The Myth of The Quilting Holy Grail

We’ve all heard it a million times – keep a consistent quarter-inch seam when piecing quilt blocks.  That was the first quilting “rule” drilled into me as I started quilting nearly 30 years ago.  And at that time, it was really important for me to remember because I also sewed my children’s clothes, and those seams were 5/8-inch seams.  Quilt seams, compared to those clothing seams, looked so small.  I had to be careful, too, because during those days of machine piecing, there were no quilter’s foot or any type of quarter-inch foot available.  You either eye-balled it or used a seam guide.

That quarter-inch seam appears to be one of the few Holy Grails of Quilting…


Except it isn’t.


So now that I’ve just blown a gasket in the quilting part of your brain, let’s look at this in detail.  Remember, this is our year of Quilting with Excellence.  A large component of this is paying close attention to the basics and that quarter-inch seam is truly one of the basics.  Let’s first begin with the sewing machine.


Even the most avid hand quilters and piecers usually have a sewing machine.  Most quilters I know have several.  I have five that take up residence in my quilt studio:  A Juki 2010Q, a Featherweight, Janome 7700, Juki 810, and Loretta the Long Arm (who really doesn’t enter into this conversation of the quarter-inch seam).  All of the machines are used for different purposes, but the Juki’s, the Featherweight, and the Janome are used primarily for piecing.  All but the Featherweight were designed with quilters in mind.  Each has a quarter-inch foot.  But you know what?  Each of their quarter-inch seams are a little different – even if it’s just by a thread or two.  That’s why most quilting instructors will tell you to start and finish a quilt top on the same machine – so your blocks will remain a consistent size.

So, what does a thread or two matter?  On one block, certainly not a great deal.  But if you carry that difference over the entire quilt top, it can add up to as much or more than a half-an-inch difference in your rows coming out even.  And that is frustrating beyond belief when you’re putting your top together.  Even a walking foot can’t ease in so much difference.

However, if you’re like me, I’m not always able to start and finish a quilt top on one machine.  Big Red, my Janome, is my primary piecing machine.  I love that machine.  But she is a big girl and highly computerized, so she doesn’t get out of the house much unless I’m going on a quilt retreat that lasts several days.  If I’m attending an all day Sit and Sew or a class, I take my Marilyn (the Featherweight) or Jenni (my Juki 810).  Marilyn’s and Jenni’s quarter-inch seams are different from each other and different from Big Red’s.  I may begin a quilt on my Jenni and then finish it at home on Big Red.  How does one handle the seam difference?

Let’s consider the quarter-inch feet first.  These feet are also called quilting feet, although a better name for them would be piecing feet, since you don’t actually quilt with them.  Most sewing machines made with quilters in mind come with one of these feet.  This is the foot that came with Big Red.



It has a phalange on the right side.  If the fabric is lined up touching the side of the phalange, and the needle is in the center position, I should get a quarter-inch seam.



Which I do.  The blue tape in the right-hand side of the ruler is at the half-inch mark.  When I press the seam open to check to make sure I have a half-an-inch seam allowance, it measures correctly (1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2).

There is also a seam called the “scant quarter-inch.” This simply means that the seam allowance is actually a thread or two less than an entire quarter-inch.  Some quilt patterns call for this seam allowance and there is a foot made for this.  The Little Foot Quilt Shoppe ( makes this scant quarter-inch foot for all makes of machines, including Featherweights!

If you check out the seam below that has been sewn with the Little Foot on Big Red and then pressed open, you can see that it’s just shy of that exact half-inch mark.  It is a true scant quarter-inch.



All of this leads me to one conclusion:  That if I sew either a true or a scant quarter-inch seam on my Janome 7700, it is a true or scant quarter-inch.  But like I said earlier, I don’t always start and finish a quilt on Big Red.  So, what’s a girl to do?


