Thursday, February 25, 2016

Originality and Individuality: An Editorial

*I wrote the first version of this editorial for The Wonky Press newsletter issue #10 and included related links for further reading.

As the modern quilting world reflects on all that was just QuiltCon 2016 (featuring the largest annual modern quilt show in the world), I can't help but think about how we each develop our own styles. When I recently published a quilting close up of "Sunshine" on Instagram (below), a couple of people commented that they knew it was mine before even reading who posted it! I was both floored and humbled. I haven't *tried* to create my own style, but I have allowed myself to create without inhibitions.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Featured in Machine Quilting Unlimited!

Hold the phone, because I have some exciting news! I was honored to be contacted by Machine Quilting Unlimited to be a part of their March/April 2016 issue! My Dresden Rainbow wedding quilt is featured in an article about Dresden plate quilts. This is the first time I've been published, and it's not the last (spoilers - coming soon)!

This is my favorite quilt of all time (for many reasons) - you can see my epic blog post about it, along with quilting close ups, right here.

Outtake: We ventured outside in December to snap some quick, new pictures (that is, Mike took the photos)! It. Was. Cold. 

The magazine features several Dresden plate quilts, both modern and traditional. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The View From Above

While I was basting quilts en masse last week, I couldn't help but take pictures from the second story. Just a peek at the life of a serial quilter - quilts and batting literally dominate the living room.

Doe Improv quilt - just needs binding now!

And the back of my epic medallion quilt... I really lucked out with floor space somehow (that's a queen size+ quilt).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Featured Interview on OttLite Blog

Last month, OttLite interviewed me by phone for their "What Inspires" series. We discussed why I choose improvisation over patterns, my favorite parts about teaching quilting, why quilts matter, and what I love about my OttLite, among other things. Check it out below and enjoy!

 (Because every post needs a pretty picture, and this one fits the improv theme! - Soar, one of my favorite quilts.)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Echo: An Orange Peel Quilt

This quilt has been floating around in my sketchbook for a while (as many other orange peel designs are). When Northcott Fabrics asked me to make a quilt for their QuiltCon booth using just 5 squares of purple solids, I knew this was the one!

Using Colorworks Premium Solids 9000: purple - #86, light gray - 900, dark gray - 910)

I made orange peels in three sizes, using the technique I teach in my Orange Peels and Improv workshop. The purple orange peels are laid out in one of the traditional ways, so that I could modernize the quilt with the repeating blocks (side note - now I really want to make a traditional orange peel quilt). I also set the traditional block to the right side in an attempt at alternate gridwork.

I quilted the LIFE into this. Hardcore. Can you tell the quilting took twice (maybe three times) as long as the piecing? I wanted the two backgrounds to contrast clearly in both quilting and color shade. My husband gave me the idea of quilting outwards from the traditional block to emphasize the echo. #Quiltthelifeintoit. Forever and ever. :)

You can really see the quilting on the back!! I used Aurifil threads 2610 and 2600 to create this effect. I also used #4225, a great purple shade, for appliqueing and sketch quilting over the purple orange peels.

Backing Colorworks Premium Solid #231

A thought: I've been making more solid-only quilts in the last couple of years. Maybe it's growing on me. Maybe I'm just imbibing the trend from the modern quilt world. I still LOVE prints, though, and  combining prints and solids. Nevertheless, this quilt has made it into my top favorite makes because of the purple, simplicity, and the quilting opportunities. 

Also, just a second to chat about Northcott Solids (my honest opinion, as always) - I had never worked with them before, and they were SO SOFT and pleasant! Definitely going to incorporate them into my quilts from now on. Just saying.

Here's my quilt hanging in the Northcott Fabric booth this weekend in Pasadena, California! Thank you to Renee (@quiltsnfeathers) for the photo. By the way, did you know Renee WON the Machine Quilting - Frameless Award at QuiltCon? She ROCKS!!

Also, here it is with the other quilts for the Chip Pack Challenge! Use 5 pieces (I only used four) of Pansy purple fabric #86! I'll post the link here when it's up.

Yay QuiltCon! I didn't go this year, but I was there in spirit. More soon about trends/the winners. :) I've got a lot to say in the March issues of The Wonky Press.

Thank you again to Northcott Fabrics for the opportunity to participate in this challenge! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

WIP Wednesday: All the WIPs

In the past, I've been chastised about working on too many projects/works in progress (WIPs) at once. How do you even get anything done? Why not just focus on one project at a time? No worries, I'm not offended. The quilt police don't have anything on me. :)

 Doe Improv Quilt, getting quilted one year later (finally made some decisions!)

