Quilting Arts TV Tapings

Taping Quilting Arts TV with Host Susan Brubakker Knapp

Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of taping three segments for Quilting Arts TV (QATV).  This trip was 14+ months in the making and there were times I thought it might not happen.  In June of 2018, I was checking email and noticed a message in my Spam folder from Susan Brubaker Knapp inquiring about my interest/availability for taping QATV.  Unfortunately almost 10 days has passed before I noticed it in my Spam folder and by the time I replied, the spots had all been taken.  The next round of tapings conflicted with a teaching engagement, and so I looked ahead at August 2019.  Then news of F+W Media (parent company of QATV) declaring Bankruptcy broke, and everyone wondered what would be the fate of Quilting Arts Magazine and QATV.  Good news: both companies were purchased by Peak Media and tapings would proceed, although they were pushed back to September.  While I was already signed up to take a 5-day dyeing workshop the same week, I decided this was an amazing honor and opportunity, and opted to cancel my dyeing workshop.

Once the taping schedule was finalized, there was lots to prepare on my end:
  • Making step outs and samples for each of my three segments:  Using Unconventional Materials in Art Quilts, Magnificent Mandalas, and Free Motion Quilted Pebbles.
  • Writing content and taking photos to supplement each segment
  • Communicating my plans with the studio
  • Emailing my sewing machine needs (presser feet, needles, thread, settings, and accessories)
  • Coordinating travel arrangements into Solon, Ohio (25-30 minutes outside of Cleveland, OH) and hotel lodging.
  • Choosing wardrobe suitable for TV (no black, red, or white, stripes, dots--which pretty much eliminated most of my entire wardrobe!!)
  • Scheduling a hair cut and manicure
QATV Preparations

In the week leading up to my trip, my Sciatica flared up and I was experiencing significant back pain.  While I suspect it was a response to stress, after a few panicky emails with my doctor, muscle relaxers, back stretches, heat & ice, and lots of rest, my back started to recover the day before my trip.  It was a make it work moment as I managed to wrap up the last of my step outs, packing, and preparations the night before I took off for Ohio.

As soon as my plane took off, all evidence of the back pain seemed to fade away, just like the details of the landscape below.  I used the flight time to gather my thoughts, read, and admire the view below.  I made the mistake of watching the movie A Dog's Journey on the plane and tears started to form in less than 5 minutes, and kept coming.  I slipped on my sunglasses to cover the tears, but my tissue was absolutely soaked as I continued to watch this beautiful movie.
Travel Scenes

Once I arrived to my hotel room, I set up a makeshift studio as I double checked that everything arrived safely, trimmed up my samples, and made sure everything was in order.
Studio Set Up in Hotel

The next morning, I slept in a bit, rehearsed my segments, and then proceeded over to visit the studio.  I received a warm welcome from the KS Inc Studio, the Quilting Arts team, and a little handwork kit complements of Vivika DeNegre, the Editor of Quilting Arts Magazine.
QATV Warm Welcome

I purposely scheduled my flight to arrive a day early to allow me time to visit the studio and get familiarized with the Quilting Arts Team and the KS Productions crew.  In the afternoon, I watched on as other artists (Jill Kerttula and mother/daughter team: Kristen Rodriguez & Jan Girod) taped their segments, reviewed the schedule for my day of taping, previewed Susan's wardrobe to make sure we wouldn't clash, and toured the studio to see where the magic takes place!!
Tour of KS Productions Studio

After my studio visit, I returned to my hotel room and rehearsed each segment one last time, with my mother watching via video chat.  Afterwards, I met up with the Quilting Arts team and fellowArtists for dinner, and then tried my best to get a good night's rest for Taping Day!!

The next morning, I returned to the studio with my large suitcase in tow.  First order of business was to place all my step outs, samples, and tools onto three large baking trays: one for each segment.
Setting Up My Segments in the Green Room

From there I visited with Jeanne, our Bernina guru, to get familiarized with the Bernina 770QE model I would be stitching on in each of my segments.
Getting Acquainted with Bernina Machines thanks to the Fabulous Jeanne!

Last but not least was meeting up with the Make Up Artists, who worked her magic!  And soon afterwards, it was time for my first segment.  I was impressed at how well orchestrated taping day went.  I had a few minutes to arrange all my materials and step outs for each segment. Then I did a short overview with both the host Susan and the producer, so they could coordinate timing of each segment.  And while I initially had butterflies before each segment, they all disappeared once the cameras started to roll.  Between Susan's expert hosting skills, and my comedy improv trainings, I completely forgot the cameras were there and was completely focused on sharing my work and process with Susan!  The next thing I knew, Susan was tapping me to signal that time was almost up!
Let's Do This!

After each segment, we filmed a short teaser video to use with marketing, took some photos, and the production crew took additional B-roll of my samples.  Afterwards, I was free to freshen up (as the studio was toasty hot, especially under all the lights), change my wardrobe, and get ready for the next segment.
Sharing My Love of Mandalas, Pebble Quilting and Unconventional Materials with Host Extraordinaire Susan Brubakker Knapp (top left and bottom right) and Quilting Arts Editor, Vivika DeNegre (top right)

I had the absolute pleasure of bonding with fellow NorCal/NV artists, Nancy Ryan (center) and Denise Oyama Miller (right) who were also taping their segments on the same day.
NorCal/NV was Well Represented

Each evening, we celebrated by gathering for dinner.  These meals were filled with wonderful conversation, newly formed friendships, some seriously delicious food, and fun art inspiration!
Solon Sights

Many thanks to Susan Brubakker Knapp and Vivika DeNegre for the invitation!!  Special thanks to Quilting Arts, Kristine Lundblad for answering all my questions in the Green Room, and to Jeanne for introducing me to the Bernina 770QE.  And of course, the entire KS Productions team for hosting us and capturing everything in high definition on film to share with y'all!!

And while the KS crew was doing some editing on-site, it will take a few months before the episodes are ready to air on PBS stations around the country.  I will be sure to share more updates as the episodes begin to air.  As of now, it looks like I will have two segments in Series 2500, and one in 2600, so stay tuned in!!


  1. What treats we have to look forward to. I’m glad to know they will be on PBS.

    1. They have an amazing line up of artists for the 2500 series (and into 2600!) I will be sure to keep you posted when I hear they start airing on PBS so you mark your calendar and/or set your favorite recording device!!

  2. So wonderful. Do you know how we in the San José area can watch Quilting Arts on PBS? It now has been more than a year that KTeH had changed their day time schedule and since then I am no longer able to find my favorite shows. We do have PBS passport, but even there I am not able to find it. As you live in my area, I was wondering...

    1. Thanks Andrea! I actually don't watch cable TV, so I will have to do some reconnaissance to see when it will air here in the San Jose area. Fingers crossed that I am successful in my search!

  3. Mel! Could you get any bigger in the quilting world? I am thrilled that you are such a big-time operator. I send you giant congratulations! Wow!

    1. Thanks Joni! It has been an amazing journey thus far, and I appreciate all your encouragement and support.


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