Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Autumn Wind: A Wonky Cross Quilt

This week, I've been working like mad to finish a couple of projects plus the first issue of The Wonky Press (my newsletter comes out tomorrow, Oct. 1 - you can subscribe on the right sidebar if you are interested!). I made this wonky cross quilt as a sample for my Wonky Cross Class at Rock Paper Scissors on October 28 (registration is open!). It was so incredibly gratifying to make.

Beth, RPS shop owner and my friend, suggested the Modern Background Paper line by Zen Chic as a low volume background. I was only too happy to shuffle through her stack of bolts to choose several fabrics. I wanted the crosses to pop against the background, so I chose bright solids (sorry, I didn't write down which solids they are). I was really feeling the red, orange, and purple that day (probably because I love fall and fall. is. HERE!).

 Look at those text fabrics!! Wow.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want to try improvisation, this is a great technique to start with. You could fill each spot with a wonky cross if you wanted. I chose to leave negative space in each row to give it a more randomized/modern look. One cross in each row is skinnier than the others, too. But really... there are a million options for wonky crosses! Try them!!

In the class, I give instructions for piecing a backing like this out of your extra fabric.

I considered quilting each wonky cross individually as I have in the past, but I couldn't figure out the best way to go about it within the deadline I set myself (one week). I wracked my brain for another option and the spiral from the center just made beautiful sense to me. Not that it was fast... but it took less brain power to execute, that's for sure. :)

I used my free motion foot for the first 10 circles or so, and then graduated to the walking foot. I find it much easier to maneuver the FMQ foot in small spaces and then let the walking foot (and my poor, poor arms) do all the work. I didn't mark the space between the lines simply because I trusted myself and it was easier not to. :) In the future, I'd love to quilt an off-center spiral on a quilt like this. I love to get lost in spirals and bagpipes from the Outlander soundtrack...

The quilt measures out to 38.5" square - a perfect autumnal (or whatever you want!) wall hanging. Won't you join me for a class? :)

Quilt picture outtake: It came out blurry but it looks kind of cool. Also, there's another quilt behind me, and a storm is coming! Or maybe it's just Mordor.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Stash Strikes Again

I'm the first to admit that retail/fabric and sewing therapy is a real thing. I didn't buy these for therapy's sake, per se, but they certainly did help turn around a particularly hectic and stressful couple of weeks (thanks, moving)!

I was fortunate to win a gift card to the Fat Quarter Shop from the Improv Challenge with Daisy @ Ants to Sugar and Sandi @ Crafty Planner (P.S. check out Daisy's beautiful strip improv). I really needed dark gray Aurifil (#5004) for my Sisterhood quilt, so I picked that up along with several half yards I've been eyeing up (Sprinkle by Cotton and Steel, two prints from Zephyr by Rashida Coleman-Hale, and the gorgeous Meteor Shower in Aquamarine by Tula Pink). They just jumped into my cart, okay? That last print is one I've been coveting since it was released a couple years ago. These fabrics were chosen at random just because I love them, but they do go nicely together, don't they?

Melinda (@quirkygranolagirl) convinced me that I needed to make something with that palette, so I used my stash to fill in some gaps (and entered it into the #playwithfabricchallenge on IG with @acraftyfox_amanda). I've kept these fabrics together just to make something soon. I have plans. You know, in between all the other fall projects. :)

These half yards from The Lovely Hunt was a purely indulgent purchase from Hawthorne Threads. After seeing Lizzy House's new line at our CJMQG Meadow workshop a few weeks ago, I knew I had to buy those purples and blues. The orangey pinks are not really "me" but boy are they pretty. They are also lighter colors I happen to lack very clearly in my stash. I don't know what I'm making with these but I love looking at them! I might use the Meadow block prints (top and fifth from top) for binding, though.

