Hello. Yes, I’m still in project-making mode here and have just completed a baby quilt for the daughter of family friends that I’d love to share with you. Initially, I thought I’d go full Modern, but her mother’s words uttered years ago rang in my memory, “Rebecca is such a girly girl.”
Somehow minimal stripes and lots of quilted negative space weren’t suitable for her, especially with the naïve and pretty prints I’d selected for the baby quilt. I’d cued their selection on a preview photo of Rebecca’s freshly painted nursery.
A Pinterest tour (yes, again, I turned to that dazzling output of creativity) yielded good inspiration, but nah, I didn’t bite. For some reason hexagons piqued my interest, plus they are fun and current. I had so much fun making a Kaffe Fassett hexagon quilt last year that I decided to pull the book from my shelf and take a look. Okay, I felt a shiver of excitement—that was a good sign. If I reduced the number of hexies I figured I could execute a sweet little quilt.
Little did I know that “why not?” decision would set me off on one of the best quilt-building weeks I’ve experienced in ages. I had a blast because the pattern assembled like a dream and the cotton/linen fabric combination I’d selected made for perfect pressed seams with my brand-new iron. (Had to trash the old one because it sparked and burned me—fair warning: make sure your iron cord is intact, not worn to bare wire!)
As a technical sewer I’m typically a bit haphazard. Now I don’t mean to say that I’m sloppy, I just don’t always end up with a full set of perfect blocks and my quilt tops might have some squirrely matches as a result. Not so with the baby hexie quilt: aren’t those points delicious?
I delivered the quilt to the new parents this past Saturday and met tiny William, a perfect little sweetheart of a baby boy. Very manly! Parents and grandparents are over the moon with his arrival—although the novice mother and father could do with a good night’s sleep! Oh I remember that well . . . one groggy night I got lost on the way to the nursery right next door to our bedroom!
Isn’t it fun to share quilted love with a new generation? Check back on Friday for the next installment of the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along–it’s time to finish up the quilt top! Type “Quilt-Along” in the blog Search bar to find the prior installments–also refer to the Pattern library for instructions.
I am excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Jessica J. E. Smith, also known as Jess,
who I met several years ago at International Quilt Market Houston. Jess approached me to share her two cents about a question I’d asked at a lecture we’d both attended at the show. After that, we spent the day walking the show floor, shared a meal at a Greek restaurant afterwards, and have built a great friendship ever since. She is bubbly, creative, and so much fun to share quilt-love with!
Jess owns The Quilt and Needle, an online an online quilting store and interactive community , She specializes in designing one-of-a-kind quilting patterns and hosting unique Mystery Quilt Weekend experiences to help quilters overcome their personal boundaries. I participated in one of these mystery weekends and, let me tell you, they are fun! Imagine receiving a pretty fabric bundle in the mail, getting online instructions every few hours throughout the weekend, and watching a beautiful design emerge as you sew–oh, did I mention that you are sharing this weekend in a forum with participants from across the globe? It’s totally fun! Welcome Jess–we are so glad you are here!
Mystery Quilts and Why They are Worth Making
I design quilts. I piece, I quilt, I show, I gift, I sell, and sometimes I even get to cuddle with my work. No surprise, I love what I do. But the best part of my job is designing and writing mystery quilt patterns. Why? To begin with, I adore surprises. Not just receiving surprises, but presenting others with puzzles and tricking (yes, misleading, fooling, generally hoodwinking) them so that they are truly surprised at the end of the process. That’s just plain good times. When I design a mystery, it’s like I am throwing a killer surprise party for every quilter who works on that project (only, way less clean-up is required).
For example, who would’ve thought that when you started out by sewing together these various squares with borders:
You’d get this quilt at the end? (These pictures were taken at one of our March Mystery retreats in Tomball, TX. The quilt pattern is Unexpected Twist.)
The fun of it all gives me a serious case of the warm and fuzzies.
If I am being totally honest though, the grand surprise of a good mystery pattern isn’t really the best part. Certainly, I started designing mystery quilts as a fun way to surprise my quilty peeps, but my true addiction to mystery pattern writing came when I realized that mystery patterns were an often unutilized tool to help quilters overcome their self-imposed limitations.
You know that quilt pattern you’d love to try, but you keep telling yourself:
“I am not good enough to make that!”
“I love that quilt! But I could never do that.”
“That’s just too much for me, I’ll stick with squares!”
“I’d never have time to do something like that!”