There is a “test” you can run – and should run – on each of the sewing machines you piece with.  First, rotary cut three strips of fabric.  Two of these strips should be of the same color and the third of a contrasting color.  Make sure they measure 2-inches by 7-inches, they are of the same type of fabric, and they are cut on the crosswise grain.


Sew the three strips together, using what is deemed by your sewing machine as the quarter-inch foot, with the contrasting strip in the middle.  Press the seams to the darker fabric.  Now measure the strip.  It should measure exactly five inches in width.


The middle strip should measure 1 ½-inch across.


If the middle strip is wider, then your seams are a bit less than a quarter-inch.  If the middle strip is narrower than 1 ½-inches, then the seam allowance is more than a quarter-inch.

I ran into this problem on Jenni – my little Juki that I take to class and day-long sew-ins. Her quarter-inch foot’s seam is several threads larger than a true quarter-inch.  I would have run into serious trouble switching a quilt top from her over to Big Red.  The first thing I had to do was figure out exactly how much I needed to adjust Jenni to get that exact quarter inch.  There are several different ways to do this, but the easiest and most convenient way I’ve found to deal with this problem is a notion called Perfect Piecing Seam Guide by Perkins Dry Goods in Bloomington, MN (  This little notion is also sold in many quilt shops.


I’m not sure if you can see it clearly or not, but on the rim of this small, yellow ruler there is a tiny hole.  I put a piece of green fabric under the ruler, hoping it would make it more visible.

Raise the presser foot up on your machine and position the tiny hole so that your needle can go directly through it.  Please do all of this manually.  Do not try to do this by depressing your foot pedal or using the sew button on your machine.  You will break a needle.  When the needle can go cleanly through the hole, lower your presser foot to keep the ruler firmly in place on your machine.  The right side of the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide is exactly where the edge of your fabric will need to go in order to get a perfect quarter-inch seam.


At this point, you can either mark this location with a permanent marker or use something like a strip of moleskin to use as the fabric guide.  Whaaaala….perfect quarter-inch seams.  I use this method on Jenni and I have had no trouble transferring anything over to Big Red and keeping consistent quarter-inch seam allowances and block size.

Now I know what some of you are saying…”I have the option of changing needle positions on my sewing machine.  Isn’t this just easier?”

Big Red has that option, too, and I’ve used it sometimes.


And this is a viable choice, just remember to do two things.  First, do the strip test to make sure you’re getting an accurate quarter-inch seam allowance and second, if you have to change your needle plate position when you move your needle, be sure to remember to change it back to the normal factory setting or you’ll break a needle, which can play with your machine’s timing…which is never a good thing.

Now all of this brings me back to when I blew the quilting gasket in your brain as I told you the quarter-inch seam is not the Holy Grail of Quilting. 

While it is important to keep a consistent seam allowance, what’s even more important than this is making sure your blocks all come out the same unfinished size called for in the pattern.  And while I grant you that most of the time a quarter-inch or scant quarter-inch will be adequate in this construction, it’s not always true.  That’s why it is oh-so important to make a test block of any pattern before starting on the actual quilt.  If the test block comes out exact using the standard seam allowance, you’re good to go.  If it doesn’t, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Check your foot.  My Little Foot looks amazingly like one of my applique feet.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve grabbed the applique foot thinking I had my Little Foot.
  2. Did your foot “bobble”? Sometimes feet aren’t attached securely, or they tend to wiggle a bit.  Make sure you’re feeding the fabric through the machine slowly and steadily.  For as long as I have been quilting and teaching quilting, I do not think anyone can sew an accurate seam at full-throttle.  Remember, it’s not a race.  Slow and steady makes for much more accurate piecing (and way less ripping out).
  3. Check your thread. As odd as this may sound, if your seam allowance is off just a tad and you’re sure of your accuracy, the thread may be the culprit.  If the seam allowance is just a bit too narrow, go with a finer thread.  If it’s just a thread or two too wide, try a thicker thread.  Re-test and see if this works.
  4. If none of the above work, you may need to significantly alter your seam allowance until the block comes out exactly the unfinished size that the pattern calls for. Don’t be afraid to do this.  Remember, the ¼-inch seam allowance rule can be broken.


