Friday, January 29, 2016

On Sew Mama Sew: Round Robin Bee Tips and Troubleshooting

I've written another article for Sew Mama Sew about the sewing community: how to start and participate in a round robin bee, along with troubleshooting suggestions. I've participated full-force in two different round robins, one online and one in person; they've changed the way that I sew and how I view the quilting community (for the better).

Neutral Log Cabins – made at Mid-Atlantic Mod Retreat 2015 by Neva Asinari, Laura Bennett, Nicole Folino, Elizabeth Jones, Jessica Levitt, Carrie Maria, Sheila Randall, Summer Rankin, Jordyn Rush, Janet Schoenfeld, Jessica Skultety, and Amy Verne. Quilted by Jessica Levitt. Picture by Amy Verne.

Thanks to Kristin and Beth for this opportunity!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Free Motion Quilting Experiments

This week, I've been working on a bunch of projects, thanks to three days snowed in - like much of the east coast. I feel much more confident going into February!

My brother's birthday is soon. He's a minimalist kind of guy, and while he often encourages my crafting and appreciates my quilts, he insists he doesn't need anything else but the t-shirt quilt I made him a couple years ago. We started talking once when he was visiting, and he admitted that a Game of Thrones wall-hanging would be pretty rad. I said "I'LL MAKE IT" faster than he could even consider his words.

He left the colors up to me ("uh... whatever is normal" - his response when I texted him - fine with me :) ). Black seemed especially captivating for the wolf head and words. I sewed together two different Northcott solid grays (they are SO SOFT) for a bit of a background contrast effect.

The big fun for this mini quilt was the background quilting. Instead of taking the time to applique letters, I decided to "wing it" (my favorite) by tracing the letters with my Hera marker and quilting them instead. I came up with a pretty easy way to make them stand out more with sketch quilting (I'm sure I haven't invented this particular method, but I haven't read anything about my approach before). It's easy and fun, but it does require some intermediate free motion quilting control. Practice, practice!!

You can view my sketch letter quilting tutorial (#sketchletterquilting) right here from Periscope and Katch:

I decided to quilt another part of the background with this building bricks motif. I love the look of sharp, angular quilting for this fierce quilt (literally fierce - that's a wolf head, people). I will happily film and/or write up a tutorial for this if anyone is interested!

More on the inspiration/choices behind this quilt once it's gifted... I've just got the binding and label left!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Letter to Purple + Sewing Challenge

Dear Purple,

You are my favorite color with no exceptions. Ever since I was a little girl, I've preferred purple to pink (and, let's face it, every other color). I gravitate towards wearing purple gloves, scarves, sweatshirts, shirts, and jewelry every day. That poem by Jenny Joseph, "When I'm an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple?" Oh, that applies to me every day, and I'm 26.

You're also cooler (literally - a cool color). A rainbow isn't complete without violet, but it doesn't need pink. See? Even rainbows find your essential.

Some of my favorite purple projects from the past.

As a quilter building her fabric stash, I've always gone out of my way to purchase a "good" purple. A print that doesn't have too many other colors involved. A rainbow of solid purples in all the shades. Purples that go well with black, white, and especially gray. Purples that illuminate a sunset.

Sunset - Misdirection pattern by Jess @elvengardenquilts, coming soon

One day in the distant future, if I give birth to a girl, I can only hope that people will keep all of this in mind. Those purple baby clothes are out there, right? Also, I've found purple to look quite fetching on men (namely, my husband). So, if I have a boy, I also hope to purchase and make purple things for me AND baby. Because the selfish sewing with purple shall never end.

Because I love you so much (and because others seem to as well), Sarah @sarahmgoer, Meg @myteaandbrie and myself (@quiltyhabit) are hosting a Purple Sewing Challenge on Instagram.


You're pleased, right? It's all just for fun sewing and pretty pictures. Hopefully you'll look in on the hashtag (#purplesewingchallenge) from now until March 1 and maybe even work on your own purple project. I know I will be.

Anyway, purple, never change. I'll always be here, seeking out true purple fabrics to use in my quilts, and starting random purple projects just because I love you to no end.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Herringbone in Blue: A Wedding Quilt

This quilt was one of my goals for 2015, and I finished it just at the end of the year on a personal deadline. It's a double-sided, unique, and special keepsake for one of my oldest friends, Julie, and her new husband Brian, who married in October!

