Our American Heritage

Charles80Today is my father-in-love’s 80th birthday. He is a big John Wayne fan so being the Photoshop wiz that I am, I created this image for him for his birthday. Isn’t it cool?!! I was really pleased with how it turned out. The handsome cowboy in the middle is Charles. (Shh… it’s a surprise so don’t tag him if you are Facebook friends.) I will give this print to him when I see him. Charles is a wonderful man. I respect, honor and love him so much. He is also an American history buff… but not about the history of quilt blocks! November2015BiteSizeBlockToday I’m sharing a free pattern. It’s the Log Cabin. VERY American block. Throughout American history, women sewed the Log Cabin block all across America. The antique Log Cabin quilts made during pioneer times are stunning. But, did you know that this block was actually discovered in an Egyptian tomb? A bagillion years ago, this block was a quilt that wrapped a CAT. Weird.

Traditionally the log cabin block had a shady side and a sunny side. The very center block was red to represent the hearth or heart of the home. In my example above, my shady side is the dark blues and my sunny side are the bright pinks. So here are the instructions to make EASY Log Cabin blocks ILoveUsYearRound.all pages34-35. It is strip piecing and you can make more than one at a time. These instructions are to make 4 at a time but you can easily adjust.

This would be so cool in red, white, and blue! In fact, I just googled red, white, and blue log cabin quilts and hundreds of images popped up. Wow. I’m ready to pull out my bins of red, white and blue fabric stash!!!

Enjoy your American heritage this month, whether through your favorite westerns, reading history or making some historic American quilt blocks. You know which I will choose!!



Quilting Thought for the Day

Several years ago, I had a student in my Start Quilting class that wanted to quit because she just couldn’t get it right. I talked her out of quitting that first class. She came the second week and was in tears (literally!) because she wasn’t “getting it”. I talked her out of quitting again.

I worried she’d throw in the “quilted towel” in the next class. That week, I came across a thought provoking quote on Pinterest. So for Week Three’s class, I wrote the quote on the write-on/wipe-off board and we briefly talked about implementing the quote as we quilted. My student finally stopped worrying about her results.LiveCreativeLife“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” Joseph Chilton Pearce. I don’t know who he is, nor what he has done to be worthy of quoting, but his words gave me a lot to think about. I’ve thought over his quote for over a year now.

  1. Live a Creative Life – just that portion of the quote can make you think. What have you done to live a creative life lately? Sewn, gardened, painted, drawn, written, sang…? To me, these things are the ability to play. Don’t let life rob you of playing and limiting your creative time.
  2. Lose our fear – What are we afraid of if we’re wrong? Being criticized? Scorned? Rejected? Embarrassed? Want to know what my new acronym for FEAR is? Face Everything And Rise.
  3. Being wrong – Being morally wrong isn’t what the quote is referring to. Let’s talk about the “being wrong in our creative life”. Playing that sour note, planting a garden only to have it die, or sewing a block only to have it turn out not as anticipated. Sew what? Comparison will quickly kill the joy of leading a creative life. Who defines, “wrong”? Not me. You do. Check out Freddy Moran. I’m glad she learn not to fear being wrong. She has more wonky blocks: star points that disappear, colors that clash, yet her quilts are gorgeous!

Here is my challenge: stop comparing your efforts with someone else’. Lean on your own uniqueness and take risks. For example, if you’re working on a Block of the Month pattern and there are fabric choices made for you in the instructions and kit, change something. If one of those prints just isn’t what you want, pull something from your stash or buy something new and lose that fear of being wrong. Make what is right for YOU.

For me, Living a Creative Life is more about enjoying the creative process, not just the results.

Visit my Pinterest page if you pin and check out my Words to Live By board for more brain itching quotes. And don’t forget to play today. “All work and no play, leads to very little quilting.” – Lisa Norton. Okay, maybe I’m not so quotable.



