Market is coming… again! And cool news from Aurifil!

Spring Quilt Market is coming up, starting May 14th in Minneapolis this year. Like other people in the industry, I’m beginning to dig into the final stretch of work that needs to be done. I’m again doing some fast sewing for Hoffman Fabrics, with the help of some dear friends who are offering up Stunt Sewing services. Keep an eye on @huntersds on Instagram for images as we crank out a bunch of quilts this week! It’s all good and exciting stuff – new patterns made from new fabrics – and it’s been a real bummer to not be able to share most of it with you during the development.

But I will be able to share SOON. Really SOON. Once I’m allowed to blab I’ll be blabbing and sharing pix, and offering up some free stuff, so watch this space!

One thing I CAN blab about is this…

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Yes, that’s my smiling face on the box! I was approached last year by the ever charming Alex Veronelli of Aurifil to pair a collection of thread to Hoffman’s batiks. This is the result! And I’ll be releasing the quilt pattern that goes with it for market, so you’ll see it here shortly.

I chose bright, summery colors of batiks, and matched them up with bold, bright colors from Aurifil.

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Yes, there is ORANGE! But also red, yellow, blues, purple, greens, teal, and a medium gray for everyday piecing. They are all 50wt, my favorite, and not just because it’s on an ORANGE spool! I love the finer weights for both quilting and piecing.

I’ll have one to give away soon!

In the meantime… back to the sewing machine!

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My New Slow Project – Union Jacks

I know it probably seems weird that someone who sews for work also sews to relax. I’m lucky to have several social sewing opportunities each month, and I try hard not to take my work to them. Sewing with friends helps me re-connect to the joy of sewing, and to the heart-warming community aspect that has always surrounded quilting. I always come away refreshed and recharged.

Small projects work well for me when I need to go portable, and while I’ve had a recent run of making Sew Together Bags (and, egad, I might not be done with them, I still have a couple of people left to spoil), I needed something else to play with. The solution? Another Slow Project.

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Check out the tiny Big Bens in the print in the top block!

I decided to make Union Jack blocks for this one (in homage to my English heritage), and chose the tutorial from Molli Sparkles for the construction method. Molli’s pattern has the right ratio in the proportions of the flag, and the thick/thin aspects of the white stripes are correctly rendered. (Read here for more information about the flag’s design.) It’s also a pattern that doesn’t leave you with all bias around the edges – a problem that isn’t hard to solve, but great to avoid if other solutions are available!

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Like my last slow project, I think I’ll make this one for my bed, which means it could take a couple of years (which is great, because then I don’t have to think about what to take to sew day for a while!) The block is 7 1/2” x 15”, so I’m probably looking at about 100 blocks to make another big bed quilt. I also have a friend who made it very clear to me that if I junk up her living room with a Union Jack quilt, she’ll love me forever! Who can resist such an offer?! So perhaps I’ll aim for 150 blocks to start.

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I’ve made a working rule for the fabric choices: a print goes in the “blue” space, and a solid goes in the “red” space, with the “white” space remaining white. It’s been fun to comb through my stash for prints, and I’ve also had some donated to the cause by friends.

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I imagine that it will need some calm sashing when I set it, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.

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I’ve made 15 so far, and I’m really having fun with them. Looking forward to the next social sewing day!

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The Joy of a Slow Project

I’m capable of working quite quickly, fast enough that my friends invented a hashtag for it, #sewingatthespeedofsam. Yes, I get through a lot of projects – remember, I design and sew for a living! – but over the years, I’ve had several slow projects, lasting more than a year, and I find great delight in them. There’s something about NOT being on a deadline that is so relaxing.

My most recent “slow” finish was a huge bed quilt, just for me. I started collecting the fabric a couple of years ago, and then spent a retreat weekend cutting up the strips I needed. It took me the better part of a year to put it together, just sewing a bit at a time over retreats and social sewing days to finish the quilt top.

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The quilt is comprised of 36 big log cabin blocks. I had a loose rule for them, making rounds of 2 different sizes of strips for a little randomness, but a rule that made sure they would all hit the same size at the end. Most of the centers have to do with writing, and if not writing, they are personal to me in some way, representing my hobbies, heritage, passions, and travels. The quilt is a celebration of birthing my book, Quilt Talk, and I thought that getting that book finished and launched was something to commemorate with a significant project, not to mention something I will continue to be proud of for years to come.

The blocks are 17” across, and the postage stamp sashing is 1” wide (and yes, there’s a lot of sashing, about 45 yards of it!) so it came in at 110” square – big enough to hit three sides of floor and hide all the things stashed under my raised bed.

I sent the quilt to Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting here in Portland, and she searched for the right text driven design to quilt over it. Nancy is a wonder… not only does she bring her considerable talent to her work, but she spends time getting to know you as an artist before she begins her design process. She knew what I liked before I even talked about it with her (not too dense, and no feathers!). And the design was beyond perfect, full of letters and numbers in different fonts – so right for the quilt, and so very ME at heart:

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I finished the quilt right at the end of 2014, and have been sleeping under it since. It sleeps and drapes beautifully, and I utterly adore it.

Later this week I’ll show you blocks for my next slow project… do you have one on the go?

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Free Pattern – Washable Veggie Bags

I have another freebie for you over at Janome’s site! This time, a fast way to make cloth bags to take to the farmers market or grocery store.

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One yard of fabric quickly turns into SIX bags of different sizes. And you just know you have a yard of something in your stash that you might no longer need to keep :-)

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I’ve been carrying bags like this, along with my re-usable shopping bags, for a couple of years. I always get compliments about how cute they are, and how cool it is to use one less plastic bag. And if they get wet or dirty, you can pop them into the laundry with your towels.

The link to the project is here – enjoy!

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Free Motion Inspiration from Christina Cameli

Yesterday I wrote about playing with Sara Lawson’s new fabric, Fantasia, and promised you a look at the quilting I did. It’s based on designs from Christina Cameli’s latest book, Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting.

I should preface this with the fact that I don’t consider myself sophisticated at machine quilting at all. It’s my least favorite part of the process, and while I still quilt most of my own quilts*, I’m very practical in my designs. I tend to echo straight lines around things, or run lines and grids across the surface, and I can do a mean stipple to fill space when I need to.

Sara’s fabrics have a sweet, cheery feel about them, and I felt that banging a bunch of straight lines across the quilt would be a disservice to the nature theme of her designs. So I turned to Christina’s book for some inspiration.

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It would be easy to look at this book and think that all the designs are intended for a long-arm audience, but that’s far from the case – they are designed to be handled on a domestic machine (this is one of Christina’s superpowers). The designs have an organic, hand-drawn feel about them that I find to be a lovely respite from some the intense, dense, and almost mechanical quilting that has been recently popular. I don’t buy many quilting books, but I’m so glad to have this one in my library – it’s that good. And no, I wasn’t asked to review it!

The book has several edge-to-edge designs that have elements that interlock with each other… the element of one line takes up the space left between two elements of the line next to it:

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I took this concept, and looked for something in Sara’s fabric that might lend itself to such a pattern, ending up with this petaled design:

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Which I interpreted like this in quilting:

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And interlocked like this across the quilt (this is the back, for a better look):

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It was really easy to do down the length of the quilt, and flowed well on the bed of the machine. The rhythm of the design wasn’t hard to find, and the quilting got done quite quickly. I will definitely be using these types of designs again!

The book is lovely, Christina – Brava!!

* When I don’t do my own quilting, I happily hire Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting, and Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts here in Portland, OR.

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Sara Lawson’s Fantasia

My friend Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness put a call out a couple of weeks ago for people to sew with her new fabric line, Fantasia, by Art Gallery Fabrics, so I raised my hand to help out.

I worked with some Art Gallery fabrics while writing Quilt Talk, and they’re not kidding when they say “feel the difference.” The hand of the fabric is smooth and silky, and it makes minimal shreds while you work with it. Lovely stuff!

Fantasia is a light-hearted and whimsical line, with a healthy dose of PINK running through it, so as you can imagine, this was out of my comfort zone! The prints are well integrated both thematically and in terms of variety of pattern texture. There are several good blenders, with a couple that could become great “low volume” staples too. There are two colorways: the PINK/GRAY based Ambrosial, and the TEAL/ORANGE based Crepuscular (what a fun word that is – worth looking up!)

The feature/focus prints are based on Unicorns…

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with supporting designs of flowers, mushrooms, and unicorn-shoes!

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Sara sent fat quarters of both colorways, so I decided to mix them in a fast and easy precut pattern that’s been on the design wall… I’ll be releasing it in May with a few others, so no full pix until then! I used Christina Cameli’s latest book for quilting inspiration – more about that tomorrow!

The fabric should be shipping this month, so ask for it at your local quilt store.

Thank you, Sara, for the chance to play with Fantasia!

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Dimensional Indeed!

Pam Lincoln at Mama Spark’s World recently filled my inbox with goodness! Check out the pix of her rendition of my Relatively Dimensional pattern!

IMG_3494She used a custom Gallifreyan Spoonflower fabric for the background, and then sent it to Kathy Koch at Thread Bear Quilting for the long-arm artistry.

IMG_3496 IMG_3497I’m utterly entranced with the interplay of the circles, and more than a little geeked out by the “DW” motif in the door panels. Swoon!

Brava, ladies! And thank you SO much for sharing the pix with me!

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A Slight Obsession with Sew Together Bags

Have you made a Sew Together Bag yet? Did you know there’s a pattern for a MINI version??

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It’s shorter, and has only two interior pockets.

Elizabeth at OPQuilt.com designed the adapted mini, but she did something utterly cool to protect the original pattern. Rather than offer up the cutting instructions, which could thereby cheat Michelle at SewDemented out of some pattern sales, she created a worksheet that doesn’t work unless you have the numbers from the original pattern. What a delightful way to honor and protect the original pattern!

Anyway – I’ve been on a bit of a tear, making them for friends. I’ve made eleven so far. I even made one for a zipper pouch exchange at my guild’s retreat this weekend. And I have the parts cut out for 4 more to sew while I’m there….

Yep. A little bit obsessed :-)

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Bloomin’ is in Keepsake!

I’m tickled to share that one of my patterns is being featured in the current Keepsake Quilting Catalog – it’s on the back page of the Spring issue! Thank you to all the friends who’ve forwarded pix to me.

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Keepsake has paired the pattern with Catalina, a new floral line from Maywood Studio Fabrics.

This version of the quilt was made by two dear and talented friends – paper-piecing maven Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts made the top, and Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting here in PDX did the long arm honors.

The pattern uses both paper-piecing and easy straight seam piecing to get the job done. If you’re not a fan of working within a collection, it’s an excellent scrap/stash buster – I used prints, batiks, and hand-dyeds in my version for the cover:

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Yes, yes, I know… I used PINK. But you noticed the ORANGE in there too, yes? Of course!

Both the hard copy and PDFs are available in my store… just follow the shopping link above. Or get yours as a kit from Keepsake.

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In praise of counting, even when you don’t plan to sell

How many of us hit the first weekend of February, completely aghast that January was already history? One tenth of the year is done, and I’d be lying if I said I’m cool with that fraction. It’s actually making me sweat a bit. I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO.

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Like many people, I navigate the transition from December to January by taking stock, and one of the things I take stock of is how much work I do in my studio. Counting quilts isn’t too hard as they’re pretty big, but my post-meno memory still manages to lose track of a few – mostly test versions of a pattern in development, or things done for charity. I finished 28 quilts in 2014 – yes, a good number! And don’t hate me… remember this is my living! But when I look at that divided by 52 weeks, it made me wonder where my time went.

So here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • 28 Quilts finished
  • 21 Bee blocks or donation/charity blocks
  • 4 Quilt tops
  • 17 Quilt Talk buckets
  • 11 Chunky Wee Bags
  • 27 Miscellaneous containers (small buckets, zip pouches, etc.)
  • 2 Cross Stitch pieces
  • 10 Other stuff (scarves, pattern tests for other people, sets of napkins for the house, etc.)

A whopping 111 items. Whew. Now *that* number makes me feel like I didn’t spend the entire year fiddling with social media!

So how do I track it? With this worksheet (download it here).

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While I point to other more detailed documents for tracking project time and materials, the one I use most is this one, with just enough space for the time used on common steps like piecing or binding. And this easily lets me see where my time went on all the other stuff!

Also – data is power. I can see that I made a lot of bee blocks, and this year I decided not to join in anymore bees or swaps for a bit to reclaim that time for other things I’d rather be doing. I can also track some broad numbers that I can use for more detailed bidding for projects, should the need arise.

I already have a good start for 2015 going (names of projects blurred to avoid spoiling a couple of surprises!):

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OK – back to the studio. Time to get something else ON the list!

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