Friday, February 27, 2015

Surprise clutches

When I decided to attend QuiltCon, I got it in my head that it would be fun to surprise some of my best quilty friends who would also be attending (especially the ones I had never met in person). So many swappers, guild members, and bee mates have surprised me by making pouches and pincushions, and freely giving me fabric, books, chocolate, interfacing (I'm looking at you, Laura, and I love it!!), and on and on. I wanted to do something that took some time to thank them for those surprises. Plus, you know, they are just some wonderful ladies that deserved some surprises. :)

One of my favorite pouch patterns is the Nora Clutch Tutorial, written by my friend Heidi. It's a large pouch/clutch, especially when you fold up the top. It holds so much! I thought very carefully about each person (I legitimately had a spreadsheet going) about which fabrics I would cut for each person (that they would hopefully love), which color zipper, which lining, etc. What can I say - I wanted them to be perfect, and I'm a planner! From the top left - Laura (the Lizzy House obsessed), Renee (loves the cranes and teal), Jess (loves the early AMH lines), Heather (favors blue and low volume, from my observations), (bottom right) Ashley (a fellow Loulouthi worshipper), Karin (my Supernova partner who enjoys Indelible and teal), and Sandi (my fellow purple lover!!).

These I gave out at our February guild meeting to Sonia (who has been very generous including me in fabric finds, and she's just amazing anyway), Lori (one of my QuiltCon roommates and overall a lovely friend), and Jess, in her new Cascade fabrics (we're partners in crime, don't you know?). 

I'm partial to these three fabric combinations... and even though these are some of my own favorite fabrics (that I've been hoarding), it was soooo worth it for my friends. Ladies, use them in good health, and I love you!! Quilty friends are the best - thank you! :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Inspired by QuiltCon Edition

Other quilters inspire me. It's a fact. Whether it's Anna Maria Horner's free quilt patterns, my Instagram feed, show and tell at the guild, or anything Renee and Jess FMQ, I step away feeling this: I. Need. To. Quilt. The day after getting home from QuiltCon, I felt like diving straight back into my project for the Cascade Fabric Challenge, sponsored by Windham Fabrics, through our guild (the designer, Jessica Levitt, is our founder and current VP). It's due at our March meeting in two weeks. Where I originally had decided to just improv piece some rectangles and squares in color sections...

...I suddenly wanted to chop them all up. I borrowed my friend Sarah's book by Sherri Lynn Wood (The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters) on the first plane ride (thanks Sarah!) and that curve improv just stuck with me. So here I am, using a ruler sparingly, but still somewhat planning out the layout of where those curves will lie on the overall quilt. So far, I'm completely loving it! Some of the curves and inserted lines will look like they go right into the background (Free Spirit solid in Eggshell). I can't wait to finish this top - hopefully by the end of the week! Improv is hard work!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

QuiltCon Recap, Part 1

 QuiltCon was an overwhelming experience from the time I woke up at 3 am to start my journey from New Jersey to Texas on Thursday. Admittedly, I was extra pumped (like, actually dancing a bit in my seat without a care) when we landed in Austin around lunchtime. There is no way I can accurately communicate all of the joy that I felt this weekend, so I'll sum up in a few separate blog posts. Here are the thoughts I wrote down on the plane ride home.

 Both winning quilts I was a part of - 1st and 3rd place in the group/bee category! So proud and excited! More below about them.

Yes, it was a relief to escape the frigid Northeast (if only for a moment), visit a stupendous show of stunning (modern!!!!) quilts multiple times, shop for fabric and notions in person, and meet some of the quilting all-stars, but the best part of the convention for me, hands down, was meeting many of my beloved internet quilty friends for the first time. When the Internet was just a fledgling little bird (and I was in middle school, LOL), I remember thinking, "I'm sure I'll NEVER befriend someone just from being online. That's crazy." 

But, guess what? - this quilty community thrives on blogs, Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram. I feel infinitely grateful that I've befriended these amazing people. It was so fun to reminisce about how we'd gotten to know each other, and talk about quilty things IN PERSON. Like, what? Was that even real life? It felt like a dream. Also, walking around Austin in the 70 degree weather without a jacket and eating dinners outside was nothing short of heavenly.

 From the left: me, Jess, and Renee at the Moda Party. Two of my very favorite lovely ladies of quilting.

Let's just take a moment to admire how brilliant this quilt is. It was hanging at the C&T Publishing booth. Perfect to a T.

 From left to right: Me, Ashley, Michelle, Renee, and Laura
Not pictured: Liz (we missed you!)

What an absolute pleasure it was to meet my Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts bee mates (most of whom I had never met) for dinner. I got to spend much of the weekend with Renee, arguably my best online quilty friend. We roomed with my fabulous guild friend Lori (@gratitudequilts)! It was utterly thrilling to bump into Jess and Sandi, two long time online friends, and Karin, my Supernova swap partner for the last year, at the Moda Party. I got to spend time with them all weekend!! It was a pleasure to meet Debbie, Leanne, and Christa, who I have not only corresponded with many times but also admired greatly. They are just as dynamic, gracious, and beautiful as you would expect them to be!

 Christa and I

 It was a thrill to make new friends, like Jo! I loved having lunch with the lovely Heather, who I met last year at Mid-Atlantic Mod.

 From left: Jo, Karin, me, Renee. We had some kick butt barbecue!

I had a blast talking with Adrianne and Gemma, and I had breakfast at a lovely cafe with a huge table of Aussie quilters. I had the privilege to meet up with 6 of my own guild members who made the trip from NJ (CJMQG, represent!) and share the experience. It's impossible to list everyone I saw right now, but if I met you this weekend, please know I'm thinking of you and treasuring it!

 From left: Lori, Sonia, Jessica L., me, Laura, Krishma (not pictured: Meg)

 It feels like my friendship with all of these people have been enhanced so much more just with the simple joy of meeting face-to-face. Take that, 21st century technology! :)

Some major highlights:
-The Moda party on Thursday night. It was a bit hard to find people but there were so many friends there! It was a great way to start the whole weekend. Great job, MQG!

-White-gloving the quilt show as an MQG volunteer (showing the backs to attendees, helping them find quilts, explaining the exhibit, etc.). I was there for 3.5 hours and still didn't see the whole show. That's how many quilts were there!

-Giving a 3 minute talk about our 3rd place winning group/bee quilt, the CJMQG Banner, for the Quilt Alliance. I'll let you know when the Youtube video is up - here it is! I'm so proud to represent our guild! Apparently, Bill Volckening wanted to buy our quilt for his collection - what an honor!

-Jess Levitt and I were also a part of the 1st place winning group/bee quilt, Playing with Little Bits, which was pieced entirely at the inaugural 2014 Mid-Atlantic Mod. Congrats to Rose Daley, who beautifully quilted and finished the quilt. By the way, you can see ALL the quilt show winners here.

-Only at QuiltCon do you see people all around a city wearing handmade clothes and bags in recognizable fabrics! I wore all four of my handmade outfits and it was worth all the work to be recognized as a sewist but also to be comfortable!

-Taking Anna Maria Horner's Mod Corsage class on Saturday with several friends (Denyse Schmidt took the class, too!). It was a blast. That will have to be a totally separate post. I'm itching to work on that quilt now... like I need another WIP! Anna Maria was so wonderful. It was such an inspiring class. I know, I'm just gushing.

-Seeing our charity quilt, Modern Bracelets, hanging in Ballroom B with about 60 other charity quilts from around the world! I owe you a blog post about this one - I designed it and pieced the top together (blocks were made by many guild members). The quilting was done by the ever-wonderful Jessica Levitt.

-Andres Rosales and Luke Haynes make a Jess sandwich. Can you tell how much I love Luke Haynes? I enjoyed meeting Andres too, of course. ;)


-Meeting the ladies of Cotton and Steel and making a headband at their booth.

-Listening to the dynamic women of Gee's Bend at the keynote lecture. Next time, I want to attend more lectures.

 -Seeing my Oakshott table runner hanging in the Oakshott booth (block tutorial here)!

-Meeting Benedict Cumberbatch - he's just as fetching in quilt form, thanks to the illustrious Kristy (who I also had the pleasure of finally meeting!).

Finally, huge props to the Modern Quilt Guild. As we learned at the MQG General Session on Sunday, membership has exploded since 2013 to 139 local guilds and 8161 members. Clearly, with around 4000+ attendees this weekend (according to the Austin Convention Center website), they succeeded in pulling off an amazing, multi-faceted event and international quilt show. Yes, there are things that might be changed (which I'll be suggesting - have you filled out your surveys yet, positive feedback included?), but it was a success. Thank you, MQG board and fellow volunteers, for an outstanding and forever memorable event.

 Crazy amounts of swag from the swag bag and vendor booths. I'll be sharing my fabric purchases separate for Sunday Stash!

I don't know when I'll be able to attend QuiltCon again (MAYBE 2017 in Savannah because it's drivable, though I'm not counting on it yet) but I'm so grateful for the memories and the experience of attending this downright fabulous party of all kinds of quilters. Returning to real life after a trip has never been so difficult!

Part 2 of this series will be more on AMH's class, and Part 3 will be some of my favorite quilts from the show! Phew, this was a lengthy post. Thanks for sticking with me if you read this far! I didn't want to skip over anything. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leaving for QuiltCon!

I'm all set to go! The bags are packed (for the most part) and I'm trekking to the airport at 4 am, en route to Austin, TX. It will be the furthest west I've ever traveled, and on my own, too.  I will have lots to report on when I return next week, but until then, I'll be Instagramming as much as possible (@quiltyhabit)!

This is the lanyard my secret partner, Katherine (@kakiofhoneyhill) made me for the QuiltCon lanyard swap! I love it sooo much (especially those selvage roses). I hope I get to meet her and thank her in person.

I can't wait to meet the Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts (those that will be there) and trade our Round 2 starter quilts! And that's just tomorrow night. This whole trip will likely be a whirlwind!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Socialite Dress - Finished!

 This finish was on my Finish-A-Long Quarter 1 goal list, and it was done on time! Yay! I'm linking up with Adrianne @ On The Windy Side.

At long last, I finished making my first dress! Party time! Oh, and I just love wearing it with a belt. Otherwise, most dresses in this style (unfitted) look like large, floppy pillows on me. :) I'm a curvy 5'10", so dresses need to fit me well!

The pattern is the Socialite Dress by Anna Maria Horner, and the fabric is a beautiful midnight blue/purple voile from her Field Study line (I fell in love with it and envisioned it as a dress about 2 years ago). Oh, and I'm totally wearing it to AMH's Mod Corsage class this Saturday (I'm still wondering if this is real life).

My wonderful friend Amy had gifted me the pattern for Christmas in 2013 (she's a fab garment sewist!). In person, she graciously helped me through the beginning steps of tracing and cutting the pattern. On my own, though, I was overwhelmed by the pattern and became intimidated by the whole prospect of sewing. a. dress. I started again, empowered, about 3 weeks ago (my first two tops [here and here] and rayon simple elastic waistband skirt [which I need to blog about] were recent successes.

Here's the back - yes, I need to press it again - but anyway, you can see the gathering along the top as the pattern dictates. I'm still wearing the belt here, though it disappeared a bit from the angle Mike took the picture.  :)

For those of you who are thinking about starting to garment sew - I would not recommend starting with a dress! Tops require less fabric and give you a lot or practice with all of the ins and outs of garment sewing. This is not a beginner pattern (in my opinion), and I made it as simple as possible for myself (no pockets, for example). The pattern gave a great explanation of gathering but the rest was a little murky (this visual learner could have used more pictures). I had a back and a front - so far, so good. Then, I decided to line it with a midnight blue fabric I bought at Joanns, because although the voile is dark, it is a bit sheer. This was where I ran into problems.

