SCHMETZ Quilting Needles


SCHMETZ Quilting Needles

What needle should be used for quilting? One choice is the SCHMETZ Quilting Needle. This needle has a thin tapered point allowing the needle to smoothly pass through fabric layers. The thin tapered point helps eliminate skipped stitches and promotes even stitches.

Quilting needles are available in two sizes:

If the SCHMETZ Quilting needle is new to you, try the assortment pack containing both sizes.


Ebony Love – Die Cutting Fabric Authority

Ebony Love - Die Cutting Fabric AuthorityEbony Love is considered by many in the quilting industry to be the top authority in the field of die cutting fabric. The author of The Die Cutter’s Buying Guide and the Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips, 2nd Edition, Ebony describes herself as an Accidental Expert.  

“I had a crazy idea to make round fabric coasters with pinked edges. I cut a few circles using a template and a pair of pinking shears. If you’ve ever wielded a pair of pinking shears, you know the weight and force required to use them makes your hand ache miserably. After cutting the first set, most people would have abandoned the idea entirely; but instead, I went searching for a perfect way to cut pinked circles.

After a bit of digging, some failed purchases, and other experiments, I found a company who could make something called a custom steel rule die. Fantastic! I called them and told them what I wanted, and they got to work on my custom 5” pinked circle die. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask what I needed to actually use the die. Yes, you guessed it… I didn’t even have a die cutter.

Fabric Die Cutting Tips Cover by Ebony LoveSo here I was, with a custom die on order, frantically researching machines to use it. There wasn’t much information provided by the manufacturers so I went online looking for people who had experience with them.  I discovered the world of Yahoo Groups where all these quilters were essentially teaching each other through trial and error. Maybe because I was so enthusiastic, people started to email to ask me for advice, and I’d do more research, make recommendations or help troubleshoot their issues.”

The online groups are an excellent resource for quilters new to fabric die cutting. But, at some point, it became overwhelming to navigate the archives. Although the information is THERE — it’s buried under 20,000 messages. Imagine trying to look up a phone number, but instead of an alphabetized phone book, all the names and addresses are randomly jammed into a dumpster. It became increasingly clear that some sort of reference manual was urgently needed.

Although Ebony didn’t think she knew more than anybody else, she had become very visible in the groups, and she had become active in the various communities that support die-cutting quilters. She’d also started posting how-to videos on YouTube and she knew she had a knack for explaining things to people. She was eager to share everything she’d learned with anybody who was interested, so in 2012, she wrote and published The Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips, which earned rave reviews.

Ebony’s life has always been a blend of art and other pursuits. She is a degreed engineer who works full time for a large consumer packaged foods company in information technology, but she has always been a “maker.” When she was in elementary school, she made satin and lace heart shaped pillows and sold them to teachers and other students. During high school, she made costumes for the drama department, and in college she supplemented her income making evening gowns and accessories.

She came to the “quilting thing” pretty late. After college, she stopped sewing for a while. She got back into sewing and quilting because her friends were getting married and having babies and she started making quilts for them. At one particular baby shower, when her pregnant friend opened Ebony’s quilt, everybody wanted one, and she soon found herself making custom quilts in her spare time.

Magic happens in the LoveBug Studios.

Magic happens in the LoveBug Studios.

Ebony started LoveBug Studios as a custom quilt business. Although making quilts sparked her creative fire once again, it was hard to keep up with the demand. It was draining from an artistic perspective. Customers were way more concerned with getting what they wanted or envisioned than feeding Ebony’s creative spirit. She realized two things: she really didn’t like doing commissioned work and supplanting her own ideas with someone elses, and there’s no way to make money customizing quilts unless you quilt for Oprah.

She needed to find a way to create something once and reach many more people with that effort. Instead of making one quilt for one person, she needed to figure out how to make one quilt for many people. LoveBug Studios changed focus from people who want quilts to people who want to MAKE quilts. As a degreed engineer, Ebony has a passion for finding efficiencies, and her love of the precision of die cut quilts seemed like a good direction for LoveBug Studios. 

It’s no mystery! Ebony’s die cut kits save you time.

It’s no mystery!
Ebony’s die cut kits save you time.

Ebony says, “I love die cutting because it really helps me to get past the points that I don’t love so much and get to the part that I do. If I can crank out all the pieces I need for a queen sized quilt in a few hours and just get to sewing as soon as possible, I can see my efforts more quickly.”

The efficiency of die cutting quilt pieces led to other problems though:  because she was churning out so many quilt tops she couldn’t get them quilted fast enough, so she had to buy a long arm.

Ebony thinks of herself as a cruise director or a concierge, and she wanted to create meaningful experiences for people and help them grow in their craft. That desire manifested itself into her popular mystery quilt alongs.

