Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sparklers Quilt & Pattern!

At last!  Today I am so happy to share a doubled finish - my Sparklers Quilt and the Sparklers Quilt Pattern!  This pattern includes directions to make a queen OR king sized bed quilt.  It's going to be big, and it's going to be fabulous!  I hope you're as pleased as pie when it all comes together.

Sparklers Quilt finished!

I made this quilt for my mom, using mostly Kona solids and a sprinkling of text scraps.  Clearly my mom is one hip lady!  The quilt turned out so modern and fresh.  I love it!  We photographed it yesterday on another windy afternoon at my parent's home on Lake Murray, SC.  Emily's quilting was the perfect finishing touch!

Sparklers Quilt

Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to produce this pattern!  You can find it now at the Stitched in Color Pattern Shop (where access to Curves Class Premium is still available through March 30th).  As noted in the Sparklers Quilt pattern description, I recommend this pattern to quilters with some experience (intermediate and up).  It's not actually a hard quilt, but the pattern is written to an audience who has some general understanding of how to piece blocks.

Sparklers Quilt

There are 3 layered effects where blocks appear to overlap, though they of course do not. One layered effect is created with a partial seam. Pictures will walk you through step by step!  Also, the sparklers block construction includes a touch of improvisational piecing. This makes each sparkler block slightly different, though finished at a standard size. I believe you'll find this process much more enjoyable than striving to churn out block after "precise" block.

With over 30 pictures, I believe this 28-page pdf pattern will make your experience a pleasure!   I hope you or your loved one will be snuggling under your very own Sparklers quite soon. 

quilting by Emily Sessions

Thanks, Mama, for inspiring this fun project. I hope you and Dad are reminded of how much I love you every morning and every night.  You are always a blessing.

With all my love,

Rachel

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

the Post-Modern quilter

One of my favorite moments at QuiltCon was coming across a profound quote that announced a small aisle of vintage quilts.  The quote said:

"This presentation of quilts, 
representing the different dreams 
and different voices of the makers, 
is absolutely in the interest of feeding the momentum
of the ever-expanding appreciation for innovative quilt making 
and allowing the conversations to continue
with all the nuance that these works of art merit."  
- Roderick Kiracofe

After all the emotions I'd experienced, this quote washed over me like the calm, clear waters of a peaceful sea.  It encapsulates what I hope to see our community do when we meet together to share our quilts.  Whatever else happens, I hope that we nurture a Nuanced Conversation about our art, both why we do it and what we do. 

Scholastically speaking, a "modern" worldview is one in which truth is something that can be pinned down.  Careful systems of judgement, scientific approaches, rules, etc. can be used to precisely define life.  Draw those hard and fast lines.  Check boxes.  Judge.  Award winners. 

In contrast, a "post-modern" worldview insists that some parts of life are not quantifiable.  Instead, many truths and value judgements are the result of perspective.  Truth is personal.  Meaning comes through experience, and experience today is informed by all that has come before.  Experience tomorrow will differ still.  In such a world Conversation reigns, change is expected, diversity celebrated. 

So, what kind of quilts do you want to make?  Modern?  Traditional?  Modern Traditional? 

The answer for most of us is.... who cares?  We want to make quilts that we like.  We want to make quilts for our own personal, diverse reasons. We want to share those reasons, our stylistic passions, our process, ourselves.  And we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is Value in a personal, authentic expression of self.

That's why we push back when we feel boxed in by rules and labels that attempt to define something that's mostly impossible to pin down.

We are makers.  I, personally, hold that there is a Divine Maker who gifts each individual a unique, creative spark.  When I create authentically I am most "me", and I honor Him who made me.  That's why creating feels so good.  It's practically divine.

I'm not trying to point fingers here or to start a nasty debate.  The way is already clear in our hearts - make what you love.  We know that labels have quite limited use.  The modern tendency to draw hard lines doesn't fit our experiences.  So, in that way, I think that most of us are already post-modern quilters.  Though we probably shouldn't go around much saying so, because again labels have such limited use.  My hope is only to plant a seed that will help you and me understand ourselves and our movement. 

