There you have it, a road map to a completed Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along. Click the Pattern tab for all the instructions. Next month we’ll show you the completed quilt and discuss other finishing details. Thanks to Laura for the final measurements and instructions!
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 . . .
Wow! Seems like ages since I sat at the keyboard to type a post. My blogging sisters Laura and Pati have been very busy. In that interval I’ve been hard at work on a personal quilt-making project, a birthday gift for my oldest son. My children have reached the age when they need household stuff of all sorts; a fact that my eldest is still having trouble processing. Last Christmas was a real eye opener for him when his brother got very excited unwrapping a blender. His expression and snarky remarks were priceless: du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du . . . we’ve entered the Twilight Zone! Let’s hope he’s emerged by now and will welcome a birthday quilt.
Impromptu is the byword for my gift inspiration. It all started at Pinterest with an image of a simple, two-color quilt that could plumb the depths of my stash of blue fabrics. Hmm: that’s a maybe for my (grown) baby . . .
I really don’t know why after collecting countless images from Pinterest that that blue-and-yellow quilt fired my creative jets. What actually impels forward motion? Easy. Check. Colorful. Yup. Guy friendly. Hope so. Doable without a single fabric purchase? Maybe . . . Whatever it was, I was in for the adventure.
Many, many miles of stitches, later plus one tiny fabric purchase to lively up the mix–only an eighth of a yard, I swear–and I was done. Wild Blue Yonder clocked in at 92 x 102 inches. Yikes, that’s a lot of backing fabric! I did have significant yardage of pair of fabrics as backing candidates, but the blue edged toward grayish green.
The quilt sat marooned on the constructed backing for a week while I struggled with the limitations of the challenge I set for myself. To date I’d spent $3–purchasing a backing would throw my ideal budget awry. What set me shopping for an answer was something surprisingly effective; my husband remarked, as he took a look at the quilt that was taking up the floor in his soon-to-be office: “That backing doesn’t work.” The budget exploded, but I found a fantastic super-wide batik that required absolutely no seaming.
As I decided to share the quilt on the blog, it behooved me to backtrack and establish the provenance of the idea. It turns out I hadn’t “pinned” the actual image, instead I’d taken a screen shot and left it on my desktop with scads of other images. Here’s where the story gets twisty. I went off to Australia to check the origins of the bicolor strip quilt idea before checking the blog of the quilter who made the actual quilt. So first I learned about a fantastic quilting mom Down Under who designs very pretty quilt patterns in between having beautiful children. And then I did the logical thing and backtracked to find the designer of the quilt pattern I used as inspiration. She is a creative mother as well.
The upshot of my online adventure is that I’m confirmed in my amazement of this prolific, clever, and creative new generation of quilt makers. Not so long ago there was pessimistic talk about the future of our creative arts and the loss of brick-and-mortar shops. The present and future don’t look quite the way we expected, but Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, and a boatload of other online venues show that creativity is aflourishing globally. To me that’s humanity’s redemption. Despite truly vile things, there are places where beautiful expressions of our artistry flourish. Please, please, please: beauty must trump ugly–Make, Create, Share! (Okay, I’ve appropriated Lisa Fulmer’s tagline–hope she doesn’t mind!)
Giveaway Winner Here
Congratulations Beth T, you are the winner of a copy of Lisa Fulmer’s fabulous book!
If you are joining us in making the Quilt-Along, you may find the following tips helpful when attaching the birdhouse opening (circles) and blackbirds to the corner birdhouses. The template patterns for both shapes are included in the Pattern Pages. If you are new to our site, it’s not too late to start as you will find all instructions included in the Pattern Pages.
I used a fusible web product (there are many available) to secure the shape to the background fabric. Then, I stitched around the edges of the shapes and added the details (eyes & wings) with hand embroidery stitches. Either embroidery floss (2 strands) or perle cotton will work well in this application. I opted for perle cotton as I like the heavier look it provides and it also forms a nice edging along the outline of the shapes.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
1/4 yard of fusible web
Perle cotton, No. 8 or embroidery floss (I used perle cotton)
Small embroidery scissors
Marking pencil to transfer stitching lines
1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions that accompany the fusible web to trace, cut, and attach the circles and birds to the Birdhouse blocks.
2. Use a decorative embroidery stitch, such as a blanket stitch, as shown, to secure the edges of the shapes to the background fabric.
