The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting

Stacked Snailz pantograph

Posted in my pantographs,news by whitelotusquilting on January 5, 2013
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Okay, so I think I figured out how you can see some of Patricia’s brilliance over at Urban Elementz.  Here’s one of our newer pantographs together, Stacked Snailz, the one I used on the little double four-patch quilt.

stacked snailz pantograph

Stacked Snailz pantograph by Marybeth O’Halloran and Patricia Ritter, available at

And while I’m remembering to mention it, I started pinterest pinboards on each of the pantographs I’ve worked on so you can see some of the designs inspirations and sources.  Here’s the one for this pantograph: stacked snailz pinterest board.

The designs are available in paper and digital forms, and if you want a particular custom size printed out, they can take care of it for you.  Patricia has a wonderful cheerful staff that’s there to help.

Here’s another pic of the sweet little double four-patch with this quilting:

double four-patch tutorial - 58

It makes a great quilting pattern on quilts that will get a lot of use and washes, well-balanced and fairly dense.

Happy quilting all!

Latest pantograph from Urban Elements

Posted in my pantographs,news by whitelotusquilting on January 4, 2013
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It was a busy year here in the studio, and personally as well.  Let’s just say that we used all sorts of insurance we haven’t for a number of years (household, car, and unemployment), and survived two tax audits.  Needless to say I’m quite glad that 2012 is over and despite my husband being out of work at the moment I feel somehow hopeful that 2013 can be a better year for us.

One of the bright spots in our troubled 2012  is the amazing Patricia Ritter at Urban Elementz.  Not only has she been a source of digitizing inspiration in her quilting designs, but she has helped me develop sketches into works of beauty.  She’s encouraging and reassuring and a general source of calm.  We have several jointly designed pantographs out now from her website and I thought you might like to see them.  Here’s the link to my designs with her: my pantographs.

Eventually I’ll figure out a way to put some of the graphics here, but in the meantime, enjoy a pic of my ‘stacked snailz’ pantograph stitched out on a little quilt (kits to be available soon on Etsy).  Happy new year all!

double four-patch tutorial - 59

Little double four-patch quilt stitched with my ‘stacked snailz’ pantograph

New pantograph available at Urban Elementz!

Posted in news by whitelotusquilting on March 27, 2012
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I’ve been working on pantograph designs with Patricia Ritter, the owner of Urban Elementz, and the first pantograph, called Nautilus, is now available on her site.  Click here to see it!

Nautilus sketches - 1

A pantograph is a pattern that goes onto a long arm sewing machine and is either stitched out by hand (by tracing the pattern with a laser) or by computer (if you have one on your machine — I don’t).  After many hours of stitching freehand I’ve developed some favorite motifs that I think make great pantographs, and I’ve been working with Patricia to develop the designs, and she’s been digitizing them.  So the patterns are available in both paper and digital formats for those of you who have mid or long arm sewing machines and want to stitch them.

More pictures and posts to come as I stitch these out on a few quilts.  Plus there has been so much going on here at the studio that I haven’t taken the time to upload pictures — just rest assured that things haven’t gone quiet for a lack of activity, but rather the opposite!  We’ve been working on American Hero Quilts over the past year and have donated almost a dozen to the cause.  There have been lots of client quilts too — and awards.  Not only did quilts that I’ve worked on win Best Machine Quilting last year and this year at the Kitsap Guild show — but also a Grand Champion at the Puyallup.

Happy stitching all!

New Kona Bay fabrics are here!

Posted in news,Sheltie staff by whitelotusquilting on November 21, 2010
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Here’s what just arrived in the studio out of the new tone-on-tone ‘Rainshadow’ line by Kona Bay:

Rainshadow tonal fabrics

Aren’t they yummy?  I love tonal prints because they’re so versatile.  They can act like solids (we call them solid-ish) or become more print-like if used with solids.  And the color gradation of the neutrals is wonderful, too, a nice palette to complement just about any color scheme.  Be sure to check them out if you come by to pick up or drop off a quilt, or if you’re here for an open studio night.

