Gender Kisses


One of my favorite songs is “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo and the Bunnymen. One of the verses is ringing true in a new way the last week or so, as it points out that gender is two sides of the same coin, we’re all in this together:

“She’ll be my mirror
Reflect what I am
A loser and a winner
The King of Siam
And my Siamese twin
Alone on the river
Mirror kisses
Mirror kisses”

Recently, I posted the article on Men and Quilting. My temper was high. Commenters tempers were high. Other blogger’s tempers were high. At first, I was worried that my piece wouldn’t do as I hoped, but then it started to happen! I started to be able to communicate with people one on one.

One of those people, was Molli Sparkles. I think we managed to come to a common ground – not agreement on all things – but rather a place from which we could really have a dialogue on the bigger than the quilt world gender issue. Despite how my article came off, my intent at heart is a community that works together and in which gender doesn’t really matter. I’m also a big believer that you need to be the change you want to see in this world, and that you have to start from where you are. I’m a quilter, so why not start with quilting?

So I told Molli that I had an idea. I wanted us to each make a quilt with equalizing rules, to see whether or not gender plays a role in quilt making itself.  Molli readily agreed to this experimental challenge. (I would actually love to have an entire exhibition on this idea, perhaps if this small test challenge goes well it could be a reality?)

We set some parameter rules to level the field:

  • Use the Raspberry Kiss block tutorial (based off the block “Pattern without a Name” attributed to Nancy Cabot) in any way we choose
  • The finished quilt must be approximately 40″x40″
  • Solid fabrics only

Men and Quilting: Follow Up


Wow! I didn’t know my previous post would take off quite like it did! I wanted to do a follow up sooner, but I decided I needed time to process all the comments and posts from other blogs first. Most of you put forth passionate comments (actually, on the blog here itself, there was only one person whose comments I almost did not approve. I won’t dignify those comments with responses, however.) So the first thing I want to say is THANK YOU for conversing!

I am the sole writer for IndieQuilter, and as such I am lacking an editor. I regretted that immensely after this post, as many things I said were taken differently than I had intended. The biggest issue seemed to stem from the fact that so many of you read my words as being absolutes (i.e. All men, always, never, etc.) When in fact I at heart, meant some, many, sometimes, etc. These were unintentional omissions.  I don’t usually THINK in absolutes (or at least I really try not to), so it honestly didn’t occur to me that it would be read as such. (Hindsight is 20/20.)

I apologize that my omissions gave the impression that I mean ALL men do this, that or the other. I regret that it resulted in many becoming angry and therefore shutting down the conversation before it began! My intent was, to open a dialogue about an issue I care and feel deeply about; and I fear I may have lost the opportunity for some really great allies!

My other biggest regret was referring to Irene Berry as “honey”. I shouldn’t have used a word that I don’t like to be called. My apologies to her on this!

Despite the bits I regret, I do not regret the post as a whole. It has opened conversations with MANY of you, male and female for which I am grateful! There clearly is a lot of work and effort to be made in this gender equality issue.

There are two things that makes me very sad, that I want to share with you. I received numerous private emails and messages from women about this post. ALL (I am intentionally using an absolute here, because it was unanimous) of the private messages I received from them were messages of support and agreement with my post. My anger was clearly shared. However, they expressed over and over again that they fear speaking out. They fear being attacked. They fear their fellow women turning on them. They are too afraid to speak out, and declare that they want equal opportunities.

The second, is that most of the men who agreed that there can be an unfair advantage for male quilters to get press and fine art exhibitions, would also do so only privately! THEY weren’t talking publicly either!

THIS is where my passion lies. It lies in feeling a strong desire to open lines of communication between men and women in the quilt industry. Yes, I want to change the world, but I have to start where I am at. And my world, is the quilting world. Perhaps I went about it in a less than polite way in my initial post. However, I don’t regret my post, and if I went back I would still post it (with slight editing.) The people I have met, male and female, have made it infinitely worth it.