Fake It, Till Ya Make It

IMG_8056Look. Look. Look. I’m so excited! The booth looks professional, like we know what we’re doing! We’re faking it, of course. We’ve no idea what where doing. My Momma always said, “Fake it, till ya make it, girls.”

We were fortunate to get an early unload time at the Robert Livermore Community Center, and stayed over 4 hours setting up and primping our FIRST TIME EVER booth. If it was just Lora and I, you could almost understand why it took so long. But, I am every so grateful for Kel (Lora’s husband), Katheline (Material Girlfriend), Carolyn (Mamma) and Dave (Dad). They hauled, stacked, unstacked, stood on ladders, arranged lights, counted, clipped, primped, piled, pinned, sorted, and tagged. It took a team of 6 people most of the day to put up one 10’x10′ booth. Whew! We celebrated our victory by going to the Alehouse for some cold Alaskan Ale and huge portioned meals.

Over the ice cold ale, we came up with our AVQ Show Deal #1 and AVQ Show Deal #2. Deal #1, Buy a pattern and a kit and receive a second pattern of equal or lesser value for 50% off. Deal #2, Buy two patterns and receive a third pattern of equal or lesser value for 50% off. It’s crazy Lisa’s lay-off-the-ale sale!!  The show starts tomorrow, Saturday, April 22 at 10am. The kits are wonderful! Lots of small kits for Bite Size patterns and Lo made fabulous kits for the Wrapped Up Basket Totes, plus a lot more. You must come see. The sale might be one day only. (We’ll know for certain when the ale wears off).

Katheline took these great photos of our booth building process.


Got the frame up and began hanging the quilts.IMG_8042

Oh yeah, Kel can you add lights?IMG_8045

Katheline and Lora did most all the arranging because Momma and I had to go back to the rental place for rod reinforcements and to pick up cold ice tea.  IMG_8048 IMG_8049 IMG_8051

Lora demonstrated her yodeling.

We hope to see you this weekend at the Amador Valley Quilters Show. I think we ‘faked it till we made it, Mamma.’ Looks good. Looks real good.



First Timers

As my boys would say, “We’re total newbs.”  First timers at putting together our First booth, for the First time at the Amador Valley Quilters Show this weekend, April 22 and 23.

We’re nervous.

Do we have enough product? How should we display all this schtuff.  We decided to do a mock-up of the 10’x10′ booth space in my dining room. We didn’t hang the quilts up so you’re looking at my walls instead of the lovely quilts. What do you think? 20170420_205922 20170420_210126 20170420_210138

We’ve made new kits and we have TWO new patterns, Party Lights and Living In The Moment, to share. I will be demo’ing the Wrapped Up Baskets pattern. Lora is going to demo the Confetti Star and yodeling. The Confetti Star has a fabulous technique that doesn’t require Y seams and is made from 10″ squares. Her yodeling isn’t as pleasant.

So PLEASE come see us. We’ll need lots of encouragement. Tell us the booth looks great even if you have to lie. Where? Oh, click on Amador Valley Quilters to find out ALL the details! It is in Livermore at the Robert Livermore Community Center on East Avenue.

It really will be fun. Lots of beautiful quilts to see. We will be located in the ballroom, booth B7 or just listen for the yodeling…

In stitches!


Are we there yet?

20170310_123252“How much further? He’s on my side. I gotta go..”

Oh, but aren’t road trips just the best? I love visiting all the quilt shops along the way. Or rather, as many shops as my husband and boys will let me!

It is Spring Break for my youngest son, a sophomore at Granada High. We plan on taking advantage of the beautiful weather and hit the road for some adventures. With a driving permit in my son’s wallet, I plan on sitting in the back seat and let my husband co-pilot. (I’m sure Josh will do fine. He really is ready to take is driving test.)

I’ve packed an encyclopedia of quilt blocks, my notebook and color pencils. Best of all, I’ve a large baggie stuffed full of new fabric swatches! Marcus Brother’s Textiles just sent me their brand-spanking-new batik lines. They are so new, they’re aren’t even on their web page yet! I can’t wait to start designing!

