Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sunday Stash: Retreat Edition

A couple months ago, I decided that going on retreat was going to be a "treat yo self" kind of venture. I really DID need some fabric for some exciting projects coming up, and, well, you can't go wrong with the stash fillers. Tom and Donna (from Parks and Recreation) totally get it.

Let's take a closer look... because if you're reading this, you're probably just as keen on pretty fabric as I am.

All those left of center were chosen as basics from Burkholder Fabrics as stash fillers. Some are colors I don't have much of (peach, limey green),  and some are Carolyn Friedlander rebuys that I've run out of (and can't bear not to make with in the future). Some purples because... well, I never ever deny a good purple. You'll notice I mostly buy tone on tone, 1, or 2 colored fabric - that works best in my fabric stash. However, that Cotton and Steel building fabric in the middle jumped into my cart before I could protest. All the large purple cuts on the bottom are gifts from my secret sewist @shannonatsilverforge! I couldn't believe when they were sitting on my table!

The top three are again some stash fillers, from The Old Country Store. I caved and bought a yard of that purple Tula Pink bird fabric at Burkholders - it's a wideback, so it's actually quite a large cut. I'd like to fussy cut at least one bird for my purple scrap quilt and use the rest as a backing. Underneath are more stash fillers from Burkholders (another good red fabric, we can't ever have enough good modern reds). And THEN, my friends, check out that half square triangle many-colored loveliness - that's Colorworks Concepts, Phase Two, by Deborah Edwards for Northcott. See the whole thing right here - AHH! I think I bought two yards. That's definitely backing material. Finally, the bottom fabrics are for an exciting, secret project! 

Last picture - at the top are three purchases from 1 Choice 4 Quilting (not pictured - purple Aurifil thread, too). The bottom row left until the green Cotton and Steel cats (which are for a specific project already) were purchased from Del Ray Fabrics. Many of the folded fabrics are the new Indah Me + You batiks by Hoffman, purchased from Elizabeth @andpins during the Attendee Marketplace. The purple Tula Pink was a gift from Liz @beadqueene, and the purple circular fabric was a swag bag acquisition from Cloud 9 Fabrics.

 You know, just at the fabric store with a shopping list. In a sewing machine shirt (thanks, Patchwork Threads!). No big deal.

Phew! Oh, and two more things. I treated myself to new Machinger's gloves for machine quilting, because mine were four years old and quite dirty. I can't believe how much better the grip and fit are on my new ones. I also purchased new Clover glass head pins thanks to Shannon - they are the best pins I've ever used, and I already see a difference. I think I'm sold for life. Since quilting is my job sometimes, it makes sense to invest in quality supplies - at least, that's how I'm justifying it. ;) It's healthy to replenish your tools no matter what!

A big thank you to all the shops who sponsored the retreat and provided discounts and free shipping!

Have you made any fabric stash additions lately? Are you replacing any tools?

Linking up to Sunday Stash.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Mod Recap 2016

I'm in the throes of recovery from a 4-day quilting retreat, and while it's all fresh in my mind (and everything hurts - I can't believe I did so much walking!), it seems like an excellent time to write a blog post.

 Photo courtesy of Andrew Joslyn

This was the 3rd annual Mid-Atlantic MOD quilting retreat, a meeting of 5 Modern Quilt Guilds near Lancaster, Pa + friends. One of the best parts is being able to meet up with friends from other guilds every year and sew with them. Then, there's the inevitable making of new friends. What could be better? I count my lucky stars that this kind of event exists, all thanks to superstar organizers Jessica Levitt @jtlevitt of our guild (Central Jersey) and Andrew Joslyn @andrewjoslyn of Philadelphia.

This retreat is specifically focused on your sewing time. The sewing room is open for 4 days, and you can come and go as you please. There are optional classes to sign up for, and lots of optional activities (including massages), but you don't *have* to do any of them. You can sit there and sew if you want to. I love a choice!

My favorite moments:

1. Exploring 2 local fabric shops (Burkholders and Old Country Store) and seeking out Lancaster Central Market with my roommate and friend Liz @beadqueene. I'll be sharing more on Sunday for Sunday Stash! And yes, I'm holding a shopping list - Burkholders is the real deal, and they sponsored a discount for our retreat again (thank you!).

2. The rainbow mini quilt swap, which was White Elephant style. It's satisfying to watch it all happen since I've been planning it for months. I won my friend Nicole's (@1choice4quilting) amazing quilt! It's so rewarding to have a piece of her in my sewing room (now I just have to find a space to hang it up!).

Check out this amazingness - 35 talented quilters and the quilts they won!

3. The second year of the Secret Sewist Swap. Swappers left a gift or gifts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the retreat, only revealing their identity on the last way. When we organize it, we always pair up members of different guilds. There were 40 swappers this time around, and it was a huge success! It's exciting to see all of the gifts on tables and to guess who made them.

 "Take Wing" - playing with a flying geese variation for my partner. I devised this pattern to be a mini quilt, but it came out more like a banner. I guess I can't help but go big or go home.

For my partner, Elizabeth @andpins, I made three handmade projects and included lots of goodies, such as notions she requested, tailor's chalk for her impending garment making,  and "good" dark chocolate. I stole an idea from another partner last year and wrapped everything in fat quarters and half yards of fabric. It was so much fun and I'm happy to say that she loves everything!

Based on Elizabeth's color preferences, I made this pincushion from the book Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples @fabricmutt. The lanyard is made of Carolyn Friedlander fabric, which we share a love for.

My secret sewist was Shannon @shannonatsilverforge, who is from the Jersey Shore MQG. I was lucky enough to get to know Shannon when she joined in our guild retreat last November. She left gifts at my sewing machine all day for four days (even when I was only gone for 15 minutes!) - I knew it had to be someone who was sitting somewhat close by. The pillows in the above picture were my big gift on the last day - they are her signature fabric woven style using all purple and Loominous fabrics. I am absolutely thrilled, and don't they look great on the bed in my sewing room? Below are just *some* of the other gifts she left me. Thank you, thank you, Shannon, for making my weekend!

4. I taught a class on Wonky Crosses to several lovely attendees. They were enthusiastic and shared their wealth of knowledge with me as well. I can't wait to see what they make! Thanks to Sarah Bond @slbphilly for this picture collage.

5. Making the progressive quilts. Every year,groups of quilters work on three quilts for the whole weekend, and this year's were nothing short of amazing. All three quilt tops were finished on Sunday, when they were raffled off to one of the makers. I worked on two, but my favorite was this quilt that I popped into when a spot opened up. As you may know already, I LOVE improvisation, so putting together a quilt like this is my cup of tea.

 Hello amazing! It's the Creative Writing/Verb quilt. Yes, we decided "improv" is a quilting verb, so that's what I made (in purple, of course). Dia won it, and I can't wait to see how it gets quilted!

6. Massive amounts of swag from generous sponsors. I was lucky enough to win the Hex N More and Northern Lights pattern from Jaybird Quilts, and a large rotary cutter from Olfa! I actually really needed a new one - the one I bought when I started quilting 6 years ago has seen its days (I won't get rid of it, but I'll keep it as a backup).

Here was our swag bag. Thank you so much to all of the sponsors, who are listed here!

That's a wrap! Here's Jess and I on the last day. Tired but fulfilled. Phew. I don't know if I have more posts in me this week, so if not, make sure to catch the next issue of The Wonky Press on Sunday, May 1 in your inbox!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blogging/Instagramming for 52 Quilters

This week, I'm thrilled to be posting on the 52 Quilters Instagram account (@52quilters). It's a social experiment celebrating the diversity of quilters all over the world, led by Chris Webb. Every week of the year, a different quilter takes over! Cool, right? I've been sharing snippets of my daily life, sewing space, and project progress. I'll also be sharing all the latest about Mid-Atlantic MOD Quilting Retreat there from Thursday to Sunday!

I've also posted twice on their blog. The first is my intro post, which includes my three favorite quilts. I don't think I've actually shared that information here before so plainly. Click the link above to read it!

The second post is entitled 4 Reasons to Try Domestic Machine Quilting - posted tonight (Tuesday)! I also linked to some of my favorite domestic machine quilters.


I'll be silent on both blogs until next week, when I'll be back from Lancaster, PA. See you then! Now, back to packing.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Top 10 Tips: Extra Items to Pack for a Quilt Retreat

I mentioned in the latest issue of The Wonky Press that I've been mentally packing for the third annual Mid-Atlantic MOD Quilting Retreat for at least three weeks. In fact, I have a running list going in my Quilter's Planner! 

I've gone to 6 sewing retreats in the last 3 years, and I have a system now. I thought I'd share my Top 10 Most Important Items To Bring (obviously, your sewing machine, handwork, projects, clothes and toiletries are important, but I mean the other stuff you might not think of until you are there!). Feel free to share with your guild and quilty friends!

1. Layers. Maybe it's just me, but I ALWAYS pack layers. You never know what the temperature will be in the room you're sewing in. Included here would also be slippers or fuzzy socks (to sew in - you're not going to wear sneakers or flip flops the whole time, are you? Well maybe you are - just make sure you'll be comfortable!) and a nice pair of jeans in case you leave the sewing room to be a real person and eat dinner out. 

I was definitely wearing fuzzy socks here (this is from our annual November guild retreat in 2014). Yes, they get dirty, but that's what washing machines are for!

2. Extension cord. This might be a given depending on your home sewing setup, but you're likely going to need one! That sewing machine needle doesn't move by itself. Likely, the retreat organizers have extras if you forget. But here's me reminding you! ;)

3. Portable light. Until recently, I never realized how valuable this is. The room you sew in may not have the best light (it might not even have windows - gasp! - I love sewing in natural light). Plus, you'll be sewing late into the night, right? You need something like my super light and portable desk OttLite (13w Folding Task Lamp - not an affiliate link, just love it!) or tiny sewing machine lights. Trust me.

It's obviously daytime in this picture, but the light really helps, especially at night!

4. Chair cushion. The last two times I attended a 4-day sewing retreat, you would not believe how many times I thanked the sewing gods that I packed a cushion. It's likely that you won't have the most comfortable chair to sew in (I've never been to an actual retreat center but I would hope theirs are a bit better!). Plus, you could sew up a cover for it.

 My retreat setup from 2014 - with a very comfy cushion! Cover by Life's Rich Pattern.

5. Cash. You're gonna need it, even if you are retreating 10 minutes from home. Ordering out with a group of other retreaters? Need cash. Calculating tip with several others at a restaurant? Need cash. See that cute bundle of fabric from a vendor that you need to buy? Need cash (maybe). Retreat organizers hire massage therapists for the day? Need cash (I'm excited to say that this happens at our retreat and I can't wait!).

Last year's 4-day retreat fabric haul... I'm aiming to come home with less this year. I'm happy to see that I've used a lot of it over the year, though!

6. Mindless sewing. I'm a big believer in bringing several projects to a retreat - after all, you're there to get. stuff. done. You might also be there to socialize though (like me!). If you have mindless sewing (sewing that is already marked, easy cutting without lots of math, pressing, making binding, sewing on binding, sewing together hexagons) you'll be able to do more of both!

7. Scraps. A good segue. If you have scraps that you don't want, bring them to trade with someone. Maybe all the participants can bring scraps and throw them into a bin, which you can use for finding new scraps or making challenge or charity projects. OR, you could bring your favorite scraps and improvisationally sew something together. See, more mindless sewing. Lots of options here.

8. An extra project. Remember I mentioned multiple projects? Yep, you're going to want that extra one at some point in the weekend. You go through different moods when you are sewing, so this is important. Maybe you want to stay up for *one more hour* but can't quilt any longer - bring some pressing to do.

9. A quilt to sleep with. Why not? It might feel more like home. I love traveling with a quilt!

10. Lint roller. We all know what we look like after hours of sewing - thread EVERYWHERE. In case, again, you decide to be a real person and leave the sewing room, you'll be happy you packed this.

What other extras would you make sure to bring to a retreat or sewing day? 

P.S.If you'd like to read more about retreats, see my recaps of Mid-Atlantic Mod from 2014 and 2015. Also, check out Anna's post, "Packing for A Quilt Retreat in 5 Easy Steps!"

Previously Top 10 Tips Lists:


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Saturated Rainbow: A Mini Quilt

I'm gearing up to swap this little 15" square quilt at Mid-Atlantic MOD Quilting Retreat next week! Woohoo!! For the second year, I coordinated all the swaps. In collaboration with Jessica Levitt (@jtlevitt), one of the main organizers, we decided that a rainbow theme would be perfect for a blind swap. Last year's theme was modern anything, so we wanted this year to be a bit more specific. Rainbow seemed to be an accessible theme with a million options for our attendees.

Whenever I participate in a blind swap (when you make something that anyone who participates could get), I revel in the challenge to create something that is a piece of "me" (and also something I would love to keep - because if I want to keep it, that means I did a good enough job for my unknown partner!).

Ever since my Deconstructed Churn Dash pattern came out, I've been mulling over deconstructed block designs. It only made sense to base this off of a traditional orange peel block, which is one of my signatures (you can see all my orange peel quilts under the hashtag #jsorangepeelcollection). I used the stitch and flip applique method that I teach in my Orange Peels and Improv classes. :) After making so many orange peels over the last two years, I know the process like the back of my hand, and I quite enjoy seeing the little peels come to life!

Using only scraps, I created a strippy rainbow. I love a good project that *just* uses scraps.

 Aurifil colors used for quilting: 2250, 2240, 1133, 1135, 2870, 4140, 2735, 1200

I used several different Aurifil 50 weight threads to create ANOTHER rainbow. I made sure to overlap thread colors to create a truly cohesive rainbow. This is why I love quilting things; it became a whole new piece with randomly-spaced straight line stitching (borderline matchstick quilting). Truly - #quiltthelifeintoit!

The back of the quilt is a surprise for my partner. I hope s/he loves it as much as I do (because I really don't want to give it away - have I said that enough yet?!). Thanks to some chatter on Instagram, I decided on a black binding to make the rainbow POP! You can see many of the other rainbow mini quilts displayed on the #midatlanticmod hashtag on Instagram (click the link!).

Read more about this quilt and see more in-process pictures here and here.

I'm off to prep more for the retreat, finish The Wonky Press (out this Friday), and making more class samples for my Wonky Cross class at the retreat! I'll be back at least once before next Thursday, and I'll be documenting my experience primarily on Instagram (@quiltyhabit). :) As always, though, I'll write a recap post! Here's last year's post, if you are curious.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Quilting in GIFs: Quilt Retreat Edition

Next week is the third annual Mid-Atlantic MOD Quilting Retreat in Lancaster, PA. The Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild, Philly MQG, North Jersey MQG, Baltimore MQG, DC MQG, and local quilty friends will be sewing together for 4 days. I am so psyched!

So, in MOD's honor, here's part 2 of Quilting in GIFs: Quilt Retreat edition (see Part 1 here). It applies to anyone who is looking forward to or recovering from a quilt retreat. Alternately, maybe it will convince you to sign up for one. :) Feel free to share with your sewing friends!

Making the nonrefundable deposit several months in advance

Getting psyched with your quilt friends beforehand

Getting your secret swap partner

Driving away from your house

Wheeling all your sewing stuff in

Reuniting with your quilty friends

 Fabric shopping with your buddies

The rest of the weekend

Leaving on Sunday night

The Monday after, when your partner asks how you are

How you really feel

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Teaching My Mom To Quilt

Last month, I shared some in-process pictures and musings on teaching my mom to quilt, mostly in my newsletter and on Instagram. Typically (but not always), it's the other way around; my mom would be teaching ME to quilt. My grandmother hand-quilted a bit in her youth, but I'm the first serious quilter in the family, as far as I know!

My mom has been a huge supporter of my quilting since I started in 2010 as a sophomore in college. I lived at home part of the time, and she allowed me to utilize our little-used dining room as a sewing area. That came to bite her when she helped plan my surprise bridal shower in 2012, though. :D

One of my favorite pictures of us.

Anyway, Mom has a special friend from childhood, and she wanted to make her a unique birthday gift. We sat down to choose fabrics, which I shared here. Mom picked the fabrics on the left for this quilt, because her friend loves a tone-downed palette. We're still planning on combining the scraps from these two stacks to make a wall-hanging. They weren't supposed to go so well together, but they really do!

Then, over the course of about a week, I led her through the process of making a quilt. I've come to the conclusion that it TOTALLY makes sense to teach beginning quilters how to improvise. Instead of piecing blocks and matching points (which you can learn later), it makes sense to first learn the process of creating a whole quilt and trust your gut. This is more for another entirely different post, but the point is this: I tested out one of my basic improv patterns on her, and it worked!

Things got silly after a while. It was gratifying, though, to see someone else enjoying the hum of the sewing machine for a few hours.

Then, I showed Mom how to baste a quilt (all the while blasting the Hamilton soundtrack on my phone. Just setting the scene here). I explained all the different ways to baste that I know of. Mom was interested to hear about the wonders of spray baste and my own process (which is based on much trial and error - I'll have to share on here in the future). She didn't do the basting herself because she just had two knee surgeries. I was happy to help.

Mom wanted this quilt to be quilted densely. After I presented several different options, she chose swirls with pebbles, which recalls shells on the beach (which her friend LOVES!). If you want to learn how do quilt this way, check out the Seafoam motif in Free-Motion Quilting With Angela Walters. In the interest of time, instead of teaching her to confidently free motion quilt (which would take at least 15 hours of practice!), I quilted it for her on my Janome. She's interested in learning in the future, though.

I hadn't quilted an all-over motif in quite a while, and it took several hours to quilt a 55"x62" quilt like this! I was absolutely exhausted over the three days I worked on it, but the outcome was worth it. I will forever insist that quilting IS exercise and that it should probably be an Olympic sport. I quilted over this soft palette using my favorite gray, Aurifil #2600 (Dove).

All in all, it was an educational process for both of us. Mom learned a ton about quilts - she says she didn't realize how much thought and work really went into each one. I realized how much I actually KNOW about making a quilt and how specialized a process it can be. It's a skill that can be learned and practiced, and we should certainly appreciate and place significant value our time and expertise. If you're an experienced quilter, please don't underestimate your skills!

 I had the opportunity to use up some long-owned Art Gallery yardage on the back. Boom.

Oh, and my mom's friend LOVED it. It was the best feeling to receive this picture and a thank you note from her! Gifting quilts FTW.


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