Fabric Crush: Introducing PAINT!

Welcome to my hop on the blog tour for PAINT, the latest fabric line from Carrie Bloomston of SUCH Designs!

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To read more about my friendship with Carrie (and one her beautiful “wise-woman” stories) go here.

PAINT continues the conversation begun in Carrie’s first line, Collage. The elements we know and love are there in new shades – the “torn” stripes, and the text prints (psst… Carrie handcrafts the text to be full of positive and inspiring words).

I’m thrilled to see all the solid-reading blenders in this line – they are so needed to bring together a pretty composition – but I’m utterly wowed by the border print! Carrie sent me some to play with, and so I featured it in the flap of a couple Chunky Wee Bags:

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I made the littlest bag especially for Carrie’s daughter, who is featured in the Lookbook that Windham Fabrics created for the fabric. It’s worth a peruse – it has a bunch of sweet projects in it, showing the versatility of the fabric. And don’t miss the inspiring prayer flags created by a community of Carrie’s readers on the last page!

Carrie and Windham have a charm pack of the fabric for you to win – just leave a comment below, and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday morning. And look for the fabric at your LQS in July/August (tell them to order it at Spring Quilt Market!)

Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour!

April 9 April Rhodes
April 10 Sally Keller + Julie Goldin
April 11 Shea Henderson
April 12 Ramona Burke + Jenny Kelly
April 13 Sam Hunter A Vintage Fairytale (Staci Barrett)
April 14 Rachael Gander + Erica Sage
April 15 Karen LePage + Tia Curtis
April 16 Shelly Figueroa + Fabrications2b (Bonnie Bobman)

 

These Hands Make Things

If you follow any of the social media surrounding the current wave of feminism, you’ve probably noticed that we are beginning to see photographs of real people with little electronic alteration – a trend I find so welcome.

The latest version of Vanity Fair is the yearly Hollywood issue, and right in the middle of all that impossible glamour is a group of pictures taken by Chuck Close. The stars were instructed to show up without stylists and entourages, and Close shot the images up close and personal in his usual fashion.

My favorite of the group is this one of Helen Mirren:

Helen MirrenI love that she seems to not have messed with her beautiful face (that smile hints of delight and mischief), but more than that – I love the realness and honesty of her hand. It looks like a hand that has lived.

Which got me to thinking about hands in advertising… all those perfect hands with perfect nails. That always seem, somehow, to not actually look like they know what they are doing in the ads. They don’t look like they’ve ever slathered peanut butter on bread in a hurry. Or cracked a nail while grabbing keys off the counter. Or endured the tiny stabs and pinpricks of a daily life in the needle-arts. They might be real, but  they just don’t look it – anymore than those perfectly polished cover girls we’re trying to debunk.

Which then got me to thinking about my own hands:

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I like these hands. I’m proud that, after 52 years and counting, they’re still working pretty well. They have made many beautiful things, and they bear the scars of a rich life. That knot of arthritis in the last knuckle of my right index finger is a present from grad school (along with bifocals) – the incredible volume of writing, researching and making did a number on that knuckle and it bumped up in defense. You can see a new burn on the same index finger – I’m still getting used to the oven in my new digs.

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There’s also a cut on the side of my left index finger, a snick in a quick moment of making dinner for a friend. On the palm side of my left hand is a web of scars from a disagreement with a blender a year ago (I’ll spare you the picture with the stitches) along with an almost 30 year old scar from a minor surgery to remove a pesky cyst. And you can no longer see where I machine-sewed through my finger on one of those doing-too-much-too-fast days. And freckled over all, the salt and pepper of age spots.

But let me tell you other stories about these hands… they changed a bunch of diapers on a really sweet kiddo who is soon to turn thirty. They have hugged and hugged and hugged so many wonderful people. They’ve written serious term papers and typed silly statuses into social media. They’ve made oodles of shortbread. And they have made quilts. Lots of quilts. Hundreds of quilts. They have started a pattern business, designed a bunch of sassy buttons, and written a book. These hands are CAPABLE. They might not be cover-girl smooth anymore, but they know how to MAKE things. And that, to me, makes them beautiful.

So show me YOUR hands on the HDS Facebook Page and tell me a story about them. And if you’re using Instagram let’s give them a #thesehandsmake hashtag so that we can see them all together!

(With thanks to my friend Annie for the photo assist… hand selfies are not easy!)

Honored

Last week I spoke at the Camarillo Quilt Association in Southern California – a friendly and welcoming guild of ladies and gents. I love, love, love working with quilters – they are the sweetest people!