As a woman, who has had her fair share of sexist experiences in this world, it can be incredibly difficult to say to the other sex, “I need your help!” The need for equality and the need for help in getting it, feel counterintuitive. It is extremely hard to ask men for help in this; we’d love to fix it by ourselves. The fact of the matter is, however, that if we get the equality we so desperately want, we are going to have to work together anyways. I’m not afraid anymore to say, “MEN! We NEED your help here! We NEED your voices, your support, your activism!” We want to be “up there” with you working together! I can do so with the knowledge that asking for help does not somehow prove I’m weak. (I’m appreciative of the revelations the past week’s conversations have brought me!)

Some interesting things are going to be happening as a result of these new conversations, and I hope you’ll watch early next week for the announcement of one of them. It’s a project I am VERY excited about!

In closing:

  • Thank you for those that contributed to the conversation; even if we were in disagreement
  • My apologies for the impression I meant ALL
  • My apologies to Irene Berry for calling you honey (I’d still like to see more thought in choosing the names for the male exhibitions!)
  • My sincerest thank you to; the one working behind the scenes, the forefather of quilting who took the time to write me an extremely thoughtful and helpful email, to the women who came to my aid expressing in more eloquent words what I was trying to say, and to the man that is brave enough to embark on a whacky idea with me!
  • Thank you, all of you, that take the time to read my blog!

Stephanie Forsyth
The IndieQuilter


Awesome Gifts for Quilters

Clover Wonder Clips – At your local quilt store!

For years (and years and years) I was dedicated to the old school quilt clips that looked like metal hair clips. Flaun of I Plead Quilty finally talked me into trying them, and boy am I glad she did! These things are awesome! They are strong and can hold even pretty thick layers of fabric together (perfect for a full binding!) It eliminates pin holes and puckering. I also use mine to hole quilt blocks together for storage/transport, and to clip projects together.

Ideal Quilt GuideDSCN0829__38613.1403641561.1280.1280.JPG

I can’t thank Karen McTavish enough for showing me this ruler. I use this on my sit down APQS George machine for straight line ruler work and it’s honestly the best I have ever used. There is a (washable!!) sticky back to this ruler that makes it grip like no ruler or sticky tapes I have ever used. It leaves no residue, there is no gummy build up, and when it starts to be less “tacky” from lint/fiber buildup you just spritz it with your favorite multi-surface cleaner to loosen the lint, then rinse with warm water and let it dry. (If you’re in a hurry to keep quilting, you can use a hair dryer to speed the process!) I started with the longer ruler, and just ordered myself the short one too. I suspect for a domestic quilter, the smaller size would be most efficient. (Please don’t negate getting this just because you use a sit down or domestic machine, these things are invaluable, trust me!)

Gift Any Class on Craftsy!logoMed

Craftsy is great! Not only can your quilter take quilt classes, but there are a myriad of other classes available in drawing, painting, photography, cooking, knitting, jewelry, gardening and more! You can gift anywhere from one to three classes in their “Gift Any Class” option.

Aurifil Thread Collections

I’m a little obsessed with these things. They are well thought out color sets, and come in a fantastic case that stacks well with more sets. Some sets have all the same weight thread, and some have mixed weights within the same set. Seriously, I LOVE these things. I wish I had one of each set to be honest! Aurifil has a hand Where to Purchase page.

Needle Threader


This is actually going on my wish list. Apparently even though the rest of me is still 27 (*cough*), my eye are ageing at a rapid rate.

Don’t Forget Someone!

Someone you might forget at the holidays? Your long arm quilter. This is the craziest time of year for them, and they are busting their asses to get your quilts done in time for you to bind them and gift them as Christmas gifts.

Their arms/backs/necks/feet/you-name-it are sore, after all those hours at their machine slaving endlessly on quilts for us all! Why not gift them some nice epsom salts or bath bombs to soothe those aching bodies this winter?

Or what about some nice new squishy socks! Sock Dreams has some fun and fancy socks to keep those tootsies warm and stylish (and maybe even funny!)

Chocolate. Need I say more?

