Lisa Woolfork 0:00
Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. And, as I say every week, this is a very special episode, because all our episodes are special. But this week, we are talking with two wonderful quilters, who are not only amazing creatives in their own rights, they have come together to put on a spectacular Quilt-A-Long for a really wonderful piece of fabric or series of fabrics. And I am speaking of course of Mary Davis with Mary Go Round Quilts and Shereece Spain of Sew Hooked on Treasures. Welcome you both to the program. Thank you so much and welcome. Thank you.
Shereece Spain 1:15
Glad to be here.
Lisa Woolfork 1:16
So those of you all who are Patreon subscribers- and if you are not a Patreon subscriber, why are you not? I mean, for as little as $2 a month, you can support amazing programming like this. And honestly, this is like couch cushion money. And I know good and damn well I'm worth more than couch cushion money. Okay. But anyway, you get to see these amazing panels, and I am actually wearing a dress that I made from one of the panels that's going to be part of the challenge. So you get to see me in this lovely- okay, fine, I'll stand up- this lovely, lovely, amazingly rich and textured fabric. So, thank you so much you all for being here today. I'm so grateful. Thank you and welcome.
Shereece Spain 2:06
Thank you. So excited.
Lisa Woolfork 2:09
Whose idea was this to get started? Who did it? Who's responsible? Who's to blame? I mean, to give credit to. [laughter]
Shereece Spain 2:21
I think a combination deal, actually.
Mary Davis 2:24
Yeah, a combination deal. Shereece was talking about how many Dream Big Panels she had, that she's never quilted and how someday she's going get to. And I thought maybe I can get a Dream Big Panel and we can kind of cheer each other on as we do the panel, and then thought oh gosh, but it'd be like really great if we could do like a Quilt-A-Long, which I've never done before. And so Shereece and I talked about it and she was all in, and...birth of a Quilt-A-Long!
Shereece Spain 2:51
The proverbial kicking the tish, really, as long as I had been sitting on them. And it was during IG Quilt Fest. What is that, March? And it seems like forever ago now, but that's when our conversation first started about it. So I have been sitting on them. They've been collecting dust in my wet bags. I'm like, wow.
Lisa Woolfork 3:17
So let me ask, when you say "a lot." I'm curious as to what that number is. Or can we answer this first? How many total panels are there in the Dream Big series? How many would you guess there are entirely?
Shereece Spain 3:35
I couldn't even...maybe 30-ish?
Mary Davis 3:41
Yeah, there's so many different colors of the flower panels. And plus, there's like this poinsettia kind of looking panel. So there's like, bunches of them. Yes.
Lisa Woolfork 3:54
Okay, that's helpful because just in context, I'd like to know how much "a lot" is. So there are about 30 panels. And Shereece is telling us friends that she had a lot. Oh, let me do it again for the camera. A lot.
Shereece Spain 4:07
I had three.
Lisa Woolfork 4:09
Shereece Spain 4:13
And I was like, I won't buy this one. I'll just wait until I'm ready. And then of course a friend of mine says, "You don't know if they're going to have it whenever you do get ready, so you might as well go ahead and get it, of course." Quilting friends supporting your habit, right?
Lisa Woolfork 4:25
That's what we do. That's what we do. Some people call it enabling. Yeah. Other people call it love. I mean...and so you did not want to miss out, you did not want to have non-buyer's remorse. So you got a few, and then nothing really happened with them. How about you Mary? So you said you bought a few panels, because Shereece was going to start selling them.
Mary Davis 4:51
Oh, after we decided to do the Quilt-A-Long, I bought two panels. I bought this orange one and a blue one. But before that I'd never had them. I'd seen them. And I had no idea what to do with them. I just thought they were pretty. I'm like, "Well, yeah..." [laughter]
Lisa Woolfork 5:10
Okay, now we got to end the episode, there's no more Quilt-A-Long, we are going to be making dresses.
Shereece Spain 5:16
Such a good idea!
