Sew Together Bag

Sometime this fall, I managed to make a Sew Together bag. The design is so clever and I’ve seen lots of them on Instagram, so when I stumbled upon the SewDemented booth at Quilt Market, I bought a pattern. I thought it might be a good class project, but truth be told, it’s pretty darned labor-intensive.

I used fabrics I’d had in my stash for a long while—Echino prints and Cloud 9 Geocentric canvas—all on heavier substrates, which I thought would make for a nice, sturdy bag. And indeed it did, although I think it made the layers a little thicker and more challenging to sew through.

I didn’t wind up having enough of the exterior Echino fabric and so pieced in some Cloud 9, and I’m pleased with the result and will definitely make the bag again, although doing some batch sewing (making several at once) would be more efficient.

I also highly recommend the Quilt Barn sew-along tutorial from last March. It broke steps down even further than the instructions and was super helpful.

EEEEP! Finally Giving EPP a Try

I am heading down to the wire on my book, but that doesn’t mean I am not doing any handwork. I CAN’T not do handwork. I pass no judgement on those who can either focus or zone out appropriately, but I can’t comfortably watch TV or go for a long car ride or play Scrabble with friends if I don’t have something I’m doing with my hands. (Can you guess that I’ve never been able to stick with meditation? But that’s another story.)

I’ve long been interested in English paper piecing (EPP). Its portability appeals to me, as does its flexibility and the variety of things people do with the finished hexies. But what’s never appealed to me is the cutting out part. And the sheer number of methods overwhelmed me. People seem so opinionated about this way or that being the best (and only) way. So when I spied Tula Pink’s cute little EPP kits, with their pre-cut fabric squares, I decided it was time to give it a try. (I chose the Acacia fabric in blues and greens.)

Here’s a bit of what I accomplished last night (after watching and reading 4200 online tutorials, because there are at least that many ways to do EPP). I’ve settled on the basting with thread (vs. glue) method, using a paperclip to hold the fabric to the Paper Pieces templates, and on not stitching through the paper. I may add a punched hole to the cardboards to make them easier to pop out with the tip of a scissor. I also think I’ll iron them before I remove the cardboard.

The kits are lovely, though I would love to have a few more squares with the fox’s face. I’ll combine the pieces with some solids and do something or other with the hexies…for now, I’m thoroughly enjoying the fabrics and the satisfaction of watching those finished pieces pile up. Though a kit is obviously unnecessary, it was just what I needed to get me started. And I’m thrilled to have another way to use the packets of 2.5″ fabric squares I’ve accumulated.

Setting a record

Yes, I’ve set one all right…but it’s for length of time between blog posts. Not such a good thing! So herein is a quick rundown of what’s been up since mid-October.

Finished some backs and took quilts to Linda Duncan for long arming!

I was thrilled to finally get three quilts off my stair railing and to the quilters. One is back, another is ready for pick up. Here’s the first (used the six Farmer’s Wife blocks I made on the back).

Interviewing authors for my upcoming book!

Yup, I’m working on a book about art quilts and have had the great pleasure of talking with some of the  artists whose work was selected for inclusion. Can’t say too much about that just yet, but it’s an exciting project that you’ll hear more about in coming months.

Quilt Market!

Had my usual wonderfully-inspiring-and-thoroughly-overwhelming-time. All the usual suspects, plus Cotton and Steel’s debut, a stroll through Market with my Stitch editor Amber Eden, quick meet-ups with Lisa, Jennifer, and my other wonderful Meredith editors, dinner with my friends Mel and Mary Lou, a hug from Carolyn Friedlander, a quick chat with Lissa from Moda, and travel with Codi and Greta.

Brigitte Heitland for Moda
Anna Maria Horner’s booth (Free Spirit)
Carolyn Friedlander’s booth (Robert Kaufman)
Lakehouse’s Holly Holderman and PamKitty Morning, with @szyhomemaker, @frecklemama, and Greta Songe
Laurie Simpson of Moda’s Minick and Simpson demoing big stitching
Smilin’ Vanessa Christenson and her booth for Moda

Austin!

A quick visit with my wonderful daughter Maggie and her beau, EJ. We took walks, bought boots, saw adorable babies, and ate great food.

Maggie and EJ’s backyard grotto
Coolio chair at Austin’s Nannie Inez
Coolio daughter

Surgery!

Had a small skin cancer removed from my nose. 18 stitches. Kind of a shock at first, but a month later it doesn’t look half-bad. And they got all the skin cancer in one fell swoop, so hooray! (Reserving photos of this one)

California!

Went with my husband, who had a meeting. Saw old friends in Sonoma and Berkeley, a hike across SF that ended in dim sum, and Thanksgiving with my folks in southern Cal. A highlight was my first  face-to-face meeting with fellow Etsy contributor Karen Brown, with whom I’ve corresponded for a few years. Wish we lived closer…there’s a kinship there, for sure.

Karen in her alpaca jacket
Bay view from the Presidio
My awesome dad, his awesome pumpkin pie, and Paul
Santa Barbara pelican

And now home, where I made a few bibs for a baby shower.

One other thing I did was work on a story for a new (to me, but you’ll know it) publication that will be out in January. Looking forward to sharing that exciting news soon!

Happy Holidays…hope things are going well for you and yours.

A workshop with Crazy Mom Quilts’ Amanda Jean

Amanda Jean’s slabs and strings

Our guild lined up Amanda Jean Nyberg, co-author of Sunday Morning Quilts, for a workshop and I signed up immediately. I had the pleasure of interviewing her and Cheryl Arkison for an Etsy story and really enjoyed talking with them and their entire philosophy of saving scraps. I don’t know about you, but I can’t throw scraps away. Actually, I’ll bet that you can’t either. I go through phases, where I save even the little triangles I’ve cut from joining binding strips. I admit that eventually I’ve tossed them, but now that I’ve had a class with Amanda Jean, I wish I hadn’t!

My scraps

Scraps can be overwhelming, and the goal behind Sunday Morning Quilts is to help them be less so, to make them actually useful. Our class started with a discussion of sorting scraps (Amanda Jean and her friend Pam even brought a set of scrappy sorting boxes) and sorting our own took some time. But it did make them more useable. I was trimming some blocks I’d made from my scraps and Amanda Jean came by and there was a tiny little square—maybe 1.5 by 1.5 inches—that I’d cut off the end and she confessed that she saves even those. Her frugality is matched by her creativity, and she puts these scraps to really great uses.

Amanda Jean’s high-and-low volume quilt, Shady

One thing I enjoyed seeing was that even though her aesthetic is scrappy, she has a “look,” a clear, colorful palette that shows up time and again in her quilts. I felt quite inspired and started with a log-cabinish block of multicolored scraps.

My slab

I decided, however, to limit my palette and went for blue, green, and yellow with a bit of grey and was quite enjoying that. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the bit I made, but I do think I’ll keep at it, as I have a ton of scraps in these colors.

Amanda Jean laying out gum drops

If you ever get the chance to take a workshop with Amanda Jean, don’t hesitate. She’s funny, friendly, and spends a lot of time walking around and talking through issues with quilters. A day well spent!

Scrap baskets, rug knitted from selvedges and strings, and 2.5 inch square quilt
My friend Kristin’s slabs. We bought that dark blue fabric together six or seven years ago and both used scraps of it in our slabs.

Back to Reality

Pearl the Squirrel inspecting the perfectly still lake
Just returned from vacation (sniff, sniff)—nearly two weeks at our family cabin. Though it was much cooler than usual and we weren’t able to swim or even be out on the lake much, it proved perfect for sewing.
I hauled along my trusty Featherweight and finished up my Fabric Fusion quilt that I started after a workshop with Bill Kerr of ModernQuilt Studio. It was a lot of little pieces. But I really wanted to give Bill’s (and Week’s) concept of mixing Jo Morton and Anna Maria Horner fabrics a try. The “fabric smackdown” we did in the workshop was where this started and this Brandon Mabley fabric was my initial inspiration.
These oranges and greens and reds and pinks aren’t “my” colors, either, and that provided an additional challenge. But I’m quite pleased with the end result. I used something like 38 or 39 fabrics in the quilt—including a tiny scrap of this madras plaid in the center, which I found in my mother’s sewing room, a leftover from a summer top she made me when I was in elementary school! I purchased about ten new fabrics, but the rest were from my stash and some of them were truly just scraps: the Amy Butler fabric was from my first Birdie Sling and the orange batik (top right) was from my very first quilt.
I love the crispness the white sashing provides. A highly satisfying project!
We did manage to kayak across the lake on two occasions for blueberries. That, also, was highly satisfying. Two pies and two batches of blueberry pancakes made mornings and evenings quite pleasant. 
The swimming dock, too chilly for a swim until the last day
Driftwood in a quiet bay
A wobbly panorama from my kayak on our last, finally warm and sunny, day

Wiksten’s Jenny Gordy: A Stitch magazine profile

 I just got an email saying that the Fall issue of Stitch is coming off the press soon, and it reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned the profile I wrote for Stitch with Style, the special issue of Stitch that came out in May.

I’d heard that Jenny Gordy of Wiksten fame had moved to Iowa City and pitched a profile to Amber Eden, Stitch’s fantastic and very enthusiastic editor. Though I turned the profile in last fall, Amber thought it would be great for Stitch with Style, which focuses on sewing clothing and accessories, so it wasn’t in print til this May. But the great thing about that is that since the interview Jenny and I have gotten to be friends, which is a lovely outcome! (She was part of my Quilt Market posse in Portland.) So many of my profiles are written from phone interviews, rather than face-to-face talks, and I rarely get to follow up in person.

A quick bit about Jenny: she started by sewing a line of clothing herself—yup, designing clothing and then stitching an average of ten pieces of each style. As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy, but she did it quite successfully for several years. Though she still sews and sells occasional pieces, she’s turned her focus to creating a line of patterns to accompany her Tova and Tank tops. (We called them “nearly iconic” in the Stitch story, but at Quilt Market I realized we could have omitted the “nearly.” It seemed that in everyone’s booth there was a Wiksten tank stitched up in their latest fabric line.) Not only do I admire Jenny’s determination in making her business work, but I’ve learned that she’s got a great sense of humor.

At any rate, there are lots of great things in the issue. I, for one, intend to use Jenn Mason’s “A Shirt that Fits…Finally!” article to make adjustments to my Sorbetto top. I am feeling kind of excited about sewing clothing…just need to find a little time to do so. So if you haven’t yet checked out Stitch with Style, now’s the time!

Spring Quilt Market Update #2

The adventure continues…

By the time we got our act together to organize our trip, hotels near the Portland Convention Center were full. But Greta got us a lovely condo across the river and each morning we got to cross this bridge. It enabled us to see geese, rowers, bicyclists, and a section of the Portland marathon. (The biggest challenge was crossing the morning of the Heartlandia walk. Literally thousands of people were walking in the opposite direction, but we managed to part the sea of humanity and cross over.)

Here’s more of what I saw at Market:

Echino bags in the Seven Islands booth
Loved the subtle piecing on these Seven Islands aprons
Neons from Michael Miller. I was standing next to one of the women from the Portland Modern Quilt guild who had stitched two of the quilt’s blocks but never seen the completed top. She was so excited to see her work on display.
Tula Pink’s booth
Super-excited to meet Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life. We both blog for Moda’s Cutting Table, but had never met in person. She’s a real sweetie and was helping Camille Roskelly with her booth (and had sewn some quilts for her, including the one she’s standing by, above).
Fig Tree Quilts booth
Each fabric collection shown in Free Spirit’s booth included a piece of clothing stitched from the collection—garments were a true trend at Market.( That’s Amy Butler on the left, checking out a visitor’s bracelet.)
And not exactly part of the garment trend, but this incredible selvedge dress was the star of RicRac’s booth 
Iowa, represent! We join our other eastern Iowa buddy Vanessa Christensen, in her Simply Style booth (and check out her dress—she added a strip of her fabric to the bottom of a Target dress—she’s not just cute, she’s’ clever). 
Loved the big stitching on this quilt by Jen Kingwell
The garment theme continues at Monaluna’s booth
Butterflies flit across the walls of the Art Gallery Pure Elements booth
Nobody uses color and pattern quite like Sandy Klop of American Jane (for Moda)
Another Market trend was pink and orange. Here, Kanvas fabrics did it up with festive tissue-paper flowers.
When Market ended, we treated ourselves to a day-and-a-half of play in Portland. One of our first stops was Cargo, in the Pearl District, which offered an incredible array of Asian antiques and imports, with prices that ranged from less than a dollar to thousands.

