.

I think we have covered everything that we need to bring to class in the previous three posts, but how about what not to bring?

What NOT to bring??

Do not bring any bad or trash self talk. Encourage yourself!  You can do this!  We spend 75% of our time in our own heads.  Make it a nice place to be.

Do not bring a bad attitude.  We do this for fun.  And it is fun, especially if you allow yourself to relax and enjoy the creative process. Don’t worry about not getting much accomplished.  The real reason you are here is to connect with other fun women.

Do not bring the stresses of a crazy busy day.  Leave all those in the car….I’m sure they’ll be waiting when class is over.

See you in class!

Making My List, Checking It Twice, part 2a

by Judy White

Quilting in the Garden September 2016 (Judy is third from the left)

Oh my…Lora and Lisa, the founders of Material Girlfriends are each such incredibly talented women, but they just wouldn’t be where they are and sewing a straight ¼ inch seam if it wasn’t for their village!  I know they’ll admit it and laugh, but it’s true…there is a LARGE village behind them, cheerleading and bragging (Carolyn and Doris), proofreading patterns* (Judy, Teresa, Katheline, Diana, Dianne, Jennie), testing patterns (Georgette, MG Slave Weeks), feeding them (retreats and MGSW), it goes on and on.  After reading “Making My List, Checking It Twice”, parts 1 & 2, I was thumping my head and wondering if they’d paid attention in the featherweight class at all?? 

I should probably tell y’all, I’m their Judy. (The one on the left.) I’m that woman, no, not THAT woman who finishes every project and has it to show at the next class or guild meeting (and by finished, that’s the top, with all the applique, piecing and embellishments attached, quilted, bound AND labelled!).  No, I’m the other one…that woman who has a little of everything, including the tools, to fix stuff.  The other one you want to sit next to because she’ll help you solve…Stuff.  Stuff, like the sewing machine that’s got an attitude and has a thread in her crack that’s really uncomfortable!  When we meet for Material Girlfriend Retreats (or Slave Week), they bring their tired, their poor, their huddled masses of thread nests, gears and flywheels yearning to breathe and run free…Ok, just a little literary license there…So after being their Judy for years, they told me I should teach a class on maintaining Singer Featherweights…And they all came!  We had fun, but did they listen and remember to put some basic sewing machine tools on their ‘Making My List’ List??  No…Oh my thumped head!

Sew Sewists**, take care of your machine!  Especially if she is a vintage girl, like a Featherweight.  (If you have a newer machine, follow your manufacturer’s directions for maintenance and cleaning!)  She is your main tool in this quilting process, and deserves a little attention at class or retreat (or Slave Week)!!

Judy’s Bare Essential Tool List

Reading glasses and a cleaning cloth:  If you can’t see that bit of thread stuck in that crack, how are you going to get it out?

Screwdrivers:  Good quality blades that FIT your machine’s screws, usually a 3 or 4 inch and a micro screwdriver for changing bobbin tension (YES, you CAN do that!)

Brush:  A double ended sewing machine brush, bristly on one end and paintbrush shaped on the other end, for cleaning DRY linty places.  Use a rag or q-tip for oily or greasy places.

Tweezers or a hemostat:  For when your fingers are too short or won’t fit.

Dentist’s pick:  Yup, just ask at your next cleaning…the hygienist will scowl and ask what you’re going to use it for?  And you answer, of course, that you need it for cleaning your sewing machine.  (She’ll be relieved that you’re not scraping your own teeth.)

Makeup mirror:  Makeup?  Naw, sew in your jammies.  Use it to put under your needle shaft when you can’t find the hole to put the needle into.  Or better yet, a Mechanic’s Mirror…That little mirror with a swivel on the end of a stick…so you can see in and around and chase little bits of thread and lint.

A spare lightbulb:  Unless you have a LED light.

Bright flashlight:  No the flashlight on the iPhone is not enough to see into the dark crevasses of sewing thread knottiness.

Sewing machine oil:  In a refillable oil pen.

Extra needles:  Shall I tell you a story about the needle that was rusted into the needle shaft?  Change your needles!!!!

Bobbins:  6 of them.  Wind 6 bobbins with the thread you’re going to be sewing with and clean and oil your machine after they’re gone.

Chocolate:  Duh!

Corkscrew:  One with a bottle opener also, so you can choose.

Makeup Bag:  NO, not for foundation and mascara, that stuff stains fabric!  Put your tools in a pretty makeup bag and it’ll be a pleasure to pull it out after using 6 bobbins to clean up your most faithful sewing buddy.

Happy Machine, Happy Sewist.  May all your seams be nested, and not your thread!

Your Judy

The Featherweight Whisperer


*Did anyone else notice that we should remember to bring a peddle to class to use with our sewing machine?  Yup…They might peddle Material Girlfriend patterns, but I’ll pedal my bike back to pick up the pedal to use with my sewing machine!  Proofreading is SEW hard!  I’d rather SEW!

**We used to see SEWER when referring to a person who sews, but that can just come out all wrong and confusing if it’s pronounced in plumbing way…Sewist is SEW much nicer!  But alas, the spellchecker wants to make me a sadist, sexist, or just sweet.


Making my List, Checking it Twice, Part 2

Checking it twice – Part 2 

by Lora Zmak

I attend Lisa’s Finishing School for Wayward Quilters twice a month. It is a 6 hour class, that goes until 11pm! Here are a few other things that my classmates have added to their tool bags:

Aspirin and Tylenol especially helpful for those long workshops in front of our sewing machines. And for those headaches brought on from a miss behaving sewing machine, and/or excessive seam ripping.

Bandaids – We work with lots of sharp things!  Don’t bleed on your quilt!

An extra pair of reading glasses – You can only sew as well as you can see. More often than not, I loan this pair out!

Task lighting –  Again, you can only sew as well as you can see.

A few extra dollars for the ice cream or latte run.

Refreshments – You need to stay hydrated for a long sew! Bring your water. Our sewing class room has a Kuirigg machine.  I always pack a few extra decaf coffee pods. Last week, Irene pulled an extra set of plastic silverware out her tool pack!  And they were needed! Pack little snacks, like a package of nuts.  When I get too hungry, it is hard to focus on what the Instructor is trying to tell me! Consider packing something quiet to munch on…

A seat cushion.  Sometimes, we only have metal chairs to sit on and sometimes we are lucky and have nicer chairs.  A seat cushion can give you a bit more comfort for a long workshop.  Look into adding a Gaian Balance cushion to your class supply list. These are fantastic for keeping your core muscles engage and will really help relieve sore backs! Or keep an eye out for a new class and pattern by Material Girlfriends The Tushie Cushie. You’ll be the envy of your quilting classmates!

Hair clips and pony tail holders.

Zip lock baggies to keep all the pieces for a block together.

A small personal iron (Yazzii has such a cute case to store it in!!!) and ironing pad.

Tool mat that my sewing machine sits on.  I’m forever chasing down my seam ripper and snippet scissors.  My Yazzi tool mat keeps them at my finger tips and not rolling across the table.

A variety of thread.  You’ll need white, tan, medium grey and black or charcoal.  Use the thread color that closely blends in with your project.

A little spray bottle of spray starch and/or water, for pressing or removing your blue water erase pen marks.

What else…what am I forgetting??

What ‘different’ item would you pack for class? What would you recommend adding to our packing list for either a long workshop or quilt retreat?

We’d love to hear your suggestions!