If there’s one thing that is consistent about this online quilting community, it’s that when the unbearable happens and someone needs love and support, the community will rise to the occasion and come together to stitch their love, support, prayers, and positive intentions into literal textile hugs–quilts. Quilters have big hearts and give generously. That’s one huge reason I am proud to call myself a quilter. Recently, I’ve found myself contributing to a few different love, support, and help-filled quilting projects, and I wanted to share about them here. Not to toot my own horn, but to spread the word in case you also want to pay it forward and use your sewing powers for good.
Quilts for Seniors by Leanne at Devoted Quilter
A few weeks back, Leanne at Devoted Quilter shared that a senior home near her house burnt down and while all 21 residents thankfully got out unharmed, they lost everything. She made a call for square in a square blocks, and as testament to the huge hearts of quilters, she quickly received offers to make more than the 882 blocks that would be needed to make quilts for each resident!! Please note: She no longer needs blocks for this project!!
The day she announced her block drive, I made three blocks to send along, and used some beloved blues and mustard fabrics from my stash, since I thought it was pretty gender neutral and could be combined with many other colors.
I mailed these blocks and some Anna Maria Horner Field Study yardage for a backing, and after over a week of still not hearing they had been received, I found the package back in my mailbox, sent back from the US-Canada border. Talk about frustrating! Note that writing your first initial and last name instead of your full first and last names on a return address for an international shipping is not sufficient. I’ve mailed the package once again, hopefully properly completed this time and have my fingers crossed that it actually arrives!
If you’d like to contribute to this cause, Leanne is still in need of donations of batting and full backings (she has received more than enough blocks and binding fabrics!). You can find all of the info and can contact Leanne for more details at her blog here: Quilt for Seniors – Update.
Love for Linette, organized by Sarah at Berry Barn Designs
For those of you who followed along with our Honest Craftroomies Periscope hops, you may remember Linette, one of our dear friends and fellow hoppers. Her husband has been battling cancer, and a bit over a week ago, she shared that he’s now receiving hospice care. Sarah from Berry Barn Designs saw this and immediately emailed me and a few other of the Honest Craftroomies originals with the idea to show our love and support by making a quilt. Of course we all agreed and Sarah graciously offered to organize the block drive and quilt top assembly. Stephanie from Late Night Quilter offered to quilt the quilt. The kindness of this community knows no bounds.
Sarah is spearheading the efforts on Instagram, and you can find all of the block construction details here: Love for Linette Call for Nine-Patch blocks. I suggested a bright monochromatic nine-patch block with one white or low volume square as the pattern for the quilt. Linette loves bright colors and we thought wrapping her in a rainbow hug is exactly what each of us wants to do right now. The white square is to represent the hole that will always exist in her life once this part of her journey is over, but the large swaths of bright color represent the beauty and support that remains and will always be there for her.
I made three blocks using some of my favorite tertiary colors, and I plan to help Sarah “fill gaps” in color as needed as more blocks begin to arrive. I do hope that you will contribute to this quilty hug and stitch your love and positive thoughts and prayers into a block or more for Linette. Please DM Sarah @berrybarndesigns for mailing details, or let me know if you need a different form of contact.
Busy Bag Sew Along to Benefit Sadie’s Dream for a Cure
Finally, during the month of May, the Quilter’s Planner is teaming up with Sadie’s Dream for a Cure to sew as many Busy Bags as possible. The busy bags (simple tote bags from a free pattern provided on the Sadie’s Dream website) will be filled with crayons, art supplies, and small toys for children with life threatening illnesses. Sadie’s Dream is an incredible organization, founded by Jessica and her mother, in honor of Jessica’s beautiful child named Sadie, who was diagnosed with cancer at 6 months of age.
Sadie’s Dream offers support to children who are in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer by providing them with tote bags filled with toys! They ask volunteers, like you and me, to make reusable fabric tote bags – “Busy Bags” — to give to children while they are in the hospital, often immobile and hooked to an iv. You mail the bag to Sadie’s Dream and they fill the bags with coloring books, crayons, books, craft projects, card games etc.
I sewed up a Busy Bag to become familiar with the pattern (and so that I would have a bag for photos!), and as one who is filled with trepidation over 3D sewing, I can assure you that this is an easy, clearly written pattern that even the bag-fearing sewists can tackle successfully!
It is a very basic tote bag with extra wide handles to help make it comfortable even when filled with goodies.
I used a fun print by Robert Kaufman fabrics that I had in my stash for ages, since this bag is great for using fun panels. The front has the pocket in the middle and the full panel print is visible on the back. My panel was not quite tall enough, so I added the solid blue to the bottom before constructing the bag. It worked great!
I do hope that you will join in, since I would love to meet and even blast through our goal of having 25 bags made and donated during the Quilter’s Planner Sew Along in May. If you do plan to join, please head over to Instagram and comment with a pledge of how many bags you plan to make. We will be documenting the process and tallying bags as they are finished and mailed to Sadie’s Dream.
There are so many options for sewing from the heart, and many of them don’t take much time at all. After the past few weeks, I’m feeling like I want to add charity sewing to my monthly goals. I can take an hour or two out of my busy schedule to brighten someone’s day or show my love and support to someone in need. Want to join me?
