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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quilting Friendships

I just came back from a three-day retreat in Watersmeet, Michigan. What a beautiful setting! It is in the upper pennisula of the state about 45 minutes from Lake Superior. The trees were all shades of orange, red, and yellow and a little bit of snow fell on the rooftop of the retreat center on Saturday morning. (The flies are a whole other story!) There is nothing more peaceful than being in the country with quilters!

I am always amazed at how strong friendships are among quilters and how well they all get along. If you have ever worked in an office, you know that anytime you get a group of women together, they become caddie and have trouble getting along. It was like that when I was a little girl. I could have one friend over, but if there were three girls, one always seemed to feel left out (and it was usually me). I have never felt this way or noticed this among quilters.

I have always been welcome with open arms whenever I teach or lecture at a guild meeting. I never feel out of place because I am with people that love quilting as much as I do. There is nothing better than teaching a group of people that are truly interested in what you have to say. It is nothing like being in the general education setting (or special education setting for me) where you have students that would rather be anywhere but school.

What is so wonderful about quilters, is how giving and encouraging they are with each other. One of the quilters in the group had heath issues and one of her friends was cutting the pieces for her block while another one was helping her piece it when she wasn't feeling well and had to go lie down. The friend did not want her to feel too far behind the other quilters in the group so she finished a block for her. There was also a fourteen year old girl who was making her first quilt. She wasn't new to sewing, she had made many purses and other things, but had not made her first quilt yet. The workshop that I was teaching was my St. Louis Star block and it was not an easy first block. Everyone was so encouraging of her efforts and each one of her blocks was better than the one before. She felt so good about herself by the end of the weekend as did other quilters who had struggled at first with their first  block because of the comments and praise from all of the quilters at the retreat. I don't know of any other group that is so willing to help each other. Of course, there was some competition among the quilters to see which one could finish the most blocks, but  it was usually done with humor. (A little competition is healthy!)

I have also found this willingness to help true with national quilt teachers. I have had lots of help along the way from well known teachers like Marti Michell, Sharyn Craig, and Libbie Lehman. They were all so encouraging of my journey to becoming a national teacher and always took time to answer any questions I had or calm my nerves at my first large teaching engagement (Houston quilt festival).

I love doing retreats because I get to spend more time with the quilters and see what they do with the skills that I teach them. This was a particulary good workshop in that many of the quilters felt comfortable enough to take off on their own to create something other than the pattern they were given. It makes me feel good  that I was able to encourage self-creativity after teaching the general instructions about the block. It also gives me a chance to get to know the quilters better. I always come away from a retreat (or any workshop) with new friends!

Now to quilt news. One of my newest designs has been published in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. It is called Isabella and was created with Timeless Treasures Isabelle collection.
I have the fabrics on my website for sale. You can see it here: ttp://
My next blog will show you how to foundation piece using freezer paper and sewing off the foundation so that you do not have to tear off paper.

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Can't say no

I have difficulty saying no. When I started writing this I was getting organized for my state guild retreat (Missouri). (That's me dressed up for the Missouri Waltz dinner along with others partaking in the fun!) Well, the weekend has come and gone. It was a great retreat! We hold this retreat once a year in the beautiful Missouri ozarks and it is a fun weekend with workshops and a guest speaker/teacher. Billie Lauder was our guest this year and everyone thoroughly enjoyed her program and workshops. One of my good friends last year was the chairperson and asked me if I would be the co-chair, thus becoming the chair this year. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea and a way to get involved in the state guild. Right now, I am cursing myself for not saying no, because I have way too much to do to with my commissioned work for the fabric companies that are getting ready for Quilt Market. I never seem to learn my lesson, but I do believe that things happen for a reason.

When I was younger I was a shy child, not very outgoing. I never enjoyed talking in front of a large group. I became a special education teacher and I didn't have any problems talking to students, they wouldn't judge me, but talking to a group of adults made my stomach queezy. I went back to school and got my degree in Educational Psychology and now I had to speak to groups of adults. Actually going back to school as an adult (in my 40s) was one of the best things that could have happened to me.  I was no longer afraid to ask questions in class and would have other students come up to me after class and thank me for asking the question. I began living the pholosophy that there is no such thing as a "dumb" question (and I always tell my quilting students that). I also learned that if you are good at something and you are knowledgeable about your specialty area, that people listen and respect your opinion. Working in educational psychology I realize that everyone is good at something. It was my job as an educator to help kids realize their potential. Now I feel it is my job to help adults realize their potential as a quilter.