Anybody? Yeah, pretty much all of us, right? We come up with any number of excuses to NOT try that design that we are sure will defeat us. Put simply, we often fail at a pattern because we never allowed ourselves to try. For me, once upon a time, that unclimbable mountain of a pattern was a Feathered Star. But hey, look at me now Mom! I created a mystery pattern to help all of those quilters afflicted with the same irrational Featheredstaraphobia I once suffered from.
This pattern is Bella Cosa. There are no Y seams or similarly intermediate-level piecing involved, which is why this made a fabulous mystery pattern.
A good mystery quilt should lead the quilter through the process one simple step at a time, so the quilter doesn’t feel overwhelmed. If you don’t know the end product, you aren’t able to keep yourself from trying a fabulous design because of self-doubt.
Over the years I’ve often experienced the power of my mystery patterns helping other quilters achieve their own “unachievable”. In one of my first teaching gigs as a mystery quilt teacher, I met “Square Girl”. It was a six hour class. They came in with their fabrics cut, ready to sew, and completed a small top in a day. The mystery I was teaching was my pattern Phire’s Radiance, which is my take on a Lone Star. I walked past this girl while she was sewing and she was murmuring “I like squares… I like squares… I like squares…” as she pieced together this quilt full of strips, and diamonds, and triangles… maybe four squares in the entire thing. I was still pretty new at teaching and I remember telling my husband when I got home that I blew it… I would never see this girl again! I have to give her props though; she persevered and completed her small table topper in class.
This was her third quilt ever! Pretty amazing I think. Anyway, my next mystery program rolled around a few weeks later, and you wouldn’t believe who showed up to that class. Yep. Square Girl. And she was smiling. And she was motivated. She’d made a Lone Star and now she was ready to conquer the quilting world! She has signed up for every one of my mystery programs since then. She’s hooked. She’s a fabric addict. Now Square Girl is selling commissioned quilts to support her habit. She was recently commissioned to make the King size version of Phire’s Radiance (again, no ‘y’ seams or similarly intermediate techniques were harmed used in the making of these quilts).
Whoa. Just whoa.
So that’s why I do what I do. And that’s why it’s worth giving mystery quilts a try. You never know what you don’t know until you try something that you don’t know you are trying.
Thank you Jess! What a great topic! And BTW readers, Jess’s feathered star, Bella Cosa, was created using a line of fabrics that I designed a few years back! What a sweet quilt!
Want more? Jess will be visiting again on Friday to chat about her Crossover Quilts. She will present Schoolhouse sessions on both Mystery Quilts and Crossover Quilts at Interenational Quilt Market at the end of the month.
Urban and Amish Giveaway Winner Here!
And we have a winner! Congratulations to Houston Quilt Lady.
It’s inevitable really, the road to learning the quilting craft always passes through Amish Country at some point. While modern quilters may point to the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibition as a clarion call to explore quilt making, Amish quilts also cast their lure with minimal design layouts and vibrant coloration.
Urban and Amish Embraces a Hallowed Tradition and a Modern Aesthetic
Author of Urban and Amish, Myra Harder, comes by her love of Amish quilt making from childhood exposure to the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Myra’s Canadian parents moved the family to Lancaster County and lived there for several years before heading back north. The time spent in that rural fastness had a strong impact: Myra’s mother learned quilt making from the Amish women and Myra spent many hours playing with Amish children and learning about their mode of life. Later, when Myra took up quilting, it was an Amish Pineapple quilt displayed in a Lancaster, PA shop that set her on her quilting journey. Myra is a twenty-year veteran of the textiles and quilting industries and attributes her fascination to an ancestral calling “to the cloth,” so to speak, as her family traces its roots to Moravian cloth traders in early colonial history.
Urban and Amish brings together two of Myra’s abiding interests: the Amish quilting aesthetic and the modernist trend in contemporary quilt making. Her tactic is to juxtapose them in 8 duets of quilts: one faithful to Amish tenets of quilt design, and the other, a modern riff on the theme block. The result is 16 quilt projects that can be tackled by all skill levels. The challenge, of course, is in the execution which is something she addresses in her book: color palettes, print or solids, scale of design, deconstructing blocks. It was interesting to learn that Amish color schemes are specific to each community–Lancaster County quilts do not use black as the darkest hue, navy is the preferred color. (That’s a factoid I’ll store for future use!)
Myra Harder’s Urban and Amish is available now through Martingale & Company. Visit the publisher’s website for additional information about the book and author. Ah, don’t neglect to scroll to the bottom for giveaway details–you could win an Urban and Amish eBook from Martingale!
