Archive for the ‘Guild Visits’ Category

South Dakota Quilt Guild Fall Retreat

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

893 for the bees pleaselI’m going to be at the South Dakota Quilt Fall Retreat This Weekend!

902 Crescent moon

Fall Retreat 2014
September 26-28, 2014
Crossroads Hotel and Convention Center
Huron, South Dakota

I’ll be teaching Dragonfly Sky, Giving the Enchanted World lecture and teaching a 3 hour Thread Magic Mastery class
For More Information contact Cheryl Olson at
Come and Join me!

866 Arabesque Rose

Ann Arbor and then Thread Magic Summer School

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Tomorrow I’m heading up for Ann Arbor the their Quilting Unlimited Festival, where I’ll be teaching this weekend. I’ve got my usual pile of  thread, books, kits, toys and quilts and I’m ready to go. I’ll be teaching the Stitch Mastery Book, Applique Master, Bobbin work Flowers and Button hole Binding. If you’re anywhere near, come and join us. You’ll find more information on their web site at

QU_2013_flyer898 Dragonfly in the Clearing

When I get back I’m going to start up Thread Magic Summer School Session. If you joined us last year, you know it’s an intense week of blog classes, this time on color theory outside the box.We’re going to talk about how and why color works the way it does. It’s kind of like class camp for grownups, where we focus on quilting, color, art, expression and fiber. The first lesson will start August 12. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s a great way to stretch your knowledge. 

Join me both places! This is going to be fun.


Care and Feeding of Guilds: The Right Classes

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

It’s that time of year when guilds start to pick next year’s line up. As a teacher I spend a lot of time figuring out how to really give students what they need in a class. This is some of what I think about when I’m building my class line up.

It helps that I came out to teach. I have a degree in Primary education. The economy of the time had other notions. And when it came down to it, I’m good at imparting information and lousy at crowd control. When I ended up teaching 8th grade, that was fatal.  I’ve come to love teaching quilters, where everyone wants to be there, and every one wants to have fun.

 I’ve learned two things about guilds. First is that guilds are all different. Their members, skill levels, interests and passions run the gamut.Secondly that you don’t teach classes, you teach people. You take them right where they are and they learn from there. Thirdly is that class is just people, so toss the class plan if it isn’t working,and give them what they really need.   I’ve learned to offer several different kinds of classes so students really get the teaching day they want. And I’ve learned to change class on a dime when I can see they need other and want other skills not on the plan.

Lectures are visual snacks. They need to hit the spot: Does your group want to learn about color? Thread work? Design? Pattern Free Applique? Or talk about development? I have a lecture for each of those, focused for differing skills and interests.

Thread Magic Garden

Of course I have classes based on my new book,Thread Magic Garden.You can check the rave reviews from

Thread Magic Garden, includes a pattern-less method of flower design, special skill builders on couching, machine beading, corded buttonhole binding, and Angelina fiber, 6 different stitches for free motion applique, 25 flower designs (which can be used to mix and match), 50 new quilts and 2 fabulous projects to get you started in your own thread magic garden. 

I’ve got all kinds of new classes focused on patternless floral applique.

The Thread Magic Garden lecture is brand new.It shows fabulous gardens in life and fabric with wonderful ways to make fabric flowers out of simple shapes. Recommended for groups interested in flowers and in beginning abstract design.

Classes based on Thread Magic Garden

  • Thread Magic Irises

  • Thread Magic Roses

  • Thread Magic Bleeding Hearts

  • Thread Magic Abstract Florals 

Then I like to offer classes focused on how you like to learn

 Do you want to design your own projects? Master Classes are the place for that. I offer master classes in

  • Abstract Floral Design

  • Thread Magic Mastery: Every Kind of Thread

  • Thread Magic Jacket/Vest

  • Free Motion Applique Mastery

  •  Thread Magic: Painting with Thread

Do you want a One day classes that focus on a specific achievable project? These classes offer that.

  • Dragonfly Sky

  • Ladybug’s Garden 

  • Dye Day Workshop

Do you want classes that teach technique and don’t work on a project but teach a specific skill? Here are some great skill based classes

  • Thread Magic Technique Book

  • Stitch Vocabulary

  • Corded Binding 

  • Thread Magic Overview

Are you looking for an easy entertaining class,just for fun?

These achievable projects are a great afternoon sit and sew.

  • Perfect  Pin Cushions

  • Guilding the Lily

  • Thread Magic Badges 

  • Tea Towl Sampler 

    So why do I set up so many kinds of classes? I really want to teach groups what they really want to know. If you ask me for a special class, of course we’ll set it up. That’s how new classes start.

    How do you get classes with me? Just ask.  I’ll say yes. But your best venue is your local guild or shop. If you ask them for my classes as a member, they’re so much more likely to respond than to my my adds or offers. Guild requests are responsible for probably about 70% of my teaching invitations.
    Don’t belong to a guild? Well, you’re missing something. Guilds have always been the backbone of the quilt community. They offer companionship, fun, fabric opportunities, and inexpensive classes from world class teachers. And you get to touch the quilts.

    For a complete list of lectures, workshops, and pricing please visit my web site at  for all her class  and lecture offerings.

Sarah Hinman will be handling Ellen’s Scheduling. You can call Sarah at 616-485-5646 or email her to schedule your class time with Ellen today!

Pat Jones: Mountain Fringe Girl

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012



I met Pat Jones at the Mountain Laurel Guild in Georgia. The whole guild was full of wild gardeners and astonishing fiber artists. Pat fits right in. She lives in a cabin up the mountain where birds sing to her right off her porch, looking down the gorge. It’s another world.

Pat tells me I gave her permission in my first book to try things. And she has. She’s this quiet and very proper southern gal doing wonderfully wild things with her thread and fabric.

She took my flower class, and being a master gardener herself, she build one incredible flower garden.

Here’s what she had to say about it.

“First, THANK YOU for your visit with us in June.  We were ALL blown away by your work!  What inspiration!  As a result, I had to put all the work I was in the middle of aside and try your techniques.  This is my first attempt, and I plan to do MANY more!  I have a long way to go….got to learn to be FREE!  What a joy you are and your work is gorgeous, on top of that, your teaching is so excellent that it makes us feel confident that we can try it. 
The pink flowers in the wall hanging were stitched onto a felt background then stitched on the background fabric sandwich.  That made them raised a little and I really like the effect.  The center of the flowers is all thread stitched onto Ultra Solvy then applied.  The butterfly is, of course, Angelina.  The wisteria is made of tubes of hand painted organza and silk. 
This past Tuesday was guild and it made a splash with the girls!!!”
There’s no way to know where she’ll go next with her work, but she’s unstoppable. I can’t wait to see.

Ilini County Stitchers

Monday, July 30th, 2012

 just had the nicest visit with the Ilini County Stitchers in Champagne/Urbana, Illinois.

This is a guild I’ve visited before. There’s nothing nicer than coming back to a guild you’ve taught at. Firstly, they’ve told you they like you by asking you back. I don’t know a nicer compliment for a teacher. But secondly you get to see the wonderful ways they’ve grown.

This is an arty guild with a lot of passion for new ideas. So you can only imagine. And they didn’t disappoint me. 


 They did three classes .Guilding the Lily is a class where we take a great print and embellish it with beautiful straight stitch thread work.

Thread Magic Mastery is where we work with every kind of thread.



Bobbin Work Flowers is a little class where we make bobbin work applique flowers with lovely thick threads. 

Here’s some of the fabulous things they did!

Heaven’s knows what they’ll do next. I can barely wait to see! 

 If you had a teacher you loved in class, consider more classes or retreats with them down the road. As they say you can’t walk into the same river because the river has changed and so have you.  But the new things you’ve learned and that they’ve learned help you reach a whole different level.   And your new people in the guild will be thrilled with their new skills too. And isn’t that what class is all about?

You’ll find the Ilini County Stitchers  at their web site at

The Illini Country Stitchers hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Thursday of each month except in November (second and third Thursday) and December (second Thursday only) at 7 PM at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, 905 S. Russell St., Champaign, IL. Visitors and Guests are always welcome. What a fabulous heartland guild!




Hydrangea Happening: In Search of Color

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

When I was visiting  the Mountain Lauren Quilters down in Georgia, I saw the most amazing hydrangeas. We have hydrangeas up north. I have some annabell hydrangeas that threaten to swallow the whole side yard. But not like these.

I was in Clayton Georgia, half up the mountain, where these women take their gardening seriously. And their hydrangeas are a thing of legend. Part of it is the warmer zone allows for blue lace caps and other wonders. Part of it is just passionate gardening on steroids. Both Lynda Doll and Kathy Booker had astonishing gardens with hydrangeas to die for.

Which left me wondering….What is it about the color of hydranges that turns us all inside out?

So we’re going to put it on the color wheel and look.



First off, they’re blue and there isn’t a whole lot of real blue in a garden. Lots of purples, pinks, reds, oranges and greens. So the ones that are merely blue are a wonder just for that


But most of them aren’t just one color. They flirt with all the purples and pinks to either side.

And this one adds just a dab of yellow in the center. It’s as if it were buttered. Yumm!

Here it is on the wheel. We have an analogous range of purples, blues and pinks, with that yellow complement to the purple sparking across the wheel. No wonder I want to play with this combination. I think, next dye day they really will be colors to dye for.


 Wondering how you might do this as stitchery? This roundish form, covered with a great hydrangea range of colors in garnet stitch does the job pretty well.

Before the heat starts to simmer today, go out in your garden and see what colors catch your heart. Go feed your eye.


Books in Action

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

It’s lovely when you get to see a book you’ve written  go into  action. Books are made to be working tools. 

Morna McEver Golletz just wrote a review of Thread Magic Garden on her blog for the
International Association of  Professional Quilters.

