Quilters We Love: Norma Riehm

Meet Norma Riehm, an accomplished quilt artist and professional quilter. Norma is also a member of the National Quilters Circle Ambassador program! We sat down with Norma and asked her to share a little about herself and her quilting.

norma-riehmHow long have you been quilting, and who taught you how to quilt?

I taught myself how to quilt in the early 1980s. I love to read, so most of what I learned was from books.

What was your first quilt project?

A king sized quilt I made from a thumbnail photo in Better Homes and Gardens in 1983. I drafted the design from the photo and hand-quilted it on a portable frame my guy made for me.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m trying to finish up some of my many UFOs. I’m a professional quilter so my personal things come last. I have a few small things that I’ve managed to finish quilting this week. I then need to embellish them.

What quilt project have you been most proud of?

I’m most proud of my current show quilt, Floral Whimsy. It is going to be published in a major quilting magazine.

Have you ever entered any contests or competitions? What was the outcome?

I love to compete! I’ve entered many quilt contests and won many beautiful ribbons. Many of my quilts have won at national quilt shows throughout the US. My winning quilts have been published in three quilting books and many magazines. I have also taught at national quilt shows; I teach a specific technique called Fiber Layering which is the technique I use on my show quilts.

quilting-studio What’s your sewing room like?

My sewing room is colorful and organized. I’m not a messy quilter! I can’t start a new project until I know the stuff from the previous project is put away. A messy room kills my creativity.

What kind of sewing machines do you have?

Most quilters have more than one machine and sometimes we don’t like to admit how many we have for fear that our guys will know the truth! I have five vintage and six current machines. Each one does a different thing and I treasure them all. I also have two longarm machines, neither of which are computerized.

Describe your dream sewing room/quilting space.

WINDOWS! Most professional and many recreational quilters work in the basement. I have a tiny window to see daylight and I would love to have a bank of windows to see the beauty of outside while I work. Of course I would also love as much working space as I can get.

What do you like to do when you’re not quilting?

I garden flower and food plants, refinish furniture, and I love to read. I’m also on the computer way too much – Facebooking, blogging, and browsing online.

quilt-1 Do you belong to any quilting groups, circles, or associations?

Probably way too many. I belong to Modern Quilt Guild, Piecemakers Quilt Guild, Machine Quilting Guild, and a machine quilting group that I lead. I’m also a member of a bunch of national quilting groups.

Do you have a favorite quilting shop or website?

I like to shop local, but I will shop where the opportunity pops up when I’m traveling. I’m going to Houston Market and Quilt Show this year and I will definitely be buying things. I order most of my longarm quilting supplies online.

Do you have a favorite fabric designer? What is your favorite fabric to use?

Kon Bay solids. Most of my healthy stash reads as solids. Batiks are also great.

Do you have a favorite pattern designer?

I love the Quilt Pro Mariners Compass software by Judy Mathieson and own all three volumes.

quilt-2 What’s a new technique or trick you learned recently?

A quilting friend demonstrated the EZ Recs Triangle Rulers and I loved how easy they are to use. I just had to buy them after that. One piece is a full triangle and the other is a half to result in less fabric waste when piecing.

What quilting tip has changed your life?

Fine line chalk markers. Being able to use it for piecing and marking quilting patterns to get finer designs was wonderful.

What would you say to someone who’s just getting started in quilting?

Start small so you don’t get discouraged. Think about working on a project that is table runner or placemat sized. You won’t lose interest in the project as fast, it doesn’t require so much fabric, and it would be small enough to stitch in the ditch to quilt yourself. Small = success!

A great big thanks to Norma for sharing her quilting story with us! Want to join Norma as a National Quilters Circle Ambassador? You can apply here.

Happy quilting!

Have something to add? Leave a comment or email editor@nationalquilterscircle.com.
  • (will not be published)

3 Responses to “Quilters We Love: Norma Riehm”

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      In my opinion the best way to quilt a bargello design is to stitch through a continuous line through the center(ish) of each row of the bargello following it’s up and down undulations. Stitch with a slight curve through each segment then adjust the curve for the next segment and so on. This will enhance the rhythm of the bargellos movement.