March 19: Karen McTavish of McTavish Quilting Studio Blogging RIGHT HERE!

25496_944292128978_6367354_nSo, I used to live in Duluth, MN.  Have you ever been there?  It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  But holy cats! It. Is. COLD.  Right on the edge of Lake Superior, I found myself, as a transplant, taking in all that Northern Minnesota has to offer with hiking, kayaking, skiing, sledding, and an endless sea of quilters.  Karen McTavish lived in my town and while I never had the chance to know her before she moved to Wisconsin, my grandma and I stalked her from afar. Her studio was next door to a pizza place and we’d drive by very slowly trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside.

When it was time to quilt this monumental object of a lot of firsts (first fabric collection, first published quilt pattern Succulent Garden) it was an occasion to be celebrated and treasured and I wanted the quilter to be a part of my story, my journey of quilting. Karen won the debate in my head.  I wholly respect and admire her work and felt like it was the right decision to send my quilt to her given the Minnesota and grandma connection we share.  I gave her no direction on how to approach the king sized monster and realized that she is known for her intense and complicated quilting — SHE INVENTED McTAVISHING!! and I wasn’t sure that a dense ornate approach would work with this quilt — but I trusted her.  Here is what she came up with and has to say about being given this modern quilt.

Succulent Garden
Karen McTavish writes:
I’m a modern quilter, although you wouldn’t know it from my past work. Modern revolves around the Gee’s Bend quilters in Alabama and boy, do I love my quilting history. As a quilter, I try to remember perfection isn’t as important as inspiration & interpretation. My take on Succulents is about adding texture, not complicating the fabrics with a motif or over quilting. In this piece, it’s about fabrics and piecing- I’m just the texture guy. Texture is my role in this project – the quilts over-all impact is the most important element.
When I opened the box coming back to me from Karen, I cried.  Karen McTavish is an artist who understands how to make fabric sing and I cannot thank her enough for using her talents and honoring this project in the way that she did.  The note in the box she sent with the quilt stated “this quilt was free-motion straight-line quilted by Karen McTavish.”  Free-motion straight-line.  Brilliant.

Follow along on the tour:

March 15: Heather Givans (me!) of Crimson Tate ::

March 16: Eric Lubrick of Eric Lubrick Photography ::

March 17: Sarah Sharp of {no} hats quilts ::

March 18: Lindsay Lefevere of ellesquare ::

March 19: Karen McTavish of McTavish Quilting Studio ::

March 20: David Barnhouse of Crimson Tate ::

March 21: Meghan Eschbaugh of Calvin and Carolyn ::

March 22: Brooke Starnes ::

March 23: Matthew Wheeler of Kapa Quilts ::

March 24: Samantha Howard of Bobaloo Kids ::

March 25: Amy Garro of 13 spools ::

March 26: Amanda Castor of Material Girl Quilts ::

March 27: Heather Jones of Heather Jones Studio ::

March 28: Heather Givans (me!) of Crimson Tate ::

What are your thoughts on “being the texture-guy”?  Got words for Karen McTavish?  Leave a comment for her here and be entered to win a fat quarter bundle of Succulents courtesy of Windham Fabrics.  Fourteen bundles will be given away at the end of the tour so be sure to head to all of the blogs and check out what is going on.  To find out more about Karen McTavish, head over to her website.

See you back here tomorrow when David Barnhouse shares his experiences.



117 thoughts on “March 19: Karen McTavish of McTavish Quilting Studio Blogging RIGHT HERE!

  1. Debbie says:

    I am enjoying this series. I got a chance to meet you in December and love your fabric collection. It would be fun to win.

  2. Joyce Carter says:

    That quilt is just beautiful. I absolutely love it. I love the quilting too.Thank you for the chance to win.

  3. sillyandrea says:

    I would also cry! Love this line, LOVE Karen like crazy-whoa, and o.O at the free motion STRAIGHT line. Wow.

  4. Donna Printy says:

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful quilt, both artists did an amazing job! Karen how long did it take to quilt this beauty? How do you decide how to quilt a piece? Love your work! Would be great to win some fabric, need to add to my stock (it’s dwindling! ).

  5. Deb Myers says:

    OMG!! Who Knew!???! I saw you, your booth & your stunning quilt at the recent Quilt Show in Bloomington, IN two weeks ago. Your quilt and fabric line are AHHHMAZING!! How fun & utterly special that you had Karen McTavish quilt YOUR QUILT!!! WOWZER!! Not many peeps can claim that!! So fun to have met you, albeit briefly… Hoping to visit your shop in Indy one of these days. I bet it’s a really fun place to hang! On a personal note… can you tell me where you got your eyeglasses {frame}??? They are ‘da bomb~ and couldn’t be any cuter!! Thanks! Wishing you a ton of success with your business/shop~ Take Care~ Deb Myers

  6. Kayle Lewis says:

    Eek I love it. Northern Wisconsin is my dream vacation, and where my Granny lives. My Granny is who inspired me to quilt, and Hayward is our #1 vacay spot, perfectly serendipitous! #succulentskeepuswarminthenorthwoods

  7. Marjorie says:

    My grandmother was born in Duluth, over 100 years ago. I love that the quilting doesn’t overpower the fabrics and the design of the quilt. Beautiful!

  8. Ella says:

    I’m often stumped with how to quilt a quilt. The texture approach is both lovely and less intimidating (or at least makes it feel less so) to me. Thanks for giving me another way to think about it.

  9. Beth Maitland-Banninger says:

    Hey both Heather and Karen! Brava!! You both are quilting rock stars, and I’ve so enjoyed finding this blog and following along the guest tour. Karen, have all your books and dvd’s and hope to one day be one tenth the long arm quilter that you are…and Heather, love love love your sense of style and humor. Happy Spring! xo Beth

  10. Ann Goodman, The Dalles, Oregon says:

    I have several of Karen’s DVD’s and yes, she free motion quilts in straight lines! And I am still trying to figure out how she is so fast on that longarm. I have watched and watched her tie off the threads and still can’t catch it. She is a master.
    As someone who has quilted quite a few quilts for other people, (not sure when I became the quilter girl for everyone, just happened) I can say that I have to develop a working relationship with each one. This entails laying the quilt out on my guest room bed and just looking at it. Pretty soon the quilt starts to “speak” to me, and it tells me how it wants to be finished. I know that sounds weird and mystical but it really works. Especially if I am not the one who pieced it I have to give my brain time to process the lines and open spaces. It also forces me to quiet my mind so I can hear the suggestions. It’s probably the part I love the most about quilting.

  11. Sarah says:

    Wow, the quilt is beautiful. To me the mark of a true master is being able to just “be the texture guy” when the quilt asks for it, to fit your skills into the framework given, rather than fitting the quilt to your skills.

  12. karenbolan says:

    I love the story of stalking Karen from afar. That’s what I do to all you internet quilters too. Quilting has always intrigued me because of the texture, so I think “being the texture guy” is a hugely important guy!

  13. Sarah says:

    I think Karen was spot-on with the quilting for this one. I love what she said about “being the texture guy” and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the chance to win!

  14. Carol Spence says:

    Beautiful quilt and nicely quilted Karen. Your vision is perfection on how to quilt it. Enjoyed seeing this one!

  15. SueSusan Start says:

    I am in awe how artists can see fabric, decide how to use it and let it shine in its own light. The quilt has a life of its own and is just beautiful.

  16. Jessica P. says:

    This is a beautiful quilt! I love that she was able to free motion quilt a straight line. Mine would look terrible! Thanks for sharing.

  17. matt wheeler says:

    I’ve just gotta say wow!, Karen that’s a great quilt, Love the succulent fabrics. very nice. and Miss Heather you’re so creative can’t wait to see what you create next!

  18. Linda Webster says:

    I’m a fan of free motion quilting done in a straight line. The quilting doesn’t clash with the pattern. Congratulations on your awesome quilt!

  19. Wanda Travis says:

    I first met Karen a few years back in Houston at the show. I was talking to Ricky and Justin at their booth. I didn’t realize that her booth was next to his. I saw her and wanted to meet r so badly. I left Ricky in mid sentence and walked over to shake her hand. She was so friendly. We have shared stories together and continues to be my muse. She can quilt anything. And t think a simple straight line design would look so great. Just found this blog and I am liking it.

  20. Chris says:

    The fabrics are wonderful, the pattern is great and Karen’s quilting is icing on the cake that makes you want to drool. Just fabulous.

  21. teresa says:

    your quilting is quite stunning… I admit I’ve always quilted in straight lines, I’ve never had the courage to go beyond that! But the texture of heavily quilted quilts is just wonderful…

  22. Diane Beavers says:

    Karen it’s wonderful to meet you. Wow I love the texture in the Succulents quilt. all I know is straight line FMQ and it Really makes it sing and dance . the back is equally as uplifting . Thank you for inspiring me to continue w straight line quilting .

  23. Monique Belmer says:

    That’s a heck of a texture guy you had there! It is just lovely and honestly, I often find myself drawn to either the fabric and design of the fabric and the texture is secondary or exactly the opposite. So, honestly, I think it’s about the individual piece and this one, she was right, the fabric and the design are the showstopper

  24. Claudia TN says:

    Love this fabric line and am enjoying all of the ideas for using it. This is a definite winner! Thanks for the giveaway.

  25. duchick says:

    I love Karen’s style and free-motion, line quilting! So cool and so chic! I’ve been to Duluth and it’s a beautiful area and yes, it gets mighty cold….even colder than we get here in Iowa!

  26. Snowchick says:

    I am new to this stuff, but with an engineering background……quilting lets me be creative in a way that makes sense. I love the modern quilting concept, where the beauty of the fabrics isn’t lost in the intricacy of the design.

  27. jmniffer says:

    The quilting was perfect for your quilt! Super way to add the texture and not detract from the fabric. Thanks for the chance to win some wonderful fabrics.

  28. Sandra says:

    My current quilt brought a comment from my non-quilter sister who said I have taught her about texture in quilting, something she never knew of or thought about before, so yay. I took a class about six years ago from Manquilter, who had bought Karen’s old machine and had studied with her. It really changed my FMQ world!! That was as close to Karen as I’ve got…YET, lol!

  29. Stacey (hushrules) says:

    Thanks for the chance to win these fab fabrics again. Love the line and love following you on IG Karen. #textrules!! Just put a deposit down on a longarm. eeek. Will be stalking your IG feed even more now. 🙂

  30. Karen in Breezy Point says:

    I never would have guessed that Karen did the quilting on your quilt top. Of course, she chose to do the perfect quilting design for the top–it’s gorgeous!

  31. SoozeM says:

    I love this quilt so much, I just love everything about it, and the quilting is just perfect for it! Karen is such a genius, such an artist with skills I can only dream of! She is my ultimate quilting role model. Texture is so important to a quilt, changing the way the light bounces off the fabrics, influencing the colors and drawing to eye to certain details. The right quilting can make an average quilt sparkle, but get it wrong and it becomes just another quilt, nothing special. Learning the art of letting a quilt tell me how to quilt it, and going with my gut rather than how I think it should be quilted is something that I always have to work on!

  32. Kate Yates says:

    I love the texture added by the quilting–it follows the pattern so well, without competing with the fabric, perfect! The fabric placement is great, too, I love how the border prints were used in the pattern.

  33. Karen Miller ~ Redbird Quilt Co says:

    Love the fabric, the quilt design and the quilting Heather! Great job on it all. Loving that Karen decided to quilt with straight lines, it accents the design and doesn’t take away from the beautiful fabric. I’m really excited to take two days of FMQ with Karen in May — it can’t come soon enough. I keep pinching myself to be sure I’m not dreaming. Thanks for the post – loved it!

  34. Ellee says:

    Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen straight-line quilting look so beautiful! What a great artist Karen is — knowing exactly what to do to make the most of a quilt.

  35. April Hurley says:

    OMG her quilting is beautiful!! It takes talent, a great eye, and a steady hand to put those kind of stitches on a quilt!!

  36. Kat Scott says:

    The giant hexagons are fabulous…. and Karen was spot on with being “the texture guy” the quilting is perfect for the quilt.

  37. Sharon L. says:

    I just found out about this from the Material Girl’s newsletter last night. I l am loving all the things that are made with Succulents fabrics. Love Annie’s Carry-all.

  38. Amorette says:

    I really love the idea of looking at quilting as texture rather than a visual to keep in line with the design of the quilt or the fabrics. That is a much more freeing idea.

  39. Carole says:

    love the fabric, love the quilt, love the quilting work, love the photo. can’t wait to work with some of these fabrics they look beautiful and so versatile

  40. mudpiesandpins says:

    The right texture really brings a quilt to life and Karen really knows how to do that. Here quilting really lets the fabrics shine trhough while adding another dimension of interest to the quilt. Love it.

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