Debbie Caffrey Interview and Secret Window, Part 2

We are having so much fun with Debbie Caffrey’s Secret Window mystery quilt. I love seeing how Paula’s and Denise’s quilts are coming along and how different each of ours looks! How is your quilt coming along? Here are my pieces from part 2 using Bella from Quilting Treasures, found in our July/August ’11 issue.

SW2 carolyn1 Debbie Caffrey Interview and Secret Window, Part 2

unit 7

SW2 carolyn32 300x300 Debbie Caffrey Interview and Secret Window, Part 2

Block X

SW2 carolyn21 300x300 Debbie Caffrey Interview and Secret Window, Part 2

Block Y

We thought you might enjoy learning a little more about Debbie as well. Here are some questions I asked her:

  1. You’ve designed around 200 mystery quilts. What led you in that direction? Linda Liebeg, the owner of the shop in Anchorage, Alaska that I was teaching in during the early ’90s, urged me to design and teach mystery quilts. Judy Hopkins taught mainly mystery classes at a shop in the opposite corner of town. We were friends, and there was no competition—only support and admiration for what each other did.
  2. Whats the process you go through designing mystery quilts? First comes the inspiration. It can be a technique, a traditional block, a unit, a shape, a tool, etc. Then, I draw on the computer using the drawing tools in Word. (All of my books, patterns, and handouts are drawn in Word. I do not use any other drawing program.) I duplicate, rotate, add other units like sashing, alternate blocks, pieced borders. Then, I begin to erase seam lines, consider simpler, more mysterious, efficient ways of cutting and piecing the pattern. All of this is done in black and white. Fabric is the last part of the process. Any color scheme works. It is all about the value and contrast. In the same class I can have people working with patriotic, juvenile brights, Christmas, reproduction, autumn—and they are all gorgeous.
  3. What do you mean when you refer to “power cutting?” Power Cutting is a fast, efficient and ergonomic approach to rotary cutting. It is a collection of cutting techniques that allows quilters to choose the one that is best for the task at hand. Learning to cut efficiently and to select the proper methods for construction is the foundation of power cutting. (As you know, cutting is embedded within the quiltmaking process.)
  4. What are “worms?” A worm is a strip of fabric 2-1/2″ wide, cut across the width of the fabric, making it approximately 40″ long with selvages on each of the short ends. I found that 2-1/2″ wide strips were very functional to stash. In 2000 I released my book, Open a Can of Worms. It was a best seller and in some distributors’ top five for more than a year. It is now in its seventh printing, and continues to sell well 11 years later. In 2005, while writing Another Can of Worms, I spoke to many fabric companies at Fall Quilt Market about my idea that they should sell precut “worms.” Most of them listened politely, but did nothing. Moda wanted to hear more, and a year later they debuted their “Jelly Rolls.” Since then, other fabric companies have played catch up.
  5. What do you like to do when you’re not quilting? Cook and eat.
  6. What’s your favorite non-quilting book? The Harry Potter series.

About Carolyn

I'm the Content Director for Quiltmaker magazine. I'm married with three grown sons and one adorable grandson.I've been quilting for over 30 years. I'm an avid quilter, but I also enjoy photography, scrapbooking, knitting, reading and hanging out with friends and family.
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6 Responses to Debbie Caffrey Interview and Secret Window, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Work It Wednesday | Sew BitterSweet Designs

  2. kwiltnkats says:

    Learned something new today…never knew that worms meant 2 1/2″ fabric strips. I’ll be looking for a copy of Open a Can of Worms! Sandi

  3. Kathi Miller says:

    I’ve done several quilt shop mystery projects but this is the first time I’ve done one from a magazine. For some reason, Secret Window just spoke to me. I have a huge stash of Batiks so opted to do a Batik version. I didn’t have to buy anything for the quilt. Everything came from my stash which makes me feel good!

  4. Oh your pieces look great! I have a bit more to do, but finished the 48 ‘winged’ blocks. :-)
    Wonderful interview! Thanks!

  5. Colette says:

    I was waiting for my QM to show up just so I could get part 2 done. Previously, I had never had the time or resources to do one of these with QM, so I’m very excited to be doing this one with everybody else!

  6. I just started doing my cutting for Part 2 this morning. This is my first Mystery Quilt and I am so excited!!!

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