If you are a regular follower of our blog, you are probably a bit surprised that I am stepping out of my comfort zone of quilting on into the world of sewing clothes. Well, me too, but, there are so many new fabrics coming onto the market lately, that I have been tempted to try sewing clothes for myself. Past attempts have not been pretty, but I keep thinking that all this quilting knowledge has to account for something, right?
So, while at Quiltcon a few weeks ago, I spent some time in the Indigo Junction booth oogling over the great designs and debating whether I should give it another try. Before I knew it, I was getting a pep talk from two of the Indigo Junction gals on how I could totally do this! I left with their book, The Magic Pattern Book and thier Urban Tunic pattern. I came home determined to do this, and do this right, and wear what I made, with pride.
As soon as I arrived home, I received an email from Indigo Junction inviting me to participate in their Crossroads Blog Tour introducing the gorgeous new colors.
Ok, if I’m going to do this, I may as well dive in and do it with an entire blog tour and put my results out there to the blogosphere. Talk about motivation to finish a project! So I chose the prettiest color ever – Cactus Flower, and committed myself to participate in the Tour.
Then the panic set in. Oh my gosh. What did I get myself into? Patterns? Waist measurements? Take a deep breath and think positive, girl. You were going to make it anyway, right?
Once I got started, it all fell in to place. The denim washed lovely and was so soft and nice to work with. It ironed like a dream. Stitching through the denim was effortless, or as SNL’s Mike Myers would say in his Coffee Talk skits, “like buttah”.
Ok, I obviously didn’t think to buy thread to match the fabric. That is not something I worry so much about when piecing 9 patches.
Following the pattern was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I had my tunic constructed in no time at all. As I worked with it, I kept thinking of all the other things I could make with this fabric. It is such a great weight and has so many tempting colors.
Love the way the armholes fell into place. I have to say, I was a bit nervous. I have not had the best of luck with that on past projects. And the pockets? Those were downright fun to make! The only tweak I needed to make was to shorten the length to be able to wear it with jeans.
Perfect for running around town. I tried it out at the farmer’s market and with coffee with a friend.
It turned out crazy comfortable and just the right amount of sass for me. Love, love, love the color, too!
This is a first for me – being able to wear something in public that I made. I love this top! It is definitely a keeper! Thanks Indigo Junction for the encouragement, an easy to follow pattern – and your wonderful Crossroads Denim! I am excited to get started on my next project. Hmmmm, maybe something in the Mushroom Denim?
What would you make out of the Crossroads Denim? Leave a comment and I will pick one lucky winner to receive their own Urban Tunic pattern.
And . . . Indygo Junction is offering a discount code for blog tour readers. Get 20% off your purchase at by entering xroads20 at checkout on their website.
Check out all the amazing projects by the talented bloggers on the Crossroad Blog Tour. You will be glad you did!
While I was visiting my home town in Iowa a few weeks ago, I was part of a 2 day “Quilt Fest” fundraiser. I shared a project with the quilters called St. Nick Stockings. I can’t take too much credit for this pattern, because it started with a freebie pattern from Moda called Secret Santa Stocking. You can get a Moda’s free downloadable pattern here: Secret Santa Stocking.
If you know anything about me, you know that I can’t ever leave well enough alone. I decided to enlarge it, make a few different sizes, then add a lining and a contrasting cuff. Here are my 3 sizes that I used for class samples. It was so fun to watch the quilters at Quilt Fest come up with different fabric combinations. Here are a few of the stockings created that day.
Since SHWS offered its first post to the world of bloggers, we have had our very helpful and knowledgeable “behind the scenes” gal assist us with everything from designing the banner, adding and re-sizing images to uploading videos. We were all new to the world of blogging so having someone knowledgeable to guide us was a big plus. Our wonderful go-to girl just happens to be my niece, Michelle. She was always there for us, day or night, when things just became too challenging for us to manage. Thanks, Michelle for always coming to the rescue!
Over the years, I think all this “quilty” stuff has rubbed off on Michelle, as she has traveled and worked with me at shows and other quilt-related events. I was thrilled when a few years ago she expressed an interest in taking one of my beginning quilting classes, and even more delighted to see the beautiful quilts she has made for many of her friends and family members.
We are all happy to have Michelle share some of her first creations with you today. Please enjoy!
Hello See How We Sew Readers! I am so happy to be able to share with you my new patterns for children’s quilts.
