Meet author Karen Sievert (+ giveaway)

Prairie PointsKaren Sievert was introduced to quilting 15 years ago, and it was love at first sight. With her enthusiasm for the craft, it wasn’t long before she was inspiring others to quilt as well. Soon she had her own quilt shop and long-arm quilting business. Read the interview to find out more about the author of the popular books Prairie-Point Pizzazz and Better Together.

What’s one thing you remember making or doing as a child that showed your budding creativity?

The first thing I remember making is grape-cluster shaped potholders from felt and bottle caps. I also remember watching my mom crochet, so I decided I wanted to do that too. It seems I’ve always been interested in “arts and crafts,” which is pretty funny since I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler!

Karen SievertHow did you first get hooked on quilting?

My husband was in the military, and my children and I had to move from Hawaii to Virginia by ourselves. My sister also lives in Virginia, and one day she exclaimed that I needed a hobby. After she (literally) dragged me into a quilt shop, I swear, visions of sugarplums were dancing in my head! I was absolutely enthralled by all the possibilities! My sister told me that all I had to do was sew a straight line, and I thought surely I could do that. Of course, there’s a little more than that involved in quiltmaking, but who cares? I love it!

What can you tell us about your journey from beginning quilter to quilt-shop owner and long-arm quilter?

One of the things I love today is being around new quilters. They see things with such fresh eyes, and they usually see only the possibilities. Their excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. That was me! I fell hook, line, and sinker for quilting, and I thought the best way to share it was to open a shop. Was I naive and inexperienced? Absolutely!

But here’s one of the greatest joys you’ll ever experience through quilting: the friendships you forge with other quilters. I was very fortunate to have been blessed with quilters who were (and still are) more talented than I, and who helped and mentored me. The rest was “PPP.” We used to say that stood for “practice, practice, practice.” Now I say it stands for “play, play, play!”

Prairie-Point PizazzWhat gave you the idea to write Prairie-Point Pizzazz?

When I first started quilting, a woman named Janice Streeter, who belonged to our guild, made one of the most beautiful quilts I’ve ever seen. It was an autumn-leaves quilt, and she had used prairie points on rectangular bias strips to make her leaves dimensional. Remember: I was a beginner. Bias strips just didn’t work for me. They curve! So, I figured there just had to be an easier way to make prairie points in quilting. It took me a few years, and I admit, a lot of “unsuccesses” to figure it out, but I finally came up with a way to insert prairie points into any half- or quarter-square triangle. No need to redesign a block; just use the technique and tool, and anyone can do it. In fact, I made a video about my prairie-point technique to show you exactly how it’s done!

Tell us about a few of your favorite projects in Prairie-Point Pizzazz.

My personal favorites in the book are “Color, Color All Around,” “Bears Paw Lap Quilt,” and “Peekaboo.” I love all the possibilities with the numerous layouts for “Color, Color All Around.” And the three-dimensional flying-geese border in “Bears Paw Lap Quilt” is the easiest flying-geese border you could ever make. It’s almost like a “V8 moment”: once you see how simple it is, you’re just blown away! With “Peekaboo,” well, I adore those hidden treasures underneath the prairie points.

Color, Color All Around quilt by Karen Sievert
"Color, Color All Around"

Bears Paw Lap Quilt by Karen Sievert
"Bears Paw Lap Quilt"

Better TogetherYour book Better Together shows blocks that form extraordinary layouts. Which of these quilts would you recommend for beginners?

Without a doubt, I’d first recommend “Sun-Kissed Roses.” It’s simply a combination of a Nine Patch and Rail Fence, two very simple blocks. Next, I’d recommend “Sherbet Stars” and “Midnight Fairy Lights.” These are one-block quilts where the block is done in several colorways. Couldn’t be easier, but the results are so much fun!

Sun-Kissed Roses quilt by Karen Sievert
"Sun-Kissed Roses"

Sherbet Stars quilt by Karen Sievert
"Sherbet Stars"

Midnight Fairy Lights quilt by Karen Sievert
"Midnight Fairy Lights"

What’s your favorite part of the design process?

Creating, creating, creating! Like other quilters, I love being able to play with different fabrics, colors, and ideas for putting a quilt together. There’s no better feeling than when you can go from concept to completion. I think it’s because no matter what I’m making, I’m always growing and learning as a quilter. I’m always striving to get better, to improve my skills.

Do you have some tips for beginning quilters that you’d like to share?

My favorite tips truly go back to the basics. First and foremost is accurate cutting. If your patches aren’t cut accurately, they won’t fit together as planned in the pattern. Secondly, I always test and measure my seam allowance to ensure that it’s an accurate ¼". Again, this is so important. All quilting patterns are based on a ¼" seam allowance, and if you’re off, even by an eighth of an inch, the problem just multiplies.

How can our readers find out more about your workshops and classes?

By visiting my website, TheNiftyNeedle.com. Readers will find not only my schedule but also videos demonstrating how to make prairie points, how to insert them into patchwork, and even how to make a three-dimensional flying-geese border.

I’ve noticed that a lot of quilt shops are also teaching classes from Prairie-Point Pizzazz, so it’s always a great idea to inquire at your local shop to see if they’re offering a class.

What are some things you enjoy doing in your spare time?

What spare time? LOL! When I do have extra time, I enjoy spending it with my family and friends. I also enjoy things like bowling (great stress buster!), camping, and oh no, you guessed it—sewing!


Thanks for sharing your quiltmaking journey with us, Karen!

Do you have a story about using prairie points or two-block combinations in your quilts? Share your story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Prairie-Point Pizzazz eBook or the Better Together eBook! We’ll choose two winners—one for each eBook—one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. (You can also purchase Karen’s books here, and if you do, you can download the eBooks for free right away.) Good luck!

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner of Prairie-Point Pizzazz is Heather, who said:

“I love the look of prairie points but haven’t used them in years. Would love the book to get me started again!”

The randomly chosen winner of Better Together is MizPat, who said:

“I have made several quilts with the two-block concept. I love how the two blocks combine to create unexpected effects. I have designed several two-block quilts that I am in the planning and processing stage, prior to the cutting and sewing stage. I don’t know which I enjoy more, the planning and processing or the cutting and sewing!”

Heather and MizPat, we’ll email you each a special coupon code for your free eBook. Congratulations!

40% off books this week only


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