Early on in their engagement, I asked the happy couple if they would have need for a special quilt; if so, I wanted to make it as their wedding gift. As fellow quilters will know, this is one of those priceless gifts that really, truly means something at the start of a marriage. Luckily for me, they were excited by the prospect, and Julie and I began to plan out the quilt!

 Work in progress as I sewed with guild friends back in July

Julie chose black and white with a touch of blue for the front. I added in cream (unusual for me) because it really pulled the whole thing together. I had a BLAST gathering fabric for this project, based on them both (Julie is a writer, nurse, lover of Paris, and Brian loves music, so I incorporated all those things). I included Sudoku fabric, not knowing that my best friend loves Sudoku. :) Luckily, most of my unique fabric finds were easily bought from Sew Me A Song. Becca curates the most amazing fabrics!

The QAYG Herringbone tutorial is thorough and well-written, but this is by no means a fast quilt. Sewing the strips onto batting took A.G.E.S. I guess if you consider the quilting I didn't do on top (though I added in some straight lines for looks), I may have saved time overall. I only worked on this project when I was sewing with friends or watching a movie so I was significantly distracted from the boredom. :D Just being honest! Choosing which strips to go next was intriguing, though.

Photo credit: Clay Toporski

The backing was especially exciting to plan and create. Just like my wedding quilt, I offered Julie and Brian the option of sewing up their wedding guestbook. We based the colors on their autumn wedding attire/flowers. :)

 I cut out about 175 squares in Kona Papaya, Cheddar, and Taupe, pressed them onto freezer paper for writing stability, taped the edges, and monitored the guestbook table periodically throughout the wedding. The messages and pictures were SO fun to read through as I pieced the back together!!

Here's a work in progress shot of putting the backing together. Oversized modern maple blocks and the colors represent the October wedding, and the crosses are based on their church's backsplash (see what happens when you invite quilters to weddings?). Some squares were sewn together at random in between to create interest.

Since the top was done in a quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) style, it was already quilted! I sewed several straight lines with my walking foot down the whole quilt to hold it all together and prevent constant shifting. This is the only quilting that shows up on the back. It worked perfectly for such a massive quilt (queen size with a huge overhang)!

It was really difficult to get pictures of this quilt single-handedly. I swear my arms gained distinctive muscles in those three minutes. Luckily, this week, I had the pleasure of presenting the quilt in all its glory, and the newlyweds were thrilled! It made my heart happy to see so much happy. :)

I hope I get to make special wedding quilts like this for the rest of my life. It truly was a pleasure to make and to be a bridesmaid in Julie's wedding.

Just for fun, here's us at my wedding in 2012, where she was a maid of honor. How lucky am I?


Unexpected outtake picture that I had to include here:
"Mike, did you get the right shot yet?"

 You can read more about this quilt here (fabric pulls) and here (when I presented the top at her shower).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mod Curve: A Mini Quilt

My guild, the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild, hosts a yearly holiday swap in January. In the 4 years we've existed, every Secret Quilter swap has always been more amazing than the last. We are like a family, and we try to guess who made what for each person. It's my favorite meeting of the year!

This year, the secret partner I received in November was Krishma (@krishmaquilts). She has been a part of our guild for a couple of years, and she's our brand new treasurer! I know Krishma very well and I consider her a quilty friend. Therefore, I was extra excited about this project.

Krishma loves modern quilts, and she's a kickbutt longarm quilter - so I knew my quilting had to be distinctive and especially well-executed, using my domestic machine! Hehe. No pressure... but in all honesty, I wanted the quilting to resonate. I used her favorite colors (those of her longarm business logo) and started piecing fabric strips in color order. I sewed the curves improvisationally, loosely curving them around the same spot.

I quilted the red strip/focal point in pebbles for further definition. The rest was begging for some dense quilting with Aurifil Dove (#2600)!

I bound the quilt with a couple of gray scraps. I purposefully sewed the dark gray fabric alongside the black fabrics. This picture displays that effect well.

