A Quilter’s Favorite Tunes and Something Quilt-y that is FREE

I did a crazy and spontaneous thing Monday night: I up and took myself to see Coldplay at the Toyota Center for their Mylo Xyloto tour.

Don’t ask me what Mylo Xyloto means (the band has a hard time explaining it, too), but every time I hear the words Mylo Xyloto, I want to make the Mork and Mindy Na-Nu Nan-Nu gesture as if I am offering my salutations to some foreign entity!

Despite the odd name for an album, it is a keeper, and the concert was an amazing musical and visual experience.  If you squint really hard, you can see the graffiti backdrop on stage.

And it reminded me of the graffiti wall we had at Make It University at International Quilt Festival/Houston a couple of years ago…


I like to think that lead singer Chris Martin and his band mates heard about the graffiti wall at International Quilt Festival/Houston, and decided that it was so fun and colorful, they needed to follow suit and feature graffiti for their album artwork. (See how trendsetting quilters can be?!)

Here’s a picture of Chris Martin’s piano with graffiti, perhaps the coolest piano I have ever seen. (And if you don’t know who Chris Martin is, he is married to actress Gwyneth Paltrow.)

Coldplay played a very solid set list, and for the encore, they surprised me by dimming the lights to total black, then reappearing just one aisle over from where I was sitting. I couldn’t stop laughing, I didn’t expect they would pop up so close to me!

And they played one of my very favorite songs of theirs, “Warning Sign.”

And, yes, I came home with my very own souvenir, a Mylo Xyloto t-shirt.

Speaking of music, did you know that we put out a quarterly FREE newsletter called Friends@Festival that is downloadable? In each issue, editor Rhianna Griffin patchworks together a sundry of quilt-y content, including interviews with quilt artists, favorite recipes of quilters, free projects and patterns, and yes, even things like music to quilt by. If you click the image below, you can see the edition that included some of my favorite songs to listen to while quilting. (And, hey, if you have a great idea for an article for Friends@Festival, reach out to Rhianna by emailing her at pubs2@quilts.com!)

So tell me, what kinds of things do you listen to when you quilt? Do you listen to tunes, a specific channel on satellite radio, or just the chirping of birds perched outside your studio window?

Meet One of Our Long Beach Teachers! My Q & A with Traci Bautista

A photo from the archives! Taken in 2007 at International Quilt Festival/Houston, Traci and I are holding up the Houston Chronicle where we were featured in an article about next generation quilters.

Yes,  am a fan of art quilting, but I am also a huge fan of mixed-media quilting, too. By that I mean I love to really mix things up: stitching with paper and metal embellishments, and also experimenting with different coloring media on fabric. So it is a no-brainer that I am a fan of Traci Bautista, and I am thrilled she is teaching at International Quilt Festival/Long Beach next month. (If I didn’t have to work the show, I would be in one of her classes.) And as it turns out, she wont be teaching as much in the future, so this is a rare opportunity.

Pokey: You are teaching a lot of classes in Long Beach. I have always admired your energy, your sense of color, and your overall funky and whimsy ways. Your art is uniquely you, and it just oozes joy to me. Can you tell us what kinds of things you will be teaching in Long Beach?

Traci: Thanks, Pokey! Yes, I’ve got a jam-packed schedule at IQF/Long Beach. I  will be teaching a variety of mixed-media workshops including Doodles Unleashed on fabric, which will showcase a variety of techniques from my new book. I will also be teaching Stylistic Scrawls, a workshop on lettering on canvas along with a few other classes.  One of my favorites is Dream Big Art Journal where we will explore painting paper and fabric, playing with collage and free motion stitching, then assembling a unique journal. I’ll also be teaching a couple of Create on the Spot workshops right on the show floor sharing fun ways to use my product Collage Pauge, and a Sunday Shuffle Paper Layers Collage Canvas where students will learn to make their very own mixed-media canvas bases fro layers of handmade and Asian lace papers.
Pokey: I know you came out with a book recently. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Traci: My new book Doodles Unleashed was released in January. It’s full of colorful and vibrant artwork. It’s a technique book with mixed-media projects. I teach the reader how to start with a simple doodle then share my process for working with multiple layers, colors, and handmade tools. There is a focus on mark-making, creating stylized faces, and lettering. One of my favorite sections is the Hand-Drawn Letters where I provide numerous techniques to create hand-drawn letters, showcasing different techniques for each letter of the alphabet. It’s full of a lot of techniques, jump starts, and ideas to get you exploring your doodling style.