Back to road trips. Thank goodness for Google Maps, right? Takes the stress out of driving – no getting lost. And if you tell Google Maps to find the quilt shops along the route, you won’t accidentally miss one!

Road trips are a wonderful break. We run run run in our daily lives that having a break in the car, is so relaxing. We have the best conversations in the car too (if I can get the ear buds out of their ears). On long road trips, Mike and I will take turns reading to each other, then discussing what we read. It is just a great break. I get to slow down (even at 70mph).

When you just can’t take a road trip, you can still take a break and slow down. Sometimes we get project saturation with our big quilt project. Take a break and make something small. A different block with different colors, or a rope basket, a Bite Size block, etc.

I taught the Easter Basket class the other week. We had such fun putting together the adorable baskets! Check out the pics. Everyone’s baskets turned out great!20170312_145245 20170312_145253 20170312_145300 20170312_150042 20170312_150056 basketI hope you get the chance for a little road trip during Spring Break too. Whether you’re getting in the car and driving or just a break from your large quilting project by doing a small project. Enjoy!



You Choose

20161212_154811_31750668845_oWhich fabrics? Which colors? Does this go together? You choose for me. Some quilters just agonize over their fabric selections. Which baffles me. Selecting the colors and prints is the fun and easy part of designing a quilt…right?…at least to me. But we were all designed individually and we were all designed with different strengths. I was designed with a strength in color and graphic design. If you struggle in selecting fabrics, let me see if I can help you a bit.

I love teaching a class called How to Choose Color, so I thought I’d share with you a few simple tips on how to put together fabrics for a scrappy quilt. Using our new Material Girlfriend pattern, Party Lights as an example, I hope to give you some tips on selecting fabrics from your own stash or fabrics from your local quilt shop. I designed Party Lights, but my sister, Lora turned the Party Lights on and ‘brought down the house’ with fantastic choices from her stash. She took my black and white print-out of the block, iffy cutting and sewing directions, and plugged in all the beautiful colors and prints.

20170105_121434_32126982695_oThis beautiful 12″ block is called Diamond Ring, first published in 1906 by Clara Stone, Practical Needlework. The block has also been published as Fanny’s Favorite, Linda’s Favorite, Old Favorite, and My Favorite. Seems to be a favorite block! And soon to be Your Favorite too, when you find how fun it is to create!

First: Choose a Feature Fabric

The Feature Fabric is the focal fabric and the fabric that bridges all the other colors together. This fabric should have several colors. Choose this fabric first. Many times the Feature Fabric is used as a border in a quilt. However, in Party Lights, the feature fabric is the center square of all 18 blocks, thus only requiring a fat quarter of fabric.

Second: Choose Matching Colors to the Feature Fabric

Match all the other fabrics to your Feature Fabric. If your Feature Fabric includes four colors, collect fabrics in those four colors from your stash (or line up bolts in the quilt shop).

Third: Select Light, Medium, Dark and Variations of Print Size

Organize your matching fabric choices in a light/medium/dark arrangement. What are you missing? Select a few more prints to fill in where you don’t have enough variety. Now look at them again. This time note the size of prints. Have you picked all small prints? A variety of print sizes give interest to the quilt top.

For me, the more prints the merrier. For the Party Lights pattern, you only need a total of 2 3/4 yards of color fabrics [about eighteen 1/6 yard cuts or fat eighths] plus a fat quarter of the Feature Fabric. Background yardage required is 4 3/4 yards. A Cheating Hint – a Layer Cake works great with this pattern!

20170222_140522_33059626285_oParty Lights is almost ready for press. It has been thoroughly proofed and tested (Thank you Tuleburg Quilting Guild! partial class pic shown above). All I need to do is add the UPC code and a final picture to the back page and send it off to press. You can expect to see the first patterns available at In Between Stitches in Livermore and Quilters Hollow in Stockton, within the month.