Lisa Woolfork 5:19
But no, it really is a beautiful piece. And it's funny because I have seen a few of the other Hoffman panels like this, and I've bought them, and I consider myself a quilter. I enjoy it, I'm working on a couple pieces right now. But primarily, my sewing expression comes through apparel. And so I was like, I don't know what I would do with it. But I just like it. I just think it's beautiful. And so, remember the one that looked like a starburst? It was like this kind of radiant, shiny... And they had it in black and white, they had it in a few of these other- and so I think I might have got the black and white one. And if there was a teal one or a purple one, I'm sure I have that too. So these are just really beautiful pieces. And so one of the things I was really curious about is- I know that both of you do other types of creativity, right? So Mary, you sew other things besides quilts, you'd have this wonderful project with your box. And I'd love to hear more about that. And then Shereece, you crochet and perhaps do other things, too. Is there any way that- did those other hobbies, those other things that you enjoy, did those come in at all? Do they feature in any way in your quilting life?
Shereece Spain 6:40
Not as much they for me, they are almost separate. I do overlap a little bit, for example, like I have done some blocks with crocheted motifs, which I've included as a part of the block and sewn them onto shirts or jackets or what have you. But other than that I really don't cross them very much. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. [laughs]
Lisa Woolfork 7:05
Hey, it's your thing and it seems to be working out. So I would say it's good. I say it's good. How about you, Mary?
Mary Davis 7:12
My focus right now is all on quilting, making quilts. And then I really like free motion quilting, that's taking off for me, doing some more. I'm pushing myself this year to learn new quilting designs and not just do an all over loop design or something, I just want to expand to something more. I do have other hobbies, I do crochet, not as much as Shereece. But I used to crochet a lot. And I started out sewing clothes. So I do kind of miss the clothing part.
Lisa Woolfork 7:47
You said you have three panels.
Mary Davis 7:50
Shereece has three.
Lisa Woolfork 7:53
Okay. Yeah, you said you had two panels, one of them could be a dress. I'm just saying. Or a blouse.
Shereece Spain 7:59
Actually, that's been floating around.
Mary Davis 8:03
That's a good idea.
Shereece Spain 8:03
And actually, one of my other ones, I've been toying with the idea of incorporating that into a quilt coat for this fall/winter. Yeah. I'd be calling you apparel sewers for a Sew-A-Long, another Quilt-A-Long.
Lisa Woolfork 8:20
Another Quilt-A-Long, that's right. So let's get into the free motion and what kind of recommendations are you- I've seen some really beautiful examples of some of the demonstrations that you've done for folks, getting people ready for the Quilt -A-Long. What kind of steps have you taken to help people get ready to go?
Mary Davis 8:41
You want me to take that, Shereece? I think we're just encouraging people, we're telling them what they're going to be learning. I know a lot of people who are going to be doing the curriculum are newbie free motion quilters and haven't done it at all, but they wanted to, so this is just an opportunity for them to try it out and see that it's not that hard. You don't have to have a big long arm machine to do it, you can use your domestic machine. You just got to take that first step and then you're done. You just got to try. So I think that with all of us encouraging each other along in the Quilt-A-Long that it'll be really good and helpful for everybody.
Shereece Spain 9:25
Absolutely, and we were all beginners at some point in time or another. Actually I still feel like I'm a beginner, but that's the whole idea, is the quilting community coming together to be supportive. And Mary's talked about the different panels; she's talked about thread; we just talked about batting this past week. Just some of those things that you purchase early, or if you have it already in your stash, to get ready for. Cause I know in the past I Frankensteined some batting just to use it up, so you don't have to go out and necessarily buy more stuff. You are more than welcome to use whatever you already have in your arsenal. Because I know we all have an arsenal. I mean, let's be honest.
Lisa Woolfork 10:04
Yes. In my 20 years or 25 years of sewing, one person who I met, a nice lady in the Richmond American Sewing Guild, is the only person who does not have a stash. Oh, wait, no, that's also not true. Now I'm lying. So that was her. She's a quilter. And that was a big surprise to me to be a quilter, and not have any extra. She's like, I buy what I need, I use it and then I'm done. And there was somebody else. This was Patrice Johnson, who was on the program last year. No- Patrice was on the program in the beginning, like in 2019. She has an apparel- this is what staggers me about Patrice. She's amazingly talented. She does gowns. She has no fear of sequins. Sheer mesh fabric, shiny fabric, slippery fabric, whatever. She will tackle it and do it beautifully. When I interviewed her for the program, she had seven pieces of fabric.