Ebony Love Mystery Quilt Alongs

Find Mystery Quilt Alongs throughout the year.

  • Ebony’s mystery quilts are based around a theme. She’s done three so far focused around Downton Abbey. The current one is “Dear Laura,” based on the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 
  • Three to four months before the event actually begins, people go to the LoveBug Studios website to register. The cost typically ranges from $10-$30, depending on the quilt.
  • When the quilt along starts, Ebony releases a new block once per week, and people can download the pattern, watch videos to show how the block goes together, or read through a photo tutorial. Quilt alongs last anywhere from 3–12 weeks depending on the project.
Ebony with Little House on the Prairie stars Alison Arngrim  (Nellie Oleson ) and  Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle) 2015 International Quilt Market – Houston TX

Ebony with Little House on the Prairie stars
Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson ) and Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle)
2015 International Quilt Market – Houston TX

She also has weekly webinars (fans call them W-Ebony-ars) where participants chat and sew together and ask questions. People can get kits of fabric from the website or from participating quilt shops. She also provides a forum where they can get help, and there’s a Facebook group where they gather to chat and share and post photos.  

In the spring she’ll be doing another Downton Abbey quilt, and the summer will be a Quilt Around the World Mystery. In 2017 she’ll be doing an Anne of Green Gables Mystery. Ebony says, “They are great fun, and it’s pretty neat to be able to connect quilters from around the world.”

Even though LoveBug Studios is Ebony’s “side business” — it has taken over her life and home. She moved the long arm out of the basement and into the living room so she could use the basement as a warehouse and shipping center.

Lights. Camera. Action! in Ebony Love’s video studio.

Lights. Camera. Action! in Ebony’s video studio.

About inspiration, Ebony says, “for me, inspiration always starts with an idea.  Not an idea for a quilt, but an idea for an experience.  I envision how I want people to interact and what I want them to take away.  For example, when it comes to my Downton mysteries, I think about the show and the characters and the plot points, and how I can tie the story line into the quilt, what things might evoke a certain memory for someone or get them to really make a connection to the quilt or the process of making it.  When someone looks at a quilt they’ve made from one of my patterns, I want them to remember the fun they had making it, or what they learned, or the perseverance it took to finish.

My full time job is about sitting in front of a computer or in meetings all day.  It’s hard sometimes to make the connection between what I do and some family out there grocery shopping and buying the food we make and feeling like I was part of that experience.  But the work I do with LoveBug Studios is very connected.  I can see the results of my efforts, and the impact it makes.  People give me feedback and I can take that and incorporate it into the next project.  I love being part of a community that is happy and joyful and sharing in their love of quilting. No matter what our differences may be outside of quilting — we have at least that one thing in common and that’s what matters.”

Ebony’s Big Little Book is going into a second edition.

She is also working on a new book, The Die Cutter’s Buying Guide. If anyone is interested in getting notified when the book is released, please sign up for a notification here:

To learn more about fabric die cutting, check out Ebony’s blog post:

Joan Hawley – Bringing Out the LAZY in All of Us

Lazy Girl Logo

Joan Hawley

Joan in her studio. Notice her zip necklace.

Joan Hawley is the owner and designer at Lazy Girl Designs.  She has made dozens of TV appearances (Kaye’s Quilting Friends, America Quilts Creatively, Quilter’s Toolbox) and she has a top-selling line of products in the quilt industry. Joan is a dichotomy wrapped in a conundrum.  How can a woman who invented over 100 products, designed 70 patterns and written three books think of herself as “Lazy”?

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, her whole family was full of scientists, engineers and artists.  She taught herself how to sew in the 7th grade, and because she was taller than all the other girls, she was thrilled to know how to make her own clothes.  After getting a college degree, she started her career in Urban Planning, and her idea of the perfect Saturday was making a new outfit for the coming week.

Joan describes a turning point in her sewing,  “There was a particular suit I wanted to make. It had a fitted, lined suit coat with princess seams, dolman sleeves, and a rolled lapel.  In total, there were 19 pieces, two fabrics, several interfacings, buttons/buttonholes, and a zipper.  I never made it. It was a crushing moment. That project scared me and scarred me a little. I felt like I wasted all of that time, energy and love.  I was afraid to venture out into another intricate project — too many pieces, too many supplies, etc. I became aware of my threshold for a maximum project effort. Too much effort for a single project is a barrier to my own success.  I call these ‘boundaries’ and I think of them as my guardrails of life. If I respect my guardrails, I keep myself on the road to success.”

Joan worked as an Urban Planner for 10 years before starting Lazy Girl Designs.  Urban Planning taught her to communicate big ideas — how to break down big concepts into easily digestible parts.

Sweetpea Podds by Joan Hawley

Sweetpea Pods stand open when unzipped and easily hold Clover Wonder Clips.

