Debbie Caffrey is a self-published author of twelve books, dozens of patterns, and over 150 mystery quilt patterns.
It’s Hip to Be Square and Delectably Simple Mountains are the first two books in Debbie Caffrey’s new, rapidly growing series, Becoming a Confident Quilter – Taking the mystery out of great quilts!Ô . Each book in the “confident quilter” series is small and to the point, designed to provide the quilter with a complete understanding of one specific topic or process.
The idea for the Becoming a Confident Quilter series was sparked by comments made by her students. Nearly every time Debbie reveals one of her mystery quilts, there are comments like, “I never thought I could have made something like that. It looks so hard!” By teaching the processes of quilting, Debbie takes the mystery out of great quilts; thus, creating a new group of confident quilters.
Open a Can of Worms, released in May 2000, was the first book to focus on just one size of strip, 2½″ x 40″. “Worms” was well embraced. It is still Debbie’s #1 selling title. As Debbie traveled to teach, others joined the bandwagon creating patterns and books designed for 2½″ wide strips. In 2006 Debbie released Another Can of Worms. Prior to its release, Debbie suggested to Moda Fabrics that they cut strips from their new lines, thus, jelly rolls were born the following fall.
Power Cutting and Power Cutting, Too, focus upon Debbie’s unique, efficient, and accurate rotary cutting methods. She stresses that you must learn many methods for quilting and apply the one that is best suited for the task.
Her line of full color, professionally printed Classy Patterns are still setting a standard to which other quilt patterns are aspiring. The line now includes twenty-seven patterns, eighteen designed by Debbie and nine designed by Charlotte Angotti. Classy Patterns are full color, technically well written, beautiful quilt patterns that are updated designs of classic quilts. The patterns use modern techniques. Because the patterns are full color, many contain detailed photographs to show you the more unfamiliar techniques.
Since 2005 Debbie has been hosting quilting retreats in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She offers fall retreats (Spirit of Santa Fe) which are open to quilters of all levels.
Recently, she has started a new Santa Fe conference/retreat/seminar, Your Quilting Business (YQB), designed specifically for people in the business of quilting. It is open to quilt shop owners, staff, and quilting instructors. It is a wonderful way for them to immerse themselves into a time of learning, sharing, and creating a support network.
Debbie teaches energy-filled workshops nationwide. She has had the pleasure of teaching in Australia, England, and Iceland, too. Debbie is always urging guilds and conferences to allow her to offer process classes. She believes that learning skills and how to apply them is more important than duplicating a project.
Her philosophy and approach to teaching quilting is through the process, not the project. She prefers to teach skills, then, educate and motivate quilters to apply them to quilts they want to make. She frequently says, “I do not have time to make all the quilts I want to make, so I certainly do not have time to make the quilts the teacher thinks I should make!”
Debbie was asked by Quilts, Inc., for her top five tips. Here is what she said:
1. Cut accurately, sew accurately, and move on to the next quilt! The best thing you can do for yourself as a quiltmaker is to perfect the basic skills. The rest will fall into place. Step back and evaluate where you need to fine tune and improve your skills. Then, you will no longer fear bias edges, curved seams, y-seams, etc.
2. Get your space organized. Quilting is much more fun when you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for notions, fabrics, and projects, and you will be more productive if you have room to work.
3. Learning skills and techniques is great, but it is very important to analyze what you have learned and consider other applications. Take time to brainstorm — what if — and think about how you can use the technique, or a variation of it, to fit your needs. I use half-square triangle units in most of my designs. The technique I use to make the units changes depending upon their size, the number of units required, the number of fabrics used, and the fabric sizes that I am using (yardage, fat quarters, strips, squares…).
4. Give yourself permission to experiment and play with fabric without the expectation of making a project from the exercises. We all have fabrics that we no longer like. Perhaps they are fabrics that we purchased before we knew there was a difference in quality that matched the difference in price. Maybe it is a fabric that makes us wonder, “What was I thinking?” No matter, use those fabrics to try a new technique, make a sample of an idea, and who knows, you may invent something more popular than strip-piecing!
5. Think of creative ways to finish a quilt top beyond just adding a strip of a beautiful fabric and calling it a border. Complete the quilt like a good author completes a great story — finish the design, make a transition from the center to the edges, and don’t be in a hurry to get finished. A few simply pieced blocks at the edges of the quilt or used as side triangles transforms an ordinary quilt into an extraordinary quilt.