As post-modern quilters, we bring our diverse dreams and our distinct voices to our art, and we hope to enjoy a nuanced conversation with other makers - all other makersBecause, that conversation will transform us, change us.  And growth is always welcome.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

how to Define Your Style

In going to QuiltCon, what I anticipated most was the quilts.  I'd never been to a quilt show, but I imagined that getting to absorb a collection of gorgeous quilts in person would be fantastic.  Today, back from QuiltCon, I'll confess that the quilt show prompted a cauldron of emotion:  awe, inspiration, confusion, discouragement, overwhelm, delight.  If you were there or have seen pictures, I'll wager your reactions were varied as well.

 my Oodalolly

Add to that the fact that 2 of my quilts were in the show:  Oodalolly and Modern Medallion.  What an honor!  But, gosh, they're so different.  SO different.  After a lecture defining "modern quilting" I felt completely adrift from my sense of self as quilter.  What do I like?  How do I fit into this movement?  Maybe I don't.  So how does that feel?  And back to the beginning... what is my style?

the QuiltCon quilt show

Thank goodness for the return journey!  As soon as I found a quiet moment, I put pencil to paper to work through some of these questions.  On a flight from Dallas to Columbia, SC it all fell into place.

Do you also find yourself grasping for a sense of personal style or reeling from inspiration-overload?  Well, pull out a sheet of blank paper and join me.  I hope you find clarity on the other side!

Exercise no. 1 {Word Dump}

Make two headings at the top of your page "I like" and "Not for me".  Think about all the quilts you've seen at quilts shows, on blogs, Flickr, etc.  Maybe review your Flickr favorites or Pinterest boards.  What do you like about them?  Jot down anything that comes to mind, even if you don't think it applies to style or design.  These words probably do actually relate to your style, but it's hard to see how at first.  My "I like" list starts with:  colorful, lush, saturated, floral, geometric....

Dump all the words, even if they seem repetitive.  If your thoughts are general like "Japanese Fabric" ask yourself what you like about these fabrics.  Maybe you can add "quirky", "text" and/or "cute" to your list.  As you clarify your likes, the "not for me" ideas will start to surface.  Jot it all down.  It's ok to "not like" someting. The point is to discover what speaks to you, what you want to make or what satisfies you the most.  An idea that's "not for me" is not thereby being judged as bad or unworthy.

Discovering what you're not into is actually really helpful.  It can give help you ward off a QAL rage that might turn into a frustrating UFO (unfinished object).  Even better, it can also help you discover how to re-imagine a current project for fresh momentum!

If you need more material, try surfing a flickr group like Fresh Modern Quilts.  Take time to digest a full range of quilts, not just your favorites.  

Exercise no. 2 {Self-Judge}

Now, think about the quilts you've made.  What are your favorite finishes?  Don't worry too much about hierarchy, but put on paper the names of a few quilts that stand out to you as personally satisfying, both in process and end product.  These are the ones you're really proud of.

Why?  Take what comes to mind and put it down without a lot of fuss.  What do you like most about each quilt?  You probably can't commit to just one thing you like, so right down 2-3 as the case may be.  Some of these words are probably on your "I like" list, but maybe they're new.  Don't forget to think about the process, not just the end product.  Enjoying the process is important!

In the same way, write down the names of a few quilts you've made that aren't your best work.  Maybe something about the design bothers you or the process was too fussy.  Or your points didn't match up.  Or it just looks "blah" from far away.  Maybe you liked it at first but it quickly got old.  Write down why these quilts aren't satisfying.  Just a few words.  Light touch here.  Reflect and move on.

Add any new words to the "I like" list and the "Not for me" list that emerge from this reflection on your own work.

Exercise no. 3 {Word Map}

The last 2 exercises generated ideas.  But how the heck does all this relate?  If you like "cute" and you like "scraps" and you like "color", what does that say about your style?  The word map exercise is about making connections.

Exercises: How to Define Your Style

Take a word from your "I like" list that seems important to you, given your experience with your own quilts. Starting in a big blank section of the paper, write that important word and surround it with a box.  I started with the word "unexpected".  Now, look for another word from the "I like" list that may be related.  I added "improv" thinking of my Oodalolly quilt.  Then, I drew a line from improv to unexpected since those words are related.  My line has an arrow pointing to "unexpected" because improv piecing creates unexpected results.   These lines show relation and causality.

Add most words from your "I like" list, discarding any you find unimportant, and place them in the word map so that you can draw lines connecting thoughts and directions of movement.  In my map, the word "scraps" also points to "unexpected", as does "vary neutrals".  Try to connect everything.  If some ideas seem to be alone, not effecting others, include them if you still feel loyal or discard them if it's not so important after all.

