Category Archives: Meet the Designer

Modern Appliqué Illusions Book Tour+ Giveaway!


We are so thrilled to be a stop along the Modern Appliqué Illusions blog tour! We adore Casey York’s designs, love her use of color and perspective, and of course love how much she loves our Wonder-Under®. We are so thrilled to have a chance to chat with Casey, to learn more about her background, her inspirations behind the book, and some tricks of the trade to help you all in creating your very own illusionistic quilts.

Hi Casey! Thanks so much for joining us today!! To get started, can you give us a little background about yourself? 
Thanks, Erin! I’ve been sewing since childhood so, although I focused on making clothing during that period, fabric and thread have always been a creative outlet for me. I even designed stuffed animals and prom dresses as projects for my independent-study art classes in high school.

In college, I fell in love with art history and decided to pursue a career in that field. However, by the time I had almost finished my degree, it had become apparent that searching for a job as a professor might not be feasible–my husband and I had two children and he had settled into a job that wouldn’t permit me to move around the country the way you normally have to when looking for a tenure-track position. Also, I had really missed having a creative outlet while in grad school–I joke that it should have been clear to me that I was meant to be in a design field when I wanted to spend more time designing posters for lectures than I did doing research.

When did you first start quilting and what inspired you to start?
I started quilting when my first son was born. I wanted to make him a crib set, and after I made that first quilt, I was hooked–I couldn’t wait to make another one. Quilting really shifted from a hobby to a career pursuit about three years ago however. Interestingly enough, that transition was also spurred by designing and making quilts for my sons, which led to publishing stand-alone patterns. I feel so lucky to be working at something that I love so much.

14376887746_563e2de9e4_z[Grand Canal, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York]

When did you first start working with appliqué in your designs?
From the very beginning–that very first quilt I made when Julian was a baby was an appliqué quilt. I love the design freedom that appliqué offers–if you can draw a shape or silhouette, you can appliqué it! I’m also a bit impatient, and fusible raw-edge appliqué satisfies my need to see a project come together quickly. The stitching and embroidery still take time, but I can get a sense of how the finished product will look fairly early in the process, which I love.

What led you to Wonder-Under® and why is it your top choice for appliqué?
I like to experiment, and I tried many of the products on the market. In my opinion, Wonder-Under® offers the best combination of short fusing time and little to no added stiffness in the appliqué. I also love that the paper backing can be used to transfer my appliqué patterns directly to my fabrics.

River Bend from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York

Do you have any handy tips or tricks that you could share with readers?
I love the process and flexibility of creating with raw-edge appliqué but I don’t like the fraying that can occur to the fabric edges. I figured out a way to protect them beneath a hand-embroidered outline so that fraying is minimized and less noticeable when it does occur. (More information about this can be found in my book!)

It’s also handy to have tools dedicated to the materials you are using. I have a pair of scissors that I use for cutting the fusible web by itself, and another that is just for cutting fabric and fusible web together. That way, I don’t have to worry that the paper backing is dulling the blades of my fabric-only scissors.

We adore your use of white or dark space in contrast with the appliqués in your quilts. Can you tell us a little more about how a design comes together?
I start my designs at my computer. I use Adobe Illustrator to hand trace the silhouettes that will become the appliqués, and then I can lay them out on a background that is the size I want the finished quilt to be. This allows me to scale everything so that it fills the space just right. Then, I can simply print the silhouettes at that scale and they are ready for me to trace and transfer to my appliqué fabric. I also use my Illustrator drawing to guide the placement of the appliqués on the background fabric. The most exciting step in any project, in my opinion, is laying out and fusing the appliqués to the background–that moment when the idea moves from a sketch to an actual quilt top is magical.

Chicken Scratch, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York

What role does the quilting play in the design of the quilt? Does it always play a role, or is it only with particular designs, like with ‘Tunnel Vision’?
I love to incorporate the quilting into the overall design of the quilt, and the quilting is integral to many of the projects in the book. For example, in Ripples, the quilting forms concentric circles that look as if they are on the surface of water, with the koi swimming beneath them. In many of the quilts, I use a technique I call “Receding Quilting”–spacing horizontal lines of quilting progressively farther apart as they approach the lower edge of the quilt. This enhances the three-dimensional effect of the quilt, because our brains interpret the spacing of the lines as an indication that they are moving farther away.

[Ripples, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York]

Quilting doesn’t always play such an important role in my quilts, although I do like to match the concept of the quilting to the underlying concept of the quilt. For example, I quilted my son’s bumble bee quilt with a hexagon pattern to match the honeycomb/beehive theme of the quilt, and I quilted my other son’s shark quilt with an ocean wave pattern.

Any final words of encouragement to our readers? 
Go slowly, and don’t be afraid to experiment!

As I mentioned, I tend to be impatient, so I always try to remind myself that quilting is an activity that is meant to be enjoyable. Slowing down and enjoying the process always yields better results, and helps me avoid frustration and burnout.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to try new things and break some rules if you have to. You might end up discovering a new technique or process that improves upon how we do things now! Some of my best work has stemmed from the question “what if?” Yes you run the risk of a project not turning out the way you want, but if it *does* turn out the way you envision, that’s a wonderful thing, and you learn something either way!