Again…standard disclaimer….I do not work for the Little Foot Company or Perkins Dry Goods nor do they underwrite any portion of my website.  I recommend them in this blog because I’ve used their products and found them consistently stellar with their products and their customer service.


And an update on my heating situation, since I’ve gotten emails and messages…I finally got heat today.  There still are a couple of more repairs to go on the unit, but the thermostat now registers a wonderfully warm 72 degrees.


Until next week…Quilt with Excellence!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



I Am No Laura Ingalls Wilder…

So, let me tell you about my week…

The fun started last weekend, when I started feeling the symptoms of the stomach flu that has been going around in this area.  Feeling puny, I decided to forgo the fun of the upcoming Sanford Quilt Show and stay home.  No sense in sharing all this “fun” with my quilting buddies. After all, of all the things I do in my life, I really do try to be a good friend and good friends do not share germs and viruses.  This was Thursday.  Remember that day.  It’s important in this timeline.

And the house was feeling cold.  Really, really cold.  For a while I chalked it up to the fact that I was probably running a fever and things would even out in a few hours.  Nope.  There was cold air blowing through the heat vents, despite the fact that I had the heat pumped up to 90.  Hoping and praying for the best, I flipped the thermostat off, left it that way for an hour, crossed my fingers, and turned it back on.

Still no heat.

Since we had been through this same scenario fairly recently, I called the HVAC service company and talked to the office manager.  “You know that burner unit the tech said we would need sooner rather than later?  Well, it’s sooner now.”

Bing, bang boom – simple fix, right?  Should be up and running on Friday, right?  Nope.  Part won’t be here until Tuesday.

Now it’s Thursday night and it’s cold and it’s raining.  We’re running space heaters and the kerosene heater.  It’s kind of toasty, in a chilly kind of way, and I’m ready to haul my sick self onto my Memory Foam mattress and sleep.  So, I begin the same ritual I have performed since I was 11 – wash my face, brush my teeth, and moisturize.  I turn on the hot water and busy myself with other things waiting for it to warm up.

Let me stop right here and explain something about the Fields Family Household Dynamics.  The DH and I live in a one-level 3,000 square foot-ish house with an ancient hot water heater and equally ancient plumbing.  We liked this house from the moment it was built, even though we didn’t purchase it at that time.  The purchase came in 1995, when the kids were younger.  Part of the charm was that it was on acreage, so they could have all kinds of animals and there was plenty of room for them to run and have go-karts and golf carts.

The other part of that “charm” was that the house has its quirks.  And one of those quirks was that it takes for FOREVER to get hot water from one end of the house to the other.  For me to turn on the hot water, walk away, go fold a load of laundry, and return to the bathroom to wash my face was nothing out of the ordinary.

Except 10 minutes later when I returned to wash my face, I still didn’t have hot water.

The propane tank was empty.  Dry as a bone.

Since I am on the monthly budget and maintenance plan with one of the local propane companies, I called the 1-800 24-hour emergency service number and explained to the sleepy person on the other end of the line that I needed propane and I needed it now.  There was a slight rustle on the other end as I heard a mouse slide across a surface.  “You’re scheduled to be checked tomorrow,” the service person said.

“What a coincidence,” I replied.  I admit it, by this time and under these circumstances, I was downright snarky.  “I need it tonight.” This was said emphatically.

“I’m calling the on-call delivery guy now.”

I guess my snarkiness carries some weight.

Ten minutes later, the delivery guy calls me back.  “Can’t come tonight.  It’s dark and raining and I won’t be able to see the tank.  I’ll be there first thing Friday morning.”

Now it’s Friday morning.  Remember that day.  It’s important in this timeline. Gas tank is filled.  One hour later I have all the hot water my heart desires and still no heat.

Friday bleeds into Saturday.  Remember that.  I’ve been without heat since Thursday. By Saturday night, I was feeling exceptionally poorly.  So poorly I even told the DH, “I feel really sick.”  Putting this in the perspective of the Fields Family Household Dynamic, you must understand one thing – when I complain about not feeing well, it’s serious.  I’ve been known to power-through teaching labs while having pneumonia and bronchitis.  It takes a lot to get me to slow down, give up, and go to bed.

At 4 a.m. Sunday morning (remember now it’s Sunday), there was no doubt that the stomach flu had taken up residence in my digestive system.  It was there, full-blown and ugly.  I have no heat, I’m throwing my guts up, and I’m living on Saltines and ginger ale.

Sunday passes by in a stomach-flu induced haze and turns into Monday.  Remember that.  Now it’s Monday.  And I’ve been without heat since when?  That’s right.  Last Thursday.  Miracle of miracles and despite the fact that Monday was a federal holiday, the HVAC repair guy shows up a day early with the part!  We’re good to go now, right?


Burner unit goes on, we flip the thermostat to heat and … nothing.  Repairman goes back out, looks at the propane tank, and delivers this assessment: “Regulator’s froze up on the tank.  Get the gas company back out here and have ‘em put a new one on it.  It’s their tank.”

One more call to the gas company.  Their tech guy gets to my house after 5 p.m.  He replaces the regulator and gets my ancient gas logs going because you know what?  The regulator wasn’t the problem.  It was replaced and still no heat.  He plans to come back the next day and advises me to call the HVAC guy and have everybody meet up at 9 a.m.

Tuesday arrives (remember that – it’s important) and I’m feeling better.  Gas guy shows up about…..10:30 a.m.  I didn’t see the HVAC tech until nearly 3 p.m.  Gas guy has replaced everything he can at the tank and at the unit.  HVAC guy comes out and checks the control valve.  He lifts up the top of the unit and looks it over and delivers this assessment: “The inside looks like brand new.  I haven’t run into anything like this before and I’ve been doing this for 33 years.”


So, he’s ordered another part and promises me I will have heat by Wednesday.

It’s now Wednesday.  WEDNESDAY.  I’VE BEEN WITHOUT HEAT SINCE LAST THURSDAY.  And we woke up to this:

Needless to say, I won’t have heat today, either.

I’ve always been taught to try to find the bright spot, the positive note, the lesson learned from the hard times in life.  And I have learned one very important thing about myself during this trial:


On the bright side, I do have a space heater in my quilt studio (because God forbid that those computerized machines get too cold) and I managed to get my floaters and pinwheel borders on my Halo Medallion.  Me and my two bottles of 19 Crimes plan to retire to the Quilt Studio shortly for a fine time of sewing and quilting the rest of the time away while I contemplate life without central heat one more day.



Still trying to Quilt with Excellence despite lack of heat…


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Meet the Tooleys…a Dynamic Mother/Daughter Quilting Duo


As I walk through my quilt journey, I have always been inspired by other quilters and their quilts.  This year, it’s my goal to introduce you to some of the quilters that inspire me, challenge me, and love me despite all my flaws.  Two of these quilters are Karen and Sarah Tooley.  I met Karen before I met Sarah and I was drawn to Karen for a several reasons.  First, she was an awesome hand piecer and hand quilter; second, every time we got together the fellowship was warm and supportive; and third, she was retired from the field of education – we talk “shop” a lot.

After a couple of years, I was introduced the Karen’s children.  She and her husband, John, have two daughters and a son.  Pete, the youngest, lives in the DC area, but her two daughters were local – at least at that time.  I met Elaine, who can knit just about anything she looks at, and Sarah, who is the other quilter in the family.  I can honestly say at this point, I’m a little envious of Karen having a daughter that quilts.  I can only hope…

I wanted to introduce you folks to these two, because it seems that there are fewer and fewer mother/daughter teams that quilt.