Choosing fabrics is a personal decisions. Everyone has their own tastes. One quilter’s preference will not be the next quilter’s preferences, and sew on. Learning to select your fabrics based on your own style, favorite colors, character or style of print, will ensure a more enjoyable project for you. I encourage you to flex those color muscles. Be bold and courageous and when you begin your next quilting project… You Choose.

Sew on and Sew forth!

Lisa 20170301_212945_32818234810_o20170301_213032_33200735205_o20170301_213045_33200740095_o 20170222_124227_32212963364_o 20170222_140301_32244093533_o PartyLights.Cover.8.5x11.flatOh! A little reminder,  if you’re making the Bird Walk BOM quilt, I’ve added more tips to the Bird Walk program page.

A Quilter’s New Year Resolutions

Finish UFOs. Every year, this gets added to my New Year Resolutions. A week ago, I succumbed to Judy’s peer pressure and joined the rest of the Material Girlfriends in the American Patchwork and Quilting UFO Challenge. You are to choose 12 unfinished projects and each month APQ chooses a number and you sew on that project for the month. (Check it out here.) I started by writing up my list, checking my closet for forgotten projects… Hmm. I only had 8. EIGHT. Ocho. So I doubled up on a few projects to make 12.

EIGHT unfinished projects? What was wrong with me? Basically I am finishing everything I start because it turns into a pattern. I couldn’t finish all those new patterns on my own, however. My mom, Carolyn, and sister, Lora, sew up my projects while I write. I know, it is like cheating!

The first of the year APQ chose project #6 for us to work on for Jan. I’m already done. On my list, #6 was a basket of four unfinished runners. They needed quilting and binding. DONE. Now I’m down to 7 UFOs. What will I do for the rest of the month? Here are a few images of what the Material Girlfriends got done Jan 1. Judy’s blocks for a sampler, a baby quilt for Lora’s new nephew and my four runners. Katheline and Diana worked on their Bird Walk blocks.

img_4244 img_4243 img_4241image1 image3donerunners

So Lets add to our New Year Resolutions List to START a New Project Every Month.This way I’ll have 12 unfinished projects to do for 2018! Ha! But seriously… how about we try 12 new techniques? Learn 12 new quilting things? Try a new quilting gizmo or try a new fabric line? What block have you always admired but have yet to sew? How about a class? Or joining a guild? What about designing and sewing your very own quilt design?

You Sew Girl. Let’s make Quilting Adventures by trying new things that stretch our creativity and our skill sets. We can always do those UFOs next year!




Holy Baby Jesus, It’s December

How did December creep up on me so fast? I haven’t even cleaned the Thanksgiving leftovers out of the frig yet. Sigh…

ChristmasMorning.Cover.8.5x11.websiteI just finished teaching this class, Christmas Morning Delight. It is one of my favorite patterns. Several years ago, I was doodling on my sermon notes during a December sermon and drew a Christmas tree dangling it’s star to delight the holy babe. Psalm 148 says “All heaven and earth will praise the Lord. Shining stars and all cedars will even praise Him.” Hmmm. Shining Stars, Cedar trees. Would it be hard to imagine a decorated Christmas tree bending in adoration to delight the babe with its star? I thought it fun to think so.

I kept my sketch and waited, waited, waited for the perfect Christmas fabric to make up this pattern. A few years went by and still no perfect fabric. Then Marcus Brothers Fabrics came out with a bright batik line called Radiant Stars. Why was I waiting for Christmas fabric? No more waiting. NONE of the fabrics used in this pattern are from a Christmas line. I used a 1/2 yard of gradient gray for behind the appliqué and Robert Kaufman’s Kona Charcoal for the star background. I sewed up Baby Jesus and wrote the pattern last December. In Between Stitches had kits, so you can always contact them if you’re interested in a kit. Christmas Morning Delight pattern can be purchased from In Between Stitches as well. (If you’re a quilt shop and would like to purchase wholesale, just contact me through my contact page.)

