Can YOU quilt it? You bet—learn how now (+ big giveaway!)

Wedding QuiltIf you ever wondered, “How did she quilt that?,” you’ve been in the same boat as Kim Diehl’s preferred machine quilter, Deborah Poole. A hand quilter for years, Deborah taught herself how to free-motion quilt, step by tiny step. Now she’s sharing her own brand of shortcuts and secrets for free-motion quilting in her new book, You Can Quilt It!—and you won’t want to miss her clever revelations!

Deborah gives you in a matter of pages what took her several years to discover. Written for quilting on a long-arm or home sewing machine, the book offers easy-to-follow instructions for oodles of free-motion quilting patterns plus eight techniques for how to quilt feathers—the pinnacle of classic quilting motifs.

Today Deborah is here to share the story about her leap from diehard hand quilter to machine quilter to the stars. Let’s all join cyber-hands and chant the positive affirmation together as we read her tale: “YES—I can quilt it!”

(Don’t miss stunning examples of Deborah’s quilting in the slideshow below.)

Superior Threads gift-certificate giveawayGIVEAWAY ALERT! Our friends at Superior Threads—makers of Deborah’s preferred machine-quilting thread—are giving THREE $25 gift certificates to three lucky winners today! Find out how you can win one along with a copy of the You Can Quilt It! eBook at the bottom of this post.

Deborah PooleIt all started a little over seven years ago. I’d been teaching classes on piecing and appliqué for years and swore I would never quilt by machine. But one of my students bought a Gammill and told me, “You have to get one!” I laughed and told her I was doing just fine quilting most things by hand—I had actually broken down and quilted a few tops on my Bernina 1230—but a long-arm? NEVER! I ate my words about six months later when I ordered my Gammill.

It was delivered in January of 2007. And then it sat there for over six months. Oh, I did a baby quilt or two, but really, for the most part, it just sat there, a big, room-filling, $16,000 dust catcher. I avoided it like it was a machine in one of the Transformer movies that was going to come alive and crush me to death. What had I done? I was foolish to spend all that money on this.

Finally my dear husband, Jace, the all-knowing, ever-present monitor of my innermost secrets (whether or not I want him to be) calmly looked and me and said, “You know what? I think you’re afraid of that machine.” And without another word, he left the room.

What? How dare he accuse me of being afraid of a sewing machine, even if it were true! He wasn’t supposed to say it out loud. Why am I telling you this? Because I don’t think there is a long-arm/mid-arm quilter out there who hasn’t had the same feelings. At some point we all think, what have I done? Well, those two sentences from my husband launched me into action. How dare he accuse me of being afraid. Darn him anyway! So I strapped on my best “I’ll show you!” armor and went to war on my insecurities.

My first show quilt was “Rosa Sharon”—it’s a reproduction of an antique quilt I viewed online, maker unknown. It’s this quilt that taught me what I needed to know to get where I am now. I learned so much from quilting that quilt. When I finished, I knew the things I learned would need to be passed on to others. The problem was, who would listen to little ol’ me? Well, that question was answered in the fall of 2008.

Rosa Sharon quilt by Deborah Poole
“Rosa Sharon.” This quilt has special meaning for me. My Aunt Sharon was my quilting mentor. I ordered my Gammill the month she died of lung cancer. I’m saddened to this day that she wasn’t around to laugh and cry with me while I learned how to make the darn thing work for me. So I named the quilt after my mother (her sister) and her. My mother’s name is Patrica Rosa, hence Rosa Sharon. The quilt helped me heal from her loss but the hurt will never leave.

I went to a guild meeting toting a local quilt-shop sample I’d finished for the owner. I hadn’t been to the guild in some time and I wasn’t aware that night’s speaker was going to be Kim Diehl. The quilt I had in my bag was one of Kim’s designs. Honestly, I was a bit embarrassed. I’m not really one to put myself “out there,” so I quietly slipped the shop owner the quilt and walked away. She took the quilt out, Kim saw it, and she wanted to know who had quilted it. Everyone pointed at me. I was overjoyed and honored that she asked me to quilt her next quilt. She and I have been working together ever since.

Detail of Checkered Past quilt
Deborah’s quilting on “Checkered Past,” from Kim Diehl’s book,
Simple Charm

During our time together, Kim would tell me about all the students who would look at her quilts and my quilting. They would snap pictures or draw sketches of my quilting. One day I suggested to Kim that perhaps she and I do a book together—she would make her beautiful quilt tops but then we could highlight exactly how I quilted them. She said, “Let’s do one better and you put in a book proposal of your own.” Well of course I did and, as they say, the rest is history.

You Can Quilt It!I’m thrilled that Martingale gave me the opportunity to write my book You Can Quilt It!, because at heart I am a teacher. I want people to be successful and not be afraid. To that end, I want the book to help people understand how to quilt the hard stuff. I think one of the best parts of my book is that I reveal the exact thread path for each design, something most quilting books don’t offer. Seeing a wonderful design is all well and good, but not knowing how to stitch it out is heartrending.

I hope my book opens a window in the minds of its readers, allowing them to take the information within it and apply it to all their quilting needs.

Deborah, thanks for sharing your story with us! See more of Deborah’s beautiful work (that—believe it or not—you can do too!) in the slideshow below.

How would you rate your machine-quilting skills—proficient, pretty good, or in need of further instruction? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of the You Can Quilt It! eBook PLUS one of three $25 gift certificates to spend at the Superior Threads website! You can win one of three ways:

1. Answer the question above in the comments section of our blog.
2. “Like” Superior Threads on Facebook; then let us know you did in the comments below.
3. Leave a comment on Superior Threads’ Facebook post about You Can Quilt It!

Enter all three ways to increase your chances of winning; winners will be randomly chosen one week from today and will be notified by email.

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winners are Jaci, Janet, and Melody. We’ll email you about your prizes—congratulations!

Dresden's Dilemma quilt by Sharon Del Pino; machine quilted by Deborah Poole

"Dresden's Dilemma" quilt by Sharon Del Pino; machine quilted by Deborah Poole.

Jelly-icious quilt pieced and machine quilted by Deborah Poole

"Jelly-icious" quilt pieced and machine quilted by Deborah Poole.

Nearly Insane and Totally Nuts quilt by Doris Coffey; machine quilted by Deborah Poole

"Nearly Insane and Totally Nuts" quilt by Doris Coffey; machine quilted by Deborah Poole.

Oh Good Gosh quilt by Sharon Del Pino; machine quilted by Deborah Poole

"Oh Good Gosh" quilt by Sharon Del Pino; machine quilted by Deborah Poole.

Salmon Splendor quilt by Beverly Hindman; machine quilted by Deborah Poole

"Salmon Splendor" quilt by Beverly Hindman; machine quilted by Deborah Poole.

Wedding Quilt by Editha Van Orden; machine quilted by Deborah Poole

"Wedding Quilt" by Editha Van Orden; machine quilted by Deborah Poole.


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