At my LQS Rock Paper Scissors, I picked up some lovely Botany Printed Chambray by Alison Glass (top left). I bought three yards because hey, I need a thistle dress in my life. This print is AMAZING - have you seen it in blue? Also, some of my friend are having an Outlander party soon, and if I can get my act together, I might be able to finish it for then. No idea what pattern I'll use yet, though.

I also bought 2 yards of the Lizzy House navy Pearl Bracelet knit (for a skirt?), the orange feather print for a fall bag (that probably won't get made this autumn), and another stunning colorway of that print from The Lovely Hunt.

Finally, I was given fabric to make my sample for my upcoming Wonky Cross class at RPS on Oct. 28! I showed a sneak at the quilt in my last post; this is the backing. It is waiting to be bound tonight, and I'll surely have a post to share later this week.

Phew! I think I just heard my wallet grown. I may be in the process of buying some more Loominous from Sew Me A Song for the backing of this quilt. Oh well, at least it has a purpose, right?

Linking up to Sunday Stash. Because this is most certainly a lengthy stash post. :) But you guys understand, right?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Teaching at Rock Paper Scissors in Montclair, NJ!

I'm thrilled to announce a new opportunity to teach regularly at one of my LQS's, Rock Paper Scissors (15 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, NJ). The ladies there always make me feel welcome, and it's way too easy to get lost in the shop. :) This semester, I'll be there often! It's in northeastern NJ and just a short train ride from NYC - please join me! :)

I'm teaching my favorite Orange Peels and Improv from 7-9 PM on October 14 and 21. Here's a blog post from the past about the class, and here's when I taught it at Mid-Atlantic Mod Retreat earlier this year. I owe you a blog post on this summer's class from Pennington Quilt Works. Come have a blast in this class spread over two days!

A new class: Wonky Cross  (a great introduction to improvisation!) on Oct. 28! You'll learn the technique and start a wall-hanging. Here's the sample, which is in progress and will be finished soon! I'm using solids and Modern Neutrals by Zen Chic, all found at Rock Paper Scissors. I'll post more about it when it's done. In the meanwhile, if you'd like to learn, feel free to sign up for the class!

 I'm also teaching  Intermediate Free Motion Quilting: Curves on Nov. 18. It's both a skill-building class and a project class. I can't WAIT!

We'll learn pebbles, swirls, and loops, and make a table topper!

Finally, I'll be teaching Tweens and Teens Sewing I and II (Monday and Wednesday afternoons starting NEXT WEEK, Sept. 30), which has always been a dream of mine. I've taught grades 6-12 in public schools and assistant-taught a sewing class with 10-16 year olds before, and I'm so ready. Over 8 weeks, we'll sew up bags, PJ pants, pillows, and skirts, according to the class level {here's the description for 1 and here's 2}. If you have or know a tween/teen who yearns to sew, send them my way!

If you'd like to reserve your spot, you can call Rock Paper Scissors at (973)337-6759. Space is limited, so call now! Make sure to check out all their great fall classes here!

Let's sew together (in person)! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WIP Wednesday

This week I'm chiefly working on a class sample and some quilting for Cloud9 Fabrics! I can't share those quite yet, but I can share my personal projects:

 I cut into my recent purchase of Loominous woven fabric from Sew Me A Song. This quilt's purpose is simply the pure joy of making an autumnal quilt; the fabrics are stunning and I'm enjoying figuring out where to go next. I pulled out my shot cotton stash (it's small but mighty) to play with these fabrics. The shot cottons are a bit heavier but they change colors, and Loominous is metallic, so they work well together. It's all so soft. I have someone in mind to gift it to when it's done.

I sewed all my Meadow quilt blocks - now I just have to trim them and sew them together. I have a lot coming up so I might put these on the backburner until our CJMQG November retreat. Or, I might get inspired to keep going. The bulk of the work is done and it's a purely selfish project, so there's no rush. I don't intend to keep this one laying around for a year though! I am itching to free motion quilt it!