Leave it to Mathew aka Mister Domestic to throw a party instead of a blog tour. Mathew is one of those talented folks whose enthusiasm for making is clearly evident all the time. I love his bubbling enthusiasm, his signature communication style, his bear hugs and kind heart, and after you throw in his mad skills with a sewing machine, how could I resist a chance to party down with him?! I was fortunate enough to meet Mathew at QuiltCon, and he’s as awesome in person as he is online. Plus, who doesn’t love a party!? Needless to say, when Mathew invited me to join in on his #misterdomesticssewingparty to help spread the word about the new Art Gallery FabricsCapsules and Fusions, I was absolutely in! I’m excited to be joining the fun, cranking up the volume for the party with some tall and skinny bins made out of Art Gallery Fabrics’ Lower the Volume Capsule.
When faced with choosing one of the Capsules or Fusions, the Lower the Volume Capsule seemed like the obvious choice since I love low volume fabrics and seem to incorporate them into most of my projects. They go with absolutely everything, and my favorite bright colors shine when they are paired with low volumes. As soon as I RSVPed an enthusiastic yes, I started thinking about what project I could make that would let the low volumes be the star of the show. I decided to add a rainbow of Art Gallery Pure Elements solids and make a rainbow of tall skinny fabric bins to store my small, but not-small-enough-to-toss fabric scraps.
The tall and skinny shape gives you the most bang for your buck when storing small scraps, since you can fit a lot of them along a wall or shelf, but still have enough volume to hold a decent amount of scraps. See? I cranked up the volume with this Lower the Volume capsule bundle! The result? The Skinny Bin!
I love the Lower the Volume Capsule collection, but my favorite might be the little details on the Quiet Downtown print. I can see myself meticulously cutting specific quilty street names to add to my projects, and couldn’t resist some meticulous cutting in making the bins.
To get started, I sketched out a bunch of Skinny Bin design options in my Quilter’s Planner over the course of a week or so. I absolutely love the handy graph paper section of the planner! The first design that came to mind was the hexagon English Paper Pieced (EPP) Skinny Bin. I jokingly call it iBin because of the design that appears when using the extra-long hexagons I used for the bottom of the bin. Even with the time-saving elongated hexagons, I decided that rather than EPP ALL of the bins, why not mix it up and try a whole selection of block designs?!
I love the variety of shapes, color, and design in these bins, and plan to add to them until I have a full primary, secondary, and tertiary rainbow! I sewed all of the bins with my go-to Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove thread, but used 80wt to piece the EPP iBin. I absolutely understand the excitement about 80wt for EPP–the stitches melt right in!
I am getting better at making introductions at parties, so why don’t I introduce you? Be sure to oogle the awesome variety of low volume prints as we go through introductions.
First in line we have Mr. Plus in Pure Elements Red. He’s first aid certified, so you can rest easy at this party.
Next is Madam Isosceles, a triangle jam in Pure Elements Burnt Orange. She can be a bit pointy at times, but is good at heart.
Third is sunny Sir Wonky Star in Pure Elements Canary. He is channeling a sun a bit more than a star, but all are welcome here, right?
Next is my favorite (shh don’t tell the others), Miss Inset Circle in Pure Elements Dark Citron. She loves to hug trees and has an unusual obsession with maps. Please don’t mistake her for Olive, her twin sister.
No party is complete without Dr. iBin EPP, sporting Pure Elements Emerald. This tech mastermind was put together a bit differently due to her seamless exterior construction, but she fits in just fine despite her genius.
Finally, Mr. Log Cabin in Pure Elements Denim Blue. He’s a bit casual for this party, but who needs a dress code?
There are also two more bins in active progress: Ms. Lucy Boston in Pure Elements Purple Pansy and Miss Raspberry Kiss in fitting Pure Elements Raspberry Rose. They will be fashionably late to the party, but hopefully they’ll bring dessert.
Okay, that was silly but quite fun. All of the bins are lined with their feature Pure Element solids, so it makes for quite a colorful crowd. Now you’re acquainted with my new friends and we can all party on!
While designing this bin, I conveniently discovered that it really is perfect for a party. Not only does it provide a colorful place to put your itty bitty scraps, but it can also double as a wine cozy for storing or toting your party beverage of choice. Totally #winning!
I also discovered that Art Gallery Pure Element solids have writing on their selvedge! Solids are often really difficult to keep track of once they dive into a stash, so the printed selvedge is a super helpful detail!
I’m now excited to sort through my pile of tiny scraps so that I can fill these beauties!
I actually discovered yet another use for these bins, but you’ll have to wait to see any more than this sneak peek. Be sure to keep your eye on this space. Ahhh, gotta love a rainbow of Aurifil thread!
At least in my opinion, one of the best parts of having a party is how clean your house gets in the process. There’s nothing like having an excuse to tidy up and rainbowtize. I haven’t yet decided whether these bins will live right here, hanging from the peg board behind my sewing machine, or if I will hang them near my cutting table for easy access. Either way, they will certainly brighten up the room!
Thank you so much for coming to the party, and be sure to check out all of other talented makers who will be partying down for the next couple of weeks:
I’m excited to be the next stop on the Modern Triangle Quilts book blog tour, in celebration of my friend Rebecca Bryan’s new book published by Stash Books/C&T Publishing. In this post, I’ll tell you about her awesome spin on the typical book tour blog hop, I’ll share my highlights from her book, and I’ll tell you how you can enter to win either a fabulous charity quilt benefitting Living Water International, or a copy of the Modern Triangle Quilts book (or both if you’re crazy lucky!) Read on, friends!
