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.
Once again, let me introduce this week’s guest, Jessica J.E. Smith of The Quilt and Needle. If you missed the Tuesday post, be sure to go back and read it. “Jess” is back today to answer a question she hears often in her business as a quilt pattern designer. Welcome back, Jess!. – Pati
Labels can mean everything to a designer. Modern, traditional, art, whimsical – what is your design style?
My style? Uh . . .well . . . um . . . so the thing is . . . . Hey look, a butterfly!
I have nothing against labels, but I really have a hard time fitting myself into one category. I have been fortunate enough to dabble in designing quilts that fall into each of these categories. And if you ask me to choose, I’ll split myself apart trying to decide. I love all my . . . wait for it . . . babies.
The design process varies for every artist, but one step for any responsible quilt designer is to test your design. Over the years I have developed a great relationship with a large handful of testers, and I have learned which of these “labels” each of my testers fancies for themselves.
My mom, for example, is a traditional pattern piecer. She is also quite keen to speak her mind when she is not impressed with a design. I can trust that designs that appeal to Mom will also appeal to other traditionalists out there; and those that don’t, won’t.
Those that don’t appeal to Mom, however, are held in high esteem by my quirky editor, Lizzie Haskel of Frolicking Threads. Her modern-minded family also likes to chime in on my designs. I always have a good guess on which patterns my modern followers will go gaga over.
I’ve noticed an interesting trend with my testers, however. Some of my patterns are favored by all. These patterns have been standouts for me when I attend Market, garnering attention from both sides of the traditional vs. modern debate. Internally, we (at The Quilt and Needle) have started to label these appealing designs Crossover patterns. Ugh. I know. Another label. But since this new label actually combines two existing labels into one, I think it’s a win win.
So what makes a pattern a Crossover pattern?
Sometimes I take a traditional (read old) block and mix it up, twist it up, cut it up, pull it apart . . . you get the idea. I mess with a traditional block to liven it up a bit, and come up with a pattern that traditionalists enjoy because they love the block. And modernists love them too because they like the freshness of the design.
Sometimes a great Crossover pattern is appealing because of its simplicity. This allows the quilt-maker to choose their favorite style of fabrics, which will ultimately dictate the label their quilt top will fall under.
Let’s be real. Many of the same characteristics that are used to define modern quilts are prevalent in traditional designs. When I have asked modern quilters over the years what makes their quilts modern, they have said:
Lots of negative space
It occurred to me though, that these elements have always existed in quilting. Yes, there is absolutely a modern quilting style and a list of characteristics that define it. Modern quilting has birthed amazing quilts and given inspiration to such a large number of young quilt enthusiasts that quilting is no longer known only as a grandmotherly craft. Much like new knitting trends and yarn bombing have morphed from an old craft, modern quilting has absolutely enhanced our fabulous trade. But some of my conversations early on made me wonder – Were some of the folks in the modern movement unknowingly, closet-traditional-quilters? Or if perhaps, they were somewhere in the middle!
Here are two examples of quilts that use traditional characteristics with a modern influence.
There is room for all styles in quilting, modern, traditional, or whatever floats your boat. As for me, well, the view from the middle of the road’s notbad. Not bad at all. – Jessica J. E. Smith
Thanks Jess! What a great way to get the best of all the quilt styles! I especially loved Windsong! I’ll see you at International Quilt Market Houston next week, when you talk about Crossover Quilts in the Schoolhouse series!
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!
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 !
Just a quick reminder that Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery is happening this weekend, Sept. 27-28 from 9-4. If you are in the area or looking for an inspirational day-trip, I encourage you to join us. You won’t be disappointed. Click here for information and directions.
The quilt show will be wonderful, with over 250 works of art hanging “clothesline style” from the majestic, old oak trees. Quilts include those made by yours truly and my dear friend Diana McClun, Jean Wells and the Quilts of Sisters, Oregon and several others made by local quilters.
As lovely as the show is, I’ve always felt that it is the icing on the cake. The gardens, nursery, and gift shop are like none other. It is a dangerous shopping experience as I always find several treasures, perfectly timed for early holiday shopping.
Please, please join us and be sure to stop by to say hi. We will be located under one of the large oak trees. Also keep an eye open for one of our local celebs, she may be hiding among the garden art!
Ahh, apples and pumpkins and baking, oh my! Happy Fall everyone.
Thank you all for the wonderful comments you left onlast 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!!!!
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.
Unfortunately, we had to choose just one. So, randomly picking from our trusty sand bucket -
“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!