Finally, my biggest WIP - the new sewing room. I took this picture the night we moved in (most of my stuff was still in the hallway behind me!). It's coming along nicely and I can't wait to show you how I've decorated (mini quilts and my selvage quilt, for one!). Most of all, I'm itching to sew. We'll see if that happens today. Lots going on around here. Hopefully you are getting some sewing done in my place!

P.S. Stay tuned for an announcement of my new classes tomorrow!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Selvage Along: Final Link Up!

Today is the last day of the Selvage Along (#selvagealong)! Hopefully you had a great summer and got some awesome selvage-y inspiration. I know I did! There are just so many things you can do with selvages.

Last week I finished my Selvage Rainbow Bookcase Quilt, which was my goal at the beginning of the Selvage Along. Whee! You can read about my new favorite quilt right here.

 I also want to share the AMAZING mini quilt that Helga (@qallieq) made me for the Cotton and Steel Mini Quilt Swap on Instagram. I can't believe I get to keep it!! I had mentioned my love for C + S selvages (they have quotes, cool colors, and unique fonts), and just WOW! Would you believe Helga considers herself a beginner quilter? The workmanship on this thing is just lovely.

 This mini actually won recognition for our swap group and was photographed by Cotton and Steel for a lookbook. How cool! Because I had to send my mini away to them almost right after I received it, they softened the blow by sending back several fat quarters. Thanks, Helga and Cotton and Steel! I can't WAIT to hang this in my new sewing room. Yay selvages and quilty friends!


Link up your Selvage Project here! Make sure to check back throughout the week and see the projects. This is a joint list with my co-host Renee, so if you link up to either of our blogs, it will appear:

P.S. Make sure you pop over and check out Renee's beautiful, feathery Selvage Along finish!

Feel free to check out the links from the whole Selvage Along:
July 20 - Intro post
July 24 - Selvage storage/collection linkup 
July 27 - Selvage Strip Pillow Tutorial by Jess @ Quilty Habit 

August 3 - Anna Maria Horner Selvage Feathers Tutorial by Renee @ Quilts of a Feather
August 10 -  Selvage Zippy Pouch Tutorial by Chris @ Made by ChrissieD & mid-way check-in linky on both blogs  

August 17 - Selvage Binding Tutorial by Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl 

August 24 - Project by Vera @ Negligent Style 

August 31 - Project by JessElven Garden Quilts 
Sept. 14 - Tutorial round up on both blogs {Renee} {Jess} - mine is more of a project round up!
Sept. 21 - Last linky party- link up all your selvage projects!<<< You are here!

Happy Selvage Sewing!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Wonky Press - A Newsletter!

*Don't forget to enter my 5 year Blogiversary giveaway!*

I'm so excited to announce the details of my bi-monthly newsletter! The Wonky Press (Get it? "Press" as in newspaper and "press" as in with an ironing board... I crack myself up) is a little daydream that's been percolating in the depths of my brain for a while. I'm finally taking the plunge and starting because there's no day but today (who else is a Broadway fan and got that reference?). You'll have to check out the first issue to find out why I chose the name. :)

 Here's what else you'll find in The Wonky Press:
-Unique and exclusive content about modern quilting and goings-on in the craft world, written by yours truly (starting with improvisation, my favorite and the wonkiest of them all!)
-Special guest appearances/interviews with quilters and sewists
-Guest column by my husband Mike (I can't wait to see how this evolves)
-Polls and results
-Links to relevant articles around the Internet (both current and past)
-Sewing tips
-Seasonal sewing inspiration

*Topics will vary by the newsletter; this is a sampling of the many topics that will appear.

 Here's some wonky crosses. A blog post/newsletter isn't complete without a picture!

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now and you'll receive the first newsletter on October 1. And then on Oct. 15. And on Nov. 1. You get the idea. :)

Thanks, as always, for your support of my quilty endeavors. I hope that I can give back a little more with this newsletter. I love writing and I love interacting with the sewing community!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Selvage Rainbow Bookcase Quilt

*Don't forget to enter my 5 year Blogiversary giveaway!*

It's done! It's done! I haven't made a quilt that meant so much to me personally since Dresden Rainbow. Reading is my second-most favorite hobby besides sewing, and I've been reading voraciously since I learned how. Enter the Selvage Rainbow Bookcase Quilt!

 Posing with my favorite sign from Marden's.

This quilt is an abstract version of a bookcase quilt (in that it does not have a border or super-clearly-defined shelves). I fell in love with this quilt in 2011 on Pinterest (though I haven't been able to track down the maker). So, I started saving my selvages, and finally, with the start of the Selvage Along with Renee (@quiltsnfeathers) this summer, it was time. I rainbow-tized them (this is totally a word now), and, with your encouragement, I used a white/low volume background like my own real-life bookcase instead of a traditional brown.

This is one of those projects you can pick up and put down just to do a block or two (although it's hard to account for hundreds of selvages laying out for days on your table/floor/master bed etc.). At first, I dove in headfirst and couldn't stop. Throughout the summer, I completed one or two blocks at a time.

P.S. Why selvages? Because the names on fabric looks like book titles and their authors (like "Honor Roll" by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit). I used those parts of the selvages as much as possible. 

The selvages are appliqued and sewn on directly to the background fabric (you can see a mini tutorial of the two different ways I used here). Eventually, I joined all the blocks together using partial seams, since they were all different sizes (inspired by this lovely bookcase).

Next: how do you quilt a ton of selvages while preserving their loveliness? How do you quilt a heavy quilt (with lots of applique?). I decided to straight line quilt in all the white space, using my walking foot. It gives the quilt a great texture and it makes the "books" pop out. Then, I quilts one line down each book to secure them in place with the backing. I didn't have to do that, but it made them look more individually placed. This would be a great project for quilt-as-you-go, as many selvage projects are. I did it the long, round-about way, and I'm okay with that.

Then, I wanted to quilt something special on the actual shelves. With encouragement from Instagram, I sketch-stitched (with free motion) eleven of my favorite books in black thread (Aurifil). I had a list of book that I kept changing (this was a very important process!), but these were the ones that made the most impact on me. They show up enough to give those who look at the quilt one more special thing to find.

The books (in no particular order) are:
1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I grew up with Harry and the gang. Changed my life for the better. Enough said.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien - As a teenager, LOTR captivated me like no other series (besides HP).

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - An amazing book that I've used to interest teens in reading, including my own siblings. A wonderful children's story that is really for adults (in my opinion). :)

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Spoke to my geekiness and my high school/college life more than I can really describe.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - A beautiful tale that lived up to its hype. One of those books I've thought about for months after finishing it. I never wanted it to end.

The quilt is bound in Memoir by Violet Craft - an out-of-print fabric that is hard to find. It tells a story!

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Historical fiction, a love story spanning roughly 6,000 pages/8 books so far, kilts, and Jamie Fraser? What more could one want?

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read this book this year for the first time. I wish I had had the chance to read it as a high school student like so many others, but this book resonated with me as an adult because I could relate to Jean Louise AND Atticus. Plus, I love history.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Probably my singular favorite book. I love everything about it (Colin Firth included - okay I realize he's not in the BOOK but you know what I mean!).

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - This story's twists and turns inspired me as a high school writer/reader.

10. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Another masterful piece of fiction. I highly recommend Mitchell and this was the first of his books that I read. He weaves between 6 people and time periods like it's no big deal. It's truly a piece of art.

11. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I grew up reading this book (and watching the movie). I can't wait to share it with my daughter(s?) one day.

Oh, and there is one little sewing machine - I felt like it needed just one knick-knack to pull it all together. After all, I keep frames and bookmarks on my bookcase, too (and hopefully a little sewing machine one day). Tracy (@traylas) from the North Jersey MQG helped me decide!