Kona Bay is also running a website fabric special on their six-yard bolts.  For a limited time you can purchase these bolts directly from Kona Bay (which is a company local to the Puget Sound area) for $36 each, which works out to be $6/yard.  This is a great backing size for a twin to double sized quilt so if you’re looking for backings you might want to check out this special.  Normally these fabrics go for $9 – $10/yard.

If you use the coupon code 7068 it lets them know where you heard about their special and also gives you a bonus gift with your purchase.

And of course it wouldn’t be fair to mention Kona Bay fabrics without showing a recent picture of Kona Bay the dog :).  Finally, a picture of her without her ears back!

Kona Bay the Sheltie

Introducing the ‘Behemoth’ Quilt-Along BOM

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM),news,White Lotus Quilting studio by whitelotusquilting on September 30, 2010
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We had so much fun with the 2009 Block of the Month (BOM) by Thangles that we’ve decided to do it again this year!  Times two!

Starting in October 2010 we’ll have the 2010 BOM by Thangles as well as a quilt pattern for more experienced sewers called ‘Beige Behemoth’ by Julie Owens of Big Horn Quilts.  Okay, I have to admit I haven’t finished either sample yet but it’s sure been a busy summer (you can tell by how infrequently I’ve been updating this blog — very busy means no updates!).

The Thangles BOM’s patterns are released month by month and cost $1.00 (plus sales tax) for the pattern AND fabric.  This year I’m using beautiful batik sprays for the fabrics.  You need to be local to the Puget Sound area to pick these up each month here at the studio; their exclusive BOM is not offered via mail or online.  This is a great pattern for beginners and a fabulous way to get your feet wet with Thangles if you haven’t tried them before.  I use them all the time for my middle-school students and in almost all of my projects.

The ‘Beige Behemoth’ BOM will work a bit differently — we’re going to do it as a quilt-along.  Here’s a picture of Julie’s awesome pattern, surrounded by fabrics that might make it into my quilt (obviously mine is more or less in aquas, not beiges!):

Beige Behemoth BOM pattern

Here’s a link to the pattern at her Big Horn Quilts on-line shop: Beige Behemoth.  Julie is a former engineer — like me — and I just think her pattern is pure genius.  All 12 months of the BOM are included in the one pattern so at $14.00 it’s a total deal.  The twin-sized quilt as shown is 70″ by 90″ but you can easily enlarge it to queen size 96″ by 96″ if you want a bigger quilt.  She suggests starting with 10 fat quarters — in the same color family if you’re doing a monochromatic version — with an assortment of light, mediums, and darks.  The twin size as shown takes about 30 fat quarters in total; the larger queen-size will take about 40 fat quarters.

I asked Julie for permission to blog about my adventures making up her pattern and she graciously agreed, provided I did not include any sizing details.  I’ve started a photostream on flickr that documents the steps I’m going through for each block, which you can get to by clicking on the picture above.  Remember that I won’t include any of the sizes in the descriptions, so if you would like to sew this quilt and join us in the quilt-along, you need to buy the pattern for the specific details, and reward the designer for her hard work.  Also because I’m a Thangles and other gadgets geek I’m not always completing the blocks according to her directions, but I wind up with the same results.  If you have any questions about what I’ve done just e-mail me.

The Behemoth has large blocks made up of several smaller component blocks.  Each month I’ll post a photo with a link to the flickr photostream with that month’s blocks.  If you’d like me to include pics of your blocks, too, just send them to me in e-mail and I’ll post those too.  It will be fun to see how all the different colors develop!

During the course of the Behemoth I’ll be using 2″, 3″, 4″ and 6″ finished Thangles.  I’ll also be using the Lazy Girls Flying Goose X4 ruler, the Lazy Angle ruler, the Square in Square ruler, and a few rulers I’ve had custom cut for me.  I’ll also be using standard rulers 6″ by 24″ , 6.5″ by 24″, 6.5″ by 13″, and 2.5″, 3.5″, 4.5″, 5.5″ and 6.5″ squares.

If you’re local to the Puget Sound area, I have several copies of the pattern on hand, just e-mail me.  If you want the 4 sizes of Thangles to go with the pattern, I’ll toss in one pack for free.  If you want any of the rulers I’ve used and can’t find them at your local store let me know and I’ll see what I can bring in for you.