It's exciting to see your word map emerge!   At the end you'll find that some concepts have a lot of words pointing to them.  These central concepts are key for the last step...

Excercise no. 4 {Define Your Style}

Any concept that has 2 or more words pointing to it is a central tenant of your style.  Make a short list of these key elements.  (I don't want to list mine because it's important not to be suggestive.)  You might put the "I like" ideas that feed into each central tenant in parenthesis to remind you of how to create the desired effect.  You can also make a bucket list central tenant called "feels good" and throw in any style ideas that have minimal support or relations in your word map.  Hey, if it "feels good" that's good enough when it comes to style.

During this process you might find out "why" you like some things that are questioned in our community.  For example, I realized that I like how quilt borders add another layer of interest.  When you understand the "why" about something, it's empowering. 

Application

I hope you really do write all this down!   A written record is a wonderful grounding tool and source of future inspiration.  Of course, your style is changing all the time, so you might also enjoy looking back at this years later.

Before setting it aside, see if you can apply these thoughts to a current design or work in progress.  If you're stuck, bored or unsure of something, check to see if your central style tenants are at work.  If not, can't you change things to incorporate more of what you love?  I bet you can!  If it doesn't come to you right away, sleep on it.  Let your project marinate in thoughts of your personal style.  Wait for it.  You'll be really, really excited when the new ideas start flowing... and best of all you'll feel confident that they come from within and reflect your personality.  Plus, you'll be much more motivated to finish anything that expresses the real you. 

At the end of my flight, I began to re-sketch a complex quilt I've been plotting.  This quilt is to become the basis of my next class.  I am so, SO thankful to have a firmer grasp on my own style because the quilt has been absolutely transformed in the process.  I am even more eager to start sewing and even more confident about sharing it with you.

Wishing you confidence and clarity in your creative process!

xo, Rachel Hauser

Monday, February 25, 2013

Intrepid Thread Scrap Challenge Victories!

One small stack of fabrics... four entirely different results!  Come see what our scrap challengers made with their bundle from The Intrepid Thread!

The original challenge prompted each to work with the 8 fabrics included in a special scrap bundle.   They could add one other fabric and trims as desired and they had a little over a week for the making.

Sometimes a deadline is just what we need!

First up, Erica from Kitchen Table Quilts made good on her promise to create floor cushions for her family.  She combined the bundle with Essex denim in black, a great woven linen/cotton fabric by Robert Kaufman that's always a favorite.   Her fun, funky design is created without fuss using stitch and flip triangle sewing.  Visit Erica for links to helpful pillow-related tutorials!

intrepid thread scrap challenge pillow 1

Heidi of Fabric Mutt very cleverly used hexagons nested in diamond arrows to create a very modern mini with movement.  Each hexagon features one of Heidi's favorite prints from our bundle.  Heidi also used Essex linen, this time in natural, for her background fabric.  See more at her blog, Fabric Mutt


Do you remember our challenger that promised big and small and unicorn dust with a secret message?  That was miss Jeifner of Secondhand Dinosaur.  Here's the comment I left on her blog:  "First of all I know I put you in a hard spot by asking you to make good on your wildly interesting description.  I have to say that you absolutely went for it!  You are one brave girl!  My favorite part of your quilt, design-wise, is that fantastic unicorn dust.  Clearly it IS unicorn dust.  So, that's pretty special.  But, what I appreciate even more is how much thought you put into the design elements, and the way you've invested the quilt with soooo much meaning.  Plus, you had the guts to share that here.  Thank-you for rising to the challenge!"  You really have to visit Jeifner to understand what this quilt is all about, but here's a peak:


And last, but certainly not least, Belle + Bee tackled some backseat drama by creating a car book caddy for her two little girls.  Her post is chock full of construction details and tips so you can make your own quilter-friendly caddy.  I especially like that it's designed to be placed between the two girls instead of hanging on the back of a seat, where it would be out of reach for little hands.  Functional and pretty - well done!


A great big thanks to all challengers for inspiring us with your creativity!  It definitely feels like spring sewing is well underway, adding fabricy goodness to our everyday life.  And, of course, thanks to The Intrepid Thread for composing the scrap bundle and sharing it with us!  If you haven't had a chance to, you can still grab your bundle at Intrepid Thread.