I first met Becca right around when she published her first book, Modern Rainbow, and I knew we’d be fast friends. I mean, rainbow!? I LOVE rainbows! That book did not disappoint, and Modern Triangle Quilts is just as amazing. Becca also just announced her first fabric line with Robert Kaufman Fabrics, called Panache. She’s a rockstar, I tell ya!!
Modern Triangle Quilts takes triangles to a whole new level. With 70 graphic triangle block patterns including equilateral, right, and isosceles triangles, plus 11 sampler patterns and a section on graphic design, the design possibilities are endless. Above are the Isosceles Sampler and Facets, two of the strikingly unique patterns included in the book.
I had so much fun choosing a design and making a block from the book, especially since the color palette requested by Becca meant that I could combine my two favorite fabric designers–a crosshatch from Carolyn Friedlander‘s architextures basics, and two of Alison Glass‘s recent fabrics, Insignia and Sun Print 2017 fit the bill.
The piecing of these designs is so clever, and utilizes many techniques–from foundation paper pieced designs to improv. This book really gets me thinking outside the box (and into the triangle ha ha ha), which is what I look for in a quilting book. This is definitely a book worth adding to your quilty library.
Here’s the block I made for Becca, and I had the pleasure of giving this block to her over lunch while at QuiltCon in Savannah. Read on to see what she did with all of the blocks, and how you can be entered to win the gorgeous sampler quilt that resulted!
Charity Quilt Giveaway Details
Instead of the typical book release blog hop, Becca asked each of us on the blog hop to make a block (or more), and she made all of the blocks into this gorgeous Charity Bee Well Wishes quilt. For the duration of the Blog Tour (April 2 – April 18) Becca is offering the pattern for this quilt in her shop HERE for only $5. Every time you purchase the pattern, you are entered to win the quilt. You can purchase the pattern as many times as you want. Each purchase equals one entry. All proceeds of the sales from the Well Wishes PDF pattern will go directly to Living Water International. Visit her blog post HERE for more details. By purchasing this pattern, not only will you be entering into the running to win this gorgeous quilt, you’ll be directly helping make positive change in the world. That’s a win-win if I ever heard one!
Modern Triangle Quilts Book Giveaway
Rebecca Bryan and Stash Books / C&T Publishing are kind enough to offer one copy of Modern Triangle Quilts to one of my readers!
To enter the giveaway today, tell me what color combination you would use to make a modern triangle quilt. I love sharing color inspiration and hearing favorite color combinations! Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win.
This giveaway is open to US and international participants. Note that only addresses within the U.S. will receive a hard copy of the book. Due to the extreme cost of international shipping, international winners receive the e-book version. The giveaway will be open until April 18th at 8pm EST when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Winners will be announced by the 21st of April. Good luck!Giveaway is now closed! A winner will be announced shortly!
Blog Hop Schedule
Here’s the rest of the schedule so that you can follow along with the fun!
When my local friend Kim told me about an art auction she was organizing to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), I knew that no matter how much I had on my plate, I wanted to make something to contribute. I finished just under the wire, but was able to finish this 6″ hoop for the Art of Action, which will take place tomorrow in Bangor, Maine. Don’t worry–I got the hoop to Kim earlier this week so that she had time to hang it!
This hoop primarily features a quote that has become a war cry that helps women honor their strength and their ability to fight for what they believe in, and I added freestyle embroidery flowers for a light aesthetic touch.
My goal was to make it bold and strong, yet pretty at the same time. Rosie the Riveter meets a lovely sunlit tea room.
This was the first time I actually wrote on a hoop before stitching, but I knew with lettering I wanted it to look perfectly centered, and advance planning was necessary. I printed the quote I wanted in the fonts I wanted, held it up to a window with my cotton and steel background fabric held on top, and then traced it with a regular pencil. I’m really high-tech here, as you can see.
The stem stitch “Nevertheless” was fairly straight-forward, but by golly, that cursive “she persisted” was tricky! Nevertheless, I persisted. I give mad props to those of you who hand embroider lettering regularly! It’s not for the faint of heart.
Overall, I’m happy with the lettering even though it’s far from perfect. I ultimately outlined the thicker parts of each letter with backstitch, and then went back over the entire thing with satin stitch to fill in. Some letters are more rough than others, but that’s all part of the charm of handmade, right?
My favorite part other than the message and the really good letters (there are a couple!) is the bunch of flowers at the bottom. The french knot lavender flowers are so much fun to stitch, and I love the look of the tall, single chain stitch flowers. I used 12wt Aurifil thread for all of the stitching, and as usual, I’m quite happy with the thickness and silkiness of the stitches.
I finished the hoop with a felt backing, blanket stitched in place and embroidered with a very simple signature and date.
If you are in the Bangor, Maine area tomorrow evening, April 8, 2017, please come by the Art of Action Auction, a silent auction of art to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) taking place at 58 Main, a pop-up event venue in the heart of downtown Bangor.
