Mosaic Fabric

Fabric Mosaic postcard

I’ve always been fascinated with the interplay of color, value and visual texture of mosaics, especially those created by artists such as Sonia King. Back in 1997, a book called Machine Embroidery: Stitched Patterns by Valerie Campbell-Harding was published by Quilters’ Resource Inc. The cover photos fascinated me – mosaics in fabric!

There wasn’t a lot of info about this specific technique in the book – the emphasis is on giving TONS of inspiration and jumping-off points for further exploration – but there was enough to point me in the right direction. I’ve been playing with what I refer to as “Mosaic Fabric” off and on ever since. Continue Reading…

My Quilting Story

Legacy Journal Quilt

Back in March of this year, the Missouri Quilt Co. ran a contest: ”Quilting touches so many of our hearts on a much deeper level than just pretty fabrics pieced together. For some, quilting is an artistic outlet. It is a medium to allow your creative talents to really shine. For others, quilting can be a sort of therapy. I know that as I measure, cut, and stitch, I feel a great sense of release and relaxation. It is very satisfying to create my own little piece of order and beauty even though the rest of the world may be spinning out of control!
We want to hear your story. Why do you quilt? How has quilting made your life better? How has quilting changed you?”

This got me thinking… How could I sum up what quilting means to me in 500 words or less? Continue Reading…

Free-Motion Quilting – the fun stuff!

Free-motion quilting sample

Free-Motion quilting is one of my favorite – and occasionally dreaded – parts of quiltmaking. Favorite, because it allows me to play with color, line and texture; occasionally dreaded, because I sometimes (fortunately not nearly as often I used to) start to over-think everything and become stressed out.

But one of the good things about having 20+ years of experience with machine quilting is that I’ve survived all the most common mistakes (and some relatively uncommon ones, too!) and have learned lots of tricks and helpful techniques for both getting into a more productive headspace and then executing my ideas.
But let’s back up a minute… Continue Reading…

Snowing… and Sewing!

home in snow

What a crazy winter! Since I was in Africa in 1978-1979 and missed the record-breaking snow and cold of that winter, I have never experienced anything like this before. Wow! We are grateful that we haven’t had to deal with the power outages other areas have been affected by, and that the water main break at the end our street was fixed in a very timely manner. Truly, we have nothing to complain about. But… we’ve all had enough snow to last us a LOOOOOONG time and winter isn’t even over yet.

Fortunately, I have more than enough to do to keep myself happily occupied. (Actually, I have a sufficient backlog of potential projects to keep me occupied for the next century or two – but that’s another topic.) Continue Reading…

So You Want to Buy a New Sewing Machine…

Baby Lock Quilter's Choice

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is “What sewing machine (or brand of sewing machine) do you recommend?”

I always feel a little awkward about answering this; while my current Baby Lock machine is my favorite machine I’ve ever owned, I’ve also happily sewn or quilted on just about every other major brand out there.

Ultimately it comes down to this:

  • What kind or sewing or quilting do you want to do?
  • What kind of features are most important to you?
  • What dealers are in your area and what is their reputation for customer service and education?

That said, here is a list of features I suggest looking for when shopping for a new sewing machine: Continue Reading…

8 Tips for a Creative Life


This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the magazine CraftSanity, Issue 2, published by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood. © Beth Ann Williams, 2011.

CraftSanity. Making stuff. Crafting Sanity.

Sometimes it’s about having something do to with my hands while my heart and mind are in turmoil. Sometimes it’s distraction from pain. Sometimes it’s about expressing friendship, love or commitment to a person or a cause. Sometimes it’s a way to reframe hardship or powerlessness. Sometimes it’s an affirmation of identity. And sometimes it’s for the pure joy of exploring “what if?” But mostly it’s a compulsion.

I have had to accommodate significant fluctuations in available resources and in physical abilities, but I have also learned there is ALWAYS a way to continue to create. It’s right up there on the level of breathing in importance to my sanity and well-being…

Which brings me back to CraftSanity.Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks for living a creative life: Continue Reading…

Finished Is More Important Than Perfect

2013 Zen-Tangle

Finished is more important than perfect. Anyone who has participated in one of my classes or Demo Days has probably heard me say this – it’s one of my favorite mantras when teaching.

The second part goes like this: The more you finish, the closer to perfect you’ll get.

It’s generally true, especially when applied to learning a new skill or “perfecting” established skills. Time after time, I’ve observed that the creative souls who forge ahead and joyfully finish their project (whether it is a learning exercise or a finished work) tend to advance much faster than those who stop, judge, rip out, undo, redo, and eventually abandon the work because it doesn’t measure up to their expectations. Continue Reading…

Machine Quilting FAQ & Top Tips

machine quilting detail

Here’s another post dealing with FAQ – this time specifically related to using a sewing machine for quilting. For the time being, I’m avoiding the topic of which threads I recommend; we’ll save that for another day!

Do you work by hand or by machine?

The short answer is both. I almost always use a sewing machine to piece and/or appliqué my quilt tops, both for speed and for durability.
When adding the quilting, (the stitching that holds the quilt top, batting, and backing layers of a quilt together), I most often use a technique that might be compared to “hand quilting with an electric needle.” I drop the feed dogs, decrease the pressure on the presser foot, and set the stitch length and width to 0. This means that all the sewing machine does is make the needle go up and down. Stitch length and direction are controlled entirely by the way that I physically move the quilt with my hands. I rarely mark my quilting patterns, they are developed “free-hand,” or made up as I go along.

I usually machine sew the binding to the front of the quilt and then wrap it around and hand sew it to the back.

Do you have any tips for quilting by machine?

Sure do! I’ve been teaching machine quilting classes since the 1990s. Of course, I try to always remind people that there is no one way that is best; if something other than what I recommend works better for you, then by all means ignore me! Continue Reading…