Cash/Tip. Maybe you tip every time, or maybe not at all. The holiday season though, it might be nice to put a little extra in the envelope when you’re quilter has just busted out 2-3 quilts just for you during this holiday season. I mean, how awesome is she?

Can’t afford a gift, or don’t know her well enough? Then perhaps Maddie Kertay of Spool/BadAss Quilters Society has the perfect gift idea for you!

“I would like to know what my quilting has meant to them. What they have loved. Just a card or letter or hell, an email with real words would be so wonderful.”

In fact, regardless of another gift, why don’t we make sure and write a quick note to our quilters and let them know that what they do is very much appreciated!

What will you gift the quilter in YOUR life? What do YOU have on your wishlist this year?

Advice for Beginning Quilt Makers

In interviews, people are often asked “What do you wish you had known when you first began xyz…?” Let’s pretend that someone just asked “What do you wish you had known when you first started quilting?”

Quality Matters:

Quality of your fabric really matters. Yes, sure it’s nice to get three times as much for the same price, but you’ll pay for those savings somewhere along the line eventually. When I first began quilting I would buy the cheapest fabrics, partly because I was poor but also because I was afraid to invest in my quilts in case I didn’t like them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like many of those quilts. Not because of my skills, but because the fabrics were either damn ugly, or felt gross to touch. (You know the kind I mean…the kind that feels like it’s mixed with a plastic feed sack.) If I had just invested a few more dollars per yard, I bet I would have loved my first projects.

Potholders can be your best friends:

 When my mom was teaching me to quilt, she got me a book on potholders. It’s probably a good thing too, because I get bored pretty easily. (I still loathe making a gazillion of the same block for a quilt!)

Using one of the potholder books, I was able to learn the process of making blocks (measuring, cutting, sewing a scant quarter inch, trimming, half square triangles, you name it!) I also learned a LOT of different blocks. I did not get overwhelmed in my projects, because I only had to make one little 12.5″ block. I could stop after that if I wanted, or I could go on and cut a bunch more out to make multiples.

I will forever be grateful that my introduction wasn’t doing full sized lap quilt or anything. In fact, it would be years before I learned how to actually QUILT! I spend a good 2-3 years just piecing and doing block exchanges online!


The Scant Quarter Inch:

You can break a lot of rules, but I don’t recommend breaking the quarter inch rule.

I quickly switched over from traditional quilts to art quilting, art is in my nature. But one of the things I took with me, was a dedication to the quarter inch rule.

You might want to tell yourself that it doesn’t matter..and that following the SCANT quarter inch rule is just too much work. If you don’t grasp and adapt to this though, you’re not going to get any pattern out there to work for you without a lot of damn converting and trial and error. This HAS to be accurate, or being slightly off on each seam, is going to make a HUGE different at the end of a row. Messing up the scant quarter inch becomes a problem of exponential proportions. Trust me.

Those are probably my top ones. What about you? What things do you wish you had known before you started making quilts?

Yes, you can.

One of my biggest pet peeves is, “I can’t.” Seriously, I can’t stand that ideology. Before you think ,”Well, isn’t she just Miss Perfect who does everything right and has confidence”, I’ll tell you that I have often had that loathsome phrase fall from my lip. I hate it when *I* say it, even more than hearing it from others.

“I can’t free motion quilt.”
“I can’t figure out fractions.”
“I can’t design my own quilts.”
“I can’t learn to knit.”
“I can’t learn a new skill at my age.”

My big one for a long time?

“I can’t parallel park.”

Years and years and year (and probably years) ago, I was taking my driver’s license test (for the second time.) When it came to the parallel parking, I started crying because I knew I couldn’t do it. I had tried and tried while still learning and just could not get my brain to process it all in the right order to park the damn car. You have to understand, I had initially failed my driving test when I was sixteen years old. (That’s a whole other story!) In this story, I was now TWENTY years old. I had kept up my learner’s permit the entire time from 16-20 to avoid paying to take the class again. So, this driving test guy knows this. I’m still thankful for what he did that day.