Shereece Spain 11:20
Like a museum gallery. [laughter]
Lisa Woolfork 11:24
Seven pieces of fabric. She could hold her whole stash. So I love this idea of getting makers, getting quilters, getting sewists, getting artists of all sorts to step into what they already have. And realize that we have the ability to conserve, we have the ability to utilize, to re-gift, to repurpose all of these things. And for me, sewing batting together like that is one of my favorites. Because it's such a calming- do you not like that? You don't like sewing batting?
Mary Davis 12:01
I'm, like, really bad. And oh, I have so much little pieces of batting because I'm like, oh gosh, the thought of trying to put that together...no! I'm horrible. Horrible with that.
Shereece Spain 12:13
I'm actually better with cutting them into the strips for the Jelly Roll rugs. And I just circle them back up. So I do have several rolls of those, we won't say how many.
Lisa Woolfork 12:25
We're all friends here. It's no judgement. Judgement-free zone.
Shereece Spain 12:31
I have the batting that's going to put those together!
Lisa Woolfork 12:36
You know what, I have the Jelly Rolls. I don't have the Jelly Rolls because I know I could cut my strips. But I have two of the batting fusible that was supposed to be useful for the project, and on two separate occasions in two different states, I managed to buy a Jelly Roll rug pattern and the fusible. I now have four of these things. Two patterns and two rolls of fusible, because I want to be ready for my rug. Watch, sometime later this summer, I will go and say "Oh look! A Jelly Roll rug! Wouldn't that be great?" [laughter]
Mary Davis 13:22
I've always wanted to try that. I've never tried it.
Lisa Woolfork 13:24
Same, Mary. Same.
Shereece Spain 13:27
I have a small oval one. It was just like one of those half a Jelly Rolls, and it was just a try it project. We fought, me and my rug, but we made it through, persevered.
Lisa Woolfork 13:41
Y'all, we are listening to the Stitch Please podcast, and I am delightedly speaking with Mary Davis and Shereece Spain of the Dream Big Quilt-A-Long. And when we come back, we're going to talk to them about the free motion process, what some of the challenges of that process are. And hear some more about their quilting lives to try to get you on the path to doing this, because these panels are absolutely beautiful. So stay tuned and we will be right back.
Hey, friends, hey. The Stitch Please podcast is about to publish its 100th episode. That's right: 100 episodes. As part of the celebration, we are launching 100 by 100 to help us get 100 more Patreon supporters by the 100th episode publication date on September 15, 2021. 100 additional Patreon supporters will give us the financial stability we need to hire editorial and production help. You can find the links to our Patreon in the show notes. Thank you so much for considering this and thank you current and future Patreon supporters
Welcome back everybody. You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast. Thank you so much for being with us today, I am speaking with Mary Davis and Shereece Spain of the Dream Big Quilt-A-Long. And so we're going to get into free motion. A quilting technique where, for example, if you're an apparel sewer, you know that the sewing machine has feed dogs. Those are the little teeth that help your fabric to advance. That's what the feed dogs do. That's one of the reasons that we don't pull our fabric, is that the feed dogs work in time with the needle to help your fabric get sewn. Okay, we know what this is, I just want to be clear. But free motion does something different. In the beginning, you would cover your feed dogs, like with masking tape, you could cover them, if your machine didn't drop the feed dogs. But now many sewing machines, you can drop the feed dogs so that instead of only going forwards and backwards with your stitching, you can also move laterally. This has been, like, a big huge contribution to the world of machine quilting. Like when someone figured out as a way to do quilting was a big deal. And so now we have Mary and Shereece that're going to be taking us through this gorgeous panel, and how you accomplish free motion. Do you want to talk a bit about why you chose- oh, and one last metaphor that was helpful to me. So even if you're not a sewist at all, if you're just a person who doesn't sew and listens to the podcast. Thanks, my sister Stephanie! She refuses to sew, but she listens to the podcast, so thank you. You know how when you write on a sheet of paper, you hold the pen in your hand and you write your name or write whatever you want. So in that case, the paper is still in your hand, and the pen are moving. In free motion quilting it's the reverse. The pen is still, and the paper is moving. So that is what free motion, like, is.