11 to krishma from jessica s

Looks like Krishma loved her gift! :) I also gave her a black and white fabric lanyard. I hope this little modern quilt finds a happy place in her home! Making these kinds of quilts is what really gets my creativity flowing. :)

21 to jess s from neva 2

I was thrilled to receive this GORGEOUS purple table runner from my lovely friend Neva @somelikeitquilted, our new president. It's funny that the new president made something for the outgoing one! Here's the rest of Neva's amazing gift: a purple Mod Podged vase and a tissue holder. Thank you again, Neva!!

Photo by Neva Asinari

P.S. 24 quilters participated in our Secret Quilter holiday swap - check out our meeting recap with pictures!

Linking up to: Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation, TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lecture and Class at Byrne Sewing Connection

Hi all! I'm prepping for my first teaching gig and lectures of the year at Byrne Sewing Connection in Doylestown, PA. There are still spots open, so I wanted to pass along the info to all of you! I love teaching and I have some fun plans up my sleeve for this class. Hope you can join me!

Class: Gentle Improv Curves Pillows
Date: Wednesday, February 3 from 1-4 PM
Place: Byrne Sewing Connection, 422 East Butler Ave., Doylestown, PA 1890

Cost: $45 for Byrne's Bees
Not a Byrne's Bee? Workshop plus lunch plus morning lecture on Improvisation - $89.95

Feb 2. - Improvisation lecture - 7-9pm
Feb 3. - Improvisation lecture - 10am -12pm
Call the store at 215-230-9411 to register!

In this class, you'll learn how to sew gentle curves and let yourself experiment with "non-precise" piecing - that is, your curves will be improvised. You will practice the technique of sewing curves pinless with your machine. Finally, we'll make an 18.25" square pillow (fits an 18" pillow form) to create something that will be truly versatile, striking, and comfortable in your home! For all skill levels.

I also teach this class (among others) to guilds. Please see my Classes and Lectures page for more information, or email me

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WIP Wednesday: A Lesson in Contrast

When I feel antsy about work, personal life, and deadlines, it helps to work on a selfish project. I have several long-standing works-in-progress that I've been chipping away at for these very occasions. After all, sewing is often my job now but it's also remained my therapy.

I actually took THE ENTIRE WEEKEND to piece some of my Mod Corsage quilt little by little. It was stress relieving, time-consuming, and wonderful. I took this class at QuiltCon 2015 with Anna Maria Horner, and my excitement about the quilt hasn't waned. The main goal is to create lots and lots of flowers!

I started sewing more of the blocks together on the low volume background. So far, I'm piecing only; I'll be appliqueing some of the more unique shapes later on. This kind of improvisational piecing is like a puzzle; it whisks me away to a pleasant place where other problems don't matter. Just: where does this piece fit next? How much fabric should I cut here?

This quilt is a great example of a design element I needed to changed, mid-process. On Saturday, I started piecing the flowers together and adding a couple more flowers to my original layout. The bottom right flower is brand new. I loved the outer cathedral window fabric to pieces (no pun intended); I thought it would bring out the orange in other parts of the quilt. However, when I stepped back to take the above picture for Instagram, I realized the contrast was WAY too much. It's just too dark! That one measly border makes your eyes snap right to it. I want the focus to be all the flowers, not just one.

Here, I pinned back the border. This was much better, but I still felt that flower needed to be larger. So, I went searching through my AMH fabric.

Aha! Now, I added a new border to that bottom right flower: a brighter, more coral colored fabric from the Folk Song fabric line. Now only does it reflect the middle of the flower, but it also echoes the other coral parts of the quilt. Plus, there's still orange in there. The contrast is now not so much that it detracts from the whole design (at least, in my opinion - you may think differently, and that's a-okay!). You can see I also took down the future to-be-appliqued flowers, in preparation for piecing together the rest of the low volume background.

When you are piecing improvisationally, it's important to reflect on your process. One little change can make all the difference in achieving your vision!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Stash

This week I had a couple of exciting deliveries. In my "Hello 2016!" post, I mentioned that I'm committed to using what I have in my stash. However, I knew at that time that I would be buying some of Carkai by Carolyn Friedlander with a birthday gift card to Hawthorne Threads. I just had to wait until it was in stock, which finally happened last week! Yay!


I chose half yards of colors that I lack in my stash (those top left blues and greens - swoon!). I bought one yard each of the top green and white on white. I'm not using them for any specific project yet.