Psst.... they have some great Color Blend bundles chock full of helpful fabrics.  But you didn't hear it from me.

And, yes, our next scrap challenge will be for our Canadian friends.  You all have been so patient.  Here, here for scraps! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

::Giveaway:: from Contemporary Cloth

Today, Sondra at Contemporary Cloth has a fat quarter bundle to share!  She asked me to pick something out that you might like, and I had no trouble.  No trouble at all!  In fact, on the New Arrivals page I was instantly struck with how nicely Architextures pairs with Jay McCarroll's newest line, Center City.  Both lines have a funky, urban vibe and bold colors. We combined some of my favorite Center City and Architextures prints and popped in two Pure Elements solids from Robert Kaufman... and voila!

It's vivacious, yet cool.  Are you game?  The 8 piece fat quarter bundle is available in limited quantities now, and also will ship to one lucky winner.



If you're a fan of unique, hand-printed fabrics, I hope you stop by Contemporary Cloth sometime to browse their selection under "Fiber Artists".  The store stocks several artists.  I'm particularly drawn to the work of Celina Mancurti, a new addition.  Her hand printed linens are pricey, but undoubtedly something special.  Love those birds, and I'm sure you'd agree this fat quarter set looks good enough to eat:


Thank-you, Sondra, for introducing us to this new artist!

Hmm... from my selections it appears that spring has arrived in my personal fabric land.  Let's hope it arrives in good old fashioned sunshine soon!

::Giveaway::

Enter to win my 8-piece fat quarter bundle featuring Center City and Architextures from Contemporary Cloth with your comment on this post.   International entries welcome!  One comment per person with winner to be announced on Monday the 25th.  And, I wonder... have you ever bought or used hand printed fabric? 

****Comments Closed****
Whew, lots of entries!  You all must really dig this bundle!  I let Random Number Generator do the choosing (as always), and our winner is.... Comment #363.  That's Clare, who said, "Beautiful! Yes, I have used handprinted fabrics before - I made a couple of bags with fabric from Ink and Spindle (When I could finally bear to cut into it!). Off to check out that section now...!! Thanks for the chance to win!!"  I'll be in touch, Clare.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Homeschool Chronicles {Projects & Progress}

Homeschool  Chronicles
Hullo! Deep in my mind beneath piles of quilts, there is an ocean of philosophy, on which tiny fabric crumbs float like messages in a bottle.  That ocean is churning with soooo many ideas on what it means to learn, and then beyond that, how to teach.  It's a place I like to be.  Wanna join me today?

The last time I reported on the state of our homeschool was clear back in early November.  If you're following the chronicles closely, you may want to reread {Work in Progress} to refresh you memory.  Today I'm jumping off from my intro there to the concept of Project-Based Homeschooling. 

In our homeschool we do language arts constantly, but math and history/science are entertained via the block system.  So, a month of math is followed by a month of history/science (more on our schedule here).  This block system is so refreshing!  When we're doing math it feels oh-so-productive.  Learning is concrete, progressive, demonstrative.  When we switch to history/science learning becomes relational, reflective, interest-led.  Both feel good.  And I want to emphasize the word "feel".  This good-feeling motivates us all.  And, no, we don't have trouble retaining math between times.  If we did - if she couldn't carry over concepts from month to month - I'd wonder what she's truly, really learned. 

As before, I'm going to touch on one aspect of our homeschool for each month.

November/December

In October (a math block month) I devoured Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert.  As a result, in November I invited the children to choose a "project" for our November/December block (when we want to study history/science).  They would pinpoint an area of interest and then I would encourage, enable and keep them on-task in pursuing that interest.  In my post last November, I compared this project-based learning to sewing:
This is what I do as a sewist.  I get a vision of something I want to make, and I go find out when, where, why and how.  Then I try it, try again and hopefully succeed in making something I'm proud of.  I own the project.  And, in fact, this same trajectory is vital to many, many jobs.

