Where to Find Sam – September 2014 Edition

I’m traveling tomorrow, and talking and teaching and signing for the next week or so – if you’re close by, come see me!

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Thursday Sept 25th, 7pm – Nite Owl Quilters Guild in Upland CA. I’m doing my “There’s Magic in the Lesson, OR Perfection is Overrated!” lecture. Lots of trunk show, including new things from the book that haven’t been shown yet. And of course, I’ll be signing books too.

Friday Sept 26th, 6-8pm – New Moon Textiles in Pasadena CA, my former quilt store home (I worked there for a couple of years – it will be so great to see my friends there!) I’m showing the book quilts in a trunk show, and signing books.

Satuday, Sept 27, 10am to 4pm – back to the Nite Owl Quilters Guild for a workshop. We’re making Dingbats! It’s one of my favorite quilts, and another “so much easier than it looks” pattern. I think they still have a couple of spaces if you’d like to come play. I even rip seams and iron for my students, while cracking lame jokes – really, you don’t want to miss this!

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Sunday Sept 28 – 2-4pm – out to Sew Modern in Los Angeles, CA, one of the best modern stores around, and home of the LAMQG. Lauren, the owner, will be breaking out the bubbly while I sign books. Oh, and in case you’ve never visited before, she carries every Kona solid. Yep, EVERY.

Monday, Sep 29 – 6 to 8pm – SLO Creative Studio, in San Luis Obispo, CA. SLO Creative is a new creative space developed by my friend, Janet Mease, and I’m there to help kick off her opening week events with some book signing, a wee bit of We Are $ew Worth It lecture, and a car full of quilts to trunk show. Please come support this new space!

Other adventures for the week include time with my creative mini group, these folks:photo-6

We’ve been meeting once a month for the last couple years, challenging ourselves with creative projects. I’ve been joining the meetings via FaceTime since I moved to PDX, but this time I get to sit at the table and share the chocolate! Our challenge this month is to make something in response to this artwork:

I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, buy I know it won’t include PINK ;-)

I’m also visiting my friends at Hoffman Fabrics! I get to touch the new pretties, and hopefully choose some to make a market sample or two for them. Psst…. we’re playing with solid batiks too, and they are so, so gorgeous. Watch this space.

Also, if the planets align, I’ll be heading to the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA to see a new juried exhibition of contemporary textiles. Read about it here. When living and working a creative life, it’s important to put some inspiration back into the well, too. LACMA is across the street, so I might poke my head into a quilt exhibition that just opened there, Big Quilts in Small Sizes: Children’s Historical Bedcovers.

Lastly – we kick off the Quilt Talk blog tour on October 1 as I fly home. It’s going to be a fun hop that takes us as far away as Australia, and might even include a Skype interview if Victoria Findlay Wolfe and I can figure out the technology of it!

So I’ll leave you with these as a teaser… look for them on the tour!

All Buckets stacked

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Quilt Talking the Details

It occurs to me that, because I’ve had my nose on the bark of this book for almost two years, I might not have explained the view from the edge of the trees very well! So here are a few points about the book that I’d like to share so that, if you decide to take the plunge and own one of these happy things, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into!

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1. What it is!

  • The book is designed around a paper-pieced font.
  • There are upper and lower case letters, numerals, punctuation, and all the special characters above the numbers on your keyboard.
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  • There are also some accents that allow the letters to speak languages other than English: umlaut, tilda, cedilla, circumflex, accute, and grave. I’m quite proud of these!
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  • Why paper-pieced? Paper piecing is the easiest way to get pinpoint accuracy in odd shapes or angles.
  • Along with the characters, there’s a great chapter on how to set them into custom text, much like setting old-school typography.
  • There are easy instructions for resizing the characters to fit any words you can dream up.

2. Projects

  • I designed 12 projects for you, from small things like placemats and the scrap buckets on the cover, up to wall, snuggle, and bed-sized quilts.
  • Most of the phrases are sassy, encouraging, inspiring, or nerdy: both Star Wars and Star Trek are covered!
  • Each project has additional notes on how to fit your own ideas into the word spaces.
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  • All of the projects are designed for easy straight seam construction (no set in pieces, no curves, no y-seams). Once you make the letters, they are essentially blocks that then get set in rows. There is nothing in here that a confident beginner can’t manage!
  • For additional inspiration, there’s a gallery section of wordy projects made by some dear friends, including Megan Dougherty, The Bitchy Stitcher, and Maddie Kertay and Flaun Kline of the BadAss Quilter’s Society.