Before we got started Gayle Moyer, one of their members, showed me a group of quilts that she made from one of my patterns:

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And here’s the story behind the quilts, in Gayle’s words:

“My son is currently active duty in the Navy. He is the rescue swimmer/door gunner on a helicopter. This summer, while the squadron was deployed into the Red Sea, he was on a detachment on the USNS Rainier. This detachment consisted of 2 helicopters, 4 pilots and 5 air crew (of which my son was one of). A rogue wave hit the helicopter while chained on the deck of another ship. This wave ripped the helicopter from the deck of the ship and it sank deep into the Red Sea. The one air crewman, which was still on the helicopter, was thrown free but the two pilots went down with the helicopter. It was a very stressful time for our family, not knowing if our son was involved. Before we even knew who the 2 men were that were lost, I decided that I wanted to be involved in making Home of the Brave quilts for the family. I had made some quilts for Home of the Brave in the past, including 4 that I made when 2 members of my daughter’s Army unit were killed while she was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. When I heard that each of the pilots left behind 2 small children, I decided that I wanted to make the children quilts to comfort them and to remember their fathers by. The youngest child was born only 2 months before his father was killed and had never met his dad. The others were ages 4 and two 6 year old’s.  I decided not to use the Home of the Brave pattern as these were young children. I wanted to use bright patriotic fabrics that they might still love when they are older. I had made several quilts from your Mouse Trap pattern and decided to use the pattern because it was an easy pattern that looked good with many different fabrics. I made the 4 tops and quilted 2 of them. A friend of mine quilted the other 2 as I wanted to get them finished to be able to present them at the Memorial service that was scheduled for January 17.”

photo3“I wrote each child a little letter explaining who I was, my relation ship to the squadron, and to let them know that their dad was a true HERO. I was able to present these quilts as well as an official Home of the Brave quilt to each of the widows. My prayer is that as these children wrap themselves up in the quilts, they will imagine their daddy giving them a big hug.”

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“The service went well. It was a wonderful service. I was glad that my son was able to sit with me and also was with me as I presented the quilts. He was able to tell them that he really enjoyed working with their husbands. We did not spend much time with the widows as there were more people wanting to talk to them. I was able to hand them over without turning into a puddle.”

photo2Gayle – this world is a far better place because people like you take the time to make important quilts like these. Thank you so much for including me in this. Now excuse me while I go turn into a puddle…

Improv piecing and the Pope’s robes

photo (2)Despite living in Los Angeles for decades, I had never made the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown LA (ha… almost wrote Downton!) Yesterday, I changed that.

Just so you know, I don’t talk about how I do faith in public. I’m cool with how I do faith, and on board for however you do yours, but I find overt evangelism a bit odious, so when the topic comes up amongst anyone other than my closest pals, my response is usually “How ’bout them Dodgers?”

I went to the cathedral to experience it as art and architecture. I’ve been to many European churches and cathedrals, and they are usually marvels, testaments to the absolute best the artists and craftsmen of their time had to offer. A mason could work his entire (short) life on a magnificent edifice, knowing he would never see to completion, yet knowing that it might stand for generations to come. Sometimes I think quilting can be just that important too – they can outlast us if we make them right.

So this cathedral… impressive, but not my cup of tea. I understand that one doesn’t set out to build an old school Gothic cathedral full of soaring buttresses in 1996, but I found the postmodernist angles of this building to be, well, angular. My friend remarked that they didn’t inspire much comfort. I would have to agree. The tapestries, though, were quite spectacular and worth a visit. As always, I might come for the building but I stay for the fiber!

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In one rather awkward little alcove, there were some mementos of the Pope’s visit to LA in 1987. There were a few press pictures of him saying mass in Dodger Stadium (and… how ’bout them Dodgers?!) wearing the robe and mitre in these pictures.

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And look… improv piecing done in myriad contemporary fabrics! Fancy that! I wonder who made these? And if she is now a modern quilter?

Come see me in Camarillo!

I’m back to the old stomping grounds this week… the Camarillo Quilters Association is hosting me for a lecture on the morning of Tuesday Jan 14 – stop by if you can and say hi! I’m also teaching Dingbats for them on Wednesday Jan 15, and I understand there might be a couple of seats left if you’re interested.

The lecture is going to include a trunk show of a lot of quilts – this is the first time I’ve done a trunk show out of a suitcase rather than a car, and I’m thrilled to find out just how much I can pack into a 50lb case. And I packed two of them!