Lisa Woolfork 16:54
And if you are on a domestic sewing machine, the machines that many of us are used to that don't have, like, handlebars, some of those wonderful...we'll talk about those machines too. I'd love to hear more about those. So tell us, why free motion?
Shereece Spain 17:13
Honestly, for me personally, it's a way to be creative besides just the piecing part. You have pieced together this quilt, and you get to a point- it's like, I piece and I love to piece. And for some people, it's like, "Okay, what else can I do with this besides just send it off to somebody else and go on to the next one?" What's great is that if sometimes we get bogged up and want to keep moving along, this is another extension of adding your own touch to that same quilt. So it doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be simple. And so the idea is to take - whether you've learned free motion or not - is to get you started, or to take what skills you do have and push your your skill level and your skill set to learn more. That's really where this got me, is because I really want to push the bar. Just like Mary, when she said that to get out of the habit of those same allover patterns I keep doing on every quilt, is I need to - and I want to - learn more. So together, we're all going to push each other. And we have some other amazing quilters so it's not just our faces you're going to see every week, but...
Lisa Woolfork 18:26
That would be amazing, because your faces are pretty great. I'm looking at them right now.
Shereece Spain 18:29
We don't want people to get bored looking at just us. [laughter]
Lisa Woolfork 18:31
I don't see how they would. I mean...
Shereece Spain 18:34
We're going to bring it. We've got an awesome crew that are going to guide us each week to learn a different technique. So starting with using, behind me, the picture, the center of the flower, and we're going to build and work our way out each week over the seven week period.
Lisa Woolfork 18:48
And Mary, what about you? What about free motion quilting appeals to you? Is it the same, like, taking the risk to just get out of the traditional?
Mary Davis 18:57
Yeah, I mean, I've been quilting for a long time. And I would just do straight line stitching on my domestic machine forever and ever and ever, until about five years ago when I discovered free motion quilting. And I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world. And it was just like Shereece says, it's really fun to take a project and to have it be 100% you. It's 100% your personality, and the stitching, and the piecing of the stitching, and the quilting on top. You made all of it. Nothing against people who send their quilts out to long armers to get them done. But for me, I just think it's just a really cool thing that it's just my touch the entire way through. I really like freedom.
Lisa Woolfork 19:43
The freedom. One of the things I love about it is how much your body gets in it. I guess for me- now, this is one of the reasons why y'all going to wish you had a Patreon. Because you are going to see me do the face that I make when I'm doing my free motion. I don't know, because now Mary and Shereece, they're professionals. They do this a lot. They're excellent quilters. When I'm doing free motion, I got my tongue planted like... Then, I got my both hands on the thing, and as my body is moving... [Mary laughs]
Mary Davis 20:22
It's like meditating.
Lisa Woolfork 20:24
That is how I do it. It's a very kinetic process, because I'm focusing. And so it's funny you said "freedom." I don't know what this movement is: a gesture of freedom, or if it's just me like, "Oh no, I want it to be right. I want it to be right." You know what I mean? The main thing is the stitch length, the uneven- and that's the thing that I'm like, "Oh, I was doing really great here. And then I must have got tired or whatever, and then everything changed." So this lack of stitch regulation is one of the challenges, but that's also one of the parts of the freedom of the free motion. Can you talk a bit about that? Do you all start getting like a DJ, and start really moving and getting in the spirit? Do you get in the spirit when you're doing it, like I do?