Pokey: For one of your workshops, you are teaching mixed-media techniques on fabric. What kind of media will people be working with?

Traci:In the Doodles Unleashed: Mixed Media for fabric workshop, we will be painting on large pieces of muslin or drill cloth, experimenting with a variety of my favorite mixed media materials like acrylic paint, stencils, oil pastels, oil paint sticks, colored pencils, gesso, India ink and a number of found mark-making tools. I will share numerous printmaking and painting techniques from my new book including making handmade stamps, printing with transparencies and drawing with ink and brush…plus new ideas I’ve been working on.

Pokey:  I read on your website that you are scaling back your in-person workshops, so to me, that means it will be a real treat to take a workshop from you while people still can! You mentioned on your site that you want to spend your time painting a lot more. What are your plans?
Traci: Yes, I am scaling back traveling to teach in-person workshops. I’ve been on the road with a pretty crazy schedule for about eight years. Recently, I moved into a new art studio/boutique space in downtown Danville, CA. My plan is to work on developing a new body of work and fitting time into paint a few times a week. The studio is also a boutique where I can sell my art, vintage goodies and artful finds from my travels. This year IQF is one of the few stops on my teaching tour, but I am also planning to teach a couple one-day workshops and host a weekend retreat in October in my new workspace. Also, this month I am launching my new digital boutique where I sell mixed media and creative business e-books, e-courses, digital art journaling kits, and digital papers that are all instant download.  Since I’m teaching less in person, I have  created a collection of 15 online workshops that are self-guided.

Pokey:  Are you reading anything fun and inspiring lately? (Don’t say 50 Shades of Grey! <g>)

Traci:  Ha!…no not reading 50 Shades. Recently I received a copy of my sweet art pal Flora Bowley’s book, Brave Intuitive Painting. I don’t read many art technique books, but hers is full of inspiration and great ways to combine painting, self-discovery and movement. Her creative spirit dances off the page and the painting prompts lead people to develop their own style. I love that she uses prompts and encourages you to explore in your own mark-making much like what I do with the techniques in Doodles Unleashed. We both have a similar approach to how we paint…very free…bold….open to let things unfold organically. She’s a kindred spirit. It’s a great book, I highly recommend it!

Thanks, Traci!  And anyone who is interested in taking a class with Traci in Long Beach, you can find out more about her classes (and other fun 0fferings) by clicking here to download our online class catalog.

Last Monday’s Fabric Winner

Congratulations to Cath! You won last week’s fabric giveaway! Please email me at pokeyb@quilts.com with your shipping address, and please put in the subject line: FABRIC WINNER. (Caps help!)

Has Quilting Gone to the Frogs?

I hope everyone had a good weekend! I spent mine pondering my pond. It is located in my side yard where I like to sit quietly and hand stitch after a long day’s work.

My fish pond–home to goldfish, waterlilies, and Houston toads.

My fish pond can be viewed from both my office and my quilt studio, and is a sublime place to relax. The pond is too small for koi, but there are a variety of goldfish that reside here, as well as “Houston toads,” an endangered species of toads local to the area. (For all of you herpetologists, its proper name is the Bufo Houstonensis.)

Earlier this year I began hearing load noises at night from my pond area, and I worried it was some kind of rabid raccoon. But nope, it was the load trill of a male Houston toad. (Have a listen to a male Houston toad here.)

As a new pond owner, I have learned a lot about water plants, how to keep this pond clean, and the fish fed and healthy. What I wasn’t prepared for were predators!

This past Friday morning I woke up to let my dogs out and found one of these creatures just outside on the ledge of the pond, looking intently into the pond’s murky depths…

Night Herons

I had never seen one of these before, and as I was staring at it, mouth agape, all of a sudden–to my horror–it dove into the pond, plucked a Houston toad, and carried it high into a tree. I felt so bad for that little toad, and when I flew out of my French doors in my pajamas and screamed at the bird to DROP IT!, the heron looked down at me and promptly ate it.

I then decided there was no way I was going to be outsmarted by a bird. But this guy was persistent and had a friend, and they didn’t want to leave anytime soon. So I took my fish net, and thrashed it about like a sword above my head, trying to scare them away. But eventually I had to put the fish net down and go to work.

Two mama toads with their babies on their backs in my pond.