Here's the secret: I work on what I want to. Yes, I have deadlines and self-imposed deadlines, but I allow myself time to quilt every single day (even if it's only for 30 minutes). Therefore, I have the opportunity to decide what I want to work on, and that may change as the week progresses. There's no point in working on something that stumps me, so I just switch as needed. Why waste a bit of negative energy when you can convert it to something hugely positive?

I ended 2015 with a slew of WIPs that were exciting but uninspiring at a time. As soon as I picked up my Mod Corsage quilt in mid-January, all the thrills came back in regard to my other WIPs. So now, I'm working on several, AND I've started two more projects, too (one of them is above).

 I've got 99 problems but WIPs ain't one.

 For the #purplesewingchallenge - it will be based on Peace!
This scrap project is my go-to sewing when I only have a little time on hand.

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday

*As of 2 weeks ago, Lee of Freshly Pieced decided to put the WIP Wednesday linky party on hold, possibly for good. I can totally respect her decision because I know firsthand how much work it takes to hold a linky party, let alone for 5 YEARS. To me, Wednesday will always be a WIP Wednesday, though. :) Thanks to Lee for providing that outlet for our online sewing community!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Mini Quilts: XO and Final Fantasy X

*Enter the Fat Quarter Shop giveaway here!*

My guild, the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild, hosts a Modern Valentine swap every other year. Alas, our February meeting was snowed out (a first for us in 4+ years!), so we will swap in March. That's okay, because everyone needs a little love all the time, not just in February, right? :)

For the swap, you can make anything, as long as it is modern to you and involves Valentine's Day. I wanted to play with purple scraps (typical) (but really, it is a Valentine's color!) and low volume scraps, so I started piecing together this cutie.

I used my gentle improv curve technique to make the "O." The letters turned out perfectly wonky/crooked, as I hoped!

It only felt right to quilt this densely - wavy lines to contrast the sharp angles. I wanted to use just ONE purple print among the solids to make it stand out. I had the perfect skinny scrap of a First of Infinity Dictionary print that I scored once upon a time from the ever-helpful Sew Me A Song (sadly, that fabric is hard to find now). Those words could be anything - kind of like a love letter. It's uplifting to me.


I can't wait to participate in our blind swap and to see the other beautiful valentines (some are already up in the #cjmqg hashtag on Instagram)!


Mike and I don't do a lot for Valentine's day, but I wanted to make him a small gift: a homage to one of our favorite video games, Final Fantasy X. I won't spoil it in case someone out there is in the midst of playing (it's been around since 2001 and it's an AMAZING game/story), but this is a scene from the game featuring the main couple, Yuna and Tidus.

Here's a screenshot from the game and my rendition below. While it is a sad scene, it's an important one in their relationship. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the tough times, too, on top of all the happy times.

In order to make this happen, I drew on Kona White using pencil, looking to the screenshot for reference. Instead of using fiddly bits of fabric to make the colors, I outlined everything with thread (using both my Aurifil and Connecting Threads stashes). I really enjoy thread painting/experimenting, and I'm excited to do more soon for another Disney mini quilt!

 Sidenote: I did try making mouths, but they came out all wrong. I like this look better.

In other years, I sewed up these valentines for my guild members, who I love dearly:


The Lost Valentine Mug Rug (has, sadly, never been found) - 2012

Finally, I made these Valentines for my preschool kiddos, using scraps and scrapbook paper. I got the idea from Anna Maria Horner, who posted about a project similar to this on Instagram. The kids were SO excited. They are fascinated with sewing and always want to hear about it. :) It was a quick and easy way to make something I could have bought instead. Ultimately, I think they'll like these more.

Happy Valentine's Day! Spread the love!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Welcome, Fat Quarter Shop + Giveaway!

 *Giveaway closed - congrats to the winner, Annette!*

I'm excited to announce that the Fat Quarter Shop is my newest blog sponsor! I only partner up with shops and companies that have proven their worth to me, and FQS has done that and more - especially with their commitment to developing the online quilting community.

I've always been impressed with FQS's fast shipping, wide selection (the latest and greatest in fabric), and professional, friendly YouTube tutorial videos (seriously, have you seen them?). They also spread the love for fabric and free tutorials by involving bloggers. This partnership is exciting to me because I also feel so passionate about the quilting community. Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for seeking me out!

My current fabric picks: I'll start with Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis Textiles/Robert Kaufman, since it's so scintillating in all different Kona colors. Here is one of my favorites (unsurprisingly, purple).

Have you hear about Cozy Cotton Flannel by Robert Kaufman? I hadn't until I recently browsed through FQS's always-exciting Coming Soon section. I LOVE using high-quality flannel for backings, and I can't wait to try this one out (Hot Pink Apple Peel). Looks like orange peels to me. And I love orange peels.

P.S. I always love the graphics that FQS uses to show all of a fabric line - so clear and easy to see everything. See what I mean?

Finally, can I just say how much I always love Carolyn Friedlander's fabric? This Carkai half yard bundle is looking miiiiighty fine. It would also look even finer in my quilts and stash. ;)


To celebrate our new partnership, the Fat Quarter Shop is giving away a $25 gift certificate to their shop! 

You can have one entry for each of the following 3 - just leave a separate comment for each one:
This giveaway will run from 2/12 -  2/20/16 at 7 pm EST. The winner will be chosen using the Random Number Generator. I will email them and post their name here (so please make sure you leave your email if it's not linked to your account).

Thanks again to the Fat Quarter Shop! Best of luck in the giveaway! 

P.S. You can always see more about my sponsors and disclosure here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Curvy Diamonds: A Gentle Improv Curve Mini Quilt

Improvisation has a million and one possibilities - that's one reason I love it so! I've become quite fond of teaching "controlled" improvisational piecing (planned improv, improv with intent, whatever you might have heard it called). This means approaching improvisation with a plan for the overall design of the quilt, which surely fits into the mindset of modern quilting. And even if it didn't, I'd still teach/sew it anyway. ;)

 I used bright and lovely Michael Miller Cotton Couture fabrics for the whole front. I won them from Michael Miller at QuiltCon last year and have been itching to use a bunch of them for the same project. The stars aligned!

In preparation for my first teaching gig of the year at Byrne Sewing Connection, I whipped up a new sample for my Gentle Improv Curves class: this mini quilt features a totally new look, using the same technique as the pillow below.

 Gentle Improv Curves pillow - original design and technique by Jessica Skultety

Now, the Gentle Improv Curves pillow is a PROJECT class - you can either make a mini quilt or a pillow (out of either design), and I provide instructions for each! Check out the whole class description here.

Each. one. of. the. curves. is. improvised. It really is a fun and freeing process.  I purposefully arranged them so that the middle diamond is (almost) perfect). You could make them all wonky if you want! The sky is the limit!

I felt that quilting a spiral from the middle would bring the whole design together. It was fun and it makes a statement! As usual, I quilted with Dove Gray Aurifil (2600) because I'm convinced its the perfect thread shade for anything (again, not an Aurifil sponsor, just in love with the product!).

In the class, we discuss different ways you can quilt a pillow or mini quilt. You can also listen to my thoughts on quilting modern quilts here.

 I can't wait to hang this on my mini quilt wall when it's not being used!

The back is as a sample for another class I'm teaching several times this year: wonky crosses! Just one block made a perfect backing (I chose an Alison Glass fat quarter and it was just a tad too small, so I added in some strips, and there you go! Creative backing solution, and it serves a double purpose). 

I just scheduled BOTH of these classes to run over two 2 hour sessions at Rock Paper Scissors in Montclair, NJ! The classes are for all skill levels and meant to introduce you to improv (though you can certainly take them if you have some experience under your belt). Come and join up - call the shop at 973-337-6759 to register!
  • Class - Rock Paper Scissors, Montclair, NJ
    • Gentle Improv Curves Technique + Project
    • 7-9 PM, Wed. March 16 AND Wed. March 23 (taken together)   

  • Class - Rock Paper Scissors, Montclair, NJ
    • Wonky Cross Technique + Wallhanging
    • 7-9 PM, Wed. March 30 AND Wed. April 6 (taken together) 

Just a comment about my experience at Byrne Sewing: I had a blast meeting nearly 100 quilters in their exclusive shop club, Byrne's Bees. Most of the quilters had never improvised, so it was really exciting to show them all the possibilities and encourage them to try! I gathered some great quilting ideas from them, too. Unfortunately, we didn't fill enough spaces to hold the curves workshop, but there was overwhelming interest afterwards. Therefore, I'm working with Byrne to hold a couple of workshops this summer. Yay!

The reality of teaching sewing is this: sometimes classes don't fill, but ultimately, more opportunities open up! I'm currently working with another guild south of me to schedule for summer, and I received an invitation to come to two more after my improvisation lectures. Byrne Sewing treated me like a queen, and I'm so grateful that they hired me and support me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! (Also... I may have done some shopping while I was there. I'll share soon.)

Thanks also to Linda B. (@ihearthp66) for helping me take some industrial pictures at Hopewell Train Station during our guild sewing day. The colors really pop, no? We learned that painter's tape on a brick wall only holds for about 15 seconds at a time. :) Linda also helped with "Winter is Coming." She's fabulously talented, and we fangirl about Outlander, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones. Yup, quilt guilds bring people together!


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