Friday, March 24, 2017

Minimalist Pinwheel Quilt and Pattern

Happy spring! Well, it was below 30 degrees a couple days this week in NJ, but the weather promises to warm up this weekend. I'm excited to share with you my latest magazine pattern, Minimalist Pinwheel (or as it's titled, "Spring Fresh"), which is available today in the free Modern By The Yard magazine by Benartex Fabrics. This design has been sitting in my sketchbook for years, and I finally got the chance to work with it for this issue!

I'm all about modernizing traditional quilt blocks, so this design is an angular version of the triangle-based traditional pinwheel block. I'm admittedly not much of a minimalist but I like the design and especially the quilting to do the talking.

Before I made the quilt, I tested a singular block with some of my prized Anna Maria Horner fabric combined with gray solid. You could use a busy fabric as the background and really make the design pop with a solid. Or, switch it; use a print for the pinwheel and a solid for the background. So many options!

I think this design makes for a great one block quilt, or you can pair up 4 (or more) of them like I did to create a cool secondary design (it looks kind of like a middle square with dancing legs). Until I created the below mock up, I had no idea that design would appear!

I decided to use two green prints ("Libby's Lace" from the Liberty Garden) because they are so springy (plus, Greenery is the Pantone Color of the Year!). To give this mini quilt some depth, I set the two different greens side by side. It's a different effect than if they had been placed diagonally across from each other.

The white solid from Colors for Quilters serves to contrast, and I quilted it densely with Aurifil 2024 (white) to emphasize the pinwheel design. For the background, I quilted an improv-y brick pattern using my free motion foot and Aurifil 5017, a lovely lime green. I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to quilt this one, but ultimately, I wanted the spokes of the pinwheel to shine.

I backed this quilt with a pretty, large floral, also from Liberty Garden ("Liberty Garden Blue). So many blues and greens! I might just use this as a table topper with the back side up. :)

I hope you enjoy the newest issue of Modern By The Yard, which is brimming with modern quilt inspiration and springy colors. My friend Jayne @twiggyandopal created the cover pattern! It's so lovely - congrats, Jayne! You can see a peek of the issue here and view and/or download the free magazine here (see the prompts at the bottom of the screen).

I'll be back next week with a look at my solo quilt show a couple weeks ago! I've been doing a loooot of secret sewing and getting my ducks back in a row after such a busy month.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

QuiltCon 2017 Recap, Part 3: Quilt Show

This is Part 3 of 3 of my QuiltCon 2017 Recap. 
Read "Part 1: People and Places" here.
Read "Part 2: Lectures" here.

So, let's talk about this quilt show, shall we? QuiltCon hosts the largest modern quilt show in the world (to my knowledge), with over 400 quilts and several special exhibits. I already shared my main takeaways from the show in the March 1 issue of The Wonky Press newsletter, so I'll keep these comments brief.

Attending a quilt show in person is a lot like reading a quilting blog, or listening to show and tell at a guild meeting. By reading the cards that accompany each quilt, you take a walk in the creators' shoes.

In this age of the internet and social media, people from all around the world can see the quilt show! If you love the modern aesthetic and you get the opportunity, though, I encourage you to attend QuiltCon in person. It's different. I found myself being very introspective and looking for moments that I could go examine quilts by myself. There were details that popped out at me only the second time through all the quilts, and it was especially fun to see how certain quilts helped enhance others around them.

Everyone attends quilt shows to look at something different. Personally, I enjoy looking for innovative quilting and those quilts that use the quilting itself to enhance their message. Here are some of the quilts that have stuck with me 3 weeks after the event.

"Madonna" - pieced by Brittany Bowen Burton 
Quilted by Natalia Bonner on a longarm (I had the pleasure of meeting Natalia, too).
This quilt, to me, shows the many, many options that solid fabrics provide for quilting (plus, yay to big stitch hand quilting!) It also won Best Machine Quilting on a longarm.
"Transparency Quilt 1" by Melissa Everett
This one was quilted using the design as inspiration. It looked like watercolors in person - stunning.

"Murmuration Minued" by Janice Marquardt.
This was probably my favorite quilt in the whole show. It was in the "Use of Negative Space" category; I'm assuming the quilting was the reason. Check out the sun and moon - they are subtle but they add to the picture so beautifully. I love the modern traditional look of this quilt (taking the plus block and morphing it into something wholly different). This quilt was on a side aisle; in my quilt show, it would have been front and center. ;) (this is not to say the quilts were placed according to the show organizers' liking). :P

"Wild Abandon" by Kristin Shields
 The quilting and colorwork on this piece were so well done. I've been following Kristin's work for a while and it was a thrill to see some of it in person. She's fearless.

