Quick Tips for Making Color Theory Work for You

Do you ever struggle with something you are creating, just knowing that something is off or missing, but not sure what it is? Both from personal experience and from that as a long-time instructor, I find that quite often this has to do with color and value choices.

Color theory to the rescue! But sometimes color theory on its own isn’t enough help…

Color Theory Infographic from paper-leaf.com - a great overview!

Color Theory Infographic from paper-leaf.com – a great overview!

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So You Want to Buy a New Sewing Machine…

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…

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…

Celtic Quilts FAQ

I no longer have a dedicated FAQ page, so I’m thinking it might be helpful to address frequently asked questions (FAQ) in a series of blog posts. I’ll start with questions related to Celtic-style quiltmaking and my first book, Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs.

Portrait of John from the Book of Kells, c. 800 CE

Portrait of John from the Book of Kells, c. 800 CE (enlarge to see knotwork)

Are there any rules about what colors or fabrics you should use for Celtic knotwork?

If you look at ancient Celtic manuscripts, you see quite a wide variety of colors being used. In some cases, a given knotwork design is colored in uniformly with the same pigment; in other cases, several colors may be used within the same design. Sometimes the color changes serve to highlight a particular repeating portion of a knotwork design or interlacing border, while other times the color changes seem to have been made at the whim of the scribe. So, there really are no set rules about what colors you can use in a Celtic quilt.

Pick what you like best, or pick a combination that is meaningful to you. Feel free to make choices that please yourself!

I would make sure, however, that there is enough contrast between the color(s) you use for the knotwork and the color you use for the background to allow the knotwork to show up clearly. (HINT: Try overlapping your fabrics and then looking at them from the other side of the room: do the fabrics “moosh” together, or can you still clearly see which is which?)

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