Project-based homeschooling is setting aside time to mentor your children in discovering and implementing this trajectory.  The goal is to teach them how to learn (the what being somewhat beside the point).  You hope they learn to: set goals, develop questions, find solutions, pinpoint materials needed, break big projects down into small segments, persevere, keep up momentum, finish and, finally, evaluate their work.  Ideally they don't just learn about something, they produce something creative to share with others.
To get them started, I put a list of topics I thought Aria and Liam were interested in on our chalkboard at the end of October.  Naturally, they asked about the list, erased some things and added new ones.  Aria's final list:  cats, cooking, China, Great Britain, inventors, Laura Ingalls Wilder.    Liam's final list:  drawing, scary rides, skateboarding, 4-wheelers, motorcycles.  When November began the following week, they'd spent some time pondering their avowed "interests".  Aria (2nd grade) chose Great Britain and Liam (kindergarten) chose motorcycles.  There was a palpable sense of excitement and awe surrounding this process.  They were giddy with power, hehe. 

Homeschool Chronicles
fist significant Internet use

I followed Lori's detailed suggestions for beginning a child-led project.  They brainstormed lists of questions for their topic.  Aria's included, "How many names does Great Britain have and what are they?" as well as "Famous buildings?" and "What do people do?  How do they talk?".  Then I asked Aria to think about how she could find these answers.  Right away, she wanted to search online. Oh the rush of internet access!  I taught her how to Google.  She discovered in practice that general search terms are useless and how to narrow down her query for real results.  After making some progress online, she chose to request books from the library.  I taught her how to search and request books and music via the online library catalog.

About 2 weeks into her project, Aria had learned so many practical skills.  I felt really close to the children, absolutely certain that I was loving them by enabling them to have this experience.  But, she seemed to be losing steam with her library books, so I offered the option of an online unit study by Amanda Bennet on the United Kingdom

It was at this time that Liam's project was coming to a natural end.  He had answered his questions and learned how to draw a motorcycle. I had read to him his library choices a few times...  The unit study was an absolute delight for all three of us.  It's very visual, with tons of online videos that make learning come alive.  Liam was drawn right into his sister's project, which was a win-win from my perspective.  Together it felt like we were visiting these places.  We could almost smell the food, and we could certainly hear their voices.  The unit weaves in science, biographies, cultural interests and language arts, creating super-interesting experience.

making Christmas gifts
making Christmas gifts

This took us right into December, until Christmas and our Disney trip interrupted us.  We have one week of the unit study left which will take us to Ireland.  I'm looking forward to returning to the study at the end of February, when I get back from QuiltCon.

January/February

After Disney, it was time to switch gears to math.  And I have to repeat.... it felt goooood.  The return to structure and measurable outcomes is refreshing after time spent on interest-led learning.  Aria and I cracked open our brand new Singapore Math 2B resources, tentatively embarking on a new curriculum in hopes of a more challenging, interesting experience than Math-U-See.  (If you recall, we finished the Math-U-See second grade book over the course of 2 months earlier in the school year.)

Aria's birthday treasures
Aria's Birthday treasures - a new book and FABRIC!

Singapore Math is a rigorous math program originating with the country of Singapore, whose students enjoy high scores on international tests.  The curriculum teaches math thinking, not just math doing.  Over the course of 5 weeks (Jan through early Feb) we have covered about half of the 2B program (which is a 1/4 of the total year program).  It's fantastic!  The course teaches children to go beyond computing on page to mastering mental math.  We've learned to add and subtract 2 and 3 digit numbers mentally, which is actually a useful skill, learned the easier times tables and completed a money unit, which included the skill of how to count back change like a cashier.

a projects from Sewing School
a creative project from Sewing School

Aria's ability to mentally juggle numbers is growing by leaps and bounds.  Her accuracy is amazingly improved as well (with Math-U-See she made a lot of careless mistakes even though she understood concepts).  Here's a little story that illustrates:

One morning I needed to count out 78 beans for Liam's math experience, but I also needed to check Aria's math worksheets.  I asked Aria to count the beans, suggesting "You might want to count by 2's".  Looking up from my work, she had these funny groups of beans on the table.  "Aria, what are you doing?"  She replied quickly, "Well, I'm making 6 groups of 8 and then I'll just need 3 groups of 10."  Momentary confusion and then, "But you don't know your 6 or 8 times tables!"  Aria, "Yes, but 3 x 8 is 24, so twice as much makes 48."  Homeschool - it's working.