She says “At first glance, it’s clear that Ellen is a teacher. Using simple step-by-step instructions, you’ll learn basic skills that build upon each other, for example, special stitch techniques, building edge-to-edge color and progressive shading. Then she offers more than 20 floral studies to understand the shapes of the flowers. She notes that you cannot create a flower through fabric without first seeing and studying a real one, so she includes close-up photographs for this purpose. She also includes a good discussion on color theory. If you are interested in learning or expanding your skills at machine embroidery, you’ll enjoy this book and appreciate Ellen’s attention to detail.” Thanks, Morna!

I just taught a class at Mountain Laurel Quilters in Clarkesville, GA based on  the book. We did the abstracted florals class. These women are master gardeners. They took me up and down the mountain to see their gardens, which were spectacular.  I’ll post on that later. What a dynamic group of women!

I ended up demoing on hostas and lady slippers, in honor of their forest and clearing gardens, that absolutely make my heart sing. What a lovely trip!

You’ll find the International of Professional Quilters on their web site at They put together a very useful publication called Professional Quilter that serves the needs of the quilt community that sells, shows, teaches, writes and quilts professionally.

Many Moons: A Visit to the Nimble Fingers Quilt Guild

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

I just got done teaching several classes in Maryland. I taught Dragonfly Sky to the Nimble Fingers Quilt Guild in Rockville.

I love teaching the Dragonfly Sky class because it’s full of new good open doors for people. We do bobbin work and we do Angelina Moons.

Angelina has been around for a while now. But it’s still the darling of many of us contemporary girls because it’s definitely Bling Bling! It’s made of hide of the Nauga (Lurex, I believe). It looks like cotton candy but it melts under your iron into the shiniest most wonderful whirl of iridescent ice in around 24 colors. How good is that?  I love it for the natural things that are ultimate shine in themselves. It makes the world’s best moons, suns, dragonfly wings, waters, ice, and stuff of dreams ever.


But one of the most wonderful things about a class like this, is watching the very many different things people do with the same patterns and ideas. Look at the amazing moons they made!

Aren’t these women brilliant? It’s always great fun to see them work together and to feel the creative energy they bring into class.

You’ll find the Nimble Fingers Quilt Guild on the web site at They’re a great guild and if you’re near them you owe it to yourself to check them out!

You’ll find Angelina Fiber at Textura Trading and hopefully at your local quilt store. Remember that it’s always best to buy things at the store that brings things to you. Your little quilt store is a treasure that supports you and deserves your support.

I put in my Angelina Moon Tutorial on top in case you must go off and make moons immediately. I know the feeling. You’ll find more tutorials on my site.


More instructions and patterns for moons are in my booklet for class, Dragonfly Sky.

Now go out and do something SHINY!

Packing the &*()(*&&^%%$ Box: What to Bring to Class

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

We’ve estabilished that I have a stuff problem. That gets magnified when I start to pack for class. What do I bring? What do I ask them to bring? What will the airport finally freak out on? In a broader safer time once had a box full of bobbins. I can’t imagine what they thought these were but it brought out the big dogs. They had to see it all after that.

When we went to the fifty pound bag it got much worse. I remember the day. I was in Seattle at 5 AM. The lady at the counter grabbed my bag that was perfectly legal when I left Chicago and growled” This bag is overweight!” Like it was a triumph against ugly fat and too much underwear. I looked at her and said that my bag, unlike her, had had enough breakfast to be relatively civilized. It didn’t help. The age of measured baggage had arrived. I paid the extra bounty and knew a new world had come.

It only gets more stringent. And yet, students need you to bring things. They need the right stabilizers, the right threads and the toys you play with to have a good day.

How do you do that as a teacher? I’m still trying to figure that out thirty years later. But I have a theory.

  • Bring what you want to play with.
  • I’ll bring what you really need.

So before each class I pack the &**(()*&^&^%^%$%$ box. And ship it ahead. It’s full of hand dyed threads,sewing machine needles, stabilizers, commercial threads and fabrics, kits, books, patterns, toys and my dreams for you. And I always hope for it to come home to me empty.

I’m leaving Tuesday to Maryland to teach at the  Nimble Fingers Quilt Guild, June 6-7th  and at the Bears Paw in Baltimore on June 9th. See you there. I brought everything!

Eastern Iowa Heritage Quilters

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Holding up the World

I  just came home from a day at the East Iowa Heritage Quilters

at Cedar Rapids.I did two lectures and a half day class. How

much fun. EIHQ is a large enough group to have both a morning

and an evening session. For the morning lecture we had The Color

Cook Book Lecture, a gentle discussion of color theory as recipes,

and for the evening we did The Visual Path, a look at how to design

quilts that move.


For the afternoon, I taught a class on landscape design.These ladies

were so good.

For a half day class, they really created some great beginnings.





I can’t wait to see what they’ll do. Hopefully they’ll send me pictures and I’ll show them to you.

You’ll find East Iowa Heritage Quilters  at and and

Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What a great group of Quilters!

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