Get to Know Blair Stocker before Missouri Star Live!

Meet Blair Stocker: owner of Wise Craft Handmade, quilter, designer, author, crafter, teacher, and more! Here are a few things about Blair, who will make a special appearance on Missouri Star LIVE Tuesday, February 16. We found out her favorite quilting tool and what her perfect day is – keep reading to learn more about Blair!

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?

I really love every part of the quilting process- the way the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I get a new design idea, picking fabrics, repetitive piecing (which I like to call my Netflix time), quilting, hand sewing on the binding. Each part has its own positives for me. I guess if I’m forced to pick a favorite part, maybe designing and picking the color palette for a quilt. I worked in apparel design for many years and coming up with seasonal color stories was always my jam, so this part can feel similar.

Who are your favorite fabric designers? 

I love Ruby Star Society, Denyse Schmidt, Alison Glass, so many others too. Any sort of colorful fabric line with little things like flowers on them just gets me every time.

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on? 

My Ruby Ruler™, most definitely. I don’t design any quilt or lay out any blocks without it. It helps me find what I like to call “quilt sparkle”.

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?

My maternal grandmother taught me lots of things like knitting, simple sewing when I was a preschooler. (Just a side note, I don’t know if I’d have the patience to teach a preschooler to knit!)

What was the most frustrating sewing project you ever worked on?

The Weekender Bag by Amy Butler. I tried to make one probably 15 years ago and broke the sewing machine I was using at the time. I thought my sewing days were over, but I REALLY wanted to make that bag! (I still have it!)

What do you do to find inspiration/encourage your creativity?

My husband and I officially became empty nesters this year and decided to make a big life change and move from Seattle, Washington to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I pinch myself every day that we live in such a beautiful place. Even though it’s a bit challenging to visit local museums and shops during the pandemic, I have managed to visit a few. So inspiring. Although, even just walking around downtown Santa Fe is so inspiring to me too. All of this, and daily doses of unlimited sunshine have done a lot for my creativity.

What occupation would you like to try if sewing/making wasn’t an option?

I have always said that if I didn’t do this, I would love to do something with linguistics, maybe voice analysis. Regional accents have always been very interesting to me, and I’m pretty good at picking up on where people are from. For example, I am from North Carolina, I met a woman here in Sante Fe who immediately felt like “kin”, I knew she had to be from NC. When I asked where she was from, imagine my amazement when we both realized we grew up 30 minutes apart in North Carolina and went to the same college!

Who is your favorite fictional character?

No question- Arietty from The Borrowers. I loved how the world was so big (literally!) and full of wonder to her. As a kid, I wanted nothing more than for Arietty and her family to live under our floorboards.

What fabric have you been hoarding the longest?

That’s easy- Liberty of London “Ciara”. I don’t hoard it, but I do buy it by the yard(s) and would have a bolt of it if I could.

It’s my favorite of any fabric in the world. I have used it in many quilts, like My Liberty Spikes quilt (see picture below). I played with altering the color of it by bleaching some of it a little. All the printed areas are the Ciara print in the same colorway, just some are bleached a little, some a lot, and some none at all.

Describe your perfect day. 

Well, I awake to a clean house, magically done while I was sleeping! After that, spending the entire day in my studio (which is being built as an addition onto our house this year) just sewing and designing quilts. Listening to music, true crime podcasts, or some sort of inspiring self-help audio book. Then, closing up shop for the day (by closing the antique door/entrance to my studio) and having dinner with my husband, ending the day with junky reality tv. Mixing a day like this with days spent at museums or talking shop with fellow creatives is really about all I need out of life.

You can keep up with Blair on social by following her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Don’t forget to swing by her website, https://wisecrafthandmade.com, too. If you want even more, join Blair in her private Facebook group, where she hosts community stitch alongs.

Tune in to Missouri Star LIVE with Misty on Tuesday, February 16, when Blair shows off her the Ruby Ruler, and teaches you to find your “quilt sparkle”!

Meet Missouri Star Academy Instructor, Patsy Thompson

Our newest Missouri Star Academy instructor is Patsy Thompson of Patsy Thompson Designs. She is an expert in free motion quilting using rulers. As you scroll through this post, you will find some of the most beautiful quilts quilted and designed by Patsy! Get to know her a bit more and fall in love with ruler-work quilting in her class, Beginning Free Motion Quilting with Rulers!

Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

When did you first give machine quilting a try?

In the year 2000. I had been a hand quilter for over 20 years, and when I would see machine quilted quilts at shows, I thought of them as “cheater quilts.” I figured I could quickly learn to machine quilt, and I was so, SO WRONG!! It was very hard and took me a couple years of what felt like endless practice! I am very glad I didn’t give up, though, because I love to free motion quilt!

Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

When you started, did you first use rulers or are they something you came to use later on?

Oh, gosh, no! I had been free motion quilting for many years before I tried rulers. Back when I did start, there were no ruler feet for home machines and we had to improvise. Nowadays, the market is very much geared to the home quilter and there’s a ruler foot for pretty much any machine that’s available.

Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What advice do you have for someone just starting out with ruler work?

Get ready to have fun! It will feel very strange/awkward when you first start out, but stick with it and soon it will feel completely normal to be holding/moving the quilt and a ruler simultaneously. The learning curve for ruler work is much faster than for regular free motion quilting, so it’s worth giving ruler work a shot even if you’re a beginner free motion quilter.

Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What advice do you have for someone who just started machine quilting?

I know that no one wants to hear these words, but keep practicing, then practice some more. It’s all about putting in the time. I would also start with much smaller projects. There are really two very different skills you need to free motion quilt:

  1.  You need to learn how to control the quilt sandwich underneath the needle to create an appealing design.  This requires you learning how to move the quilt from point A to point B to point C to create the design, and also how to do the “dance” between how quickly you move the quilt across the machine bed and how fast you run the foot pedal.  This set of skills is best learned on small quilt sandwiches.
  2. You need to learn to handle the quilt from the standpoint of a mechanical engineer.  A quilt is big and bulky and has a weightiness that will always be pulling against you until you learn how to position it to avoid drag.  When you’re a sit-down quilter on a home sewing machine, you also have that small harp space to contend with.  I don’t think about any of these issues anymore because it is second nature to me how to position/manipulate the quilt as I work, but when you’re first learning to free motion quilt, you’ll really need to focus on how to overcome these challenges.  
Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Do you have an all-time favorite quilt that you have quilted?

I have two all time favorites. Both of them have some hand-dyed cotton sateen fabrics in them, and there is something about those luscious colors that thrills me as I am quilting! They both have a lot of ruler work quilting, and also lots of feathers, so they each have many of my favorite parts of quilting.

Where do you look for inspiration in your work?

Pretty much everywhere.  I am very affected by color, especially rich, saturated colors, so I generally find myself stimulated by colors I see in everyday things.  I also am aware of combinations of colors (i.e. colors next to one another) that I find pleasing.  Those combinations will frequently find their way into quilts!

Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

How long have you been teaching classes and what do you enjoy most about sharing your skills?

I taught my first class in early 2002. A friend of mine talked me into it and I remember being SO nervous driving to the class, questioning how I let myself get talked into doing it, wishing I could somehow get out of it. By the end of the class, I felt so exhilarated by seeing all these students learning how to free motion quilt, that I never questioned teaching again.  The best part of teaching is seeing a student realize that he/she can “do it.” There is nothing like the thrill of being a part of that spark! 

What are the must have tools for ruler work you always have on hand?

A ruler foot that fits your machine, machine quilting rulers/templates, and either a plexiglass extension table for your machine or the ability to sink the machine so it is flush with the quilting surface. You’ll also want marking tools (to mark your starting/stopping points), a seam ripper, and I like having a short ruler (6-8 inches long) for any measuring/marking that need to be done on the fly.

Meet Patsy Thompson, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What is your favorite ruler to use/design to make when machine quilting?

Arc rulers, for sure! You can make so many different types of designs with arc rulers, and the more curves you have at your disposal, the better. Arcs RULE!!

START MACHINE QUILTING WITH RULERS

What is your favorite machine quilting design?
Show us in the comments!

Meet Missouri Star Academy Instructor, HollyAnne Knight

Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

HollyAnne Knight of String & Story teaches one of our online courses here at Missouri Star. She helps people learn to not only quilt with confidence, but live an overall well and confident life. Check out her quilting blog or wellness blog for fun stuff!

Join HollyAnne in her Beginner-Friendly Free Motion Quilting class! You’re gonna love it and her! Get to know our newest instructor:

Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Do you have any funny “mess-up” stories to share from your experience with machine quilting?

Oh my heavens! … My quilting journey is like a RomCom of crazy mess-ups! I have quilted my supreme slider to the back of my quilt multiple times (notice I don’t use one any more!), not to mention managing to actually quilt my quilt TO ITSELF (watch those edges, y’all, and don’t let them get folded under!). Of course I’ve lost track of the times I’ve had tension issues… More recently, I checked my tension, but not carefully, and not as I went along and ended up spending FIFTEEN HOURS pulling stitches out of a quilt. Needless to say, I had TWO margaritas when I was done!

Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What first inspired you to give machine quilting a try?

I started quilting because my mom wanted a t-shirt quilt. Being a complete nerd, I immediately check out every quilting book in our local library– which was more or less the complete works of Angela Walters! Obviously, these were basically useless for my original intent, but they did introduce me to a world of color, texture, and movement that I didn’t know existed in quilting. My background is in painting and dance, and free motion reminded me more of those mediums rather than sewing. A new mom who needed a kid-friendly hobby (which oil painting is not), I kind of just jumped in. Of course I was nervous that I would mess up, not be any good, etc, but there was only one way to find out. In ballet, we have this saying that you’re not a real dancer until you fall 10 times. I figured quilting could be like that– maybe I would quilt 10 crappy quilts, but I figured, sooner or later, if I kept practicing, I would get it. Honestly, the thing that surprised me most was how quickly my skill grew when I got serious about practicing– which is something I’ve seen happen again and again for my students, too! 

Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Do your sons show any interest in quilting/sewing? Have you started teaching them?

They’re kids and quilting is creative– of course they’re interested! They mostly love color and texture, and they have remarkably good taste (proof that our creative instincts start strong, even if we struggle later). They love playing with scraps, asking me to sew bits together, or sitting in my lap with their hands on mine while we chain piece and handing me pins as needed. I haven’t started teaching them in any formal sense, though, but mostly for selfish reasons! I’m not sure I’m ready to share my sewing room! I hope we’ll sew together as they continue to get older, though, or, at the very least, that they will find their own creative passion to pursue alongside my quilting. 

Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What advice do you have for others who are beginning their machine quilting journey?

…YOU CAN DO THIS. (That little voice of “yeah, but…” that just popped in your head? Slap her. She’s a liar. All of us have an inner critic, and our inner critics are nothing but jerks. Put her in a corner and listen to me.) Yes, it will be challenging; yes, it will take work. But YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR. You can do hard things. After all, you learned to walk and talk and read and write and use a rotary cutter without removing your fingers. Free Motion Quilting? It’s just one more skill that you’re going to study, practice, and master. The desire and the willingness to keep practicing through the “messy middle” are really all you need to get started… and I would be honored to be your teacher!

Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What keeps you feeling creative and inspired? What do you do if you feel like you’re in a slump?

Our local town square in downtown Duluth, GA, so going out for dinner with my family is sure to pick me up and give me new enthusiasm. Similarly, getting out in nature is both relaxing and inspiring– double points if I can get some exercise while I’m at it! When I’m at home in the studio, I just do the next right thing– which is usually cleaning! Whatever is stumping me (usually a quilt top that needs a quilting plan), gets hung up on the design wall where I can ponder it without being consumed by it, and I’ll clean my sewing room, and just putter around for awhile. Maybe do some emails or yoga or whatever– all while just “hanging around” with the pesky project. Then, I’ll get away from it– go to Duluth, watch a movie, anything else, for the night and come back the next day with fresh eyes. Usually by then I at least have a starting place to build on. 

Quilt all day or Quilt all night?

I am SUCH a night owl! I love to work absurdly late in my sewing room. I love how quiet the house is and how I can get lost in my audiobooks and sewing. 

My Best Tips for FMQ

  1. Practice on paper first. Whether you’re doodling motifs or deciding what to quilt where… paper is far lower stakes than your beautiful quilt, so work out the planning kinks and the learning curves on paper and then practice sandwiches first.
  2. Check your tension. A lot. At LEAST every bobbin, but ideally every 10 minutes of quilting or so. Yes, it might slow you down a bit to flip your quilt over and take a peek, but if anything goes cattywampus, you want to know pronto!
  3. Have fun! Seriously, if you are not having fun quilting, then we need to have a talk because the whole point of a hobby is to enjoy it. Allow yourself to be imperfect, to enjoy the process, and maybe even have a little wine to lighten the mood!
Meet HollyAnne Knight, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Start Your Machine Quilting Journey

HollyAnne shared her “mess-up” story and now it’s your turn! Do you have any “oops” moments in quilting? Tell us in the comments!

Meet Missouri Star Academy Instructor, Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill is the founder of Whole Circle Studio, LLC which specializes in the design of custom modern quilts, patterns and other licensed products. She is an active member of the modern quilt community and recognized from her many outstanding awards from several major quilting events. Sheri also teaches and presents her creative skills all over the world, but works mostly from her home studio in New Haven, Connecticut.

With all her adventures in tow, we were thrilled that Sheri said yes to coming all the way to Quilt Town, USA to teach one of our online classes, Piecing Curves with Confidence! Let us introduce you to Missouri Star Academy‘s newest instructor!