I started my first quilt at age 14 with my mom by my side. I think I got all of the fabric cut out and a few pieces sewed together. Then it sat on a shelf until I was 21. My mom came to visit me in Green Bay, WI and we sat down and finished the quilt together. Mainly me looking over her shoulder and bringing her the next piece to be sewed. But, we did it! The quilt top was finally done and it looked great. I had a friend who was willing to help me tie the quilt and show me how to bind it. This was the easiest part! I love this quilt because it was the start of something. I didn’t know at the time how much quilting would be a part of my life.
About a year after finishing this quilt I moved to the Bay Area. I was less than 15 minutes from the famous Laura Nownes, who I am honored to call my Aunt. She has been such a great influence on my quilting skills and knowledge! I started working with her on her patterns and doing the graphics for them. She suggested I take one of the classes she taught at Thimble Creek Quilt Shop. This was the start of my quilting bug! I learned so much and had such a wonderful time each week gaining more knowledge in this wonderful craft of quilting.
Each week I visited my Mom in Sacramento and we would talk about my fun times quilting. She was going through chemotherapy and when she was feeling up to it we would spend our time together quilting. I would cut, she would sew, and we would figure out how to put a quilt together. It was such great fun and has left me with great memories. She told me that I would be in charge of making quilts for all of her grandchildren. Little did either of us know that I would end up making the four quilts we finished into patterns!
I’ve since given the ‘Child’s Play’ quilt to my son, Warren (left) and ‘Zig the Zag’ went to my nephew, Arlo (right). Mom’s fight with cancer ended in December, 2011 and though she never got to meet either of these little ones, her legacy lives on in the quilts we made together. I am so grateful to have these quilts as treasures for her grandchildren and the memories that I have from making them with her.
I hope you will look at each of the patterns and find one that excites you. We used basic blocks and put them together in fun new ways. Head on over to Etsy and check out my shop!
I am so honored to be able to share my patterns with you that I will be giving away one of each pattern to 4 lucky winners. Leave a comment below telling me which pattern is your favorite and your best quilting memory.
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!
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!
Welcome to Day 5 of the Tidal Lace Blog Hop showcasingKim Andersson’s first collection with Windham Fabrics. We are so happy to be a stop on Kim’s tour!
I’ve known Kim for a few years–remember she was one of our guest bloggers, earlier this year–and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Kim bring her beautiful drawings to life in Tidal Lace. The fabric line has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my favorite beach getaway, the town of Bolinas, just north of San Francisco. And would you believe that Kim also visited Bolinas while working on Tidal Lace! (It is so special that locals have been known to remove the highway sign telling you how to get there!)
We designed A Day at the Shore for the Tidal Lace fabric line to capture a feeling of a day at the beach. Remember that moment when you unfold and flick your beach towel so it catches the wind and then floats down to a patch of sun-warmed sand? Grab your ice cold drink, sunscreen, and summer-time read . . . it’s beach time!
Seriously, Jennifer? Christmas in July? It’s +90º outside!
Yes! It’s time to get started. As I was super late delivering the Santa Smiles Tree Skirt pattern last year, I thought I’d throw this out to you well before the holidays.
Available in Print Today: Santa Smiles!
I’ve finally got the print version of the pattern instructions ready for industrious Christmas elves! Yeah!
You’ll be delighted to know that the instructions come with a full set of the paper-piecing patterns: 3 Santas + 3 trees! FYI: I’ve priced Santa Smiles to include shipping to the U.S., to Canada, and to international quilters wherever you may be.
Check it Out: Santa Goes Mod & Shakes Up Christmas Decor
Last Christmas, I had an opportunity to teach Santa Smiles at my local quilt shop, Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville, California. It’s always a treat to see how quilters take on one of my patterns and how they express their aesthetic through their fabric choices. Imagine my surprise when an intrepid novice quilt maker flashed an array of charcoals, silvery tones, icy blues, and whites.
Wow! Why didn’t I think of that? I was seriously intrigued by Marnie Durbin’s choices and by Marnie herself. She’d only made one enormous quilt, a minimalist design that she machine pieced and quilted on a smallish sewing machine, before tackling the tree skirt. I tell ya, I was awed by her derring-do, and seriously impressed by her speed, tenacity, and workmanship.
Then, when you put all the silvery blue and gray blocks together, you get a rather fabulous and daring tree skirt.
Can you believe it’s only the second quilted project Marnie’s sewn and machine quilted?Yowza!
I’m throwing in my version below so you can see that Santa Smiles tree skirt can be interpreted in classic and novel ways.