The juried art show will be auctioning more than 60 pieces of art and works at varying price points done by Maine artists, living, working or with roots in Maine. This grass roots effort is intended to promote Maine Artists, bring the community together and safeguard individual rights and freedoms. (Information from the Art of Action website) I’ll see you there!
Ahhh, April! My favorite month! April is the month when spring usually begins to prevail over the last cold days of winter, with days getting a tad bit warmer, hopefully the snow melting enough to make way for sprouting crocuses and daffodils, and a prevalence of sun instead of sleet and snow. Not only that, it’s my birthday month, which is always a fun excuse to celebrate a little bit extra. To add some frosting to the cake, this month, I’m also one of the Queen Bees for The Honey Pot Bee hosted by Molli Sparkles. So fun!
When I was trying to decide what block to throw into the Honey Pot, I stumbled upon the Starry Sky block by Kylie at A Persevering Mom and completely fell in love. Let me count the ways: 1) it’s foundation paper pieced yet very simply so, 2) the possibilities for color play are endless and I just LOVE Kylie’s warm/cool on low volume background sample block, 3) it comes in three sizes–2.5″, 6″ and 12″ finished squares, and 4) it’s free which makes it a prime choice for a bee! Decision made!
Because the foundation paper piecing in this block is so simple, it is a perfect block for some meticulous cutting fun. I decided that I wanted to use my precious Friedlander fabric for the background, but I wanted it to look like the tree scene was continuous across the block. I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few tips on how I did it.
Remember that in foundation paper piecing, you are building the block on the back of the template. For this reason, when cutting each fabric piece, be sure to position the template with the printed lines facing the right side of the fabric to ensure the direction of the fabric is correct.
It’s also helpful to cut as you go, completing one template piece at a time and double checking your progress along the way. This certainly takes longer than cutting all of the necessary fabric pieces and chain piecing each section, but when playing the meticulous cutting game, it’s wise to go slowly and steadily, checking and double checking along the way.
In the photo above, the pieces of background fabric are cut for each section of the final foundation template (remember that the fabric will go on the back, so it appears mirrored when looking at them next to each other this way.) The final adjustment that can be made is with the numbering and order in which fabrics are sewn. With a basic understanding of how foundation paper piecing works, you can rearrange your piecing order to help easily align your fabric pieces. For this block, I always began with the center of the star points when at all possible so that it made it easy to keep the background fabric level and headed in the desired direction. For the piece shown, instead of sewing them in the listed order of A1, A2, A3, etc…, I positioned A3, then sewed A2, then A4, then A1. This way, I only had one angled seam to line up properly (A5 to A6) in the entire block.
While this seamless background didn’t come across as clearly as I hoped due to the intricacies of the branches and print, I’m still glad I went through the extra effort to get those bushes lined up along the bottom. Even if at first glance, it’s not obvious that the background fabric lines up, I know it does, and that’s what matters, right!?
I love how the Friedlander Tree Stripe border in Pistachio looks with the star points, which include fabric from both Carkai and Architextures also by Carolyn Friedlander, some favorite Alison Glass Sun Prints from 2016 and 2017, a Free Spirit solid, Gum Leaves from Terra Australis 2 by Emma Jean Jansen, and an unknown green swirl from my stash. I sewed the block with my favorite 50wt Aurifil thread, 2600-Dove, but was excited to find two lovely greens in my stash, which will come in handy when it’s quilting time! My block will obviously be added to my Greenery Quilt, and I most likely will aim to also make a 12″ version of the block in a different arrangement of greens since I love the block so much. Can’t you see this block looking fab in just about any color combination!?
Head on over to Molli’s blog to see the other gorgeous block for April, and have fun with this Starry Sky block!
Happy Monday morning! I have a few quick reminders to share today for the week ahead, as well as a silly story from over the summer.
First of all, today’s the day that I will be a guest on Pat Sloan’s American Patchwork & Quilting podcast, streaming live at 4pm EST and available for download at 6pm–I hope you’ll tune in! You can listen on your computer, subscribe by iTunes (search American Patchwork & Quilting), or download to a player. If you can’t listen in during the live broadcast at 4pm, you can download the episode (Episode 333) anytime after 6pm. You can read more about my experiences chatting with Pat here.
Second, today kicks off a fun Blog Hop celebrating the expansion of my quilty friend Bernie’s Etsy shop Needle & Foot, which now hosts a selection of modern fabrics. See the kick off blog post and lineup here at Needle & Foot, and visit Cheryl at Meadowmist Designs for the first stop! Come back Wednesday for a chance to enter a great giveaway, and to see what I made! In addition to the giveaways throughout the hop, Bernie is offering everyone a coupon code to her new shop. Use the code NANDFREADERS15 for 15% off any order over $5.00 (the coupon code will be active through Sunday, March 26th).
And finally, a new face! Since the photos were taken over the summer and I never shared, I thought it was high time I updated my headshot photo! While I still think I look much like the old photo, it was taken nearly a decade ago on the windy moors of England. It was time for a new one. So this summer, I requested that my husband, aka fearless quilt holder assistant, take some new headshots for me.
In his typical form, he made the process fun, giving goofy prompts to generate the proper variety of faces. A model I am not, and a photographer he is not… yet I think we got some winners!
