Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tour of my solo quilt show

Earlier this week, I posted reflections on my recent solo exhibit of 20 original quilts. You can read more about the experience and the aftermath here. For today, I've arranged a tour of all the quilts! It was a thrill to see them all together at Quilt and Sewing Fest of NJ.

I've listed the quilts in order below, as well as some more comments and stories from the show. I've also linked to the blog post about each quilt in case you'd like to see more photos and read about the process of making them. Hope you enjoy!

Pixie Sticks, Hear Our Voice, and Echo. I heard nothing but positive comments about my Women's March quilt, and I was thankful for the unwavering support of the Quilt Fest staff and those who were excited to see the quilt there. You could also see it from the aisle, which made me happy.

 Home - still one of my favorite makes (much more well-traveled than I am) - it's still a thrill to see this one on a wall. I hope to hang it up for good one day. I can't imagine ever selling this quilt.

Soar and Primary Improv Rainbow. For my Orange Peels and Improv and Wonky Cross workshops that week, we had the unique opportunity to walk to the exhibit and view several ways to use the techniques we were practicing. We spent some time in front of this wall for obvious reasons!


Deconstructed Churn Dash, Metropolis, and Fractured Cathedral Window. The decidedly modern/modern traditional wall. Also, I realized just now that the quilting is similarly fluid on all three of these pieces. It's funny how these quilts, which were made at different times in my quilting journey, carry similarities.


Pebble Cascade and its twin, Emergence. These two quilts are meant to be shown together. I usually take them to my Waterfall class, but it was fun to see them next to each other long-term.

Selvage Rainbow Bookcase, Crown of Orchids, Reflection, and Quilty Habit blog header. Selvage Rainbow Bookcase was by far the most photographed quilt, and people loved to see the words of my favorite books quilted into it (this is a dark photo, but there are better ones in the blog post linked above).

Crown of Orchids is a recent finish and meant to be seen in person, so it was exciting to show this one, too. Long live purple quilts! Several friends mentioned that Reflection was different from all my other quilts (much darker) but still fit in.

Trellis. This one was a huge, long term project, which I explained more in the blog post. It hasn't been to many guild engagements or classes; it feels like my special, private quilt.

Fall Spectrum. The lighting wasn't perfect but this was the first time I showed this quilt to anyone in its finished state!

Last but not least: Today I Feel, Spring Wind, and Note To Self.

Within the next two weeks I'll finally be sharing the blog post for Today I Feel, my first large wholecloth quilt. The show was also the first time I shared this one in person. Today I Feel was the one I got the most comments and questions about. I'll be sure to explain more in the next post!

 Here's a look at the stretch of show that contained my quilts, from the end to beginning:

Phew. I'm inspired to create for a lot of reasons, and a major one is the supportive and talented quilting community online and in my guild. Thanks for all of your support through the (sometimes seemingly endless) preparation and in the aftermath! I don't know if I'll ever have another solo show, especially to this extent, so I'll treasure the experience.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Reflections on my solo quilt show


It's taken me a few weeks to get my thoughts in order, so here we are! My solo exhibition of 20 original quilts opened at the Quilt and Sewing Fest of New Jersey, a Mancuso show, from March 2-5, and it was a crazy, out-of-body experience.

I've had the thrill of seeing my quilts in shows before, but it was totally surreal to walk up to the section featuring just my work. Sometimes, it felt like I was walking naked into a room because, quite honestly, it was like baring my soul to the world (okay, I was also wearing a faculty name tag so some figured out that I was the artist pretty fast, haha). But excitement overcame mild trepidation.

Today, I have some thoughts about the show. If you have further questions, just let me know in an email or comment!

I taught classes at Quilt Fest on Thursday and Friday, and I spent most of my free time that weekend showing the exhibit to family and friends who came to visit (thank you so much for your unending support!). So many of my guild members came to see the show and I had the pleasure of bumping into them and/or walking around with them. My family helped me pack up everything when all was said and done. It was truly a team effort!

My dad and I, before take down. He's so supportive (he even reads my quilting newsletter, though he has zero interest in quilting beyond my love for it). :)

Speaking of parents, my totally-into-quilts-already-has-several-of-her-own-but-wants-more mom got in on this one! :)

My best friend/former college roommate and her mom visited! I love this picture of us (we don't take nearly enough anymore, partially because we don't see each other too often).