I was worried that I'd be burdened by having to teach math instead of relying on videos to teach her as with Math-U-See.  But, actually, I am totally enjoying digesting the flexible thinking of this program and sharing it with Aria.  Quite frankly, it is interesting enough to interest me.  We'll definitely continue with Singapore Math in the forseeable future.

making for her baby Susan
making for her "baby" Susan (and hats for everyone this year)

And that brings us up to the present, my friends!  Of course there's always more I could share, but this is probably a long-enough foray on these seas for most folks.  If you have any questions about our homeschooling, even the big hairy ones, feel free to share those here or by email.  I'm glad to share my limited perspective, and others might jump in too.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 18, 2013

a Vintage Tangerine Finish

From inspiration in color and in pattern to its emergence on my first design wall and a rather climatic finish with dogwood quilting, I have loved almost every moment of my Vintage Tangerine journey.  (The "almost" because, let's be honest, learning free motion quilting takes some sweat and tears too.)  But overall, it's been dreamy.

I want to make more quilts like this.  Not this style or color or whatever, but the feel of this.  The feel of combining exciting ideas, watching the pieces come together without too much fuss, no rush, yet challenge and a sense of meaningful growth. 

Well, how about I hush and show you the quilt?

Vintage Tangerine!

Yay!  It's totally the mood I was hoping to capture!

She's been washed and dried, which definitely effected the texture.  Here's a photo before being washed:

before washing

And here's one after:

washed & crinkled

To be honest, I do prefer the flatter, smoother quilt prior to washing aesthetically, but (and this is a big But) I do finally get why folks are enamored of quilt crinkle.  With dense free motion quilting (FMQ) the crinkle at last whispers "cozy" and "warm" to my senses.

heart Dogwood Quilting

And I am so very proud of my quilting.  Huzzah!

I do enjoy an improv back...

For the back I pieced together some leftovers, including two large pieces of Chicopee corduroy and a large scale Madrona Road Wild Carrot print, that really suits as backing.

bound in Alexander Henry Heath

She's bound mostly in Alexander Henry Heath, such a prized "helpful fabric" in my stash. The gray is now hard to find, so I'm glad to see that Architextures includes a similarly useful fabric, available in gray/white.


I heard from a reader that Sew Modern was out of the Vintage Tangerine bundle I created, so we made 2 quite apt substitutions to put the 11-piece bundle back on the shelves.   Enjoy!

finished Vintage Tangerine quilt

Thanks for your support and encouragement during this journey.  You all are the nicest!  And, psst... new quilt-in-progess pics later this week!

xo, Rachel

Friday, February 15, 2013

random geese

One of the coolest things about being in a quilting bee is getting "assignments" that invite a fresh look at color.  Ara Jane of "you know what i love" is leading the Love circle quilt this month, and asked for any style of flying geese in "dusty pinks, teals/aquas, and dark/navy blues" with low-volume white/black prints or solids for backgrounds.

geese colors

Isn't Ara Jane's example fabric stack lovely?  Aqua and navy is a tried and true classic.  Adding in the dusty pink makes it sweeter, more soft and dreamy.  It actually reminds me of Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow, which is still one of my favorite fabric collections to date.

geese for Love circle

Since Ara Jane invited "free-form" blocks in any size, I took her at her word and went all-improv.  I sewed entirely from triangle scraps and background scraps, not deciding how to arrange my pieces until I'd randomly built little sub-sections of geese and background.  The only "planning" I did was to set some geese on diagonals.  Ironically, that is the element I like least about the finished blocks.

in Ara Jane's palette

I've found when working to assemble a quilt top made with bee blocks of random sizes that small rectangle blocks really come in handy.  My little triplet ranges from 8-10" on the sides.  I hope they play nice with other bee friends.

Thanks, Ara Jane, for a fun project.  These scrappy triangles are delighted to have found a home!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

a Quilting Miracle

Earlier this week I opened a box and pulled out this...

quilting by Emily Sessions

That's a bonafide quilting miracle, folks.  I sent away a ginormous 96" x 90" quilt top and a huge piece of 108" wide flannel backing, then received back this treasure of straight line texture from the hands of miss Emily Sessions.

that's a quilting Miracle

When my mom explained she'd like the Sparklers quilt finished with dense straight line quilting, you all know I groaned.  Groaned.  So, when I got in touch with Emily Sessions after seeing her work for A Quilt is Nice, I realized this large quilt would be just the one for my first longarm experience.  This was my first time sending out a quilt.

do you like it?

