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Friday, May 13, 2016

Featured #battmen: Steve Albright/ A Relaxed Quilter

Hello Quilters!

Unlike many of you ladies who learned sewing skills while growing up, I was raised as a typical healthy boy.  l played all sports, had a happy and normal childhood, went away to college, procured a good job, married my wife (Karen) of 42 years whom I had known since 4th grade, and moved across the country several times for professional advancement.  I retired from a successful career in a very high-profile, stressful position in 2011.  How did I get away from the office and relax?  I taught myself to quilt!

As with many other families, we possessed a couple of old family quilts.  In the early 1980’s, my employment required more and more travel.  When you travel for business, there is often a lot of “down” time.  I started visiting local antique shops with no real collection in mind.  At the same time, Karen took her first of many quilting classes, and the children and I would drive her to a weekend class and spend the day doing other “kid” things.  On one of my trips to Washington D.C., I spotted an unfinished (unbound) antique quilt hanging on a wall at a shop in Georgetown.  I called and she explained that binding the quilt would be simple.  I bought it (an 1870’s 8-pointed star), and 35 years later we have over 400 antique quilts and tops, around 1,500 old blocks, a collection of vintage fabric that is used for restoration, over 350 quilt books, and a home designed around the collection.  Most were purchased at antiques shops and estate auctions but, sadly, we do not have the provenance on very many of them.  Is it now a hobby or an obsession????  Who knows!

My favorite thing to do is to complete one of the old tops (I prefer the 1860-1880 era) by doing historically-accurate hand quilting.  I appreciate the artwork, skill, and time needed to do machine-quilting, but I cringe when I see a truly vintage quilt with machine quilting.  To me, that is like restoring a log cabin with aluminum siding!  We have visited literally hundreds of quilt shops around the United States, and I am always searching for reproduction fabrics appropriate to the era as backs for our antique quilt tops.

To finish the quilt “sandwich,” I now ALWAYS use Quilter’s Dream Batting, Request Loft.  I have hand-quilted over 125 quilts, most of which are vintage tops.  In my earlier quilting years, I tried different batting materials (never polyester with vintage tops), and I have settled on this one as the easiest to needle and the most authentic for completing the vintage tops.  In my retirement, I now complete 6-8 quilts per year, so our inventory of vintage tops is slowly dwindling!

Lone Star Medallion

Though I have sold a few quilts, taught hand quilting, and have attended the American Quilters’ Society classes in Paducah, KY, to become a certified appraiser, I have never wanted to turn my hobby into a business.  I have been asked to hand-quilt for others, restore a damaged old quilt, sell vintage quilts or fabrics, design quilts, and other requests, but my hobby is selfishly for my enjoyment!  But I do enjoy sharing our quilts and have done so many times by giving trunk shows, offering them to be displayed in local quilt shows, lending quilts in museums, allowing shops and individuals to copy or reproduce quilts, tops, or blocks.  I would like to document the extensive collection through a book, but I’m too busy quilting!

We have enjoyed making many friends through our quilting hobby and have had lots of people visit us in our home, which doubles as a quilt museum!  Hearing that someone has a lot of quilts is one thing, but seeing this many in one place is a real treat for another quilter!  There are always projects underway, but I limit myself to working on three quilts at a time.  Since it takes 75-150 hours to complete the hand-quilting for a vintage top (depending on the complexity of the quilting pattern selected), I work on three at a time so that I don’t get “bored” with just one.  Hand quilting is a repetitive process, and that can happen!  I quilt in a 16” hoop so that the hobby is a portable one.  I have quilted mostly at home, but my quilting locations have included shows and demonstrations, airplanes and airports, hotels and b&b’s, beach and mountain houses, friends’ houses, quilt shops, and even the occasional outside location.

Carpenters Wheel

Quilters Dream Request Loft batting makes it easier for me to quilt the way that I want to quilt.  I also have my favorite thimble, quilting thread, needles, and hoop, but that’s another story for another time.

Pieceful thoughts,
Steve Albright

Friday, April 8, 2016

Featured #battgirl / Janet McWorkman

Janet McWorkman at 
Austin QuiltCon 2013 (Quilters Dream Request) 

What inspired you to start quilting and what inspires you now?