Tunnel Vision, from Modern Appliqué Illusions by Casey York

Casey has been kind enough to offer a copy of one of her books to one lucky reader! We’ll through in a package of Wonder-Under® and a crib-sized packaged batting to help get you started on one of the patterns in Modern Appliqué Illusions:).

To enter-to-win, simple leave a comment and let us know what interests you most about creating an appliquéd quilt.


Congratulations to our winner, selected with the help of

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.59.25 PM


Don’t miss the rest of the stops along the Modern Appliqué Blog Tour! See below for the schedule and don’t forget to stop by Casey’s blog daily to learn more about the inspiration behind each quilt and enter-to-win a package of Wonder-Under®. For many of them she’ll also be giving away a package of scraps from the making of that particular quilt.

11/10: C&T Publishing
11/11: Jenifer Dick/42 Quilts
11/12: Debbie Grifka/Esch House Quilts
11/13: Pink Chalk Studio
11/14: Shannon Brinkley/Bottle Tree
11/15: Pellon
11/16: Kevin Kosbab/Feed Dog Designs                  
11/17: Generation Q Magazine                                  
11/18: Krista Robbins/Sew What’s Cooking?            
11/19: Violet Craft
11/20: Fat Quarter Shop/Jolly Jabber
11/21: Kristy Daum/St. Louis Folk Victorian
11/22: Cindy Lammon/Hyacinth Quilt Designs
11/23: Modern Quilts Unlimited

In Fashion, Part 3


With the last post in the ‘In Fashion’ series, we finally get to reveal Nancy’s first project for Pellon®! We’re loving this one and can’t wait to hear what you think! We’d originally intended to post this on March 17 for St. Patrick’s day, but thought that mid-week might be better timing. That said, this project has a special connection with the Irish holiday, mostly because designer Nancy Spaulding is, herself, Irish and has strong family ties in the Northern regions. She even has dual citizenship! The style of the cap, as you’ll see, pulls in elements of classic Irish attire with the strong attention to Tweeds. I have no doubt that this cap would make Nancy’s Irish family proud!

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Tell us a little about how your Wild Tweed Cap got started.
Well, prior to our meeting last summer, I had already pulled images from the trend service I use (WGSN), had started collecting fabrics and trims, and made a quick pattern to check fit and overall design. I had a rough prototype put together when we met. It was great to show you my “before and after” as you said you really liked the direction for this first fashion accessory project for Pellon®.

Can you explain a little about how your trend forecasting and design process led to the creation of the Wild Tweed Cap?
I first looked at trends in overall themes and then I looked at trends in hats. I then looked at trends in fabrics and that’s where it all started. I love animal prints and saw that they were, once again, a strong trend and wanted to see how I could mix formal tweeds/herringbones with the animal prints.

I then looked at color combos to get an idea about my color palette. I pulled together images that I felt reflected the “mood” of the season (which was for fall/winter), and then started working on the pattern and figuring out how I would construct and finish the design.

This cap design can be styled many ways to reflect another season. There are a myriad of ways to revamp the design.  As an example: I may create a new version of this pattern using black lace as an overlay for the main fabric.  Black lace and lace in general seem to be strong themes right now. Color blocking is still trending. How about a white lace overlay wedding cap for the more “sporty” bride? It’s endless and that’s the fun about being creative in fashion; you’ve always got something interesting to think about and visualize!

I hope the people who visit the Pellon website will like the project; it was fun!

Introducing… The Wild Tweed Cap


Materials List
1/8-1/4 yard of each tweed, knit or corduroy fabric
1/2 yard lining fabric
One well-fitting baseball-style cap
1/4 yard Pellon® 72F Peltex® II Ultra-Firm
1/2 yard Pellon® 855F Tailor’s Elite™
1/4 yard Pellon® HC120F Fusible Hair Canvas (optional)
2″ piece of 1/4″ elastic for back of cap
1/2″ double-fold bias tape or 1/2″ wide twill tape (optional)
Flower decoration (optional)

Tools List
Sewing Machine & Related Supplies

[Model: Rachel Johnson]

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A free downloadable pdf for this project is available on our website — click here for the project page.

We’d love to see what you make, so be sure to post a photo on our Facebook page OR share with our ‘Made with Pellon®‘ flickr group!


In Fashion, Part 2


We’re back for the second week of our new series, In Fashion w/Nancy Spaulding. Are you following along? Any plans for sewing some apparel?

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Once you have a solid idea of trend and style for a particular season, how do you get started with plans for what to make?
As stated in the first blog post, I sort through my inspiration resources for the project. I look at images, swatches of various fabrics and trims, notes from vintage garments I’ve viewed. I look at color combos, textures/pattern, and see what kind of theme or direction is emerging from it all. I then think about how I am going to design the item – what steps are necessary – and then go from there.

Tell us a bit about your design process.
I sometimes just jump right in and start working as I get pretty excited! I can easily imagine in my “mind’s-eye” what the finished design will look like; quick sketches (“roughs”) are often helpful to work through the ideas of what I need to do first, second, etc.

However, sometimes just working- experimenting -is the best way; sometimes it is trial and error and working out the “bugs”. I like the organic process of design, not always being constrained and systematic. For me, oftentimes it is about letting the process flow.

It is also good to have an understanding of the foundational aspects of design such as silhouette, line, rhythm, repetition, etc. You can then go back and refine your ideas once you can step back and take a critical look at your own work. I often like to put a new design aside for a short while and come back to it with “fresh eyes”.