Meet Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

When did you first conquer the curve? How long into your quilting journey was it?

I decided to make a modern flowering snowball quilt as an entry to a challenge back in 2014. The inspiration for my quilt, Picnic Petals, was the fabric challenge collection, entitled Petal Pinwheels. Going into the challenge, I looked at a lot of photos of pinwheels, flowers and sketched elements of these objects to study how I could convey organic shapes and movement in a block quilt. As a relatively new quilter at the time, this was the first time I worked with curved elements. This challenge encouraged me to work with fabric patterns and techniques I might not normally work with. Out of 750 entries, I was one of the three winners! 

Meet Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

What are the staples/must have tools in your sewing studio?

First and foremost, a space that I’m comfortable in. I love having natural light, so whenever possible I keep lights off… I also love having a design wall that I can put up random swatches, blocks or quilts that I’m working on. It’s amazing how different things can look from hour to hour or day to day. Sometimes if I’m stuck on something, I’ll walk by it days later and figure out the next step.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I’m usually either listening to a podcast or have a video streaming through my computer, ALWAYS coffee, and sometimes salty veggie chips, cashews or chocolate chips!

Why do you think people find curves so terrifying? Are there any misconceptions about sewing them that you can clear up?

I think people are scared of curves because it looks difficult. The truth is, it’s super easy. I teach this technique all the time and there is always at least one skeptic in the room who thinks they can’t do it. I’ve never had a student NOT be able to sew a beautiful curve by the end of class. All you need is experience sewing a ¼” seam, pins and patience! Seriously!

When did you start quilting? What brought you into the quilting world? 

Wanting to make a quilt, I bought a sewing machine for $100 and my first quilt pattern book in 2006. There was only one problem—I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine. Busy with work, that book sat on my shelf for seven years until I needed a distraction from a stressful situation in my life. My first few quilts I made for others—to celebrate the births of babies, weddings and friends moving into exciting new phases of their lives. I became addicted to quilt making and then realized that with my graphic design and technical skills I could design my own quilts. After sharing my work with others online and in quilt guilds, I was asked to share my patterns. In 2015, I started Whole Circle Studio, LLC. Whole Circle Studio specializes in the design of custom modern quilts, patterns and other licensed products.

Where do you find your inspiration for new products? 

Inspiration for my work comes from my everyday life… I believe design and content have a symbiotic relationship. Both need to support one another and require a strong concept to fuel them. My quilt designs start with a concept and the content (research, backstory, color, fabric selection and technique) which help shape the design. Never without my camera and sketchbook, I’m always taking photos and sketching from everyday inspirations… My mission is to enhance people’s lives through beautiful, meaningful design as well as to empower and inspire others to enjoy the process of making.

What’s your favorite tip to share with new quilters? 

Don’t be afraid to experiment! Rarely is there ever just one way (and often there is never the “perfect” way to do something in quilting. If a specific way of doing something doesn’t come naturally to you or isn’t fun, see if there is a different way to do it. Quilting should be fun! 

Meet Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill, Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Learn more about Sheri and her work at wholecirclestudio.com and on Instagram at @wholecirclestudio.

Join her latest class, Piecing Curves with Confidence, and learn a new skill with Sheri! Don’t forget to come back and show off your curves!

If you aren’t quite sure this is the class for you, get a sneak peek of what you can expect HERE!

What curvy project will you make?!

Start Piecing Curves with Confidence

Meet Annette Ashbach, a Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Missouri Star Academy is all about providing education and empowering you to create. From weekly tutorials to online in-depth classes, events and even classes held here in Hamilton, MO at our Education Center where there is something for everyone!

Annette Ashbach is one of our Education Center instructors and she teaches many things ranging from making full quilt tops to smaller projects like aprons and totes!

Meet Annette Ashbach, a Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Annette first found interest in sewing after she became fascinated with watching her grandmother’s hand-stitching and embroidery techniques. Her love for sewing continued as she grew up watching her mother create costumes and dance uniforms on the sewing machine. Today, Annette has been quilting on and off for about forty-five years and teaching for the last twelve.

Meet Annette Ashbach, a Missouri Star Academy Instructor

Annette has a very diverse taste in fabrics. She adores anything wool, but also enjoys batiks. She has a soft spot for appliqué and is always up for a challenging pattern!

Take a peek at our Education Center Class Schedule and sign up to learn something fun with Annette!

“Don’t be afraid to try something new… It’s just fabric! Have fun and be creative! That’s all there is to it.” she says.

Annette Ashbach