3. Things that matter about the book design

  • I skipped writing a basics chapter on how to use your rotary cutter, etc., as I thought you’d rather have more projects!
  • There’s a brief chapter on how I do paper piecing, and it’s illustrated with step-by-step photos. You can see a few pages of this in Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview.
  • I go over how I do pre-cutting for paper-piecing – it makes the paper-piecing easier to manage, and it saves on fabric.
  • I also added a chapter on how to choose fabrics for letters to make them shine.
  • The majority of the patterns are on a jumbo pull-out in the back of the book. You tear this out and cut it up, which makes for easier and flatter copying.
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  • I made sure the upper and lower case pattern of each letter are back to back – if you find the “A” in your pile of letters, turn it over to find the “a”.
  • The numbers are also paired back to back.
  • There were a few too many characters for the pull-out, so the extras (and the ones I thought might be the least used) are at the end of the book.

4. Things that matter about the Paper-Piecing design

  • The seam allowance isn’t drawn around the blocks because most of the time you’ll be scaling them, which would give you inaccurate cutting lines. However, because I’ve sliced the seam allowance off plenty of paper-pieced blocks, I put the words “add 1/4” seam allowance” around the edges of all the blocks so that you (and I) have a reminder.
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  • Some of the sewing lines on the characters start at odd angles, so I extended the lines into the seam allowance to lead you in to starting your seam at the right place.
  • Some of the blocks are constructed in multiple sections, so I added alignment lines so you can get them joined up without too many seam ripper moments.
  • In each block pattern the letter is shaded but the background isn’t, so it’s easy to see what you’re working on. And I shaded with a light dot pattern rather than a gray fill to save you some printer ink.

5. Blog Tour

  • The blog tour kicks off at the beginning of October and it will include some of my favorite people in the quilt world.
  • There will be a dozen stops, so a dozen chances to win a copy of the book.
  • There will also be a little something extra for you to download at each stop :-)
  • The final stop will be with me, and I’ll have some extra goodies for you to win.

And if you can’t wait until October, you can order Quilt Talk here. I have books on hand to ship!

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10 Quilty Little Secrets – A Challenge

Thirteen Spools did a fun blog post where she outed some of her guilty-quilty secrets.

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After a couple of my friends had a go (Hi Molli! Hi Cath!) I thought I’d join in… here’s my version:

1. I believe that most sins can be pressed, tugged, eased, or stretched out with a hot, steamy iron.

2. I would huff spray baste if I could, I love it that much. I know air-born adhesives are wretched things for both body and environment, and you have to keep buying it (I’ve had my pins for over 20 years), but I just don’t care. I don’t want to ever spend hours hunched over a quilt to pin it again. Glue rules.

3. What’s with deer heads in all the new fabrics? Is there a secret club that decides the cute-animal-motif-du-jour? First owls, then foxes, now deer. Bleh.

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4. I don’t bury my threads. I lock the stitch and cut. And I sometimes don’t trim the back threads off for months, especially if all I’m doing it shooting for a pattern cover.

5. I don’t hold my threads when I start a seam, or use leaders/enders. If it nests a little, who cares? It’s in the seam allowance. And it hasn’t screwed up my accuracy enough to bother me. (I always pull the bottom up to the top when quilting though.)

6. I cut off the mat on anything bigger than about 10”. I figure that if I’m off by a thread or two, then it will press, tug, ease or stretch out with a hot, steamy iron.

7. I will mix straight and bias binding if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

8. I throw away seam rippers the second they start snagging when I try to run them up a seam. I buy them in multiples so I always have a fresh one waiting.

9. I dislike PINK with the heat of a thousand suns. I’m so happy other people like it, because then I don’t have to. And I think it’s great when other people dislike ORANGE because that means there’s more for me.

10. I utterly fail at and hate stitch-in-the-ditch quilting. I can’t stay on the line, wandering back and forth on it unless I slow waaaaay down. And I hate slowing waaaaay down – gotta Sew at the Speed of Sam, baby! So I stitch a 1/4 off the ditch like an outline. And some people think I’m being crazy creative… nope, just lazy!

What’s your quiltiest secret? Leave ‘em in the comments!

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WASWI – Molli Breaks it Down

I wrote the original We Are $ew Worth It post almost two years ago, and have been thrilled to see it take laps around the world. When it went viral, it reached our cousins in Australia, and one cuz in particular took it and ran, wearing high heels!

Through the course of emails about WASWI, Molli Sparkles and I have become friends, and today, Molli has given us a great and transparent look at his No Value Does Not Equal Free quilt, a stunning tour de force in shades of white. Read it HERE.

Image from Molli Sparkles, used with "Hell yeah!" permission!

Image from Molli Sparkles, used with “Hell yeah!” permission!

I encourage you to read to the end of the post – there are many important and subtle details in there, and Molli gives us the reasons for every number in the projects sheets. He also generously gives you a version of them to use for yourself (a super beefed up version of my original simple time/materials sheets).