 "#CUquilt" by Ginevra Martin
 Hand quilting (and yay imperfection!) made a statement on this unique quilt (also, there was a lot of purple. Love!).

"Fireworks" by Jeannie Jenkins
This unusual, bold color scheme was truly a showstopper in person. It won 2nd place in Modern Traditionalism.

 "Still With Her" by Liz Harvatine
This quilt, which won a Judge's Choice ribbon, was placed on the middle aisle. Also a showstopper, especially from across the room. The piecer had created a large Hillary block right before the U.S. election and cut it up afterwards, only to sew it back together. I saw a lot of people taking pictures of this quilt. It gave me a healthy dose of hope.

"Light and Shadow" by Rebecca Loren
The color scheme and quilting on this quilt were astounding. It's a modern version of a traditional star block that the piecer found on the Quilt Index.

 "Lincoln" by Kim Soper
Lincoln's eyes. This quilt won first place in Improvisation and also the Viewer's Choice Award. I'd watched Kim create this quilt via her blog and Instagram; to see it in person was such a pleasure.

I could honestly write another 2 posts about quilts from QuiltCon, but these were my all-time favorites. What did you get to see at QuiltCon (whether in-person or online) that inspired you?

One little piece of me was at QuiltCon - our guild's charity quilt! When our guild couldn't decide on angles or curves, we combined them to make star and moon blocks. Thanks to Janet and Laura for helming this huge project. I quilted the whole thing with wavy walking foot quilting and handquilting, and I also made the bottom left corner green star. Teamwork at its finest.


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quilts and Politics - Podcast with Sit & Sew Radio

Today I'm popping in for a quick heads up - especially if you're heading into the weekend and looking for a good podcast to sew to.

In this recently released podcast episode of Sit & Sew Radio, I chatted with Stephanie Soebbing about my Women's March quilt and the reaction to it, both at the March and online.

This is a much-needed podcast episode (in my opinion), as it explores how women are using and having been using quilts for political purposes since day 1 of the USA (it's not about one side vs. another here). Sue Reich gives great perspective as a quilt historian (in fact, I'm looking into her other podcasts and her book right now), and Lee Chappell Monroe encourages us to spread love through quilt blocks. I hope you'll take a listen. Thank you, Stephanie, for the opportunity!

You can read my original post about the quilt here.


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Monday, March 13, 2017

Fall Spectrum - A Finished Quilt

This quilt is really special to me. You know I love making tree quilts, right?

"Fall Spectrum" is based on a tree in my school's parking lot that turns all of the fall colors at the same time, pictured below. It's truly a wonder. I previously wrote more about the design process in this post, including fabric choices.

From October to December last year, I pieced this quilt; it was a lovely respite from deadlines and adult things (including election angst). As much as quilting is one of my jobs, I still LOVE and NEED to make things *just because*. I plan to continue to do so! It turns out that the more quilts you make (I officially started 7 years ago), the better you get; this is definitely my best made quilt yet in all areas. That being said, I'm really proud of how it came out.

This quilt is an experiment with "like-solid"/tone on tone fabrics that act like solids, but I couldn't help adding in some special scraps. Anna Maria Horner's echinaceas are a favorite, and somehow it still works in the overall quilt!

I finished the quilt top at the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild's annual November retreat. It felt soooo good.

When I received news that my solo exhibition could potentially include 20 quilts, it was a quick decision to finish this one up to show my latest work. The quilting idea came to me eventually: free motion quilt each color in a different motif. Just like all my other quilts, I quilted this one on my home machine, a Janome Memory Craft 6300. Aurifil had all the colors I could ever want/need for this colorful quilt, including 5017 (lime green), 2870 (green), 1135 (yellow), 1133 (bright orange), 2277 (coral), 2250 (bright red), and 4225 (purple).

Here's the "trunk" of the tree. The green part was quilted in various sized baptist fan-like rainbows. To make the tree stand out from the background, I quilted the branches and trunk very densely with straight lines. An all-over motif or pantograph-like design, I think, would have made it disappear into the background.

I quilted the yellow section with pebbles, orange with flames, and red with triangles. Each motif was quilted specifically to overlap just a little with the other surrounding colors, so as to further emphasize the easy transition from one color to another.

Finally, to mimic the wind, I quilted purple swirls into the top part of the tree. Ever since I did this for "Home," I've wanted to try it again. It was such a joy to quilt this quilt a little bit at a time and savor the quilting process. Spaced out over several weeks, it wasn't a rushed job.

I sewed the label on in earnest to prepare for my exhibit - the name came about at the last minute, so it wasn't on there yet! I tried to show the full fall color spectrum in this quilt, so "Fall Spectrum" fit well.

"Fall Spectrum" is one of two of my quilts just juried into MQX (Machine Quilting Expo) in Manchester, NH this April; this one will be in the Modern Quilt category. After taking quick photos for the entry deadline (the first photo in this blog post), I lamented not having pictures of it in a real fall landscape. When fall comes yet again to NJ, you can bet I'll be looking to take a really cool picture.

This quilt is also part of my brick-by-brick improvisation workshop, which I teach to quilt guilds and at retreats and shops. I'm teaching it next at Mid-Atlantic Mod in Lancaster, PA on Saturday, April 29 - if you're going to the retreat, there are still some spots available in the class. I'd love to have you and help you improvise!


My mom snapped this picture on the last day of my exhibit at QuiltFest. The lighting wasn't ideal in this particular spot; the first picture in this post is much closer to the actual colors of the quilt! It's fun to get pictures with my quilts, though. More on the exhibit soon!

Again, the colors aren't exact here (much as I try to alter them on the computer), but with the quilt hanging so flatly, I decided to take a side picture at the show.

Mike's best friend was over playing video games the weekend we took pictures, so I asked for his help (the quilt is 65" x 70" - difficult to hold up, especially in the cold, as one person). There's another funny pic from this photoshoot that I'll be sure to share soon.

 Also, while I was writing this post, I added in pictures and they originally appeared small. Since I neglected (so far) to take a far away picture of the quilt, this should suffice. I'm very pleased that my design shines through when you step away.

Linking up to TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts, Fabric Tuesday, Needle and Thread Thursday.


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

QuiltCon 2017 Recap, Part 2: Lectures

 This is Part 2 of 3 of my QuiltCon 2017 Recap. 
Read "Part 1: People and Places" here.

This year at QuiltCon in Savannah, GA, I was determined not to take on volunteer shifts or any classes. I'm sure I will do both again in the future, but I really just needed a vacation without too many plans (we all need that sometimes, right?). I still signed up for four lectures, though (actually, I got the Saturday lecture pass and took a break midday, so I didn't see all of them). I'm happy to report that they were all excellent! Here's what I took away from each one:

First, I was fortunate enough to listen to Mary Fons speak about the history of American quilts. Hands down, this was the best lecture I've ever attended (and I've listened to a significant amount of lectures, both quilty and not)! Mary was hilarious, informative, creative, and inspiring. When you listen to someone speak, you want them to
a. know their stuff and
b. connect with their audience.

Mary did all of that with aplomb. She included a "brief history" of ALL the American quilt trends she possibly could and even mentioned political quilts. Woot!

At the end, I'm pretty sure we all teared up a little, as she connected all of us in the MQG with the immense and daunting history of American quilts. I really wanted to tell her how much I appreciate her writing (do you read her daily blog, Papergirl?), and I got that chance right after the lecture. Thanks to Sarah @sarahmgoer for snapping this pic.


Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles spoke about the ins and outs of screenprinting, and her love for the craft was undeniably infectious. Whenever you watch someone who has clearly found their passion in life, it's a thrill.

While some of the details were lost on me (I've never screenprinted before), Karen still did a admirable job of describing everything in layman's terms. I love that she included pictures from Instagram of those who were using her fabrics, and she gave credit correctly and generously (always a plus in my book). Above, you can see Karen and Carole Lyles Shaw, our emcee, sharing one of Karen's quilts (an audience member had previously purchased and brought it in!).

I also listened to Cheryl Arkison's lecture about WIPs (works-in-progress) and UFOs. Cheryl spoke about the results of her survey, which over 400 quilters responded to (including myself). It was an interesting assessment, including questions like:

"How many ongoing projects do you have?"
"At what point does this number stress you out?"
"At what stage (binding, quilting, etc.) do you get stuck?"

Cheryl encouraged all of us to embrace our unfinished projects (she has 44 - and she reported that several quilters had over 100!). You'll have to read the detailed survey results on her blog when they come out - I'll update with a link here.

Finally, last but not least, I attended the keynote speech by Angela Walters. I've heard Angela speak before (at our guild several years ago), and she's a hoot - so much of a hoot that I forgot to take a picture (it was also the second to last day, and I felt myself losing QuiltCon steam at that point! I'll be honest!). Angela talked about all the people who inspired HER to quilt and pursue her business. Her ability to connect with a wide range of quilters (style, age, skill level) was on full display.

Did you attend lectures at this year's QuiltCon? What did you think? If you didn't attend, who would you love to hear from, or which topic would you like to learn more about?

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