The next best thing that happened to me was learning to quilt in 1985. It was something that gave me confidence, so much confidence that I started lecturing to guilds. Now I had to speak in front of very large groups! It was hard for me at first. However, it seems that when I started talking about quilting, I didn't feel shy anymore and people actually enjoyed listening to me! I had a woman come up to me recently after speaking to a guild for the second time. Their guild was one of the first ones that I lectured to when I first started about 10 years ago. She told me that I had really "blossomed". That the first time I spoke I was so meek and shy and that I had come out of my shell and was more confident.

So what does this have to do with me not being able to say no? As I get older I am beginning to realize that I don't know how to relax. My husband is great at that. I have to be constantly busy doing something. Whether it is quilting, working on the computer or playing a game (on the computer). I can't seem to just sit and do nothing. I have trouble watching T.V. with my husband, not only because he is a constant channel changer, but because I find it boring. Even when I am sitting watching T.V. I am thinking of quilting; what I should be doing or what new ideas I can come up with. So when a company says that they want me to design a quilt, I can't say no. I guess I feel if I start saying no, I won't get another chance or they won't ask me again. So the pressure I feel is self-inflicted! Maybe some day I will learn to relax!

Now some quilting news. My Treasures of the
East pattern is finally up on Hoffman's website. Two other quilts are also posted, Nouveau Riche and A Spash of Color. The templates to make the Treasures and Nouveau blocks are for sale on my website. (Treasures is called Glorified nine-patch set.)


I also have another quilt published in
McCalls Quilting Holiday Issue 2009.
It's called Gingerbread Town and has a
wonderful fabric collection from
Clothworks called Peppermint Cottage.
The kit is available for sale on my website.

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fussy-cutting (not stack n cut)

Sorry for the missing posts. Things get pretty hectic for me before Quilt Market and I have deadlines to meet. I thought I'd start by giving you a sneak preview of a couple of the blocks of a quilt that will be in McCalls Quilting magazine in the spring of next year. The fabric collection is Paula Nadelstern's Nuance by Benartex ( It is made with one of my favorite blocks, New York Beauty. Both the center quarter circle and the background fabrics are fussy-cut. For those that do not know what that term means, it is cutting a fabric in the same place for each similar section to create a kaleidoscope look. You can also get this from a popular technique called "Stack 'n Whack" but I like to use templates and a set of mirrors to plan what it will look like. 

I prefer to fussy-cut the matching sections using templates instead of stack n cut because I am very particular about how the blocks should look. I don't like the randomness (if that is a word) of what you get when you stack the fabric. I use a set of mirrors by Marti Michell and my own acrylic templates to get the effect I want. Of course you can make your own set of templates with template plastic.

I like using fabrics that are symmetrical like this one because when I place the mirror on the center of the fabric pattern, I see exactly what effect I will get when I sew the sections together. Symmetrical means that if you draw a line down the center of a pattern, the left and right sides are exactly the same. The background fabric was a stripe so I had to cut a left and right orientation of the design to get the mirror effect. So, how do I get a perfect match each time? I've tried drawing registration marks on my templates but that didn't work for me.

There are a couple tricks. One reason most people do not like templates is because they never stay in place when you are trying to cut out the fabric. The first trick is to place some rolled up scotch tape on the back of the template. This holds onto the fabric well. Cut your first repeat with your rotary cutter. I use the 18mm size because it does not cut into areas that I might use for another block.

Now here is the second trick and the way each cut is a perfect replica of the original; leave the first cut on the template! Take the template with the fabric on it, find the next repeat, place the template and move it around the fabric until it disappears and is exactly on the original design. I check all the way around the template to check the edges. I continue doing this with the original cut until all of the repeats are cut out.

The background of the block was created from a stripe and I wanted to create a mirror image with the two sections (left and right) so after cutting out the first repeat, I had to turn the template upside down and cut the mirror image by matching the design on the back of the fabric to the front of the fabric. Because I cut the same place on all of the background pieces, I kept the left and right sections on the template, so I had a guide for both cuts, until all of my background pieces were cut.

If you have never tried fussy-cutting you should try this method. You can use it for squares, triangles, or eight point stars. If you really want to experiment, try other shapes. There are no rules. Once you try it you might get hooked on it like me. I specifically purchase fabrics so that I can see what kaleidoscope effects I can make. 

For more information regarding choosing fabrics, making templates, and fussy-cutting along with 9 wonderful quilts, check out my book, St. Louis Stars, published by Kansas City Star Quilts, available on my website, Templates and Marti Michell's mirrors for this block are also available.

