About Me


Welcome to my Blog! I use this blog to write out questions that come into my head when designing new quilt patterns, new batik designs for Anthology Fabrics or have a crazy 3 a.m. inspiration that causes me to get derailed from what I am supposed to be doing. I like discussion on topics, so if something I write brings to mind an opinion, an observation or just an I agree/disagree, let me know!

Born in Wisconsin, definitely a “Cheesehead”!  Now living in Upstate NY, which is Jets, Bills, Giants or Patriots country — you take a pick!  Love the Fall because of the changing season, the cold snap that brings in football season, comfort food and the “happiest time of the year” — quoting that infamous Staples commercial.  I have 3 kids, can you tell :)  I draw inspiration always from my kids, I sew with any football game on that I can find – it’s soothing background noise — plus I can’t hear the kids then, especially when my husband is in charge and I’m supposed to “not listen” to things like flour going all over because he’s making cookies, adding flour to the batter with the mixer going at full speed, Madison and Olivia screaming with60112_005-490x364[1]






Best Sisters
I started quilting when I worked at Eagle’s Eye. We designed for 3 seasons, researching the Market, collecting sample fabrics — printed velvets, wool flannels etc. They were then discarded at the end of the season and we started all over again. These swatches were generally the size of a fat quarter. I did not know that you were supposed to use 100% cotton fabrics in your quilts. One of my first quilts I no longer have because I chose to use wool flannels mixed with cotton flannel, all cut with templates and hand quilted. Husband, being an always helpful soul, washed it on high heat — again is there anything but high heat or speed??

I venture occasionally into areas of quilting that are a little non-traditional because of my background. I am self taught, but absorb so much from quilters around me. The first time I walked into a quilt shop was like an “Alleluia” moment. All the color palettes were right in front of you! I still like to “shop the Market” before I start designing. I get inspired by visiting with a Color Forecaster, walking the streets of NYC, the old buildings, right next to the new, the trim shops, Mood Fabrics with all it’s hustle and bustle and the train ride home, sketching, with a large coffee and a decadent treat: a crazy good donut from Doughnut Plant — just a few blocks over from a quilt shop of course :)

In the Classroom –

I have taught many classes in shops, guilds and at shows — my most popular pumkin1_200being The Entourage and Madison’s StarThe Entourage class uses pumkin2_200bargello as reverse applique and is a seasonal favorite. Madison’s Star is a two-part class and is a favorite among shop owners and guilds.  Check out the blogspot, Quilting Tales, for a review by a fellow teacher, and my Karen Gibbs Facebook page for classroom results.

Making this type of bargello derives from the same concept as sweater design — using a background and then the movement of little rectangles of color needing to be connected from one segment to the next, for sweaters, because it is cheaper to Madisonsstar_400mass produce that way, for quilting because we adore strip sets! I am also intrigued by color and the
 play of one color against another.  In art school, I enjoyed my color theory classes the most. Try flipping through a magazine, finding a color palette in a room that you just love, then recreating that in paint. Actually mixing the paint to achieve those colors, but also making sure the use of color in your textile design reflected the same proportions that those colors were used in the inspiration piece.

I currently have over 300 batiks in quilt stores! I find it wonderfully exciting to see the sketches I do, made into beautiful batik prints each season.  I’m finding I love batiks, the saturation of color6360
you’re able to achieve, the quality of the fabric, and the exploration of new and different techniques.

Now flipping to the end of the quilt making process. I am a longarm quilter and have been for approx 13 years.  Initially, after having the first two kids, I did not want to return to work and leave them, so I looked for something I could do from home.  Instead of buying a second car, we purchased a longarm machine.  I just pushed those kids around Saratoga Springs in a jogger walker.  6092I got myself volunteered somehow to be the Community Service director of the quilt guild and quilted every 2013 03 26_0316donation quilt that year — all 238 of them for practice.  Freemotion is my niche – that and a fast turnaround.  I like the creativity and uniqueness of the freemotion quilting. Textures, being big right now, are right up my alley — just put on a good book on tape and I can “pebble” anything!

I have taught classes on my longarm, thinking that would be a fun thing to do.  These were generally 4-hours classes; started by loosening up with large sketching, followed up with line drawing using the machine for control, identifying shapes in quilting motifs, keeping the integrity of those shapes with continuous line quilting, consistency in motifs and negative space when quilting etc…

So that’s a little bit about me, always changing, getting into something new. This past fall I was able to go as staff with Anthology Fabrics on their Bali Expedition Tour. Check out my website, www.thequiltstudio.com, Gallery for some fun pictures!


37 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Karen i enjoyed seeing your site!!! So much information, loved looking at all your quilt designs, and waiting for another class with you. Everyone loves my Madison Star quilt, Thank You for a very enjoyable class.

  2. I love your modern quilts. Traditional quilts are “okay” but I always think, “That’s been done before”. The modern designs and bold colors inspire me. I thought I would give you a shout out from Germantown, WI. I am also a cheesehead; maybe that’s why I like your quilts so much.

    • Nothing like a football game in Lambeau–loved it!!! Even the freezing rain sideways, don’t even notice:) Body heat keeps you warm! Got some Usinger’s for X-mas this year!

  3. Nothing like being a “cheesehead” and living in Illinois…right in the middle of “Bear” country. But I am woman, I am strong! But, not strong enough yet in the “free motion” category. Just keep practicing they say!

    • Oooooo, I feel for you…I was just on the Anthology Fabrics Bali Expedition tour with a Bears fan–he even tried to make a batik in the Bears colors! I’m all about freemotion:) Have you tried putting on some sound deadening earphones(so you can’t hear the machine noise–your drawing pace is different than the pace of the needle going up and down), relaxing music or a good book on tape? Also, remember, if you make a “mistake”–is it pretty? Then repeat it, it becomes a pattern if you repeat it:)

  4. Karen, that Bears colored batik looks just awesome behind Scott’s signed Butkus jersey!!! And you guys think YOU have it bad. Try living in VIKINGS territory. UGH lol

    • I do recall you made a purple batik…I guess dolphins are a far cry from Vikings though!

      • Oh yeah, I do get a lot of crap about my love for all things purple. But I do NOT put it in combination with gold. That would be over the line in my husband’s opinion lol. My winter coat is purple and I wore it to MPS for the Bears/Vikings game and my SIL called me a traitor. And SHE is a Packers fan lol. I wore my Bears jacket to the actual game. I wouldn’t be THAT stupid as to wear the purple jacket. I’d rather be a bit cold and wear the Bears jacket :-)

  5. Love Love Love all the work you have done for me. whether it is quilting my quilts and making them better than I thought they were or designing the beautiful fabric and patterns. Keep up the great work.

  6. Karen as always you’ve come up with a great design. My question to you is … Do you get ANY sleep?

  7. I love your box of new fabrics from Timeless Treasures. The colors are so vibrant. I also like version 2 of Madison’s Star quilt.

    • You are the only one who has done the applique!!!! Don’t you feel special??!!

  8. As a beginner quilter I am just in awe of your designs. The time it must take to map your patterns all out, mathematically I mean, boggles my mind. I believe it will take me years before I am able to tackle that. Beautiful Quilts…

  9. I loved seeing your work. My favourite is the black, white and bright green quiilt.

    • That one is called Urban Deco–a little influenced by the Art Deco movement.

  10. Love the blog and your work! Looking forward to seeing more in the future.

  11. After months of procrastinating about finishing the Madison Star, I finally did it, and love it. So much so that I am entering it in a show. Thanks for the great job of quilting it for me. You are a wonder.
    Great blog—first time I’ve ever viewed one, and first time I’ve ever replied—aren’t you special.

    • Thanks Pam!!!! I love your Madison’s Star– it has a very Americana look!

  12. Karen, I won the blog tour Anthology Fabrics ! Just got them today ! I am so excited to use them, it will take me a bit to decide ! Love your site and quilts.
    I have just purchased my first longarm . It isn’t even set up yet (also in the middle of a house remodel yikes !). Once the dust settles I will be playing in the fabrics ! Thank you so much ! Linda

    • Good luck with your long arm!! Its lots of fun. I hope you enjoy working with it. Doesn’t everything always happen at once?!

  13. Hi Karen!!
    You have quilted all of my creations over the years when you were on Beekman Street….all treasures! I feel I know you on several levels… And I am so happy to see where your passion has taken you. You are inspiring! Continued blessings, my friend!

  14. I love your site! It is full of fun ideas. I was looking for informative blog on longarm quilting. My machine & I are arguing, so I’m stuck in limbo. I have a Crown Jewel by Baby Lock. Any tutorials are welcome!

    • Been there with the arguing thing!! Although sometimes the best evening entertainment is a good book on tape and a good quilt on the frame!

  15. Good idea! I need to move the DVD player out to my Quilt House. Yes, I have a little house in my back yard for my Longarm and all my fabric & supplies. It’s adorable. Thanks!

  16. When I get the sign completed for the door, I’ll send you a pic of my doll house.

    • Yes, please do–then I can show my husband and son and tell them to build me one:)

  17. In their defense, I have a house built in 1931 and my Quilt House is the old garage remodeled. It was made into an apartment years ago before I bought it & it matches my house. It is so cool since it has a mini kitchen and bath with a shower that’s nicer than the one in the house. Outside the Quilt house are gardens (which are full of weeds, OhNo!), a gazeebo and a swing. My daughter is a realtor and she found this house for me. I am so blessed!

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