Meet Jessica Smith and Her Fabulous, Fear-Busting Mystery Quilts

I am excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Jessica J. E. Smith, also known as Jess,Jessica Smith
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:

Sherry's Unexpected Twist blocks

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.)

Sherry's Unexpected Twist from Mystery Quilt Retreat
Sherry Watson’s Unexpected Twist from a Mystery Quilt Retreat

 

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.

 

Bella Cosa
Jessica Smith’s Bella Cosa

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.

Steps for Bella Cosa

More steps for Bella Cosa

Jessica Smiths finished top - Bella Cosa

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.

Phire's Radiance
“Square Girl” (aka Dana Sudduth) – Phire’s Radiance #1

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).

DSudduth_Phire's Radiance
“Square Girl” (aka Dana Sudduth) – Phire’s Radiance #2

Whoa. Just whoa.

DSudduth_Phire's Radiance_Close

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.

For more info the patterns above, go to:  Unexpected Twist; Bella Cosa; Phire’s Radiance.

Piece out,

Jessica J.E. Smith, owner of The Quilt and Needle

 

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.

Pati Signature

The Signs are Out There: Amish Quilts Redux + A Book Giveaway!

 

Quilt-J:  Ocean Waves from Amish & Urban Myra Harder
Ocean Waves from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder, Martingale & Company/That Patchwork Place, 2014

giveaway2It’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.

I’m seeing a trend here. In the space of a few hours last week, I heard about a challenge issued by  the San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum to several of the modern quilt guilds in the San Francisco Bay Area called  Amish:  The Modern Muse; an  exhibit of antique Ohio Amish quilts from the Darwin Bearley Collection set to open at that same museum in mid-November, AND, a new release from Martingale & Company/That Patchwork Place called Urban and Amish:  Classic Quilts and Modern Updates by Myra Harder. You don’t have to be a seer to note the signs:  Modern Amish is on its way! (Although, there’s always been a timeless modernity about the spare and bold quilts of the Amish.)

Urban and Amish Embraces a Hallowed Tradition and a Modern Aesthetic

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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.

Quilt-J: Amish Center Diamond Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Amish Center Diamond from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Lightening Strike Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Lightning Strike from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

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!)

Quilt-J: Amish Bars from Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Amish Bars from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Horizon Line from Amish & Urban Myra Harder
Duet partners: Horizon Line from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

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!

Quilt-J:  Trip Around the World from Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Trip Around the World from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Trip to NY fromUrban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Trip to New York from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

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!

Quilt-J:  Detail of Pati Fried's Amish style quilt

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 . . .

Jennifer Signature

 

 

 

Lisa Fulmer’s Craft Your Stash Today at SHWS + 2 Giveaways!

cover shadow
We are thrilled to participate in Lisa Fulmer’s  Craft Your Stash Book Tour and Giveaway!
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.
Lisa's hearts
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.
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 Project-J:  Lisa Fulmer inspiration--Jennifer's heart 1
 Laura:  I was inspired by the Mosaic Scrapbook project in Lisa’s book.

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.

Search through your stash for lots of cute kid -type images.
Search through your stash for cute kid-appealing images.
Hope this will entertain a little one on a long car ride.
Easy clean up too–just wipe the chalk markings off the fabric.

No blog hop would be complete without an enticing Giveaway opportunity–want to participate in Lisa’s the Craft Your Stash giveaway?

Go to Rafflecopter or Link to the Giveaway tab on Lisa Liza Lou Facebook Page for an opportunity to win a copy of Lisa’s book.
To purchase Craft Your Stash:
1. Signed copies for sale on Craftyourstash.com
2. Amazon 
3. Local craft and book stores

stashbadge (1)

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:

Click here for the schedule overview – and the direct links to each post will be updated below each day.

Craft Your Stash

 

 

Until next time, Happy Stash Busting Everyone!

Laura Signature

Announcing the Winner of Our Tidal Lace Giveaway!

giveaway2

  And we have a winner!

