International Quilt Festival of Ireland

As many of you know, quilting for show gives me irritable bowel syndrome. Maybe not that bad but it definitely causes me great stress. That is why I have no plans in putting a quilt in a show anytime in the future. That being said, my good friend Peggy Bass has twisted my arm into breaking my own rules.

Peggy and four other American quilters, respectively known as ‘Team USA’ are entering Quilts into “Patchwork Promises” an international round robin exhibit taking place at the first ever “International Quilt Festival of Ireland“.

Festival of Quilts in Ireland
Matt Sparrow in Ireland

Peggy asked me to quilt her quilt and after seeing a photo of her center block, I was unable to refuse. Several months later, I finally finished quilting her quilt and as I type this, her quilt is on a truck out for delivery. This will be the first time Peggy has seen her quilt since sending it to me months ago. I am only allowed to share this one photo.



I am taking my mom to see the quilt hanging in Ireland in June. Can’t wait!!!!!! I hope you enjoy this photo and wait patiently to see the eleven borders around the center block. YES I said eleven!!!


All The Wonderful Things Karen Taught Me…

… That McTavishing is just the foundation of a style that will soon become your own. She even suggested that McSparrowing has a nice ring to it. ;). I still call it McTavishing though!


… That APQS makes the best Longarm on the planet backed up by unrivaled customer service.


That quilty tattoos are far more common than you could ever imagine.

That bringing a world famous longarm quilter to Canada to teach will be a huge success.

Just over a week from now, me and my iPhone will be at the airport with my live stream running as Karen walks out of customs with a giant army duffle bag full of hand quilting stencils. Be sure to Join us throughout the week for candid little updates and photos of all the fun that is going to be had.

To blog or not to blog? That is the question!

If you look back at my last blog post, you will see that this is far from a regular gig. Even with all the knowledge I possess about the power of blogging, I find myself constantly procrastinating when it comes to keeping my blog current. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say. Even the most uneventful days offer valuable lessons in parenting, longarm quilting, running a new business, being a positive influence, and the list goes on…

Moving forward, I am going to adopt the following motto!

Better brief than nothing at all.

That is how I am going to approach blogging from now on. It may come across as a bunch of little rants, but that’s how I roll. Maybe that’s why I love Facebook so much. It feels more natural to blurt out random thoughts in my status on fb than it does to waste an entire post on my blog.

When I look back at the conversations I’ve started on my wall, I sometimes wish I would have blogged them instead. Then, at the very least they would be ‘searchable’ and wouldn’t feel like they were slowly pushed off my wall And forgotten. Isn’t the whole point of creating content on the web to ‘create a timeless resource for years to come? That’s how I look at it anywayz.

I have decided the best way to keep my blog current is to force myself to blog every day for a month. That is my goal for December. That and not ‘eating out’. Shit! Where did that come from? I love eating out! but seeing as I am not getting any taller yet keep gaining weight, it’s time to take a few precautions to ensure that I don’t hit 250lbs any time soon. That might have the reverse effect as I will now cook bucket loads of food on Sundays and freeze it for the studio throughout the week. Mmmm, can’t wait to start planning recipes.

What’s your favorite festive recipe? crockpot ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Calgary Alberta – Heritage Park – Festival of Quilts – May 28-29

It is my pleasure to participate in the Merchants Mall this year at Heritage Park’s Festival of Quilts. The Festival takes place at Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, AB – Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May 29th 2011. The event plays host to exhibitors, merchants, demonstrators, guilds and thousands of quilt enthusiasts for a weekend devoted to the craft and art of quilts.

I am very excited to bring Sparrow Studioz to the merchant Mall. The last vendor’s mall I participated in (as Manquilter.Com) was in the Creative Stitches show in both Calgary and Edmonton. I was extremely dissapointed at the Calgary show as 3/4 of the booths were dedicated to scrapbooking. Not sure where the word ‘stitches’ fits in there but I have recently learned the reason for the lack of a quilty presence in Calgary. Edmonton on the other hand was a much better show with lots and lots of quilters encouraging the growth of the quilted crafts by coming out and supporting the vendors.

