Get to know our March OLFA Creator, Kristina Brinkerhoff of Center Street Quilts. A long-time quilter, Kristina loves to twist traditional blocks to give them an updated look. Her attention to detail is apparent in her pattern instructions, as you’ll see in the project she’s designed for OLFA, Scrappy Circles Pillow Cover.
O: Who taught you to sew and quilt? Did you take classes or learn on your own?
K: I made my first quilt when I was about 14 years old. I wanted a project to do over the summer and asked my mom if she would teach me how to make a quilt. We went to a local quilt shop where I picked out some 30s reproduction prints and ended up completing a pinwheel quilt top by the time school started. Finishing it took me several more years, however–haha! Since then my love for quilting has grown and grown. I haven’t taken any formal classes, but have certainly learned a lot from other quilters online. If I have a question or want to learn a new technique, I almost always turn to Google or Youtube first!
O: Do your patterns specialize in a specific look or technique?
K: My style lies somewhere between modern and traditional. I particularly like to take a more traditional block design (like the Sawtooth Star or Log Cabin) and modernize it with color choices, block placement, or other modifications. I’ve also recently gotten into designing foundation paper piecing patterns and have really enjoyed coming up with new block designs.
O: How long have you been using OLFA tools?
K: I started using OLFA tools when I started quilting as a teenager. In fact, I still have my original 45 mm OLFA rotary cutter that I got as a teenager. I’ve added a few more rotary cutters to my collection since then, but my original one works perfectly and I use it all the time!
O: Do you have advice for someone using a rotary cutter for the first time?
K: Watch those fingers because the rotary cutter will always win! Also watch for anything else in the cutting path. I once had a hoodie on and the pull strings were hanging down on the cutting mat. I didn’t notice and chopped one of them right off. Oops! Much better than running into a finger, though! 😉
O: Which OLFA tools do you tend to reach for the most?
K: Last year, I tried the new OLFA Endurance Blade and am now a huge believer!! I do a lot of rotary cutting and used to be changing the blades out every 1-2 months. I’ve had my new Endurance Blade on for almost six months and it’s still going strong! I also really like the OLFA frosted acrylic rulers. There are a lot of different size options and they have just enough grip to keep from slipping on the fabric as you cut.
O: How do you get your straight line quilting to be so perfect?
K: My tips for straight line quilting are to baste really well (spray baste or pin baste), use a walking foot, and only sew in one direction (e.g. from top to bottom). I love to mark my sewing lines with the 6″ x 24″ OLFA acrylic ruler and a Hera Marker. The Hera Marker isn’t actually a marker with ink, just a tool that makes an indentation when force is applied. I set up the ruler where I want the straight line quilting to be done and run the Hera Marker along the edge as I would a rotary cutter. An impression is made on the quilt top surface and it makes a great line to follow when quilting.
O: Do you have a few sewing or quilting tips you could pass along?
K: My biggest tip would be to not be afraid to try something new. If you’ve always wanted to learn free motion quilting then read some tips, get a practice quilt sandwich, and give it a try. Never tried foundation paper piecing? Watch a youtube tutorial, find a beginner-friendly pattern, and go for it! Every quilter started at ground zero for any skill they have developed, but the more you experiment and practice, the easier things will become. You’ll figure out what methods you like best and will continually improve.
O: Where are you from? What is your community like?
K: I live in a rural area of Utah. We are pretty far from any quilt shops, so I am grateful for all of the online fabric retailers and independent Etsy shops that provide great service to quilters like me!
O: Do you have family members who quilt or who you’ve taught?
K: My girls love to sew right along with me. They are still pretty young and we don’t worry about “proper” sewing techniques, but I love to see their imagination come to life in their creations.
O: What do you do for fun?
K: I’m a wife and momma to four little kids, so I love spending time with my family. We love family hikes and bike rides, traveling to new places, and eating ice cream together. If I get some time to myself and I’m not quilting, you’ll probably find me taking a nap! 🙂
K: Fun little story — there are a lot of quilters who love to do handwork, but I am not really one of them. I have limited sewing time each week, so I think I lack the patience to sit and do small stitches that seem to take forever. I mentioned to my kids once (or twice) that I’m not too fond of hand sewing and I prefer to sew on the machine. One day, my five year old was playing close by as I was sewing on my machine. She stopped me and said “I wish you were better at hand sewing.” I was a little puzzled and asked her why, to which she replied “hand sewing is just so much quieter!” Haha! I guess the children of quilters and sewers will eventually just get used to the humming of the sewing machine at all hours of the day. 🙂
O: Where can readers find your patterns.