“You’re fun and sassy and having a great time…”
“So endearing and sweet…”
“…so you’re walking along and begin to realize there might be a snail in your shoe…”
So which am I really? Not sure, but I ultimately decided on a different headshot altogether; one that I think is a bit less dramatic, but still looks ok and looks like me.
I will be slowly updating my blog and other social media to have this photo, but thought it would be fun to share the process. Really, the snail in the shoe prompt was too silly not to share… what would your face look like if you were walking along and slowly began to realize that there miiiiight be a snail in your shoe…?
Recently Hillary from Entropy Always Wins and I had the opportunity to meet in person after following each other’s work online for years. Both loving embroidery, repurposing textiles, creativity and the sewing community in general we plotted a tutorial that would allow us to play off each other’s creative personality and engage the greater sewing community as a whole.
A year ago Hillary made an Easter Egg shaped pincushion out of velvet and repurposed leather. We expanded on this idea and invite anyone who wants to participate to make a similar pincushion and, if interested, incorporate repurposed leather (Earth Day is coming up after all, and repurposed leather is typically thin enough to easily sew on a domestic sewing machine.) Be bold. Be brave. Let’s sew leather!
In this tutorial we give everyone some guidelines but the emphasis is on PLAY and MAKING THIS PROJECT YOUR OWN. Don’t celebrate Easter? No biggie, make a similar pincushion in another shape. We will be following on Instagram so please tag your makes #eastereggpincushion (as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins) so we can all enjoy. To celebrate this group project we will both randomly be giving participants some of our own pincushions as well as supplies to make them. All you need to do to be eligible is to play along, tag us, and tag #eastereggpincushion so that we can find you!
Thin leather (~6×12 inches)
Wool felt, velvet, jeans or any other material for the inner portion of the pincushion (~6×6 inches)
Embroidery hoop (a 4” hoop will *just* fit the inner egg)
Crushed Walnut shell or other favored pincushion fill
Step 1: Templates and Leather
Print the Embroidery Egg Template and cut along both inner and outer egg outlines.
Trace the template onto the wrong side of the leather, marking out two eggs–one with only the outline and one with both the inner and outer lines drawn.
Carefully cut along the marked lines, remembering to cut one piece along only the outer egg outline and cut the other piece along both the inner and outer egg outlines.
Set your leather pieces aside.
Step 2: Embroidery
Using chalk or water soluble marker, trace the inner egg outline onto your embroidery surface (felt, velvet, jeans, etc) so you will know the limitations of your embroidery design.
Adorn at your heart’s desire with embroidery, applique, etc. You are welcome to copy our experiments but please feel free to try your own ideas.
Step 3: Attach the Embroidery to the Leather Upper
Align your embroidered material so that the embellishments fit within the window of your leather upper (the egg with the hole cut out of the middle).
Secure the right side of your embroidery to the wrong side of your leather upper with double sided tape, glue, clips, or other method.
Then, using a ¼ or ⅛ inch seam allowance, top stitch the two together along the inner egg as shown.
Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim.
Finally, if possible, trim the seam allowance of your embroidered material carefully about ½” away from the stitched line so that it remains easily inside the outer margins of the egg.
Step 4: Make an inner pincushion
Using only the outer margin of your Egg Template, trace and cut two pieces of muslin. Sew the two pieces together using a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to use for filling.
Fill with crushed walnut shell (a funnel can be helpful for this). One half cup of crushed walnut shell for this project seems to be the right amount. Use a little more if you want a more rounded pincushion. Sew the opening of the inner pincushion completely closed.
Step 5: Finishing your pincushion
Place the two leather egg pieces wrong sides together and secure with clips. (Note that pinning will create visible holes in the leather–use clips!) Sew around the outer margin of the egg using a ¼ seam allowance, leaving an opening at least 3 inches long unsewn.
Stuff your filled and fully closed inner pincushion through this opening. Ensuring the inner pincushion remains entirely inside, top stitch the remaining way around the outer edge of the egg.
Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim or bury.
When Pat first invited me to be a guest on her show, I was honored, flattered, and more than a bit nervous since I’m severely hard of hearing and the chat typically happens on live radio over the phone. The phone, as silly as it may seem, is strongly in the running for my biggest fear. With a few emails back and forth, Pat was extremely understanding and accommodating, and suggested a number of alternatives. I ultimately decided to go with her offer of prerecording (instead of live), with Facebook messenger chat open so that if I mis-heard something or missed one of her questions, I could ask her to type it out and the editor could edit out the long pauses. I am so incredible grateful for Pat’s willingness to work around my hearing loss, and once we got going, it was honestly SO fun to talk all things quilting with her! We ended up having a really relaxed and fun conversation, and I had no trouble hearing her (after all that!).
I do hope you’ll have a listen, and if you’re like me and relatively new to podcast listening, you have plenty of time to give it a practice run and make sure you know how to listen in by Monday! The show time is Monday, March 20th at 4pm Eastern (3pm Central, 2pm mountain, 1pm Pacific) and you can click this graphic to go to the link to listen:
You can listen on your computer, subscribe by iTunes (search American Patchwork & Quilting), or download to a player. If you can’t listen in during the live broadcast at 4pm, you can download the episode (Episode 333) anytime after 6pm on Monday! In the meantime, feel free to have a listen to previous episodes–you can browse them all here!–there are so many great stories, tips, and laughs shared by many quilters and folks in the industry.
Are you a podcast listener? I know I am looking forward to listening to see how I did (eek), as well as to hear what the other guests have to say. I think I may be hooked on quilting podcasts, now–I may not be able to hear all of them, but they are still so much fun to listen to. Thanks again to Pat Sloan for having me, and happy sewing!
The past few weeks have been spent in preparation for our trip to Savannah, Georgia for QuiltCon, the wild travel adventure that was required for us to get there, the excitement of the event, and finally the long trip home. We arrived home late last Tuesday night after a day of flights and then a fully day’s drive with all three kids, having picked up the big kids who spent the week with my parents in New Jersey. When we left home, Maine had 3 feet of snow and highs of 35, yet we arrived home to rain, patches of mud, and just a layer of snow in the yard. It’s amazing what a week can do! There are so many things I’d love to share with you about what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks and my experiences at QuiltCon, so I figured a quick post of highlights would be my best chance of getting it written clearly. I’ll aim to go into more depth for some parts in the days to come.
First and most exciting is that Andover Fabrics asked me to make an Alison Glass mini quilt to hang in their booth at QuiltCon. How could I say no to that honor?! I decided to go with my pattern Constant Flux, but printed the templates at 90% and rearranged the blocks a bit so that the large focal square was in the middle. I used all fabrics from the Seventy-six, Insignia, and Sun Print 2017 fabric lines by Alison Glass. I added a Wild Boho-inspired bee applique which I embroidered with 12wt Aurifil thread. Both dense 1/2″ machine quilting and colorful hand-quilting finished it off, and from what I heard, there was quite a buzz about it (har har buzz!).
Here I am proudly standing next to the quilt hung in the fabulous Andover booth.
Workshops and Lectures
Trying new things and stretching my mind are among my top favorite things, so I was sure to register for some workshops and lectures at QuiltCon. I focused on areas I felt I could most benefit from improvement or practice: improv, sewing curves, and improv free motion quilting on a domestic machine.
I really loved the Minimalist Improv class with Season Evans. Her minimalist mindset and explanation of her process was so enlightening, and actually forcing myself to *try* a minimalist palette with improv piecing was so liberating. I made an entire mini quilt during the class, and didn’t touch a rotary cutter or ruler once (except for squaring the finished block). As much as I tried to go into the class with a blank slate mind, I had a preexisting idea to create a minimalist quilt focusing on a trianglesque shape in the upper right hand corner. I abandoned the angular construction plan to try my hand at Season’s style, but still snuck in the little triangle. It’s not as minimalist as Season would create, but it’s VERY minimal for me, I created it entirely improv, AND I love it. Total win!
I also was inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood‘s lecture on finding the Flow with Improv, and took some really great ideas home with me as a result. I’m excited for the next chance I get to play with improv, since Sherri’s lecture inspires me to take a different perspective and tap into other experiences to help me overcome (or flow past) the usual brain-breaking path of uncertainty I traipse while attempting improv.
Sew all the Curves with Jen Carlton-Bailley was another fun one! I was encouraged to learn that I am doing everything right when it comes to traditionally piecing curves, I just need more practice for it to feel smooth! It was also really fun to see the many styles and varieties of quilt patterns that incorporate curved piecing, photos of which Jen shared many!
Improv Machine Quilting with Christa Watson was everything I hoped and more. It was such an organized class, with introductions to different motifs and then opportunity to practice on our practice pieces. I LOVE the idea of improv free motion quilting, since it takes some of the pressure off of my self-inflicted desire for perfection. One tip shared by Christa that I especially love was, “The best way to hide imperfections is with more imperfections.” The human touch adds so much personality, story, meaning, depth…. and imperfections. I’m newly inspired to densely quilt the bajeezus out of some of my quilts, and embrace the flow that emerges.
If you ever have an opportunity to take a class or attend a lecture with any of these talented women, I highly recommend it! I came home ready to celebrate my mistakes, find the flow whether I’m happy with the progress or not, sew curves until the cows come home, free motion quilt all the things, and allow myself to create minimalist creations from time to time as a stress-free palate cleanser. Plus, my husband really likes the mini quilt I made, so that’s a double win!
Thursday morning when I first stepped foot onto the showroom floor, and began slowly walking around to take in the vast depth of beauty, originality, workmanship, and meaning that was displayed in those aisle, I was moved to tears. I don’t have the opportunity to attend many quilt shows, and being in the presence of so many quilts created with such passion by talented fellow quilters and friends was an amazing experience.
Despite keeping a fairly light class schedule, I am sure I did not get to see every single quilt that hung at the show, and more time was spent examining details than taking photos. It’s impossible to select favorites, so instead I will share a selection of photos I took of quilts that stood out to me. You can see all of the award winners on the Modern Quilt Guild website, here.
Let’s begin with the Best in Show, since it was a pretty epic and gorgeous quilt. Bling by Katherine Jones@twocatsquilts was foundation paper pieced from solids based upon the inspiration of a princess cut diamond. It struck me that the quilt is entirely foundation paper pieced, since that confirms that paper piecing has a strong place in the modern quilt world. Sure, it can help you create perfect shapes and images, but it’s clear now that it can also help take an abstract idea and break it into manageable, clear chunks.