–“She (Karen) can make something out of absolutely nothing and does not need patterns or instructions.   I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve asked about how she did something and her answer has been, ‘I don’t know, I just tried something new and it worked out…’”

–Sarah Tooley speaking about her mother, Karen


Karen Tooley lives in a neat house, tucked away in a subdivision of Jamestown, North Carolina.  A retired special education teacher, Karen has sewed for 54 years, starting at age nine.  Before that, she watched and helped her mother while she sewed.

During the time that Karen grew up, she had the wonderful opportunity to see her great-grandmother’s quilts on the beds as well as everywhere else all over her house and her grandmother’s house.  At age 25, she decided that she wanted to learn to quilt.  Her goal?  Quilt as well as her great-grandmother.  “Her stitches were tiny, close, and uniform in size,” Karen states.  “Also, the large amount of quilting on each of her quilts was phenomenal.  She has been my sole role model.”

Armed with one of her great-grandmother’s quilts as her “teacher” and a McCall’s basic beginning quilting booklet, Karen taught herself machine piecing and hand quilting.


Miles away in an equally neat apartment in New York City, Sarah Tooley, a social worker and Karen’s oldest daughter, resides.   Sarah quilts and like her mother, she hand pieces and hand quilts.  Why does she quilt? “My mom always believed I would enjoy quilting and told me that throughout childhood and young adult hood.  I had always admired her work and the beautiful quilts she regularly entered in our county’s fair each year.”

However, the “quilting bug” didn’t bite Sarah until later.  “I did not have a desire to engage in quilting until she (Karen) presented her antique quilt program informally at her house one summer.”

Moved by the presentation, the meticulous nature of construction, and the story behind each quilt, Sarah asked Karen to teach her to quilt.  The only stipulation that Sarah had was that she wanted to start with handwork – something that not a lot of beginner quilters want to undertake.  “I had not gotten along with a sewing machine in the past,” Sarah explained.  With Sarah having no desire to machine piece at that point, Karen immediately started Sarah on a whole quilt project and Sarah fell in love with quilting.

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Karen and Sarah Tooley

And the mother/daughter quilting fellowship began.  For Karen, it’s a chance to be creative.  For Sarah, it allows her to decompress, de-stress, and recharge after a long day at work.  Both women enjoy hand piecing, hand quilting, and hand applique.  However, there are other similarities and a few differences between the two.  When asked what their favorite tricks, tools, and tips, both of them like the Cindy Blackberg’s hand piecing stamps.  Introduced to them in 2012, Karen admits at that point, she became a dedicated hand piecer due to the stamps’ preciseness and easy instructions.  When Sarah asked to learn to hand piece, Karen pulled out these stamps to teach her daughter the process.


“I love the Cindy Blackberg stamps,” Sarah said.  Because Sarah’s background in sewing was limited, she had to start at the absolute bottom in terms of learning basics, vocabulary, and techniques.  “The stamps hooked me right away because they offer a certain simplicity,” she explained.  Since that time, neither woman has stopped hand piecing.  Both carry a “stamp project” with them just about wherever they go.

Similarities can also be found in their project boxes.  Size 10 quilting needles are found in both, as well as thimbles, although Sarah prefers a leather thimble and Karen likes the “Cheap, plastic ones – the ones that were used for advertising stores or passed out with election candidate’s names on them,”  Karen explained.  Karen also makes sure beeswax is in her project box and Sarah likes Gutterman thread in hers.  Karen also favors a 24” x 6 ½” ruler with a rotary cutter attached to one side of it for cutting accuracy.

From there the similarities between the two disappear.  Karen is a relaxed quilter and tolerant of mistakes.  “It may be because of my age or stage in life,” she said, but she works through trial and error and doesn’t get flustered if the project doesn’t work out.  “If I don’t like it, I change it,” she admits, “and my biggest challenge is speed.  I do not produce a product very quickly.  Even when I do machine work, it takes me a long time.  I get stuck on details.”

For Sarah, the challenge is a bit different.  A perfectionist by nature, she wants an exact formula for her quilt blocks.  “I am extremely structured and do best when I can follow exact instructions.  I’ve had to learn that every stitch does not need to be perfect.”  This realization has offered Sarah some growth opportunities in “letting go” of the self-imposed pressure to be perfect.

Both of these attitudes have been the biggest challenge each faced when quilting together, too.  When Sarah began quilting, she wanted to rip everything out all the time and start over.  “Mom patiently handled this by telling me, ‘People will not be able to tell,’ or ‘If you start everything over all the time, you’ll never complete anything.’ I must drive her nuts when I get frustrated over the lack of perfection.”

For Karen it was equally challenging.

“The biggest challenge (for me) is convincing Sarah that every stitch, seam, etc., does not have to be perfect.  It should be an enjoyable activity, not a perfect specimen,” Karen said.

Their shopping habits are also dissimilar.  Karen faithfully shops her stash, and leans towards the more traditional florals, patterned, and colored fabrics.  Her current favorite colorways are blues combined with greens or strong yellows.  However, because she is steadily using up her stash, she admits, “Scrappy may be my favorite colorway!”

Realizing that putting colors together is her greatest weakness at the moment, Sarah looks at what other quilters are using and tries to emulate those.  She seeks her mother’s opinion, but leans towards the bold/contemporary look.  Her current favorite colorway is rustic orange and dark gray.  “And I collect all supplies, fabric, and instructions (before starting).  I must have everything in order before I will even complete one stitch.  Once my plan is established, fabric cut, and materials prepped, then the true fun can begin!”  Very, very different from Karen’s trial and error, relaxed method.

There is another challenge these two are facing now.  Recently Sarah moved to New York City from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Winston and Jamestown are only about 20 minutes apart.  Now separated by hundreds of miles, do they still carve out a way to quilt together?  The answer to this question is “Yes.”

“We talk on the phone about projects, and last year we both participated in an on-line ‘Block of the Week.’  We discussed problems and progress over the phone,” said Karen.

“I FaceTime my mom with questions,” said Sarah.  “And I really enjoy showing off something I’ve finally finished.  Also, when Mom helps me with a new skill or technique, I video tape her narrating the steps while doing it, so I can refer to it at any time,” Sarah told me.  As a result of this, Sarah has many teaching videos of Karen she can refer back to when she gets “stuck” on a project.

In the future, both Karen and Sarah see themselves becoming more skilled in machine piecing and quilting.  Karen just recently machine quilted a Modern Quilt she made for her son, Pete.  “There’s a lesser amount of time involved (in machine quilting),” said Karen.

Sarah desires more of a “quilting routine.”

“My hope is that I will be able to quilt more often and regularly.  Work and life can sometimes get in the way.  I also want to have a more regular routine of taking classes.”

Time…distance…challenges…it’s nice to know that none of those hinder this mother/daughter quilty fellowship.  Both of these women are wonderful humans on top of being talented quilters.  I count myself fortunate to know both of them and value their friendships.


A little background on Karen’s quilting heritage…

Evidence that we can hold in our hands of my family’s quilt history goes back to my great, great grandmother, Ellen Jenkins Willis (1847-1938) of Jackson, Ohio. Our family still has at least two quilts she made in our possession.  

Her daughter, my great grandmother, Mary Matilda “Birdie” Willis Banker (1877-1970), made the majority of our family’s quilt collection of almost 30 quilts, now classified as antiques. Some were from kits.  Some were scrappy from family members’ clothing, and some were just utilitarian, made from what was handy at the time. She was a master quilter.

I remember my great grandmother well, but she had stopped quilting by the time I was born.  We don’t have any quilts made by her after 1950. I did know as a child, though, that she was the one who had made the treasures that were spread on practically every family member’s bed!

My grandmother, Bernice Banker Myers (1906-2003), was not a quilter, but sewed, knit, and did many crafty things. She can be credited with caring for the family quilts.  

My mother, Barbara Myers Conner (b.1931), did not quilt either, but is a very good seamstress, knitter and dabbled in art.  I remember her drawing paper dolls for my sister and I and we would cut them out and spend hours creating clothes for them.  She taught me to sew, knit, crochet…anything that came along. 

My aunt, Kathleen Myers Coe (b.1941), is a musician, artist, knitter, sewed and has done some quilting.  She has made a variety of quilts, mostly made by machine. 

I, Karen Tooley (b.1954) loved the quilts we grew up with and after I was married I decided to try hand quilting.  I learned from a basic book on quilting, McCall’s How To Quilt It! (1953) and by studying several of my great grandmother’s quilts. 

My daughter, Sarah Jane Tooley (b.1980), has taken up hand piecing, hand appliqué and hand quilting, inspired by the quilt legacy left by our great grandmothers.


 If this has peaked some interest in hand piecing, and you’d like to know more about the Cindy Blackberg Stamps mentioned in this interview, please visit her website at  I use her stamps, as well as other items offered on her website and have always been very pleased with the quality and longevity of the products.  And her customer service is about the best out there.


Please note, I am not employed in anyway by Cindy Blackberg.  This recommendation is free of influence and provided strictly by my own experience with the product.


Until next week —  Quilt with Excellence!



Sherri and Sam

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Happy New Year…Happy New Theme

Happy New Year

It’s well into 2018 at this point…my tree is down and the halls are undecked.  My house has been cleaned.

Hello New Year and good-bye old one.

I hope, if nothing else, 2017 prompted you to think outside of your quilting box, try patterns and colors you had never thought you would, and not be afraid to Quilt Fearlessly.

Since 2018 is a bright, shining, brand-spankin’-new trip around the sun, it’s time to announce this year’s quilting theme:  Quilt with Excellence. What does this mean and why did I choose this particular theme?

Let’s start with the “why” first.  Part of this reasoning is that I’m feeling rushed.  Everyday I am overwhelmed with advertisements for quilting gadgets and gizmos.  I am inundated with patterns that claim to be “fast and easy.”  Are we feeling pushed through one project so we can move onto the next new one?  I believe (and I am seeing in quilt shows and on the internet) that we are moving so fast that we quilters are forgetting what makes a quilt really good:  a strong background in the basics, accuracy, and (dare I say it?) patience.  Last year I wanted folks to become comfortable getting themselves out of their quilting comfort zone and trying different patterns, harder patterns, different color ways, and new techniques.  This year I want us to slow down, pay attention to the basics and become proficient in them, and become unerringly accurate.

Basics in anything are important.  When I taught chemistry and had to supervise the labs, you would think it would be the Chemistry I students that drove me nuts – trying to mix things they shouldn’t and not follow directions.  But it wasn’t.  It was the Chemistry III and IV classes that were the worst.  Those kids had taken just enough classes to feel pretty smug and sure about what they were doing.  Directions?  They didn’t need to read no stinkin’ directions because they thought they knew it all.  If there was an accident that was going to happen, it was going to be with this group of kids.  The younger chemistry students at least were aware enough of their  ignorance to slow down and read through the lab before starting!

I think that’s the way some quilters are – we’ve quilted so long that we tend to ignore the basics, and it’s this excellence in the basics that make everything in the quilt work out well.


So, the “what” in this theme is this:  We’re going to revisit basics a great deal of the time.  I promise to make it fun and funny.  That won’t be the only thing in the blogs.  I will keep you updated on my projects and I have some interviews coming up with some quilters.    I mentioned before that in my personal quilting life, this seems to be a year of transition.  I also feel that this is a year of transition for my blog, as 2019 has lots of great plans on the drawing board and 2018 will move us into those things.


Sam and I are excited about this year!  So until next week….


Quilt with Excellence!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam