The kind folks over at Rev.com offered to transcribe an episode for me and I decided to go with one of my favorites! You can listen or download the episode here and see photos of Kimberly’s Florida studio. Interview conducted in February 2012.
Katie: Welcome to the Katie’s Quilting Corner podcast. I’m a 20 something quilter sharing my personal journey through this fun hobby. Here notion of the previews, free pattern, cold field experiences, Corgi dog stories and life updates. Come get addicted to quilting with me, Katie.
This episode is dedicated to an interview that I conducted with Kimberly Einmo and we talked about precuts and her books and her rulers and her sewing space and there’s some really great tips in here, so I hope you enjoy it. Photos and links will be on my blog post with the show notes and also a giveaway of one of her books and one of her rulers. Take a look at that. I hope you enjoy this episode.
I’m here with Kimberly Einmo. It’s Einmo, right?
Kimberly: Einmo like Einstein.
Katie: Okay. We’re in her quilting studio. Thank you for letting me interview you finally.
Kimberly: Thank you, Katie. I was so excited that you’re here.
Katie: Me, too.
Kimberly: We’ve been talking about this for a long time.
Katie: I know. It’s been since December, I think. I’ve been trying to get this together. Both of us have had disasters.
Kimberly: Yes, hopefully now, everything is smooth sailing.
Katie: Okay. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.
Kimberly: Where to start? I’m married 23 years to my best friend, Kent and we have two boys, 17 and 13, so they keep me busy. Kent right now is working up in Washington D.C., so he commutes home every other weekend.
We’ve had a great time traveling the world and seeing the world because I’m a military wife and Kent is retired military. He was in for 23 years. We’ve been married for 23 years but he was in before we got married so we have moved 13 times in those 23 years.
Katie: Oh, my gosh!
Kimberly: I know. I’m a pro at moving (Laughing) but that’s our family. We have three cats and one dog so three rescue cats and a spoiled little puppy dog.
Katie: I met Divot earlier and Poppy.
Kimberly: Snickers is on my bed and Poppy’s upstairs hiding, so she’s the skiddish one.
Katie: I have the same with my dog, so one hides all the time.
When did you start quilting? Who got you into it?
Kimberly: In 1991, when we moved from Auburn, Florida to Washington, D.C. or the Northern Virginia area, for the first time I had sewn all my life, from the time I was seven years old making garments but never got into quilting until 1991. I walked by from the metro on my way home walking home from work. I walked by a quilt shop called Quilt and Stuff which sadly is no longer by but I walked by and I was like, “What is this?” I don’t know how I missed it my whole life. I’ve never been exposed to it. I walked in and I immediately signed up for a six week class and it was from a wonderful woman who taught all the basics, down to making your own templates, drafting your own designs, she taught things that a lot of quilters don’t spend time learning today but I’m really glad I learned.
Even though I had a full time job, before the end of that six week class, I was working at the shop as my second job. (laughing) I was, “Where has this been all my life?” I was hooked from the moment I walked into that store and worked there. It’s funny because we were pretty poor back then and not making a lot of money. I can just remember that I really didn’t have a lot of money to do extra classes. A neighboring quilt shop was hosting Friday night mystery nights and it was $60 to go. In 1991, this was a huge amount of money plus fabric. I thought, “There couldn’t do anything better in the whole world than to spend a Friday night from six to midnight with a bunch of women sewing quilts, making something.” I thought, I’ve got to do this so I convinced the shop owner to let me teach one at the shop at Quilt and Stuff. That’s how I got my start because I couldn’t afford to go to the neighboring shop’s class so I started my own and I just got hooked from there.
Katie: How was it teaching your first class? Were you nervous?
Kimberly: Scared to death because I thought I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m sure I made tons of mistakes, I’m sure but even the lady’s were really nice about it. It wasn’t long, though, I had used other published mystery patterns and the students were required to buy them. I just led them through the steps but after about four or five times, I just had a real problem with teaching someone else’s designs so I thought, “Hmm,” and I was a graphic designer by trade. I was doing that for trade association in Alexandria. On my off hours, I used Corel Draw and come up with my own designs. That’s how I came up with designing my own quilts because I felt more comfortable teaching my own patterns than using published patterns.
Katie: You were using Corel, that would just help you design the colors and the shapes and everything and figure out yardage.
Kimberly: Then I had to sit and figure out the math and that was a real challenge but I’ve always been pretty tenacious when it comes to challenges. I was just not about to say, “Quit,” on this and I thought, “I’m going to figure it out.”
Then, about that time, EQ 3 was in the shop and I bargained with the owner to let me have the software if I would get into it and then teach others.
Katie: Oh, that’s cool.
Kimberly: That’s how I got into it because again, it was pretty expensive up front. She gave me that first box of EQ 3 and I’ve been a dedicated EQ user ever since.
Katie: Are you going to do anymore EQ classes?
Kimberly: Probably not because I’ve branched out to other things but I still use it exclusively for all my designing. I couldn’t do it without it. I think it’s easier to design a quilt with EQ than to try to do it without.
Katie: On paper?
Katie: I don’t have EQ and I’ve been having to use paper.
Kimberly: It’s so easy. Now, I sit down with you and teach you how to use it. (Laughs)
Katie: Okay. I’ll have to do that when I get it for my birthday or something.
Kimberly: EQ 7 is what I’m using now and I just love it so. It makes it so easy.
Katie: Okay. What’s your favorite part of the quilting process?
Kimberly: Actually, whatever part I’m in at the moment, I really get into. I tend to run in cycles. I’ll tend to be in a cycle of when I’m designing for a book, I’ll just be in designing mode for several weeks, maybe six weeks, I’m just … I’m willing to sit at the machine and then I’ll break from that and I’m getting to selecting all the fabrics and putting the fabrics together for the quilts for a book and then I’ll start sewing and be into that mode for a while.
I think, though, the fabric selection and the color selection would probably be my favorite part. I really, I love that. I can get so inspired walking into a quilt shop and I’ll see one fabric that just jumps off the bolt or just screams at me from across the room and I’ll pick it up and I’ll carry it around with me and I’ll grab other fabrics to go with it. I just love that because I can really get enthused. I’ve designed 1,000 more quilts by doing it than I’ve been able to make. It’s easy to get inspired by fabric.
Katie: Yes. Now, you have the precuts that you’re working with a lot.
Kimberly: I love them. I just so love working with precuts. Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes are my favorites because you get a little piece of every fabric from a line and it gives you a really scrappy look to a quilt, a really interesting look without you having to do the work of combining all those fabrics.
Katie: Or matching colors.
Kimberly: Or matching colors because they’re already done. If they’re already in the roll, they’re already matched so I really love that. Then, I get to play in all those colors and by the time I’m done with that quilt, I’m ready to move onto a completely different color scheme. I really get to test the water of all different kinds and styles and genres of fabric.
Katie: Do you have a part of the quilting process that’s your least favorite?
Kimberly: I hate that part. I really do. That’s the tedious part for me so that’s not my most favorite part. Here, Miss Snickers came to say hello and you can cheat. See, she looks like a Snickers bar.
Katie: Yes, she does. She looks like my parents cat Bogart without the tortoise shell.
Kimberly: Yes, tortoise shell cat so she’s here. She doesn’t like the basting part either but actually my cats really help me in the studio and I always say that my quilts are 80% cotton and 20% cat hair.
Katie: Yes. I have Corgi hair all over my quilts.
Kimberly: They add fiber content. Look what they can do.
Katie: It’s all natural.
Kimberly: That’s right.
Katie: I hated the basting process so much I started to learn long arming.
Kimberly: Because then you don’t have to. Exactly. That’s my least favorite.
Katie: How do you keep track of all of your projects?
Kimberly: That’s a good question and I’m very organized. I’m actually a little too organized. Everything is either on chart form. I keep spreadsheets and I literally list my projects when I have a deadline, when they’re due because otherwise they become really overwhelmed trying to design for books and magazines, it’s a lot.
She’s really helping here.
Katie: Snickers is enthralled with the microphone.
Kimberly: Yes, she is. If you hear purring, it’s her.
Anyway, that’s and I really try to keep everything written down. I keep lists. I have tables and charts where I have and I keep a calendar and I really live by that calendar. Sometimes it makes me frustrated because I have so many commitments, I don’t get to just quote for fun so I just try to enjoy whatever quilts I’m working on, even if it’s for a deadline.
Katie: Did quilting change for you when you started quilting professionally?
Kimberly: It does because it becomes a business which is what it has become for me. Yes, it is harder. I still love it and it’s worth it in the end. I love it when books are released or somebody will write and say that they really loved a pattern I did or they made it or they loved reading the book just because it was fun to read. That’s the reward for me. I love that part of it but it’s some days if you don’t feel like quilting but you have a deadline and you have to make yourself get it done. That’s the hard part. It’s discipline. I do discipline myself to come in the studio every single day, sometimes very late nights, sometimes weekends to meet deadlines and sometimes I get frustrated with the actual deadlines then I think, “No, this is all good.” I can be behind a desk somewhere doing a job I really don’t like. Ultimately I just have a talk with self and say, “Put on your big girl panties and get over it.”
Katie: How many U.F.O.s do you have in your studio?
Kimberly: (Laughs) I thought that was two questions. I’m like, “Okay, where do I really answer here?” I would have to say there’s probably between 25 and 30 U.F.O.s lurking behind these closet doors and in boxes outside in the garage. Some things I started and I just realized getting into it, it just wasn’t happening or it wasn’t turning out and I hate leaving U.F.O.s but I also don’t have the luxury of finishing them if it’s not for a purpose. That sounds kind of strange but if I know if it’s not really going to amount to anything, I’d either gifted it to someone else or donated it.
Before I moved to Florida and before our last move overseas, I donated a lot of stuff to my guild as unfinished blocks and things to see if they could do something with for charity quilts only because number one, we were overweight with our household shipment going overseas and I had to lighten the load and number two because I just needed to let go of some things. Sometimes you just need to know when to just cut and run and it’s okay. This has been a really hard process for me to even come to grips with in my own mind but sometimes you just need to say, “This just isn’t what I thought it would be and I just need to cut it and move on and say, “It’s okay that this didn’t come to fruition,” and just let it go.
I have thrown a few things away that really just weren’t going to make it or I made so many mistakes in trying to machine quilt it or something, that ripping it out wouldn’t have saved it and that’s been … (laughs) I take deep cleansing breathes and move on.
Katie: Yes. I don’t know if you saw Leah Day, she burned one of her quilts. She was so frustrated.
Katie: I don’t know if you saw the video but she was so frustrated with the process and something had happened, she took the quilt outside and burned it.
Kimberly: Good for her! Good for her because sometimes you need that freeing experience. You need the freedom to move onto your next thing and get that creativity back. Otherwise, it can be like I think a ball and chain. You feel like, “Oh, I invested so much money. Oh, I invested so much time and I got to make it right.” Some quilts, no matter what you do to them, will never be right. It’s just the project for whatever reason, it won’t be right no matter how many times you rip it out. That’s when you need to give yourself permission to just cut and run. I like that burning idea. I have a little chimenea out back. I could do that, put them in there and light it up. (laughs)
Katie: I have one.
What time of day do you find yourself most productive?
Kimberly: I’ll tell you when it’s the least which is before noon. I can’t really get it together before noon so I spend that time answering emails, catching up, organizing, cleaning up, doing things like that but my really productive time is believe it or not, either late in the afternoon or any time after nine. I get a second wind about eight or 9:00 and I can be really creative up until about midnight. I think that’s because when my boys were younger, that was the only time the house was quiet and I just, that was when I could really work uninterrupted without little kids running around.
Of course, they’re older now and they’re so noisy (Laughing) but I tune them out. No, but they’re good kids but I’m really creative at night but I’ve always been a night owl so I’m very creative at night. I get a lot of great ideas about 11:30 if I’m taking a hot shower before bed, you just need to erase the day or get unwound and I’ll get a lot of good ideas in the shower.
Katie: Let’s see. Where do you stand on the prewash debate?
Kimberly: Oh, that’s a good one. I used to be a diehard. It had to be prewashed. Diehard! Before a fabric ever made its way to my stash, when it came in my front door, it went straight to the laundry room and it was pre-washed. Then, I would iron it and press with a magic sizing and put the sizing back in because I love the crispness of sizing.
Then I started working with precuts and guess what? You can’t wash a Jelly Roll. Ask me how I know. I tried. (Laughing) Not Jelly Roll was one of those things I had to. It came out of the wash as a ball of just muddled mess and I just had to discard it and I thought, I’ve got to get over this.
Since then, I have never washed a precut and I don’t wash any accompanying yardage that goes with it. I personally have never had a quilts run but I also use those Shout die catchers when I wash my quilts just to make sure. Now, they’ll come out dingy-looking but I myself have never had a problem with using precuts, even the petites.
Katie: Oh, really?
Kimberly: Yes, I’ve been okay but I wouldn’t think of washing them in hot water and I wouldn’t think of doing it without those dye catchers. They really do seem to catch because they do come up pretty gray and yucky looking but then everything’s been fine.
Katie: That’s good. I got my first petite Jelly Roll that I was looking at. I don’t know if I need to do something awesome.
Kimberly: I think it’s going to be okay. I’m sure there’s going to be an exception somewhere but I myself have not had problem and I do a lot of using petites. I love petites.
Katie: You do a lot of white background fabric.
Kimberly: I do, I do. I very rarely use dark background fabrics. I’ve not had a problem but again, cold water and no sheets, why no sheets.
Katie: Shout color captures. I always have to have a box.
Kimberly: Yes. Me, too. I just would not think of … I don’t like to mix unwashed fabrics with washed fabrics because then they really are going to get funky. Think if you keep them the same, they’re not going to have the problems.
Katie: What was the last quilting class that you took?
Kimberly: Oh, my goodness. Class. I haven’t taken one in years to be honest with you. I’m trying to think. I am signed up for a little world quilting club this month. That’ll be my first one in a long time (Laughs) but no, I just haven’t had time. I just find I just don’t have time as much as I would love to, my schedule is just jam packed. I’m a little over extended at this point and learning to say, “No, I can’t.” I always accommodate. That’s hard for me because I don’t like to say no to anybody.
Katie: Even me.
Katie: I felt bad asking for your time.
Kimberly: No, this is wonderful.
Katie: Tell us a little bit about how you became involved in publishing your own books and patterns.
Kimberly: Okay, when we were living over in Germany the first time in 2004, I had put together, to back up a little bit more, when we were traveling over there, everywhere we went, I would buy little bits of fabric. Fabric in Europe is very expensive, very expensive. It runs about 30 Euros a meter which would be 40-$45 a meter or yard which is three inches more than a yard. I’d go by little bits of it. My husband would always say, “What you going to do with that? What you going to do with that?” I’d say, “Some day, I’ll write a book.” I ended up designing mystery quotes around the city that we were visiting at the time, Paris and England.
I started thinking, “Gee. This could make a good book.” I wanted to call it “Quilt a souvenir,” and I actually got online and looked at the different publishers for the needlecraft industry such as C&T and [Pressure Place 00:19:03] and A.Q.S. and looked at, they all have publishing guidelines and they will tell you what they want to see from you when it comes to publishing.
I literally typed up a manuscript, set it up to A.Q.S., forgot about it because we were right in the middle of packing up to move back to the U.S. I got a phone call from Barbara Smith. She was the executive editor at the time. She called me and she said, “We love it. We’d love to publish your book.” I think they could hear me screaming in New York. I was so excited because I just didn’t really think it was going to come to fruition and that’s how and they published my first book which is Quilt a Travel Souvenir.
I love the people at American Quilter Society. They treat me like family. They are one big happy family there. It was begun by Meredith Schroeder and she is, her family basically all works there and they just took me under their wing and I just wouldn’t even think of going with another publisher. I’ve published three books so far. My fourth book is coming out in September, October and I already have a contract for a fifth book.
Katie: Wow, that’s exciting.
Kimberly: Yes. No shortage of things to do. (Laughs)
Katie: Has your editor stayed the same over the years?
Kimberly: No, it went from Barbara to Andi Reynolds and she’s fabulous. I love her, too. She makes me laugh. She’s the driest sense of humor. You just have to be flexible in this business because it is a business and they have a lot of ideas about what they see.
Now, they work very hard not to change the voice of my book and not to edit the way I write. They really want my own writing style to shine through but if they see something that needs improvement, they’re not afraid to tell me and sometimes we never have any disagreements but sometimes it’s a sharing of ideas that goes back and forth. “No, I don’t think this is going to work,” and they’ll be really honest and say, “You know, you’ve missed the mark on this one.” That’s good because she had my best interest at heart. She wants the book to sell well just like I want it to sell well.
I just stay open to what they have to say about it and their ideas. Sometimes, it’s clearly different, then I went into something as with the fourth book, the name got changed but it’s okay. I just roll with the punches.
Katie: Yes. Do they test your patterns and they have like [crosstalk 00:21:28]
Kimberly: Oh, yes. They do. I have a friend who tests patterns for me, too. I ask my friends to look at them and road test the designs before they even get to that point. Then, I’ve been working with Linda Lasco. She is another editor there and she does the nuts and bolts of the crossing all the Ts and dotting the I’s and making sure every little number’s right. She does the math, really works with the math. If I come up with a way to put a block together or cut a block, she’ll test it to see if there is a more efficient way to get the same number of units. We spend hours on the phone, talking about, “Is this the best way to cut it, is this the most efficient way?” They’ve been really, really great about letting me use my own rulers with my, in the methods of how to do block construction, so I provide two ways, traditional method construction and then with my set of rulers in the books. That’s really a blessing, too. Gives people a choice.
Katie: I have all of your rulers I think. All of them. I found a couple on sale, then I brought the other ones in your class.
Kimberly: Thank you.
Katie: They’re awesome. I love to use them.
Kimberly: Thank you.
Katie: How did that happen?
Kimberly: Really? It’s a very funny story. Back when my first book came out, the Quilt a Travel Souvenir in 2005, I went to Quilt Market which is the vender trade show before Quilt Festival in Houston in 2005. I was walking by the Easy Write’s booth and there was a woman standing there. There was nobody in the booth at the time but I just, in my irreverent, flippant way, said to her, “You know, you all don’t have a good Flying Geese ruler. Why don’t you make one.” She just said, “You’re absolutely right. We don’t have one. Would you design one for us?” I didn’t know it was the vice president of the company at the time. I didn’t know who she was. I said, “Well, okay. How hard can it be?” Well, let me tell you! Sixteen months later, I thought, “Okay, I’m going to research every way to make Flying Geese that there are,” because I love Flying Geese. That’s probably my favorite unit in the world to make but I wanted to research all the different ways that there was already rulers out there. There was traditional methods. The rectangle with the two squares on each side and drawing the line and those always come out wonky or you cut the points off.
I researched what was out there and I literally made notes about every method. What didn’t I like, what did I like. What works, what didn’t work. I wanted to do it where I wanted to come up with a ruler that if you got home and you lose the packaging and six months later, you can’t find the directions on how to use the ruler, it doesn’t matter so everything you need to know is right on the ruler.
The next thing I wanted to do was use colored ink instead of just black and I wanted to make it two sided. I thought, “There’s got to be a way to have an acrylic two sided ruler,” so I have magenta, pink as my side A and if you flip the acrylic ruler upside down, then the mint green is side b and those words and letters face forward and you can read them and the magenta pink are upside down. There really is a side a and side b to my rulers and I like that because it’s different. I was the first one to do a two sided acrylic ruler in the market. I was really proud of that.
Katie: It comes in very handy. I’m making your rainbow Lone Star right now from your book. You have a lot of left over stuff, so I’m having to cut the rest of my strip after I get … I’m doing a border now so I’m cutting my squares and I’m cutting up the rest and want to do I think some sort of star block just to use that up.
Kimberly: Yes. Don’t you find that it’s hard to use up a Jelly Roll? It just goes and goes and goes. It’s like those strips multiply. It’s really hard to get to the end of a strip, to use up all the fabric. There’s so much. There’s two and half yards of fabric in the Jelly Roll and that’s a lot of fabric to use up so you’ll be able to make a lot of left overs.
Katie: Yes. I’m going to put something on the back too, because it’s a Robert Kaufman roll, so it’s 43 strips, not 40.
Kimberly: You got more, yes.
Katie: I was like, it’s too much.
Kimberly: It’s really hard to use them up. I saw the picture on your blog and I can’t wait to see it done. Isn’t that fun little thing it is?
Katie: It is. It is. I had insomnia. [Inaudible 00:25:58] and I’m still here. I got up one night at 1:00 AM and started piecing it.
Kimberly: That is so great.
Katie: I’m going to call it insomnia rainbow or something.
Kimberly: There you go. That’s awesome.
Katie: It was fun.
What are some tips that you have for beginning quilters?
Kimberly: To take time to learn the basics. They really want to skip ahead and not learn about things like bias or triangles and why it matters. The more that they can talk to their friends, observe other quilters, read books, read blogs, get information. They want to sit down and sew really difficult pieces in the beginning and then they don’t understand when it doesn’t turn out and they get frustrated.
I think it’s really important that they learn the basics or try to get as much information and also, not to set the bar so high for the first quilt because again, they get frustrated when they don’t see instant results and they’re in too deep and then they just give up. That’s the worst thing. I think the best thing a new quilter can do is start with something very easy, can just be squares, can just be a nine patch, but then to finish it, to have it, to have a finished quilts and then they enthused about, “Look, I made it. I’m done.”
The other thing I seen a lot is they finish the tops and then either no one will either show them how to quilt it or they get frustrated with the quilting or it’s just too overwhelming and they just stop and don’t finish it. Again, it’s the finishing. Even if it means taking that top to a long arm, great. It’s out the door. It’s done. By the time it’s at the long armers, consider it done and then they can have the reward of feeling productive and feeling like they did it and increase the skill level every time you make something.
Katie: Are there some tools that you think …
Kimberly: A really sharp rotary cutter. I think that’s essential and I love the little ones but I would recommend, I see a lot of new quilter with the little smaller rotary cutters and they just don’t quite cut it or they’ve got a ruler that’s just too small. If you’re only going to have three things on a desert island, you need a good matt, you need a 6 x 24 inch ruler and a really good rotary cutter, at least 45 millimeters or larger.
Katie: I use a 60.
Kimberly: Yes, I do, too. I do, too.
Katie: It makes things so much easier.
Kimberly: It’s like a hot knife through butter.
Katie: It is.
Kimberly: Especially when your blade is sharp. That’s the other thing. I see people working with little tiny rotary cutters that are dull and a ruler that’s too hard to hold and they’re struggling and I think it doesn’t have to be this hard. A nice big rotary cutter that feels good in your hand. You can do amazing things. They just need some good tools.
Oh, and the other thing is a machine that works, is in good working condition. How many people pull a machine out of their mother or grandmother’s closet that hasn’t been run in 25 years and they sit down and it doesn’t run right. The tension’s off. There’s burrs. The threads roll up on the bottom and they get really frustrated. Again, the frustration level gets so high that they say, “Oh, this isn’t worth it, ” and they push it aside.
The best thing you can do, even if you have your grandmother’s 25 year old machine or the machine that’s been put away, take it to the dealership, take it to a place that will clean it, oil it, get it running right and then when they get good even stitches and everything is working, then they get that feeling of, “Oh, I can do this,” rather than the frustration they would feel with a machine that’s just acting up.
Katie: Thread really matters.
Kimberly: Thread matters. I just did a …
Katie: I loved your posts.
Kimberly: About thread stop!
Katie: Yes, I loved it because …
Kimberly: Thank you.
Katie: … when I first started, I didn’t know heads or tails. I just thought, “Good, it’s on sale. I’ll use it.”
Kimberly: Thread is everything, threat is important.
Katie: I’ve done a few short posts but yours is great.
Kimberly: Thank you.
Katie: It does hold your quilts together. You’ve got me addicted to Aurifil thread.
Kimberly: Oh, yes. See, that’s even an aha moment for me, just in the past few months, I had used a silk covered cotton, Mettler which is a perfectly great, great thread but it’s a 40 weight. I’ve used that for over a decade. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Tess over at Scrap and Sew kept saying, “Try the Aurifil.” “No, I’m happy. I’m good, thanks.” She’d say, “Try the Aurifil. You’ll love it.” Finally she gave me a spool. I wasn’t going to buy one. She gave me a spool, I thought, “Ugh, I better try it.” I came home, I put it in. Oh, my goodness! It makes such a huge difference. It’s fine, it’s super strong, it goes through your machine beautifully. Machines love it and your perfect quarter inch seam gets even better because thread takes up space in your seam allowance, it really does, even from a 40 weight to a 50 weight, it’s amazing how much better your seams will be. I couldn’t believe it so that was my aha moment. You can see in that little thread wrap over there, all those lovely Aurifil threads I just purchased.
Katie: [Inaudible 00:31:19] You have just about every color over there. Yes, I love it. When I took your Lone Star class, that’s when you started talking about it. I thought, “Well, I’ll give it a shot.” I was using Guterman with this really thick and I thought, “This is probably bulking my seam up, ” and I never thought about it before. Now I use it for binding, too. It just goes right in.
Kimberly: It does.
Katie: You can’t even see it.
Kimberly: Yes. I’m sitting here with the thread with a quilt on my ironing board that I’m binding and I’m using Aurifil thread because it’s so perfect.
Katie: Yes. My mom is like, “What?” I posted about it and she’s like, “You need to tell me what is going on.” She’s never heard such a fuss about thread before.
Kimberly: You need to be a thread shopper.
Katie: Yes. I have to tell her about it.
How do you store your quilts?
Kimberly: Right now, and it’s always changed with wherever we’ve lived. Right now and I’ll show you later and you can take pictures. I have two long closets and I either lay that or fold them up or I hang them on hangers but I always keep them behind closed doors, never out where they can be … I do have some hanging on the walls or some that are used but the quilts in the books that I need to have for trunk shows are always stored in a nice dry area that is hidden from light because I don’t want them to get sun damaged but I do rotate them and refold them every so often. Heck, every time we move, it gets refolded but I do hang them on hangers and you change them around a bit.
Katie: Did you wash yours after they were finished?
Kimberly: Some. Sometimes after they’ve been out on trunk shows or traveling, they start to look a little dingy and I wash them then. There are some from the newest book that haven’t been washed yet.
Katie: Do you send them out for photographing and they’re ready to go?
Kimberly: They’re ready to go. Yes.
Katie: What sewing machines do you work with the most often?
Kimberly: Right now, I have a Pfaff creative sensation that I just bought about a month and a half ago. I traded in my creative vision. I love it. It is a wonderful machine. I also have in that cabinet over there a Pfaff 2170 which was the top end a couple versions back. It’s a workhorse. I really like that but I’ve sewn with so many. I use the Bernina 730. I love the Janome Memory Craft. Those are good machines also. I haven’t had the chance to sew on a Babylock but people really like them but I really love Bernina. I do love my sensation to death but you know what? Different machines excel at different things and I just don’t think there’s one truly perfect machine out there because like when I had the Bernina 730, I thought it had the most perfect quarter inch stitch that ever was. It’s just different machines do different things really, really well.
Katie: Does your new one do embroidery, too?
Kimberly: It does.
Katie: Do you do embroidery?
Kimberly: I do. I love to embroider. I don’t have much time for it anymore but I really do love it. I love the software end of it. I love all the digitizing and the customizing you can do with your designs. I think it’s great for making labels and …
Kimberly: Yes, which is really nice.
Katie: I think so. Much faster.
Kimberly: It does.
Katie: Stay on.
Katie: Let’s see. We already talked about threads. Do you have a favorite quilt of your own that you like?
Kimberly: I do and I’ll show you. It is one of the first quilts I ever made. It was in 1992. It is a Christmas quilt. What’s so funny about this was, I made this Christmas quilt, it was every stitch by hand, every stitch is hand pieced, hand quilted. I think there’s 900 and some squares in it. It’s a triple round the world. Every square, every two inch square was cut with a little cardboard template …
Katie: Oh, wow!
Kimberly: … before I was into doing it by machine and I worked so hard on this quilt. Now, if you’d looked at it, you’d say it has toe picker stitches for the molding because they’re so big but you know, this was going to be my family heirloom. At the time, I literally thought like I had invented the idea of Christmas quilts. (Laughing) I thought, “Nobody else would have thought to make a Christmas quilt.” Oh, wow, wow. How big awakening on that.
Katie: Can you describe your quilting space and what you love about it?
Kimberly: With all the different places we’ve lived, I’ve had some quilt studios I’d like better than others. When we move, I just have to take over a space and make it my own, make do with what we have available. Some of them have been better than others. Where I’m at that right now, it was a part of an in-law suite that I took someone’s park kitchen. Not crazy about the cupboard space. If I had it to do over, I’d rip all this out and put in nice big floor to ceiling cupboards with doors on them. I do like the fridge in here. That’s handy. I have a really nice cutting space that we got those cupboards. They’re waist high. We got them from the Goodwill in Germany or the Red Cross over there. It’s like a Goodwill and we brought those back. We really like them because they’re the perfect height for cutting for me. I like that.
What I don’t like in here and what we still need to improve is the lighting. At night, there’s not enough light even with, I’ve got some hot lights scattered around the room. What I really need is really bright lights over the cutting area because it’s just too dark in here at night. That needs to be improved but you just take it a little bit at a time. We’ve only been here less than a year . We’ve still got work to do but it’s really essential that I have my machine in a cabinet. The flat sewing bed working in the cabinet. I think that’s really, really helpful and it’s close to my computer so I can just spin around and if I need to hook up the machine to the computer for embroidery or for the software, I can do that. I also have my ironing board to the right of my machine, so I can just rotate, pivot in the chair. It makes me more efficient but I do make myself get up and walk around because you can sit too long.
Katie: Oh, yes.
Kimberly: Yes. I make myself get up and walk but the lighting will be the biggest thing that I’d want to improve because you really need good lighting. My friend Carolyn Archer has, she calls her studio, now she has a long room, too but her husband installed all this custom lighting and she calls it, “The surface of the sun.” I think, “Okay, I need the surface of the sun in here. Nice and light and bright.’
Katie: I have one little window in my room and I have the same thing, Ottlights scattered everywhere.
Kimberly: It’s still not enough some times, especially at night.
Katie: Yes, I have to quit because you get tired.
Kimberly: You get tired, your eyes can’t see.
Katie: Then you start cutting weird or going not straight and, “Okay.”
Kimberly: Exactly, even with the hot lights, there’s still shadows in the room itself, so really need to work on the lighting situation.
Katie: What fabric designers do you find yourself going back to?
Kimberly: I love Robert Kaufman a lot. That’s not a designer. That’s a manufacturer but I love Moda. With Moda, I for some reason, I keep going back to Sandy Gervais. Is it Gervais? And Kate Spain. Seems like everything that they do, I love their stuff. It’s bright, cheery. I’ve ended up working with some of the three sisters. I also like the … What is it? Camille Roskelley? She does the ruby and the other things. I like her style a lot. Anna Maria Horner. I like Riley Blake. Again, that’s a manufacturer.
I don’t know the designers but I really don’t pigeonhole myself into one area. I like to try new and different things all the time. I also want to design quilts that are going to appeal to a wide variety of other people, other quilter. I’m always working to do different things but typically, I tend to gravitate towards anything light and bright. I don’t typically do Joe Morton type things. I’m just not a reproduction, it’s not my favorite in dusty colors. I like light, clear, bright, saturated colors and I’ve never met a petite I didn’t like. (laughing) There’s just not one out there. I like petites. All petites.
Katie: Are you doing the block of the month that the guild’s doing with batiks?
Kimberly: I’m not.
Katie: I’m not either.
Kimberly: It’s so gorgeous.
Katie: I don’t have time.
Kimberly: I don’t either.
Katie: Every month, I love coming in to see all … I took a picture last night.
Kimberly: Did you post because I saw it on Facebook.
Katie: Yes, I did that and I was, “Like gosh.”
Kimberly: Oh, they’re so beautiful. Yes, all batiks. Never meet a batik I didn’t like.
Katie: Do you have any patterns or colors that you really, really like.
Kimberly: My favorite color in the world is periwinkle, it really is. I love periwinkle. I even taught my boys how to spot periwinkle from 20 paces, should they marry quilters some day, this girl is going to be so happy but no, I really, I love periwinkle but as far as colors, I like to try new things. As I was telling you before we started, I just made a quilt recently for the next book, book four, with a black background and that was really out of my box. It’s just something I’m just not done before but I did use bright solid colors with that black to offset but I don’t know that I would typically go make a black background quilts anytime again soon. I think they’re beautiful. First of all, they’re hard to see when you’re sewing. The black thread just blends in and heaven forbid you have to rip anything and I’m pulling out the magnifiers. It’s really hard to rip on black fabric.
Katie: You had another quilt in Jelly Roll Magic that had a brown background.
Katie: I haven’t seen that many of those in your books either. They look beautiful, though.
Kimberly: They are beautiful. There is a place for those. You want to try different things. I’m always pushing myself to try new and different things.
Katie: Do you ever get quilter’s block?
Kimberly: All the time. All the time. Then, there’s other times when I can’t get the designs down in EQ fast enough but yes there are times when I need to design something. Someone’s asking me to design something and it’s just not there or I’ll sit and play in EQ for a couple of hours and by the end of the day not come up with anything good.
Yes, I do and what I find really helps with quilter’s block, when I need to come up with something new and different is to either look through some quilt magazines, browse other quilters blogs, just open myself up to new ideas. Sometimes it’s even, and I know it sounds corny, take a walk and listen to some music. Sometimes you just need to get away and not beat yourself up because the more you say, “I got to do this, I got to do this,” the more you’re not going to be able to so sometimes I just need to walk away until the feeling strikes then go try it again or sometimes playing in fabric or walking through a quilt shop. Just, something will catch my eye and I’ll say, “Oh, this has possibilities.”
Katie: Yes. Lately, if I get to where I just don’t feel like doing anything, I’ll clean and I’ll find weird stuff that I didn’t even know was in my room and I’m back on.
Kimberly: That’s a really good way to do it.
Katie: Yes. You discover things that you put away and forgot about.
Katie: Or at least I do with my space.
Kimberly: Something I do and you didn’t ask the question but every time I’ve worked on a project, when that project is done, I clean. I clean up my room. It’s my way of just getting ready for the next one. I can’t go from clutter. Believe me, the studio does get messy. I have stuff on the floor and scraps and strings and everything. It’s not like … It’s looking nice but after each project, I will stop, sweep the floor, put away the scraps, the left over’s, decide where they’re going to go. If I typically have fabric yardage left over that’s less than a quarter yard, it goes in my scrap bins. Yardage that I have bigger pieces left, it goes back in my stash. I’ll have to take you on a tour of the stash. You haven’t even seen that?
Katie: No. Do you do scrap quilting?
Kimberly: A little bit and you’ll see more of that in book five.
Katie: Oh, fun.
Kimberly: You’ll see more of that coming out again, so that’s me jumping out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to do more things that I haven’t done up to now, because I always need to keep learning, keep stretching myself. I never want to get stale.
Katie: I love scrap quilting. So exciting you’re going to be doing that.
Kimberly: You’re going to see more of that.
Katie: You’re an quilting judge as well?
Kimberly: Yes. Yes.
Katie: Can you tell us a little bit about what that’s like.
Kimberly: It’s really, it’s an awesome responsibility and it’s really fun. I can’t believe that the first time I was ever asked to do it, I was like, “Really, seriously? Somebody’s going to pay me to walk around and give my opinion about quilts,” but it’s an awesome responsibility because every single quilt was put out there by a quilter who was putting her quilt, her story, her feelings in your hands so take that really seriously, even though I’m kind of a light-hearted, fun-loving girl, take that responsibility of being a judge very seriously. I will take the time to look at each quilt, learn as much as I can. I’m one of the judges that will ask to be read the description of each quilts. Some judges I know don’t. They don’t take the time to read the write-up or they don’t ask for the scribes to read it. I want to know what was that, what was behind it, what was the quilt maker thinking? Where was her heart? Sometimes there’s not a story per se but in most cases there was a story behind that quilt.
I want to get up close and feel the love and I’ll say that even when I’m judging. Am I feeling the love with this and you can always feel something. Every quilt was made for a purpose, whether it was utilitarian, whether it was to commemorate an event, to tell a story, to work through grief, there’s something about it or some quilts just needed to be made because the quilts maker just had to express herself, his or herself.
I will never say anything disparaging. I will find good points that I would ask the scribes to write down what they did really, really well and then find at least one thing that maybe they could improve and I always word it in such a way that I would hope that it would never discourage anybody from entering again, because I know, I’ve heard so many times, quilters will say, “Well, I entered a quilt once and they just hated it or they tore me down and I’ll never do that again.” I hear that all the time. I never, ever want that to be when they read a comment from me because I want them to keep trying and keep entering. They went to a great deal of trouble to get that quilt there.
Here’s the biggest thing anybody can do if they’re entering a quilt into a show. Before it gets packed up, it needs to be lint rollered. Can I tell you how many times a quilt will be hanging up and there’s still pokies or threads or hair or something on the surface of a quilts that detracts when all it would have taken was a brush and a lint roller over it before they packed it up and that’s something that is an easy fix. That’s my biggest tip for anyone entering a quilt in a show, just lint roller it real good front and back.
Katie: You sell some of your own quilts?
Kimberly: Yes, I do.
Katie: You brought one this year, I saw it.
Kimberly: I do.
Katie: It’s gorgeous. Have you gotten any comments on it yet?
Kimberly: Yes, they really liked it and in fact, I just sent some various stars to Road to California. I think I entered it in the category that had the most number of … (Laughs) It was like traditional bed size but it got good reviews and it’s fun for me to put it out there and hear what they have to say, too.
Katie: Birgit does your quilting?
Kimberly: Birgit Schüller?
Katie: Birgit. Yes.
Kimberly: Yes, she does. She does a lot of it. Carolyn Archer in Ohio also has done some for me. Birgit does a lot for me. She’s over in Germany. People always say to me, “You send your quilts to Germany?” Yes, I do.
Katie: She does amazing work. I’ve seen it. She told me she does it all freehand.
Kimberly: She does it freehand. She does it in her attic. She has an A-frame house, an A-frame roof on her house and she has her long arm set up in the attic. She barely move around and yet she makes these award winning quilts, so when people say they don’t have enough room to quilt, I’m like, “You haven’t seen Birgit’s studio yet. It’s an attic.” She does amazing things. She’s winning awards everywhere for her quilting.
Katie: She’ll do commissions for other people?
Kimberly: Yes, she will, absolutely. Her website is Creative BiTS and if you Google her, if you Google Birgit, B-i-r-g-i-t and Creative BiTS, it will come right up. She does amazing things.
Katie: She was here last year I think to teach long arm classes.
Kimberly: Yes, she was a run around though and …
Katie: I didn’t get to do any of that stuff but I thought that sounded like a lot of fun. I hope she comes back.
Kimberly: She is amazing. She’s on a whole different plane here. We have a lot of fun Skyping each other and talking and getting ideas. We really work well collaborating together. When she was here, I was working on Plumeria Stars and literally, I have Plumeria trees out there and they were blooming and I said, “I think it would be really neat to put Plumeria blossoms on the quilt,” and she went out and she sketched blossoms and went home and ended up quilting it. That was a really neat thing. It’s very special.
Katie: When you send her a top, do you give her, I mean obviously you gave some suggestions of that one with what you would like.
Kimberly: Sometimes or I’ll say, “Oh, I think this one is screaming out for feathers,” because she does feathers better than anybody I know but sometimes she’ll come back and she’ll say, “No, I don’t think it needs feathers, ” or, “I think it needs something more geometric.” I’m always open to her suggestions. We just go back and forth and really, if she thinks something else is going to work, I’ve never seen anything that she’s done that wasn’t spectacular. I trust her judgment.
The funny thing is, though, she’ll use common household items all the time like the quilt I just showed you, the wild sampler, she did her plates. She said she went to her cupboard, pulled out a plate that happened to be the right size, laid it down on the quilt and quilted around it to create circles that connected and then quilted inside the circles. I thought, “Brilliant.” She uses common, everyday items to get ideas from, which I just think is fantastic. She’s on a whole different level.
Katie: The quilting part, it’s hard enough to learn how to piece and cut and design correctly but then the quilting, it can be really overwhelming.
Kimberly: People ask me why I don’t quilts my quilts. Actually, I’m a decent quilter, I’m a decent machine quilter. Even hand quilting, I can do. I just don’t have the time for it but when I’ve got so many quilts to create in a year and I’m literally making anywhere from 25 to 30 quilts in a year. By the time I get the tops done, I’m lucky to get them out the door to Birgit or Caroline so that I’m onto the next top, I’m onto the next thing.
Sometimes I will machine quilts the smaller ones myself but typically for the books, they tend to be larger and I just send them out because I’m not on that level. I know what I do really well. I’m a really good designer and I’m a good piecer and I can do that well so since I need to keep moving along to meet deadlines. It’s just easier to send those out and let the masters do it.
Katie: Yes. That’s okay.
Kimberly: It is. It is.
