What Do You Get When You Add Friends And Fabric?

photo of quilting workshop with Karen Overton

 …A quilting day with friends of course!

pink poka dot suitcases full of quilting supplies for a quilting workshop
Suitcases full of quilts, fabric, sewing supplies added with comfy sewing chair and sewing machine – perfect combination for a quilting workshop

The Quilt Rambler has been on the road again (yes, you can hum the Willie Nelson song while you read along, I don’t mind). You may recall my recent trip to Arizona to teach my pattern Illuminated Journey….well I have to confess that the bags have been in the living room unpacked – full of quilts – for over 2 weeks now! Too many fun things going on to worry about refolding quilts to put back up in the studio! Procrastination paid off somewhat as all I had to do to get ready for this next workshop was to pull out the quilts I didn’t need, add in my work-in-progress demo kit, update the thread kit, etc. – quick packing if I do say so myself!

Save the Date

Several months ago the plans were put into motion to teach my pattern Double Occupancy to my local guild, the Island Quilters Guild of Galveston Texas. I’ve been looking forward to this – nothing like hometown advantage! I can bring my own sewing machine and chair!! Actually, that’s a bonus but the real fun is quilting along with my friends from the guild, ladies that I enjoy having sew-ins and retreats with. We share more than fabric, we share a lot of laughter!

Pattern cover showing Double Occupancy quilt pattern by Karen Overton
Advertised months in advance – we’ve “saved the date”  May 20th for Double Occupancy workshop

Friends and Fabric

Mindy is happily sewing her workshop project
Mindy helped with all the workshop arrangements and notifying students of homework and other details in preparation for a fun day of sewing

It wasn’t long before everyone had their sewing machines set up and all their beautiful precut fabrics neatly pressed, labeled and laid out eager to learn a new technique.

This pattern was designed with precut bundles in mind. Specifically 10″ squares and 2.5″ strips plus background. And of course, my recommended fabric was/is Island Batiks. They have the most gorgeous fabrics, and since the majority of the guild members actually live on Galveston Island (sadly I’m a mainlander) most of us have that tropical island outlook in our fabric choices.

student is sewing colorful fabric in the quilting workshop with Karen Overton
Libby looks like she is enjoying the process

That said, my quilting friends are unique individuals and do have different tastes in fabric choices – which I might add, based on experience, varies from project to project!  I rarely teach a class where it is a mandatory cookie cutter kit – while there are advantages to kits it is nice to offer a student the option of bringing their own fabric as I feel like you need to love the fabric if you are going to put that much time into making a quilt. Who needs another UFO quilt project! But I have to say, I really enjoyed seeing all the island batik fabrics of those who chose to use them! The other fabrics were equally stunning…A little Moda, a little Kaffe…all beautiful!

colorful pile of quilting units made with beautiful island batik fabrics
Island Batik fabrics are perfect for this Double Occupancy pattern

When designing this pattern I preferred the Island Batik precut bundles because there are an equal number of duplicates of the fabrics – 20 coordinated prints times two. I based my pattern off of this feature as only one-half of the package of both 10″ squares and 2.5″ squares is needed to make one quilt. The entire packages (plus background and borders) actually make two quilts! But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself!

Demo a Little, Sew a Lot

Karen Overton teaching her pattern Double Occupancy at a workshop
I love being able to demo the steps with the sewing machine instead of just presenting a handout or visual

I love teaching! And I love learning new techniques and designs. In my early years after I made my very first quilt, I turned around and taught 10 ladies and their daughters from my homeschool group to make the same quilt I just learned. For me, “it’s make – one teach ten!” I love sharing what I am doing with my friends!

ladies carefully watching a quilting workshop demonstration
I have very attentive students during the demo

 

Double Occupancy uses Studio 180 Design Rapid Fire Hunters Star Ruler in the larger size ruler (there’s a petite size). I demo-ed one step, sent the gals back to the machine to sew, then demo-ed the next step. Following this process most of the day. See one, do one….works for me!

 

student shows her progress in quilting workshop
Get it, got it – good! Way to go Mindy!
student in quilting workshop
Bonnie looks like she’s making good progress
student sewing in quilting workshop
Keep up the good work Libby!
student sewing in quilting workshop
Christine demonstrates good posture and good concentration (grin)
quilting student in workshop
See Katy, I told you that you were photogenic (and that I wouldn’t leave you out of the photos!)
lady showing her quilting block in a workshop setting
Terri you are just having way too much fun girlfriend!