The quilting was dense straight line quilting on the diagonal, which did its job. Think about removing all of the papers after piecing this one! Astounding!
I also saw a lot of curves in the show, the variety of which are demonstrated by this award winner (above: Madonna by Brittany Bowen Burton @brittanybowenburton, which won Best Machine Quilting, Framed, Needle Moves),…
…and Arches by Leah Pahlmeyer. There were many more quilts with curves, both improv and traditionally pieced, and probably your best bet at seeing as many of them as possible is checking out the #quiltcon2017 or #quiltcon hashtags on Instagram.
Statement quilts are still making a strong stand, which was both humbling and empowering to see. As Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl reflected in her recent blog post about QuiltCon, many people use quilt-making as a tool in processing events, or perhaps create quilts out of necessity to help them process, creating some of the most beautiful and powerful textile creations I’ve ever seen. (Read Yvonne’s full post here for more examples and reflection!) I wish I had taken more photos of these powerful quilts, but reading the descriptions and doing my own processing of the inspiration dominated in their presence. The quilt shown above is Tea and Skittles by Thomas Knauer@thomasknauer (Applique 2nd place), and stopped me in my tracks. Read the story here.
Hillary tasked her beemates to make blocks that told a story about themselves and then quilted their words into the fully pieced quilt. Quilts tell stories, truly, a fact that is abundantly clear at a quilt show like Quilt Con.
Solid fabrics seemed to dominate, with tone on tone and subtle prints playing a stronger hand that bold large-scale prints. This Free Spirit Award of Quilting Excellence winner, Go North by Maritza Soto@sotosewn is a good example, as is the amazingly improv quilt Lincoln by Kim Soper@lelandavestudios (below), which won 1st place for Improvisation.
I also was excited to see quite a bit of hand quilting and even embroidered details on quilts, which is right up my alley these days! I loved this quilt Canary Meets Goldmine by Stephanie Ruyle@spontaneousthreads even before I realized it had won 1st place for Handwork.
The full amazingness of this quilt cannot be realized until it is inspected from a nose-distance away. French knots!! Amazing, right!?
There were so many amazing quilts and seeing them firsthand, from a nose-distance away in many cases, truly inspired me to continue making beautiful things, to stretch the “rules” and create whatever moves me, continue fine-tuning my skills and techniques, and to attend as many quilt shows as I possibly can.
Booths & Vendors
The booths and vendor hall was much fun at QuiltCon. I was able to find replacement milliners needles right before my Facebook Live chat with Aurifil thread, thanks to Red Thread Studio, with quite a few offers of a loaner if I had not been able to find the right needle to purchase. It was exciting to see one of my local quilt shops, Alewives Fabrics, rocking the vending floor, too. Their weekly Lucy Boston kits seemed to be a big hit. I loved playing around on a Handiquilter long arm machine, and can certainly see the appeal of a long arm after having tried it out first hand.
I did not spend as much time at the booths as I would have liked, both because of fullllll days, but also because most of the time they were absolutely mobbed! These photos were taken Sunday afternoon shortly before the end of the show, which is how you can see the booths.
There were quite a few special exhibits at QuiltCon, including the quilts of Angela Walters, Siddi Quilts, Quilt Design a Day, Charleston MQG & Emanuel AME Church Project, The Modern Quilt Guild’s 2016 Quilts of the Month, Kona Color of the Year 2016, and The Pulse of Quilting (shown above). I honestly could have spent all four days just exploring these exhibits–there was so much to see, and so many powerful things being done through the gift and art of quilting.
Stretching my brain to learn new things in classes, finding renewed inspiration in lectures, seeing row upon row of gorgeously mind blowing quilts, shopping a hall of vendors filled with all of my favorite things–all of these are wonderful, but none compare to the delight of seeing quilty friends in person. A highlight of QuiltCon will always be the personal connections made between friends old and new, the laughs shared over lunch, the deepening of friendships forged through blog comment exchanges and social media posts. Call me a sap if you must, but seeing so many fellow quilters so full of enthusiasm and spirit fills my social quilting cup until my next chance to attend a big event.
I took only a handful of selfies, but enjoyed meeting so many new friends, old friends, and even more new friends.
And finally, Savannah!
This post would not be complete without at least a collection of photos from gorgeous historic Savannah, Georgia. It was especially fun to explore since my husband Garrett (who incidentally began an instagram account @knightquilter while he was there) and youngest son Finn were also there with me.
I was sure to teach Finn the fine art of hugging trees, and he was a big fan of the birds chirping in the trees (I couldn’t hear them, but I confirmed their presence on several occasions to make sure I was understanding the source of his excitement).
Savannah is a gorgeous city and I would absolutely return to explore more!
I’m so grateful to my family for supporting me in my travels.
Between my parents watching my older two kids, my husband not only taking time off work so that he could be with Finn full-time so that I could attend workshops, lectures, and “do my thing” with quilty friends I rarely see, but also begging for Night Quilter t-shirts to wear during the event, and taking an actual legit interest in quilting and the industry to help support and understand my passion, I am surrounded by the most amazing supports.
Without that support, none of this would be possible, and no reflection on an event as amazing as QuiltCon would be complete without a huge, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. What an amazing week it was!
