Longmont, Littleton, Denver and Lousiville -Colorado

I recently returned from Colorado after teaching for a week of quilting on domestic and longarm. I stopped in Littleton, Louisville, Longmont and Denver. I had the opportunity to speak at the Longmont Quilters Guild and was introduced by the raddest woman on the planet, named Rebecca Weise of Weise Studios.  Here is the introduction Rebecca gave me at the guild in written form, and I must admit - I was impressed and a bit emotional hearing all those nice things. After the lecture the guild of 300 quilters, the guild gave me my first ever standing ovation - another moment where I was near tears. 

"Tonight we are in remarkable company.  Tonight our Guild welcomes the beautiful, eccentric and upbeat Karen McTavish -- a woman of extraordinary substance who is deliberate in action and word, self-reliant, fierce and afraid of nothing.  As you will soon find out, her best asset cannot be measured, copied or calculated, it’s her energy, wisdom and mojo.  

Sort of like love or happiness, Karen’s personal and professional success is a practice and has stayed on a steady, upward trajectory.  In her youth, she faced struggles, found her bearings, submerged herself into the soothing effects of quilting and used those life-changing experiences to become the one of the greatest quilting mavens of our time.  

Karen won’t tell you this (as she is perhaps the most low-key, humble, non-bragging, grateful professionals in the quilting world) but she is one of the most sought-after quilters in the professional circuit of quilting.  

Other great and famous quilters and fabric designers hire and collaborate with Karen to quilt their masterpieces, including Judy Neimeyer, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Heather Givans of Crimson Tate, and the list goes on.  

Almost all of Karen’s customers and students win ribbons and best-in-show at local and national levels. 

And this year started off with Karen being awarded the 2017 Road to California "Outstanding Modern Quilt" Award and the 2017 Minnesota Quilter of the Year.  

Beyond these merits, what I most want to share with you is the Karen inside here (touch heart) and here (touch head). 

Karen has paved the way for so many with her great wisdom, deep wit, huge empathy, a spectacular sense of humor and a profound resonance and resilience you rarely see in any one, man or woman.

Karen is a total love and an artist of the highest order as she lives to express herself freely in all things that she pursues.

She has always been an artist by choice, a quilter by profession, and above all, an artist of life.

As a loving mother and daughter, she operates with a grateful heart.  

And as a sage beyond her years, she has come to accept life as a process and is satisfied that in her ever-going process, she is constantly discovering, expanding and finding that there is something new to learn and be grateful for every day. 

Karen believes that all knowledge is self-knowledge and finding your own personal authenticity carries great weight and ultimately becomes the only real measure of success.  You must be YOU, and embrace your gifts, in order to make your life click and to rise to any challenge.

To be of quality in quilting, or any art form, means putting in lots of hard work, learning lots of lessons and giving all your dedication and attention to your skill.  That is why Karen is sought after and that is why she remains at the top in our field.

Beauty, clarity, authenticity and singleness of purpose:  These are the attributes I ultimately use to describe Karen and her priceless work.  

Without further hesitation, please join me in welcoming the beautiful Karen McTavish"

- Written by Longmont Colorado Quilt Guild President - Rebecca Weise of Weise Studios


Fons & Porter PBS "Love of Quilting" episode 2903

Learn how choosing threads for quiltings can have a huge impact on what your final quilt looks like! Join Angela Huffman and her guest Karen McTavish at the longarm machine to learn how threads–their weight, color, and sheen—interact in your quilting design. Build confidence as a quilter in both free motion and stitch-in-the-ditch longarm quilting, and pick up all kinds of useful tips from two renowned quilting experts! Click the link below for a preview of the show!



Road to California "Outstanding Modern Quilt" award 2017

Mary Kerr, author of "Twisted- Vintage Quilts with a modern twist" commissioned me to quilt her "Z is for Zoe" vintage quilt about a year ago for her book. Today I received a call that her quilt won "Outstanding Modern Quilt" - which is mind blowing. Road to California is likely the most competitive quilt show in the world, based solely on original work. The show prides itself on originality and creative expression. I didn't know the quilt was entered in the show, and I also didn't know it would be judged when it was quilted. I did quilt the quilt for publication and wanted the quilting to show up  on the page. In all honesty, using high contrasting thread felt very vulnerable and was not my comfort zone.  The prize award is $5,000 and that is split between the owner of the quilt and the quilter. I also subtract any amounts paid to me for quilting and incorporate it into the award. Its a win/win for both parties and we all walk away feeling great.


Tiffany's Quilts

Tiffany Cragin passed away in August 2nd, 2014. 

For some time now, Cheryl Dennison and I have been working on a memorial quilt in the studio.  Actually, 2 large quilts and a small lap size quilt. The memorial quilts are for her two young daughters and husband Allen Cragin and family. We started with Tiffany's clothing. The same clothing she is wearing in the photos below before she passed away from Chordoma, Chordoma is a form of cancer that occurs in the bones of the spine and head. To learn more about finding a cure please see - www.chordomafoundation.org 

 Allen and Tiffany Cragin and family.

Allen and Tiffany Cragin and family.