3. Lightly mark the stitching lines onto the right side of the birds. Then stitch along the lines with a decorative stitch such as the stem stitch, as shown here.
4. The beak, legs, and feather lines were stitched with long basting-type stitches.
That completes the Birdhouse blocks. Be sure to check back for final assembly instructions.
Just a reminder that Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, CA is coming up in just a few short weeks. If you are in the area, sure hope to see you there!
This week it’s my turn to share my contribution to our Quilt-Along project, Blackbirds and Blossoms, Oh-La-La! If you have been following along with us, these pieces will complete the center of the quilt top. If you are newcomer to this fun group project, it’s certainly not too late to start. All of the instructions can be found in our Pattern Pages. Please join the fun!
I was given the task of designing a block for the corners of the quilt. The center floral designs seemed to call for the addition of birds. With this in mind, the idea of creating birdhouses to fit into the corners provided the perfect setting for a quartet of simple, whimsical birds. This is a super-easy-to-construct birdhouse block and it adds a nice corner element to the center floral medallion.
Here’s what you will need to make four Birdhouses:
House front: Four 6-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ pieces
House top: One 11-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice into quarters diagonally to yield four triangles.
Roof: Two 1-3/4″ x 42″ strips. Cut the strips to make four 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ pieces and four 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ pieces.
Background: Two 13″ squares. Cut each square twice into quarters diagonally to yield eight triangles.
1. Sew a Background triangle to each short side of the House Front pieces, aligning the bottom edges.
2. Use your cutting tools to remove the excess Background and straighten the top edge, as shown.
3. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to one short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric even with the bottom edge of the House Top.
4. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to the adjoining short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric, as shown. This completes the top half of the Birdhouse.
5. Join the top and bottom sections together, matching seams where the House Front and House Top pieces intersect.
6. Press the seam in the direction of the bottom half of the birdhouse.
Easy enough? Yes, of course! Please join me on Friday as I give instructions and hints for adding the Birdhouse opening as well as the birds.
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.
Some months ago, blogging sis Pati sent out query to quilters in our geographic area to gauge interest in forming an Indie Modern quilting group. As luck would have it, there was an enthusiastic response plus a quilt-shop owner who wanted to host regular get-togethers. We thought it would be a good time to update our readers about their activities—you might find a good model for a starting your own Indie Modern group in your own area. ♥ Jennifer ♥
Setting Up an Indie Modern Group: One Group’s Adventure
I have been a member of the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild of the San Francisco Bay Area for a few years now, and one of the things that repeatedly caught my attention was the curiosity and interest in the Modern Quilting movement in its neighboring county, but no resulting push to establish another guild. Each time someone asked me about my guild, they lost interest when considering traveling to Berkeley or the Peninsula for regular meetings. That all changed once I spoke to Gina Chang, the new owner of Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville, CA. We decided to create an opportunity to gather enthusiasts once a month and to see where our efforts would lead us. I opted to call the gathering Indie Modern Quilters because I didn’t want to limit the group in any way and to encourage independent thinking and out-of-the-box-creativity.
The turnout was great for that first meeting and for each since! Typically, we start with a social hour/shopping, move on to a member’s tips-and-tricks segment, and then finish with Show-and-Tell. As a new group, we are having fun creating something that fits everyone’s hopes and interests—and getting to know each other as well. After discussing our preferences, we decided that we don’t want to be a guild or a drop-in, but we would like to meet monthly as a group of like-minded quilters. We are slowly defining what we would like an Indie Modern Quilt Group to be!
I am excited to announce that Wooden Gate Quilts has scheduled some dates this Fall for Indie Modern Sew Day drop-ins. Other items on our Wish List are field trips and weekend retreat getaways. And of course, more challenges and projects to explore. Feeling independent? Give our group a spin! – Pati
The first group challenge was to create a small quilt in a modern style using only the colors in a selected paint chip sample, along with one tint + white, as a color palette.
The little quilts are beautiful! Wooden Gate Quilts graciously offered to host a mini quilt show of the work–they look wonderful hanging together!
Don’t live in the area? No worries! Stop by SHWS on Friday and we will share all the wonderful quilts from the Indie Modern Color Challenge. For locals, Gina’ll give you a sneak peek if you stop by!