Prewashed voile, all ready to cut into!

I tried following different directions online for sewing lining to a sleeveless dress. After hours of fabric wrangling, seam ripping, and consultation with guild members (thank you ladies! I am forever in your debts), the only solution that made complete sense to me (and worked!) is this one by The Slapdash Sewist. It involved a tiny bit of hand-sewing, but that's okay. Plus, Jess pointed out that I had sewn on both yokes completely backwards (oops), so that was a big problem. Now that the lining is successfully in place, the best part is that I didn't have to do any armhole facings or neckline facings. However, somehow, my lining got smaller (maybe I was supposed to make it a little bigger?), so I cut it at points and added fabric. Improvising, just as I would with a quilt. Plus, I used French seams and no one will be looking at the lining anyway, right? :D I still have a lot to learn about linings. Any advice?

Thank goodness for sewing breakthroughs. I'm really excited to wear this dress everywhere, but I will be taking a garment-sewing break for a little while, I think! Here I am, packing 4 handmade outfits in my suitcase for QuiltCon - just two more sleeps until I wake up at an ungodly hour (3 am) to catch a flight to Texas!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Stash - Pre-QuiltCon

I fully intend to buy a little fabric in Austin this week, but I seriously lost all control when I visited my LQS (local quilt shop), Pennington Quilt Works, last week for our February guild meeting. I had no idea that Jan was getting in Folk Song by Anna Maria Horner, Handcrafted by Alison Glass, and Cascade by my real-life favorite fabric designer and quilty bff, Jessica Levitt. I mean, I was only there two weeks ago!

Anyway, I think guild members in the vicinity might have thought a rabid animal had been let loose. Is it strange that fabric makes me so giddy? Good thing I get to cut it sometimes when I work there in the summer. :) That helps calm me down. I honestly was going to buy these anyway but all the better that my LQS has them. I'd rather pay a few extra dollars to buy fabric from them when they have what I want. And just for full disclosure, I invested in 1 yard cuts of these precious prints (I missed out on all the early AMH fabric, and I've only collected a bit here and there since). I have big plans for these with my medallion quilt.

 I bought a quarter yard of the teal Handcrafted print, a half yard of the tomato red (that's a rare color in my stash), and 2 yards of the light gray solid (Fog)from Cascade. It is TOTALLY my new favorite solid, and I need it for my Cascade Challenge and guild QAL quilts.

Now I have some more florals to bring with me to Austin for AMH's Mod Corsage class. My excitement is hard to explain at this moment. Tomorrow, I start packing!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Supernova In Blue - A Finished Quilt

 This finish was on my Finish-A-Long Quarter 1 goal list, and it was done on time! Yay! I'm linking up with Adrianne @ On The Windy Side.

This is what it's all about. Making pretty quilts just because. Even though I tend to have 8-10 projects going on at once (especially within the last three months), when I get obsessed with a project, it's all I can think about. Well, pretty much all, not counting my family, friends, students, and the importance of ice cream.

Here's the front - it was flurrying while we took pictures - that's what those white streaks are! It was the only time we had to get a good picture. The things I do for quilts...

I chose to start this Supernova Friendship Swap quilt with Karin simply because I wanted to. Last year, I craved a year-long project. I also craved a piecing challenge (these little whippersnappers took 2-3 hours to make two, even with chain-piecing). I had always wanted to try Lee Heinrich's beautiful quilt; however, making all those blocks on my own was daunting. It made sense to team up! Each month, we each made two identical (or almost identical blocks) within our chosen color palette. For the back, I took the extra supernova (and the lightest one overall) and pieced a back together from my stash. It includes some treasured prints (especially those arrows!).

Quilts full of saturated color make our hearts sing, and this one is no different. We chose the blue quilter's linen as a background after I saw this quilt on Pinterest. Sometimes I need a break from using cream/white/gray as a neutral. ;) The extra fabric in the border is the metallic Netorious by Cotton and Steel, and it gives off a great shine. I can't wait to see what Karin chooses as her extra fabric! And, thanks to my friend Liz's suggestion, I bound it in the purple Cotton and Steel Dottie print. Good thing I recently purchased another yard (so technically I am sewing from my stash!).

As I mentioned earlier this week, I quilted so that the center supernova exploded to the ends of the quilt in all directions; I used large pebbles for the horizontal and vertical lines, and repeating arcs on the diagonals. The other supernovas are quilted individually in one of three designs: spirals, squares, and waves. I made sure to continue the quilting into the borders to maintain the exploding illusion. Then, I felt like it needed one more element (what can I say, I quilt quilts to death), so I quilted 8 diamonds in the middle Xs that the supernovas create. I discovered such joy in quilting this quilt.  This process included a few very late nights because I was so wrapped up in what I was doing. I can only wish that others have or can find that feeling within their own hobbies. It was euphoric.

Another great aspect of this quilt was accuracy. Karin is an impeccable piecer; every month, I was so impressed with her matching up! For myself, as a self-taught quilter, I've often felt a bit lagging behind in matching up points and seams. I noticed myself improving immensely starting about 2 years ago. The more you practice, the better you get! I've also just started using Best Press and have already gone through one and a half bottles - love that stuff! It makes my pressing much more accurate and helps the fabric stay flat. It's interesting to reflect on how your skills and your craft improve over time.

Go start (or finish?) that quilt you love. You won't regret it. I'm so glad I persevered this week... it was worth it. This quilt is staying with me!

Finally, it was so much fun to get to know Karin over this year... and I'll meet her for the first time at QuiltCon in 5 days!!!

You can read more about my Supernova quilt here, here, here, here, and here.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts.

rsz_1friendship_button_small FINAL

Thanks to Sandra and Stephanie for cheering us on all year!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Supernova Sprint

I'm in a dash to get my Supernova quilt done (the quilt that Karin and myself traded blocks for over all of 2014 - she has her own version!). Mostly, a deadline is keeping me motivated. That deadline is Saturday, and I'm all in. Ironically, this is the LAST time I should be attempting to finish a large quilt, because I have two more projects to finish before QuiltCon (I leave next Thursday morning). However... we have off on Monday, so I'll have that day. And I can make the time. For now... I'm inspired/determined to finish this quilt!

So far, so good. The top was easy to piece together but still somehow took about two hours (between figuring out which fabric I wanted in the border - of course I went with metallic Netorious by Cotton and Steel, wouldn't you know? [see 2 pictures below in this post]- and pressing and piecing accurately). This kind of thing is why I will never understand how people sometimes can charge so little for handmade quilts. Just the border took me 2 hours, and if I'm considering myself worth at least $20 an hour plus materials... well, you get the idea! It irritates me how little people sometimes value skilled labor. End rant.

Anyway, I pieced the backing based on the lightest Supernova block (a beautiful one that Karin made early on). I'm REALLY excited about using those Cotton and Steel arrows and lions!! They just fit perfectly. I try to make my large quilt backs just as exciting as my fronts (or at least enough where I'd enjoy using either side), and this fits the bill for me.

I started quilting large pebbles from the middle, so that you get the illusion of a huge Supernova taking over the whole quilt. I'm in the process of quilting the smaller supernovas individually. I'm going to leave most of the blue quilter's linen background blank for effect.

Last night, I asked my guild what kind of binding I should use. I agree that it should be solid, and someone suggested purple. Why, trusty purple, do I always return to you? That's right, it's because you're the best color. ;)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.


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