Cheryl and I slowly and carefully - disassembled Tiffany's clothing, and started our work. We used as much of her clothing as we could - knowing her daughters would remember her clothes for years to come.

 The first block from Tiffany's clothing.

The first block from Tiffany's clothing.

Tiffany loved stripes and we were able to come up with a modern look to the block settings. You can see here the blue striped dress she wore in the photo below is sprinkled throughout the quilt.

 Tiffany in her summer dress

Tiffany in her summer dress

We used interfacing and started the ironing process and then started to piece her quilt together using our design wall.

We found a photo together on the internet that gave us the inspiration (shown on the design wall) and we trusted our guts we could come close to what Allen wanted in the photo.

 Strip piecing progress but not quite where we wanted to go.

Strip piecing progress but not quite where we wanted to go.

The process was slow and Cheryl did a great job putting together the idea and worked piecing the quilt top for about 2 months until we had a nice big queen sized quilt. . With a few breaks here and there - Cheryl finished the quilt top and gave it to me for quilting.  I started the quilting process which took over 8 days to quilt and bind.

Here are some of the in- process photos of Tiffany's first quilt out of three quilts for her family.

Memorial quilts are very hard. It goes without saying. It was painful for our quilting community as so many people were touched by Tiffany's life. Everyone who walked into the studio understood what we were working on. People stopped by to see the progress. The girls stopped by to see the progress. These little angels get to have something close to their skin which touched their mothers skin and it was exciting to see them happy about the quilts.

Not often, but more often than not - Cancer and loss touch our lives. In the quilting world, most of the quilters have had to fight cancer more than we care to admit. We are all touched by it in many ways. I had a moment with Tiffany  while quilting this quilt.  It only happened once while I was working on Tiffany's quilt. Just once.

Many times, its just  impossible to ignore - when I am working on a quilt for a  woman who passed away - she hangs out with me.  Tiffany hung out with me for about an hour. I felt her presence  into my second day of quilting her daughter's quilt. She told me it was great and she loved it. I am not a hippy, new age, church going person. But this thing happens - more than I will let on. When women pass away, they hang out with me until the quilt is finished. Tiffany only hung out for about an hour then had other things to do. She loved to travel - so I didn't expect her to stay long.  She was supportive, laughed at my insecurities and I swear she said "this is so great" then bailed.

I felt the confidence I needed after her brief visit to be fearless and this quilt gave me what I needed - the promise of joy when there is loss.  Thank you Allen for giving us creative freedom and trusting us to create these heirlooms for your family. 


Will blog again on quilt number 2 & 3.

Valentines Day Special at the Studio!!! Buy a $300 dollar quilting machine rental package and get 5 hours of machine renting time free. 

Call Karen McTavish at (218) 391-8218 to get in on this special - rental promotion is good for the entire year. Offer expires 02/29/16

October thoughts

The studio is buzzing with 3 full time quilters in the shop these days - we are quilting for hire as well as offering longarm machines for rentals. 

Things are going smoothly and we are looking forward and preparing for the christmas rush.

One of the things that was a shock to me having so many machines in the studio - as a team, we are getting quilts done quickly and have a 2-3 week turn around time. The studio gives us the ability to work on many quilts a day, instead of one quilt at a time. 

We hope you stop in any time to grab a cup of coffee or tea and hang out. We really like the wonderful quilters that stop in just to see what we are working on. We always have new work displayed. 


Thursday Night Sewing Night UPDATE


Every Thursday Night (except the 2nd Thursday Night of the Month) from 5pm-9pm - McTavish Quilting Studio will stay open late for an Open Sew Night. Bring you appliqué project, piecing project or current blocks - anything you'd like to finish plus your own sewing machine and we can set you up on a table to get some sewing done. Irons/ironing boards are available for your use. This is free for all to attend. Just fun and fellowship with other weirdo obsessed quilting friendly people like you!  Questions: call Karen McTavish at (218) 391-8218

Thursday Night Sewing at McTavish Quilting Studio!!

I have never been so happy with a "space" in my life. The joy I feel when I come to work is insane. Absolutely love having so much SPACE!!! 

My first week was pretty crazy because the Minnesota Quilt Show was going on at the same time my shop opened. But now I get to be in my shop full time doing what I love to do. Teaching, quilting, renting out the APQS machines for others to quilt their own quilts and meeting lots of people! Duluth is so beautiful but the people are so amazing and supportive. 

My second week has proved that time moves triple speed in my shop. If you want to hang out in a quilting studio where time does not stand still - this is your place. 

We are hoping to start a UFO (unfinished object/free sewing and comminuty) group on Thursday nights - where its free-bring your own project/sewing time from 6-10pm. Bring your Unfinished Projects, sewing machines, appliqué' or hand work and hang out with a bunch of friendly awesome people! This meeting will be every Thursday night starting 6/25/15. I really hope everyone can grab that unfinished project and hang out. I promise to play music you will love.  Tell your friends!! 



Grand Opening June 8th, 2015



Celebrate with us during the week of the Minnesota Quilt Show as we open our newest APQS location with Karen McTavish from McTavish Quilting Studio in Duluth, MN.

