Thom Atkins – Bead Embellished Quilts

Many thanks to Moira S for sharing this story about her recent visit to a quilt guild in Southern California.

Thom Atkins ms 3“I attended the Coachella Valley Quilt Guild meeting on Saturday.

The speaker was Thom Atkins who did a wonderful talk on his beaded quilts which were truly works of art.

He did a slide presentation taking us through his process of designing and completing his quilts.  Sometimes he would start with a panel or just a fabric that “spoke” to him, drafting up figures using freezer paper, using pima pens to shade or enhance the fabrics and then the fabulous beading. If he didn’t like the way the beads looked, he would take them off and start again.

His quilt Siren’s Song (below) came third in the Houston International Quilt Show in November.

You will notice his shirt (in the top photo) which he made himself.

A very entertaining and interesting speaker.”

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Favourite quilting things

“Raindrops on roses, And whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, Brown paper packages tied up with strings, These are a few of my favorite things …”

My favourite quilting things can’t compete with the magical images in that well-known song from The Sound of Music.  “Brown pizza boxes, tied up with strings, etc.” … No, it doesn’t quite work, does it?

Nevertheless, these are a few of my favourite quilting things – simple, inexpensive, and very helpful.  Thanks to fellow quilters who shared these ideas online and in person at presentations, workshops, and wherever quilters gather.  Tell me about some of your favourite quilting things for a future post.

Sticky Shelf Liner

A strip of sticky shelf liner placed underneath your quilting ruler will keep the ruler from sliding when you are cutting fabric with a rotary cutter.


A square of sticky shelf liner underneath your foot pedal will help keep your foot pedal from sliding around on a hard floor.


Skewers & Thread Patches

Bamboo skewers can help guide your fabric accurately through your machine and keep the patches aligned when you are piecing.

Starting your stitching on a “thread patch” helps prevent thread from tangling.


Pizza Boxes

Large cardboard pizza boxes are handy for storing leftover blocks, strips, bits and pieces, and they stack well, too.  The Little Caesars employee who kindly gave me the boxes had a somewhat bemused look on his face during our conversation, as I recall.



A piece of batting near your sewing machine makes a great place to put thread trimmings before they attach themselves to anything in the vicinity.

A piece of batting also works well for picking up lint on hard surfaces in your sewing room.


Stick-on Thimble Pads

My newest favourite quilting thing is the stick-on thimble pad.

I have tried lots of thimbles, but somehow they slip off my finger and bounce away, no matter how much I try to get the right fit.  Stick-on thimble pads have solved the problem of the runaway thimble for me.

It takes just a wee bit of time to find the right place on your finger to stick the pad and to remember to line up the pad with the end of your needle when you push it into the fabric.  Go gentle with the needle at first till you master the technique, but stick with it and you will be on your way.  Thimble pads are light but tough.  They stay on your finger but will come off easily too, and they are re-usable for quite a while.  Thank you to Poppin’s Quilt Parlour in Penticton for showing me this product.



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Inspired by Africa: How a BC quilter’s art went from West Coast to wild

When Pippa Moore, our January speaker, first left Canada to spend three years in Lesotho in Southern Africa, she took along a quilt she was working on. It was in blues, off-whites and muted forest green. Pippa Moore BC quilt 2

Things changed once she found herself entranced by the vibrant, saturated colours much loved by the African women she set out to support with a grassroots project aimed at teaching them to sew and provide for their families. These “widows and grannies” inspired her with their ability to find joy in seemingly ordinary things, even surrounded as they were by trying circumstances.

In addition to vivid colours, her quilting moved towards more improvisational art, in the tradition of the Gee’s Bend quilters, and she relished the freedom of allowing the fabrics and subject matter to take her in new artistic directions to tell the stories of her African experiences. She likes to use saturated black solids alongside the African fabrics to give the eye “a place to rest”. The end result is arresting art quilts filled with layers of shape, pattern, movement and depth. Fabrics are gathered from many countries, including Egypt, Uganda and South Africa, and range from monochromatic mud cloth to indigo shweshwe.


Her talk gave fascinating insights into how each quilt came to be: for instance, in “There’s an Elephant in my Garden”, she enjoyed pitting the wildness of an elephant against vivid art deco foliage. “Rosetta’s Hope” shows an African women at work in her vegetable garden, made possible by an initiative that brought water to that community (her husband’s work was with this NGO).

Pippa and her husband continue to support the Bitengye Designers, as the group of women she taught to sew call themselves, in part by selling items they have made (some were on sale after our meeting). Proceeds also go to a Widows’ Garden project in Uganda.

More recently, she’s begun to incorporate found objects, such as pottery shards, beads, porcupine quills, shells and leaves into her smaller, newer pieces, all inspired by Africa. Her latest series will be on display in the summer, from July 21st – 28th, at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery on Vancouver Island.

You can see more of Pippa’s work and read more about her story on her website.

