Christa’s Soapbox – Blogging About Blogging #1

I’m relatively new to the whole blogging concept. I’ve had my blog up and running for almost 2 years now but it’s really just been in the last 4-5 months or so that I’ve branched out and have started following other people’s blogs. Not only does this give me interesting content to read, it helps me to improve my own writing and blog format.

Today I wanted to share links to some of the quilting blogs I’m following. My favorites are those that post new topics nearly every day. It’s fun to start off my day with a quick browsing of my favorite blogs – it makes me feel like part of a larger community!

First I’ll start off with Angela Walters’ Quilting is my Therapy. I first discovered Angela through her book, Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters. It was such an inspiration to read! She’s way into machine quilting like I am. Even though she quilts on a long arm, her style is very adaptable to domestic machine quilting which is my first love. 🙂

Next, I found Alyssa Lichner’s Pile O’Fabric blog almost by accident. I was browsing through a bunch of links, following one after another (a sort of virtual blog tour), and was blown away by the colorful content of her blog. No wonder – she’s a graphic designer and it shows. I liked her blog so much I decided to become one of her sponsors! She offers giveaways, a beginners Quilting Series tutorial, and has teamed up with Emily Cier of Carolina Patchworks to start a Totally Groovy Quilt Along. I just may have to join that one!

I also am drawn to Jacquie Gering’s Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog. She’s another author and designer (along with Katie Pedersen) whose book, Quilting Modern, I just fell in love with! I find myself being pulled into the Modern Quilt movement because of  the clean lines design aesthetic,  improvisational piecing, and lots of open “negative spaces” for quilting.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many that I may take another Saturday post next week to tell you about more. Happy blog surfing and please add your comments if you’ve run across any fun blogs you think I should check out!

Circle Stars Part 2 – Paper Piecing

Paper Pieced StarMany Circular Star designs are more commonly known as Mariner’s Compass blocks. They look very complicated but are actually quite simple to piece.

To make my fiery star block that I’m working on this week, I began with a hand-drafted pattern that I learned how to make in a workshop I attended recently from Gail Garber. You can read more about that awesome class HERE.

For me, the hardest part was picking out the colors! I started out by bringing the whole pile of fabrics shown below to class. It’s hard for me to envision a project until I know exactly what I’m doing. After a day of block designing I was able to narrow down my choices and stick with an analogous color scheme – colors that lie right next to each other on the color wheel. I’ve been learning a little color theory, too.

Rainbow of FabricsAnalogous FabricsMy heart really yearned for reds, oranges, and yellows so I rummaged around in my stash  until I was happy with my fabric choices. I needed to make sure there was enough contrast in value to make the design stand out.

Once the pieces were rough cut into large rectangular patches, the sewing fun could begin! Gail’s method of paper-piecing is to cut each piece out 1″ bigger on all sides. I don’t mind the waste if I can trade it for extreme accuracy. The REALLY nifty part is below.

Paper Piece 1Paper Piece 2We started off with the first piece in the middle like you normally would for paper piecing. We used freezer paper foundations and made multiple copies by pinning them together and running an unthreaded needle through a stack of freezer paper sheets. The fabric adhered to the freezer paper when I ironed between seams. That meant no shifting! It easy pulled away when I was ready to add the next piece.

Paper Piece 3Paper Piece 4

The “magic” happened when we used an add-a-quarter ruler to the edge of each sewn piece to cut off the excess. Instead of getting globs of fabric lumps on the back, each seam was nice and tidy. It made lining up the next piece super simple!

Paper Piece 5Paper Piece 6Once I had a stack of pie slices – 8 to be exact, they were ready to be trimmed and sewn into a circle. The picture below shows Gail in class demonstrating how to paper piece on my Bernina.  The best thing about taking technique classes is that it gives me great ideas for nifty notions that I’ll eventually carry in my store. In the meantime, if you are interested in the add-a-quarter ruler and other supplies for paper piecing, you can order them from Gail’s website here:

Gail on Christa's Bernina

Now I can’t wait to turn this block into an exciting (perhaps award-winning??) quilt! I will post weekly updates as I work on this project.

Circle Stars Workshop Part 1 – Drafting

I’m finally ready to share some pictures with you from Gail Garber’s workshops I took last weekend.  You can see some of Gail’s beautiful quilts with her signature colorful flying geese in my earlier post HERE. She’s one of the most fun quilting instructors I’ve ever had!

Gail Garber WorkshopShe started us off with a private show & tell of her beautiful quilts and we spent a little time introducing ourselves. What a perfect way to start a class – creating camaraderie to boost our morale for the weekend of work ahead! Getting into the nitty-gritty the picture below shows  the types of supplies we needed to create such complicated quilts. It wasn’t too intimidating since she walked us through the procedures step-by-step. You can purchase many of these supplies from Gail Garber’s website HERE.Drafting SuppliesI spent most of the first day designing and drawing with a compass and pencil. Gail used such friendly terms like “make a fish tail” rather than scary math terms like “bisect the angle”. Her approach was fun and certainly doable! Be sure to click the pictures below for closeups.

Drafting the StarGail with CompassDrafting perfect stars was fun once I knew how!

Drafting DesignPaper Pieced PatternOnce we were happy with our design, we made a paper pieced pattern pie!

I managed to get one wedge of my star sewn by the end of the weekend. What a success!

Finished PieceSeveral friends and guild members took this fun class. Shown above: Jean, me, Gail Garber, and Karen. (Jean and Karen both make award-winning quilts that you can see HERE.)

A Visit with Gail Garber

My quilting guild is in the wonderful habit of bringing in nationally-known award-winning quiltmakers to come lecture and offer workshops. This last weekend, Gail Garber paid us a visit and shared her work in making beautiful circle star quilts with intricate borders and colorful flying geese. I was fortunate enough to take 2 of her classes on Friday and Saturday and will blog about how fantastic those were in future posts!

Gail GarberGail is a wonderful lecturer and has an easy-going friendly personality. After just a few minutes with her, you really do want to be her best friend! Here are a few pictures of some of the quilts she brought to show us, posted here with her permission. All I can say is wow!Gail Garber Wheel of FortuneThis quilt, called “Wheel of Fortune” is my absolute favorite. I love the asymmetrical block placed into a symmetrical format with the gently curving binding.

Gail Garber Galactic TangoGalactic Tango is amazing with streaks of flying geese and asymmetrical edges. We learned in class was how to make a radiating star, similar to the one above. Yes, it can be done!!Gail Garber QuadrilleIn Quadrille, I love how she used a Paula Nadelstern fabric as the focus print in the diamonds, then utilized solid colors, hand dyes and tonals to match.Gail Garber Dawn of the New Day

Dawn of the New Day was made to commemorate the events of 9/11. Her signature geese and wonderful color selection make this a hallmark of Gail Garber’s amazing work. These quilts were a feast for the eyes!

Be sure to visit Gail’s website at You’ll be glad you did!