I started quilting in 1971, the year I graduated from Coquille High School in Oregon. I wanted to take a quilt to college with me. It was made of corduroy and my sewing machine had serious tension issues causing the entire, sad quilt top to end up a gigantic “C”. After trimming it to something akin to a rectangle it was a nice couch throw, and I loved it. I used all polyester batting at the time as it was all that was available in my small town. I love the huge variety of battings available now, especially the Quilters Dream selections.

Your favorite thing about quilting and/or being part of the quilting industry?

 I love the incredible variety of colors and textures I get to work (play?) with. I live in Anchorage, Alaska and the winters can be very long and dark. Having gorgeous fabrics to look at inspires me to make something wonderful. I like to donate quilts to local charities – my church, a youth symphony, Friends of Pets and Quilter’s Dream batting makes these bed or couch quilts warm and cozy. The quilts I donate are also completely 100% cotton which makes me feel good about the donation.

The quilting industry is amazingly supportive of my endeavors. The talent, creativity and generosity that comes my way is a daily reminder of what can be accomplished with help and opportunity. Just this week a member of the Kaffe Fassett Collective Facebook website sent out-of-production fabric to me to finish a project. Isn’t that marvelous?!

 Any special connections and friendships you have gained through quilting?

I have met some of my very best friends through quilting. I travel with a group of fabulous women who all quilt beautifully, but all have very different tastes in quiltmaking. We compliment each other and love traveling to retreats together. Our motto is “no bitch in the bunch quilters.” A few of us are planning a trip to Sweden and will definitely check out the textile industry there.

This log cabin was a result from a block swap on Facebook
 & donated to Anchorage's Amazing Grace Lutheran Church.
(Quilters Dream Request)  

Any upcoming events, classes, guild meetings, etc you’d like to share or spread the word about? If so, please include links, address & contact info.

I have a book being released in October this year (yeah!) by C & T Publishing. It is titled The ABC’s of Quiltmaking. It is primarily an  alphabet quilt that teaches a quilting skill with each letter of the alphabet. There are also several smaller projects such as table runners, placemats, crib and couch quilts taught in the book. The batting I chose for the primary quilt and all the projects in the book was Quilter’s Dream Request batting. I love how it feels, how easy it is to work with and how beautifully it washes when the project is completed.

Which Quilters Dream Batting product is yours, and/or your customers' favorites and why?

I always choose Quilter’s Dream Request or Select batting. Both have excellent needling properties, are 100% cotton, are competively priced and are readily available in all sizes. Since I’ve been using Quilter’s Dream batting most of my quilting friends have had an opportunity to work with it also, and have all made the switch to QD battings. They are the absolute best.

Please share your special or helpful quilting techniques and tips.

I machine quilt my own work whenever possible. If the quilt is a twin size or smaller I can handle it on my home machine. My best tip is a design wall....the bigger the better. I sandwich my quilts right on the wall! It works like a charm. The design wall is permanently covered with a queen size Quilter’s Dream batt. I drew a 6” grid on it to assist with block and quilt placement. When I want to sandwich a quilt top and back I put the batting on the design wall first, lightly spray with 505 fabric adhesive and position the backing. It is an easy job to eliminate any puckers when standing instead of trying to do it on a table or floor. Then, turn the batting/backing unit as one, spray the batting again with 505 and smooth the top on last, again being certain there are no pleats or puckers.

This Lemoyne Star with appliqued border was quilted by Marit Anderson and
hangs in the Providence Alaska Medical Center.
(Quilters Dream Request)

 Are you active in Social media? If so, please include your links. We will share the blog post on our Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc.

Sorry – too busy quilting! But, I do belong to a few Facebook groups: The Modern Quilt Guild, The Kaffe Fasset Collective and participate in few fabric and block swaps on Facebook. It’s fun, and the variety of fabrics is amazing.


If you or someone you know is interested in becoming one of our Featured #battgirl/#battman, then click HERE for more details!! 

Happy Quilting,

Friday, March 18, 2016

Featured #battgirls // Maika Christensen

Hi. My name is Maika Christensen of A Quilted Marvel. I live in Durango, Colorado. My quilting story began about 18 years ago. I was in college. My extended family began to get together annually for a Family Quilt Retreat. For the first couple years I refused to go because “quilting is for old ladies”.  My mom finally convinced me to give it a try. So I attended quilt retreat one year and loved it! At that point, I probably just loved the people, but the love of quilting took hold soon afterward and has not let go.

 I pieced quilts for about 5 years before I decided I wanted to try my hand at machine quilting them myself.  I was pretty awful, but really enjoyed doing it. So I kept practicing. After a few years of destroying my own quilts, I started in on family members (bless them!). Over time I got better and better until I was ready to do quilts for others.  I absolutely love machine quilting. It is so creative. I am always online looking at what other artists have done, looking for something new to add to my repertoire.

 The best part of the small quilting business I have built is that I do it from my home. I am a stay-at-home mom with two little girls. It is wonderful to be able to do what I love, while not missing out on my children. 

I use my regular Bernina sewing machine to do all my quilts. That’s what I learned on, and that’s what I know. So I have decided not to make the move to a long-arm. The money aspect also help with that decision.

 My family continues to get together each year. This is my absolute favorite “holiday”.  I look forward to it like kids look forward to Christmas!  We meet for four days, completely sequestered from any men or children (unless you have an infant under one year- they are always welcome).  We quilt and quilt and laugh and eat chocolate and quilt…and sometimes cry (darn you directional fabric!). We do not, however, schedule much time for sleeping. But I guess that’s optional. 
The quilting talent is strong in my family *Star Wars reference*. One of my aunts is a machine quilter like me. Another very talented aunt, Jill Finley, owner of Jillily Studios, designs quilt patterns and notions. She lets me quilt a lot of her projects, letting me feel a little bit famous when my name briefly appears in a magazine. My mother excels at all varieties of sewing; she made my wedding dress!

If you are thinking of trying a little machine quilting yourself, or have already started but are struggling, a huge amount of trial and error have lead me to a few quilting tips that I can share:

1. Use a “Sew Slip” or similar product to help your quilt move under your machine.

2. Drop your feed dogs and set your stitch length to 0.

3. Use something to help you grip your quilt. Many people wear quilting gloves or wraps; I personally find these very annoying and not real efficient. I’m embarrassed to admit what I do, but I spray my hands with basting spray! Makes a world of difference when your quilt moves easily. Choose your method, its personal preference.

4. If you are going to put in a lot of hours into a quilt, do yourself a favor and double batt your quilt. It doesn’t add much to the total cost, but it makes the quilting absolutely pop. It shows all your hard work that much better.  I like to either double up on Quilter’s Dream Deluxe loft cotton batting or layer cotton batting with Quilter’s Dream Wool. These are my favorite battings and I stock both in my home.

5. Start in the middle of your quilt and work out. You are less likely to get bunching on the back.

6. My current machine has a larger-than-normal throat space, allowing me to quilt any size quilt without issue. But I started on a basic machine and had to learn to “quilt in thirds” to finish queen and king size quilts. This means cutting your batting into three pieces. Then you only baste the middle section of the quilt.  You quilt that section first (this means that you only have to squish fabric in the throat space; not a ton of batting.) When the middle section is done, you fold back the quilt top and backing fabrics and zigzag-stitch together a length of batting to the middle batting piece (don’t quilt all the way to the edge of the batting so you have room to stitch the next section to it) and baste that section.  Then you machine quilt that end of the quilt. Then you repeat the process on the other end of the quilt. This process allows you to never have to stuff a bunch of batting in the throat space of your machine. I’ve quilted king size quilts this way.

This quilt I designed based on a famous Japanese painting. It was sewn using Quilter’s Dream Deluxe Cotton, layered with Quilter’s Dream Wool. It was juried into the International Quilt Show in Houston this year, which I was quite proud of, even if it didn‘t win anything.

Above is a round robin that I did with my mother and sisters. I also double batted it using Quilter’s Dream Deluxe Cotton  and Dream Wool. 

Keep up with Maika's work....

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My Cozy Village Pattern Pack Giveaway + Batting Giveaway!

We are excited to be a part of book author Felicia Brenoe's success in releasing her new pattern pack, My Cozy Village
In the two different versions of the quilt below, Felicia used Quilters Dream Batting.

Today we are hosting her blog tour and in addition for a chance to win a copy of Felicia's new pattern pack, YOU will also be entered to WIN some Quilters Dream Batting! 

How to enter:

Congratulations BEC on winning the drawing!!
Now that Spring has sprung, in the comment section below.......
Describe your dreamiest, coziest quilting spot.
One lucky winner will receive a My Cozy Village pattern pack, a Dream Green Twin, Dream Pink King and a Dream Orient Double. Entries must be made by March 15th, 2016 (12am EST). Winner will be announced March 16th 2016.
***Please make sure if you are posting your comment anonymously, that you provide a valid email address to be contacted if you win! 
Have fun visiting all the great blogs and websites of the My Cozy Village blog tour this week. Make sure to stick around until the final stop of the tour on March 15 th at www.feliciasworld.com for the final giveaway of the My Cozy Village pattern pack.
3/10 Quilter's Dream Batting (additional giveaway of batting at this stop!)
Happy Quilting,
The #Battgirls

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Dream Pink Story.

Dream Pink in it's raw form.

Dream Pink is made in the USA.
Packaged with LOVE from our house to your craft room!

The number one question always asked is.. 

"Can you use the Dream Pink when working with white quilts?"


In fact, up and coming modern quilter, Scott Lunt was at McTavish Quilting Studio in Duluth, Minnesota, finishing up his fourth quilt with the Pink. 

Scott calls this the "Plus" quilt and we have to agree. We give him an A++ on this one! 

Our own office #battgirl, Erin, found this pattern from Paper Panache. It couldn't be more perfect to tie in Dream Pink and breast cancer. 

We hope you will join us in our efforts to support patients battling breast cancer. 

Quilters Dream will donate 10% of the gross revenue from the sale of Dream Pink to benefit underfunded medical research for advanced & metastatic breast cancer. 

If you haven't already tried the Dream Pink, what are you waiting for!? Contact your local quilt shop to order or give us a call for a sample. 

Don't forget, we'd love to see your quilt projects and hear your stories so be sure to reach out! 

Happy Quilting

Phone: 888.268.8664
Email: quiltersdreambatting@juno.com

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Featured #battgirls (November 2015) Marybeth O'Halloran // White Lotus Quilting

Hi, I'm Marybeth O'Halloran of White Lotus Quilting, on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  I'm a professional longarmer who works on an A-1.  I've finished almost 700 hundred quilts for clients.

This is my tenth year in business and I mostly focus on custom work now.  I've had clients win Grand Champion at our state fair with quilts I've done for them and have had quilts featured on pattern covers for Beach Garden Quilts.  Also I quilted several of the sample quilts in Jane Hardy Miller's fourth French Braid book.

Wish they'd sidelighted those quilts in the pics so you can see the quilting better!

 I also design pantographs for UrbanElementz. .Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville used one of my pantographs, Celtic Curls, for her Celtic Solstice mystery quilt.  This quilt pattern is no longer on her site as it is about to be released in a new book.  But you can see how other quilters interpreted her pattern if you like -- Definitely check it out!

This is a recent custom quilt I finished for a client, with my favorite cotton batting, Dream Cotton Select. This quilt is a lap-sized broken star in soft teals and burgundies, made by Margaret Mathisson of Poulsbo, Washington.  And quilted by me of course!

The feathers are custom designed for the quilt -- usually on a broken star I do feather wreaths in the surrounding diamonds, but the size of these was just short of my 6" minimum for wreaths, so I came up with a different radial feather for the diamonds.  I thought they would go nicely with the cascading feathers on the borders.  Everything is hand drawn as I don't own a computerized system. 

 On this quilt I love how the Dream Cotton Select (midloft) gives just enough to show the detail of quilting but is still supple enough for good drape, even with lots of quilting!

On most quilts I use just a single layer of batting but for applique I love to use two layers: a thin cotton for structure and a Wool or Silk top layer to lift the appliques.  If you quilt densely next to the appliques they fill with the loft of the airy batting and look a bit like they've been trapunto-ed.

Here's a few pics of a recent applique quilt done for a client in Arizona, Linda Nelson:

I am inspired by the crazy mad skills of the quiltmakers I get to meet through their piecework, including those long forgotten patchworkers who made vintage quilts.  I love finishing vintage tops into quilts with modern backs -- they're like little time travelers! 

Like this recent vintage quilt I finished for a client, Sally Kuhn of Bainbridge Island, who owns Sash Mercantile.  I put the soft paisley on the back.  The pattern is Joseph's Coat, it was hand-pieced, and I believe some of the fabrics can date to the late 1800's or early 1900's (the indigos and mourning-style prints).   I quilted stylized curved cross-hatches on this one.

Quilters are the most amazing people, always there to lend a hand, to comfort, to reassure, to encourage and inspire.  They perform the most profoundly and deeply touching acts -- to help others, often strangers, feel less alone in an increasingly impersonal world.