Tidal Lace Collection by Kim Andersson

Thank you all for the wonderful comments you left on last weeks blog hop post. I LOVED reading every one of them. It is so nice to hear that everyone enjoyed the quilt so much. We are busy putting the finishing touches on the pattern and will let you know when it is available.

We had such an incredible response of favorite beaches, that I thought it would be fun to share ALL the 80-some beaches that were nominated. From Hawaii to Florida, the Bahamas to Oregon, Greece to New Jersey, and Mexico to Gilligan’s Island. There were favorites in Belgium, England and the lakes of Switzerland to California and the lakes of Michigan. They all sound lovely and I truly want to visit them all!!!!

Nicaragua beach

Ocean View, Half Moon Cay, Bondi Beach, Daytona Beach, Westport, Lake Powell, Lake Havasu, Bear Lake, Hyams Beach, Coronado, Makena, Half Moon Bay, Cozumel, Kaanapali, Lake Erie, Sanibel Island, Wailia, Stinson Beach, Tuscanym Sardinia, Cecina, Pebble Beach, Nobska Beach, St Palais sur Mer, Long Sands Beach, Clearwater, Yacht Club Beach, Tacoma Chinese Garden Park, Sand Dunes Beach,  St. Augustin, Kanapali, Virginia Beach, Sugar Sand Beaches of Florida, Kikaua Point, Magens Bay,  San Jaun’s, Caladesi Island, Myrtle Beach, Coco Beach, Ocean City, Pismo Beach, Emerald Island, El Matador, Haceta Head, Lake Michigan, Sarasota, Sandy Point, Edisto Beach, Rainbow Beach, Ocean City, Sunoka Beach, Monterey, Long Island, Green Island Resort Beach, Devisl Beach, Jacksonville, Wasaga, Pebble Beach, Outer Banks, Clam Harbour Provincial Park Beach, Sunset Bay State Park, Cannon Beach, Van Buren Point, Piggots Bay,  Horshoe Lake, Venice Beach, Oahu, St. Petersburg Beach, Hilton Head, Siesta Key Beach, Fairfield, Sea Island, Baja, Sunset Beach, Ana Maria, Koksijde, Cadzand, Huntington, Hallwylersee, Northumbria, Lake Tahoe, Hug Point, Wildwood Boardwalk and Skaha Beach.

heart in the sand

Unfortunately, we had to choose just one. So, randomly picking from our trusty sand bucket -

Amorette!

“My favorite is Heceta Head, on the Oregon coast with a lighthouse and great tidepools.”

Congratulations Amorette – You will be receiving your bundle from Windham in the mail. Enjoy!

See you soon!

Pati FriedSignature

Yoko Saito Redux: English-Language Patterns Available Now + Giveaway!

Inspiration-J:  Summer Flowers
Happy summer solstice (a little tardy). My parents celebrated their 68th anniversary on the 21st–holy guacamole that’s a lonnggg shared history! Felicitations to all those June brides and grooms!

1-Giveaway IconLooks like I’m not the only Yoko Saito fan in search of English-language versions of her patterns. (BTW:  Here’s the link to my earlier Yoko Saito post.) World Book Media out of Salem, Massachusetts has entered the market with a Japanese Quilt Artist Series pattern line (translated into English) featuring Yoko Saito for their debut as well as Zakka Workshop projects–quick and fun scrap-friendly projects made in mere hours. Both product lines are available at World Book Media’s Etsy site.

Let’s take a look at the Yoko Saito quilt pattern fare:

Patterns-J:  Joko Saito Series

Would you like to see more?  Here are my top 2:

Love, love, love this pattern!
Love, love, love this pattern!

Yoko Saito creates evocative designs with such simple touches like outrageously perfect fabric choices. Also, her simple quilting motif enhances the blossoming cherry trees and stars without being overwhelming.

That melting snowman featured below is so charming and just a little poignant. (Plus she finds yet another perfect venue for her bare trees fabric.)

Isn't this the cutest winter mini quilt?
Isn’t this the cutest winter mini quilt?