After moving to a new city, a part time job at a quilt shop started her on the path to Lazy.  Joan realized that in the sewing world, the traditional time-consuming methods could be streamlined with a new tool or shortcut technique.  That’s how she came to be a “thinger”.  She makes things.  Fabric is her medium, and the quilt world is her arena.

Joan started Lazy Girl Designs because she believed other sewing enthusiasts would want what she wanted:  shortcuts to sewing success.  Many times, the barriers to success are as simple as not having access to a tool, notion or supply.  Her shortcut philosophy provides guardrails for the Lazies (anyone making her projects).

Lazy Girl patterns were the first in the industry to use full color step-by-step photographs. Some of us learn through images, some through writing, some need both. All of the directions are in there in both forms.

Inspiration for a new product often comes from her own sewing frustration.  We are making new things that have different needs and challenges — supplies and tools haven’t kept up. For example, even as an experienced seamstress, Joan was frustrated by interfacing (names, directions and interleaf (i.e., those instruction “thingies” that come wrapped in the bolt) info and access to proper pressing tools.

Lazy Girl Interfacing. A nice tidy grouping of basics found at your local quilt shop.

Lazy Girl Interfacing. A nice tidy grouping of basics found at your local quilt shop.

Joan approached all the big interfacing manufacturers, but none of them would incorporate her ideas.  So, she developed her own Lazy Girl line of interfacing.

  • Seven interfacings for basic needs, plus a thing or two that might be new to you.
  • Names that make sense (i.e., Stiff Stuff to make your bag stand up – perfect!).
  • Clear instructions and descriptions on the bolt ends and interleaf.
  • Only available at your local quilt shop or online. Made in the USA.
Joan's inspiration for Press Perfect branding and packaging developed from the 1950’s vintage home maker meets Judy Jetson. The pink/blue coloring is distinct among the green Clover brand. As well as being functional, Joan wanted these products to be pretty, colorful and refined. Simple clean lines, beautiful shapes and colors with Clover’s amazing top quality.

Joan’s inspiration for Press Perfect branding and packaging developed from the 1950’s vintage home maker meets Judy Jetson. The pink/blue coloring is distinct among the green Clover brand. As well as being functional, Joan wanted these products to be pretty, colorful and refined. Simple clean lines, beautiful shapes and colors with Clover’s amazing top quality.

Then Joan approached Clover Needlecraft to create a line of pressing tools and supplies that meet today’s needs. After three years in development, Clover launched Joan’s very popular line of Press Perfect notions in October 2013.

Joan loves to find one new idea, approach or material to wrap her mind around and play with until she finds a way to make something out of it, and then she incorporates it into a Lazy design.

This curiosity is how her very popular Sweetpea Pods pattern came to life.  Joan saw a zipper loop back on itself like a teardrop and she was completely intrigued.  Is the zipper sold that way? How is it installed? Why hadn’t she seen this before? Who knows about this?  How does it happen? Turns out the zipper teeth are installed, then the zipper pull is added. What a nightmare. If there’s one thing everybody knows — if the zipper pull comes off, you are done. It’s nearly impossible to get the pull back on.

Fobio Key Fobs are just plain fun to make and use. Breaks all the rules with multiple zipper pulls and barely any sewing. Grab your scraps, zips and attitude to make a few or a slew.

Fobio Key Fobs are just plain fun to make and use. Breaks all the rules with multiple zipper pulls and barely any sewing. Grab your scraps, zips and attitude to make a few or a slew.

Joan scoured the internet and asked her stitchy friends, but found no trick for getting the zip pull back on, no one teaching this zipper technique, nothing.  For her to design around a loop zipper, she had to develop an easy way to get the zipper pull on.

She played with zippers and pulls until she figured out the mechanics, then created one of her trademark Lazy tricks to easily put the pull on. This one little trick immediately made decades of zipper angst disappear and she knew she would never fear the zipper pull coming off again.  She can cut the zipper up, take the pull off, and get to stitching. This one trick brings a new dynamic to everything she thought she knew about zippers.  It was a game-changer.

Joan’s One-Zip teardrop technique works with poly/nylon apparel zips — nothing fancy or expensive — just your basic, all-purpose apparel sewing zipper.

That one little trick was the launching point for creating Sweetpea Pods, Becca Bags and Fobio key fob patterns. All three use this same zipper technique and zipper pull trick. The trick is shown in those patterns.

joan-7Launching Lazy Girl One-Zip patterns meant customers were going to need longer zippers and extra zipper pulls. Joan asked friend Terry Atkinson of Atkinson Designs for help. Terry already had a successful line of high quality 14” zips and was all-in from the get-go. The two of them worked together to introduce an entire line of patterns, notions and zipper supplies so shops and makers alike could get everything they needed to make these fun projects.

