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Back with a vengeance, quilting is the craft world's new fad. So this month we hear from Kim Lansing, one of the most respected quilters in the field, how to solve some of your most frustrating quilt blocks:

Pieces not fitting?

It's possible you've stretched them out while ironing them. This is an easy mistake to make, so take care when pressing out your fabric squares. It can save you a lot of headache.

Stuck with the dreaded V cut?

The best way to avoid this is start using a rotary cutter; you'll get much more accurate cuts and the V Cut will quickly become a thing of the past.

Want to hang your quilt without damaging it?

Make a muslin 2" shorter than the width of your quilt, and sew it onto the back. Then place a wooden dowel rod in it; then mount hooks on the wall to hold the rod. This will provide support for your quilt, and ensure that it hangs straight.

Need to wash an heirloom quilt?

Place a sheet in the bathtub, then run water and a soft soap to get some suds going. Place the quilt in the bathtub and let it soak for a short period of time. Do not wring the quilt, just let it soak. Once it's done soaking, rinse it out gently. You may have to do this a few times to get all the soap out. To dry, lay it out on a flat surface.


Everyone's favorite group of quilting women will be visiting Richmond, Virginia next month. Participants will be able to view members of Gee's Bend Quilting group as they work on a new quilt for the children's wing at Richmond Memorial Hospital. As they work, the members will be fielding questions from participants about their work and traditions.

Panel of Gees Bend Artists

The women of Gee's Bend, Alabama have been a part of a long standing tradition of group quilting. In 1969, an author for the New Yorker featured some the quilts created by this group of women in the magazine. It brought a wealth of attention to not only the women of Gee's Bend, but also quilting in general. For the first time, quilting was viewed as an art form.

After the meet and greet with Gee's Bend, there will be a quilting workshop held at a nearby community center. Instructors will be available to work with students in creating a small 12 inch by 12 inch quilt.

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portrait of pattern artist Mary Jane Thompson

A very popular pattern maker in the Knitting community, Mary Jane churns out new and interesting patterns on a monthly basis. But where does she get the inspiration? And how exactly does she generate electronic versions of her patterns so quickly for online sharing? We were lucky enough to get her to agree to an interview, so we could find out!

"I start out like most any artist does, with a notebook full of scribbles and sketches and notes," says MJ, as she prefers to be called. "Whenever I have free time; in between meetings, riding home on the subway or during lunch, I tend to drag out my sketchbook and draw away. I see colors and patterns in almost everything, so I constantly have ideas I want to get down."

"Once I have a pattern I like, I grab some graph paper to chart it out. It's part of the process for me, to go from scribbles to graph paper, but one could skip this step. I tend to change around or alter and refine things at this point, so for me, I feel it's an important step in my personal process when creating a knit pattern."

"As for making the electronic versions? There's really no secret to that; there are a wealth of free online tools that will convert a paper pattern into a usable electronic pattern. Not to mention there is free software that you can use to digitally create any pattern you want. My favorite for converting a scanned image of a pattern is knitPro, but look around--you'll find many options." "I think it is important to approach pattern making the same way any artist approaches their craft or discipline. Look for inspiration in everyday things, and when you find it and an idea hits you, grab anything you can and sketch it out. The more you do this, the more it will help you develop your technique. And before you know it, you will be creating knit patters of your own!"

We have to say, MJ offers some pretty sound advice. Hopefully, in addition to her tips and tricks, you will be able to use Common Threads as a source of inspiration and advice as you continue to learn and grow as a fiber artist.