Get to know our April OLFA Creator, Lori Kennedy of Lori Kennedy Quilts! An avid machine quilter, she loves to share her passion through writing and teaching. In addition to her daily blog writing, she writes a bi-monthly column for American Quilter Magazine. Lori has written two books: Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3 ad More Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3 published by Martingale and produced three Craftsy videos. “One of my favorite aspects of writing and teaching is when someone tells me how my step-by-step tutorials have helped them overcome their fear of quilting! Music to my ears!”, she says.
Free motion, raw edge appliqué is quick and easy with OLFA Creators designer Lori Kennedy’s project. Lori uses a variety of OLFA tools to create a beautiful table runner for Spring — and she gives you two options! Her machine quilting tutorial shows you how you can easily add dimension with your sewing machine to bring the shapes to life.
O: Where are you from? What is your community like?
L: My husband and I were born in Chicago and moved to Stillwater, Minnesota more than ten years ago. Stillwater is on the St. Croix River and is a historic logging and milling town. We average 42 inches of snow per year and 24 days/year with temperature below zero—though it feels like more! Summers are gorgeous here where we are proud of our beautiful trees and 10,000 lakes. Winter, on the other hand—I just call the long winter- “Quilting Season”!
O: When did you start quilting? Did you sew other things first?
L: I started sewing clothes and small DIY projects when I was in middle school. My mother and grandmother loved to sew, embroider and crochet and always encouraged my sisters and me to sew. I also loved to doodle, though I could not draw at all. I began quilting when I was put on bed rest while expecting my twin daughters who are now 26. My first quilt was made entirely by hand-from piecing to binding!
O: Interests change from making quilts to machine quilting. How has my quilting changed over time.
L: My love of machine quilting started more than twenty years ago when Master Quilter, Diane Gaudynski presented at my quilt guild. Her formal quilts, filled with feathers and grids, inspired me to learn machine quilting. I diligently practiced Ms. Gaudynski’s quilting techniques and my skill improved, but I really felt my quilts lacked something—they lacked my personality. Gradually I developed my own style and techniques. My style is very informal and my technique relies on doodling and minimal quilt marking. Instead of feathers, I quilt motifs like owls and daisies and cupcakes. It’s more important to me that quilts are fun and have personality than that the quilting line is perfectly stitched. I quilt for my family and they love the personal touches and messages I add to their quilts.
O: Which OLFA tools to you tend to reach for the most?
L: The first two quilting supplies I ever purchased were an OLFA rotary cutter and a small OLFA self-healing mat. I still use those tools every day, only now I use an OLFA Splash rotary cutter–(pink is my fave) and I have a cutting table with a huge 35 x 70 cutting mat. Every quilting project starts by cutting fabric and I couldn’t live without my 6 x12 and 6 x24 frosted rulers that are slip resistant! My favorite ruler for quilt marking is the 1.25 x 12.5 ruler. The newest addition to my OLFA collection is the Compass Circle Cutter that accurately and quickly cuts circles. I love this for machine applique!
O: Tell us about your two machine quilting books.
L: I have written two books on machine quilting published by Martingale: Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3 and More Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3. The first book includes chapters on supplies, setup, and skill building, as well as more than 60 motifs with step-by-step photographs and instructions. More Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3 includes 60 additional step-by-step tutorials with an emphasis on seasonal and holiday motifs. It also includes information about “essential” doodles, troubleshooting and quilting The Big Quilt. Both books have spiral bindings to lie flat next to your sewing machine while quilting!
O: Do you travel to teach?
L: I love to teach workshop 1,2 and 5 day workshops. I think it is the best way to learn free motion machine quilting. My teaching availability is limited. (I have six children and grandchildren who come first!)
O: What is the best way to learn your techniques if quilters can’t attend a class?
L: I am a huge fan of online learning. I have created 3 classes on machine quilting for Craftsy.) If you want to learn about thread, techniques, doodling and a wide variety of motifs, check out my first video, Divide and Conquer: Creative Quilting for Any Space and my second video, Creative Free-Motion Techniques: From Doodle to Design. If you struggle with designing the quilting for your quilts, I recommend, Creating a Quilting Plan: Approaches for Any Quilt. I offer daily tutorials, tips, techniques and projects on my blog, The Inbox Jaunt. I would LOVE to have you join our highly engaged community by dropping by or signing up for my daily emails!
O: Do you have some tips for beginners?
L: The most important tip I can offer about free motion quilting is to not be intimidated! Jump in! Lower your feed dogs and start stitching. Don’t wait until you can buy a fancy new sewing machine. You can free motion quilt on any machine even a treadle sewing machine! No door is closed to a stubborn scholar! Don’t worry about perfection! Stitch loops, scallops and wavy lines to start. Once you start feeling a rhythm, try quilting really fast and then really slow and see which is easier. (HINT—you might be surprised!) Doodle! The fastest way to improve your quilting is to doodle on paper. Fill a sheet of lined notebook paper with a motif before stitching it. You will be amazed how much easier quilting is after doodling. Your movements will be more relaxed and your line will be smoother—I guarantee it!!! Have fun! Quilt motifs that are fun for you. If you love birds, quilt birds! If you love cats, quilt cats! Or quilt cats chasing birds if you want! When you have fun quilting, your quilts will be fun!
O: Do you have tips for taking quilts to a professional quilter?
L: Thread, batting and motifs all work together with the quilt top to create the look and feel of the finished quilt. The more you educate yourself about each of these components, the more likely it is that you will be happy with the end product. This is true whether you are quilting your own quilt or taking your quilt to a professional quilter. Start by thinking about how you will use your quilt: Is the quilt going to be a wall hanging or a bed quilt? Consider who the quilt is for—is it a going to a little boy or a favorite aunt? This will help you and the quilter choose the best thread, batting and motifs for your quilt.
O: What do you do in your free time?
L: Free time – lol lol lol! I love to spend my free time with my family. I have six children and three grandchildren and that keeps me quite busy. In addition to quilting, I love to hike the trails of Minnesota with my camera. (One of my photos of Minnesota is in one of the Smithsonian Institute’s traveling exhibits.) I recently took up watercolor painting which I love, but it reminds what a struggle it is to be a beginner!
O: Do you have a favorite season?
L: Minnesota has long winters and cold springs, consequently, that is when I do most of my quilting. I love to celebrate the holidays with new quilts so I frequently design new holiday and seasonal motifs. When winter gets too long (or too white), I conjure up my garden by quilting huge flowers on bright colored fabrics.
O: Do you have a funny story about your career?
L: I started my blog, The Inbox Jaunt, five years ago as a way to share photos and quilts with my friends and family. I had no idea at the time that the blog, my doodles and a love of quilting would take me to so many places! It’s been an exciting adventure –every stitch of the way!