Katie: It’s not my forte but I love this part of quilting.
Kimberly: Right and I love it when I’m in a class and I’ll say something like that and I’ll see the light bulb go on in someone’s head and they’re like, “Yeah, it really is okay if I don’t quilt it myself. It doesn’t mean it’s not my quilt.” Of course it doesn’t. You just do what you love, send it out the door and know that you’re keeping a person who’s running a small business from her home, you’re helping her keep her business going. It’s really okay and then they get to do the things that you love to do which is a lot of people love to make the tops.
Katie: Yes. They make it mired down with, “Oh, I need to quilt it.”
Kimberly: No, you don’t.
Katie: They have a stack of tops that need to be quilted and never finish.
Kimberly: Then out the door.
Katie: Yes. That’s something that I’m still working through, that I don’t have to quilt everything that I make. I have one of your quilts that I think when I finish it, it’ll be my one that I send out.
Kimberly: Yay! That’s so great.
Katie: It’s hard to let that go. It’s like giving away your baby kind of thing.
Kimberly: It is or feeling that you didn’t finish it or I’m failing someone. Not failing but you didn’t see it through to completion. That’s not it at all. Let these gals that do this and love it and are great at it make your top even sing even prettier because they can do it in a way that maybe you can’t and it’s okay, then you’re on to the next thing.
Katie: Okay. Moving onto your books.
Katie: Your new book, Jelly Roll Magic was released, I guess what, four months, five months ago now.
Kimberly: Yes. In September.
Katie: Yes. What are some of the differences between this book and your first Jelly Roll book?
Kimberly: When I started designing for the first Jelly Roll book which was Jelly Roll Quilts & More, it was a fluke. I had proposed another book to A.Q.S. and they said, “Oh, we love that idea, but Jelly Rolls are hot. We need a Jelly Roll book in our repertoire. Would you do one for us?” and I said, “Sure!” I’ve never made a Jelly Roll before.
I had to teach myself what can you do with these things. What I didn’t like about Jelly Rolls at the time when they first came out in 2006 and 2007 were at the very beginning, you saw a lot of rail fences and a lot of log cabins. They just looked like clunky Jelly Roll blocks. I thought, “Oh, I like the idea of having the strips already cut but I want to make quilts that don’t look like they come from Jelly Rolls.” I want them planned, scrappy but I want really amazing blocks.
I designed all the ones in Jelly Roll Quilts & More and there are some really easy basic quilts in there and there are some more difficult ones but once I got into them, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t turn it off. I kept designing more and more and then Jelly Roll Quilt Magic just evolved from that.
About that time, it was like, “Well, I’ve done every rectangle, every square, every half square triangle, even Flying Geese, what else can you do?” That’s when I got into diamonds. Wow, that’s a revelation, you can make wonderful diamond quilts from Jelly Roll strips and you can strip piece them and I just thought, “This is a revelation.”
I kept going, new and different designs and what’s even funnier is by the time I had done the manuscript for this and we had planned for certain number of pages in it, by the time I sent the manuscript to the publisher, I was about 50 pages over the manuscript. She’s like, “You’ve got way too much information.” At first, when we first starting the editing process, we were hacking at it and I said, “Oh, can’t get rid of that. It’s so good, ” or, “We can’t get rid of this chapter. It’s so good.”
Finally, I went back and I said, “You know, you’re cutting about 50 pages from this manuscript. Let’s just roll it over into book number four.” (Laughs) They said, “That’s a great idea.” We literally lifted one whole section from what should have been in Jelly Roll Quilt Magic and that’s what you’ll see in book number four which will be out later this year. That was the basis to finish that. Now, this will be the end of my trilogy on Jelly Rolls. (Laughs) I’m branching off into something a little bit different from book five and you may still see them pop up here and there because they’re so wonderful. How can you not love them?
A lot of people buy them and I call them Jelly Roll virgins because they have them and they keep them in their studio but they’ve never untied the bow. It’s scary.
Katie: Up high.
Kimberly. Because the whole thing goes poof and they blow up. Once you’ve opened them, you will never roll them back up again, so you just need to take deep breathes and get past it and dive right in because they really are so much fun.
I think I answered your question somewhere in there.
Katie: Yes. Somewhere.
Kimberly: But aiming the quotes in Jelly Roll Quilt Magic are just a lot different. There’s just a lot of completely different ideas. I even have a Jelly Roll quilt of seasons so I have four quilts for the different seasons. I really did the whole dazzling diamonds thing. I focused on rainbow Jelly Rolls because that was something I was hearing a lot after the second book. People said, “Oh, these rainbow Jelly Rolls are so great but what do you do with them?”
Again, it was thinking a little bit outside the box. What do you do with these rainbow ones and that’s when I came up with the quilt by numbers for the little rainbow checkerboard star or the rainbow geese is trying to literally number your Jelly Rolls one through 40 and filling in the numbers one through 40, paint by numbers thing.
Does that make sense?
Kimberly: Try to hit on some different areas to fill in the gaps.
Katie: That’s a lot to keep track of. I’ve got my rainbow Jelly Roll that I’m cutting up right now.
Kimberly: It is. The longer you have, you have to either, I found out now and I should put this in the book but this was an afterthought, you know those drying racks for your clothes?
Kimberly: Those are really good for hanging your strips on and labeling one through ten can be on one row and 10 through 20 can be on another little rack and so you can keep track of them this way. That’s just another neat little tip.
Katie: I love your lint roller tip.
Kimberly: (Laughing) That was from necessity. The chip is before you untie your Jelly Roll, you used one of those lint rollers with the sticky tape and you roll it back and forth a bunch over the top and bottom of your Jelly Roll with your lint roller and you have to use several pieces of that sticky tape, you do, but it does cut down on the lint a lot, about 80%.
Katie: Yes, and I have that to belong to someone else. That was her complaint. “When you unroll it, there size everywhere and like here.” I learned.
Kimberly: Yes. You just lint roll it first. You set some fuzz but it’s not as bad.
Katie: What do you do with the pinked edges. That trips up some people, too.
Kimberly: It does. You’ll notice different manufacturers have different size pinked edges. The Robert Kaufman tends to be a little bit wider pinked edges. The Moda is the smallest. I always measure from the point and not the inside divot, the inside, that’s a little bit too short so measure from the outside point. If you then assemble a four patch or something and it ends up being too large, you can always trim off the pinked edges once you get it sewn into your unit but I like to just start by measuring or using, if you’re using one of those quarter inch feet with the guide, have the pinked edge just touching the guide. You might feel a little slivers of daylight where the inside of the pinked edge is not smashed up against that guide but it’s better way to measure.
Katie: Have mini fractures gotten better with being the proper size?
Kimberly: Much, much. There were some manufactures out there in the first few years that weren’t doing it well and you still need to be careful with some of them. Some of the petites were a bit off but I think they’re much better now. I don’t find much discrepancy at all because people complained. People really did complain. In the beginning, some of the petite strips were as much as a quarter inch off, two short or two wide, they were just not even.
Katie: You’ve been for the fall quilts market. Did you come back with any new precuts?
Kimberly: Actually, I didn’t come back with much. At market, there’s nothing really to buy but I did put in outfit with a manufacturers and look at their futures and write out what I’d like to use. Then, they will send it to me and that’s really nice. I’ll show you, my cupboards over there. I have quite a stash of precuts waiting to be used. I have some more coming from Robert Kaufman here in a couple of weeks.
People always say to me, “Oh, you get free fabric.” It’s a double edge sword. With free fabric comes big responsibility because the manufactures aren’t just giving out free fabric for nothing. When they give me fabric, I have to get it published. There is a responsibility there to use whatever they send to make sure it shows up somewhere. it’s not, they’ve just giving it to me because I’m a nice person. They want to see their fabrics used so it’s really fun. it’s a real win-win situation. I do get to see the new stuff ahead and the futures lines ahead of what you or regular customers see because by the time I get it, the new about six months before you would see it in a shop, gives me time to make a quilt to get it to where it needs to go so it can be pretty current by the time it gets published because what people don’t realize is even for magazines, what they plan a year ahead,
I’ve got a quote going into American Patchwork. It’s going to go into the October issue that I’m already doing right now so that we work way far in advance so that by the time these quilts show up, they’re not already old and that’s the one thing that you have to be aware of the time frame. You don’t want to pick up too much stuff because then if you don’t use it, it’s old and can’t be used. [Crosstalk 01:02:30]
Katie: One of the other quilting podcasters, she calls her cat, “The helper cat.” and help do all sorts of big stuff.
Kimberly: Snickers will sit right there next to me in that chair, when I’m working and she’ll sit and or she’ll lay right there and keep me company. I call her my quality assurance manager.
Katie: I think she’s in one of the books, isn’t she.
Kimberly: Yes! Yes, she is. I think all the cats are.
Katie: You’re famous! Can you describe your design process for your quilts?
Kimberly: Yes. It’ll start with playing in EQ. I’ll get an idea and I’ll … Another thing I like to do is I’ll start with the word. It could be anvils and I’ll go out and I’ll research what are traditional block and anvils and I’ll go and look in Barbara Brachman’s blockbase which is a software component to EQ. You can type in key words or parents or log cabin or lake and it will pull every block associated with those words. This is a good way, when I’ve got quilter’s block, too, is to go ahead and do it that way.
I will pick a word and try to find as many blocks as I can. Then, from there, see how I can combine them in unusual ways. I’ll try to do that or I will see a fabric line or have a fabric line that’s got flowers in it or geometric shapes and sometimes that just using the fabric gives me ideas of, “Oh, that would really be cool with a bunch of circle shapes or [flamies 01:04:11] or a log cabin design or, “Oh, that’ll look really pretty as a pineapple.”
I love, I think something that’s kind of a signature look for me is combining two or more blocks to get a secondary design. I’m always playing with allusion of fabric placement because simple blocks can look entirely different depending on where you put the lights, mediums and darks. If you put two basic blocks next to each other but change the fabric placement around, you can get some pretty cool secondary designs and I really let you do that. I’m really excited when I get a design and then the secondary design emerges and I get real excited.
Katie: Do you ever show your family and so you get all excited and …
Kimberly: I do. My husband’s really supportive. He really, really gets excited. My parents, I don’t think they quite understand. My mom’s not a sewer so she doesn’t understand this. She keeps me humble. She says, “You mean, people come to take classes from you.” I’m like, “Yeah, mom.” “People come to listen to your lectures?” “Yes, they do.” I don’t think she gets it but I think they’re proud of me. I think my dad is really proud of me. He always wanted me to be a mathematician. He always thought I should be an engineer. When I didn’t, I think he was disappointed for a while and then when I designed the rulers and have been doing this, I think he’s like, “Wow. In a way, she’s kind of an engineer.” So, I’m a fabric engineer. I don’t know.
Katie: Quilting uses way more math than I ever imagined.
Kimberly: It does. It does. It uses geometry and I can remember being in high school thinking, “When will you ever use this in real life?” How did I ended up doing the thing I used to say, “I’ll never use this in real life.”
Katie: Your next book is coming out this fall.
Kimberly: This fall.
Katie: You have another one coming out next year?
Kimberly: Yes. Actually, it may come out believe it or not in 2014. Maybe at the end of 2013, we’ll see but I’ve already signed a contract for it and have started the design process. The quilts made for that one yet and I’m still wrapping up the one that will be at out as book number four. I’ll be announcing the name of that on my blog very soon. The cover, when the cover is officially out, then I’ll have that out, too but that should be out September, October time frame, somewhere in there. I’m really excited about that. Now, we’ll finish up the trilogy.
Katie: Of the Jelly Roll.
Kimberly: The Jelly Roll trilogy but I’m thinking I won’t ever do with them anymore. I just wanted to move onto something a little bit different.
Katie: Was there precut that you worked with that you found difficult to add in there?
Kimberly: Yes, the turnovers, the little triangle turnovers. They’re six and a half inch half square triangles. They’re really neat but they are kind of tricky to work with and a little bit limiting and I think that’s partly why they didn’t do real well. Same with the honey buns that one and a half inch strips. I still see a few of those around but they didn’t take off like the two and a half inch strips. Personally my all time favorite precut are the Layer Cakes. I’ll tell you why. I love Jelly Rolls but Layer Cakes is actually the same inch per inch as a Jelly Roll. If you were to cut a 10 inch square into four two and a half inch strips and lay them end to end, you would get the same thing as one strip in a Jelly Roll.
This way, I can Layer Cake in half and have two Jelly Roll strips and two charm squares. Like you said, it’s hard to use those strips in your Jelly Roll but if you were using a 22 inch strip or 20 inch strip, it’s easier to use that and own up but then you still have two charm squares left. I just think a Layer Cake is a little more versatile but I love them both.
Katie: You do a little bit of appliqué in your books …
Kimberly: I do.
Katie: … which I find fun. I’ve got some charm packs that you got to do your appliqué with.
Kimberly: They’re fun and they’re just easy basic, machine appliqué because some people say, “Oh, I can never do appliqué.” You really can’t and it opens up a whole new world of what you can do with precuts. I’ve made the shapes like arc shapes or half moon shapes or even just circles or hearts, really easy things but you can get really stunning results. A lot of people just don’t even think in their mind, Jelly Roll or charm square and appliqué and yes, they can go hand in hand. I really like them.
Katie: I really like the basic origins quilt in your last book is also circle appliqués.
Kimberly: I love that one.
Katie: I’ve never used a twin needle before.
Kimberly: Was that fun. It’s what I do, it’s my main needle now. What I did was, I thought, “What would happen if I put a twin needle in. It was a 4.0 double needle and some decorative thread and I started playing with some of the basic stitches on the machine. By those, I mean like utilitarian stitches, smocking, zig zap, blind hem stitch. You can get the most stunning looking decorative stitches from a twin needle and basic utilitarian stitches on your machine because not everyone has the computerized machines with all the little dogs and the planes and flowers but a lot of people have machines that do have smocking stitches or just basic zig zag. With a double needle, it just opens up a whole new world and it’s a great way to finish off rag appliqué and it’s real pretty.
Katie: It is. I like the combination. Every time I go into a shop, I see how to do that.
Kimberly: It’s a fun thing to do. I love that line, that origins line was really fun. That was way out of my box, too but that is a favorite. It just spoke to me from the minute I saw it, the greens and browns and yellows. So, pretty. So pretty.
Katie: When someone goes to buy a precut, what’s your recommendation with other things?
Kimberly: Oh, that’s a great question. I have found that if you see a precut that you like, if you see a Layer Cake or a Jelly Roll that you just love but you don’t know what you’re going to do with it. You don’t have an idea. Typically, stores will carry some accompanying yardage that matches.
Here’s the thing. If you buy the precut and six weeks later, you’re ready to work with it and you go back, that yardage is gone. Here’s what you do. If you see something and it has a precut and the yardage but you don’t know what you’re going to make, buy one and a half yards of a background fabric, one and a half yards of an inner border or it could be one yard but I like to use this one and a half yard rule. One and a half yards background fabric, one and half yards for an inner border and a binding and one and a half yards for an outer border. If you have those three things and a Jelly Roll or a Layer Cake, you’re pretty good to go as far as making just about anything. You’ll have enough yardage to do just about any quilt. That’s a good rule of thumb.
Katie: Yes, that’s a good tip because I have a stack of Jelly Roll on my dresser and now I’ve got to go back and start matching stuff. I didn’t do that.
Kimberly: I know. (laughs) That’s okay. You probably will have no problem. You have no problem but sometimes the dial action in the background of some of these Jelly Roll strips are a little bit weird and you can’t find the perfect cream to go with it because it’s a little too yellow or it’s a little too blue or something.
Now, if you don’t know what you’re going to make but you think, “Oh, I really like this one. I’m in the mood to play with this.” Just go to the store, find a background fabric and you’re going to probably want that contrasting fabric and an outer border, so you could find a pattern that would go with it.
Katie: That’s good. Those are all the questions that I have. Do you have anything you want to add?
Kimberly: No. Just that I would encourage anybody who’s never used a precut before to dive right in because it is just so liberating. It really is. It’s liberating when you can dive into these strips and mix and match them because you don’t have to worry. Anything that you put together that has come in a bundle like that, it’s going to go. The other thing I would say is don’t be too matchy matchy, don’t stress over, “Does this piece go with this piece?” If it’s already in the bundle, it goes.
Katie: That always makes me laugh. The two classes that I’ve taken with you, I can’t tell you the number of time I look around the room and people are still matching stuff and I’ve moved onto piecing and I’m like, “It looks bad. Who cares?”
Kimberly: It won’t, because it’s already been matched. The other thing is, how many times have you heard a teacher say, “Avoid directional prints, avoid strikes, avoid … ” No. In these kinds of quotes, the more weird your print, the more it’s going to sparkle in your quilts. The ones with the really weird designs or the really geometric big whatever and you think, “Oh, by itself, I don’t know that I would necessarily buy this fabric,” but if you cut it up into little pieces and incorporate it into your blocks, that would be the sparkle that makes your quilt just sing and it won’t look flat, it won’t be boring.
That’s the big revolution. It’s like I love putting stripes. If there’s a stripe in a Jelly Roll, I love putting it into a Lone Star because it just makes that Lone Star just explode with excitement and I get really excited to see that.
Let the prints do the work of making your quilts sing so don’t shy away. People say, “Oh, I don’t like this strip.” Throw it in anyway. It’s the one thing you think you’re not going to like, that’s the one that’ll make people look at it because that’s the one that’s going to add the sparkle.
This has been so much fun.
Katie: I love it.
Kimberly: I just hope everyone will try them now.
Katie: I hope so, too. I’d buy them all the time. I like precuts.
Kimberly: I do, too. I do, too. I’m going to take you out and show around my precut found in here.
Katie: I bet we could picture. That’s so fun to work with and I’m not very experienced quilter yet so it’s nice for me because you don’t have a lot of fabric when you first start out and you’re on a budget and it’s a good way to get a variety of stuff together.
Kimberly: It is.
Katie: All precut.
Kimberly: You can jump right in. That’s the thing, when you’re working with precuts you can jump right into the good stuff. You’re piecing in minutes. It doesn’t take long to cut a few simple shapes and your into the fun. That’s what I think is so great rather than having to iron your yardage and cut your string. I think it’s really fun.
Katie: I’ve enjoyed working with them so I can’t wait to get work started.
Kimberly: I can’t wait to see your rainbow. I can’t wait for your rainbow star.
Katie: I hope it’ll be done for the March guild meeting.
Katie: I still don’t know how I’m going to quilt it, get it all figured out. Too small.
Kimberly: Just get the top done.
Katie: Yes. I’ll bring it all in. I’m excited.
Kimberly: You doing a great job with our guild. Doing a good job.
Katie: It’s coming along, yes, it’s stressful but it’s fun. You get to learn the ins and outs. I’ve never participated in a quilts show before so that’s a whole new thing. I’m trying to get a quilts finished to enter for judging …
Kimberly: Oh, good.
Katie: … so I don’t know if that’s going to be done. I was going to bring it today but you know, I don’t want to bring too much.
Kimberly: Oh, no. Okay.
Katie: I have to bring it and show it and let you see it on the way there because I’m nervous to enter it for judging.
Kimberly: Yes. Oh, no, don’t be.
Katie: I’m going to do it.
Kimberly: That’s good. That’s good. You’ll be glad.
Katie: Yes, the quilt guild’s been fun. I think it’s, what’s good for me as a beginner because there are a lot of workshops and classes and people to help.
Kimberly: Encouragement from the other members.
Katie: That’s what I’ve enjoyed and I’ve made a lot of friends and something to break into sewing circle at some point. It’s been fun.
Kimberly: I don’t know how you do it. I honestly, I read your blog and I’ve got all of your podcasts downloaded to my iPad so I can listen to it when I travel this weekend and I’ve listened to some of the earlier ones. I think the last two are the ones I haven’t heard yet. I don’t know how you do it. You’ve got the dogs and all that you do with them and their training and competitions and your quilts and the guild and this and I don’t know how you do it. I don’t think you ever sleep.
Katie: I get a little stressed sometimes. My husband yells at me. “You need to slow down.” Then I have to realize, “Okay, I need to cut back on some stuff.” It’s really rewarding for me to, I’ve made a lot of friends online. Friends in Australia. Things that you would never think you’d ever be friends with and I talk with them all the time …
Kimberly: Isn’t that great?
Katie: … and share information with new quilters because I think it scares me how there aren’t a lot of people my age that aren’t aware of this wonderful craft and how much fun it is and how rewarding it is and …
Kimberly: But you’re getting the message out there.
Katie: I hope so, I hope so, because I want a lot of people to carry this on. I don’t want it to die.
Kimberly: To die. I don’t think it will, I don’t think it’s going to go.
Katie: It’s taken on a new life.’
Kimberly: When you mentioned having friends all over, I love that, too, about the blog and the website. I have heard from quilters all over the world. I’ve been in touch with a woman in Israel. She’d gotten a book somehow and wrote and I forget how she even, what she even wrote in the beginning but we had this email dialogue back and forth and she said that she literally lived within four kilometers of where the fighting was …
Katie: Oh, wow.
Kimberly: … along that Palestine border. I don’t know much about it but I think she said, “Oh, today, I can hear the bombings,” and I’m thinking, “Here’s a woman quilting in Israel that can hear the fighting from where she’s quilting.” That just blows my mind that I’m having this conversation with her or the ladies up in Norway that I teach in Prague every other year at the Prague patchwork meeting and I have two ladies that have become my friends that live in Norway, way up in Norway. They fly down to Prague and we have the best time when we’re together. It’s just really neat. What a small world it is.
Katie: You teach a lot of quilting cruises, too.
Kimberly: I do. I love that. It’s so much fun.
Katie: The last time you did it was last summer.
Kimberly: What did I do last year? I can’t even think. I think it was to the Caribbean last year. Yes, it was the Caribbean. Then, next year, I’m going to the western Caribbean and Alaska.
Katie: Wow, you’re going to be cruising.
Kimberly: Yes, twice. I know, I know. I think this is our … I’ve done. This’ll be quilting cruise six and seven coming up but we’ve cruised … My husband and I love to cruise so I think this is our 14th cruise. We’ve done a lot of them.
Katie: We’re going on our third next year.
Kimberly: Are you? Where you going?
Katie: The eastern Caribbean.
Kimberly: You’ll love it.
Katie: I’m excited. I’m trying to convince him to go on a quilting cruise with me. He’s afraid he’s never going to see me. I tell him [crosstalk 01:19:16]
Kimberly: Oh, no. That’s not it at all. That’s not it at all. Any spouses or the significant others, a lot of them get together and have a lot of fun, too. We all eat together. You don’t have to but it’s really, really fun. It’s a really good time.
Katie: Does your family like to go on a vacation while you’re teaching?
Kimberly: They do, yes, but you only teach at sea. Whenever the boat is the ship is in port, there’s no classes, so you don’t have to pick or chose because then you can then do everything off the ship but when they’re at sea, that’s when they hold the classes.
Katie: Do they let you bring rotary cutters on board?
Kimberly: Yes. You can bring whatever you want. Some people bring their own machines but not very many. Most people just use the machines there and they just handle it really well, the company because they’ll bring a variety of levels of machines and so you pick which one that you want. If you want the upper end or mid range or whatever and they’re always really nice but yes, you bring your own sewing essentials. Your own cutter, id you want to bring a matt, you can. Most people bring a small matt and a ruler and your scissors and a seam ripper and god forbid anybody should rip at sea. (Laughing)
Katie: I have to get at back at sea the first time to see if it stops working.
Kimberly: No. I know. let’s see. Do I have a few over here in my little, my little bucket here. Oh, no. I think I see four. (Laughing)
Katie: I shouldn’t live without mine. All the time.
Kimberly: As you sew, so shall you reap. (laughing)
Katie: Your books are available online at your website and your rulers.
Katie: You have a nice blog that you update.
Kimberly: Yes. Try to.
Katie: Good enough.
Kimberly: Not often enough. I know it’s really hard. It’s really hard. A blog.
Katie: It is. It’s time consuming. I’ll put links to all of your sites. My blog that I hosted and going to take photos of your studio so check my show notes for all the photos and then maybe a video of the studio if I can get my cell phone working.
Kimberly: (Laughs) That’ll be great.
Katie: Thank you so much.
Kimberly: Thank you. This has been fun. I’ve enjoyed every minute.
Katie: It’s been exciting. My first real interview with a quilter person.
Kimberly: Thank you.
Katie: Thank you.
Kimberly: All right.
Katie: This has been Katie’s Quilting Corner podcast. I can be reached at my blog katiesquiltingcorner.com, on Twitter, at quiltedmagnolia or email me, katie@ katiesquiltingcorner.com. Katie is always spelt with an I-E. All past episodes of my podcast are available for free download at my website. Just click the link at the top of the page.