Giveaway Results Here
Definitely, keep Kleenex handy when you read the comments from my Tuesday post. You are all generous, loving, wonderful quilters and I sniffled my way through all your stories. Do you suppose we could create a peaceful world if we gave handmade quilts to everyone? “Here ya go, wrap up in this beautiful quilt and take it down a notch or three!”
Congratulations to Annette R., Diane Linker, and Sheila at License to Quilt, the winners of the Heart Strings pattern.
Not so long ago I spearheaded a group project for a member of my quilting/dining group–she’d lost her mother and we wanted to give her a quilted hug. It was such a beautiful shared experience that I wrote about it for the February 2012 issue of The Quilt Life and called the quilt Heart Strings.
♥ The Other Faces of Heart Strings ♥
Some time after that, our original SHWS quartet of Christie, Darra, Laura, and I made another version of Heart Strings for our very dear tech-savvy blog helper Michelle. She had had to say good-bye to her mother after a lengthy illness and we wanted to gather her up in a big group hug. It’s difficult to discern from a distance, but Heart Strings #2 is embellished with a stitched tree and flitting hummingbirds, the deft handiwork of long-arm quilter Marla Monson.
Then, just this year, as I was reading the June 2014 issue of The Quilt Life, I found a Letter to the Editor from a reader named Carol Findling who wrote about making a version of Heart Strings with her group for a friend who needed support after losing a daughter. They finished their version in three weeks to surprise her: Heart Strings #3.
Is there more? Of course. My buddy Cyndy Rymer and I share more than a love of quilting, we also share a gynecologist: a rare and wonderful physician who dropped the obstetrics end of the business to focus on women of a certain age. I don’t know how many locals she’s pulled from the brink of hormonal madness and other malevolent afflictions, but the numbers are legion and our admiration for her is profound and enduring.
Well, the sad news is that sometimes even healers need healing. She’s closing her practice to undergo intense cancer treatment. Cyndy and I cannot sever our connection to her without expressing our love and heartfelt wishes for her recovery. What else can we do but make her a quilt imbued with positive, healing thoughts?
Before I stow my damp and crumpled Kleenex and finish today’s theme, I’d like to share one more thought about heartfelt quilts. Sure we make many celebration quilts, but we also make them for poignant reasons. As I tackled this post I was finally able to verbalize the reason I take on these quilts: I want that someone to know that he or she matters! How simple is that?
A Variation on the ♥Heart Strings♥ Theme
1. Cyndy and I worked on the original Heart Strings and we knew it would work for us, but, to change up things, we went neutral. And, wouldn’t you know, Cyndy just happened to have a stash of unfinished neutral blocks in her UFO pile. We were halfway there without even trying!
2. Rather than a string of hearts, we opted for roses for the finishing detail. I turned to one of my own designs, Radically Ruched Roses. This time I went for a fused spiral rose rather than ruching bias strips to make the spirals–ruching isn’t fodder for a quickie quilt! After my recent Quilt-Along fusing frenzy it was an easy decision. Head’s up: Radically Ruched Roses is available as free a downloadable pattern in our Pattern Library!
3. The leaves and stems also derive from Radically Ruched Roses–turns out I, too, had leftovers to donate to our cause. I pinned the strips in gentle waves and, before gluing them in place, I auditioned a layout of blossoms and leaves.
4. Did you notice that the top was layered and quilted before we added the flowers and greenery? Cyndy loaded the quilt onto her long-arm machine and chose a simple floral motif for background quilting.
5. Back to the stem strips: Glue-Baste-It! Laura recommended the product and it’s a dream for securing the applique pieces before finishing with stitches. I finished the edges with decorative stitches along the outer edges of the stems to give them a slightly thorny look. Then, Cyndy reloaded the quilt on the long-arm and stitched the leaves and roses to the top. The jury is out on whether or not that was a good idea–it wasn’t as much fun as she’d hoped. FYI: The roses are dimensional appliqué (with an additional thin layer of batting on the back) and the spirals are top stitched.
6. I’ve got the label affixed, stray threads trimmed, and so I think we’re ready to send out our healing quilt.
I happen to have full-color reprints of the Heart Strings article and pattern from The Quilt Life and I’d be happy to share 3 copies with our readers. Leave me a comment by Thursday, July 24 and I will name the winners in my Friday post. Here’s your prompt: Have you made a heartfelt quilt? Do tune in on Friday for a special edition cuz a seasonal fave will be flying in!