Do you always work from a pattern?
Pretty much, although most times the pattern gets developed along the way as I’m designing. I can then go back and refine the pattern.

Do you prefer to create your own or work through pattern software?
I use both methods: flat pattern and computer pattern-making; although computer pattern drafting is faster for me for some projects.

How do you select your fabrics?
First of all, the fabric has to “speak” to me; I need to be attracted to it. I also like to use fabrics that I typically haven’t used previously in order to expand my repertoire. I think that it is good to not be afraid of unusual fabrics; experiment; try them out. If you make mistakes, learn and move on; it’s okay!

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from couture designer Kenneth King. He said something to the effect that “you’ve got to ruin five miles of fabric before you are any good!”

I do a lot of mixing & matching, deciding if certain fabrics will work together structurally. Again, I look at all aspects of color and pattern/texture and ask myself if they work together. I sometimes like to show my work to a trusted colleague who will give me honest feedback.

How do you determine which interfacings you’d like to use where?
This is where experimenting is helpful. Trying various types of interfacing on scraps of fabrics that you’ll use in the design is essential. Right now, I’m using mostly fusibles. I like to analyze how they affect the “hand” and/or drape of the fabrics.  Does the interfacing do what you want it to do to achieve the effect you desire? If not, try another. With so many great interfacings available now, there is bound to be something that will work for your project.

Do you typically dive right into the creation process with your final materials, or do you work up a model first?
If I am going to do a one-off design, I’ll dive right in and sew what comes out.  However, if I plan on making something again, I need to be a bit more systematic about it.

I like to make prototypes, especially if I am going to produce the design again in order to check fit, work out any pattern “bugs”, and see how the overall design works.

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Thanks so much Nancy! We’ll see you next time for a quick chat about your new project for Pellon®!



In Fashion — Part 1

Today, we’re so incredibly thrilled to bring you the first in a three-part fashion series featuring Nancy Spaulding. Nancy has been a fashionista  since the age of eight when she designed a Hawaiian-inspired luau dress for her teddy bear. She’s been designing, sewing and creating apparel and fashion accessories ever since. She started her career sewing on her great-grandmother’s treadle machine and though she’s graduated to various new machines over the years, she still marvels that she gets to call her childhood hobby her career.

I first met Nancy back in June of 2012. Though she’s based out in Tucson, Arizona, she has a summer place up on the coast of Maine, a lovely 2.5 hour drive away from my home office. I met her for a late breakfast on the third floor roof deck of her seaside home, overlooking the rocky coast of the Atlantic. Sound picturesque? It was — and it was the perfect backdrop to learn more about Nancy and hear about her extensive experience in the fashion world. It was then that we first discussed her project idea for Pellon®. Rather than just presenting a project, we thought it might be fun to share the full process from trend analysis & mood boards, to project planning and finally project creation. With that said, let’s just jump right in!

Nancy, to get us started, could you tell us a bit about your background with the fashion world?
Well, as my designer’s bio states, I started my “career” when I was eight years old (only I didn’t know it back then!) sewing fashions for my teddy bear and Barbie dolls on my great grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. Since I was a child, I have always loved creating my own designs. In my teenage years, embroidery was all the rage, so I learned how to embroider quite well. My aunt designed costumes and my step-cousin was a knitwear designer in NYC, so I guess you could say it is in my blood.

Also, I think growing up in New England in what I call the “cradle of the U.S. Industrial Revolution” during a time when manufacturing was prevalent in the U.S. helped to shape me. I always knew someone who worked at a shoe factory or an apparel manufacturer.

I studied apparel & textiles in college. While in college, I worked for a high-end skiwear manufacturer for a while and learned a lot about sewing on industrial equipment and about the manufacturing process; skills I developed in the factory environment have served me well over the years. I went on to design fashion accessories (handbags primarily), but I have also worked in sportswear, etc. My last official “corporate gig” in the fashion industry was with a hosiery company in San Diego, California where I was responsible for brand management/product development for Victoria’s Secret, Esprit, and other hosiery lines.
Since stepping away from the corporate world in 2008, I’ve been teaching fashion design at a large community college in Tucson, Arizona.  I teach several classes such as patternmaking, draping, fashion drawing, history of fashion, textiles, digital fashion design, etc. I also just finished assisting with a book project for a well-respected designer in L.A. regarding fashion draping (for a large NY fashion publishing house).  I’ve got several more projects in the works (I like to keep my “hand” in industry), and I like to keep up with technology.

What exactly is a trend report and how far out are its projections?
Good question!  A professional trend report (otherwise known as a “predictive service”) is usually prepared by one of several trend research companies such as WGSN, Stylesight, Fashion Snoops, and others.  In simple terms, it’s like having a crystal ball for the fashion industry.

Typically, projected trends for design, color, “mood” and/or inspiration can range up to 18 months out. In a nutshell, a trend service analyzes fashion trends before we see fashions on the racks at our favorite retailers. Right now, I’ve been looking at Spring/Summer 2014 and will look at Fall/Winter 2014 shortly.

In the U.S., I’ve attended trend seminars in L.A. at the CalMart during the textile show. Any major domestic fashion trade event such as MAGIC (Las Vegas) or trade shows at the Javitz in NYC will have trend seminars as part of the show.  Of course, there are lots of international shows as well.