While I was searching for the right quilts to bring, I unearthed this lovely Snail’s Trail/Virginia Reel:

Snails1It’s the only antique quilt I own. I bought it because, with all that ORANGE, I just knew it had been waiting for me to show up and love it. It’s machine pieced, but hand quilted, and still has a lot of pencil marks. It has the feel of a project that was maybe a big stretch in skill for the maker… there are a lot of points that don’t match, and there are lots of places where the orange shadows through the white at the seams because they should have been pressed the other way. The binding is a bit dodgy in places too. It is utterly charming for every spot that the imaginary quilt police might frown upon… the hand of the maker is delightfully evident everywhere! And I find myself cheering for her courage to try something that I know to be a bit tricky with all those bias-edged triangles. The last time I tried this block I paper-pieced it.

Here’s a shot of the quilting:

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I’m told that the style of quilting and the quality of the muslin tell that the quilt was probably made in the 1920′s. All I know is I think it’s sweet and bold, and I slept well under it last night!

 

 

Book Winner! And a little chaos…

BeforeBehold! The “before” picture! This is my new studio-to-be… in my new apartment! Since I last wrote I packed my stuff and upped and moved to the Portland, OR area (from downtown sunny Burbank CA!)

Pretty much everything I own landed in this room, and I’ve been working my way through putting it all where it belongs so that I can rebuild the studio. I’m getting close, and when I do, there will be prettier pix. In the meantime, I seem to be living at either Target or the hardware store as I buy all the things a new home needs (why do I always need to buy different trash cans every time I move???)

While I was on the road, the deadline to pick a winner for Quilting Isn’t Funny came and went, and when I landed I didn’t have internet (I am quite disturbed about how disturbing it was to be disconnected, if you know what I mean!). So now that I have internet, and a computer, and it’s on my desk and I have a chair to sit in, a winner has been chosen!

Random.org chose number 39 of a field of 58 – Kathryn, who wrote: “Most frustrating.  It’s got to be squaring up the quilt.  If all the blocks measure square I”ll never understand why my quilt measurements are off.  But I still struggle with this more than I want to admit…………”

Kathryn – watch for an email from me!

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Shopping

Sam with Dots

Like many of you, I plan to stay away from the stores this weekend. I have no interest in being part of any insanity that might happen on Friday, and I refuse to shop on Thursday – I’m voting with my feet by not giving businesses my money that day… perhaps if we all do this some people, like J-Girl (my son’s lovely lady) might get to have a saner holiday. She’s scheduled for 11pm Thursday to 11am Friday – and I find this just SO wrong. Call me old fashioned, but I’m all for shutting down commerce on holidays (and even Sundays) because I just can’t believe that people spending good time with other people could possibly be a bad thing. We already move too fast and communicate too electronically – let’s have a few more real time hugs!

So to that note… I urge you to consider the handmade for some of your holiday shopping options – the folks at Fiber Nation made a lovely argument in support of this. Etsy and other venues abound with wonderfully unique things, and all these artisans deserve some recognition for the often underpaid toil that they do.

I also have a few things to offer – as always, there are patterns and Sassy Buttons, but I also have some new partnerships in play: the Quilt Dots people are carrying all the Sassy and Knit buttons as magnets, and they sell jewelry bases for turning the magnets into necklaces and such. That pic above is of me from quilt market, modeling one of the Dots from The Bitchy Stitcher’s collection… and don’t worry, they have other great Dots with more traditional designs if that’s what you’re looking for. We embrace and celebrate the differences around here!

Also Cafe Press will print any Sassy Button saying on any of their merch, from t-shirts to coffee mugs to tote bags – to quote them, 35 designs on 2680 products!

Lastly… as you may have read, I’m about to pack up and move to the Pacific NorthWest. As I’ve been going through my stuff, I have discovered a few quilts that are ready to find new homes and I’ll be posting those for sale later today or tomorrow. There will be some sweet deals as I’m motivated to NOT pack them! Watch this space!

One BadAss Market, coming up!

Maddie-Pre-nap

If you don’t know this lovely lady, do let me introduce you: she’s Maddie Kertay of the BadAss Quilters Society.

Maddie is a force of quilting energy, and sweetly caters to many of us who consider ourselves on the fringes of that unfortunate sector of quilting that thinks it OWNS the Quilt Police. You know the one… it stares you down when you use a little salty language (Pardon your French? That didn’t sound like French to ME). At BadAss, Maddie has made a home for a more relaxed approach, full of bright images and positive reinforcement no matter how straight (or not) your seams are.

