Artist Spotlight: Laura Piland

Meet Laura Piland of Slice of Pi quilts and the your host for Creating for Kids: Nursery from Missouri Star!
Meet Laura Piland of Slice of Pi quilts and the your host for Creating for Kids: Nursery from Missouri Star!

Meet Laura Piland. Laura is a quilt pattern designer and homeschooling mom of three young boys. She’s also an ex-math teacher – and with a last name like Piland – there’s a strong love of pi in her house! She has been designing and publishing patterns since 2016. Her work has been included in magazines, newspapers, and quilting industry publications. Laura loves to travel to guilds and quilt shops and share her love of quilting with others!

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?

I absolutely love the thrill of starting a new project! From coming up with a design idea to figuring out how to stitch it to picking out the perfect fabric! (Don’t ask me about finishing all the things I start though! Ha!)

Who are your favorite fabric designers?

Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew is at the top of that list! She’s such a wonderful human in real life, and I love seeing what she designs next! I also have quite a collection of fabric by Karen Lewis. I can not resist her tiny white screen printed shapes on solid fabrics! But if we’re talking what fabrics I *use* the most (instead of collect), then that would definitely be Island Batik fabrics! I love the saturation of color in their fabrics, and they’re a dream to work with!

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on?

My Juki TL-2010Q sewing machine!! It sews FAST! If I’m sewing on another machine, I’m thinking about my Juki the whole time!

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?

I first learned to sew when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I made a couple garments for a 4-H project, but really didn’t like the process at all. My mom and both grandmothers quilted, but I had no interest whatsoever. It wasn’t until my 20s that I was inspired to try making a quilt after a friend had a baby. Then I couldn’t stop!

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

I often have projects that go to time-out for a bit! I get the most frustrated when using basting spray on a quilt (I always use pins now!) or if sewing something 3-D (like a bag or garment). I have to read the directions ten times before doing each step!

What fabric have you been hoarding the longest?

The Honeymoon collection from Sarah Watts is at the top of my hoarding list. (I do have several other fabrics that are older, but they don’t get the same “hoarding” title!) I’ve made a *few* hexies from the collection that will one day be a quilt just for me, and I have yardage of a couple of the prints that I save for super special projects.

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

I love searching Pinterest for new quilty ideas and inspiration! I have many more ideas than time! But spending a day with quilty friends always motivates me to get sewing!

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

I seriously can not imagine not being able to quilt! This is my dream job! That said, I used to be a middle school math teacher, and I do still love to teach. I suppose that would still be my second choice!

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Ooh! I think that would have to be Ms. Frizzle! Her field trip shenanigans are great, and her themed dresses are exactly something I would make too! I’ve even dressed up as her for a few Halloweens!

Describe your perfect day. 

It would have to start with donuts! (A maple longjohn and a bear claw to be exact!) Add in some quilty friends and a sunny 75 degree day at a lake house. A bit of stitching and lots of laughter would really make it a day to remember!

Want to learn more about Laura? Head over to her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram!

Get to Know: Jacquie Gering

Jacquie Gering.
Jacquie Gering

Meet Jacquie Gering, a modern textile artist based out of Prairie Village, Kansas. She began quilting in 2009 and her quilting style has evolved from first exploring traditional quilting to settling into her own way of creating that encompasses a modern, minimalist style that she works through today. 

We had an opportunity to ask Jacquie a few questions ahead of her special appearance on BLOCK Party on Thursday, March 18. Keep reading to get to know Jacquie, from her favorite tools to her history of sewing, and join us on Thursday to see her in action!

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?

Design is my favorite part of making a quilt, but design is a key component in almost every facet of making a quilt: creating the pieced design, choosing color and fabrics, choosing a quilting design and even that final design choice of picking the right binding or deciding to use facing rather than binding. 

Who are your favorite fabric designers?

I don’t really have many favorite fabric designers since I use almost exclusively solid fabrics when I make my work. The one shelf of prints I do have is filled with fabrics designed by Yoshiko Jinzenji. Her prints are unique in the fabric world. They are sparse yet graphic and they have always intrigued me.  I’ve been purchasing them since I started quilting in 2009, but it’s taken me years to figure out how her prints integrate with my aesthetic and how to use them effectively in my quilts.

What notion or sewing tool are you most dependent on?

