204: Kay Capps Cross

Kay Capps CrossMachine Quilting the No-Stress Way

Kay Capps Cross is an author, designer, lecturer and teacher specializing in no stress and contemporary long arm quilting. Kay has written four books and has a line of individual patterns called Cross Cuts. Her quilts have appeared in many of the national quilt magazines. In addition, she travels the country to teach her no-stress methods of piecing and long arm quilting. She uses black and white (with the ever-present dash of vivid color) because it challenges and seems to work best for expressing her ideas and spirit. At home in Minnesota, she balances being a bleacher mom of 4 kids, director and performer in community theatre productions and volunteer at her children’s school. With this busy lifestyle, all of Kay’s work is fast, easy and fun.



Week 1

Kay Capps Cross is all about making the quilting process easier. She gives the quilter lots of excuses to quilt it yourself. Above all, simplify your life! Empty your closets by finishing your stack of quilt tops. Listen to each quilt to determine what style and story it needs to complete it. The quilting is critical in her designs whether it is done simply or quilted in a more complex design. The quilting is the frosting on the cake. You have complete creative control when you quilt it yourself. You’re adding another layer to the quilt by highlighting the design and adding texture. She demonstrates that the idea is to keep quilting by finding paths to stitch continuously. If your finished quilt tells you it needs more quilting, put it right back on the machine and stitch some more.

Kay’s books and patterns are available from her Web site.

  • Black & White Quilts by Design – American Quilters Society
  • A Black & White Garden – American Quilters Society
  • Black & White & Pieced All Over: Stress Free Foundation Quilts – Krause Publications
  • Quilted Panels in Black & White: Fast and Friendly Techniques for Using Fabric Panels and Large Prints – Krause Publications



Week 2

How do you choose the way to quilt the quilt is Kay Capps Cross’ topic in this segment. She shows Jodie a stack of quilts and discusses why she chose the quilting pattern used for each quilt.
A flower pot was the design of one of the quilts. She added flowers to the pot by quilting them in. This is an example of using the fabric and design in front of you…there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It’s adding a layer that continues the story of the quilt. Another quilt had such a strong design that she didn’t want the quilting to get in the way of the design. Kay’s best advice? Keep it simple. If you break the pieced or appliqued design of a quilt into segments, it’s not so overwhelming to figure out how to quilt the design.


Short Takes on Longarm Quilting with Vicki Hoth

“How do I choose which thread to use?” Jodie asks. Vicki advises that your thread stash should rival your fabric stash. She flips through a stack of quilts showing how different weights and colors of threads are used to great advantage to enhance the pieced and appliqued designs. One busy and bright quilt was stitched in the ditch with a finer thread to not take away from the design. Another quilt had open areas that just asked for a design in a heavier thread. One quilt’s design had been bleached from black fabric that was then stitched with metallic thread. Another beauty featured bobbin work with heavy thread. Your choices of thread are endless and the end results can be spectacular.



Week 3

Now it’s time to start quilting. Kay Capps Cross opens her carry bag and begins pulling out her must-have tools starting with a pair of good small scissors. Next comes a hardware apron where she can stash all those thread snips that mustn’t find their way into the machine followed by a supply of good quality thread by YLI. She pulls out a long sampler covered with all sorts of quilting designs. In no-stress quilting perfection is not required and is no fun at all for Kay. If you break a design into parts it becomes easy to do. Mark off the space you want to quilt and then fill it and when finished move on to the next space. She demonstrates by drawing several connected spaces with chalk and begins thread painting a bark and tree design. Hobbs Bonded Fiber wool batting is Kay’s choice as she feels it defines the stitching best.

  • YLI threads are available at your local quilt shop
  • Wool batting by Hobbs Bonded Fiber is available at your local quilt shop