An Afternoon of Quilting with Karen McTavish

Last month I was the presenter for the Mad City Quilt Guild and at the end of the meeting they had announcements.  I heard that they still had openings for an afternoon workshop with Karen McTavish!!!!!  As soon as I got home, I worked out plans for the girls since they have ballet AND gymnastics on Mondays after school and my check was in the mail to attend.

karen mctavish

Today was the big day!  Yippee!  A whole afternoon with Karen McTavish!  We were each instructed to bring two quilt tops (not quilted).  It was a round table workshop.  We went around the table and laid out our quilts and Karen went through and gave advice on how she would quilt them.  It was fascinating!

Karen is a much more traditional quilter than I am and really knows her stuff when it comes to quilt shows.  I found it so interesting to hear what she would do and think I know what I would do to quilt it.  Ironically – I only quilt my smaller quilts … not the bigger ones … so I really don’t know much about how I would quilt them. 

One of the first thing Karen McTavish says to look at is the fabric and ask yourself “What is the genre of the quilt?”  Let the fabric tell you how to quilt it. 

I also loved her definition of Modern.  “If it feels good it is good.”  YES!  In that sense, all my quilts are modern!

scrappy crown along

I brought my finished #scrappycrownalong which I just finished this morning.  Karen advised me to stitch in the ditch around each block and really treat each piece uniquely with focus on ‘playing’ with my quilting in the larger solid crown locations. 


I have to be honest here.  I do really love how many #scrappycrownalong quilt turned out but there is a lot going on in this quilt.  I made it for blogging and I made each 30” block seperately without looking too hard at the blocks that would go next to each one.  It is a super organically scrappy quilt.  I honestly thought it would just need an all over pattern since it’s already so busy – but now Karen has me thinking …


The other quilt I made – was this one.  This is the ‘modern’ quilt I made to see if homespuns could be ‘modern.’  I think they can. 

Karen recommended stitching in the ditch around each of the non-purple pieces of the quilt to highlight it.  Then – to draw out straight line in all different angles in the purple portions of the quilt.  And from there, work on the sections with either free form quilting or linear quilting.  I really like this idea!  I feel like that big open space really opens up an opportunity to have a lot of fun with the quilting!  Now we’ll just have to see what happens when I get to it!

karen mctavish and me

And – at the end of the class Karen took an #usie of us and texted me the picture!  (Yup … I’m star struck! – oh – and she called me pretty!)  What fun!  If you ever have a chance to learn or hear from this woman I highly recommend it!  I’ve now had the opportunity to hear her talk and take a class from her.  I can’t wait until our paths meet again! 


  1. Oh wow Kim, what fun this looks like. I can't wait to see what you come up with now for your quilting. What a dream come true!

  2. I'm fascinated with her style and her journey as a quilter.

  3. Cool! I took a lecture class from her at Southwest Technical School several years ago! Loved it too!

  4. Karen is awesome. So helpful, knowledgeable and grounded. Love your quilts. Sounds like she gave you great ideas!


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