The one tool that I couldn’t do without is my sewing machines. They are the workhorses in my studio.  I have a Brother Nouvelle 1500s which is a semi-industrial straight stitch machine that I use pretty much exclusively for piecing. It’s a beast. It sews fast with beautiful stitches and it never needs to go to the shop. It is simple to operate and to care for, yet it has the features that I require for good piecing: presser foot pressure adjustment, needle down, thread cutter, multiple feed dog settings and a knee lift. I love that it’s fast. My other machine is a Bernina 820 and it is always set up for quilting. I bought that machine so that I could quilt my own quilts. It has a large harp space to support quilting large quilts and it is sunk into the table so that my quilts are well supported when I quilt. It does more than it needs to for me and because of the level of complexity of the electronics it’s fussier than my Brother, but I take pristine care of it and have learned it inside and out and what it takes to make it work for what I need it to do. Both my machines are covered when not in use and they are cleaned and oiled regularly to keep them in tiptop shape.

How were you introduced to sewing and quilting?

The women in my family introduced me to sewing. They were all accomplished seamstresses.  My mother taught me to sew as a child.  She was my 4-H leader and tried her best to teach me the sewing skills she thought I might need. I was pretty much a failure in her eyes. I didn’t love sewing or making my own clothes and accessories though as the obedient daughter I did. I wasn’t very good at it and since I didn’t love it I abandoned it as soon as I could buy my own wardrobe. The women in my family quilted as well, but I didn’t really see it as interesting or special so I didn’t learn to quilt from them. I discovered quilting much later in life through the art world. I stumbled onto quilting after seeing the Gee’s Bend exhibit. I found those quilts intriguing and so different than the quilts I knew growing up. I bought a sewing machine and dabbled a bit. The timing was serendipitous. Quitting my current job corresponded with my discovery of quilting and on a whim I decided that quilting was the career I wanted to pursue. I fired up Google and taught myself what I wanted (needed) to know and I’ve been learning ever since.

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

I’m not sure I can say. Frustrating is an odd choice of words for me. In fact, I looked it up because something felt weird about it. Frustrated is “feeling or expressing distress or annoyance, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something.” Some pieces challenge me and some are abject failures, but that’s all part of the process. I always feel like change is an option for any piece I make. If something’s not working I change it whether it be design, fabric or technique. Failure is how I learn. Some pieces get started, abandoned and may get resurrected and live in a new form in the future. Some are still in the closet. I may have learned all I can from them at this point. 

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

I know that this is a trite thing to say, but inspiration is everywhere; you just need to look for it and recognize it.  I get inspiration from design concepts like line or space and concepts like pressure or flow or from events in my own life or in society in general. I consciously teach myself to slow down and notice and to think about, study and explore those things around me. I could have enough design fodder for my entire quilting career simply from exploring the concept of line. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with too much inspiration and I have to focus and try to sustain myself in one place. I’m a starter and I jump to shiny pieces of inspiration to start new projects rather than finishing or deeply exploring where I currently am working.

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

If quilting weren’t an option I’d be exploring some other area of art or design. I love designing in my own home. I’m a gal with a power tool and I’m pretty good at paint, drywall, wallpapering and tiling. My husband and I have renovated every home we’ve lived in. We designed and built our own home out in the Kansas countryside. It was so much fun since I got to make every decision that went into that house from designing the placement of the electricity to the kitchen. We’ve moved six times since 2013 and every time I move into a new place I get to play interior designer. 

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Cookie Monster is my favorite fictional character. Cookie Monster lives his passion. I admire that. He’s also curious and asks questions when he doesn’t understand. He’s the opposite of a know it all. He’s also a great example of what’s on the outside is not necessarily what’s on the inside.

What fabric have you been hoarding the longest?

I don’t hoard fabric. I use it. Nothing that I own is so precious that it won’t go in a quilt someday.  I do have one piece of fabric from 2015 that I still have that is special. It was a piece of Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric that I bought at QuiltCon and she signed it for me. Of the few yards of that print that I purchased I have about 8″ left and that 8″ has her signature. I should probably frame it for my studio. When I first started quilting I didn’t have any idea how to buy fabric or what to buy so if I saw it and liked it, I bought it. I made loads of buying mistakes those first few years and ended up with fabric that I didn’t want to use. As I figured out who I was as a quilter, I set about reducing my stash and developing a more curated collection of fabrics. I don’t have a gigantic stash any more. Too much fabric overwhelms me. 

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day would be spent with my husband in New York City. We love the energy, diversity, and opportunities of the city. I’m sure it would be spent with time at the MOMA or Guggenheim or some other museum, music or dance venue with time to explore and walk a neighborhood or read a book in the park with a good dose of people watching and of course there would be coffee, a great bottle of wine, friends and food, delicious food.

We can’t wait to have Jacquie join us on Thursday, March 18th at 6:00 pm cst for our BLOCK Party!

You can keep up with Jacquie by following her on Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to swing by her website, www.jacquiegering.com, and blog, too!

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!