American Quilter Magazine January/February 2016

A while back, I mentioned that I *might* have another kaleidoscope design in the works.  Today, I get to share it with you, and I am just thrilled and honored about where this little quilt wound up.

Fractured kaleidoscopeHere’s my “Fractured Kaleidoscope”, a foundation paper pieced design intended to give all the lovely swirly effects of a traditional kaleidoscope block, without having to contend with eight fabric points converging in the block center.  The fabrics are all luscious Laurel Burch basics from Clothworks.





If you’d like the pattern, or a kit to make one just like this one, you can find both in the current issue of American Quilter magazine.


Once I got over the initial amazement of seeing my quilt on the cover, I read through the entire magazine, and loved every article.  There’s a design by Jackie Robinson, one of my all-time favorite designers.  Six years ago, she hosted a block design contest.  Even though my entries didn’t win, the experience was fantastic, and motivated me to start my own business.

There’s an article called Angel Babies that made me cry–in a good way.  It’s part of a series about charity quilts that talks about several organizations that make handmade items for families whose babies die before birth. As a mom who has gone through two miscarriages, I know those tiny gifts mean the world to the families who receive them.

One of the things I love best about American Quilter is that they feature more complex patterns than you can find elsewhere.  There’s a STUNNING quilt in this issue, all blue-and-white, combining the idea of a mariner’s compass with storm at sea blocks, by Judit Hajdu.

fc detail (1)I’m thrilled beyond words to be included in such a gorgeous publication. I had a ball making my quilt, and even tried a new-to-me technique of quilting with TWO glide colors in the needle simultaneously.  The overall effect was that the quilting showed up everywhere in the large swirls.


Fractured Kaleidescope purpleHere’s a mock-up of the quilt in a more subdued color scheme of purple, black and white.  I also used Laurel Burch basics for this color option.

If you make your own Fractured Kaleidoscope, I’d LOVE to see it! Use the hashtag #fracturedkaleidoscope in instagram, and be sure to tag me, @thecaffeinatedquilter!






Happy Stitching, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!



New Pattern: Wanderings


I’m so wanderings coverexcited to share a new pattern with you today! I designed Wanderings for Andover Fabrics and their winsome Little House on the Prairie fabric line (now available in stores!!)

This quilt was inspired by a quilt I saw on my friend Karen’s blog when she toured the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum.




wanderings outtakeI love the blues and creams together in this quilt, it makes me think of a prairie skyline.  And the name of the pattern was inspired by Pa and Laura’s pioneering spirit, always wondering what was beyond the horizon.



close-upFor the quilting, I tried a new-to-me motif of wandering curliques.  By the end of it, my ability to backtrack along quilting lines had improved tremendously!!

This quilt uses strip piecing techniques and large blocks, so it goes together pretty quickly. It finishes at 60” by 74”, perfect for snuggling up on the couch, or tent-building.

The pattern is available digitally in my Craftsy store, and will be available to your local quilt store through Brewer soon. If you make a Wanderings quilt of your own, please share on Instagram with the hashtag #wanderingsquilt.  I can’t wait to see what you create!!

Happy Stitching!


JQSG-Reflections on Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters

Welcome to the Japanese Quilting Study group, a monthly blog series dedicated to learning more about the wonderful world of Japanese quilting.  You can see all previous posts in this series by clicking on the link in the header, or here.

book cover

Teresa Duryea Wong’s book finally arrived on my doorstep just after I wrapped up several huge deadlines.  So I was able to spend a long morning with a good cup of coffee, perusing the book slowly and taking it all in.  The photographs are gorgeous, and the information presented is fascinating. The differences between Japanese and American quilting classes are incredible. For example, Teresa talks about one teacher (in the traditional teaching curriculum), where the students in the basic class make 48 hand-pieced quilts in 2-4 years.  I would love to learn how to hand piece that efficiently. Making ONE small hand-pieced quilt took me the better part of six months!

My favorite section of the book is the artist profiles.  Here, we get a very up-close and personal glimpse into the lives of famous Japanese quilters, including images and descriptions of their studios. I find it very encouraging that some of them do not have immaculately organized work spaces, and store things in plastic tubs just like I do!

The diversity of quilting styles presented in this book is inspiring, and makes it a story not only relevant to American quilters who love all things Japanese (like me), but also to American quilters who think outside the box, and push the limits of what defines a quilt. So many American quilt books focus on “the basics”, and simplifying the quiltmaking process to something you can complete in a weekend.  The quilts shown in this book highlight the other end of the quilting spectrum- the magic that happens when you meticulously, painstakingly pour your heart and soul into creating a work of art in fabric.

Happy Stitching!



How to Fix Puckers While Free-Motion Quilting

While working on my Little House on the Prairie quilts for Market, I accidentally messed up the quilting.  Badly. You know how they always say to work from the center of your quilt outwards while machine quilting? I missed a spot.  Literally one little 4 1/2” block smack in the center of the quilt.  And when I went to fill it in, it created a huge pucker as I moved toward a densely quilted area.


The seam ripper is pointing at the impending pucker.  The two-dimensional photograph does not do it justice, this was turning into a huge ridge.  And you can see how wonky my stitching was leading up to it as I noticed the problem.  So I took the quilt off the machine, and ripped out that ugly stitching.  Then the block was completely unquilted.





pucker2Then I pinned that block down with straight pins (not the curved safety pins I usually use for basting).  I tried to mitigate the puckering by spacing it out between each of the pins. Then I put it back on the machine, and quilted SUPER SLOWLY.  I was terrified of running over those pins.  I also started on the side of the block where the pucker was worst (on the right hand side, instead of on the left where I started the first time).




pucker3When it was finished, it still didn’t lay perfectly flat.  But it was hardly noticeable when I stepped back from the quilt.  Whew!!

Do you ever get puckers when free-motion quilting?  How do you avoid them in the first place, or fix them once they’re inevitable?




Happy Stitching!



Fall 2015 Market Projects

These past two weeks have been bonkers! Between Quilt Market deadlines, my oldest kiddo’s volleyball tournament, and a family wedding this weekend, our world has been chaotic.

Next week I’ll be sharing two new patterns with you.  For today, though, I wanted to share some quick pictures of market projects.  I’m so bummed to be missing Market this year.  If you’re going, be sure to check out Andover’s Premiere Schoolhouse Friday morning for Little House on the Prairie.  I hear they’re giving away some wonderful goodie bags.  And if you send me a picture of yourself with one of my quilts there, I’ll send you a  free TCQ pattern, your choice!

Here’s a preview of one of those quilts, called Wanderings:

Wanderings outtake








A couple of weeks ago, RJR contacted me about making some samples in their wonderful Basically Patrick lines.  Bright colored hexagon fabric?!?  You bet I’m in!!  Even if I do stay up most of the night hand stitching. . . . And MACHINE FINISH my Delectable Watermelon table runner with less than an hour to go before the last UPS pick-up of the day. . .. Hey, we do our best work under pressure right?

Here’s the little watermelon, from my Delectable Watermelon pattern.  (This time I hand-pieced it instead of EPP.  It went together SOOO much faster!)

Delectable watermelon RJR




And a version of my Frosted Hexagon table topper, all in yummy blues and turquoises:

Frosted hexagon RJR







Now I’m off to pack for said wedding.  And drool over all the fun Quilt Market pictures in my Instagram feed.  What did we ever do before social media?

Happy Stitching!



Quiltmaker November/December 2015

It’s finally here!!


I’ve been keeping a little secret, although I posted pictures of the quilting here.

That is my quilt on the COVER!!!! (If you follow me on facebook, you probably heard me going nuts over this a while back when they were voting on the cover.  Thank you for voting!!)

I am just thrilled about this quilt.  It was inspired by my atomic fireball quilt that I made a little over a year ago.


Atomic Fireball

But unlike atomic fireball, this version was made with. . . .foundation paper piecing!! Not one of my stronger skill sets.  However, I was delighted to discover that foundation paper piecing really isn’t any trickier than templates.  And the cutting is much more forgiving!! By the way, I strongly recommend Electric Quilt’s Quilter’s Newsprint if you like printing your foundation papers on newsprint. The inexpensive stuff you can buy online for a fraction of the cost is much better suited to kids’ origami projects than finagling through a printer.

No matter how you make them, kaleidoscope quilts are just plain fun.  I may even like them as much as I like hexagon quilts.  Maybe, just maybe, enough to inspire another cool design. .. . .tune in to the blog in January for more on that :-)

For now, though, I’m balancing frantic Market prep sewing with daydreaming about holiday projects.  I’m in love with Carolyn McCormick’s little Very Merry Ornaments.  They would be perfect for all those little red white and green scrap fabrics that are still all over my studio. . . . .

Happy Stitching!



An Update on My Janome Artistic SD

Midarm quilting machines must be a hot topic right now.  I’ve been getting lots of e-mails from people asking about how I like mine.  So I’ve been thinking about a blog post update for a couple of weeks now.

I wanted to write about how much fun it is to sew on.  I was going to compile a list of tips I’ve discovered that help prevent thread breakage.  I was going to blog about the crazy cool effect I got when I combined orange and blue thread in the needle for some current secret sewing.

All of this was running through my head this morning.  First, though, I had to finish some secret sewing (with the aforementioned blue and orange threads).  End in sight, all I have left to quilt is the last side of the borders..  . . .


Whoa.  My machine never goes KACHUNK.  What just happened? The lever for the presser foot BROKE.  As in, the lever does not engage with the presser foot.  The lever swings freely.  The foot stays down.

In a panic, I called my Janome dealer.  Did I mention that this secret sewing needs to be in the mail tomorrow morning?!  She calmly listened to the situation, and said she’d get back to me.

She called back a few minutes later. She asked for my address so they could send me a new machine. But they don’t have any in stock, so she can’t say when I’ll get it.

It is 23 days until Quilt Market.  I have two wonderful Little House on the Prairie quilts that need to get quilted ASAP.

And I am without a midarm.  Because the machine I bought a mere 8 months ago is irreparably broken.

Thankfully, I was able to finish up that last border with the presser foot down.  I just had to avoid bulky seams, and manually separate the tension disks when I needed pressure off the thread.

Here’s a last picture of my sweet Artistic.  You can see the presser foot lever is not even close to where it should be.

broken artistic

Do I still love the Artistic?  Honestly, right now I’m not sure.  I’ll let you know once the new one arrives.

Until then, I’m off to work on hand quilting.  And praying that your sewing machine never goes KACHUNK.


UPDATE:  I called my dealer back this afternoon to find out when the replacement would arrive.  The dealer walked me and my husband through the steps to removing the front of the machine. . . . AND WE FIXED IT!! It works perfectly.  I know a LOT more about my sewing machine than I did four hours ago. Oh, happy camper!!! Now, back to frantic market-prep quilting!!!

Happy Stitching!



A Bonus Japanese Quilting Post

I’m woefully behind on blogging this week. .. partly because of deadlines, and partly because I’ve been trying to figure out Instagram.  For someone of my generation, I’m inept when it comes to all these social media things.  But I’m trying!

If you’re on instagram, you should check out #emilysyokosaitoquilt

Teresa Wong created that hashtag to chronicle all the places she’s taking my Journey quilt.  And this week has been an EPIC journey for that little quilt.



Yes, that IS Yoko Saito and Teresa Duryea Wong, and MY little quilt!!!!! Can you believe it?? Me neither :-)






If you’re not on Instagram, you can read the wonderful story behind this picture on Teresa’s blog. I’m hoping she posts more of her adventures in Japan soon!


And if you’re interested, here’s a link to my brand-new little Instagram feed:



I’d love to have you follow along! Once I get the hang of hashtags, I’m hoping to use this as a means to provide lots more sneak peeks of current projects.

Happy Stitching!



JQSG-Teresa Duryea Wong’s New Book!!

Welcome to the Japanese Quilting Study Group!  To see all the posts in this series, please click on the link above.  I am soooo excited about today’s post.  I’ve been antsy to read it, since, well, Teresa’s first guest post on my blog  right about this time last year.  Today, as promised, she’s back to talk about her lovely new book.  

Emily asked me to write a guest post about my new book for her Japanese Study Group. “Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters” was published in August (Schiffer Publishing). And so far, it’s been a completely rewarding and surreal feeling.

book cover

Rewarding in so many ways, primarily because writing a book is such a long journey and now finally, I can hold the actual book in my hand. Surreal because, well, I am holding the actual book in my hand.