Shereece Spain 21:06
You're so funny, because when I first started, I didn't breathe. I didn't blink, it was like this. It really was! A friend of mine, she said, "Shereece, you need a glass of wine." [laughter] Like you have to breathe, relax, just relax and go with it. It's okay to mess up. And it's like, oh, it is, because this is mine. And does this piece instantly have to go outside? It's not going into some sort of show, or to be judged. And I'm not going to send it off to Paducah or anything like that. So that whole idea that it does not have to be perfect really helped. You can relax in the mind. Now I still have all the funky faces going on, and whatever else. No, actually, I caught like a side view in some, like, reel that I posted on Instagram. And a quilting friend of mine, she's like, "Nice face." [laughter] I was like, yeah, that's my concentration face!
Lisa Woolfork 22:18
That's right. That's right.
Mary Davis 22:19
I'm impatient for people to go find that video.
Lisa Woolfork 22:24
That's right, find her so we can watch her concentrating quilter face. How about you, Mary? Do you get all anxious?
Mary Davis 22:35
I don't know. I mean, I tend to get a little bit ahead of myself, because I'm always so anxious to see what it's going to look like. I'm like, surely I can go faster. So you know that song in the Wizard of Oz when the lady is on her bike, and it's like [hums]. So that's me, and then I get my shoulders and my neck, that pain. But that's my problem is I like, I go too fast. And then it's like, I cuss a lot. My daughter will be downstairs and she'll be like, "I hear you all the time! Expletive, expletive, expletive."
Lisa Woolfork 23:13
Oh, my gosh, like, Are you having fun, Mom? I can't tell, cause you're banging the shit out of that quilt. Like, I don't know! Are you having fun?
Mary Davis 23:25
Oh, gosh, sometimes it doesn't look like it but man, I am.
Lisa Woolfork 23:31
Exactly. Now, you said that you're working with a team of other folks who will be giving support throughout the time period of the challenge. How did you select those folks? Did you get volunteers, did you voluntold some people? Like, how does that work?
Mary Davis 23:46
We just did some Instagram searches. And each of us were like, "Okay, why don't you find some people, I'll find some people?" So I think we just went through Instagram, searched the hashtags for long arm quilters, quilters on a domestic. And initially, though, Shereece had found Kelly Ashton before we had even- we hadn't asked her at that point. But she had a bunch of panels already done, and that's one of the first people that she had contacted. But basically we just searched, we asked people. Some said yes, and some said no. And here we are!
Lisa Woolfork 24:21
That's excellent. And I'm glad that you've, you know, selected some folks that you're excited to work with, and that so many folks can learn from. Now, you said that this could also work on- so I guess there's three types of quilting machines. There's like a standard, just the regular sewing machine that you can use, a domestic machine. And then, is the next step up like a sit down long arm? And you sit, it's like it's much smaller. It looks kind of like a domestic machine, a little bit, but it has like a few handlebars. And then there's the big ones with the laser that you stand up and that are huge. I don't know, am I correct in this?
Shereece Spain 25:02
Yeah, some of those, I call them medium arms. I don't even know if that's correct.
Mary Davis 25:07
Some people call them mid arms. I have one of those sit-down long arm machines. It doesn't have handlebars, it just has a huge 18" throat.
Lisa Woolfork 25:15
Wow. Jealous. And so the mid arm, is it the same idea? And would you roll your quilt up so that you could quilt it? How does that work?
Mary Davis 25:28
I have a lot of space in it. I do kind of start with it rolled, but it never stays rolled. About a quarter of the way through, it's like all over the place. And then I'm just trying to maneuver it on the table. I don't have a huge table. That's the only drawback, at least for me, with my machine. So I have to put another table next to my sewing machine, my table, but it works really good. I really like it. It's just like a domestic except for it's got a huge throat.
Lisa Woolfork 25:54
Oh, that's so awesome. So let me ask you, for folks who don't have those fancier machines, and they just have their standard sewing machine. One of the challenges that I find- not challenge, but a task that I often forget about- is putting the quilt sandwich together. And so we know, folks who aren't quilters, we have the quilt top, you have batting, you have a backing. And sometimes people call that a sandwich. But keeping those layers connected and together while you are quilting is really important, because you don't want your quilt to fall apart before you've even had a chance to quilt it. And so basting becomes important. How are you all recommending folks to handle that? Are you safety pinning? Are they meant to hand baste? Like, what's the best way to baste for free motion? Sometimes I find it easy to baste when I've quilted just straight lines. I'm like, "Just quilt where you don't want to sew, Lisa, it's easy." All diagonally, and don't sew over the pins. But for free motion, it could go anywhere. How do y'all deal with that?