Like most quilters I donate time and energy (and fabric) to several charities, including two quilt guilds, our local Rotary chapter (who has a 6-acre rummage sale in the summer), and the American Heroes quilt organization.  Our small sewing group donates about 1 quilt a month to American Heroes.  My cousin John Priestner died in Iraq several years ago and it's something I participate in to honor his memory.  Every year during our island's outdoor quilt festival hosted by the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild, I host a community sew-in to benefit American Heroes.  We recycle old dress shirts and telephone book paper and use improvisational methods that just about everyone can try, on my collection of three-quarters sized vintage sewing machines.

 Instead of ending with a selfie, I'm going to include a pic of a commission quilt that took me four years to finish and won best machine quilting and viewer's choice at our last guild show.  The small spiked lone stars are from Karen Stone's book and the lonestar is by Quiltsmart, and it is an original layout.  The fabrics are vintage ties -- some 80-100 years old -- and the background is Italian pinstripe shirting.  I designed the quilting and hand-drew it all with my machine.  Somewhere I have a pic of this with me in front of it and if I find it I'll send it along!


Marybeth O'Halloran of White Lotus Quilting, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Keep up with Marybeth!
Check her out on....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Catherine Redford on Basting, Batting thickness, Domestic Machine and Webinar!

Catherine Redford was born in England where she learned to knit and sew at an early age. After relocating from London to Naperville, Illinois, she learned to quilt and has been stitching ever since. She's an award-winning quilter, an active member of her local guilds, a BERNINA brand ambassador, a popular teacher at local and national conferences, and the co-founder of the Naperville Modern Quilters Guild. Catherine is a frequent contributor to Modern Patchwork magazine and guest on Quilting Arts TV. She is the author of a QATV workshop DVD, Modern Machine Quilting and will be presenting a live webinar on Tuesday, June 23rd.

My favorite part of making a quilt (after the fabric shopping bit…) is quilting it. From the time I make my first fabric selections to drafting a pattern, through cutting those fabrics into little pieces and stitching them back together, I’m thinking about how I am going to quilt my top.

I think my least favorite part is the basting but it’s so important it’s done right and it does give me the opportunity to see my finished top up really close and personal before it goes to the sewing machine… Basting is definitely an opportunity to listen to something good and think some happy thoughts!

When I first started quilting in 1998 there really weren’t a lot of readily available choices in the world of batting. I was introduced to Quilters Dream in 2003 when I started teaching at a local independent quilt store. With a choice of thicknesses and an ever-increasing choice of fibers I now use it almost exclusively for all my projects.

Working with Quilters Dream Cotton "Request" loft
To begin with I could never remember which was the loftiest loft. Now I just think “R” comes before “S” so Request is thinner than Select… I can always remember that! I use a lot of Request Cotton. It drapes so well and comes out of the bag ready to go. One of the simplest ways to get a large quilt through a domestic machine is to use a lower loft batting and Quilters Dream Cotton Request certainly fits the bill! 

Quilters Dream "Request" batting is the thinnest/lowest loft. 
Quilted using Quilters Dream Cotton "Request" loftWorking with Quilters Dream Cotton "Select" loft
If I want something heavier, such as for a wall hanging, I use the Select weight. I recently purchased king size batts in each weight and the Select one comes in a quite bit bigger bag! That makes a difference when you’re quilting a bed quilt.

Quilters Dream "Select" batting is the mid-loft. Excellent choice for hall hangings. 
Quilted wall hanging  using Quilters Dream Batting "Select"

Working with Quilters Dream Wool

I also like the Quilters Dream Wool. I like to put a cozy flannel fabric backing on my baby quilts but it does add to the weight. Wool batting is lighter and fluffier and balances the flannel. It washes really well. I have machine-washed and dried quilts with wool batting and I’m very happy with the results.

Quilted using Quilters Dream Wool

Join Catherine's webinar!

Now I’m enjoying travelling and teaching quilting techniques all over the USA and I always recommend Quilters Dream batting. I’m excited to be taking part in a live webinar next week. I’ll be sharing lots of my favorite techniques and tips for walking foot quilting on a domestic machine. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and get them answered at the end of my presentation.

 Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for one year. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation. You will receive a copy of the recorded presentation in an email that goes out within 1 week after the live event.

It sounds like fun to me. I hope you’ll join me.

Follow me on my blog at http://catherineredford.com or on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/catherineredfordquilter

Every day is an adventure!

 ~Catherine Redford


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