Remember that I’m the ‘gadget’ librarian for the Kitsap Quilters Guild, which most months meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month in Poulsbo.  We have most of these rulers in the library if you’re a member and would like to check them out.

I’ve updated the gadget library page on the blog here, so now it reflects the guild’s holdings.  Also I’ll be adding pages for basic quilt units construction, so be sure to check for new pages, especially if you’re unsure about how to sew a particular component.  There will also be a page here for each BOM.  If you’re local to the Puget Sound area and want to come and sew here in the studio, check the BOM page for open studio sewing dates.

Happy sewing all!

Thangles are here! And Buck-a-block is too!

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM),news by whitelotusquilting on November 17, 2009
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Okay, fabric wranglers, we’ve finally got all of the Thangles triangle paper sizes in for your piecing convenience.  There’s a new pegboard wall in my studio with Thangles and patterns as well as fabrics from Sew Batik and Kona Bay.
Sewing with Thangles

Never sewn with Thangles before?  No worries.  They are simple, easy and fun.  The paper makes it easy to sew half-square triangles accurately so that your quilt blocks are nice and square when you’re done.  Well, that is, if you get that little thing called a quarter-inch seam under control :).  (think of the quarter-inch seam like a medical or spiritual practice, something you do all the time and constantly improve but may never achieve complete mastery, rather than something you’ll conquer in an evening, and it will save your sanity!)

You can find a video at the Thangles home page that shows you how to sew with them, and how to press and trim them afterwards.  Plus there are some great pre-packaged patterns that I’m also carrying, that contain the triangle paper and the pattern, that are featured on the site.

Thangles also produces a block of the month program that their shops can host, so I picked that up as well.  It’s called the ‘buck-a-block’ because the customers get the fabric and pattern for each of the 12 blocks for a dollar each (plus sales tax).  Not much of a money maker for me, but a great opportunity for my clients to play with the Thangles paper and see how they like sewing with it.  And if you have fun with the paper, then you might sew patchwork more, and there might be more finished quilt tops in the universe!  All good things for a longarm quilter.

You can see the 2009 Buck-a-block quilt here.  Be sure to click on the alternate colorway so you can see how different the quilt can look based on the fabric you choose.  Here at my studio my middle-school sewers and a handful of my quilting clients are already making blocks of the month, and each person has chosen a different fabric.  Here are the first two blocks in the black/white/color scheme I chose:

Thangles BOM quilt 2009

Thangles BOM quilt 2009

One more picture, of the finished quilt top:

Thangles BOM quilt 2009

If you want to see more, here’s a link my Thangles photo album on flickr, including some pics of sewing with Thangles.  I wouldn’t want to sew triangles without them!

Interested in Thangles patterns or the Buck-a-block quilt?  There’s still time to jump in.  Just e-mail me and I’ll send you the details.

Happy sewing, all!

Coming soon: quilting gadgets central :)

Posted in gadgets,news,Quilting tips and techniques by whitelotusquilting on July 29, 2009

I just became the gadget librarian for our local quilt guild — the Kitsap Quilters Guild — and figured it was about time that I let everyone in on a little secret — I LOVE quilting gadgets.  I don’t buy them all, even though I’d love to.  But I do have quite a few in the studio and there are several that I rely on.  And some I don’t use at all, even though I thought I would.  Maybe those will get donated to the guild :).

What are quilting gadgets?  They are the tools that make the quilting task at hand easier and more pleasant to complete.  And for the bonus plan: they make the task more accurate.  Maybe it’s the engineer in me (that’s my technical training) but I do love efficiency of design as well as a pleasing aesthetic.

So over the coming weeks I’ll feature various gadgets available in our guild’s library for checking out, as well as the ones I have in the studio.  I’ll show you how I use them as well as give you the references on the Web for further help and instruction.

Think of my studio as a quilting laboratory where discoveries are made every day (which they are).  So much goes on here every week that it’s hard to chronicle but I’ll do my best in the spirit of expanding the boundaries of quilting into the ordinary world.

And whatever tools help puts more finished quilts on beds, tables and walls, I’ll count as a successful gadget.