He saw me crying and said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I can’t do it. I can’t parallel park. I panic every time and and the instructions all boggle together and I mess it up.” I must have looked and sounded dreadful, because what he did next was nothing short of a miracle.

“I will let you pass, if you promise me that you will never parallel park.”

Now, obviously making me promise to not learn how to do a skill in driving that can make getting around much easier is not that great of a thing. But at the time, it is what I needed. Getting my license started a process of finding a confidence and autonomy that I had not previous known. A process that led to November 16th, 2015. The day I freaking parallel parked a mothertrucking car. Not JUST a car, my Honda CRV.

I was meeting Flaun of I Plead Quilty for lunch, and there was only one spot left in an insanely busy Minneapolis parking lot. It was raining. The spot was barely big enough for me to fit. I just did it. I did it without thinking about how to do it really. And I did have to edge back and forth to fix it a bit once I was in there. But I damn well did it. (And I did it again a week later too!)

I think it helped that both times I was alone in the car. I panic when people are watching, and/or trying to “help”. But all the knowledge I needed was in my brain, I just needed the right moment and atmosphere to process and access it.

How does this relate to quilting?

When people are beginning quilters, they often say that they can’t do it. That they will never be as good as their teacher or idol. But, they are observing, taking classes, reading, looking at Pinterest boards of quilting, they are absorbing the information and knowledge they need to quilt. What they REALLY mean is that they can’t do it right now, that they aren’t as good as so-and-so yet. But one day, they will be at their machine, their mind will relax and settle a little and the next thing they know, they will be free motion quilting like a madwoman (or madman!) They will do it when their mind and body are working in synchronicity, they will get it when it’s just the right time.

So please, try not to say “I can’t” and stop there. Change your dialog to, “I can’t do that yet.” It’s so much more encouraging, and will likely help quicken your journey to mastering that new skill!

You Must Have a Lot of Patience


Cartoon by Stephanie Forsyth

As a quilter/knitter/crocheter I hear this a lot. I get it, to someone who has never done it, it must seem like an overwhelming task to make something from scratch. They see all the tiny fabric pieces, or the little knits and purls and just see time consumption and frustration.

I am still bewildered every time someone says, “You must have a lot of patience.” You can ask anyone who knows me (especially anyone who has ridden in a car I am driving), and they will tell you I’m probably one of the least patient people on the planet (with one of the filthiest mouthes.) And for the most part, I am a huge instant gratification personality, despite my trying to work on that. (I mean, come on…it takes patience to change a personality trait and we’ve just established I like instant gratification!)

The thing is, I love doing these things, so it doesn’t feel like I am exercising patience at all. To me, patience is more like suffering through something that isn’t really pleasant (like driving in rush hour traffic or listening to the ‘quilt police’ bitch and moan.) It makes the process sound like it’s stressful. For me, at least, that’s not the case. I suppose there are some techniques or quilts that have challenged me frustrated me while learning them, but then, I would be more likely to use the word perseverance than patience.

I get it though! I know I have looked at people that do other things that look tedious to do from my perspective. But I know from my own experience, that if that it’s their passion, they aren’t feeling that way when they are in the throws of creation. In fact, when I am in that mode, it’s as if time is standing still. When I start quilting a quilt that I really love, six or eight hours can pass before I realized it’s time to eat and settle for the night.

It’s all about loving what you’re doing. It’s about doing what you love. I love quilting, and knitting and drawing. Those activities are invigorating, time skewing and make me feel awesome.

Do you feel that quilting means you’re a person with greater patience? Do you get told this often too?

The Log Cabin Block: Mummy’s the Word?

I will admit that I am a knowledge geek. If someone poses a question about something and we don’t know the answer, I am the first to whip my phone out like a gun at the O.K. Corral to look it up. In fact, just in writing this first paragraph I have fallen into the trap of looking up the O.K. Corral phrase, which I had never given any thought to before when using it verbally. In case you’re wondering, wikipedia starts out with this: “The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a 30-second gunfight between the semi-outlaw group the Cowboys, and lawmen, that is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West. The gunfight took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.”

I digress.