The Houston Quilt Market is nearly upon us, and of course, Maddie decided to put on a party. She has put together a networking event for everyone, where we get to eat fab snacks, play business card swap, and listen to people talk about stuff they think is important in our industry. The line up of speakers is sweet, and I’m thrilled to say she’s letting me have the microphone for a few minutes to talk about that thing I’m always talking about – art and craft have VALUE.

The official title of the gig is the BadAss Quilters Society Networking Gala – The Big Wing-Ding! Follow that link to read more about it. And yes, she’ll add me to the official published line-up as soon as I email her one of the photos that my pal Larry took of me last week! (Yes… I procrastinated getting head shots done… doesn’t everyone?!)

Not going to Market? Fret not! Maddie is going to videotape all of us (gulp!) and make it available for you. I hear there might even be some live streaming! So go follow her post to keep up with the latest, or catch her on Facebook here.

Oh… and about that head shot… what do you think? Me and the Ultimate Power Tool! Yeah!

Sam Hunter HS1

Workshopping in Modesto

Ursula, her daughter Lori, Lori's daughters Maddie and Bella (in arms) and me!

Ursula, her daughter Lori, Lori’s daughters Maddie and Bella (in arms) and me!

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Modesto Country Crossroads Quilters, and the Turlock Quilt Guild. My dear friend Ursula is a member of both guilds, and managed to help them coordinate a visit from me. I have the greatest pals!

Modesto also booked me for a workshop, and chose the Back To Square One pattern for me to teach. This quilt is a bunch of fun… part strip quilt (like a jelly roll race) and part log cabin.

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It can be made with a jelly roll, or you can bust some stash by cutting strips. In the workshop, we sew all morning, and then spend the afternoon playing with the block units.

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The guild’s workshop space was wonderful – plenty of room to play with block setting, plenty of power for the irons, and plenty of AC to keep us cool!

 

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The block units are triangles, with the longest edge showing the dominant value. You end up with equal numbers of light and dark units to work with, and then play with those to make squares.

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Like log cabin blocks, the layouts can be changed to use the light and dark edges to make dramatically different compositions.

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Those cheap flannel backed table cloths make wonderful portable design surfaces. And when you roll them up the blocks only stick to the flannel side, not the plastic side, so they are easier to unroll when you get home.

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In addition to playing with the blocks you make, you also get to wander around the room to look at what other people are up to. Its amazing that one setting will look great for one set of blocks and dull in another, and your neighbors’ will look just the opposite! This workshop teaches a lot about looking at value and color to get a pretty quilt top.

 

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What I like best about the workshop is that every time I teach it, I learn new things about color. There is always at least one student that brings in a color combination that I (privately) though might be doubtful, and the finished blocks are absolutely knockout.

It’s also wonderful to hang out with quilters – they really are just the kindest and funniest groups of gals!

Three nights after the workshop I lectured for the guild, and several of the workshoppers brought in their finished tops for all to see (what a go-getting group!):

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Thank you, ladies! Let’s play again soon!

 

Getting there!

boxes

Nope – those are not dead bodies!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing a book. It will be out this time next year under the Stash Books imprint for C&T Publishing. I’d love to tell you more about it, but as the saying goes, if I told you I’d have to kill you! The content must remain a secret until Amazon lists it for pre-order sometime next summer. At that point, you probably won’t be able to shut me up. Consider yourself warned.

My half of the big work is beginning to wind down… the quilts are designed, constructed, quilted and bound. The patterns are tested. The first draft is in, and my editor will soon guide me through polishing everything up. Another team at C&T will photograph it and make it pretty. While I have done nothing but eat, breathe and sew projects for this for the last 6 months, I look at all the raw materials and think that maybe I’ve had the easier end of the project!

A dozen dear pals chipped in along the way to make more quilts for the gallery section of the book. As I worked my way through photographing them this week, I’m thrilled by the creativity expressed, and utterly humbled by the generosity of their offerings. I can’t wait to show them off, and they are so different from the way I approached the designs that they add another layer of inspiration to the book.

So I offer you the image above… all of the quilts (and some other nifty quilty thingies in those boxes!), rolled up and ready to go. Tomorrow I’m driving them to C&T and while I’m there I get to meet some of the people working behind the scenes to make me look good.

It’s gonna be a great day :-)