Meet the new staff member

Posted in news,Sheltie staff by whitelotusquilting on March 5, 2009

When I first started my business, I jokingly added a ‘staff’ section to the navigation bar on my website.  If you click on it, there’s a whole section of dog pictures.  They’re my administrative assistants, order-takers, greeters, and sometimes take over the filing too.  They insist on frequent snack breaks :).

We’ve added a new puppy to the mix.  Her picture is featured on last week’s Kona Bay Fabrics blog, because her name is, well, Kona Bay.  And we definitely need some kind of caffeine to keep up with her!


Kona Bay the tri-color Sheltie puppy

Kona Bay the tri-color Sheltie puppy

Intelligent Compu-quilting?

Posted in news by whitelotusquilting on October 17, 2008
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One of the things I noticed at Innovations this year was proportionally more quilts with computerized stitching on them over last year’s show. I’m not sure how I feel about this. While I’m happy for the computer owners — they’re always writing about how much time and effort the computerized stitching saves them — I also wonder what that means to the state of the art of quilting.

Quilting began like fried rice and pizza — leftovers that were reused primarily within the family. Quilters were used to making do with whatever scraps were to hand, and could make a quilt from workclothes and flour sacks, sitting down at night, fitting in the hand-piecing with the mending. So at its roots it is a folk art, and what I mean by ‘folk’ is that it is accessible to anyone who wants to pick up a needle and thread and start sewing.

Hand vs. machine piecing as well as hand vs. machine quilting have been issues long hotly debated in the quilting world. In reality, each technique has its value and its niche. Still, there is something lost when we are too eager to mechanize something which at its inception was about personal expression.

I was really excited about the idea of embroidery machines when they first became popular and in our house we bought a combination sewing and embroidery machine I thought I would use a lot. One of the things I discovered was that it was a fun creative outlet to pick colors and watch the machine sew — but also that I didn’t like being reduced to the machine’s technician, only there to push the buttons, thread each color, hoop and unhoop, snip all the floats, etc. The most rewarding part for me is actually the stitching itself, and by watching the machine sew, I was robbing myself of some of the satisfaction.

That said, there are some great uses for embroidery. I love embroidering words to work into art quilts, like a fabric collage. Glow-in-the-dark thread makes a special statement in any quilt, especially one that will be used on a bed. But I don’t enjoy sitting in front of the computer and futzing with the designs. So I stick to the simple stuff.

I suspect that if I ever had the money together for a computer quilting system, I’d probably stick to the simple stuff, too. But I admire the people who creatively use the most complicated designs and produce real show-stopping quilts. Sewing machines are, after all, power tools for women, and it’s up to us to decide what machines to use in which circumstances to produce the results we’re after.

SewBatik Fabrics coming soon

Posted in news,White Lotus Quilting studio by whitelotusquilting on October 13, 2008
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I went to Innovations 2008 yesterday, at the Tacoma Convention Center. Innovations is a machine quilting trade show and exposition, and the only show of its kind on the West Coast. While there are plenty of classes for the education-minded, there’s also lots of great vendors. I usually only get there on Saturday, and check out the wares.

I brought home a big pile of thread from Superior (So-Fine and King Tut, yum!), pantograph patterns from the Pattern Man and Cindy Roth, and a few odds and ends, including a Megan Best ruler, and a wonderful leaf quilting pattern book by Kim Stotsenberg. Also I signed up for SewBatik’s Longarm Associate program, which means that in about three weeks I’ll have some terrific samples on hand for my customers to choose from when ordering from SewBatik.

SewBatik makes the largest collection of 108″ wide batik fabrics that I’ve seen anywhere, and I love the way they’ve coordinated their 45″ wide batiks to go with them. Plus there’s flannel batiks, silk batiks, color graduated batiks, pattern graduated batiks… you get the picture. They have great kits — I’ve seen them all made up — and are small, personable company. Their fabrics are available through longarm machine quilters and online, but not in fabric stores.

I’m excited about having that much choice when it comes to quilt backings. Don’t get me wrong — I love pieced quilt backings, too — but when you don’t have a lot of time it’s great to be able to cut one huge piece to use for the back.

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