Honestly, it all went so well!  Emily at Emerson Quilting graciously accepted my desire for starbursting straight lines in all the sparkler blocks and dense straight lines in all the background pieces (changing direction based on the orientation of each background piece - that was my mom's clever idea!).  So many starts and stops and so many changes of direction - it's something I would have never attempted at home.  She asked good questions to clarify my directions, and even didn't mind putting in "my signature" at the bottom corner, to make my mommy smile.

thanks, Emerson Quilting!

I am so happy with how it all turned out!  The quilting is deliciously flat and the lines are nice and straight, but "natural" looking since she longarm quilts by hand, not with a computer.

ready to bind!

Now I just have to trim and bind her.  Easy peasy.  What a load off!  And, as enquiring minds may want to know, I am currently working on the Sparklers quilt pattern, anticipating a finish sometime next week.

Thanks so much, Emily!  It was definitely a pleasure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Zipped up

Isn't it always the case that sewing anything unusual sounds so much harder than doing what we normally do, even when we know it's not?  Yep, yep.  That was me and this zip organizer from Zakka Style.  Zippers, bias binding, interfacing, etc.

ready for QuiltCon!

Happily, I had a deadline (oh, QuiltCon) so that pushed things right along.  I also used Krista's great notes from the Zakka sew-along. Now I have my handmade bag and a wallet that mostly, kinda matches.  Yay!

Zakka sewing zip organizer

I definitely had trouble committing to fabrics for this project.  Most everything I pulled seemed like "too much" so believe it or not this could have been louder.  I think I would have liked the inside better without the butterfly ribbon, but I definitely love that ribbon for the outside.  It's a Loulouthi ribbon by Anna Maria Horner.  Magenta always gets me.

new + old

So, um you wanted to see my old wallet?  Yeah..... I truly bought it to punish myself for repeatedly losing wallets.  I figured something so silly would be hard to forget.  Plus, it was cheap.  Well, then I never lost a wallet again! Now I'm going out on a limb with a wallet I actually like.  Wonder what happens next?

Handmade for me

Admittedly, the new version is not all that much more "mature" than the old, but on this side on the outside (so from at least one perspective) it looks pretty grown up.

works!

Best of all, it actually holds my stuff even better than the old wallet.  This "zip organizer" is bigger than your average wallet and...

lots of room for change!

has a huge outer zip pouch for coins.   And that's good because one of my life missions is to use my husband's change.  That man is always bringing home change.   Sheesh.

Okay, all zipped up.  Is it time to pack yet?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Raindrops & Sunshine

Happy Monday!

I've been very geeky just now, comparing the Scraptastic ruler with the Fons and Porter Half and Quarter Ruler for the purposes of cutting my triangle scraps into ready-to-sew triangles to finish at standard half square triangle (HST) sizes.  I wonder if it's worth buying a special ruler?  When I sewed those hourglass blocks from scraps I did not worry about finished sizes, but just sewed, sewed, sewed and trimmed.  So, come to think of it, I think it's probably better to just sew random triangle scraps into HST blocks and then trim to a standard unfinished block size.  Sorry, thinking out loud.

Ok, so I do have something real to share with you today...

21

Ta da!  I finished this project late January, just in time for its debut at Curves Class encore.  It's my Raindrops & Sunshine baby quilt, with a smattering of Kona Aqua droplets.  Brave curves students will be drafting the templates all by themselves for these sweet droplets.  Yep, we've learned how to  make our own curves templates.  Hurray.

19

I just loved piecing those rainbow beams.  I made them quite awhile ago, when I was yearning for string scrappiness.  It's so satisfying to put scraps in rainbow order.  Always looks good and always feels right.  Also, requires very little thought.  Win - win -win.

27

At first this quilt was just about the droplets.  Then I thought to add rainbow beams, which caused the background to morph into "sunshine" yellow prints instead of a cloudier view.  Don't you just love how ideas evolve like that?  It's probably my favorite part of the quilting process!

******

Because I know folks will ask...  Curves Class is officially finishing up this week.  The class blog will remain open for questions through March 30th.  For those that missed the "live" class, you can still buy the Premium class, which includes access to the class blog now through 3/30 and the Curves Class eBook.  All projects, templates and videos come with the eBook so you can explore curves at your own pace when the timing is right. 

Students from the 2012 Curves Class, who would like to receive an updated eBook with the 2 new projects (drafting curves via the Droplets Journal and Rainbow & Sunshine quilt), please contact me.  There is a $5 processing fee as I will need to first confirm that you are a returning Curves student.  Thanks!
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