What types of information are you able to pull? Does it focus on pattern, colors and style, or does it go even further beyond?
I am able to pull runway images from around the world and for international designers that I like. I can get information from trade shows, trend reports, color analysis, material reports, flat images (line art for the latest style trends), business info, and lots more.

There is analysis for all categories of apparel from women’s and men’s fashion trends to children, prints, accessories –  a complete picture of what is happening in the world at a given time.  Trend services present a visual feast for the eyes, and the great thing is that you can travel the world from the comfort of your own chair!

What do you do with the information once it’s been pulled?
First of all, I sit down with my “swipe” files; these certain images that I’ve pulled from the trend service and/or images that I find inspiring from magazines.  I also look at bits and pieces of other “elements” that inspire me:  for instance, the colors in a rock, architecture, nature, art, popular culture (street), vintage fashions, various things I’ve collected, a particular fabric or trim.  Inspiration is all around us and it is endless; you just have to look!  And, don’t be a slave to trends.  Start some of your own!

I then sort through everything I’ve collected, lay it out, and try to see if I can see a trend in color, texture, images and then see what “theme” is emerging from it all.  I may look at previous sketches that I’ve done…does anything work with my current design idea?  I sometimes just have an idea and go with it; these times the theme is already set.

Do you use a ‘mood board’ for inspiration on all new projects and is that something you’d recommend for budding fashion designers?
Yes; I would recommend mood boards to budding fashion designers.   I like to organize my inspirational references and ideas to help narrow down my focus for a project.  A mood board helps me to “center” my ideas and not be all over the place with my thoughts.  Ideas are endless, but you don’t want your design projects looking like a mish-mash of themes/colors/concepts; there needs to be some sort of coherent “thread” running through the design(s).
[Sources: full board; top — 1, 2, 3, 4; middle — 1, 2, 3, 4; bottom — 1, 2, 3, 4]

What advice could you offer for new designers who may not have access to a trend forecasting system? Are there key online destinations or print publications that can provide similar information?
To start with, begin collecting images from magazines (called “swipes”) that inspire you. You may be inspired by the way a particular fabric manipulation technique looks, color, texture, shapes, and any myriad of other design influences.  Fashion magazines are great, but also look to other magazines that have photos of land and water creatures, photos of architecture in foreign countries, and landscapes. Walk out the door and look at plants of all shapes and sizes. Notice colors in nature; nature provides us with wonderful color combos!  I love rocks, so am often fascinated with the numerous and oftentimes subtle colorations found in them. Dig through vintage shops and easily find loads of inspiration from the past. Visit museums; lots of inspiration there!

I also think it is good to look at retail.  Even though the trends are current at retail, a number of the silhouettes and fabrications will be updated and recycled for another season (if they are strong sellers).

The great thing about design today is that it can be lots of things, although I personally think design needs to be thoughtful and well-done.  Look at the DIY movement and how it has transformed our creative society!

Color trends: Pantone, Design Seeds
A couple of good resourcesThe Cool Hunter and Startup Fashion
A Nancy favorite: The Textile Blog  (“Like” them on Facebook and you’ll see the coolest images in your updates every day!)
Of course, don’t forget Pinterest, fashion magazines (both domestic and foreign), and Polyvore (a good way to put together designs you find inspiring while having the ability to create a little digital mood board at the same time).

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Thanks so much Nancy! We’ll see you next time for a quick chat about fashion design and construction!


Meet the Designer :: Robbi Joy Eklow

This week, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Robbi Joy Eklow. Chances are strong that you’ve already heard her name. She is a quilter, an artist, an educator and an author. Her art quilts are nothing short of stunning, created with hand-dyed cotton, bonded appliqué, and lots of free motion quilting. Her Steampunk Sublime tutorial has been one of our favorites on Pellon Projects™ and, months after publishing, remains one of our most popular. The quilt is entirely fused together with Wonder-Under® paper-backed fusible web. No needle or thread is used until the actual quilting begins. It’s a technique Robbi uses often, is the subject of many of her workshops and may be why she has been dubbed the ‘Goddess of the Last Minute’ though her quilts are anything but!

We such fun chatting with Robbi and hope you find some inspiration in her work!

Pellon Projects: How did you first get started with sewing?
Robbi Joy Eklow: My grandmother taught me to hand sew with fabric from her ragbox and then showed me how to use her old sewing machine. I was in kindergarten and we lived with my grandparents.

PP: Was there an inspiring influence in your life that pushed you in a particular creative direction?
RJE: I was the only child, my parents had been divorced, and my grandmother was a constant knitter and she did crewel. She had some hanging in the dining room. She would help me make beaded necklaces, and make paper flowers. She and my mother were very tolerant of my fiber adventures and I remember using my grandmother’s footstool as a base for macrame projects. I’d be tying knots on her footstool while she’d be resting her feet on it and knitting. My grandmother was my favorite person in the world — and she offered the only stability in my life until I married my husband — so I think one reason I gravitate towards fiber is because it connects me to my memories of her.