Everyday, do what you love and love what you do. 'Til next time, Toby

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fabric choice for beginners or those who hate picking colors

To continue with yesterday's theme about fabric selection, I thought I would talk about picking fabrics. This seems to be the most difficult thing for most beginner quilters (and even some veteran quilters) to do. Quilt kits are great for those not wanting to bother trying to pick colors (or for a quick project), but I think the thrill of making a quilt is to make it personal. I'm always flattered that quilters want to buy my kits, (which I have to admit is a good chunk of my income) and make a quilt that looks just like the original. But I think it is also important to be able to pick your own fabrics and colors to say that this quilt is "mine" and not just a replica of the pattern cover.

I have never taken any art classes or classes on colors theory. I just know what I like. I think that just like there are people that are tone deaf when it comes to music, there are quilters that are color blind. Not that they can't see the colors, it's that they can't see the slight variations in the tones of the colors. A person that is tone deaf can't hear the different music tones to know if someone is off-key. Their ears are not fine-tuned to hear the small differences in the musical notes. I took music lessons (piano, flute, and oboe) when I was in school and I knew when my instrument was off-key. Now I don't know if it was something I learned when playing or it was innate (I was born with it). With colors the effect is similar. There are slight variations in reds, blues, and yellows. Red is a wonderful example to show the different variations in color and the hardest to match. Some reds have more yellow, making them look orangish, some have more blue, making them look purplish. (The photo doesn't show that real well, so find some reds in your stash and look at them). These slight variations are hard to detect unless one has a sharp eye for color. If you have problems seeing that, rely on a good friend or your local quilt shop employee to help with it. Maybe from working with customers and expanding my color choices I have developed the skill or maybe I was born with it, who knows. But that is not important to you. We all have different skills and abilities and have to work with what we have.

How important is that ability? Well it depends on how particular you are. For most quilters if it matches close enough they are happy with it. You are making a quilt to please yourself or the person you are giving the quilt to. Because I do competition work, I want the colors to blend and work together perfectly. Those slight variations, to me, are blaring. But if it is pleasing to the eye to you, the maker, then you are the only one that matters. When I am teaching quilting I am asked if I'm happy with their results. More important is are "they" happy, not me. It is their quilt and they have to be pleased with the results.

So what should the average or beginner quilter do? My first suggestion is to start with a quilt pattern with no more than five or six fabrics. The more fabrics you have to pick the harder it is. Begin with a print that you love. The more colors in the print the easier it is to find fabrics to match. Remember yesterday when I said I was so proud to pick light, medium and dark prints that went together; I still pick fabrics based on that principal. After picking your print, start with the lightest and darkest colors in the print.

After that, pick two or three contrasting colors in the print. Fabric companies purposely make collections to make this selection easier because they are purposely made to go together. This is a skill that anyone can pick up. Some quilters are so afraid of picking colors they freeze up and feel that they can't do it. If you start simple it gets easier each time. So next time you are shopping for your next quilt project, take that first step. you might surprise yourself!
Just an aside: Feel free to share my tips with your friends but be sure to mention where you read it and tell them about my website and blog. It would be greatly appreciated. No images may be copied from my blog.

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til tomorrow, Toby

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What ispires me

I'm always asked, "Where do you get your ideas for your quilts". When I first started quilting, I was just like most quilters; I would get a pattern, find the fabrics (had to have a light, medium and dark) and make the quilt. My first quilts all had to match my decorating colors. I was so proud that I could pick the fabrics! Can you see something in common about the quilts and figure out the colors on my home? This was the color dejour for the mid 80s.
As my children got older and didn't need my constant supervision, I started working in a quilt shop (in 1995) and teaching quilting classes. As I started gathering fabrics for customers I began to see colors in a whole new way. I expanded my color palette and experimented with putting fabrics together not with my home colors in mind, but with colors that I liked working with. My quilts no longer had to match my home.
I wanted to challenge myself and started entering contests. I was intrigued with miniature quilts and subscribed to Miniature Quilts Magazine. (These quilts I actually finished since I could quilt them easily on my sewing machine!) They had a yearly contest, Quilts from the Heart. I had just finished designing and working with a bed size quilt for the band's mom group raffle quilt for my son's high school band, so I decided to miniaturize it, donated it to the band dinner's silent auction and enter it into the contest. I was so surprized when I received a letter from the magazine tellng me that they wanted to publish it. I was even more surprized to see it on the cover! Mine is the red, white and blue one. (The person that won it in the auction would not sell it back to me so I don't have that quilt.)

The biggest revelation about fabrics and design for me was when I started entering the Hoffman Challenge in 1996. I  realized that by starting with a fabric or collection of fabrics, I could design my own quilts to show off the fabric's designs. After winning a second place prize in the 1997 challenge I was spurred on to create and enter more contests! As I entered more contests and won more awards, in 2001 I decide to contact fabric companies about designing for their new fabric lines. P&B Textiles was the first company to take me on as a designer. Now I currently work with P&B, Timeless Treasures, Hoffman, Benartex, and RJR as a commissioned designer.

So to answer the question as to what inspires me to design a quilt.... I find that the fabric lines "talk to me" on what kind of quilt design best enhances their theme or colors. If it is a specific theme, such as Americana or Oriental, I would use a block or blocks that reflect that theme. Some fabrics scream "curved block", some "simple block" (well they don't really scream just a voice in my head). No, I'm not crazy, I don't hear voices! It's just my brain is always on design mode. I will lie in bed at night trying to think of the best way to work with a fabric group and get up in the morning with the idea clear or at least clearer. I encourage everyone to try that at least once. Even if it is looking at a fabric group and finding a pattern to go with it, instead of visa versa, you are thinking in a different way. For more about me and what inspires me take a look at my recent interviews and .

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til tomorrow, Toby

Friday, September 11, 2009

What motivates me

I am a procrastinator by nature. I have always been like that. It's not that I don't want to do the task (except when it comes to house cleaning) it's just that I have to have a motivation to do it. (Like company coming over so I have to dust!) Most people do not work well under pressure, but pressure is a wonderful motivator. If someone gives me a project to do and says "Get to it when you have a chance", there is a good chance that I will not get to it very quickly. However, if they tell me I need it by such and such a date, then I know I have to get it done by then. Now that doesn't mean that I may start on it right away.

When I was in college and the professor would give us a project to write, I would wait until a couple weeks (or days) before it was due to start writing. The stressors of needing it to be done quickly was what motivated me not only to get it done but also got my "creative juices" flowing. I can't explain why that happens but it always worked for me. I am the same way when working on a challenge or designing a quilt. The closer it gets to the deadline the more creative I get. My husband is just the opposite. When he had to write a paper, he would get it done way before it was due. He can't understand why I procrastinate. The problem I had when I did that, was that each time I would proof the paper, I would find a different way to write it and would keep rewriting it. I was never satisfied with it. If I waited until later, then I had to finally say enough!

I retired from education after 25 years of working in Special Education in 2007. The last few years I was working, I was doing two jobs, my education job and my quilting job. I would come home from work, eat dinner and then start sewing, writing patterns, or designing. I knew I had only a few hours to get my quilting jobs done since I had to work 8 hours a day in school. I seemed to get both jobs done (with not too much sleep). Now that I am retired, I don't seem to get as much done. I have difficulty focusing on doing one task at a time; I get easily distracted. That is my biggest problem with working from home. There are so many things that I can be doing besides the current project.

I think people are born with different inner "mechanisms" (for lack of a better word). Some are very organized and other aren't. Some are night people and some morning. Some are procrastinators and others are not. I have tried different ways to get myself organized, reading books, advice from people, but never seem to pick up those skills. I just don't think it is in my nature. Maybe I don't have the motivation to change. Whatever it is, I have resigned myself to the fact that that is the way I am. I still get things done. I could write myself a schedule and try to keep it but chances are I will do it for a few days and then go back to my old ways (or lose the schedule)! So, take a good look at yourself, embrace the way you are. Don't let other people tell you that you should be such and such when it isn't part of you!

Now to my latest project. I finished the top of the Hoffman quilt I was working on. I was unable take a picture of it with the borders, but I did photo the pieced top. The block is Rob Peter to Pay Paul. I use templates by John Flynn to make the quilt (which I sell on my website). I had to take time off to write a couple patterns so I did not get a chance to quilt it. It is being sent off to Hoffman today so they can quilt it for a trade show in Las Vegas next week. The fabric collection is called Treasures from the East. It is a beautiful collection of colors. As soon as the pattern is posted on Hoffman's website, I will let you know.

Well, on to my next project; working with Paula Nadelstern's new collection, Nuance for McCalls Quilting. I'll post my progress as I get it done. Take time to look at the collection on Benartex's website

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til tomorrow, Toby

Thursday, September 10, 2009

No post today

Sorry guys. Due to deadlines, I will not be able to post today. I have to work, work, work (and I'm suppose to be retired!) Come back in a couple days and I will have lots to show and tell.

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til next time, Toby

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Scant Quarter Inch?

I love teaching beginning quilters. They don't have time to develop bad habits yet! Even when I am teaching more experienced quilters one of the first questions I ask is "Does anyone know what a scant quarter inch is?" Being in a guild, I know when many member participate in the optional block or raffle quilt, where everyone is making the same block, they all come out different sizes! Why is that? Because everyone's definition of a scant quarter inch seam allowance is different. No one can tell me what it is. I think it is a mysterious number. Many books define it as one or two thread widths from 1/4". One or two? What kind of thread? Some threads are heavier than others. Can you see the dilemma?

I've taken many workshops from national teachers. Even though I teach, it is always good to see how other people teach to find better (or other) ways to do something. I'm not so stuck in my ways to say my way is the only way. I have my degree in Special Education and I have taught children who use different methods of learning; visual, auditory, tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (movement). Most quilters are visual learners and learn from observation. I learn things through a combination of visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. I can see a technique demonstrated, but until I touch it and do it, it isn't really stuck in my head. I admit that I am a terrible listener, not that I don't listen to people when they are talking, but I do not remember the information as well as when I am doing something with my hands. For example, if someone gives me directions to their house, I need to write it down (kinesthetic) and look at a map (visual). Once I drive there, I usually remember how to get there. Now if my husband does the driving, I may not remember. In that instance I was just an observer, not the doer.

Let's get back to why I brought up taking workshops from national teachers. The first time I learned a good method for getting a consistent quarter inch seam was from a class by Sharon Craig. She uses Dr. Scholl's Molefoam Pads to get a consistent seam. She recommended that you put your needle in the furthest right position that your machine will allow, measure 1/4" from the needle and place a small piece of molefoam next to the ruler. Before I took her class, I had been fighting with my quilting foot because I was concentrating too much on whether the edge of the fabric was under the foot, just outside of the foot or where it was. With this tool I was able to see the edge of the fabric and it was always touching the molefoam. I could relax and just sew, always knowing that my seam would be the same each time.

There is another reason that I do not like that 1/4" quilting foot. Many of the newer sewing machines have very wide feed dogs (those teeth under your sewing foot) and the quilting foot did not cover both feed dogs. I always felt that my fabric was not being fed evenly without the fabric touching both feed dogs. This is why I like to use my regular sewing foot with the molefoam.

The next teacher I learned about the 1/4" seam allowance from was Sally Collins. You know, that quilter who makes prize winning miniature quilts that are perfect! Her work is amazing! I purchased her video "Sally Collins Teaches You Precision Piecing" and was lucky enough to take a three-day workshop from her. She discussed an "accurate" quarter inch. Now if everyone made an accurate quarter inch wouldn't you think they would all be the same? She uses a ruler by Collins called Machine Seam Gauge (which I sell on my website). It has little holes in it, that you can stick your needle in, to measure the 1/4". So, I combined Sharon Craig's technique with the needle-right and molefoam and Sally Collins technique with the ruler and voila....a perfect 1/4" each time! Consistency is the key.

Well, got to work on writing a pattern for the quilt I'm making. Tomorrow I will discuss another topic on accuracy.

Just a little self-promotion...I am celebrating my first anniversary on my website all this month. Become a Facebook fan (link on my website) and get $5 off any purchase over $24, all this week, until Sept. 14. That is $5 off my new book St. Louis Stars. If you make a purchase, send me a message on my "Contact me" page with the words "Facebook fan". You will get a $5 refund on your purchase. Please spread the word to all of your friends to join my blog and become a facebook fan. Fans will be privey to special sales and promotions.

Everday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til tomorrow, Toby

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The right tool for the right job.

My father does woodworking for a hobby and taught me that you should always use the right tool for the right job. I believe that not all quilting tools are equal. For instance, the term "silk pins". What does that mean?
If you have been sewing for a long time you probably have some very old pins. When quilters bring those to class, to pin their delicate cotton fabrics, I pass around the pins that I use for quilting to demonstrate the difference between them (I call theirs "nails"). There is a definite "feelable" (if that is a word) difference. Silk pins is a term used for a lot of different pins. They come in different lengths and widths. I always recommend that if the pin label does not tell you what size they are (specifically the width), do not get them. It is important to get pins that are 0.5mm or less. Sally Collins recommends a 0.4mm pin which slides through even the tightest weave batik like butter. I carry both of these type of pins on my website Without these fine pins I wouldn't be able to do some of the pinning techniques that I do when piecing.
I promised I would show my unique pinning technique for piecing curves. I hope that the photos show up better than yesterdays. I am trying to learn the ins and outs of blogging and adding photos is one of those learning curves. If I can get someone (maybe my DH) to video me sewing, I will try to put in a video of sewing the curve in a few days.

The most important thing about sewing curves, in my opinion, is that the concave (inny) curve is on top and convex (outy) curve on bottom when sewing. The concave curve is the one that is more manipulable. The larger curves you do not have to clip, but as the curve gets smaller you will need to make small clips closer together. Rob Peter to Pay Paul block is a large smooth curve that is easily manipulated.

The first step is to find the center of both sections. I do this by folding each one in half, one wrong sides together and the other right sides together and making a small crease on them. I tried using pins for a long time but always got frustrated trying to get the pins on top of each other. The creases fit into each other and make it easier to match. Here is the first pinning trick.....Weave the pin to hold the two layers together in the center.

I repeat this on the beginning and end of the seam also. The problem most people have sewing curves is, that in the beginning and end of sewing, the edges tend to pull apart. By weaving the pin in and out (just like sewing) it holds the edges together better.
Now here is the second pinning trick....At the end of the seam, weave a fourth pin along the seam line (parallel to it) next to the raw edges. The two pins at the end form a "T". This pin is used to help hold the final sewing edge together and slowly gets pulled out as you get closer to the end. I leave the other pin in to help guide the edge to stay at my exact 1/4" seam allowance. (That will be tomorrow's tip of the day.)

Well, again, got to get back to my quilting. I will show you a photo of the Hoffman quilt tomorrow, hopefully almost done and will give you a tip for getting a perfect 1/4" seam allowance everytime.

Everyday do what you love and love what you do, 'Til tomorrow, Toby

Monday, September 7, 2009

I love my job!

I have the greatest job in the world! I get to see new fabrics before the general public and design great quilts with them! I am working on a couple new collections from Hoffman that are so fantastic (but aren't they all), I wanted to give you a sneak peak at the collection and the quilt that I am currently working on. The first one is called Treasures from the East. The block I am using is Rob Peter to Pay Paul.

I love designing quilts with curves. They add so much movement to a quilt. When I am teaching a class many of the quilters tell me they are afraid to sew curves. After much frustration myself in trying to keep the edges together when sewing, I have developed my own unique pinning method for perfect curves every time and I get so much satisfaction showing it to my students! After taking my class the quilters tell me that it wasn't as hard as they thought. I will post photos of this technique tomorrow.

I am the first quilter in my family. I do come from a long line of sewers. My grandfather was a tailor and my mother a home ec. teacher and seamstress. I started crafting at a young age, teaching myself to knit and crochet and then started sewing at 13. I made a lot of my own clothes. I took my first quilting class in 1985 from Jackie Robinson, who owned the local quilt shop in St. Louis, Missouri (before she became famous). My mother took the class with me. That summer I got hooked on quilting, but sadly to say, my mother didn't. I didn't start designing my own quilts until I worked in a quilt shop in 1995 and began entering contest. It was so exciting to see one of my quilts in print in Miniature Quilt Magazine and then winning a prize in the Hoffman Challenge! That spurred me on to design more.

Well, got to get back to sewing. I hope I whet your appetite to learn more about me and to see what I am working on. Please be sure to visit my website to see my gallery of quilts and lots of wonderful products.

Everyday do what you love and love what you do. 'Til tomorrow, Toby

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My first blog!

Okay, I am going to attempt to start a blog. My name is Toby Lischko. I am a quilt designer, teacher, and addicted quilter. I started quilting in 1985 and got hooked after my first lesson. I have my own company Gateway Quilts & Stuff, that I started in 1998 and a website that I started a year ago. I am now celebrating my first anniversary. I also have a Facebook fan page at Please consider becoming my "fan". I will use my blog to keep you updated about what is going on with my quilting. My FB fan page will also contain things happening on my website.
I am currently working on a quilt for Hoffman fabrics for fall market with a wonderful fabric collection called Treasures from the East. It will be a free web pattern on their website. I will post the link of it as soon as it is on their website. When I get it done, I will post a photo of it.
Like most quilters, I have many projects going on at one time. As I get a hang of this blog thing (and time to work on it), I will start adding photos of my work. I hope you enjoy reading about my quilting adventures, which get better every day!