Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

2015 was a fantastic year for me quilting-wise. I made 19 quilts  (there are a couple I haven't shared yet).  I seriously can't believe it, though before counting I knew it was my most productive sewing year yet.

I see three patterns: movement in the piecing, lots of improvisation, and bright fabrics. Just my cup of tea. I made a lot of what I WANTED to make this year, and it feels sooooo gooooood. Cheers!

2015 Quilts

If you'd like to see the blog post for any of them, click the link above to go to Flickr and see the post link in the photo description.

This year was also the year of the mini quilt; I made 17 of them (3 are still secrets). I participated in a lot of swaps this year and some of my favorite pieces came out of them. Plus, I made some great friends and furthered my friendships with other quilters. :) I'm not swearing off swaps but I'm definitely scaling back.

2015 Mini Quilts

1. Let It Go Mini Quilt, 2. Roulette Mini Quilt, 3. Meadow Mini Quilt, 4. JAMMF Mini Quilt, 5. Log Cabin Table Topper in Oakshott Scandinavia, 6. Wanderer, 7. Rainbow of Pearls, 8. Teal Peek, 9. Sunrise, 10. X Marks the Spot mini quilt, 11. Fabric collaging, 12. Cross of Rainbows, 13. The "W" Word mini quilt, 14. Palette

I also made 5 handmade garments (more about that below), 4 table runners, 3 pillows, and countless smaller projects (not all are pictured below).

2015 Miscellaneous Projects 

1. Sorbetto Top #2, 2. Socialite Dress, 3. Sorbetto Top #1, 4. Cascade Skirt (pattern by Megan Nielsen), 5. 241 Tote #2, 6. 241 Tote #1, 7. Double Sided Table Runners - Fall/winter, 8. Evergreen Pennant Banner, 9. Wintery Potholder, 10. Original Outlander "Dinna Fash, Sassenach" cross stitch, 11. His and Her Quilted Coasters, 12. Churn Dash pillow, 13. Improv Curves Pillows, 14. Pixelated Camera Cross-stitched Ornament, 15. Selvage pillow: original design, 16. Phases Wall-hanging


2015 was a monumental year in my professional quilting career. It gives me great pleasure to say that hard work has paid off so far!


Giving my "Modern Quilting: What's All the Hubbub?" lecture at the CAMACO quilt guild in Cape May, NJ in May.

  • I started piecing and quilting samples for Cloud9 Fabrics for Quilt Market.
  • My quilt "Home" was displayed in the Modern Quilt Guild exhibit at International Quilt Festival, and is going to QuiltCon in February 2016. I'm honored to be included.
Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild
  • I finished out my 2nd year as President of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild and 3rd year on the board and as Webmaster. Passing the torch on feels bittersweet - I have a blog post niggling about in my head about that. I'm so proud to be a part of our guild and all the hard work our board accomplished!

    There were a few personal firsts:
    • I attended QuiltCon in Austin last February and it was an absolute riot of fun.
    • I had an all around ball at Mid-Atlantic Mod and taught there for the first time.
    • I started the Top 10 Tips series and scoping on Periscope, which are my main ways of contributing to quilt education and community (besides Instagram).
    • I finally started making garments and understanding garment patterns. This has been on my list for a long, long time and I'm making progress.
    I thought it would be fun (and productive) to reflect on my 2015 goals in order to make my 2016 goals.

    2015 Goals:
    • Finish my Supernova quilt and my Sisterhood quilt.
      • Check! I totally did this!! Two of my long term projects from 2014 are complete - here and here.
      • Finish my epic medallion quilt, and then start another long-term project (possibly x-pluses?).
        • Nope. This didn't happen sadly, but I'm currently working on it! I'm finally inspired and motivated enough to take that sucker out of time out.
      • Learn how to read a pattern and sew at least 3 garments. 
        • Check! TOTALLY DID THIS ONE. I have several more garments planned over the winter (we'll see if at least one of them happens). (Musings). I learned this year that garment and quilt sewing are very different and that I go through phases of wanting to do each one. It's so thrilling to make and wear something of my own.
        • Learn to cross-stitch.
          • Check! Did this too and loving it right now! Instead of actual hand stitching (I've tried English paper piecing and it's not my favorite thing to do), I can cross-stitch. I'm currently working through a Satsuma Street pattern. These are slow-going but totally exciting. 

          • Make a wedding quilt for my BFF and her fiance for their October wedding (we are all so excited!).
            • Check! Will share in the new year when the happy couple receives it.
            • Finish my Doe scrap quilt. 
              • Nope. Still stuck on the quilting. I'm not going to rush it!
              • Participate in our guild's quilt-a-long for the year every month.
                • Nope. I did 4 months and that was it. I learned this year that I work best with short term goals.

              A lot of my 2015 goals were based on finishing projects. I branched out more for 2016:

              2016 Goals:

              1. Stay away from swaps. So far, I've been successful. At this exact moment, I have no swaps on the horizon except our end of the year guild swap in January. I just need a break (as much as I love swapping)!

              2. Create and produce my first pattern. This is actually in the works. I'm bouncing around in my seat just thinking about it!

              3. Pitch article ideas and create projects for more publications. I have some exciting news to share soon about this...!

              4. Teach more classes/give more lectures locally and at guilds everywhere! If you'd like an enthusiastic, down-to-earth speaker with years of quilting, teaching, and public speaking experience, look no further than my Classes and Lectures page.

              5. Develop the community segment of The Wonky Press.

              6. Keep my focus and continue to put myself out there (did I do a good job with #4?). From my real world job search, I've learned how to handle rejection VERY well. I feel prepared for anything.

              7. Keep fabric buying to a minimum and REALLY "use what I have." I did better with this in 2015, though I didn't stop buying fabric (which is kind of unrealistic. I do have eyes after all).

              8. Try some more simple paper piecing. If the need arises. HA. (Nothing against all you paper piecers, I've tried it a few times and it's just not my favorite!).

              9. Decide where to go next in my quilt teaching career. 

              And the inevitable long term finishes:
              1. Finish my epic AMH medallion so we can actually use it this winter!
              2. Finish my Doe scrap quilt.
              3. Finish my 2015 Sisterhood quilt (which should be arriving back at my house soon).
              4. Finish my Mod Corsage quilt from Anna Maria Horner's class at QuiltCon 2015.
              5. Make another Disney mini quilt (start a series?)

              2016 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome quilty year. Thank you so much for all of your continued support of this blog and my quilting. I'm so honored to consider myself part of the quilting community and a friend of so many of you. You can always find me here! Here's to another year of quilts! :)

              2016 Quilting / Blogging Planning Party

              Tuesday, December 29, 2015

              Handmade Holidays 2015

              This year I made less for the holidays than I usually do, but the inclusion of two quilts (which would have been made anyway) drew out the process. Not that I didn't enjoy making the gifts - because I did. In the past, I let "handmade holidays" get away from me, and I've tried to pare it down to making just a few gifts per year. :)

              First, I made a couple of commissioned double-sided table runners (you can see more of them here). I love improvising a unique design and making them fall/winter related (I really want to try spring/summer). For two coworkers, I also made a couple of infinity scarves I didn't get pictures of.

              Next, in my everlasting effort to give/make my nieces (and now nephew!) useful, memorable, and keepsake-worthy holiday gifts, I decided to make pillowcases. As a child, I would have LOVED a special pillowcase made just for me. I didn't take a picture, but I also free motion quilted their names into the solid bands.  I used this tutorial from Smashed Peas and Carrots; it was a fun way to use up yardage and to pair up prints that I knew each girl would appreciate. Two of these were commissioned by my mom for family friends. They love them!

              I powered through these pillowcases at our November CJMQG retreat - here's my workstation.

              At her request, I also made my mom a pillowcase out of the leftover voile from my Socialite Dress. There is one seam that I zig zag stitched on the inside to make sure it didn't fray. Otherwise, this was an ideal way to use up scraps and make someone I love happy.

              A couple of months ago, I bought some pendants (or needlework blanks) from Red Gate Stitchery to make some gifts! I decided to use the Round Bamboo Pendant to create a pixelated camera ornament for my friend Julie (who photographed our wedding). I typed "pixelated camera" into Google and drew up a design based on several of the photos. The pendant came with a handy, blank chart to draw out original designs. I'm happy to say that Julie loved it! Cross-stitching rocks.

              Finally, I made two quilts. My dad received "Hibernation," which I shared on the blog yesterday. This is an original design made up of Modern Maples, Loominous fabrics by Anna Maria Horner, and shot cottons by Kaffe Fassett.

              I also made a baby quilt for my new nephew, born December 10. He's a cutie! I'll be sure to share full photos and a blog post soon. :) Here's a sneak peek at the nontraditional baby quilt palette.

              Another handmade holiday in the books, and I'm still wayyyy happier making some gifts than purchasing all of them. In case you'd like to see/here more, here is the Periscope talk I did a couple of weeks ago with the #honestcraftroomies on Holiday Makes.

               What is your favorite holiday gift to sew up? Inquiring minds are already mentally preparing for next year!

              Monday, December 28, 2015

              "Hibernation" - A Finished Quilt

              This quilt became something more special with every stitch, and I was proud to gift it to my dad for Christmas/Hanukkah this year (so it stays in the family, right?). Also, he loves purple, he had admired the quilt as I was making it, and he hadn't had a quilt to call his own yet. It was serendipity!

              "Hibernation" is named for both the modernized bear paw block in the center and the hope that my dad would sleep with it in his living room chair. He's already chosen it over the other quilts in the room, so that's a start. :)

              I started with a pile of Loominous fat quarters from Sew Me A Song, my longtime blog sponsor. It's woven cotton dotted here and there with metallic by my favorite fabric designer, Anna Maria Horner. The drape and softness of this fabric is hard to pass up (though it does fray and stretch easily, much more so than quilting cotton - the only downsides).

              Washed and crinkly!

              Until I saw this bear paw block by @hoosiertoni, I had no idea what I was going to make. I figured out my own measurements and took out the middle strips to create a different bear paw block. Then, I started creating modern maples (because I love them so). Finally, I pieced together improvised wonky piano keys out of the strippy scraps I had left. I actually still have a few bits of Loominous left over for another project.


              I also used some Kaffe Fasset gray and purple shot cotton, plus some bits in the maples that I had laying around. Shot cotton is a similar sheen and softness to the woven cotton of Loominous.

              Once the top was pieced, I was pleased. However, the quilting had me stuck - except that I wanted it to come from the middle. My husband Mike, ever the quilt genius, suggested quilting straight lines along the four triangles that emerge naturally. I sighed because I knew it would be monotonous, but super effective (this is starting to sound like a Pokemon battle).

              While quilting with my walking foot, I didn't mark anything and I kept the spaces between lines both large and small - whatever I felt like at the moment. I used Aurifil #2600 (Dove Gray), which I use to quilt almost everything now. It's the perfect shade of gray and it both blends and pops on the fabric. I love it!

              The backing was simply two large pieces of Big Love in Primary and Big Love in Candy, my two favorite prints from Loominous. These were also purchased from Sew Me A Song (thank you Becca for having all the fabrics I needed, especially since this line is becoming hard to find!!). I bound the quilt in FreeSpirit's solid Grey quilting cotton (the shot cottons and woven cotton seem to make iffy binding).

              I posted my dad's reaction to the quilt on Instagram when he unwrapped it on Christmas morning. He was putting on a bit of a show (he's my goofy dad) but in all seriousness, it's everything and more that a quilter can ask for!

              With this quilt and my current ongoing medallion project, I've realized how much I love to create my own designs, usually while flying by the seat of my pants. It's both thrilling and therapeutic.

              You can read more about this quilt here, here, and here.

              Saturday, December 26, 2015

              Best Blog Posts of 2015

              Inspired by Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Design's linky party, I browsed through my blog posts from this year. 2015 was my most productive yet quilt-wise (another post about that coming soon), and I tried my best to write as much as possible. As a result, I couldn't choose just 5 posts, so I divided the most popular ones (and my favorite ones) into 4 categories. I hope you enjoy reading and checking out everyone else's posts, too!


              Articles/Singular Posts
              On Sew Mama Sew: Home Machine Quilting Tips: Combine Free Motion + Straight Lines (above)
              Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
              Musings of a Novice Garment Sewist
              Quilting in GIFs, Part 1 (need to do a part 2 soon!)
              Quilt Sharing 


              Pebble Cascade
              Selvage Rainbow Bookcase Quilt (above)
              Stripey (a community quilt)
              Let It Go (Frozen mini quilt)

              Top 10 Tips Series 
              Quilting Large Quilts on Your Home Machine 
              Using Your Fabric Stash 
              Being a Good Swap Partner/Beemate (Bonus: 18 tips!)
              Creating Alternate Gridwork in Modern Quilts


              QuiltCon Recap, Part 1
              QuiltCon Recap Part 2: Classes and Lectures
              QuiltCon Recap Part 3: Quilt Show
              Mid-Atlantic Mod 2015 Retreat Recap

              I'll still be posting a year end review, but for now, this is all I can throw together post-holiday! I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas.

              Thank you to Cheryl for promoting the quilting blogosphere with your linky party. Those of us bloggers who are still out there blogging away (there are more than you might think!) need all the support we can get in the age of instant gratification (much as I love Instagram). :)

              Linking up to the Best of 2015 Linky Party.

              Monday, December 21, 2015

              Cave of Wonders: A Finished Sisterhood Quilt

              Sometimes a project is thrilling from the very start. If it isn't, I don't often find it worth pursuing (since quilts should be fun, right?). Last year, four quilty friends teamed up to start their own dreamy quilts and pass them along throughout the year, and here is the end result of mine (see bottom of post to view all the quilts together!).

              This quilt had humble beginnings in March 2014. I chose a palette of jewel colored fabrics and wondered aloud: why are so many quilts white and gray (as much as I like those colors)? What would a black background quilt look like? I can tell you now that it is quite linty, but nothing a good wash and a few runs of a lint roller can't handle. ;) Black and jewel colors = cave of wonders! It nearly sparkles in person.

              Initial fabric pull - SotTQ

              Besides the black background, the only other request I had was to lay the blocks out in an alternate gridwork and create a true everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quilt.

              I passed fabric and the starter along to my friends, and works on theirs in return. I received a finished top back in June 2014:

              It took me the longest time to decide how to quilt it, which is why it hasn't been finished until now. On my recent scope where I talked about choosing quilting motifs, I mentioned that I don't rush decisions like this. As many of you might guess from my work, I like to "quilt things to life" and I take it very seriously!

              First, I quilted a series of wavy lines with my free motion foot through the middle of the quilt. I used Better Off Thread's tutorial for Ultra-Wavy Quilting and tweaked it to my liking. Funnily enough, I intended to continue this motif throughout the whole quilt, but it became tedious pretty fast. There's another reason to start quilting in the middle of the quilt: to make sure you like it!

              To break up the quilting monotony, I used a similar quilting style to create large, close together swirls amongst waves on the top and bottom of the quilt. I think it gives the quilt a lift and even more movement. I'm absolutely thrilled with the outcome and feel encouraged to trust myself with out of the box decisions in the future. When I go out of the box, I do my best work.

              I used a dark gray thread (Aurifil 2605) because I wanted the quilting to show! It would have been a shame to hide all the hard work and darken the colored blocks with black. On a quilt that has this many colors and motifs, I wanted something that would enhance rather than detract. Originally, I bought a spool of Aurifil 4225 (Eggplant) to use, but the purple would have been TOO much color. So I used my favorite purple fabric (Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelets in Grape Jelly) for the binding instead. :)

              Renee included these Echino bird blocks, amongst others. Ah! So perfect!

              Even back in March 2014, I knew what I wanted for the backing! My lovely friend Sandi sent me some Britten Nummer from IKEA (since I don't have one close by). And before you go and look for it at your own store, please know that they don't print it any longer. :( You might be able to find some in the clearance section, but lots of quilters on Instagram have scoured their local IKEAs for this lovely, modern text fabric!

              I combined the white fabric with jewel-toned scraps from my Anna Maria Horner scrap basket (yes, I have a special basket, don't judge).

              Here are our signature blocks:

              This swap didn't come without stress. I wanted to do my best work, so it always took lots of time to complete each person's section. It really was a pleasure to work so hard on something and see the quilts morph over time, though.

              Also, we originally started out with five members, but one flaked on us completely and even still has two partially complete quilt tops and fabric that isn't hers. Something positive did come out of that experience after all; it inspired Renee and I to collaborate on a blog post, Top 10 (but really 18) Tips: Being a Good Swap Partner/Beemate.


              I thought it would be fun to see all of the quilts from 2014 together. We all worked on each one and put forth our best sewing efforts. I love these gals and I'm so grateful to have wonderful quilty friends like them! <3

               Renee @quiltsnfeathers (click to see blog post)

               Ashley @ wasntquiltinaday

              Laura @littleandlots

              Jess @quiltyhabit

              From left: Me, Ashley, Michelle (from this year's swap), Renee, and Laura met for dinner at QuiltCon - the first time we all met each other!

              Linking up to: Fabric Tuesday, TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts


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