This one little trick opens the door to freedom and options.  You can cut a zipper apart, install the teeth, then add the pull.  You don’t have to sew around the zipper pull or stops at the top and bottom. You can work on each part of the bag, then put the pull on. This saves wrestling with cumbersome assembly at the sewing machine or pressing station. It is liberating!!

Recently, Joan had a great example of this freedom.  She was making a Runaround Bag (her easiest bag pattern), and she screwed up two simple things. She sewed the zip in with the opening going in the wrong direction, and the fabric pieces didn’t line up at the edges across the zipper.  These are common problems. She cut the zipper bottom stop off, shifted the zipper pieces so the fabric lined up and then put the pull on (in a different color for a bit of fun) going in the other direction.  Her new trick fixed both problems.

Take Joan’s Craftsy class Zip It Up. It’s a wonderful confidence builder and primer for working with zippers and Joan’s patterns.

Take Joan’s Craftsy class Zip It Up. It’s a wonderful confidence builder and primer for working with zippers and Joan’s patterns.

Lazy Girl Designs are available at independent sewing/quilting/machine dealer shops.  Joan believes that innovation and creativity happen at the local shop, where new products, designs, and ideas bloom and are born. Shop owners and staff are professionally curious and excited about anything and everything in the fabricy world. Customers bring new ideas and challenges.  That’s how she launched Lazy Girl Designs.  She saw a customer need and designed a pattern for it.   Suddenly she had a line of patterns for things.  She makes things — not quilts, home dec or apparel.  She became a “thinger,” and she is still “thinging” to this day.

After 19 years in business, Joan is most proud that her patterns teach. Every project has a new idea, technique, component, etc.  Each design builds and expands your toolbox of skills, tricks and techniques.  Her philosophy is:

  • There’s a little Lazy in all of us.
  • Close enough is good enough.
  • If you can cut and sew a straight line, you can make anything I design.
  • The illusion of perfection is easier to achieve and looks just as good.

Keep up with Joan online through her blog, social media, or her Craftsy class Zip It Up.

Press Perfect by Joan Hawley

Sew Lazy Interfacing


Twin Needles

SCHMETZ Twin Needles

Twin needles feature two needles mounted on a single shank with a cross-bar.
A twin needle creates two rows of parallel stitches simultaneously.

Cheryl Sleboda’s Tip

I love heirloom sewing “made modern.” I love the look of pin tucks.
Pin tuck feet are available in different sizes such as 3 groove and
7 groove. The way to know which double needle to use is to lay the
double needles in the pin tuck foot grooves. One size will fit perfectly!

SCHMETZ Twin Needles are available in a variety of sizes and needle types.

Available SCHMETZ Twin Needles



Cheryl Sleboda – Part 2


Cheryl’s Small Quilts 

Cheryl Sleboda had been doing traditional quilting for several years, but she’d created a sketch book, The Art of Fabric Manipulation, full of designs and ideas. She realized she was never going to be able to make that many large quilts. Besides — where would she put them? At that time (2005-6), ladies were working through an email list called Quilt Art. Once a month, they were doing 8.5” x 11” pieces. Although that project was coming to a close, it sparked the idea that she could work in a smaller format. She decided once a month was not enough time in her studio. Her goal was to be in her studio every day. So, she gave herself three simple rules:

  1. A finished quilt each week. The binding must be finished by Sunday night.
  2. Size was 6 x 6.
  3. Any design.

Cheryl created one small quilt every week for five years, changing the rules every year. During Year Two, she introduced a monthly theme:  Pomegranates, Monsters, Robots . . . that year, she started to develop a cartoony style.

Year 3:  She changed the size — instead of 6×6, she worked in 8×5 . . . and she started doing more technique work. Inspired by a 1996’s copy of Collette Wolf’s Fabric Manipulation book . . . each quilt had two different squares on it. Cheryl said, “Collette assumed her readers knew how to sew, so she left out the preparation or lead-up. I developed many short cuts that year.”


Cheryl’s Advice to an Emerging Quilt Artist

If you want to build a business, your art must be seen. One way is to enter your work in a Quilt Show or a contest. All the major quilt shows have a “Call for Entry” heading on their websites.

Mancuso Quilt Shows
(  Enter Competitions

Quilts, Inc.
(   Entries

American Quilter’s Society (AQS)
(  Contest Details

There are other websites that list “Fiber Art Calls For Entry.” When you find an event that feels like the right fit, the website will list the deadlines, the size requirements, themes, etc. Carefully read the prospectus and the contest rules. Most events or competitions want to see a good photograph of both sides of your quilt, along with a small detail shot. There is usually an entry fee.

Excellent advice about photographing your quilts can be found on the Quilts, Inc. website: