Hitting the Reset Button at Craft Napa

It is a rainy, rainy week in Northern California. I see rainy days as a great time to hunker down, do some organizing, planning, scheduling, and catching up. That’s the agenda for my day. January is my wrap up month for unfinished projects. February finds me excited to plan out all the projects and ideas that have been brewing in my mind! On that subject, I thought I would share some of my creative goals for the upcoming year with you.

The short list: journaling, sketching and exploring ideas.

The long list: This one is a bit tougher. I am hoping to stop dragging my feet on a few big projects. Working on a book idea, entering more exhibits and getting more focused on lectures and workshops. Maybe if I put this out to the social media world, it will pressure me to make it happen!

One of my projects for the year has already began. I joined a group last September that would commit me to producing a 12″ x 12″ piece each month for 12 months. As a supportive group, we meet, we talk, and we encourage each other. I am so glad that I joined, but have not exactly been thrilled with my work after the first few months. My plan was to explore new techniques, textures, and alternative ways to manipulate fabric. All to be used later in larger pieces. To be honest, I haven’t been as worried about the finished 12 x 12 pieces, as much as where the explorations would lead me. As I said, things haven’t gone quite as well as I had planned, so I felt like I needed to hit the reset button.

So, I went off to Craft Napa 2017. (If you are not familiar with this event, I did a write up on this event last year, In Search of My Creative Spark.) It was perfect timing for me. I look at Craft Napa as an opportunity to explore new techniques in a week of creative play. I took some awesome classes this year and am now busy applying them to my 12 x 12’s, with much more success!

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My first workshop was with Jenny Lyon and machine quilting. It was a great class for me. I have taken many classes on machine quilting in the past, but the machines we used in the workshop were very similar to my new Bernina that I bought last year. This was a great chance to ask lots of questions, try some new stitches, and really get comfortable with the whole process. Jenny is a wonderful teacher. It was a great day.

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The next two days I spent with Judy Coates Perez. This brought a lot of “aha” moments for me! I had done a lot of fabric printing in college, and had wanted to be a fabric designer at one point in my life. But, this was the first time that I thought about taking advantage of these processes to create original work. Wow! It was so much fun!
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I even brought along some vintage lace to play with. I dyed the lace, then placed it on fabric to dry. I might have to go back and play with this idea a bit more.

After painting, stamping, scrunching and swirling for two days, I came home with some amazing, original fabrics that I can’t wait to cut up and sew back together! To be able to mix my own colors and create my own patterns was really eye opening to me. It is a great way for me to bring my love for drawing and painting into my quilts. I am so excited to get started. I have already bought a lot of the supplies and am planning to spend this year creating fabric to incorporate into my work.

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The big plus in all of this? I immediately started cutting up my samples and incorporating them into my 12 x 12 projects. They are now beginning to emerge into what I had envisioned. Thank you Judy Coates Perez, for opening my eyes to a whole arena that I have not explored since college. I think I am going to have a busy year full of exciting new projects!

Levanto, Italy

I have a mix of hand dyed fabric, along with a few solids and “Grunge”. I love the way the hand dyed fabric have a luminous glow to them.

Cinqueterra, Italy

Murano, Italy

Burano, Italy

As for other projects? I see more work playing with selvedges. I love the striated, line work that can comes from this technique. I have been playing with some images from a beautiful botanical book that my son gave me a few years ago. Who knows where this will lead.

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I am also intrigued by pairing modern design elements to traditional and classic prints. I have been sketching out ways to get back to my Civil War reproductions, but in a more contemporary aesthetic.

I think it’s going to be a great year for me, creatively. As long as I don’t allow myself to get wrapped up in what I can and can’t do. Just do it! In my world, if I forever remind myself that it is the journey, not the end result, I am always happier with my finished product. And that, my friends, is what I love to share with you, the readers and my students! Enjoy the process and you will enjoy the end result.

I hope that you find inspiration in my plans for 2017. I wonder what Laura and Darci are up to?

Pati

 

 

A Look Back at a Year of Quilts

In past years, January has always been my catch up month. Not this year! I have been in a whirlwind since I shouted “Happy New Year!” a few weeks back. I have been on both a quilt retreat and an art retreat, met and spoke with 2 wonderful guilds at their monthly meetings, and then jumped on a plane to Mexico. As you are reading this, I am hoping to be causally sipping a margarita on a warm and sandy beach. Aaaah! Writing this post gives me a chance to reflect on the past year, and draw a few plans and goals together for me in 2017.

2016 was quite a year for me, with many firsts. I started the year out with a few days at Craft Napa 2016. I used the time to dig in to my creative side. I made a conscious effort to map out what was important to me, and permit myself to say no to anything that I had not enjoyed in the past year.

It was a great decision and made for a year of inspiration and adventures. I followed politics closer than I ever had before. I began speaking and teaching workshops to guilds. I was honored to be invited as the featured artist at a guild quilt show. I spent an inspirational month travelling in Italy. I made many new friends and reconnected with old friends. All in all, it was a glorious year. It is interesting for me to consider how my design work was influenced by my escapades.

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Give Me Liberty

 

Give Me Liberty - close up
Give Me Liberty – close up

 

Finding My Way
Finding My Way

 

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A Conversation in Color – Achoo! pattern

 

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Holiday Table Topper – Workshop Sample

 

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Tweaking Traditions – Workshop Sample

 

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Continuous Braid – Workshop Sample

This last quilt is an interactive quilt, designed to be a quilt version of the Subway Therapy Wall created in New York City. It is a work in progress.

Wall of Words
Wall of Words

Fabric “post its” are being added every day by friends, family (or anyone that wants to contribute) and will eventually cover the entire quilt. Heartfelt and positive thoughts, quotes and comments have become the overlying theme of this project. I have a stack of notes to add when I return home. If it gets too full, I will simply make another wall!

Wall of Words - close up
Wall of Words – close up


2017 is off to a great start in my little quilty world. I can’t wait to share those adventures with you! See you soon!

Pati

Quick and Easy Holiday Table Topper

A few weeks back, I traveled to my home town in Iowa to attend an annual fundraiser for my old high school. I get to spend 2 full days of quilting with talented quilters from my hometown. It is always fun and I love going! We usually offer a quick and easy project as a demo, including a few technique tips. This year, the goal was to create a holiday project, and tackling the subject of perfect points, mitered corners, machine quilting and bindings. Soooo. . .

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We showcased this holiday table topper. It was super easy and fun to make. I thought I would share it with you – just in case you needed to pull a quick holiday project out of your stash in the next few weeks.

I started with a great tutorial by Sewn Up/Teresa Down Under for a Disappearing Pinwheel Block. You can see the post and video here: Disappearing Pinwheel by Sewn Up, along with her beautiful sampler quilt and 11 variations created with simple little block!

I found some seriously-cute holiday fabric, referred to the video for the cutting instructions and made my first pinwheel. 
pinwheel-block Okay, that was easy. Now, let’s make a few more.

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Now the magic happens – cut the pinwheel block into 9 equal sections, creating 9 smaller blocks.

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Repeat with the other three blocks.

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Switch, flip and rotate a few small blocks and watch those large pinwheels disappear!

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Awesome, right? Let’s try another layout. . .

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Since I am partial to the Churn Dash Block, this was the layout I chose. Each block measured 11″ unfinished.

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I added a 5 1/2″ border with mitered corners to frame it out. In one short afternoon, I created a 30″ table topper for the holidays. Wow!


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This would be a great project for a table runner, placemats or an entire quilt. Here is one of the projects that was made at Quiltfest by a student. Same fabric line, but played with a little differently. I love the contrasts!

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Here’s a look at some of the other wonderful projects that were worked on over the weekend. So many great quilts!

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For our Bay Area readers – The new Bay Quilts quilt shop in Richmond, is having a meet the teachers event on Saturday, December 3 from 1-3. If you haven’t checked out this beautiful new shop, this is a great opportunity. Darci Read and I will be there chatting about the classes we are scheduled to teach in 2017. Stop by and say hello! There is also a wonderful 12 x 12 gallery show that will be on display at the shop. Be sure to check out The Power of 12 quilt show, that will be up through the end of the year.

Giveaway

And now – the Giveaway winner from last week’s post goes to Nance of idreamofquilting.com. Nance shared a simple, but really great tip:

“I always spray the top of the fabric and then flip it over and iron from the back. That way I don’t get any starch flakes on the top of the fabrics.”

There were lots of other great tips on ironing, so if you missed that post, take a moment and scroll through the comment sections. Thanks everyone!

Pati

Top Choices for Our Favorite Irons and a Giveaway!

The holidays are coming and we have received a few questions as to what our favorite iron is. Sounds like it may end up on a few holiday wish lists!

We thought it would be fun to share our different opinions on the subject of irons with you.

Laura:  I’m not sure I’m the best one to weigh in on this discussion because I’m a bit of a pessimist on this subject. But, I’ll throw my two cents into the pot, just because I want to be honest with you. I have not really loved an iron since my first one, a Rowenta, which I purchased about 35 years ago. I still have it and use it regularly in the classroom. It’s been a workhorse and has all the qualities I want in an iron – weight, good steam, no automatic turn off and definitely no leaking or spitting gunky brown liquid that will stain my fabric.

Over the years I have purchased probably 20 or more irons for both personal and classroom use, ranging in price from $20 to over $100. Truth be told, none of them has lived up to my expectations and as a result, I find myself buying a new one in less than a year.

I am currently using this Rowenta, and certainly not just because it is red!  It gets the job done but since I’ve never been excited about the automatic turn-off feature, this is a negative for me. It seems to take a bit too long to heat up and will turn off too quickly. I seem to spend to much time waiting for it to be ready. Perhaps I’m just impatient.

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One of my local quilt shops recently purchased  Reliable irons for the classroom. I had not used this brand but I have really enjoyed using them. They are heavy in weight and put out a lot of steam. I will certainly consider this brand the next time I am in need of a new iron. Unlike my other irons, this one suggests using distilled water. If you are not familiar with Reliable irons, I suggest reading some of the online reviews. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice of other quilters when it comes to the tools we regularly use.

reliableiron

It wouldn’t be fair to leave out my favorite small travel-type iron. This Rowenta is the perfect size for taking to class, I like how it fits in my hand and allows me to easily press small pieces; especially when preparing small fabric shapes for appliqué. I definitely use my main iron for the final stages of pressing but there is something about this iron that appeals to me when working with small shapes and/or pressing seams open.

traveliron

Pati: Like Laura, I have owned quite a few irons over the years. Some worked well, others were just not up to my needs and expectations. I owned quite a few Rowentas in a row because they performed so well. A few years back I was having trouble with my forearm muscle and decided to switch to an Oliso Smart Iron, thinking that it would help. I love it!

Oliso Steam Iron

My cheerful, yellow Oliso had Scorchguards technology, which actually lifts the iron off the board for you the moment you remove your hand. Which meant my arm got a much-needed rest. I have been very happy with the other functions of the iron, also. It heats up quickly, even after the automatic turnoff. It works well with dry heat, and the steam settings are spot on. I especially like the steam blast button to get the creases out of folded fabric.
oliso-closeup

One of my favorite features of my Oliso is the way you add water. I have always spilled or over-filled when adding water. This iron is almost spill proof when you use the companion water pitcher that comes with the iron. No more saturated ironing boards in my sewing room!

I want to also add that Darci and I both had a chance to use the Reliable Iron that Laura mentioned above, while at a retreat last weekend. I thought it was really great. It had great heat, lots of steam and I really liked the feel of the iron.

Darci: I grew up using my mom’s old Black and Decker classic iron. That thing always came through, so much so that we used it for 25+ years. When I started quilting, I was pleased to see that Black and Decker re-released their classic iron, now with updated technology. I had one that lasted a few years but then conked out. So I bought another, and that one failed after a few months. Enter: my cordless iron from Panasonic.

I have a really old vintage iron that’s pre-electricity also, I thought that was a funny comparison to how far we’ve come with our tech. My two cordless irons.

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The Panasonic NI-L70SR has a retractable cord along with a heat-resistant cover which makes it a great traveler. I brought it to our East Bay Modern Quilters Retreat this weekend, and it got non-stop use for 3 days. At the end of the weekend, I unplugged it and put it right in my car without having to wait for it to cool down.

I love how there’s no cord to get tangled up in. When I’m ironing larger items, I just make sure to put it on the base frequently so it doesn’t lose its heat. I haven’t had too much of a problem with that, it seems to hold its heat just fine. I love the stainless steel plate also. I just finished a large appliqué project that involved lots of glue and heat setting, and the plate never got gluey. My only complaint is that the water chamber is small, but since it’s detachable, you can take just that part over to fill it up. It gives me the excuse to get a few more steps in.

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Hope this answers a few of our readers’ questions. If you need a few quilters tips on how to properly iron, or clean your iron, check out these links:

How to Press Quilt Seams – A Free Craftsy Tutorial

How to Press a Quilt Block Flat – This is a great trick by Generations Quilt Pattern

Accurate Pressing – Quilting.about.com

Cleaning Your Iron with a Dryer Sheet – ApartmentTherapy.com

If you love DIY, then here is a recipe for the spray starch alternative we all love.

Spray Starch Alternative Recipe

In a large container, mix together:

24 oz distilled water

3 oz. vodka

1 tsp scented essential oil (optional) Love the fresh linen and lavender scents.

You may also add one drop of food color per gallon if you like.

Pour into spray bottle, give a good shake and your ready to press.

Giveaway

 

And for our giveaway – Share your favorite trick or advice with us and we will choose one lucky reader to win a free gift to use with all of your new ironing tips we have shared.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you all next week!

laura-pati-and-darci

Welcome Darci Read, our new member of The See How We Sew blog team!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we had some exciting news to share with you soon. Well, today is the day! Laura and I have been co-authoring See How We Sew as a duo for a while now. We are excited to say that we have a new member joining us to keep the ideas, information, and inspiration on quilting and sewing flowing for our readers. Laura and I would like you to meet Darci Read.

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Darci is a talented quilter and sewist that I met a few years back through the East Bay Modern Quilters. She is a lovely person with a unique style and eye for design. I love her work and am so excited to have her join our team. – Pati

Laura’s thoughts: Since Jennifer retired from the blog, Pati and I have wanted to add another contributor. Pati met Darci through the East Bay Modern Quilters and felt that Darci could be the perfect fit as someone who would provide a different perspective and share her knowledge and expertise on topics which interest her. After meeting Darci, I couldn’t agree more. I am thrilled to have her join our team. Please join Pati and me in welcoming Darci Read to SHWS.

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Hello! Darci here. I’m a graphic designer by day and sewist every other minute. I started sewing (again) 6 years ago in New York City. I had moved there from Minnesota to finish my graduate school. When my sister had her first baby, I wanted to make her something handmade. Enter: Quilting! I hadn’t sewn since Home Ec class but decided to take a class at the City Quilter in Manhattan. The rest is history.

(Sidenote: I feel like I might hold a world record in stash building. Looking at my pile of fabric makes me wonder if I have my “started quilting” dates wrong. My other hobby is hunting estate sales and thrift stores. I love anything vintage, especially the fabrics.)

Fast forward 6 years, I now make most of my own clothing, sew lots of quilts for friends and family and express myself with quilts that I have just started showing. I rent time on a long-arm in Berkeley and love machine quilting. It’s my favorite part of the quilting process. I’m an active member of 3 quilt guilds in the Bay Area, but my home base is the East Bay Modern Quilters. We meet on the last Tuesday of the month-I’d love to say hello!

This year I’ve started to teach sewing also. I have a group of elementary students who come once a week and are working on their first quilt. Their ability to jump in and let go amazes me. I also am working on a class that will be held at Bay Quilts about beginning garment making. Be sure to check their site for more info.

Here’s something I’m working on now. I love mixing traditional elements to modern quilts, like taking these English Paper Pieced Hexies and appliqueing them to a larger solid background so I have lots of space to quilt. I’ll be sure to share the finished project.

latestwork_darci

I’m so honored to be part of the See How We Sew team! My passion is machine quilting and modern design, and I can’t wait to share that with you. I have my own blog at darcisews.com. Feel free to say hello there, too. I love comments.

darci

 

An October Afternoon

Fall table“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I know you have been wondering what happened to Laura and me over the past few months. The truth is, we both wanted to take a little break to renew and refresh. Before we knew it, our summer break extended into the month of September! But it is now October, with all the beautiful colors of autumn. Our summer excursions are now sweet memories, with lots of inspiration to draw from and share with you in upcoming posts. pati-and-laura-october-2016

We will be back on track with our weekly posts from now on, and who knows – we may have some exciting news to share with you soon!

Laura & Pati

Inspiration Friday!

2016-05-24 17.20.57 HDR-2Summer vacation began early for me this year. I just spent the past 10 days with a visiting relative. I got to play tourist in my own back yard – and what fun it was! My cousin Pam, is from the  small, Midwestern town that I grew up in.  It is filled with tree-lined streets, sprawling green lawns and a brick paved town square in the center of town. Pam lives in the quintessential American home, filled with lovely antiques, vintage quilts and 3 adorable Puggles. She was looking for some inspiration to do a bit of spring “freshening” to her house when she got home. And so, instead of the regular tourist attractions, we chose to focus on seeking out some of the hidden gems that Northern California was offering at the moment. Pam went home with lots of ideas, and I now have a gallery of inspirational photos to kickstart some new quilts! I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the photos.

We attended a Garden Ramble through eight lovely, sustainable gardens in Piedmont. The colors and texture combinations were so interesting and unusual!

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And whimsical!

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So many lovely shades of green.

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 And a garden path to follow.

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Then it was off to Berkeley to enjoy the Berkeley Marina. Clear blue skies, reflective blue water, and cheery, colorful boats of every shape and size. I love how striking the pattern is, created by all the masts.

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The last trip was to Napa Valley, to visit Sunset Magazine’s new gardens in Sonoma. What a treat – color, texture, patterns, shapes . . . my little quilty brain was in heaven!

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Wouldn’t this be considered blue fescue on point?

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Perhaps an improvisational fenceline?

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I found more paths to meander down . . .

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And I realized that at the end of every good path . . . 

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Lies a lovely place to contemplate all that you have been inspired by.

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Have a lovely weekend!

Pati

 

 

 

Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Blog Tour

myblockisin13_200_68131I was excited to be selected for the latest issue of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks. They are hosting a blog tour this week and I am on the first stop. So welcome everyone!QM21115

The issue hits newsstands May 3, or you can purchase right now as a print or digital issue in the Quiltmaker’s shop. You will find instructions for 100 original and very unique blocks.magazine spread

My block, called Girl’s Best Friend, block #1219, is a take on deconstructing a diamond.

Deconstructed Diamonds

I used some of Tula Pink’s collection, True Colors because I had been looking for an excuse to play with them. I really like the eclectic feel of this collection.
True colors


Part of the fun that I had with this block was playing with pattern designs. I am self taught in Photoshop, so, I am always looking for opportunities to get a little more familiar with the program. So, after using it to crop my block photo, I thought I would just play with some repeats, flipping, rotating and moving around. I think this block has a lot of possibilities.

#1. This might make an interesting border idea . . .

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#2. Or a horizontal band running across the width of the quilt.

variation 1

 

#3. I love the zig zag effect in the center of this setting . . .

 

variation 3

#4. and the last one looks like layers upon layers of diamonds.

100 Blocks Quiltmaker
What do you think? It ‘s fun to build a virtual quilt once in a while, just to get the inspiration flowing.

Be sure to follow the rest of the block tour. There are giveaways and lots of talented designers that will posting this week about their block designs.
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Have a great week!

Pati

Visit Me at the Sew Amazing Quilt Show This Weekend!

I have about 4 days left to get ready for the Sew Amazing Quilt Show for the Vallejo Piecemakers. I’m excited, but also nervous. It’s such an honor to be invited as the Guest Artist for the show. This is something new for me and I am working hard to make sure that everything turns out perfect!
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For the past few months, I have been methodically checking things off my to-do list. I am so grateful to have Laura around with her experience as a vendor. She has had lots of tips to share with me. Here is a funny turn of events – in a different life (ok, my twenty-somethings), I actually designed trade show booths for a very large corporation. I designed the layout and floor plan, the graphics and tradeshow materials, and then followed it through from set up, to take down. Those were 1000 square foot booths, with truck loads of equipment to ship. But preparing for this show is sooooo much more nervewracking for me. Maybe it’s because I want to share everything I love about quilting, and get others excited too. Or maybe it is because I am not in my twenty somethings anymore.

But back to the to do list – The sleeves are all sewn on to the quilts for the show.  The booth layout has been decided and is currently set up in my garage :). My good friend, and the longarm quilter of all of my quilts, Kerry Reed, will be joining me in the booth and have some of her creative little treasures to purchase. I have my patterns and quilt samples ready to go, including, my new Yardstick Sewing Tote. This is a project that I have taught for years in classes, but I have yet to sell the pattern to the public.

Cover Photo
It will be making its debut at the Vallejo Show, with patterns and yardstick kits to purchase. Speaking of debuts. . .

Braid Trimmer Beauty Shot

I am really excited to be able to demo my brand new ruler, Braid Trimmer©, at the show! If you have ever pieced a braid, you know that the worst part is the nerve wracking step of trimming the points off. Well, that will no longer be an issue if you use the Braid Trimmer©! I will be doing demonstrations all weekend showing how easy it is. I will also have lots of samples to inspire you to incorporate a braid in your next project.

And then, just for fun . . .

Coloring Fabrics

I will be playing with color all weekend at the show. My whole shtick has always been to inspire others to try something new. So, that is going to be the theme of the weekend form me. I will be sharing tips and tricks on how to add color to all of those wonderful black and white prints on the market today, and then show a few samples of what to do with them!

If you are local to Northern California’s Bay Area, I hope you take time to visit me at the Vallejo Quilt Show. I am sure it will be an awesome show, and I would love to see you. Stop by my booth, check out my new stuff, and do a little coloring with me!

If you are not local – no need to fret. I will be posting more about these projects and products throughout the summer. As soon as I catch my breath, I will have them on my Etsy shop to purchase.

Have a great week!

Pati