How could I choose which 20 quilts to put in the show? Well, there was some criteria. First, I decided to stick to original designs, which is most of my work (that was the easy part). It had to be something considerably show-worthy (everyone has those first couple years of quilts they want to redo, right?). Now, I am NOT a show quilter and I embrace imperfection (especially in stitch length - see that explanation here), but I still wanted the quilts to be technically sound.

Finally, I chose quilts that seem to most embody "me": saturated, bold colors, unique free motion and walking foot quilting, quilted words, and orange peels. I wrote more about how I prepared for the exhibit itself here.

It was such a pleasure to meet so many of you at the show! 
Thank you for your support and for saying hi! 

While I was near my quilts, I overheard some of the things people were saying. I heard one lady telling her group that she would need a special machine to do quilting like mine (I really wanted to go up and tell her that it's totally possible on a domestic machine, because that's how I do all my quilting! ;) ).

People tell me that my quilts have a style, and only now, with so many of them hung up together, did I really understand that. Often, your work, as varied as it may be in color, shape, and quilting, can be one and the same. It was a really interesting concept to contemplate that weekend.

So, I've been asked - what's happened as a result of the show? I shared my work with the world, outside of the internet and guild meetings - which was really exciting. I've booked several classes and lectures since, and received encouraging and humbling emails. All my quilts are now show-ready for other engagements or just for hanging up in my house (labelled and quilt sleeved), so I'll call that a huge win on my end. :) Thank you again to the Mancuso staff and Quilt Fest for this amazing opportunity!

I'll be back later in the week with a full tour of the exhibit with more comments and links to each quilt. It would have made this post super extra mega long!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Minimalist Pinwheel Quilt and Pattern

Happy spring! Well, it was below 30 degrees a couple days this week in NJ, but the weather promises to warm up this weekend. I'm excited to share with you my latest magazine pattern, Minimalist Pinwheel (or as it's titled, "Spring Fresh"), which is available today in the free Modern By The Yard magazine by Benartex Fabrics. This design has been sitting in my sketchbook for years, and I finally got the chance to work with it for this issue!

I'm all about modernizing traditional quilt blocks, so this design is an angular version of the triangle-based traditional pinwheel block. I'm admittedly not much of a minimalist but I like the design and especially the quilting to do the talking.

Before I made the quilt, I tested a singular block with some of my prized Anna Maria Horner fabric combined with gray solid. You could use a busy fabric as the background and really make the design pop with a solid. Or, switch it; use a print for the pinwheel and a solid for the background. So many options!

I think this design makes for a great one block quilt, or you can pair up 4 (or more) of them like I did to create a cool secondary design (it looks kind of like a middle square with dancing legs). Until I created the below mock up, I had no idea that design would appear!

I decided to use two green prints ("Libby's Lace" from the Liberty Garden) because they are so springy (plus, Greenery is the Pantone Color of the Year!). To give this mini quilt some depth, I set the two different greens side by side. It's a different effect than if they had been placed diagonally across from each other.

The white solid from Colors for Quilters serves to contrast, and I quilted it densely with Aurifil 2024 (white) to emphasize the pinwheel design. For the background, I quilted an improv-y brick pattern using my free motion foot and Aurifil 5017, a lovely lime green. I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to quilt this one, but ultimately, I wanted the spokes of the pinwheel to shine.

I backed this quilt with a pretty, large floral, also from Liberty Garden ("Liberty Garden Blue). So many blues and greens! I might just use this as a table topper with the back side up. :)

I hope you enjoy the newest issue of Modern By The Yard, which is brimming with modern quilt inspiration and springy colors. My friend Jayne @twiggyandopal created the cover pattern! It's so lovely - congrats, Jayne! You can see a peek of the issue here and view and/or download the free magazine here (see the prompts at the bottom of the screen).

I'll be back next week with a look at my solo quilt show a couple weeks ago! I've been doing a loooot of secret sewing and getting my ducks back in a row after such a busy month.

Monday, March 20, 2017

QuiltCon 2017 Recap, Part 3: Quilt Show

This is Part 3 of 3 of my QuiltCon 2017 Recap. 
Read "Part 1: People and Places" here.
Read "Part 2: Lectures" here.

So, let's talk about this quilt show, shall we? QuiltCon hosts the largest modern quilt show in the world (to my knowledge), with over 400 quilts and several special exhibits. I already shared my main takeaways from the show in the March 1 issue of The Wonky Press newsletter, so I'll keep these comments brief.

Attending a quilt show in person is a lot like reading a quilting blog, or listening to show and tell at a guild meeting. By reading the cards that accompany each quilt, you take a walk in the creators' shoes.

In this age of the internet and social media, people from all around the world can see the quilt show! If you love the modern aesthetic and you get the opportunity, though, I encourage you to attend QuiltCon in person. It's different. I found myself being very introspective and looking for moments that I could go examine quilts by myself. There were details that popped out at me only the second time through all the quilts, and it was especially fun to see how certain quilts helped enhance others around them.

Everyone attends quilt shows to look at something different. Personally, I enjoy looking for innovative quilting and those quilts that use the quilting itself to enhance their message. Here are some of the quilts that have stuck with me 3 weeks after the event.

"Madonna" - pieced by Brittany Bowen Burton 
Quilted by Natalia Bonner on a longarm (I had the pleasure of meeting Natalia, too).
This quilt, to me, shows the many, many options that solid fabrics provide for quilting (plus, yay to big stitch hand quilting!) It also won Best Machine Quilting on a longarm.
"Transparency Quilt 1" by Melissa Everett
This one was quilted using the design as inspiration. It looked like watercolors in person - stunning.

"Murmuration Minued" by Janice Marquardt.
This was probably my favorite quilt in the whole show. It was in the "Use of Negative Space" category; I'm assuming the quilting was the reason. Check out the sun and moon - they are subtle but they add to the picture so beautifully. I love the modern traditional look of this quilt (taking the plus block and morphing it into something wholly different). This quilt was on a side aisle; in my quilt show, it would have been front and center. ;) (this is not to say the quilts were placed according to the show organizers' liking). :P

"Wild Abandon" by Kristin Shields
 The quilting and colorwork on this piece were so well done. I've been following Kristin's work for a while and it was a thrill to see some of it in person. She's fearless.

 "#CUquilt" by Ginevra Martin
 Hand quilting (and yay imperfection!) made a statement on this unique quilt (also, there was a lot of purple. Love!).

"Fireworks" by Jeannie Jenkins
This unusual, bold color scheme was truly a showstopper in person. It won 2nd place in Modern Traditionalism.

 "Still With Her" by Liz Harvatine
This quilt, which won a Judge's Choice ribbon, was placed on the middle aisle. Also a showstopper, especially from across the room. The piecer had created a large Hillary block right before the U.S. election and cut it up afterwards, only to sew it back together. I saw a lot of people taking pictures of this quilt. It gave me a healthy dose of hope.

"Light and Shadow" by Rebecca Loren
The color scheme and quilting on this quilt were astounding. It's a modern version of a traditional star block that the piecer found on the Quilt Index.

 "Lincoln" by Kim Soper
Lincoln's eyes. This quilt won first place in Improvisation and also the Viewer's Choice Award. I'd watched Kim create this quilt via her blog and Instagram; to see it in person was such a pleasure.

I could honestly write another 2 posts about quilts from QuiltCon, but these were my all-time favorites. What did you get to see at QuiltCon (whether in-person or online) that inspired you?

One little piece of me was at QuiltCon - our guild's charity quilt! When our guild couldn't decide on angles or curves, we combined them to make star and moon blocks. Thanks to Janet and Laura for helming this huge project. I quilted the whole thing with wavy walking foot quilting and handquilting, and I also made the bottom left corner green star. Teamwork at its finest.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quilts and Politics - Podcast with Sit & Sew Radio

Today I'm popping in for a quick heads up - especially if you're heading into the weekend and looking for a good podcast to sew to.

In this recently released podcast episode of Sit & Sew Radio, I chatted with Stephanie Soebbing about my Women's March quilt and the reaction to it, both at the March and online.

This is a much-needed podcast episode (in my opinion), as it explores how women are using and having been using quilts for political purposes since day 1 of the USA (it's not about one side vs. another here). Sue Reich gives great perspective as a quilt historian (in fact, I'm looking into her other podcasts and her book right now), and Lee Chappell Monroe encourages us to spread love through quilt blocks. I hope you'll take a listen. Thank you, Stephanie, for the opportunity!

You can read my original post about the quilt here.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Fall Spectrum - A Finished Quilt

This quilt is really special to me. You know I love making tree quilts, right?

"Fall Spectrum" is based on a tree in my school's parking lot that turns all of the fall colors at the same time, pictured below. It's truly a wonder. I previously wrote more about the design process in this post, including fabric choices.

From October to December last year, I pieced this quilt; it was a lovely respite from deadlines and adult things (including election angst). As much as quilting is one of my jobs, I still LOVE and NEED to make things *just because*. I plan to continue to do so! It turns out that the more quilts you make (I officially started 7 years ago), the better you get; this is definitely my best made quilt yet in all areas. That being said, I'm really proud of how it came out.

This quilt is an experiment with "like-solid"/tone on tone fabrics that act like solids, but I couldn't help adding in some special scraps. Anna Maria Horner's echinaceas are a favorite, and somehow it still works in the overall quilt!

I finished the quilt top at the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild's annual November retreat. It felt soooo good.

When I received news that my solo exhibition could potentially include 20 quilts, it was a quick decision to finish this one up to show my latest work. The quilting idea came to me eventually: free motion quilt each color in a different motif. Just like all my other quilts, I quilted this one on my home machine, a Janome Memory Craft 6300. Aurifil had all the colors I could ever want/need for this colorful quilt, including 5017 (lime green), 2870 (green), 1135 (yellow), 1133 (bright orange), 2277 (coral), 2250 (bright red), and 4225 (purple).

Here's the "trunk" of the tree. The green part was quilted in various sized baptist fan-like rainbows. To make the tree stand out from the background, I quilted the branches and trunk very densely with straight lines. An all-over motif or pantograph-like design, I think, would have made it disappear into the background.

I quilted the yellow section with pebbles, orange with flames, and red with triangles. Each motif was quilted specifically to overlap just a little with the other surrounding colors, so as to further emphasize the easy transition from one color to another.

Finally, to mimic the wind, I quilted purple swirls into the top part of the tree. Ever since I did this for "Home," I've wanted to try it again. It was such a joy to quilt this quilt a little bit at a time and savor the quilting process. Spaced out over several weeks, it wasn't a rushed job.

I sewed the label on in earnest to prepare for my exhibit - the name came about at the last minute, so it wasn't on there yet! I tried to show the full fall color spectrum in this quilt, so "Fall Spectrum" fit well.

"Fall Spectrum" is one of two of my quilts just juried into MQX (Machine Quilting Expo) in Manchester, NH this April; this one will be in the Modern Quilt category. After taking quick photos for the entry deadline (the first photo in this blog post), I lamented not having pictures of it in a real fall landscape. When fall comes yet again to NJ, you can bet I'll be looking to take a really cool picture.

This quilt is also part of my brick-by-brick improvisation workshop, which I teach to quilt guilds and at retreats and shops. I'm teaching it next at Mid-Atlantic Mod in Lancaster, PA on Saturday, April 29 - if you're going to the retreat, there are still some spots available in the class. I'd love to have you and help you improvise!


My mom snapped this picture on the last day of my exhibit at QuiltFest. The lighting wasn't ideal in this particular spot; the first picture in this post is much closer to the actual colors of the quilt! It's fun to get pictures with my quilts, though. More on the exhibit soon!

Again, the colors aren't exact here (much as I try to alter them on the computer), but with the quilt hanging so flatly, I decided to take a side picture at the show.

Mike's best friend was over playing video games the weekend we took pictures, so I asked for his help (the quilt is 65" x 70" - difficult to hold up, especially in the cold, as one person). There's another funny pic from this photoshoot that I'll be sure to share soon.

 Also, while I was writing this post, I added in pictures and they originally appeared small. Since I neglected (so far) to take a far away picture of the quilt, this should suffice. I'm very pleased that my design shines through when you step away.

Linking up to TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts, Fabric Tuesday, Needle and Thread Thursday.



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