convergence quilt

Ricky Tims, machine quilter

Ricky Tims, machine quilter

It’s always great to get the inside tips from expert and professional quilters, and Ricky Tims is a perfect example.

Ricky specializes in art quilts, and his work is fascinating and fun to make. Because he does everything on the machine, he had some great tips for machine quilting.

Here are just a few:

  • Lower your feed dogs, even if your machine allows you to machine quilt with the feed dogs raised.
  • Choose either a maching quilting needle or an embroidery needle. The best choice is the smallest size possible that will not cause the thread to shred and break.
  • Practice on a quilt sandwich and adjust the tension on your machine, if that is necessary.
  • Ricky likes a closed-toe, circular darning foot for free motion quilting, because it is small and allows him to see detailed work.

To get more details and read even more tips, visit:

Happy Quilting!


P.S. There are only 10 sets of The Machine Quilting Diamond package. Once they are gone, I won’t be re-ordering them.

Eavesdrop on a Telephone Conversation with a quilting expertTuesday, creative quiltmaker and musician Ricky Tims talked about his Rhapsody quilts.

Although they look complicated and difficult to make, an audio clip has been posted so you can hear Ricky tell how easy making one really is.

At several points during the 1 1/2 hour long interview, Ricky told about quilters whose quilting world was opened up after attending one of his workshops or seminars.

Internationally known, and an award-winning quilter, we feel privileged to have had Ricky in our Eavesdrop on a Telephone Conversation series.

Ricky talked about a wide range to quilting topics including his Super Quilt Seminars, theQuiltShow, his new line of fabric, and his new Rhapsody quilts.

He was generous with both his time and his quilting tips.

If you missed the call, you will definitely want to get a recording of it, and listen to some great ideas for designing quilts as well as machine quilting and choosing colors and quilting designs for your quilts.

You can hear a short clip of part of the conversation and see some of Ricky’s fabulous resources:

Eavesdrop on a Telephone Conversation is a monthly series where a guest is interviewed on the telephone using a list of questions developed by subscribers of the free newsletter.

Following those questions, the telephone lines are opened up so quilters listening in can ask their question of the guest.

It is quite fun and very informative. Guests are all experts in some field of quilting. Past guests have included Bob Purcell, President of Superior Threads; H.D.Wilbanks, batting expert from Hobbs Batting; and Joen Wolfrom, quilting teacher and color expert.

For more information, visit:

Future guests include: quilt pattern designers, Arlene Stamper and her daughter; hand sewing expert, Deirdre McElroy; and quilter, Alex Anderson.

Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren

It’s hard to believe that just a little more than 2 months ago, quilting daughter, Stephanie, began The Grand Convergence Experiment.

And what a difference!

For those who have followed, this project began when Stephanie took out an “ugly” quilt and wanted to do something special with it.

One of Ricky Tims’ books happened to be sitting around, so she got the idea of turning her ugly Irish Chain quilt into a Grand Convergence quilt. And Grand it is.

As you read down the blog, you will see how she got from there to here. And, actually it was fairly easy.

Once the blocks were re-constructed, she added borders to each block that would make them cock-eyed. Next was to simply sew the blocks together just as you would any other quilt.

The biggest decision was how to do the borders. As with so many things having to do with quilting, best laid plans and measuring still didn’t create the perfect border.

She wanted to put the 9 patch squares next to the quilt top. She measured carefully, and she sewed what she thought were perfect 1/4 inch seam allowances. But when all of the little 9 patches were done, they didn’t fit right.

Thus, the purple strip between the quilt top and the 9 patch border – just the size needed for the 9 patches to fit evenly around the quilt.

Another quilting problem solved.

And then there was the back. When it came time, she didn’t have enough of one fabric for the back. So she created a pieced back.

She allowed me to pre-shrink the Hobbs Heirloom batting, and now the quilt is layered and ready for the next step.

Now, all that’s left is the quilting. It will be interesting to see what she decides about that. Both of us are hand quilters. But she may want to finish this quilt in relatively short order.

Time will tell – I’ll keep you posted!

Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren

Borders on the blocks? Don’t you mean sashing?

Not exactly.

When all of the converged blocks were complete and trimmed, it turned out that they were various sizes.

As the blocks were sewn together, it was apparent that there would be some variation, partially because of the number of seams in the block, and also depending on the position and / or angle of the seams.

For example, the block with the curved strips running from top to bottom ended up being more of a rectangle than a square. And the block pictured above should have been about the smallest because it had the most seams in it.

The surprise was that there was one set of blocks that was a full inch smaller than the others. Stephanie rejected my idea of just adding a small piece of fabric around the block to make it the same size as the others.

However, she liked the idea of setting the blocks on a diagonal; mostly because she doesn’t like traditional sashing.

The first step was to make sure that all of the blocks were trimmed so the sides were even.

Then, she cut rectangles 5 inches wide by 15 inches long. Cut on the diagonal, the long side of the half-rectangle triangle fit on the sides of each of the blocks. The one block that was significantly smaller did get a 1 inch border added.

These triangle pieces were added to each side of the blocks. The result was that each of the blocks was square, the same size, and the converged blocks in the center were placed on an angle.

Because the converged blocks are square, and the resulting blocks on an angle are square, all of the blocks are at the same angle in the quilt. Somewhat boring, but not much choice.

Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren
Where Quilters Connect

There it sits on the flannel wall, these curved pieces seemed a little more challenging.

Not because they were curves, but because it was hard for me to figure out exactly how I was going to sew them together because of the point.

It took Stephanie to point out the best way to do it. And once she did, it became obvious.

She split the block into two sections at the point where the curve went from one side of the block to the other.

The idea, then, is to sew the pieces in each of the sections together, and then, sew the halves together to complete the block.
convergence quilt block

Beginning with the bottom two pieces, fold one section on top of the other so the right sides face together. I chose to fold the pieced section on top of the yellow batik fabric. That way, I could keep track of the seam allowances on the pieced section, and make sure they all stayed facing the same direction.

It looks very much like sewing two triangles together in that there were little dog-ears sticking out.

One of the big differences is that the only part of the raw edge you can line up is about 1/2 inch long. After that, the pieces begin to curve and become un-aligned.

This block will be sewn together in the same way as the first block with the wavy pink batik. As you sew, you will need to adjust the fabric, lining up the raw edges and moving the fabric around so it will go under the needle straight.

In doing that, you will create little bubbles and tunnels. Just be sure that the seam allowance remains flat so you don’t sew in the puckers or tucks.

The key is to keep the edge flat so that you don’t stitch any puckers or pleats into the seam.

Once the first seam is stitched, follow the same procedure to sew the other section together.

Now with both halves sewn together, you can sew the center seam, and your block will be complete.

Fold one half on top of the other, facing right sides together. If you want the center seams to line up, you will want to begin sewing the halves together in the center.

Beginning about 1/2 inch before the spot where the seam allowances meet, put your sewing machine needle in the fabric.

Line up the edges of the two sections and begin sewing, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Because the pieced block is on the bottom, I need to watch the seam allowances on that section to be sure that they stay facing their original direction.

Once the seam is sewn from the center to the edge of the block, take the pieces out of the machine, and repeat the process with the other half of the seam – stitching from the center to the edge of the block.

The block is done! Actually, pretty easy.

This finished block ends up being a rectangle, and the edges do not line up, with the batik being longer than the pieced sections. These will need to be trimmed before it is sewn to make the quilt.

Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren
Where Quilters Connect
Specializing in Information for Beginning Quilters

Sewing curves presents some interesting challenges, especially when the pieces have curves going both “in and “out.”

These relatively gentle curves are somewhat easier than sewing tighter curves or circles. The Ricky Tims way is to simply sew, and not worry about keeping a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Ricky also believes in ironing the strips to get them to lay flat. The key word here is iron – not press, like most quilters.

Instead of trying to describe with words how to stitch these pieces together, there is a short video showing you exactly how to sew them.

Watch the video on YouTube

Penny Halgren
Where Quilters Connect
Specializing in Information for Beginning Quilters

Shopping day arrived, and Stephanie and I met at our local quilt shop, that happens to have a ton of fabric.

Since the teal fabric in her “ugly” quilt is a batik, she decided that the fabric to converge should also be batiks.

Looking through the selection of batiks, she came up with 3 fabrics that she liked.

Each one was chosen for a different reason. The purple and fuscia mostly because those are two of her favorite colors, and the yellow because it will add some light contrast.

Because we weren’t exactly sure how this quilt will go together, we decided to get 1 1/2 yards of each fabric.

Each of the squares is approximately 18 inches square. It will take 1/2 yard just to cut the two 18 inch squares. And, since we don’t know what we will do for borders, we decided to get enough extra to have some flexibility. Plus, Stephanie said “I like those fabrics, and wouldn’t mind adding them to my stash.”

Next it was time to cut the squares.

Since this took no creativity at all, she allowed me to cut the plain squares of fabric.

First, I folded the new batik so I would be able to cut an 18 inch square from it.

Next, I laid the ugly quilt square on top of the layers of fabric.

And, finally, I cut around the outside of the ugly quilt square.

We now had 2 beautiful batik squares of each color to match with our ugly quilt squares.

And, we’re ready to do the fancy cutting – but I’m leaving that up to Stephanie. After all, it’s her quilt.

Happy Quilting!
Penny Halgren

A Grand Experiment with an Ugly Quilt ?

Quilting daughter, Stephanie, is home. And with her came this quilt top.

Like all quilters, Stephanie has tops that have not been finished for various reasons.

This one was supposed to be a reverse Irish Chain quilt, and she declared that it has two problems.

First, it doesn’t look like an Irish Chain at all. And second, it’s boring. She says it needs some spark.

It hung on the design wall for several days, just waiting for some inspiration. And sure enough, the inspiration came.

Stephanie was glancing through Ricky Tims’ Convergence Quilts book, and got an idea – a great idea for a Grand Experiment.

She asked – “How about if we cut up this quilt and make a convergence quilt with it?”

Sounded like a great plan to me. So, we decided to do it.

Because Ricky has agreed to be interviewed in our October Eavesdrop on a Telephone Conversation, Stephanie thought it would be a good idea to share this project with quilters so they will have something to talk about with Ricky….or some questions to ask.

So, here is the plan.

We will post progress of the Grand Convergence Experiment right here on this blog.

In addition, detailed step-by-step instructions will be posted in the member’s area of

If you are interested in following Ricky’s specific instructions, and see his convergence quilts, you may want to invest in his book, Ricky Tims’ Convergence Quilts.

In the meantime, Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren


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