After a longer than intended lull in blogging, I’m back and eager to share my reflections, process, and creative adventures with you! I’ve said it before, but beginning is the hardest step. I got stuck in a cycle of the longer I waited, the harder it was to simply jump back into blogging. Today, that ends. What better place to begin than with community and some of the fun sew alongs and bees taking place this year, as well as my grand plan for stress-free participation in them!? Soon I will share my goals, focus, and “one word” for 2017, as well as some of the other fun projects on which I’ve been working. For now, hello!! It’s great to be back, and I’m excited to share inspiration and creativity with you again!
The online quilting community is known for its welcoming vibe and almost endless opportunities to sew together virtually if not in person. There are so many fun Sew Alongs and Quilt Bees happening at any given moment across the quilting community, it’s often hard to decide which ones to join and which ones to pass on. I’ve joined a few Sew Alongs in the past, typically the block-at-a-time style–specifically the Farmer’s Wife led by Angie at Gnome Angel, #100days100blocks also lead by Angie on Instagram, and the Quilter’s Planner 2016 Scrappy Picnic Plaid Sew Along led by yours truly on Instagram. I had a lovely time participating (and still participating) in them, but found that I often cannot keep up with the pace because of other obligations. For 2017, I think I’ve come up with a plan to address that and turn it into creative opportunity!
First, here are the Sew Alongs and Bees I’m currently committed to participating in:
Hosted by the Sew Along Queen, Angie from Gnome Angel, this sew along is a given for me! Using the block instructions on each weekly spread in the 2017 Quilter’s Planner, Angie’s leading this sew along to encourage and support you to make each block each week. Visit her page HERE to read all the details, as well as to see how you can join. This is a great sew along for those looking to get into a regular sewing habit. Plus, it’s a chance to use your Quilter’s Planner to its fullest!
Molli is hosting a quilting bee that breaks all the rules–as he says, you get none of the sting, and all of the sticky goodness! I love the relaxed mentality about this bee, and it’s a little extra exciting since I’m one of the Queen Bees for April! Here are the details, straight from Molli’s announcement post:
Each month there are two queens (and/or kings, but for the sake of brevity will be called queens) who decide on The Honey Pot Bee block patterns. Each queen picks one, I announce them to the world, then each participating member (Princesses and Princes) can choose to make one of each or two of the same. Each member then keeps the blocks for themselves.
This is less of a block swap, and more of a way to find amazing block tutorials / patterns they never knew they wanted to try from other amazingly talented people. Some of the blocks will be original patterns from the queens, some will be existing tutorials from world class quilters. That will be up to the queens to choose.
The benefits for Participant Princesses and Princes: They get to use their own fabric that they’ve been stashing They improve and stretch their own skills They work to their own timeline There is no pressure No one is disappointed if they’re late They act as their own quality control They meet a group of like-minded, inspiring individuals They see the varying potential of each block Participating with me
I love this idea since I really don’t *need* another project, but I do love the community that is built around quilt bees and sew alongs. I love that Molli encourages you to make only the blocks you love, and that there are two unique options each month. Once I came up with my 2017 grand plan (more on that below), this one definitely needed to be added to the pot! Get all the details HERE.
This is another fun weekly sew along hosted by Angie, using Pen and Paper Pattern’s Garden Snail Quilt. I think these snails are super cute, so I am joining in the fun, but plan to make only a few snails to add to the mix of the rest of my blocks. The gist of this Sew Along is easy… you simply make one block each week and post it on social media of your choice on Snail Sundays. You can find all the details HERE.
So now… for my Grand Plan that makes all of this not only manageable, but also fun!
My Grand Plan
Ready? I plan to participate in all of these sew alongs and bees, but with NO pressure. I am not playing along for the prizes. I’m playing along for the community and the recurring “deadline” to make a block and share it. I plan to use the same fabric pull and color scheme for all three of these bees/sew alongs, and combine all of the blocks together at the end of the year into a (hopefully) queen sized quilt for our bed. This way, I can make the blocks I really love, whenever I have the time to make the block, and I won’t need to stress when either life obligations kick it up a notch, or I have another project that needs my attention. As they say in hashtag land, #winning!
I’ll write more about this in another post, but I plan to use a color palette based upon the Pantone color of the year for 2017: Greenery. While green is not a color I’ve sewn with in large quantities before, it speaks to me on many different levels–from the freshness of the color, the vibrant hope that comes from new life in the spring, to the rich green that abounds in the environment around me–which as you know, I love dearly–, to the simple challenge of making a quilt with no final assembly pattern, and no guidelines except color. I’m both invigorated and scared at this plan, but as is my style, I’m jumping in with abandon, holding onto the hope that I can pull it all together into something epically beautiful (or at least tolerably pretty) at the end of the year.
For those of you who excel at fun and clever naming, I am trying to decide on a name for this greenery quilt project and am open to any suggestions or ideas! I want to select a name for this quilt so that I can tag all of my progress together across the bees/sew alongs, but “Kitty’s Greenery Quilt” sounds a bit flat. Maybe Night Quilter Hugs Trees and Bees? LOL #NQhugstreesandbeesquilt Uhm….
I’m looking forward to sharing my progress here, and thank you as always for following along with me on my creative journey, during waves of profuse creativity as well as lulls of relative quiet. I hope 2017 is off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to creating with a hopeful heart this year.