Antique Ohio Amish Quilts from the Darwin Bearley Collection, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Staring November 15, 2014, and running through March 1, 2015, the quilt museum in San Jose, California will host an exhibition of more than 40 quilts from the Bearley collection. The quilts range from doll to bed-sized and cover a timeline from 1880 to 1940. The provenance of each quilt is fully documented with the story of the maker, recipient, and the dealer(s) who found the quilts.
Amish: The Modern Muse at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
To coordinate with the exhibition, the museum issued a challenge to Bay Area modern quilt guilds–East Bay Modern, Bay Area Modern, and South Bay Area Modern–to interpret the Amish style in a modernest vein. The juried exhibition will run concurrently with the Antique Ohio Amish Quilt show. Quilt artist Joe Cunningham will select the quilts that best represent a 21st century interpretation of traditional Amish quilt making. Of course, our resident modernist and guild member, Pati Fried, has a challenge contribution and she’s giving us a peek!
Giveaway Details Here!
Martingale & Company has kindly offered an eBook version of Urban and Amish for a lucky winner. Leave me a comment by Monday, October 13 and I’ll announce the winner in the Tuesday post on the 14th. Here’s your question: Why the hoopla, aren’t Amish quilts already modern?
Later gators, gotta go make another quilt–modern, but not Amish . . .
The term “stash” is quite familiar to any crafter, sewer, quilter, or scrapbooker. In fact, if you are true to your passion you probably have more stuff in that stash than any person could possibly use in one lifetime. We here at SHWS are always on the lookout for great stash-busting inspiration no matter the medium. Well look no more, our friend and crafter extraordinaire Lisa Fulmer has just released her book, Craft Your Stash. It is chockful of wonderful projects and inspiration to help you in using fabric, paper, stamps, stickers, buttons, bling, and so much more. So, don’t delay, order your copy today, you wont be disappointed. Lisa also provides suggestions how storing and organizing your stash.
Our SHWS Riff on Stash Busting
We tried our own stash-busting efforts and riffed on a couple of Lisa’s projects. Of course, we opted to use fabric because we have loads and loads of the stuff!
Jennifer: I took on a variation of Lisa’s heart-themed door plaque, but I opted for a pair of doorknob hearts as I’ve been known to decorate my guest room door with a welcoming gift of a fabric heart. I think Lisa and I must be on the same wavelength with the idea of embellishing doors with hearts–it is, after all, an expression of loving welcome.
I’ve got two special people I want to celebrate with a handmade gift and so I made a pair of hearts. If you’d like to bust your stash and make heart pillows, well, click the Pattern tab above and scroll to the Jack Sparrow Valentine pattern I posted there a couple years ago.
Laura: I was inspired by the Mosaic Scrapbook project in Lisa’s book.
My immediate thought was to make a toddler friendly Memory/Matching Game Board: bright, colorful, and portable! I also took advantage of this opportunity to use chalkboard fabric for the cover of the game board.
No blog hop would be complete without an enticing Giveaway opportunity–want to participate in Lisa’s the Craft Your Stash giveaway?
Want the details for the other giveaway? We too have a copy of Craft Your Stash we’d love to share with our SHWS readers. Leave a comment by Monday, October 6 letting us know: are you or are you not a hoarder of crafty items and would Lisa’s book be a good intervention for your habit?
Do check out the other bloggers participating in the blog hop–here’s the talented lineup:
I met Lisa Fulmer ofLisa Liza Lou Designs through a mutual friend quite a few years back. “You have got to meet Lisa, you two have so much in common,” she told me. We became Facebook friends long before we actually met, and I finally tracked the busy girl down at one of The Craft and Hobby Association shows to have a face-to-face meeting. I admire her tremendously. She is constantly astounding me, not only her creativity, but with her craft-industry knowledge and savvy social media skills. So, it is no surprise that she has a new book, Craft Your Stash. I attended a book release party last weekend for her fabulous book and took some photos of her always fun and imaginative creations.
As I come from a graphic design background, I am always excited to see how artists use print materials to express their style. Let’s just say that Lisa totally rocks in this arena.
Not only does she take full advantage of her crafty skills, she also adds personality to her projects with her tools! Check out her playful round business cards made from a die cut machine–I want some of my own!!!
Oh, and did I mention she is witty?
So now that I have introduced you to Lisa Fulmer, be sure to visit on Friday when we are a stop on the Craft Your Stash Book Tour !