PP: Describe your process a bit… How do you come up with new designs and how to you move through the steps from idea conception to project completion?
RJE: Right now I’m fixated on patterns using radial symmetry. I have a vocabulary of “objects” that I’ve been arranging, maybe I’m looking for the perfect arrangement. I’m not sure. At any rate, I start a design on my computer, using Adobe Illustrator, to create a line drawing. I don’t worry about color at this point. All of my quilts are fused, so the next step is to create the “templates” on Wonder-Under. I either trace them manually, or print them directly onto sheets of Wonder-Under that I’ve cut to fit in my inkjet printer. The next step is to fuse the Wonder-Under to the fabric — I use my own hand dyed fabric. Then I fuse all the parts together, and then the last step is to quilt the quilt.

PP: Do you find yourself seeking out other sewers both in your area and in the online arena for inspiration and support
RJE: I do enjoy being around other quilters, I joined the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild last year and I’m very excited about it. I haven’t made any “Modern” quilts but I enjoy being around people who are excited about quilting. I also have local friends who quilt and I belong to a small group of art quilters. AND I am on Facebook about an hour every day. At least.


PP: What are your tools of choice? (sewing machine, needles, threads, etc…)
RJE: I do my quilting on an APQS Millennium Longarm most of the time. I also have a Bernina for regular stitching. I use a lot of different threads, at this point, I can’t really point to just one company.

PP: Do you have a favorite Pellon® product?
RJE: Of course I do! My quilts would not exist without Wonder-Under®. The slight stiffness it adds makes it easier to control the quilt when I’m free motion quilting. Some of the other fusibles are just too stiff for my taste, especially when I’m using multiple layers.


PP: You are not just an artist, but also a teacher and an author. Do you find yourself gravitating toward one area over another, or do all three pieces really work together?
RJE: Since I don’t really make my quilts to sell, the teaching part allows me to continue making the quilts instead of devoting myself to another full time job. I enjoy being able to write too. The writing and the teaching take time from the quilting, but I need all three.

PP: What do you love about teaching and do you have any favorite topics?
RJE: I really enjoy teaching. It’s fun to go to different parts of the country, or the world, and meet quilters from all over. Quilters are wonderful people and being able to spend time with them is a wonderful privilege. I’m very lucky that I get to do that.  I like to teach classes featuring my fused quilts. It’s like going to a coloring book class for adults.


PP: A number of your classes focus on the techniques and designs presented in your book, Free Expression: The Art and Confessions of a Contemporary Quilter. Can you give a sneak peek of what the book is about? What inspired you to write it?
RJE: The book is about how I design and quilt my fused quilts. I wrote it after making a lot of them!

PP: Your latest book is called Goddess of the Last Minute, a title you’ve also assumed on your website. Can you tell us a bit more about that and how the moniker came to be?
RJE: That’s a long story. I started using that as my moniker when I started my column in Quilting Arts a decade ago. It relates to how I am able to get things done on short notice. Not that I procrastinate.

PP: You’re headed to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in September to teach a few classes. What is your favorite thing about attending and teaching at a Quilt Festival? Do you have a favorite festival?
RJE: I enjoy it the most when someone comes to me and tells me they enjoyed the day in my class very much. All of the quilt shows are so different, I can’t really say which is my favorite.

PP: Your designs have been included in a number of special exhibitions country-wide. What do you like most about displaying your art in this manner? How do you prepare for such a display?
RJE: I think it’s interesting to see a bunch of my quilts hung up at the same time. For preparation, I start with my newest quilts, hold out the ones that I need either to teach or to enter in a competition and then go from there, picking however many quilts are wanted for the display. It’s pretty straightforward.


PP: Your tutorial for the Steampunk Sublime Quilt is one of the most popular on our site. I’m sure our readers would love to know what inspired that design. Could you tell us a little about it?
RJE: I’ve been working in this circular symmetrical style for a while. I’m fascinated with it. I don’t really know why, but I have been drawing designs like this even when I was in high school and scribbling to stay awake during boring classes.  I like mechanical designs like the gears, they rotate and I imagine them working together. I love riding my bicycle, leisurely, I’m not a racer or anything, and I like the way bicycles look, so maybe there is something in that. When I was in first grade, my grandmother got this watch that had a clear back and I could see all the gears inside, that might have started it.

PP: Is there any advice that you could offer for young sewers and quilters, just getting started in their craft?
RJE: Just make things. Don’t let anyone tell you the way things HAVE TO BE. Quilts don’t have to be a certain way, you should just enjoy making them. And check to see if there is a Modern Quilt Guild in your area. Even if you AREN’T young, there is room for everyone, so you’ll find people to make friends with and people to get good advice from. And it’s really fun. If you are an art quilter, look to art quilt groups too.

PP: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today! We’re honored to have you as a guest!
RJE: Thanks for having me!


We’d like to thank Robbi for taking the time to chat with us! Oh, the power of Wonder-Under®!! For information about Robbi, head to her artist page on or check out her website or her blog.

Download a FREE pattern for Robbi’s Steampunk Sublime quilt right here.

All photos courtesy of Robbi Joy Eklow ©2012 — visit
LisaMaki_Cropped (2)

Meet the Designer :: Lisa Maki

Lisa Maki’s name is known throughout the quilting industry as *the* woman who brought new life to Pellon®’s Quilter’s Grid On Point. Though her sewing history goes back to her youth, her true passion was born out of a stack of beautiful fabric and an introduction to a fabulously helpful product. Lisa now owns and operates her own company, Crooked Nickel Quilt Designs. She is an educator and an advocate and is on a personal quest to show the world just how easy it can be to create a beautiful quilt. She has been an inspiration to many and we’re so pleased that she took a few moments out of her busy schedule to chat with us.