Double the Fun

As I hinted to earlier – the pattern is designed to make two 68 x 68 quilts from one package of 10″ squares, one package of 2.5″ strips, plus background and border fabric. There are 13 different layout solutions in the pattern and I have personally made 9 of them with the remaining 4 being works in progress ( I work on them at sew-ins or work from them as my classroom demo). Sadly at this time, only the cover quilts are actually quilted.  Just like the old saying “a cobbler’s children have no shoes”, a longarm quilter is generally behind in quilting her own quilts.  I like to call the quilts with the same fabric choices “twins” – two identical fabric kits yet uniquely different. Just like people – no two are really alike. What I have enjoyed as I have taught this class is seeing the students’ completed quilt tops, same fabric + different layout = individual unique quilt. The hunter star is like a log cabin – endless layout possibilities!

Quilting workshop samples
Several quilt samples of Double Occupancy layouts were displayed around the classroom
colorful quilts on display around the workshop classroom floor
More layout choices for the Double Occupancy pattern

Friends Plus Fabric Equals Fun Fellowship

smiling lady at sewing machine
Leah seems to be enjoying the workshop

As the day went on the step by step techniques were demoed and the ladies just sewed and sewed. I like to teach to the individual. It’s been my experience that there are multiple learning styles as well as the speed of sewing that varies by the individual. Because of that, I tell everyone that “where you are is where you are supposed to be“. Sometimes the smoking needles are ready for the next step and other times someone needs a repeat demo. That’s what I’m there for. That and making all the mistakes so they don’t have to.  I can make some whoppers but I show how to work through them, fix them, or forget them! As I like to say “I fired the quilt police a long time ago.”

That’s not to say that I don’t strive for my best and I do teach proper technique, but I do remind my students that they are there to learn a technique and to allow themselves a little learning curve. Most people don’t sew their best in a group setting….for me it’s usually because I’m focused more on the conversations that my perfect quarter inch seam! Quilting is our passion, but we need to be kind to ourselves sometimes and just have fun. My motto that is hanging in my studio says “Striving to do my best with the skills and knowledge I have at the time with the goal of continually improving.”

student looks on as teacher demonstrates sewing technique
Striving to do my best with the skills and knowledge available at the time striving to continually improve. Yep, I love teaching workshops. especailly to students who are eager to learn something new and fun

I do like to introduce students to a sometimes new to them technique of using a pressing stick to press their seams open as I think you just get better results. Regardless of “press to the dark side” or press open, the proper technique of pressing is always an important detail as is good rotary cutting techniques.

lady ironing a quilt block
Bonnie is a very careful presser
Lady pressing quilt blocks
Libby is enjoying her new rotating pressing surface
students in quilting workshop
Trimming is important ladies! And make sure you are having fun doing it
lady cutting out a quilting block
Helena said she was enjoying her new cutting mat, the markings helped her to be more accurate. Good job!

One thing I love about Deb Tucker’s rulers is the success even beginner quilters have when using them – a little wiggle room is added to help with the piecing part and then when the unit is completed it is trimmed to perfection. Genius design makes happy quilters!

Happy Quilters

lady holding a quilt block make in the quilting workshop
Dena’s quilt is going to be fabulous with the Kaffe fabrics!

All too soon it was time to pack back up and head to the mainland leaving my island gals to their own paths home. While a one-day class doesn’t usually produce a finished quilt top I do believe that everyone went home with the knowledge and experience of using this specialty ruler and it is my hope that there will be lots of Double Occupancy quilts in upcoming Island Quilters Quilt show and tell!

 

photo of quilting workshop with Karen Overton
Double Occupancy Workshop – Island Girl style

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, on the road but not far from home

Do you enjoy quilting with friends? I’d love to have you share your thoughts, please leave a comment below!

 

 

 

 

Illuminated Journey – Arizona!

Karen Overton holding her quilt Illuminated Journey outside near a breathtaking view of Arizona

Arizona, We have landed!

Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, poses by a tall cactus in Arizona
Nice to meet you Arizona!

I have been looking forward to this journey for months! This past week I had the honor of being a guest speaker at the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild in Prescott Valley, Arizona and able to teach a workshop with my original pattern Illuminated Journey.

I have to say the hardest part of packing was deciding what quilts to bring for my trunk show! Every quilt has a story and this rambler does like to ramble on.

Bags are Packed

My friend Dianne accompanied me on this journey. Fortunately, she travels light so I was able to appropriate one of her allowed check in bags. As you can see, I don’t travel light!

Three hot pink polka dot suitcases are full of quilts to take to Arizona
Colorful suitcases are easy to spot at baggage terminals!

 

Let the Journey Begin

photo shows a sandaled foot on the break and view of the dashboard of a rental car
Current world view – trying to find the ignition and the stick shift on the rental car

We flew into Phoenix from Houston Hobby and had a rental car waiting on us. It’ s a good thing that Dianne is a little more up to date with vehicles than I am. I was really surprised when I couldn’t find a key hole in the ignition! She calmly explained to me “put your foot on the brake and press the start button”. But even Dianne was dumbfounded when we couldn’t find the stick shift – who knew it was a knob on the dash!