This weekend I went to a water garden nursery to ask their advice about how to handle the herons, and I learned a few things that will help me protect the toads and fish from predators. For instance I need to invest in Blue Heron decoys, underwater fish caves for hiding, and more water lilies to protect them from view.

Quilters: Friends of Frogs?

I know I am not the only quilter who has a love affair with frogs, toads, and amphibious creatures in general. I’ve come across a number of quilted frogs in my day.

Take for instance this pieced quilt that was touring the International Quilt Festivals two years ago:

“Sunset Ceremony at the Pond”
44 x 44″ by Susan L. Griffin of Mossomin, Saskatchewan, Canada
This quilt was featured in our “O Canada 2010″ exhibit.

Other famous quilters have used frog imagery quite effectively in their quilts, like Ellen Anne Eddy  with her quilt “Balcony Scene” or  “The Problem with Princes” that resides in Caryl Bryer Fallert’s Studio.

Oh yeah…I made a frog quilt a while ago, too:

My little frog quilt; whole-cloth painted and free-motion stitched.

And frogs aren’t just featured in quilts, many folks have named their quilt businesses after frogs, like the quilt store The Purple Frog in Jefferson, Oregon, or the online business The Quilted Frog (not to be confused with the long-arm machine business, quiltfrog.com).

I also noticed that at last year’s Spring Quilt Market, it wasn’t just owls that were the trend of the season, lots of  frog quilt patterns and fabrics were hoppin’, too.

Maudlin-Free Monday Question:

So my question to you is, what do you think the next big quilt trend will be at this upcoming Fall Quilt Market in a few months? Hmmm…what have we seen a lot of lately: owls, frogs, bicycles, mustaches, chevrons, stripes, and polka-dots. What do you think will be next?

And in good Maudlin-Free Monday fashion, I am giving away 15 fat quarters of the Puppy Park line by Bella BLVD for Riley Blake Designs. Maybe quilting hasn’t gone to the frogs, it has gone to the…. (Ok, I know that was corny.)

Make your quilted prediction in the comments area and I will pick someone randomly and announce in my next post!

Previous Book Winner

And congrats to Ali M as you are the winner of the Weeks Ringle book! Please email me at pokeybATquilts.com with your address, and I will get your book to you!

Quick Quilt Project: How to make an easy quilted bike basket pad for your bike-lovin’ pet

Last week one of my co-workers, Vicki Mangum was all aflutter when she came into the office. She stopped at my door, slightly out of breath, and said, “I couldn’t sleep last night! All I could think about was your dog Louie in the bike basket and he needed a quilted little pad to ride around on.”

I guess she thought my wadded up terrycloth towel could be improved upon:

Then she whipped this out of her tote:

“Since you are new to Texas, I thought it should have a Texan flair,” she added.

I was very grateful for this unexpected gift. And now while I admire the fabric with hunky men in cowboy hats, Louie can now cruise through Houston in style!

I know Louie looks a little glum in this shot but it’s because he knew this was just a photo op–I wasn’t actually going to take him riding, as I had to go to work!


How to Make a Quick & Easy Bike Pad for Your Pooch


• Fabric for top and back

• Batting

• Sewing machine, thread, scissors, and general quilt supplies


1. Measure the bottom of your bike basket and add 1″ all around. Cut top and backing fabric and two pieces of batting to these dimensions.

2. Pin the two layers of batting to the top fabric. (Extra batting/cushioning makes for more comfortable cruising!)

3. With your sewing machine, free-motion stitch through these three layers.

4. Place your backing fabric on top of your top fabric, right sides together. Pin in Place.

5. Sew all the way around, leaving a 1.5″ opening.

6. Pull everything through the 1.5″ opening so it is right sides out.

7. Slip stitch the opening closed.

This is a very simple project that any pooch would appreciate.

Thanks, Vicki!

Tips for Assembling a New Sewing Cabinet (& Quilt Book Giveaway)!

A few weeks ago while at Quilt Market, I ordered a couple of sewing tables: one was the Gidgit II, a portable sewing table on wheels that folds up for easy storage. I unpacked it this past weekend and was thrilled there was no assembly required. This is really a great portable sewing table, and it can even take the weight and size of some of the larger sewing machines, like the Bernina 830 series. Below is Gidget in my family room. I can imagine I will be sewing a lot on my back porch, and also at night in my family room where I can watch movies with my boys!

Gidget II by Arrow Cabinets

I also bought a sewing cabinet for my home studio, a space that is much smaller than my previous studio, so I needed something compact with good storage. I wanted a cabinet that was contemporary in style, with an air-lift mechanism to raise and lower my sewing machine, and I found just what I needed in the Sewnatra Cabinet by Arrow. Isn’t it adorable? I love the shuttered door!

The Sewnatra opened:

This Sewnatra  sewing cabinet does require assembly. Here’s what my family room floor looked like on Saturday morning:

And the hardware seemed a little overwhelming at first in the big plastic bag, so I opened it up and sorted the metal and plastic bits all onto a tray:

I have put together a lot of furniture over the past few months–even an entire bedroom set from scratch–so I thought I had this in the bag. (And I almost did.)

Attaching the storage bins, thread holders, and hinges onto the back of the shuttered door.

Some tips for sewing cabinet assembly:

1. Read ALL of the directions first, and really familiarize yourself with all of the hardware.

2. If there is an online video, watch it from start to finish, first. Then while assembling, pause it in places as you assemble your cabinet.

3. When in doubt, reread the directions or re-watch the video. Never assume you think you have it right until confirming, and remember that slow and steady win the race.

3. If they say you need two people to assemble it, take heed. This is because the cabinet—as you assemble it—is unwieldy, and especially when you have the top cover opened, a panel or part of the cabinet cannot support the full weight of the cabinet. Unfortunately I had most of the cabinet assembled, but then it started to fall, and I quickly grabbed the front piece, which then promptly cracked in half.

At that point I decided to take a pool break with my assistant.

The good news? I called Arrow and they are getting a replacement front piece to me ASAP. I will need to partially take apart the cabinet to replace the front panel, but then I should be good to go. Furthermore, Arrow was very helpful on the phone, offering tips and advice to complete the assembly.

I have the vision: I see this Sewnatra cabinet in my sewing room. It is going to look so adorable in there and I know I will enjoy it. The price–let alone its sheer cuteness–are well worth the minor set back, and even though I goofed during assembly, there is something about taking pride in having assembled a sewing cabinet (mostly) by myself!

Weeks Ringle’s Latest Modern Quilt Book Giveaway!

So how was your weekend? Did you quilt? Let me know what you did in the comments area and I’ll randomly choose a winner on Wednesday to win Weeks Ringle’s and Bill Kerr’s latest book!

Prepping for Summer Quilting & Countdown to International Quilt Festival/Long Beach!

Aaaaaaah….the dog days of summer. If you live anywhere near Houston or the Gulf, with temps reaching a mere  96 degrees on average lately, you know summer is clearly  here! I am still the new kid in town, trying to comprehend the seasonal temps and commenting to passers-by how wonderful the weather has been. Coming from Boston, I tell people how I am finally thawing out from the exceptionally frigid and snow-filled “Game-of-Thrones,” North-of-the-Wall-worthy Winter of 2011, and I am welcoming this heat. They then often roll their eyes, scoffing, and telling me this heat is nothing. Give it a month!

Summer is also a time when I give my blue jeans a rest from my wardrobe rotation since it is so hot. I also assess which pairs of jeans will make the cut for the next season, and sadly, which jeans I must banish to retirement.

This summer I am very, very sad to come to grips that my most cherished, my most beloved pair, my Fleur de Lis jeans by Rock & Republic, are officially going out to pasture. I just can’t permanently part with them, though, and know the only way to honor them is to upcycle them into a quilt project. They have sat on my quilting cutting mat for days, waiting for divine inspiration…

I was thrilled when this past weekend I stumbled upon an online how-to tutorial by Jane LaFazio for creating a denim studio box for your supplies–perfect for carting supplies to quilt classes! Click here to link directly to her denim studio box  tutorial. I know my jeans will make a terrific traveling box for my supplies this summer!

Jane’s cool denim studio box.

Jane has an exceptional and whimsical eye for combining surface design and stitching techniques to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Case in point: I bought three small hand-stitched pieces by Jane last summer. I love her manner of mixing surface design, fabric collage, and hand stitching techniques for this botanical series, and I painted a rectangular bit of white canvas a shade of blue on which to mount them.

A detail shot of Jane’s stitched work:

Jane happens to be teaching at International Quilt Festival/Long Beach in two months time, so if you want to try your hand at surface design, this is a really wonderful opportunity to learn from the very best!

Windham Fabric Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Sherry Walker! Please email me at pokeyb@quilts.com your shipping address and I will get out your bundle of Windham Fabrics to you immediately!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,955 other followers