Pellon Projects: How did you first get started with sewing?
Lisa Maki: Eighth grade home economics is where I my sewing education began. It must have been a good experience because I followed it up at home. My mother was not a seamstress but did have a sewing machine for us to use at home. She would allow us to do whatever project we wanted and paid for all of the supplies, with the condition that we had to finish the project before she would buy anything more. She was never critical of the stitches or assembly, she just asked the we finished what we started. I’ll get into this in greater detail later as it was really a large inspiration for me and helped me get to where I am today.


PP: What was your driving inspiration?
LM: This question has brought up a lot of memories, things I haven’t thought about for a very long time. I believe that I’ve always been confident when I’ve sat down to sew a project. It never seemed to matter at the end whether or not the project was as successful as it could have been, it was just important that I did it. In high school I made a valentine prom dress from a pattern and added an accent of red boa feathers around the neckline. It seems that I always added something extra to the projects I made, I guess to make it more special to me. I was always eager to make curtains and valences for the homes we lived in, to make them more cozy and give them my personal touch. My greatest pride came from sewing children’s clothes and Halloween costumes for my two girls. It’s an amazing feeling to create something, know that you created it and share that with others. It brought me a tremendous sense of pride.

There is this one project I took on, thinking that it might be a challenge, but feeling that I could handle a challenge once in awhile. No matter how difficult, I would always finish, even if I had to step away for a time and come back. I heard about a small quilt shop, located in a small farming community about 85 miles away from where I live, that offered quilt classes, carried wonderful fabrics and was welcoming to beginners. It was there that I signed up for my first class back in 2004. The class was called Endless Stars, which was rather poignant since this particular project has not yet come to and end, unless you consider the end to be lying in a plastic tote! The class was not for beginners. I was in over my head, over my budget and overwhelmed!  On my drive home from the class I had lots of time to process what I had experienced and I have to say it wasn’t great. I really thought I could work on the Endless Stars at home but once I got out of the classroom I could barely figure out what was the wrong and right side of the fabric, no less sew a quarter inch seam. I was deflated. I put the beautiful fabric and instruction book in a brand new plastic tote at the back of the closet. Though it sometimes feels like it was just yesterday, it’s now been seven years and there the tote sits. I never want to forget how it is to be overwhelmed in the quilting world. My experience is what fuels my company, and guides my customer interactions. I never want them to have to experience that truly deflated feeling that I felt.


PP: I’d love to hear how you came to discover Pellon®’s Quilter’s Grid and how it has shaped your career as it exists today.
LM: I was introduced to Pellon® Quilter’s Grid On Point at a quilt store after visiting the hospital to see a very dear friend who was losing her battle to cancer. Looking back, I understand the draw of a fabric store under such sad circumstances — it was the comfort that the fabric gave to me and the solace of not having to explain why I was just looking. I would never get in over my head again in a quilting project again, right? Well, on my path out of the quilt shop I saw some beautiful fabric and it was already cut into squares, one step avoided. As I made my purchase, I asked the nice clerk what quilt project these squares were being used for. Her answer started with a question, “Are you a quilter?” I responded, “No.”  This is when she pulled a bolt of Pellon® Quilter’s Grid On Point from under the counter, and said to me, “Well, even you could do this”. Her explanation sounded simple but I was not taking anything for granted… another class was in the game plan. I spent every free minute I had to make the project successful. There was no pattern to follow so I kept going to the quilt shop to learn the next step. It didn’t take long to start seeing results. It inspired me to keep plugging away. Before I knew it, the lap size quilt top was finished and to my amazement it looked pretty darn good. When I took the quilt top back to the quilt shop to get it machine quilted, I bought more fabric squares to make another quilt. I asked again about purchasing a pattern to follow and the response was, “There isn’t one, no one would write something that simple.”

That comment inspired me to make note of everything that I did while making my next quilt top. If no one had written this technique on paper, then I would! If I could make a quilt using the Pellon® Quilter’s Grid On Point then anyone could, no experience required. My first quilt pattern was in the beginning stages.

The excitement in my journey of making quilts and completing quilt projects using Pellon® products is heightened not only the Pellon® name and brand recognition, but also with the level of creditability that goes along with it. They started with products for garment sewing and now they are so much more. Pellon® has been extremely supportive of my technique and my business, helping me to pursue this great venture with ample encouragement. Their product is starting point in the construction of my patterns. The Pellon® company has always stood for superior quality, valuing the polished finished project in a style that we grew up with. They are now continuing into a generation that looks for convenience and quality with their  “made by hand, from the heart” projects.

PP: Tell us a bit about Crooked Nickel Quilts and what it stands for.
LM: Crooked Nickel Quilts is “FAST, SIMPLE and PERFECT.” It is all brought together with the Quilter’s Grid On Point. Fusible products have been in the Pellon® production line for a very long time and the advantage to a fusible product is that with the application of a hot iron a FAST result ensues. The simplicity of Crooked Nickel Quilts goes hand in hand with Quilter’s Grid On Point. The fusible interfacing is pre-marked in a grid-like fashion. You simply follow the lines and iron the fabric to the interfacing. The perfection of Crooked Nickel Quilt patterns takes place when the fused quilt top can be folded right sides together, following the grid markings and fabric layout design with no guess work as to where the fold should be. Seams are sewn from one edge of the fused quilt top to the other, going in one direction throughout, then the fabric is refolded and stitches are finished up in the other direction. This makes easy straight seams that are enclosed within the fusible interfacing. You will experience instant gratification seeing the seams match up without ever using a straight pin.

 PP: What inspired you to write your first pattern?
 LM: My patterns are a reflection of my experiences, a result of what I’ve learned along the way. Knowing the frustration that I felt with complicated patterns, I make sure that there are good diagrams and early to follow written text, appropriate for even a beginner. I will be the first to admit there is not one project that I’ve done using my technique that has brought me more pride and self-confidence than that very first quilt top. I carry that quilt with me and it is one of the highlights of my presentation.

 PP: What are your favorite and top-selling patterns?
 LM: Crooked Nickel’s top selling pattern is the first one I published, “And Your Point Is…with a twist”, using 5”x5” squares for your fabric pieces and strips of fabric for sashing that border the squares. The sizes in the pattern go from baby quilts to queen quilts.


The pattern that has taken off like wild fire is “Memories to a T”, the perfect T-shirt quilt. This was such an exciting pattern to write and make because once again I had never done one. When I was first approached to write the pattern, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to do that – old T-shirts, in a quilt?? But someone told me that my technique was perfect for working with the t-shirt/jersey material. Because it would be fused to the grid before any sewing took place, you wouldn’t have to stabilize the t-shirt fabric first. What a concept! FAST, SIMPLE and PERFECT. What I found out in a real hurry was that the typical customer buying the pattern wasn’t a quilter but more often just a Mom making a quilt for her child out of old sports or activity t-shirts. The quilts were memory pieces. This brought a whole new type of quilter/sewer to the industry. When she was successful with the quilt, she might move onto another attainable project. I must say the stories I receive from customers who have purchased and followed “Memories to a T” bring tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. Many of the stories are about a loved one’s passing, and the creation of a quilt from treasured t-shirts. I’d like to think I made a different in their lives, helping to honor their loved ones’ memories. Maybe I truly made a difference by helping them to honor the memories of their loved ones. There is nothing that makes me more proud.


PP: I know you travel a great deal, educating all levels of quilters and sewers on your technique. Any thoughts? How do you feel about being the expert?
LM: Going across the country as I do, I meet all levels of quilters. I have seen the wide-spread acceptance of a simpler and faster non-traditional quilt-piecing technique that yields stunning results. We are all short of time it seems, but the yearning to make and share projects that come from our own hands is a passion that goes back centuries. I can make that achievable for any one that has even a remote desire. There will always be a new technique around the corner to improve the industry, but there is no one person who has worked with Quilter’s Grid On Point more than I have in the last six years. I can answer the questions and I can be the product expert. I’ve made mistakes, fixed mistakes and learned from every one of them.

I have written 14 patterns, taped two PBS sewing episodes, and filmed an instructional DVD. A visual concept is something with which many people can identify. It is something I take great pride in. When I travel the country to quilt shows, we always have a demo table showing the technique in stages. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people will shout out “Hey, even I could do that”, to which I respond “Of course you can!” or “That’s amazing”. Come and join the fun!


PP: What do you love most about teaching?
LM: Although my professional career changed after 29 years of being a cosmetologist I do believe my hidden love was teaching. I have always wanted to share my ideas and have never been afraid of speaking in a group. That said, one of my great pleasures in this new career is having the opportunity to teach my technique through the Crooked Nickel Quilt classes. So far, I have had classes ranging in size from 2 to 22 students, and I love it no matter the size. It is the end result that is so satisfying – to watch my students finish the project they signed up for and leave knowing they can do the next one without me.

PP: Any final words about how this career shift has changed your life?
LM: My life changed course when I made that first quilt using Pellon®’s Quilter’s Grid On Point. There is not a word in our vocabulary that will start a conversation faster than the word “Quilt”. It may be about the one we have, wish we had or yearn to make. I decided then, I had to go show the world that anyone could make a quilt and have a story to go with it.



We’d like to thank Lisa for taking the time to chat with us! We loved hearing her story and more about what has inspired her business. For information about Lisa, head to her artist page on or check out her website, Crooked Nickel Quilt Designs. Learn more about her story here, and find out if she’s teaching in a city near you right here.

Download a FREE pattern for Lisa’s Pillow Sham made using Pellon®’s Quilter’s Grid On Point right here.

All photos courtesy of Lisa Maki ©2012 Crooked Nickel Quilt Designs

Meet the Designer :: Beverly McCullough

Beverly McCullough is an at-home DIY queen & one our beloved Project Designers. She is the voice and the talent behind Flamingo Toes, a super cute crafting/sewing/DIY blog. Whether she’s giving tips on how to recreate that stunning must-have Anthropologie necklace or showing you how to make an adorable summer clutch, Bev’s posts never fail to captivate. They’ve already captured the attention of thousands of fans! Beverly is a woman on life-long quest to create, enjoy and inspire and doesn’t mind a bit that she gets to have a blast while doing it all. She is a West-coast gal and a loving wife and mom. We’re thrilled to have a chance to introduce you to her today!