 The three on the left, bottom row are extra purchases I used to round out my gift card money: Knotty in Grape from Macrame by Rashida Coleman-Hale (so me), Pearl Bracelets in Anchor by Lizzy House (a re-buy - color I love), and Austen Text in Black from Ardently Austen by the Quilted Fish (Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, so this addition to my low volume stash was a must!!).

Carolyn Friedlander's designs and fabrics speak to me. Her tone on tone fabrics, which seem like solids but are more intricate up close, have played a huge role in my quilt-making. "Home," for example (shown above), looks like solids from afar, but really, up close, it's a lot of Carolyn Friedlander fabric. Those of you going to QuiltCon will be able to see that! Please send me a picture. :)

Also, I had a delivery of gorgeous solids from Northcott Fabrics. This will be a bit of secret sewing to be revealed in February. Their solids are super soft, and I love the range of hues available from the Colorworks Premium Solids 9000.

Cheers to a sewing and stash-filled Sunday!

P.S. My sister just went back to college and I'm sad. However, we commemorated the end of winter break by conducting an interview about sewing on Periscope. Check it out below!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Featured on Abby Glassenberg's "While She Naps"

This week, Abby Glassenberg, the longtime writer of While She Naps blog and newsletter (amongst many other fabulous titles), contacted me. She asked if she could interview me about my newsletter, The Wonky Press. As a result, we chatted on the phone for an hour about all kinds of things!

Abby just published a profile and behind-the scenes look at writing and distributing The Wonky Press. Take a look here! 

For at least the last year, I've greatly admired Abby's investigative journalism and professional newsletters. In fact, her weekly email was one of the several sparks behind starting my own. I'm so honored to be included as part of her research into email newsletters. Thank you, Abby!

I also highly recommend Abby's e-book on email marketing: How To Create A Powerful Email Newsletter: A Comprehensive Guide for Creatives. I've been reading it and I'm so impressed with her thoroughness on the topic.

I want to take a moment to thank all of my new followers and newsletter subscribers from this last week. It's so inspiring and it makes me want to do what I'm doing even more! Issue 8 will be out on Jan. 15, and in the meantime, I've got lots of creating and blogging on the way!

Subscribe to The Wonky Press newsletter!

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Mexican Tiles Quilt

Just in time for last fall's Quilt Market, I quilted this quilt for Cloud9 Fabrics. I'm really proud of it and excited to share it today!

 The top was pieced by the Cloud9 Fabrics team.

This is Michelle Engel Bencsko's free Mexican Tiles pattern, made up in Rain Walk by Anna Graham and coordinating Cirrus Solids. I recently used these prints in my Primary Improv Rainbow quilt, and though I rarely make quilts out of the same fabrics, this time it was an absolute pleasure.

At first, Cloud9 asked me to quilt mandalas akin to those on my Oakshott Scandinavia Log Cabin quilt/table topper. However, the deadline was close, so it wasn't feasible. Undeterred, I went flipping through the ever-trustworthy Shape By Shape Quilting by Angela Walters for hexagon or circle motifs. 

Lo and behold, I found an echo teardrop design for the prints that would perfectly compliment an angular spiral in all the solid fabrics. It was a BLAST to quilt, and it made me secretly want to start a snowball or hexagon quilt just so I could quilt it. Not strange, right?

The diamonds are densely quilted with Aurifil #2600 (Dove), my go-to quilting thread. This shade pops on the fabric (show off that quilting!) but it's a soft pop. I used a light tan thread (I believe #2326) for the hexagons. By the way, I'm not sponsored by Aurifil; I just love their product.

We had to take quick photos before I popped it back in the mail for the deadline (and it was windy that day, clearly - the quilt IS straight in real life!). Those hexagons have a movement of their own! Quilt it to life, right? You can see the movement of the quilting motifs on the back, too:

 This is one of my favorite prints from Rain Walk: Reflect in Blue.

I'm honored to receive commissions from companies and private clients, and I was thoroughly pleased/shocked when I was asked to quilt this already-pieced quilt. Why? Because I use a domestic machine. I could be wrong, but most company samples are quilted on long arms; it's faster after all. I've quilted many a quilt but it never occurred to me to solely quilt for commission on my domestic. Thanks to Cloud9 for entrusting me with your samples once again!

All in all, you may have noticed that some changes happening here on the blog (check out my new About page, for instance). I'm putting forth my best effort as a quilting professional. All exciting things!


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