bonafide-cover-8-5x11-flatIntroducing…. drum roll pleases…. hot off the press, Bona Fide, the Material Girlfriend brand new, 6 month, Block of the Month pattern. We used Putty and Mortar fabric line from Marcus Brothers. We will be starting this program in January through In Between Stitches. Contact the shop if you’re interested in this BOM program, pattern or a kit.

bitesizepattern-vol2-final-1bitesizepattern-vol3-final-1abitesizevalentinebanner-finalWe’ve been busy because we’ve also just released Bite Size Vol. 2, Vol. 3, and a Valentine Banner patterns. Bite size is our 12″ block line. The blocks can be displayed in the little wire stands or wire wall racks. They’re the perfect size for some “fabric therapy” when you’re tired of your big project or just need a little project to try a new technique, practice your machine quilting, or a quick gift for a friend or loved one.

charmpackmaniac-coverBut wait, there is more. Really? Yep, just one more. Charm Pack Maniac is a fun and quick quilt pattern that is a perfect size for baby, toddler, or a lap quilt. It just takes one charm pack and some fabric for star points and background. So so easy. Just a snow ball block. It makes a delightful “I spy” quilt for little ones too.

Whew! I think that’s it. I’m adding more to the Bird Walk program page today, as well as updating my new and upcoming class schedule for next quarter (January-April 2017), and adding all these new patterns to my pattern page. So much for getting any Christmas shopping done today!

Sew on, sew forth, my quilting friend,


Speling is Hord

Once upon a time, my oldest son was beginning 2nd grade. The teacher was having all her students fill out a questionaire on the student’s perceived strengths and weaknesses. When Matthew reached a page entitled, “What is your most difficult subject?” he wrote three words, ‘Speling is hord.”

I really enjoy different quilting techniques. I love trying new things, new rulers, new tools. In my block of the month patterns, I like including more than one quilting technique. Usually it is piecing and appliqué but many times I will include a couple blocks of paper piecing or foundation piecing. I think I heard a collective groan. I really enjoy paper piecing. It is so precise! My squares come out perfect. But I understand that “Speling is hord” for many and so is paper piecing. It has to do with left brain vs. right brain, I’m sure.

I have a tutorial I did on paper piecing (remember videos add 10 years and 25lbs to the actress) and I’ve linked it here for you. But if you have a hard time wrapping your brain around my technique, there are lots of different ways to do paper piecing. Search Youtube for different tutorials. Google paper piecing or foundation piecing to find different blogs. Someone, somewhere, has a method that will click for you. Don’t give up! Practice with some scrap fabrics first. Here is a practice project for you if you want to follow along with the video tutorial. ChristmasElfMugRugPattern

Now, if you didn’t catch all that and don’t want to sit through the chipmunks music again, here are a few easy steps.

  1. Copy your pattern onto some foundation paper. You can use printer paper but Carol Doak’s foundation paper is so much easier to remove. You can also use Alex Anderson’s foundation paper and leave it in. It will dissolve after it is washed. Trim away the bottom portion of the pattern. You only need to paper-piece the hat.
  2. Trace the lines and numbers on the back of the paper. This is to assist you in positioning your fabric.
  3. Pre-cut your fabrics. I estimate an inch or more bigger than the space it will cover.
  4. Start with number one. On the back side of the paper where you drew the lines, pin right side up the fabric piece so it covers the entire area by at least a quarter inch on all sides.
  5. Position the fabric for number 2 right sides facing together on top of the fabric for position 1. Check the position. Imagine if you sewed on the line between 1 and 2 to make the seam, then as fabric 2 is opened, it should cover the entire area of spot 2 plus a quarter inch beyond. Pin to hold it in place, flip it over and stitch the line between 1 and 2 with a small stitch. I use 1.8 on my machine’s settings.
  6. Finger press the seam open. Does the fabric generously cover position 2? No, seam rip and try again. Yes? Trim the seam to 1/4″ using a postcard to fold the paper over and an Add-A-Quarter ruler.
  7. Before adding fabric for position 3, it is easier to pre-trim the seam allowance on the line between two and three before adding the next fabric. From the front, align the post card on the line between 2 and 3. Fold the paper back over the postcard. Butt the Add-A-Quarter ruler along the card edge and trim the quarter inch. Now you can easily align the fabric for position 3.
  8. Continue in the same manner until you’ve covered all the pieces. Trim on the outside solid line and tear away the foundation paper.
  9. Cut a background rectangle 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. Trace the face onto the paper side of double-sided light fusible web. Follow your products directions. Stick to the wrong side of your fabric and trim out on the line. Trace the nose and mouth and then stick to the right side of the 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangle aligning the face at the top edge of the rectangle. Heat set in place. I did a blanket stitch around the curve of the face.
  10. Sew to the bottom of the hat and give it a good pressing.
  11. Quilt and bind. You can add some rosy cheeks with fabric paint or crayon if you want.
  12. What about the hat’s pom-pom? On one mug rug I traced a quarter on some fusible web and created a pom-pom from some chenille. On another, I sewed a jingle bell. A button, yo-yo or yarn pom-pom would be just as cute! Have fun finishing him up.