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January 2018 Block of the Month

Thanks to everyone who made blocks.  The 14 blocks were won by Anne W.  Congratulations Anne.

The January block is the Hourglass block.  The directions are on the January Block of the Month page.  You can choose to make the block with any fabric with red in it.  It could be abstract, floral, child print, … . Have fun.

Happy Quilting,

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Wow – what a lovely lunch!

For those who didn’t manage to make it to our Christmas pot luck, boy did you miss out! We arrived to festively set tables, complete with beautiful runners and the prettiest centre pieces (thank you, Linda F); the latter were later won by one lucky member at each table. Apart from the fabulous food – and a dessert table that positively sagged under the yummiest home bakes – there were plenty of prizes and giveaways.

I will admit I was so busy enjoying myself that I clean neglected to write down winners’ names. Apologies. There were three door prizes and this time, I, who never win anything, won an interesting striped fabric of which I intend to make good use, thank you. There were also two prizes of fabric per table in a lively game of Pass-the-parcel, and three ladies were rewarded in the UFO challenge. The Secret Santa mug rugs were a joy for each of us to receive, it was so interesting to see how unique and sweet each was in and of itself. Moira sent us the pic of the mug rug she received on the left below and mine is on the right… we’re both thrilled! UPDATE: Judy has added a mug rug gallery on the Members Only area under “Our Year in Pictures”: snap your mug rug and send your pic to Judy to be added!

Thank you so  much Barb M and Les O who were the Christmas elves behind our fabulous party – the agenda, the activities and the prizes, with feedback from the executive, and help from various members. A big round of applause and many thanks to these hard working ladies!

The December meeting was held after lunch. Marilyn announced our next BOM, this time a star block, and the winner of the rather lovely Christmas tree blocks was picked from the hat (see previous post). Linda R was thanked for managing the Community Quilts portfolio over the past two years, a tough act to follow, for sure, given the number of quilts donated over this period and the absolute dedication she has given to the job. I will be handling Community Quilts for the next two years and would love to hear ideas and suggestions from members (email me).

The final  item was show and tell, which is the most popular and inspiring part of the meeting for many of us and there was quite the variety as always, including no-longer-UFOs thanks to the challenge! Moira arranged our group pic which can be viewed in the Members Only area of the web site.

A big thank-you to Judy for taking pictures for this blog post.

A very Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to all of you and yours,

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December 2017 Block of the Month

The eleven Tree blocks were won by Linda.  She already has plans for them.  Congratulations Linda.

The December Block of the Month is a star.  I have seen it called a Sawtooth Star and a Variable Star.  It is now on our website where it can be found through a link on the Block of the Month page.  You can choose to make the star in any light to intense yellow and any medium to dark blue and bring it to the January meeting for the draw.  Have fun!

Happy Quilting, Marilyn

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Finding inspiration everywhere

Susan Jensen was the speaker at our November meeting, with a presentation of fabric art entitled “Nature’s Threadwork Landscapes”.

Susan finds her inspiration in nature, everywhere… in the smallest details – such as the tiny veins in yellow maple leaves – and in the largest vistas, such as the beautiful mountains that surround us. The thing, she says, is to really LOOK.

To bring her art to life, she finds her media in some truly odd things… like those bits of thread most of us banish to our thread catchers (who’da thunk?), pieces of unraveling piping and even cotton balls. She brought along a small selection of samples to illustrate her point, which is that almost anything can be used in unique and innovative ways when you’re creating a piece. I say “small”, because in truth, almost anything is fair game, and there are numerous products one can use, even good ole Dippity Do! There are no right or wrong ways, no rules. If you have to steal the tube from inside a roll of toilet paper to use as a paint brush, that’s OK, too (“Just don’t tell my husband,” she says).

Susan also dyes her own fabric to use in her work, uses stamps to make prints and has a range of products to stabilise and manipulate fabric to achieve varying effects. But as she reminded us, in the end each piece is still a quilting project.

S Jensen piece 4 - Nov17

This meeting was also a General Meeting in which changes to the constitution were made, with unanimous approval. The minutes were sent to all members.

There was also a sign-up for our Christmas potluck in December… if you weren’t there, remember to bring something to share and also your Secret Santa Mug Rug! In keeping with the season, our Block of the Month is a tree block. Please bring your block(s) to the next meeting, too.

What you also missed, but can still sign up for, is another Bargello workshop on March 20th, 2018, and, if there’s enough interest, a second retreat in the Fall, since the Spring retreat has been booked up since this year’s retreat. Contact Moira if you are interested.

Linda has come to the end of her term leading the Community Quilts team, and we are looking for someone to take her place. Please consider this opportunity, which involves two sewing days a year, with plenty of help, to make quilts that can be donated to those in need. Contact Linda or Marianne if you’re up for the task!




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November Block of the Month

The November Block is now online through a link on the Block of the Month page.  Have fun with it and please let us know if you make any extra ones for yourself or other.

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