The remaining trio of patterns are fun projects for personal use and home decor. The Afternoon Tea Mats pattern makes me laugh for the eccentric use of language–short . . . cake maybe?

Pattern-J:  Yoko SaitoPattern-J:  Yoko SaitoPattern-J:  Yoko Saito

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Giveaway Details

I’m looking for 5 winners this week. Yup, 5! No guarantees which pattern you’ll receive.  Random drawing, random numbering on the patterns as well. Leave me a comment by Thursday, June 26 and I will announce the winners in my Friday post. Answer this question: Given the opportunity to win a pattern, would you go Yoko Saito neutral or color mad?

On Friday I’ll be featuring a small birthday project I adapted from the center wreath block of the Quilt-Along: Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! I hope you’ll stop by and find inspiration!

J-Signature

Gwen Marston Retrospective at See How We Sew + Giveaway Winner

Quilt-J: Gwen Marston Quilt Featured in Minimal Quiltmaking
“Turquoise” 41 x 45 inches, 2013, by Gwen Marston.

Hello dear readers! Gwen Marston is always a hit when we feature her at See How We Sew. Today we’ll take a look at more quilts from her latest AQS title, Minimal Quiltmaking, and revisit past posts about Gwen written by our blogging sister Darra. Gwen and Darra have been both friends and collaborators for years. In fact, Darra’s skilled editorial hand can be experienced in a number of Gwen’s quilting books. Keep scrolling to find the name of the lucky winner of Minimal Quiltmaking.

Throwback Posts

Darra gave us a peek into Gwen’s creative process back in February of this year in The Latest from that Amazing Quilter Gwen Marston.

And, before that in 2012, Working in a Series Gwen Marston and 37 Sketches.

 

Quilt-J:  Gwen Marston Quilt Featured in Minimal Quiltmaking
Minimal in Neutrals, 35 x 35 inches, 2012, by Gwen Marston

Giveaway Winner

And the winner is, Kathy in Florida–Congratulations! Many thanks to Gwen Marston for her continuing support of See How We Sew. Perhaps she’ll return for a visit soon?!? I hope so!

Final thoughts from Jennifer:  I’m taken by Gwen’s works of quilted art.  Can’t you just see these painting-sized quilts adorning the walls of a modern art museum? What if we started a grassroots movement to persuade our fine arts venues to open their galleries to our textile arts? Just a thought . . . we’ve got our Studio Art Quilters and any number of other art quilt groups. Time to come out of the shadows and into the limelight with the rest of the artsy crowd!

J-Signature

 

 

 

 

Gwen Marston Drops By to Share Minimal Quiltmaking (+ a Giveaway!)

We’ve got a special treat today at SHWS:  Gwen Marston is in the house! Yup, she’s going to review her latest and greatest quilting title, Minimal Quiltmaking. Sure, it’s unorthodox having an author write her own book review, but why not? She’s Gwen Marston and she’s super fabulous! Scroll to the end of the post for giveaway details–here’s a hint:  enter to win a copy of her new title.

Hello everyone! I’ve been invited to write a review of my new book Minimal Quiltmaking so let me say right upfront: it’s going to be very favorable!

Book-J:  Minimal Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston

It’s always a thrill when I get to see a just-off-the-press copy of my latest book for the first time. In the case of my most recent book, Minimal Quiltmaking (AQS Publishing, 2014), I couldn’t have been more pleased. Reviewers are calling it “beautiful” and I have to agree.

I’ve always been the “less is more” girl, preferring straightforward, uncluttered design so keeping it simple, aka minimal, is my natural default setting. This book includes both examples of my early minimal work and more recent pieces as well. It also includes the exciting work of twenty-two contemporary quilters (some are also quilt teachers) from across the country. I was so very pleased to be able to include their work in my book because it adds an indispensable flavor that makes it all the more tasty.

The book (95 pages, $24.95) has lots of full-page color pictures of the quilts and is packed with design and construction tips on how you can make your own original quilts without patterns using my “liberated”, intuitive, free-pieced methods. So, let me show you some of the quilts in my new book.