Perhaps the most important sentence in the post is this:

“For those in the USA, where quilting is nearly a four billion dollar industry, I created a more localised costing sheet for you. As previously mentioned, I altered the fabric cost to $10.00 / yard, and the labour rate to $14.00 / hour based on the most recently documented US median wage.”

We help generate $4 BILLION for this industry, and I know many of us struggle to charge $10 an hour.

You are worth so much more than that. We all are. We ARE $ew Worth It.

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO

Thank you, Molli!

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My Top Ten Tips for Sewing on the Road

I’m a member of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and they have a fabulous arrangement for members to sew together once a month at Fabric Depot, a huge store with a huge classroom. I love sewing with friends… the creative energy and the exchange of help and ideas is so great to be a part of.

Packing for mobile sewing can be daunting (especially when we do it at the last minute), so I’ve assembled another group of tips for you, but this time with an eye to being on the road:

1. Dedicated Crate or Tote

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If you use the same container to travel, you’ll get used to how you pack it, and will be able to see quickly if something is missing from the puzzle. I like to use a crate for my basic supplies because it fits solidly on a hand cart, and then I use totes (and zippy bags) for the projects.

2. List

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Keep a list of your basic mobile items with your container. I once arrived a retreat without the box of feet for my machine, and had to give up a chunk of my shopping budget to buy another walking foot and piecing foot. Refer to the list while you pack or it won’t really work!

3. Name that Ruler

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Put your name on everything. With most of us using similar tools, and frequently borrowing from each other, having your name on things means you’re less likely to go home without them. On rulers, I prefer a quick scrawl of Sharpie to a label, because I can still read the ruler marks through the scrawl.

4. Ribbons

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Not keen on having all your stuff labeled like you are still in grade school? Use ribbons to tie through anything that has a hole or loop. Mine, of course, are ORANGE.

5. Old Mats

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When your studio mat starts getting worn, put it aside for mobile use when you buy a new one. That way you’ll fret less if the old mat gets bent or warped from being transported. You can also cut old mats down to a more packable size.

6. Trash Container

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Let’s face it, to sew is to create trash of threads and shreds. Be kind to your host by capturing as much of it as you can. This one was a gift from a friend, and collapses for easy packing.

7. Machine Cleaning Kit

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Take your machine oil and Q-Tips with you in case your machine needs to get de-fuzzed while you’re out. There is nothing more frustrating than setting up for a sewing day (or weekend) and then having your machine act up. Having oil and cleaning supplies on hand is the first step for a fussy machine.

8. Needles and Blades

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The second step for a fussy machine is a new needle. Bring a packet with you. And if you’re gone for more than a day, or your rotary cutter blade is on the old side, pack a spare blade too. Blades are easy to dent, and when you’re cutting in unfamiliar spaces you’re more likely to drop your tools.

9. Extension Cords

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I usually travel with these two – the big one for getting the wall power to my setup, and the little one to share the power locally. I also carry a “ground cheater” plug in case I’m in an older building that doesn’t have grounded outlets.

10. Let There Be Light!

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The Fabric Depot classroom is well lit, but I’ve sewed in many a hotel conference space that wasn’t. I keep this portable light in my mobile kit just in case. There’s never enough light once you head north of 40!

11. Magnetic Pincushion + Lid

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I prefer magnetic pin cushions to the traditional variety, and this one, made by Clover, has a lid that also clips onto the base when you’re using it. The lid keeps the pins covered while they’re in the kit, so that they don’t stab me when I’m least expecting it.

12. Band-Aids

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Because you never know when you (or a friend) will need one!

Please share your tips in the comments!

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Olfa’s Rotary Cutter is Having a Birthday!

(and psst… they’ve given me a present to give to you, so read on…)

I made my first quilt without a rotary cutter, and was pretty unimpressed with how it turned out. There wasn’t a single seam that matched, and it took me three years to consider making another. When I decided to take a class to make my second, I was introduced to the classic yellow Olfa cutter, and while my seams still needed help, the cutting part went well enough that I made my next quilt almost immediately.

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Although I no longer have my original cutter (I wore it out) I’ve stayed with Olfa over the years (despite handling many other cutters as a teacher) because I like how it feels in my hand. I have good blade closing habits, too!

The rotary cutter is having it’s 35th birthday this year, and Olfa reached out to a bunch of bloggy people to join the party. They sent me this, and asked for a block in exchange:

IMG_5384The block rules were 6” finished, and use “Olfa yellow” in it somewhere. Easy!

I have a great paper-pieced font at my disposal, so I thought I’d use it :-) First I fussed a design together on the computer:

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I chose the turquoise to match the Splash cutter released last year. I always precut my fabric for paper-piecing as I find it speeds things up:

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I keep a separate cutter for trimming the paper-piecing so that I don’t dull my freshest blades – and the rotating mat makes trimming these blocks so much easier:

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A few quick seams later and the block was done!

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Thank you to Olfa for including me in the party!

Olfa is giving away a birthday present to one of my readers, too, so please comment below for a chance to win! UPDATE: I’ll chose a winner on Thursday morning (August 31).

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Square Pegs for Hoffman – plus a fabric giveaway!

If you didn’t already know, I frequently sew for Hoffman Fabrics: they send me pix of their new stuff; I choose a couple of colorways and offer pattern choices; we shake hands on an idea; they send fabric; and I start sewing.*

New collections are ready to debut, so they reached out for a quilt. This time, we chose one of my newest patterns, Square Pegs:

SquarePegs - Cover -.72dpi

While the cover quilt leans more “modern” with its clean colors, I’ve been interested in seeing it rendered in batik. There’s been much discussion of late in as to whether batiks can play well in the modern quilt arena (I contributed to an article in the latest Gen Q mag about it). My answer to the question is YES, of course batiks can be “modern.” I think how you categorize a quilt is as just as much a function of the pattern design as it is the fabric choice, and as long as you play by good fabric choice rules (mind your values… watch out for too much medium tone mush), batiks are a fabulous choice.

Hoff + Mod

Batiks are also a fit for our current hand-made vibe – they are still hand printed, even at the volumes the quilt world consumes. And if you need more eco-assurance, Hoffman has some lovely environmentally careful practices around the water used to make their pretty fabrics.

Anyway, back to that quilt. Like last time, I posted Instagram pix (@huntersds) in real time, and shot them out to the HDS FB page (please go like it! thank you!), answering questions along the way. And feel free to ask more questions over there or in the comments below.

So – fabric choices! The pattern needs 12 quarters (fat or long, or a mixture) and a chunk of background. As you know, I usually lean ORANGE, but this time I was intrigued by the elegance of these cooler colors:

Hoffman for Sq Pegs

They are much prettier than they look in the long shots on Instagram! The background is not pure white, it’s a subtle, very light, mottled blue-gray – it’s part of the Watercolor series (Snow 1895-307) which are the solid-reading batiks. The light gray at top right became the binding. And look at the bold graphic designs in the prints!

For the curious, it took approximately 22 hours over the course of 3 days. Yes, I’m pretty speedy (#sewingatthespeedofsam was coined by my friend, Z-Girl) BUT – truly, this is a speedy quilt to make. It’s all straight seams and easy construction, with lots of negative space for you to quilt-doodle through. Yes, I sew fast, but the pattern choice didn’t hurt!

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For an even faster finish, you could skip the pieced border if you like, or sew these parts together as “leaders and enders” as suggested by one of my Stunt Peeps** if you sew that way. I also copied the quilting I had done on the earlier one, which meant I didn’t spend design time testing different quilting ideas. It’s easy straight lines following the lines of the blocks, and simple stippling in alternating spaces for extra texture.

On the first day I made the blocks and the border; on the second I set it into a quilt top, made the back (ran errands, had the car break down, got towed), and basted it; and on the third, I quilted and bound it (catching up on Mad Men) – and in a rare moment of having it all together, got the sleeve and label into the binding process rather than putting them on, cussing, as an afterthought! If making it for a client, I would bid 28 hours of time to allow for more unique designing if needed, and possibly surprise them with a discount if I beat my time.

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And so to giving away fabric! I have 2 bundles…

Bundle 1: A Square Pegs pattern plus 14 almost Fat Quarters – I cut a couple of the fabrics wrong, so they’re a tad short (wasn’t wearing my glasses… sigh) so you get the 12 you need for the pattern and a couple extra because I’m a goof (and the pattern doesn’t use the entire FQ so you’ll have plenty if you want to use them for this).

Bundle 1

Bundle 2: A Square Pegs pattern plus all my big scraps – most of which are 1/4 yard or more. You’ll have enough to do the non-background parts of the top, but might need to be creative with how you cut. And I might put in some ORANGE just because.

Bundle2

Comment below to win – and tell me what you think of batiks as potential modern fabrics. And yes, you’re welcome to disagree with me – I love the discussion! I’ll choose winners on Friday. And yes, this is open to international folks too.

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* I disclose my arrangement with Hoffman Fabrics out of a desire to be transparent in the name of my commitment to the We Are $ew Worth It movement. That said, I love working with Hoffman, and like and respect their people – and wouldn’t play with them if I didn’t! I only do what works for me with people I like :-)

**Square Pegs was test driven by Stunt Sewist Peeps Karyn, Jennifer, Karen and Julie!