Saturday, November 22, 2014

Remote Trouble Shooting!!

A week ago, I introduced you to Nathalie.  We met on Facebook through Marti Michell.  We both teach with and sell Marti's line of rotary cutting tools.  Nathalie is outside of Paris, France and I'm outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  When I mentioned my DVD workshop about chain piecing through set-in seams, she ordered it immediately.  Once she received it, she tried it out by piecing a tumbling block quilt using Marti's Stripper Template set.  In less than two weeks, she had a finished top.

While she was learning to apply the technique, there were questions of course.  And so began daily chats with her via Facebook messaging.  I received her questions while she was sitting at her machine and was able to respond with photos to clarify things for her.  She pieces in the afternoon which means I'm up and moving around, so most of our communication is almost instant.  That's so exciting.  It's been easy to help her and I encourage those of you who've purchased the DVD to "friend" me on Facebook at Mary Brower Huey.  That will give you easy access to me when you encounter questions. 

So lets look at a couple of questions from Nathalie and others about this technique. 

One comment left by a quilter on Nat's post was "how do you decide" referring to choosing fabrics for the quilt.  My version is very scrappy and choosing fabrics might seem overwhelming.  But this quilt started in my box of leftover 2 1/2" strips -- they were pulled from it so there was no need to pull a big assortment in the beginning.  Then by focusing on one tumbling block unit at a time, I made combinations of three diamonds that looked pretty and had the light/medium/dark value contrast. 

Once all the "blocks" were finished, I pick three off the top of the pile, organize them into a larger unit, and stitch them together.  Now if I don't like the way two fabrics look next to each other, I change them, but VALUE is the primary factor in choosing fabrics for this quilt.

Nathalie's first tumbling block quilt (it won't be her last) has a more controlled color scheme of blue and brown. 

 You can see it here --  Her choices were light beiges, blues, and browns -- a simpler strategy that give a very clean contrast and works well for quilters as they build the confidence to go the "all scrappy" route.  I didn't start making quilts that were all scrappy, I evolved into that style.

Once Nathalie had her tumbling blocks together, she began to assemble them into the two units I suggest in the DVD. 

The Y's went together easily for her, but the reverse layout challenged her and she wasn't happy with the intersection of the six diamonds in the center.  I pulled out my teaching samples and did a little stitching myself to be sure I understood what might be giving her a problem.  Soon, I was able to get a close-up photo that clarified things for her and off she went!!  (Sorry the picture isn't larger, but it's from my phone and the larger I made it, the blurry it got in the blog.)
I'm thrilled that we have had such an easy time communicating.  Fortunately for me she speaks English because my French is non-existent (typical American).

Questions are valuable to me.  They help me understand how to present ideas and concepts better in the future.  As I travel farther from home to teach, I have learned that quilters have a lot in common but they also have differences, too.  So if I assume everyone will understand everything I teach and write, I am bound to have problems.  Not everyone takes the same approach to a task .  So I'm grateful for the questions since it helps me become a better teacher.

So if you already own my DVD and something has puzzled you about my demonstrations on it, please contact me and let me clarify it for you.  It will help both of us!!

Mary Huey


  1. You touched on my problem with scrappy quilts - value of the fabrics. I need to work on that. Thanks for linking to Hexie Weekend!

    1. Value is challenging -- have to make lots of mistakes to get it right!! Thanks for stopping by!!

  2. I just made a tumbling blocks quilt and I loved doing it with scraps. Yours is terrific. LeeAnna at not afraid of color