Happy Friday everyone! The project I shared in Tuesday’s post was so much fun to make, I think there are a few more ideas brewing in my head. I love making Halloween-themed projects year-round. It’s never the wrong time to work on something for Halloween–at least in my opinion.
Many of my closest friends are also obsessed with Halloween and I’ve partnered with one of them, Pam, to start our Etsy Store, Zombies and Posies. I drew a mascot logo and we named her Zweena –it means beautiful woman, which is perfect for a zombie don’t you think???
Zweena items are still in development; so be sure to add Zombies and Posies to your “favorite” list on Etsy, to follow her as she grows.
Pam and I are both interested in paper arts and have quite a paper stash!We love to make tags, cards, books, collages . . . the list goes on and on and what better way to share our creations and support our paper habit than to sell our stuff on Etsy, right?So far we are just starting out and getting our store stocked with items.Here is a peek of what we have in the shop.
Be sure to check often–there are new items listed every week. We appreciate you visiting our shop! Thank You! –Kim Buteau
Patricia Belyea, a self proclaimed Japanophile, imports vintage yukata cottons. Patricia is the owner of Okan Arts, a design studio and micro quilt shop, in her home in Seattle, Washington.
As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, Yukata – The Summer Kimono of Japan , I met Patrica while she was traveling in the San Francisco Bay Area for lectures and workshops. I was not only fascinated with her incredible collection of hand dyed fabrics, I was also inspired to see how she showcased these very special fabrics into the artisan quilts she creates.
Patricia took some time out of her busy travel schedule to answer a few questions that I thought would interest our readers and to share her beautiful work.
What was it that initially attracted you to these fabrics?I’ve always been a “treasure hunter” when it comes to fabrics. At first, my quilts were made from fabrics found in free boxes at quilting meetings. I’ve also looked for unusual and super-cheap fabrics by the tablecloth section at Goodwill stores. And I’ve bought some vintage fabric on eBay. Once I started to visit Japan regularly, I looked for quilting fabric there.
Once I discovered vintage hand-dyed yukata cottons, I was hooked. They are so easy to love—good quality cotton that’s a perfect weight for quilting, gorgeous hand-dyed colors, and wonderful patterns. I find the colors and designs inspire my artisan quilt compositions.
How has your involvement with yukata cottons changed your outlook on the Japanese and their culture? Before I ever bought a bolt of yukata cotton, I had been to Japan twice and hosted three Japanese home-stay students. So I already had a real interest in all things Japanese.
Getting involved with yukata cottons and quilting has changed the focus of my trips to Japan. Now I seek out textile-related experiences—visiting indigo masters, wandering around flea markets, looking for small shops with vintage fabrics, going to museums, and anything else that touches on my interest in Japanese handicrafts, especially textiles.
What do you see for the future of Okan Arts? My petite cottage business called Okan Arts is synonymous with me! I’m a one-woman enterprise who just keeps dreaming up more things to do.
Right now I’m working on a quilting book that combines yukata cottons and commercial solids in improvisational designs.
I just wrote an article for GenerationQ magazine entitled “A Quilter’s Guide to Visiting Japan.” (Look for it in the November/December issue.) I feel a calling to encourage others to visit Japan so I’m putting together a new Japan Travel section on my website as a resource for individual travelers.
As I’m out of town a lot this summer, I set up a pop-up shop with all my inventory in my local quilting store—The Quilting Loft in Seattle. Making my yukata cottons more accessible has been a good move as shoppers can only visit my home-based shop by appointment–I may do that again as I travel so much. – Patricia Belyea.
Aren’t her quilts amazing? Patricia also enjoys hand-quilting her quilts to add to the artisan feel. Being a big fan of Big Stitch hand quilting, I was immediately drawn to her thread work. She uses colorful pearl cotton to create interesting shapes and line work. I loved seeing her perspective on applying this technique to the large scale prints and large open spaces of the yukata designs.
Thank you, Patricia, for a sharing this unique niche in our wonderful world of quilting. It is always fun to see how personal passions can merge with one’s creative interests.
August is the hottest month of the year in Japan. Not only is the temperature high, so is the humidity. Summer kimonos, known as yukata, are a common sight in Japan during these steamy summer days.
Yukata are informal, festive clothing that are worn to outdoor summer events.
Yukata are extremely popular today. Perhaps because they reflect a nostalgic reminder of summers past in Japan.
As with kimono, the general rule is that younger people wear bright, vivid colors and bold patterns, while older people wear dark, matured colors and dull patterns.