Matthew eventually learned to spell. I am confident you will learn to paper piecing. Keep practicing!



Back to Basics

BW.Block1Duck Track Block

To me, September is like a reboot month. We make all these New Year resolutions to do better, be more organized, blog more regularly blah blah blah and then we fall flat on our face after a few months. But in September, it is like I can hit the re-start button. We’re headed into a new season and for some reason I can refocus on my goals. (Maybe it’s because my household has gone back to school and to work and I have more time for me!)

Sew let’s get back to basics. Accuracy is always on my list of improvements. I dislike seam ripping and I like to get it right the first time. When I teach a class, we always start off checking the seam allowance. The seam allowance is usually the guilty party when the block doesn’t turn out the correct size. However, there are really four elements to making the block the correct size.

  1. Cutting
  2. 1/4″ seam
  3. Alignment
  4. Pressing

Cutting your fabric. Be sure you iron out all wrinkles and folds (steam is fine). Have good lighting, your proper glasses, and a sharp rotary blade. Always stand when cutting. Sitting is convenient but standing over your ruler allows for better accuracy. Always cut once away from your body and don’t see-saw back and forth. If your blade is skipping or you’re having to cut several times, time for a new blade. If you’re ruler is sliding, try non slick grips on the back and anchor your pinky on the non-cutting side of the ruler.

Your 1/4″ seam needs to be accurate. Most modern sewing machine come with a programmed setting for piecing. It is marked by a P. I can’t tell you how many students I have helped find the correct setting for their quarter inch seam. They’d been using tape when all along their machine had a perfect setting for them. Be sure to know your machine’s settings and have the proper foot. MEASURE that quarter inch before you start.

Alignment is so important. Some ladies sew like it is a race. I’m guilty too. And none of us like to be last in the class room. But it isn’t a race and accuracy is more important than finishing first. Take your time. Align that fabric up perfectly. Take time to pin. Ask yourself, “What’s the point?” When sewing points, be sure to align the ends at the point. If the fabric is slightly long or short at the other end it isn’t going to matter as much as getting your point to be at the quarter inch seam.

Pressing Matters. Press first with the seam closed (no steam). Open the pieced item and from the wrong side of the fabric, knock the seam, with the side of the iron, the direction the arrow shows in the instructions. You’re just knocking it over. Then from the front do the same, making sure the seam hadn’t folded over on itself. When pressing, I hold one side of the fabric taunt while pressing with the iron – not tight enough to stretch the fabric but to enough to press the seam well. No steam in my iron unless I want the piece to grow. This is where so many blocks fall short, is in the pressing.

If your block doesn’t turn out the size it was supposed to, examine these four elements to find the culprit.

Feel free to reboot along with me. September is a new month, a new season, a new day. I hope these tips help you with your accuracy.

Sew on my good friend,