Road Trip

Our destination was Prescott Valley. I have to thank my friend Larry at church for teaching me the proper way to say this. As a Texan, I thought it was pronounced Press-Scott but he kindly corrected me that it was Pres-cut, the only way I could remember was it sounded like it rhymed with biscuits…

We had a little over an hour and a half drive UP the mountains to our destination. Coming from 10 feet above sea level to over 5000 feet above sea level was breathtaking in multiple ways. The scenery was glorious. Along the way, we saw an exit sign for a visitors center where they shared a location with us to enable us to safely take photos of the fabulously tall cactus we were viewing out the window. If you follow me on Facebook you can see my impromptu Facebook Live video from High Desert Trail. The scenery was truly breathtaking.

Two friends take photos of large cactus at a road side hiking trail in Arizona
Mountain top experience in Arizona

Shop Hop

Colorful fabric on the cutting table of a quilt shop with ladies studying the pattern for a quilt
Dianne studies the pattern and picks out fabric for her next quilt

By late morning we were joining our hostess, Patsy and Karen (daughter/mother), for a fun tour of the two local quilt shops.

First stop was Quilt ‘N Sew Connection I enjoyed all the shop samples and beautiful display of fabrics. The ladies there were very welcoming. Dianne found her “next quilt” and I’ve been recruited to assist her with some of the teachable moments in the pattern. It’s going to be stunning.

Just down the road was Cloth Plus which offered both quilting fabric and home decoration fabric and supplies. This shop was equally friendly – that’s important in my book! I was pleased to see some Island Batik precuts – they actually had the fabric line that I used in my Illuminated Journey sample!

I’m not confessing my purchases – but I will say it wasn’t easy to squeeze in more fabric in my already packed suitcases!

Time for Guild Meeting

After an enjoyable afternoon sight-seeing and a late lunch with the girls, it was time to prepare for my lecture and trunk show.

I had brought two little cameras and asked that photos be taken for me….well, low light and a camera that’s not familiar yielded a few shaky shots as well as grainy shots – but if you are a true quilt lover, and I know you are, you will forgive the photo quality and look at the quilts!

I have to say my favorite part of quilt guild meetings are the show and tell by members. I love seeing what others are making and hearing their stories. The Lonesome Valley Gals are extremely generous in the making and donating of charity quilts – so many were displayed during their community service show and tell. In addition, the members shared their own personal quilts. I was able to capture a few.

A 9 patch collage of ladies showing their quilting projects
The Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild members share their latest quilting creations

Time To Ramble

A lady at the front of a church with a table full of folded quilts ready for show and tell
Getting to know you, getting to know all about you….Karen has her quilts in a row ready to ramble the night away!

It doesn’t look like 100+ pounds when they are all folded up on the table, but I promise I had 3 suitcases weighing just under the 50-pound limit each full of quilted quilts, unquilted quilts as well as all the teaching supplies for Illuminated Journey. Here’s a small sampling of my trunk show…and yes, this Quilt Rambler did ramble on! I lost track of time and never made eye contact with my “timekeeper” Patsy to know when to stop….umm….yeah…how about an hour of rambling on! I really could have talked all night – quilting is such an inexhaustible subject! I got tickled when Patsy stated, “I don’t think she took a breath!”

Scrappy quilt made from purple fabric
Early quilt pieced and quilted  by Karen Overton – Fabric collected in 2001 as fat quarters
scrappy purple quilt with lime green stars
More purple fabrics, quilt top pieced between 2007-2009 waiting to be quilted
Sharing a colorful lemoyne star quilt
Stack ‘N Whack quilt pieced and quilted in 2003. This quilt was a turning point in my journey. I attempted to machine quilt this on my domestic sewing machine – it “made a good woman cuss, so I had to buy a Longarm”
colorful wallhanging quilt
Crown Jewels, a pattern by Deb Tucker, pieced and quilted by Karen Overton,
scrappy reproduction fabric quilt made using a specialty ruler by Deb Tucker
Original pattern using Deb Tucker’s Ruler Corner Beam, I call this “Hummingbird” pieced and quilted by Karen Overton
Binding Tool Star Quilt in colorful island batik fabrics of orange, hot pink, yellow and lime green
A fun fast pattern called Binding Tool Star Quilt by Missouri Star Quilt Co. with a border variation by Karen Overton. Pieced and quilted by Karen Overton using Island Batik fabrics. Yes, Lime Green is a neutral!

Illuminated Journey Workshop

Tuesday morning 14 ladies were up bright and early, toting in their sewing machines and supplies for a full day of learning how to use Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design’s Rapid Fire Leymone Star Ruler with my pattern Illuminated Journey.

collage photo shows students in a quilting class
Illuminated Journey class with the Lonesome Valley Quilt Guild ladies

The ladies were delightful. I truly appreciated their kindness and loved getting to spend time quilting and visiting with them. Once again, thank you to Kim who provided a sewing machine for Dianne to be able to sew during class. Since Dianne had already made Illuminated Journey she worked on her first “Jelly Roll Race” quilt and was pleased to get it totally pieced during class.

beautiful scrappy blue quilt
Dianne’s first “jelly roll” quilt – pieced in one day! Fond memories of time spent in Arizona

The day went too quickly! Before I knew it everyone was packing up and we were headed out to dinner with Patsy and Karen, joined by their husbands. I neglected to mention that these ladies, who are actually from Prescott Valley, spent some years in my neck of the woods – the Texas gulf coast – and we were in the Mainland Morning Guild together (Texas City). This mother/daughter team is a joy to be around. Again, Dianne and I appreciated their hospitality.

four quilting friends holding a colorful quilt
The road is never long between quilting friends!
Karen Kumke, Patsy Franko, Karen Overton and Dianne Burnett. Illuminated Journey goes to Arizona!

All Roads Lead South

map showing route from Prescott Valley to Phoenix
Heading south the Phoenix then on to Houston

Well, maybe that’s not true, but it was time for these Texas gals to head south – but not without another stop on the road for our photo op. This time we stopped at an official rest stop called Sunset Peak, a mere 3000-foot elevation. We weren’t disappointed by the view that’s for sure!

 

cactus flowers in Arizona
Dianne enjoying the beautiful flowers
collage of cactus and flowers and a quilt in the wild
Photos taken at the Sunset Point Rest stop
cactus flowers in Arizona
Beauty in the desert
yellow cactus flowers in Arizona
Loved the colorful flowers in the sea of brown – Arizona is a beautiful state

Illuminated Journey in The Wild and On the Road

While taking this photo another rest-stop guest asked if we were going to a quilt show in Utah that weekend…Darn! We would just have to miss that one! Just not enough hours to see all the fabulous quilts in the world!

Karen Overton holding her quilt Illuminated Journey outside near a breathtaking view of Arizona
Illuminated Journey and The Quilt Rambler journey to Arizona

I truly appreciated the good fortune to share my pattern with the Arizona ladies. Thank you again for your hospitality and allowing me the opportunity to see your beautiful state!

Pattern Available

stunning scrappy quilt made with precuts, purchase from Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler
Illuminated Journey is an original pattern by Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, and is available for purchase

Illuminated Journey was created in 2014 as a pattern to be taught on Cactus Quilt’s 2015 Quilting Cruise. The pattern is available for purchase as a PDF download, written as it was for the cruise. If this is something you are interested in please contact me.

In addition, if your guild would like a trunk show or workshop I would be more than happy to discuss details.

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, Rambling On the Road, Telling My Story One Quilt At a Time!

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts about guest speakers at guilds and workshops you have enjoyed.

As the Crow Flies


For over a week I’ve been humming that old song “I’m leaving, on a jet plane…” yep. Today is the day! According to Siri “as the crow flies” (or in my case, Southwest Airlines”) I’m a little over 1000 miles into a new adventure!

Siri – how far….

Several months ago a quilting friend of mine contacted me concerning being a guest speaker at her guild and teaching  a workshop. I know Pasty as a fellow guild member of The Mainland Morning Guild in Texas City prior to her moving to Arizona.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Arizona – unless as a toddler perhaps as my dad was military based in Nevada when I was born and I’m sure we drove home to Texas at some point to visit grandparents. But back to my current ramble…

So began the thought process of trying to decide which quilts to bring for my lecture – which in reality is just a long ramble – so I think I’ve got that covered.

I might add that I have over 200 personal quilts that are actually quilted. One hundred of those live in the built-in bookcase in the studio. That’s not counting the 30+ personal quilts waiting to be quilted and we aren’t even going to talk about the works in progress! 

And sew it began! Going through the bookcase, taking quilts off the wall, off the bed, off the table and digging through the quilts in waiting drawer!

I did discover that you can pack more quilts if some are unquilted! Now I don’t feel so bad for not getting around to quilting my own quilts.

Next the decision of what to teach. Having taught in two quilting cruises (2015 and 2016 with Cactus Quilts of Texas City) I have written two different patterns based on Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design rulers.  Patsy made the choice between the hunter’s star or the lemoyne star – and lemoyne star it is!


Bags are packed. We are waiting to board. Arizona here we come! Be sure and check social media the next couple of days to see the quilting adventures of Karen & Dianne!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, “on the road again”

Please forgive the formatting and layout – I wrote this on my phone at the airport