A child may wear a multicolored print and a young woman may wear a floral, while an older woman would confine herself to a traditional dark blue with geometric patterns. Men, in general, wear solid dark colors.
The fabrics are cotton, beautifully hand stenciled and dyed, with the designs showing on both sides. Traditionally, yukata fabrics were primarily made of indigo-dyed cotton, but today, a wide variety of colors and designs are available. The fabric is a standard kimono width of 14 inches. The fabric has a slightly crisp, but soft touch, and ranges from black to dark navy to indigo for the classic tones. The colors and designs will immediately draw you in!
Since the late 1990s, yukata have experienced a revival. Not only with the fashionistas . . .
. . . but with those passionate about unique textiles–including yours truly. Which leads me into my story for this week!
Vintage Japanese Yukata Cotton
These remarkable fabrics are from Okan Arts of Seattle Washington. My newfound obsession happened while attending a lecture and workshop with Patricia Belyea, owner of Okan Arts. Her 550-bolt-strong collection is a kaleidoscope of vintage Japanese yukata.
The beautiful green roll in the center of the photo above was the one that hooked me. I loved the free flowing brushstrokes of dark indigo, lavender, and gray.
Patricia is making it her mission to share this collection with others. Lucky us!!!
On Friday, I will chat with Patricia about her passion. I will also share a sampling of blocks created in the workshop I attended with her, plus photos of the beautiful quilts she has created to showcase these very special fabrics. Be sure to stop by to meet Patricia!
I love hearing success stories of people who find a passion and turn it into a business. I have known Lori Lott for years, but recently had the opportunity of collaborating with her while working on my book, QQQ3. She is a talented stylist and assisted our photographer with room settings. This positive working relationship lead us (Diana McClun and myself) to seek her help again with our book signing party. Lori is extremely organized and brought our vision into fruition. I couldn’t resist asking Lori to consider being the “day of” person for our recent wedding. Fortunately for all of us, she agreed and everything ran smoothly with her behind-the-scenes guidance.
Lori is a also an avid quilter and teaches classes at local quilt shops. Her line of patterns attracted Clothworks Fabrics to her work. Please let me take this opportunity to introduce you to Lori and share some of her work with you.
Lori started sewing at age 9 while in 4-H. This gave her a foundation for sewing. During this time she was encouraged to model her garments. Walking in front of judges was nerve racking for a 10-year ld girl, says Lori, but it gave her the confidence to keep sewing and hone her skills in clothing construction. She later earned a degree in Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). She initially worked in the fashion industry and later moved in to Visual Merchandising.
Lori came to quilting through a friend in 2000. Creating her own designs is what inspired her to continue learning about quilting. Although she says it wasn’t an overnight process, she felt she was truly hooked after working with her local community of quilters and being exposed to their amazing work.
Lori was recently approached by Clothworks and her Heartstrings pattern will be featured in one of their new “All My Heart” fabric line by Iron Orchid designs. Click here to view the fabric collection.
When I asked Lori what style of quilt she enjoys making, she told me thather favorite quilts to make are those with traditional piecing using contemporary fabrics. She loves machine piecing and the symmetry that goes into each block that then translates into a finished quilt top. Lori feels that piecing is like solving a puzzle using fabric. “In the end it all has to fit together like a beautiful mosaic. There is gratification in the end result. There is also a Zen quality about piecing. It causes me to focus with my two favorite things: fabric and my sewing machine.”
Lori’s pattern company is called Uptown Girl Quilts and her patterns are sold on her website. Here are just a few of her designs. Click here to view her full line of patterns. She says she gets her inspiration from many different avenues. Color and shape are the two biggest factors for her. Color dictates emotion for her while she is designing a new quilt. shape and form are the next elements that drive her designs. Here are just a few.
Lori says: “I routinely walk my dachshund Lola every morning after we have coffee and toast. It is the highlight of my day (and Lola’s too!). I love clothes and fashion and wish I was a Design apprentice for a haute couture house in Paris like Yves St. Laurent or Givenchy. If I wasn’t a quilt designer I would be an architect, a professional golfer, or fragrance designer. The three love’s of my life are Robert, Andrew and Brian, my family.”
Lori is offering one of her new patterns to a lucky reader. Simply tell us what you would do if not making quilts – astronaut, doctor, scientist? Submit comments by end of day August 14th. The winner will be announced on August 19th.
As always, thanks for stopping in. Hope you are all enjoying a restful summer. Until next time . . .