I was looking at a quilt I made for an exhibition I took part in, for an MQX show many years back. It’s a Log Cabin quilt. I realized that all I knew about the block was that I’d always heard the center was red to symbolize the fire in the hearth of the cabin. So, I looked it up and found a nice article on that talks about the Log Cabin design. Turns out, they might have a much longer history than pioneer days even!

In the early part of the 19th century the British found thousands of small animal mummies when they began to open pillage the tombs in Egypt. The linens wrapping the small animals were wrapped in had the log cabin design on them. Sadly, a huge number of these mummies were sent back to England where they were distributed to farmers to use as fertilizer. (When you wonder why we are now slaves to our cats, I think information sheds *cough* some light on the situation. Pun fully intended.) The article points out that perhaps this is how the log cabin design initially came to be in our collective knowledge for quilts.

There are a couple other theories too, but I really want to just believe and go with the cat version. But then, I am a crazy cat lady.

31 Days of Blogging: It Begins!


My friend Cheryl Sleboda has put forth a challenge:  “31 Days of Blogging”. What better time to commit to and prove your dedication to our blogs than over the busiest month of the year for most of us? I know I have gotten behind on my blogging, due to the classes I have been taking. However, I have even more classes coming up, but I still need to keep things going here. (Perhaps if I were able to limit myself to 15 minutes on social media a day like Cheryl, I’d get more done? Really Cheryl?? 15? Clearly you’re a goddess.)

Many days will be super light in content, perhaps even just inspiring photos from around my house and neighborhood. I had considered turning my blog into a sort of “Morning Pages”, but then realized that no one needs to be tortured by that sort of running inner commentary. There will be some bigger posts thrown in here and there, and I will also likely have a post coming up on the APQS site soon. Hopefully this sitting down to write every day will also spark first drafts for the future I can come back to, and hone and sharpen.

Today, I have set up a nest in my bedroom with my big monitor, bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth mouse (and laptop borrowed from hubby since I blew out the one cord that could hook MY laptop up to my monitor, don’t ask, I’m technologically dumb.) Yesterday brought a “snowstorm” (a disappointing amount of snow fell), but I have a beautiful few to either side of me of freshly fallen snow. Snow and freezing drizzle predicted all day today, so it’s a good day to wrap myself up into a lap quilt and soldier through some writing!

If you want to join this challenge, head over to Cheryl’s and sign up your blog! If you use social media, use the hashtag #31dayblogchallenge.

Quilting Inspiration: Pencil cases

So, you’re tired of stippling and straight line quilting, and you want to come up with some new? Something more “you”? But where to start? This week, I will begin to show you how simple objects around your home can hold the inspiration for a new quilting motif design.

This week, I used my pencil case as a starting point for a new design.


Specifically we are going to focus in on the orange part there. I have put together a short video showing how I worked through the process! Watch as I move from sketching, all the way to sitting down at my APQS George machine to quilt! I hope you enjoy.

Some important things to remember.

  • There is a difference between using something as inspiration and completely copying it.
  • You may need to really look at a complicated design and break it down – possibly even getting more than one design idea from one inspiration
  • Inspiring imagery is all around you: the pattern on your couce, a tissue box, packaging for items, magazines, everywhere!

I would love to hear about where you have found quilting inspirations!

10 Reasons I Love Quilting


  1. Fabric: Touching it, buying it, looking at it, designing it.
  2. The awesome I can meet at meeting, shows, in stores, online.
  3. I will stay warm and have a trade-skill in the zombie apocalypse.
  4. I get to buy from small shops (even if they are online shops), which helps THEIR dreams come true too!
  5. It’s a link to the past and I am content that I am carrying on quilting traditions that have spanned generations.
  6. Quilt shows! From the small local shows, to big shows, to Quilt Market itself!
  7. I have a perfect excuse to binge watch television when I have hand stitching on my bindings to do.
  8. The complete satisfaction from creating a perfect half square triangle.
  9. The trill of seeing my finished quilts!
  10. Did I mention fabrics??

What are YOUR favorite things about quilting? I’d love to hear about them.