Pellon Projects: How did you first get started with sewing?
Beverly McCullough: I started sewing pretty young! My mom made a lot of our clothes, plus lots in our rooms – we always had handmade quilts and curtains – all matching of course. So it was pretty natural for me to want to make my own things too. I was so excited to receive my very own (second hand) sewing machine for my 16th birthday. 
I also worked in a fabric store all through college and for several years after, so that made a huge difference for me with understanding fabrics and patterns.

PP: Was there an inspiring influence in your life that pushed you in a particular creative direction?
BC: Like I said, my mom was a sewer, so that probably started me in that direction. But I’ve always loved trying different things – quilting, apparel, and accessories. I think since we always had handmade things in the house, it was natural for me to prefer that most of the time to store bought things – or to be able to say, “hey, that’s cute – I’ll make it myself”.


PP: Describe your process a bit… How do you come up with new patterns and how to you move through the steps from idea conception to project completion?
BC: Oh – that’s a tough one. Often I’ll come up with an idea for an item and I’ll sketch it out – along with basic ideas for measurements. Then as I start to create the paper patterns, I’ll lay them out and adjust fit or style depending on how it all looks. Once I have a pretty good idea of the patterns, I’ll cut out the fabric, and then make any further adjustments as I sew. And there’s a lot of hoping and praying the whole thing turns into something cool!

PP: Do you find yourself seeking out other sewers both in your area and in the online arena for inspiration and support?
BC: I definitely look to my friends online for inspiration and support – there are sooo many talented bloggers and sewists online that you can find an huge variety of projects and tools – and you can find such great tutorials on how to do almost anything! Locally I have a great group of friends – we get together for monthly Pinterest parties for crafting and eating. Those are so much fun and so much inspiration.


PP: Your picnic bag & blanket tutorial is one of our top patterns. How did you come up with the idea for the pair and what fabrics did you use?
BC: Wow – that’s so great! I think the idea originally came from talking with the representative from Pellon® about a project to feature, and we came up with the idea of the picnic bag and quilt. I wanted it to be something cute and portable. I love that the quilt folds up and you can carry it in the pocket of the bag. The fabrics are all from Joann’s – they are 100% cotton prints.

PP: What is your absolute favorite thing to create (could be anything, not just something sewn)?
BC: Oh really don’t have a favorite – as I’ve said before I have crafting ADD. And I have to change things up and make different things or I get bored. So I sometimes I just HAVE to sew – but then I have to change it up and make some jewelry or make a fun piece of wall art. I think that’s what keeps creating fun for me.

PP: You’ve got some fabulous projects under your belt (the recent potholders, the sunglasses case, and that fabulous Anthropologie Asterid Coin Purse knock-off to name a few). Any particular favorites?
BC: I am pretty fond of the Simple Clutches I did a few months ago – 4 different clutches using the same pattern. Those were really fun to change around and make different for each version.


PP: What advice do you have for new sewers and crafters out there?
BC: I would love to stress that the project doesn’t have to be perfect. What really matters is that you love it – and you have fun doing it. And the more you make, they better you’ll get. :)

PP: Who is your favorite fabric designer?
BC: I’m a huge Amy Butler fan – we’re redoing my daughter’s room in her fabrics right now. But I also love Heather Bailey and Anna Maria Horner – oh and lots others. I have a slight fabric addiction.

PP: What is your favorite Pellon® product and why?
BC: Oh gosh – that is really hard. I’d probably say both the Fusible Fleece and the Heavy-Duty Stabilizer. They are both so versatile and you can use them in home décor and apparel. Oh – and Wonder-Under®. Can’t forget that.


PP: What is your go-to, can’t-live-without-it tool?
BC: Ha. Probably my seam ripper. Cause I’m so impatient that I don’t always take the time to pin and I usually end up pulling it out to correct my mistakes.

PP: I know that the answer to this question is on your own blog, but I have to ask here, for the benefit of our readers;). Where did the name Flamingo Toes come from?
BC: In coming up with a blog name, I really wanted something fun and quirky – that stood out. I didn’t want to be labeled with one style of crafting. Plus I live by the beach and I’ve always thought flamingos were fun and quirky and cute. Hopefully like my blog. :)

PP: You recently attended the SNAP! Conference in Utah. What was it like to be immersed in a craft and inspiration filled environment like that for 3 days and what did you get out of the experience?
BC: Oh – it was just amazing. Being around 320 women who “get you” makes for an amazing conference. The sessions were packed with info and the whole conference was really well put together. I came back just inspired and fired up to create! And most importantly, I made – and grew – friendships with some seriously talented, fun women!


PP: You mentioned something on your blog about possible changes to your blog in the future. Where do you see the blog heading and do you have any ultimate goals for the future?
BC: Nothing too drastic. :) But I do have a ton of ideas for projects – and I want to be even more proactive about expanding my blog and my opportunities!


We’d like to thank Bev for taking the time to chat with us! We love getting to learn a bit more about the woman behind the designs! For information about Bev, head to her artist page on or check out her blog, Flamingo Toes. You can find her on all of the usual online destinations, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Download a FREE pattern for Bev’s Picnic Bag & Blanket right here. We have it on good authority that she’ll have another project available very soon;).

All photos courtesy of Beverly McCullough ©2012 Flamingo Toes