The story begins in the 1960s and 70s when American quilts, patterns, books and magazines featuring quilts first made their way to Japan. In 1975, Japan’s first museum show went on view in Tokyo and Kyoto and the antique American quilts were a huge hit. Many of the quilters I interviewed had very fond memories of this first show and told me they went home and tried to make quilts just like the ones they had seen.

inside Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters

By 1990, Japanese quilts begin to take on their own distinct aesthetic. And my book explains how this transference of a quintessential American craft became a popular art form in Japan, and the second largest quilt market in the world. I also explain how and why the Japanese aesthetic is, in fact, so well-defined. It is due in a large part to the system under which most quilters are trained… and within this system they are striving for perfection, and flawless art. The differences between training in the West and the system within Japan is just fascinating.


Yoko Sekita’s gorgeous “Scheherazade” is on the cover. I provided the publisher a list of suggested images for the book and this is the one they chose. I think Schiffer made a beautiful choice because this image is so universal and multi-cultural. Scheherazade is the Arabic princess from the tale of “One Thousand and One Nights” and Yoko Sekita has interpreted this tale with a distinctly Japanese flair – all with antique silk, needle-turn applique and hand quilting.


Many contemporary quilters are introduced and their artistic styles are very diverse – everything from the uber modern to classic antique kimono applique to nature landscapes.

inside 2

One of the contemporary quilters featured is Yoko Saito. Emily and I have both made quilts from Yoko Saito patterns and we both love her taupe palette. In fact, Emily has graciously loaned me one of her Yoko Saito hand-quilted quilts and I am so thrilled to be able to take it around on my book tour. Check out #emilysyokosaitoquilt on Instagram and follow along! Can I just say, I’m kinda proud I finally figured out the hashtag thing.  :)

Journey in Wimberley

I plan to photograph Emily’s quilt (and my book) in iconic spots I visit. Some very special trips coming up – so be sure to check back!



Journey in Nebraska





About six months ago, I started reaching out to quilt guilds in order to pitch lectures on my new book.

You can see my book tour list here:


Of course I thought this would a fun thing to do at the time, but now that I am actually out there and traveling around, and speaking to so many quilters in person, the experience is vastly more fun than I could have ever imagined! Again, it is all so surreal. This is really happening and I could not be more proud.

Thanks Emily for the quilt loan and the guest post opportunity!




How cool is that?  Thank you, Teresa, for sharing your book with us!!  (And just a side note, that last picture is in front of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.  That may very well be the closest one of my quilts ever gets to such a prestigious place!!)

Now, I think I may be on the verge of leaping into Instagram so I can follow Teresa’s adventures there too!

Happy Stitching!!


Quilting Nostalgia

Have you ever read the Little House on the Prairie series?  It’s one of my all-time favorite stories, right up there with Anne of Green Gables, the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia. I love the vivid descriptions of prairie life from the perspective of a little girl.  Re-reading the books as an adult, I was astounded by the things Ma and Pa did to care for their family (like grinding wheat with a hand-held coffee mill?  Cooking blackbirds? And ugh- shaking locusts out of the clothes you’re wearing?  I don’t think I would have survived.)

So when the folks at Andover Fabrics asked me if I’d design a couple of quilt patterns for their new Little House on the Prairie lines, I said “yes” before I even saw the digital swatches.  These fabrics are a huge departure from the current bold and geometric trends.

But in their own right, they’re homey, and comfortable, and sweet in a very winsome way.

I’ll be sharing the two patterns with you soon, but here’s some sneak peeks of the fabrics while you wait for me to iron out the cutting details.


This first palette will be going into a modified rail fence design.  I can’t for the life of me imagine Laura, or even Mary fooling with hexagons when there were chickens to feed, so I’m keeping these patterns very simple. My goal is to let the fabrics tell their own story.








The second quilt is inspired by Pa and Laura’s pioneering spirit, and the heady sensation of freedom they must have seen in wide open grassland stretching from one side of the horizon to the other.  I don’t usually work with this many neutrals in a single quilt, but I’m enjoying the change.







And I love this low-volume print with the line drawing of a prairie girl best of all.



Well, I’m off to cut into these treasures.  I’ll post more pictures as the quilts progress.  How about you? Do calicoes delight you, or are they the last fabrics you’d invite to play in your studio?


Happy Stitching!