Visual Decisions


Note to self. RESIST the temptation to “just sew a few blocks together to see how they look.” It is a sure-fire set up for having to rip out those same blocks later.
I'm really playing with fabric, trying out some new things for my upcoming workshop at Mid Appalachian Quilt Conference in July. I just could not get the proportion the way I wanted it on these pieced blocks.


I need to see what the square will look like, so trying to figure it out by doing math doesn't work for me.
I don't want the stripe-edge squares to overpower the other squares.
But I don't want them so skinny that they look like binding.
I tell my students, you can't just “think” it out. You have to mock it up so that you can visualize how it will look.
“Spring Ahead” is done. There are some things I would change, but this quilt is a sample and I'm not ripping anything else out. Done is a good thing!


Spring Ahead

I'm in love with this beautiful fabric line, Artisan Spirit, designed by Elaine Quehl for Northcott Fabrics. I selected mostly colors from the Spring Rain color way to make a small sample quilt for my Quilting in Geometric Layers class at Mid Appalachian Quilt conference in July.
When I started this quilt, all I could see outside my sewing room window, was blizzard white snow. Over 5 darn inches of snow accumulated! Fortunately two days later, it has mostly melted. Any day now I'll see blooming forsythia and lovely green leaf buds. I already have the name for this quilt–Spring Ahead.
I want all different kinds of thread, especially the sparkly, shiney ones. The more variation the better for my quilting lines.
After the blocks have been quilted and squared up, they look so crisp and perfect. I thought I had every color of Superior Threads Bottom Line for appliquéing the center squares but I seem to be missing that greeny turquoise. I might have a thin silk thread that will work.
I just had to sew a few of the blocks together to see how they're working. Can I get this small quilt done by Wednesday night? I'm giving a presentation to Pieced Together Quilt Guild in Bridgewater, New Jersey and I'd love to bring it with me. Better get crackin' right!


The House at Pooh Corner

Calico Cutters Quilt Guild makes up kits for members to take home and sew kids quilts for our donations to the Domestic Violence Center of West Chester. I grabbed this kit with really cute fabric, Winnie the Pooh prints.
It was fun to quilt the names of the characters in with the meandering leaf design.
I had two blocks left over and sewed a pocket on the back.
Just the right size to include this well loved book. It's upsetting to think how many quilts are needed at the shelter every month. I hope that the child receiving this quilt and book will be read to, wrapped in love, and safe, as every child deserves to be.



No Rip

Yesterday was Bee day at Jane's house. Isn't this quilt gorgous? Jane made this gift for a teenage girl who volunteers her time. I know she will love it.


Peggy sent me a photo of her colorful pinwheel quilt a few weeks ago.


I sketched out a few ideas and was able to get her approval on the quilting design.
I sent her a sneak peak.
This is going to hang in Peggy's beach house and I'm so happy she liked the finished quilt. It was a really fun quilt to work on. Thanks Peggy!



Rip or No?

I have been working on these appliqué blocks. I challenged myself to try and use colors I don't usually select. I don't like the fabrics, the colors or the blocks! The stems on the flowers look wrong to me– too fat and too dark. I made them exactly the same size as the directions said.
The pattern is from the book “Tending the Garden” by Blackbird Designs.
I loved the quilt in the book but thought I would use more “modern” fabrics. I think I was influenced by Kelly, my friend from Pinkadot Quilts. I love everything she sews. It always looks fresh and new.
When I sew four blocks together, the centers will have appliqué joining the stems. Will they look better then? Or should I rip them out and find lighter fabrics and size them down and re-sew? I hate ripping out, but hand appliqué is a big time investment. Next project, I'm staying–no wallowing– in my personal color comfort zone.



My friend Cheryl Lynch is a renegade. This isn't really a comment on her personality although she is a feisty red head. Cheryl is a vender at the Continental Inn in Lancaster during the AQS Quilt Show in downtown Lancaster. Years ago, when the show was at the Host Convention Center, there were so many venders, many had to set up across the street from the main venue. Somehow they became known as The Renegades, our favorite, not to be missed shops.
This customer came all the way from Israel for the quilt show and is watching Cheryl demonstrating how her Curvalicious Tool easily creates beautiful quilts. Check out The Renegades and say hey to Cheryl and her fun staff in the Cheryl Lynch Quilts booth.
This quilt by David Taylor, was my favorite at the show. Is this subliminal? Hearing the birds chirping and enjoying the 60 degree, sunny day? Might be. “Did You Wash Your Beak?” got my Viewers Choice vote.



Tie a Yellow Ribbon

Yea! Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot won Third Place at the Tri-State Quiltfest in NewJersey. I'm thrilled with a Yellow Ribbon but not very happy about the way the quilt is hanging. I have done something wrong with the sleeve on the back. I think I need to move the sleeve more towards the top.
I wasn't able to attend the show thanks to the massive ice storm going on. Debra, of Debra Harry Art Quilts was kind enough to send me these photos. Debra is an amazing artist. Mermaids and ocean scapes with beading and embellishing are themes in her quilts. Check out her website and blog for some inspiration. Thank you, Debra! I really appreciate seeing my quilt, even though I couldn't go to the show.


Mid-Appalachian Quilt Conference

Registration starts today! I am teaching at the Mid-Appalachian Quilters conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland, July 10, 11 and 12. Many of my friends have attended the conference, both as instructors and as quilters taking classes. This year I get to join the fun! Here is a peek at my two brand new classes.
On Friday I will be teaching a really fun class called Geometric Quilting in Layers. You won't believe all the things we can do with little four inch blocks and the beautiful quilts that result. The focus is on piecing techniques with a few little appliquéd center squares thrown in, for a no-stress day of sewing and quilting.

111 Geometric Quilting In Layers

  • Instructor: Terry Kramzar
  • Project Size: As desired. Enough batting provided for approximately 20″ x 20″ but this technique allows for easily enlarging and custom sizing the project at any time.
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Method: Machine / Applique / Pieced / Machine Quilting / Fusing
  • Project Rating: Easy
  • Sewing Machine: Yes, preferably with zigzag stitch
  • Description: Bring your gorgeous fabrics and play with color and texture. Create a small geometric art quilt to learn an innovative technique. Not free motion quilting- just straight stitching with a regular foot. No tension problems, no knots, no thread breaking, no learning curve! Quilt through the 4 inch squares, one at a time, through the top and batting only. Learn how to add center squares, slices, thread painting and more. Combine silk and cotton fabrics and many kinds of quilting threads to make a unique piece of art. Then sew the pre-quilted blocks together, add the backing and quilt through all three layers. Is this “quilt as you go”? Not really! We do not sew the backing on in little 4 inch squares, but all in one piece. At that point you can be finished quilting. Next step binding! I will teach a perfect Knife Edge Binding for an artful finish.
  • Skills Taught: Layered machine quilting, machine applique, raw edge fuse and finish, sewing with silk, slice insertion, thread painting, knife edge finishing
  • Additional Class Fees: $10 kit fee includes fusible batting and SquareCenterRuler

On Saturday and Sunday I will teach how I take an image and make a pattern to create a quilt. At my lectures, many have been intrigued by the process from start to finish. Designing a Quilt in Layers uses your design to learn the steps to sew your own stunning quilt. Here are two examples of my quilts and the kind of image that works well.


411 Designing a Quilt in Layers

  • Instructor: Terry Kramzar
  • Project Size: 20″ x 20″
  • Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  • Method: Machine / Applique / Pieced / Machine Quilting / Fusing
  • Project Rating: Moderate/Challenging
  • Sewing Machine: Yes, preferably with zigzag stitch
  • Description: Create your own design and make a small quilt using the QUlting in Layers technique. In this class you will learn how to make a line drawing of your subject on acetate, size the drawing using a projector, and transfer it to a grid. We will then refine and edit the drawing to make a sewable pattern. You will learn to “Quilt in Layers” to create an interesting and varied background, adding machine applique for your subject. Don't want to draw your own? I will have some flower drawings to trace to compose your own design. This is a two-day class that meets on Saturday-Sunday. The image shown below is an example of the type of image that participants could use in the Designing a Quilt in Layers class. It is not a pattern! See the supply list for more information.
  • Skills Taught: Drawing a design and making a pattern. Layered machine quilting, machine applique, raw edge fuse and finish.
  • Additional Class Fees: $15 kit fee includes grid paper, acetate, heavy freezer paper, glue and fine tip, fusible batting and SquareCenterRuler

The roster of instructors and the variety of classes at MAQ is awesome. I can't wait for July. Come and join us!


Joan’s Quilts

A tree budding with leaves! This is a work in progress my friend Joan is making. Our Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee met at Joan's house this week, despite the ice storm. Joan's driveway was a sheet of ice so her husband shoveled a path through the snow and crusty ice across the front lawn so we could park on the street and get down the hill to her door. We weren't about to skip Bee because of a little (ok, a lot) of ice.
We got to see this quilt Joan is making and we agreed, nobody knows how to pronounce daiwabo.
Joan is a precision piecer, as this quilt top made from an Edyta Sitar pattern, shows.
She appliqués as well as she pieces.
I love this bird with the blossoms in his beak.
Joan says these are not colors she would normally select. The quilt really brightened a gray, still winter in March, day. So did catching up with friends, enjoying each other's company and seeing quilts. The iced lemon cookies and German chocolate brownies did wonders for my mood too!



Ice, Ice Baby

I said I wasn't going to post another snow photo.


Do ice storm photos count? We have half an inch of ice coating everything and no sunshine to make it all sparkle and shine. That's not fair!
I'm scheduled to teach a workshop all day and then lecture tonight to the Annapolis Quilt Guild, but the schools are closed and that means the Guild cancels the program. I've been having late night and early morning conversations with Helen, from the Guild, discussing possible scenarios. I felt about 20 years younger! Back to the days of little kids in school and phone chains. I'm disappointed. It would have been fun to sew on this gray, frigid day at the workshop with the Annapolis quilters. Ah well, much better to be safe.
And sew at home today.


Throwing in the Towel

Remember this quilt from yesterday? WHAT A CHALLENGE. I wanted to use Superior Threads Bottom Line to stitch-in-the-ditch up and down the piano key border. Nothing I could do would keep the thread from shredding and breaking. I’ve used it before with no issues. I spent hours switching out needles, re threading, trying to get the tension right. It would stitch an inch and break the thread. Aaaarrrgh. I finely “threw in the towel” used Omni thread and had no problem. Until I started quilting straight lines in the dark area and hit my ruler with the needle! Wow! Scared the life outa me! The machine went crazy, stitching away. The screen went blank and I couldn’t turn it off. Finely gathered my wits and pulled the plug. I figured I was in for an expensive service call but when I plugged it back in, it booted right up and stitched just fine. Whew.


Speaking of towels, I went to swim laps at the YMCA pool this morning and crossing the parking lot, I realized I forgot my towel. I stopped in my tracks, deliberating– at 7 degrees, not considering the wind chill factor, mind you. What to do? A) Skip the swim and go to Starbucks. B) Drive home and get a friggin towel. C) Use what ya got.


I really wanted to swim so I chose option C. Since I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a light fleece, I figured I’d use one of those as a towel after the shower. In retrospect, the fleece as towel was a bad choice. If you’ve never tried to dry your dripping wet self with fluffy polyester, I can tell you it is not a satisfying experience. To augment the useless fleece, I crept out to the sink area to grab a fistful of the very tiny, planet saving paper towels. Having no towel to wrap around myself, I had to do this…without a towel. I despise those dispensers that make you wave your hands underneath the sensor and then automatically roll out a few inches of paper, then make you wait a ridiculous amount of time, still waving your hands, for an additional few inches. Lucky for me, there was only one very buff and fit, fully clothed young woman watching me perform this routine.


I managed to pull my clothes on my moist body and finished by using the hair dryer. I didn’t want to run the risk of flash freezing a skim of ice while getting to the car. Of course I had to stand near the wall where the hair dryers plug in and I did get some looks. I could see them thinking, what the hell is she doing using a hair dryer on her…um, legs? I had a plan to say, “You didn’t know you can lose an extra pound with a hair dryer after your workout?” Thankfully everyone was too polite to ask because this would have backfired tomorrow when all the dang hair dryers would be in use and I’d have to wait for one.


It’s been a day. I’m having a glass of wine.




I have a theme going here. I just booked the last cabin at Lewis Mountain in Shenandoah National Park for a hike in May with Laura. There are only 30 cabins at Lewis campground so they get reserved early. Laura has already hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Shendoah but it's such an enjoyable part of the Trail she's going to hike it again with me. COME ON MAY!
So while I'm day dreaming of seeing budding trees, new fauns and foraging bears (oh my!) I'm going to quilt this log cabin top I've had for quite a while. The quilt is from Judy Martin's “Log Cabin Quilt Book.”
I made several of the quilts in this book and I still love to make traditional log cabin quilts. I took a look at Judy Martin's website for quilting design ideas. Wow! She is selling lots of quilts and quilt tops from her book. She's using the Priceline method of marketing–“Make Me an Offer.” Wouldn't it be cool to own a quilt made by Judy Martin!
These are 4 of the blocks I worked on in Florida. The pattern is from Bonnie Hunter and I'm using only fabric from my stash. I think the blocks will be perfect in a log cabin setting. I'm longing to work on these but it's such a perfect project for a sewing get-a-way that I have boxed up everything, ready to go when needed.
I planned on ending this post with a witty quip about having cabin fever but since it is about 5 degrees outside and I'm thinking of Laura in Massachusetts buried under 9 feet of snow…I just can't do it. Sigh. COME ON MAY! I'll even settle for March if it warms up.


Longing for Spring

Not another snow picture! I couldn't resist the six deer in my back yard. I'm sure they're even more anxious for Spring than I am. But this is the last snow photo because I have decided it's our last snow storm.
Perfect weather to stay inside and quilt. I can't decide if working on trilliums makes my longing for Spring better or worse.
It's a little tricky deciding on how many flowers to add to my canvas. I don't want too many to cover my pretty background blocks and stitching. The students in my Quilting in Layers classes always ask if I plan this out before I choose the blocks. Sometimes I do sketch out my composition, if it is going to be a very detailed quilt. Lots of times, with fused appliqué, I just let the wild flowers bloom where they will, deciding one at a time on my design wall.
I have fused WonderUnder to the fabric, removed the backing paper and cut out the pieces so that all I have to do when I have them positioned, is iron them down, I iron them while on my design wall, being careful not to let the iron touch the fleece covering. Yeah, you can guess what has happened …
I don't like the way the seams are showing under the flowers, especially with the thiner silk fabrics. I have tried fusing different light weight interfacings and have also layered several pieces of the same fabric. White and light pink flowers are challenging under dark backgrounds. I resist adding any other layers because then I lose that nice crisp edge and have to deal with fraying.
Lots of stitching helps to make the seam lines less noticeable.
The quilting makes the flat flowers and foliage come alive. It's my favorite part.
Finished! Now all I need is a title and to make a label. And some soft warm, breezes and sun and color returning to the landscape and chirping birds would be nice.



A Bee of Three

Today it is my turn to host Quilt Bee. Nothing stands in the way of quilters getting together! Not the plow guy failing to show up! Not our snow blower being missing in action! Ok, I admit I had to bribe Gary to get out there in 9 degree cold to shovel. Never underestimate the power of warm chocolate chip cookies!
Only two friends were able to brave the conditions. I'm so glad Karen could come and show this beautiful quilt in progress she is making for her daughter.
She needed help deciding on fabric for the final border. Darn, we agreed none of the fabrics were right. Back to the quilt shops for another option.
I'm really glad Susie came because she brought me this gorgous table runner. I love it and it is perfect for today!


Red Dot

I attended the wine and cheese reception at the Malvern Retreat House Art Show on Friday night. The traffic nearing the venue was so congested I almost didn’t go into the show! I had no idea it was so well attended. You had to park in a remote lot and take a shuttle, which actually worked very well since we were dropped right off at the door. My first step was to secure a glass of Chardonay. I really didn’t know what the protocol was. Were the artists to stand near their own work? I felt a little conspicuous doing that so I decided to go around the back side of the room showing the fiber art, to get the lay of the land.
Someone from my quilt guild immediately came up and started talking to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a red dot on the card next to my quilt. Whoopee! I sold a quilt. I thought it was the one on the right but when I walked closer, it hit me– someone purchased Mayapples…for $9,000.


Oh My Goodness. I was stunned. I am still stunned! Several people asked if I was the artist and I was so speechless I had trouble responding. So much for appearing cool and nonchalant! I did manage to avoid doing a fist pump and jumping up and down. I drank my glass of wine and went into the ladies lounge so I could email my mother to say thank you for all the art lessons she paid for and for teaching me to sew. Then I got another glass of wine!
I talked to lots of folks who were surprised to view quilts on the wall as art. One of the show volunteers told me that Richard Bollinger, a fine artist said he will never think of quilts in the same way again. Thank you to the art show committee for including quilts and fiber art in this prestigious show.
What a roller coaster of emotions– feeling successful as an artist and feeling that I’ve sold a child on the black market! Today I am somewhere in the stratosphere of selling a quilt for $9000 and the hard landing of realizing that Mayapples will not be coming back home with me. I don’t know who bought my quilt and I’m not sure if the art show organizers are allowed to give out that information. Today is the last day of the show and I’m going back to say a last good by. I hope Mayapples brings as much pleasure to its new owner as making it brought to me.