Discovering Lancaster Country Amish quilts in the early 80’s set me off on a virtual tangent of making quilts in that style as a way to understand the Amish sense of design and use of color. It also taught me the value of working with solid fabrics, which I’ve continued to do to this day.

ONE PATCH, made in 1990, was the first in a series of thirteen minimal quilts, all shown in the book, inspired by the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928).

Quilt-J:  Gwen Marston's Quilt One-Patch from Minimal Quiltmaking

I have a chapter about Hard-Edge Quilts, inspired by a California art movement from the 1960’s called “hard-edge painting”. MINIMAL COMPOSITION is in that chapter.

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I talk about the process of designing minimal quilts, how to apply the principles of minimal art to create your own distinctive work, and give suggestions on where to find inspiration for working in this style.

And to whet your appetite, here is a small sampling of the stunning quilts made by made by contributing quilt artists included in the book.

Quilt-J:  Split Cherry by Marjorie Tucker in Minimal QuiltmakingSPLIT CHERRY, by Marjorie Tucker, from Boston, Mass, and MINIMAL PURPLE, made by Kristin Shields, from Bend, Oregon, are both contemporary quilt artists and teachers who have their own style and definitely know what they are doing.

Quilt-J: Minimal Purple by Kristin Shields in Minimal QuiltmakingI hope you enjoy the book as much as I did writing it. Carry on! GM

Giveaway Details Here!

Leave a comment by Thursday afternoon, June 19, answering the question:  What’s your quilting pleasure:  less is more or more is more? I’ll announce the winner of an autographed copy of Minimal Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston in the Friday post. We’ll also take a look a more quilts from Gwen’s new title and revisit retired blogging sister Darra’s past posts on Gwen’s quilting style.

See ya!

J-Signature

Another Wedding Update and a Giveaway too!

There is so much to share with you today, but I promised myself I would limit it to just two items. I’m sure I’ll have many more updates next month.

First, I want you to see the lovely robes I am making for my daughter and her  bridesmaids. They will wear them while getting ready for the big event. Can’t wait to see those photos! The one on the left is for my daughter. I used a Michael Miller fabric, Pattern #CX6056, Darling Mums. The bridesmaids are made from Rosewater #PWVM 109 Garden Romance by Verna Mosquera. It is Verna’s new fabric line for Free Spirit/Westminster Fibers.

 

Robes

I will be making a smaller version for the adorable little flower girl. Think I will add   some ruffles to make it a little different. For that one I’ll be using one of Verna’s coordinating fabrics, Rose Wreath #PWVM111.

brooklyn While working on the robes I saw a sample of an attractive “modern” robe on display in my local quilt shop, The Cotton Patch. The kimono style and all the professional details caught my eye. I had been searching for a gift idea for Carol van Zandt who helped me with the fabric designed for Diana McClun (see my last post).  I tried on the store sample and just loved the fit; it is both flattering and comfy.

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The pattern has instructions for a variety  of sizes, both for women and men. There are many wonderful details that make this robe special:  a stand-up collar, side seam pockets, a hanging loop, inside ties, reinforced facings AND there are no set-in seams! Knowing that my time was limited with travel and wedding preparations, I decided to make the robe for Carol, but planned to eliminate a few of those extra details. During construction I found myself enjoying the design and sewing process so much that I decided not to skip one single step. It is simply wonderful just as Marina MacDonald has designed it. Being particular about patterns, I must say that I was extremely pleased with the clarity and thoroughness of her instructions. They are well written and include easy-to-follow diagrams. I wrote to Marina and told her how much I loved the robe and that I planned to write about it in a future blog post. She has graciously offered patterns to two of our lucky readers. Although this robe looks wonderful in Asian-inspired fabrics, it can take take on a thoroughly modern look with today’s fabrics. Please visit Marina’s website to see more examples of this lovely design.

If you would like an opportunity to win one of the two patterns, simply leave a comment telling us what fabrics you would use to make your Modern Robe. The cut off date for comments is the end of day, May 12, and winners will be announced in Pati’s post on May 13.

Oh my! Molly’s invitations arrived yesterday and she is over the top excited with them. Ahh, love the polka dot lining AND the scallops! Guess this little apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She is definitely her mother’s daughter.

Invites2

I’m so taken with all the creativity and resources available today to help bring that personal touch to every wedding detail. Online design sites have an abundance of samples, inspiration, and templates to assist in personalizing cards and invitations.  Molly wants the addresses to be hand lettered and, since neither of us do calligraphy, she used her techie know-how to reproduce Old World lettering. Who would have thought? Cheating?  Perhaps, but oh so fun and pretty!

Invites11-Giveaway IconCan you tell I’m excited? It’s ALL so much fun. Many thanks for letting me share with you. Please remember to add a comment if you are interested in one of the Modern Robe patterns.

Until next time, happy creating everyone!

L1-Signature

 

 

Spring Arrives with a Bounty of (Fabric) Blooms . . . and a Giveaway!

1-Giveaway IconWe’re more than a month into spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the evidence–both cultivated and wild–is emerging (and in some cases, exploding) around us in a shower of color and scent.

Nothing says "spring" like a bed of tulips! Photo by Darra Williamson.
Nothing says “spring” like a bed of tulips! Photo by Darra Williamson.
Floral "sunshine" dresses a white picket fence. Photo by Darra Williamson.
Floral “sunshine” dresses a white picket fence. Photo by Darra Williamson.
A swath of red enhances the seaside landscape. Photo by Darra Williamson.
A swath of red enhances the seaside landscape. Photo by Darra Williamson.
Delicate pink blossoms in the wild. Photo by Darra Williamson
Delicate pink blossoms in the wild. Photo by Darra Williamson
A single wild iris blooms against a Pollock-like tangle of greenery. Photo by Darra Williamson
A single wild iris blooms against a Pollock-like tangle of greenery. Photo by Darra Williamson
A "natural" display of color and texture.  Photo by Darra Williamson
A “natural” display of color and texture. Photo by Darra Williamson

Fabric Blooms coverToday, to celebrate this “blooming” season, we’ve planned a special giveaway. Lark Crafts has generously donated two copies of its brand-new, 128-page book, Fabric Blooms by Megan Hunt. The projects are adorable and doable–made from felt, cotton, jersey, and even faux leather!–and range from headbands and lapel pins to nosegays, wreathes, and fairy lights. Best of all, the patterns for all the flower parts are given full size. You don’t need to draw or enlarge a thing!

So, here’s the deal. Leave a comment below by noon (PDT) Thursday, May 1, telling us what you consider to be the first sure sign that spring has arrived, and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of Fabric Blooms. The two winners will be announced in this Friday’s post.

A peek into the pages of Fabric Blooms
A peek into the pages of Fabric Blooms

Finally, an announcement of sorts. After three wonderful years of visiting with you here each month, it’s time for me to join my former SHWS blogging sister, Christie Batterman, as a See How We Sew Blogger Emeritus. Today marks my final post as an active member of the SHWS team.

While it’s difficult to say goodbye, the change is happily motivated. My husband Brooks and I are slowly beginning the lifestyle-changing transition from the bustling Bay Area to a small, off-the-beaten-track, incredibly beautiful, artist-friendly village by the sea on the Northern California coast. As a writer, I know I’ll want to write about the experience, so you can be sure that “I’ll keep you posted”–no pun intended!

Coming soon . . . Photo by Darra Williamson
Coming soon . . .
Photo by Darra Williamson

I’ve loved the time I’ve spent working, playing, learning, and creating with Laura, Jennifer, Pati, and Christie, and look forward to returning for a guest post now and then. Also, like you, I’ll be eagerly following the latest here at See How We Sew. I know there are some fabulous things in store!

So that’s it for now. ‘Til we meet again (soon, I hope), happy stitching!

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