Podcast Episode # 39: Karen McTavish

Karen McTavish Graphic

When most people see Karen McTavish walking down the street with her hair in dreadlocks and tattoos covering her arms, I doubt they assume she is an award-winning long arm quilter. Admittedly, she thinks of herself as an eighty year old Amish woman! And if you were to judge her based on her quilting knowledge and experience, she would be an eighty year old Amish woman. 

Based in Duluth, Minnesota, Karen started her long arm quilting career based on the advice of her mother, Jan McTavish, an art quilter, as a way to support herself as a single parent. Little did she know then that she would develop her own quilting design called McTavishing, write five books on quilting (Mastering the Art of McTavishing, Whitework Quilting, Quilting for Show, The Secrets of Elemental Quilting, and Custom Curves, be awarded MQX Teacher of the Year in 2007 and own and operate an APQS studio.
Throughout her journey, she has stayed true to her values and herself. Her compassion and desire to help others is inspiring and reminds me of all the reasons I want to be in this industry.  During our conversation, we talk about her first and only art class, why she bought her long arm machine, the reason her designs are copyright free, the reception she has received in the quilting community and why she feels long arm quilters should charge what they are worth.

As a warning, this episode has been labeled explicit due to language. 

How to Listen:

To listen to the podcast, you can click on the graphic at the beginning of this post, hit play on the player below, download and save the episode with the link or subscribe to all of my podcast episodes via iTunes or Stitcher.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Notes from the Show:


Kaye England

Diane Gaudynski

Gina Perkes

Frank Palmer 

Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry



Russian Circles

Queens of the Stone Age


Other Notes:

My podcast with Ben Venom

Abby’s podcast with LUKE Haynes

Metallica versus Napster copyright case

Helmouth Apparel (clothing with a conscience)


This episode is sponsored by Sewtopia.

Sewtopia Logo

Please consider supporting my fantastic sponsors!

Comments 10

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  2. This is the most authentic podcast! Karen McTavish rocks. She has the talent originality of Amy Winehouse, and that is high praise!! Just love Karen. Thanks for having her on.

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  4. I LOVED this interview! Karen is really fascinating and her quilting is beyond amazing. Loose connection: My husband is from Minnesota and we have gone to Duluth on several occasions–it was one of my most favorite cities anywhere.

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