The back is a huge swath of fabric from Burkholders in Denver, PA (I bought a whole bolt for an amazing price). It's from 8 Days a Week by Windham Fabrics - it's supposed to answer the question: when do I read? On the sides, I pieces together large scraps from my in-progress Meadow quilt.

I envision this bookcase hanging in my library and future kids' library for... well, forever. I'll rarely let it out of my sight. Thanks for sticking with me through this process. :)

Don't forget to come back on Monday and link up your Selvage Along finishes!

P.S.S. You can really see the color gradation in a small picture like this one, or from far away! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Old WIP Edition

*Don't forget to enter my 5 year Blogiversary giveaway!*

I need your quilting advice today! Read on:

Since we're moving, I've been going through my sewing closet. I've come to terms with throwing out/selling/giving away many things (and it feels so good!). I also went through my (clothes) closet for the 3rd time this year and donated a whole bunch of it. Within the cleanse, I came across several things I do NOT want to give up - namely, unfinished quilts!

 Illuminated by the morning light

This Traveling Quilt has sat around for far too long (read: more than a year), and it's high time I basted and quilted it. I'm the last one to finish! I was all set to baste it yesterday but, lo and behold, I already moved the signature blocks from the lovely ladies who made it (Laura, Renee, and Ashley). They are sitting in my new sewing room in one of my bins. I'll have to wait until I get over there, or just until the weekend when we actually move. I need them for the backing before I can baste.

Anyway, I decided on a thread color (Aurifil 5004 - "Grey Smoke" or dark gray) and a backing (Britten Nummer from IKEA with a rainbow of AMH scraps + signature blocks through the middle) but I haven't decided on a quilt design. I'm leaning towards an all-over motif because it's such a crazy quilt... maybe something consistent would pull it all together? The motion of the quilt, to me, is vertical, so maybe something that coincides with that?

Should I go with a) woodgrain, b) large swirls like wind, c) improvisation/quilt all kinds of motifs), or d) something else altogether? Leave your comments - I would appreciate it!

P.S. If you want to see the other Sisterhood quilts from last year, check them out. I'm so pround to be a part of this loveliness: Renee (just won 2nd place in machine quilted at the New Mexico State Fair - Renee is an amazing home machine quilter!) - Ashley - Laura.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway + Newsletter Announcement

*The giveaway is now closed and the winner is Rina. She has been emailed. Congrats!*

Today is a special day - I've been blogging here for 5 years! I recently looked back through my posts (right sidebar) to see how my blogging has changed. Believe it or not... here's my first post! I've made friends, hosted blog hops and quilt-a-longs, written tutorials, and created many things. Blogging to me is about keeping track of all of my makes and methods but also interacting with the community involved. I started out with just my sister reading (hi Ris!) but I got a lot more chatty with the CJMQG, other bloggers, and Instagrammers.

I love contributing to this community, and I love writing. As a result, I'm starting a bi-monthly newsletter, The Wonky Press! The first issue will go out on October 1st. If you'd like to hear more about it, I'll be back later this week to explain (two things I can guarantee: exclusive content related to modern quilting and community involvement!). If you'd like to sign up for the mailing list right now, you can!



This year I'm offering a handmade giveaway that is similar to last year's; I'll make you a mini quilt based on your color and design choices!

Details: The mini quilt can be any size up to 20". I'll send it by the end of the year. This giveaway is open internationally. These are pictures of several minis from this year:

To enter: Please leave a comment about what kind of mini quilt you would want (Size? Improvisation? Curves? Quilt-as-you-go? A certain pattern? Quilter's [my] choice? Dense or not-dense quilting? Which colors?). If you enter, please give it some thought. :) You can answer any of the questions - I can't wait to read about it.

You can have a second chance at the giveaway if you follow me - just let me know how in a second comment. I'll close the giveaway on 9/22 at 8 PM when I choose a winner by Random Number Generator. I will email the winner (so make sure you leave your email if it isn't linked to your account)

Thank you for being such a wonderful community to be a part of!


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