What am I brining to the event next weekend you ask?

Why my buddies GEORGE and LENNI of course!

Who is George you ask?

George is a space-saving stationary APQS machine with an amazing 20″ of throat space. George uses the same sewing components & belt-driven technology as our other machines but in a smaller, basic package. A fast, affordable way to move to a professional longarm machine without sacrificing quality. Warranty: 8-year (96-months) parts/labor.

APQS George portable longarm quilting machine
APQS George Complete quilting system

Although I look like an extremely happy George owner, looks can be deceiving.

Although George is in my Studio, it is only temporary as this little man belongs to a brand new APQS owner in Cochrane, AB. She has graciously allowed me to use her new portable longarm to demo in my booth at Heritage Park next weekend. I’ve been having a blast playing with her new toy even if I lack any skill at all. OMG did my first samples look terrible. It didn’t take me long to realize I needed practice, practice and more practice.

So what does a longarm quilter do when they want to improve their skills?

Easy! They take a class. Seeing as how I teach a Longarm Quilting Class at Sparrow Studioz, I decided I just might be the best teacher for the job. So off to my filing cabinet I went to dig out my Muscle Memory handout. After only twenty minutes I could see a noticeable improvement. I plan to spend at least an hour/day practicing my muscle memory so I look somewhat competent while demo’ing the George in my booth this weekend. Drop by my booth and see how much I have improved after only one week. You can meet George and I’ll tell you everything about him while you sit and sew. Bring your husband along as he may want to remind you later how well built APQS machines look. In the mean time, watch Claudia Clark Meyers (who just happens to use the APQS George long-arm quilting system to machine quilt her projects) kick ass with George.

2011 APQS Huge Sale on Demo Models

2011 APQS Demo Models

Optional Bliss Upgrade available for all machines including LENNI!! Only $1,000

Demo Millennium with Standard Table (10′, 12′, or 14′ foot table)
$1,400 cash off
Free Quilt Glide ($1250 value)
Free Motorized Fabric Advance ($1350 value)
8-year warranty
Machine Value $20,000 – Sale Price – $16,000

Demo Freedom SR with Standard Table (10′, 12′, or 14′ foot table)
$1,800 cash off
Free Quilt Glide ($1250 value)
Free Motorized Fabric Advance ($1350 value)
8-year warranty
Machine Value $19,400 – Sale Price – $15,000

Demo Lucey on NEW Standard Table (10′ or 12′ foot Table)
$1,100 cash off
8-year warranty
Machine Value $11,900 – Sale Price – $10,800

Demo Lenni on NEW Standard Table (10′ or 12′ foot Table)
$1,100 cash off
8-year warranty
Machine Value $10,900 – Sale Price – $9,800

Re-energizing my quilty little world

If you know me, you know that I’m pretty enthusiastic about quilting. I’m not talking about the ACT of quilting, I’m talking about the COMMUNITY of it. Let me explain.

Throughout my life, I have met literally hundreds of people that I can’t stand. Seriously, if you knew me when I was an Asshole, and I was acting like one it’s probably because I didn’t like you. Then again, If you are reading this post, chances are that you are not one of those people I couldn’t stand. The chances are pretty darn good that you are a quilter too. The best I figure, it’s because I no longer hang out with assholes that I no longer act like one.

I have a new peer group of quilters that bring out the best in me. I have yet to meet a quilter that I didn’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all quilters are the same here, I’m saying that all quilters are likeable, unlike the vast majority of non-quilters. HARHAR! Not only have I met a lot of quilters that I liked, I’ve met a lot that I connect with. We share similar goals, and seem to help or at least motivate each other to achieve them.

Throughout the first few years of my brand new quilting career, I have to admit that as February drags on I become inreasingly drained. My creativity come to a screeching halt and needs desperately to be recharged. At these time I reach out to my local peer group to be inspired but more times than not I find that they too are fighting for air. To cure those quilty blues, I chose to travel to a huge quilting exhibition in the US for five fun filled days of classes with world renowned teachers. Surely that would have to put a spark up my ass. So to Speak OWWWWW! I think I mean ‘A fire under my ass’. Yah that’s better.

Anyway, the past couple years, after a long cold winter, I flew down to Providence, RI and Manchester, NH to take classes from Karen McTavish, Dawn Cavanaugh, Pam Clarke, Debbi Trevino, Deloa Jones, Elaine Huffman, Gina Perkes, Linda Taylor, Debby Brown, Cathy Franks and Sue Patten. Both times I came back ready to quilt and more importantly inspired to create. I also came back with a StrongAss urge to share the excitement with everyone I knew.

After thinking ‘long and hard‘ (can’t believe those words appear together in a quilting blog can you?) The best I felt I could do was invite the crazy, caffeine induced wild women of quilting up to Edmonton to yell at us for five days straight. WELL! That’s exactly what I did! I called my buddy Sue and told her to pack all her quiltiest shit in the backseat of her car and get her ass to Edmonton Alberta to entertain and motivate us right into spring with her awe inspiring classes.

Because out of all the classes I’ve ever taken, I know that Sue is the one and only teacher that connects with each and every student in the room. She treats her students like they are her peers and that’s a great learning environment. She makes your confidence seep from your pores! I know Sue will get the job done! She is going to change the way Edmonton quilters quilt. Well at least the Edmonton quilters that are lucky enough to take her classes.

Every single class I’ve taken has motivated me to become a better quilter but Sue’s classes have changed the way I quilt forever. No joke! Sue Patten has more design ideas floating out of her little ginger head than there are loose threads on the floor of all our sewing rooms combined.

I would love to be a fly on the wall of her studio and watch as these ideas are painted onto her quilts with thread. Wait, I AM, Sam I AM going to be a fly on the wall from March 9th to 15th at Sparrow Studioz Quilting & Gallery. Are you?

more info & register here

Penny Meander Sale

That’s right. I said it.

The longarm quilters of Sparrow Studioz are offering a One Penny Meander sale.

Just when you thought you couldn’t afford to have your quilts professional finished, Sparrow Studioz goes and launches an unheard of sale on longarm quilting services. Choose from a variety of all-over designs to finish your quilts. One Penny per square inch! So gather those unfinished tops from your closet, head on over to the grand opening sale at Sparrow Studioz Quilting & Gallery this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and get ready to attach the binding baby. We are only accepting the first 30 quilts, so you better hurry. Sale starts at 7pm Friday the 18th.

Grand Opening Hours
Fri Feb 18 7-9pm
Sat Feb 19 10am – 8 pm
Sun Feb 20 10am – 5pm

Sparrow Studioz Quilting Contest

Here’s the deal. When Sparrow Studioz Newsletter first launched, we included a bonus pattern. (It was a limited time offer but don’t worry, you can still get the Windowpanes pattern.)
To qualify for the contest, you are going to need to make the Windowpanes quilt.
You should also subscribe to this blog (email or reader option),
and subscribe to Sparrow Studioz Newsletter (if you haven’t already).
Lastly, join the Windowpanes Flickr group and add photos of your finished quilt. and VOILA! you are entered for the following prizes….
50 bucks from Fat Quarter Shop.
25 bucks from Crafty Girls Workshop.
One of 3 Hilary Rice patterns from Bytowne Threads.
So there you are. Go sew.

Floating a Quilt Top and Batting on the Longarm Quilting Frame

I now float all my tops (ala Sue Patten). I don’t use the c-clamps to hold anything, I use them to mark where the inside border passes under the front roller(where the top would normally be rolled on to). I find I have far more control of how snug the top lays when it extends forward and over the backing bar. I find when the top is rolled on it’s bar, it has too much slack right up against the bar and I found myself basting that down with every turn(ala Sharon Schamber). The end result of all the trouble shooting was floating my tops. Every single one! I remember telling my students six months ago that I float about half my tops. Funny how things change. In the end, all you can do is try every method and see which works for you. If the end result is the same, who cares how you get there.

Learn to Longarm Quilt in the shortest time possible!