McTavish Quilting Studio - APQS Duluth

Join us for an afternoon and evening of demos, door prizes, food and fun! Karen McTavish would like to invite you personally to attend the official grand opening of her new studio in Duluth for a special ribbon cutting ceremony on:


Date: Monday, June 8th, 2015


Time: Drop in any time between 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.



McTavish Quilting Studio | APQS Duluth  
Karen McTavish 

1831 East 8th Street

Suite G101

Duluth, MN  55812

(218) 391-8218


Weekly Schedule of Events:


Monday, June 8th

4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Open House and cupcakes

5:00 p.m. — Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


Tuesday, June 9th

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Open House


Thursday, June 11th 

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Open House


While you're here come visit us at the Minnesota Quilt Show and Conference!

When: Wed, June 10th » Sat, June 13th 

Where: DECC 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN  55802    

Public Quilt Show Hours ($12 single day admission)  
Wednesday,  7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.   

Thursday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

Saturday, 9:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m  


Public Quilt Show Hours at the DECC ($12 single day admission)  

Wednesday,  7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.   

Thursday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

Saturday, 9:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m.


McTavish Quilting Studio Store Hours

Monday - Friday 9am-4pm

Saturday: 10am - 3pm

Sun: Closed


Rental Information

George: $15/hr (no certification required)

Lenni/Lucey: $30/hr (certification required)

Millie/Freddie: $30/hr (certification required)

Rentals include thread, paper patterns and an expert guiding you every step of the way. 



We offer beginner to advance quilting classes for any type of machine quilter. 


Quilting for Hire: We also take quilts for hire! Bring in your quilt top and we will do the rest!


Longarm Quilting Machine Regional Showroom and Training Center - APQS Duluth at McTavish Quilting Studio

Located in the UMD area of Duluth, 19th Street & 8th Avenue, next to Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe.

McTavish Quilting Studio - APQS Duluth~ 

1831 E. 8th Avenue, 

Suite G101,

Duluth Minnesota 55812


Reserve your rental time online or sign up for a class at: 


Finish your own quilt tops under the guidance of award winning and nationally recognized longarm quilting instructor, Karen McTavish.

With each longarm machine rental you get: 

Free thread to use during your rental time.
Your choice of patterns (easy-medium-hard) or you can drive the machine freehand for edge to edge or custom quilting.
State of the art APQS quilting machine with Bliss drive, pristine stitch regulator, & easy to use controls. It’s like renting a Rolls Royce! Experts guiding you every step of the way! 

How to get certified to rent by the hour: 

Take our certification class to learn how to use the longarm quilting machines. In the class you’ll quilt one of your own quilts (lap size or smaller). Karen will show you everything you need to know! The class is $150.00 and includes up to four hours of longarm quilting with hands on coaching. Once you complete the class, you’ll be able to rent the machines in the future starting at $30/hr. 

Reserve your rental time, find out more details and register for classes online at mctavishquilting.com





New Studio in Duluth Minnesota!

So this is pretty exciting! I have signed the lease and the concrete is getting poured!!!

I have a new quilting studio!!! TA DA!!

APQS Duluth and McTavish Quilting Studio will now be located in the UMD area of the Duluth Minnesota. This HUGE shop is in a beautiful area of Duluth, in a brand spanking new building called Chester Gardens. The shop is 19 blocks away from the Canal Park Lift Bridge and Lake Superior as well many hotels in historic Canal Park. McTavish Quilting Studio is sharing space with other businesses such as the Snooty Fox Tea Shop, Benchmark Tattoo and Art Gallery, as well as Sara's Table- Chester Creek Cafe across the street!

Eating, Coffee/Tea, Tattoos and quilting .... how perfect is that? 

McTavish Quilting Studio APQS Duluth is a machine quilting community. A large training center for all machine quilters with lots of machines in the space - for classes, workshops, machine rentals, demos and quilting for hire. We will have computerized quilting as well as hand guided machines available for use. For the Domestic Machine Quilter - we got you covered as well. 

The studio will be the first retail space in Northern Minnesota to offer a line of Fil-Tec's GLIDE thread available for purchase to any machine quilter looking for that perfect color of thread. I will also offer pre-wound bobbins for sale to match your thread! Crazy right?

Dan the longarm APQS tech is available also for any of your machine troubleshooting needs! Bring your machine in or ask about having him come to your studio for any help you might need!

You can literally come to me! 
Come to a beautiful city with great access to airports, hotels, in a safe beautiful neighborhood. You can take a quilting class, learn how to run a machine, purchase a APQS machine, get emotional and technical support on your longarm journey directly from Karen McTavish, have some custom made coffee and have Karen draw on your body, and get a one of a kind quilting tattoo by the artists Josh and Kyle next store.

Tattoo optional, coffee mandatory.  Grand Opening in June 2015!!

 close up of Glide Thread by www.bobbincentral.com

close up of Glide Thread by www.bobbincentral.com

 Brandy Rice in Sacramento, California 

Brandy Rice in Sacramento, California 

 Brandy Rice with her feather outline completed

Brandy Rice with her feather outline completed

 hand drawn tattoo on quilter 

hand drawn tattoo on quilter