Shereece Spain 27:02
In this case for the basting process, it's however their preference is to baste. There really is no- I wouldn't say there's a right or wrong way to do so. If you do pin baste, avoid the pedal lines when you pin baste. Because when you start, it's starting with the outline of the panel. So if you can avoid the lines, then you're not having to take your pins out as you go along. You can wait till you're all done, and then de-pin. I like to keep my rhythm, I don't like having to take the pins out as I'm sewing. I know that sounds really silly. It's like you get into a flow - pin! Yeah, you can avoid seeing the pins in the lines of the pedal when you do baste. There, I will make that recommendation. Other than that, the spray basting, your hand basting, have at it. Whatever floats your boat in that case.
Mary Davis 27:58
Always spray basting. That's all I do. Cause I'm lazy but need to go fast. So I can't be putting safety pins on my quilts. [laughter]
Lisa Woolfork 28:08
We'll be here all day behind this. Yeah. I don't want to make it anymore.
Shereece Spain 28:15
I do like to pin baste. And since I started using these ones, they're called wonder pins like the wonder clips, but they're pins for basting. And they are way better than the silver curved safety pins, in my opinion. I'm no expert, don't get me wrong.
Lisa Woolfork 28:31
Hey, your opinion is why you are here. So, those wonder pins. Because I pin baste with a little clippy thing, that's like the safety pin clipper that helps you don't wreck your fingernails. I have that. But I also have a ton of wonder clips because I love them. And I hate pinning clothes. Like when I make clothes, the only time I pin is if I have a dart. I will pin the dart. But everything else I'm like, "Ugh, pins." So I'm excited. I'm really excited for the wonder clip alternative, the pins. What is that?
Shereece Spain 29:07
Yes, they're wonder pins, and they have like a plastic on top and same sort of pin mechanism on the bottom. But the plastic is on top and that's what it goes into. It's hard to describe. If I had one in front of me, I would grab it, but it's like on the other side of my sewing room.
Lisa Woolfork 29:22
No worries. No worries. I will be googling this. Yeah, soon after this call. Who knows, in a few days, there might be a box of said wonder pins at my house. I'm quite curious. I'm quite curious.
Shereece Spain 29:36
One or two days on Amazon maybe? I don't know. [laughter]
Lisa Woolfork 29:40
Who's to say? Who's to say? I don't know the future. Oh y'all, this has been so wonderful. I'm so grateful to y'all for taking the time to share this with me, and to tell us all about this challenge and y'all, you have time. You're only two days past, and these panels, there's about 30 of them, and they're all gorgeous. And I mean, I really love- again another Patreon reason- you can see that Mary's is in this gorgeous color, really like bright but also subtle. And then Shereece has one that's in the lightest, most muted tones. It looks like kind of taupe, is that what it is? I can't tell. Sometimes colors can get off on the screen. Yeah. Oh, it's so pretty. So beautiful. So you could do something bold, you could do something subtle, but you can do it with the Dream Big Quilt-A-Long. So tell folks where they can find you, Mary and Shereece, so that they want more information.
Mary Davis 30:41
You can find me everywhere at Mary Go Round Quilts, and it's M A R Y Go Round. So @marygoroundquilts on Instagram, Mary Go Round Quilts on my website, Facebook. On my Instagram and on Shereece's also we have links in our bio, so you can register and we'll get your email, and we'll get the videos out to you. So join us.
Shereece Spain 31:01
Yes, please do and I am at Sew Hooked on Treasures, @sewhookedontreasures Instagram, Facebook, and my website being sewhookedontreasures.com.
Lisa Woolfork 31:14
Wonderful. Thank you all so much. And come back next week, everybody and we'll help you get your stitch together. Bye.
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