Cargo whistles

We sampled the beer at a couple of brew pubs, including Deschutes, where we stopped for lunch.

We stopped at Front Porch, which has a sister store in Des Moines, and ran our fingers over the blankets.
The next day we had some fantastic Indian food at Bollywood Theater

And we ended our day at the Rose Garden.

Thanks, Portland, for a lovely week! And thanks, too, to the folks who work so hard to make Quilt Market happen. It was great to go, and great to be home.

Spring Quilt Market update #1

Thanks for waiting! You may have seen similar photos elsewhere, but I’m sure I’ll have a few that are unique, so I hope you enjoy them.

My Quilt Market entourage has expanded since the days when Codi (center) and I went to include the super-talented Greta Songe (on left, who’s gone with us the past two Markets) and this time Jenny Gordy (right) of Wiksten. Since I interviewed Jenny for the current issue of Stitch with Style she’s started working at Home Ec and we’ve gotten to be friends and she was ready to check out Market in relation to her patterns. Greta had some great conversations regarding her fabric designs and Jenny was a veritable celebrity, as shop owners told her how much they loved her patterns and her Wiksten tank showed up in numerous designers’ booths.

Our arrival was delayed by a day due to tornadoes in Texas. Our night in the hotel-from-hell could be a post in itself, but I’ll spare you the drama. Suffice it to say, we were darned happy to make it out the next morning, but it did mean we missed most of Schoolhouse. Got this one photo of this Quilt Market’s “it girl,” Tula Pink. She has definitely hit her stride—the session was SRO.

The first booth that caught my eye was Deep South Fibers, a knitting pattern distributor that was looking to move into the sewing pattern world. The owner (I think Donna Higgins, but not 100% sure) had some examples of things knitted with Deep South Fibers patterns, including these adorable kids clothes of her own design. If you knit, check them out. Really elegant items.

Next up was a stop at Penguin and Fish (mentioned yesterday). I covered Alyssa for True-Up, so check out lots of photos here.

Just across the aisle was Carolyn Friedlander, talented designer of Architextures fabrics (for Robert Kaufman) and very cool quilts (and we spotted her teaching at Portland’s Modern Domestic when Market was done). I love the quilt behind her.

I had the pleasure of talking with people I’ve interviewed for past and present stories, as well as meeting with editors, including Amber Eden of Stitch. She took this photo of us all (who have all appeared, or will appear in the pages of Stitch), along with Stitch contributing editor (and a former American Patchwork and Quilting profile subject of mine) Kevin Kosbab. (You can see a shot of Amber here.)

Now, in no particular order, are more Market photos. I’ll be breaking this into two posts. In addition, over the next few days True Up will be including my coverage on Cloud 9, Rashida Coleman Hale, and Camelot, so I won’t duplicate them here. (Except for these fabulous ties, below, from Sarah Watson’s Dem Bones line for Cloud 9—love ’em.)

Riley Blake’s cleverly titled “Gingham Style”—love the varied sizes of checks
Deb Strain’s fabrics for Moda
Kaari Meng’s mood board
Not a great photo, but the only one I managed to snap of the vibrant Heather Ross. We’d “met” via phone when I interviewed her for Stitch, and she was kind, complimentary, and a great story-teller.
Jennifer Sampou’s stripes
Minnick and Simpson’s fabulous ikats for scarves (Moda)

Cluck Cluck Sew offered more great patterns
One of the loveliest booths belong to Leah Duncan for Art Gallery. She was also extremely lovely, herself. Check out the two photos below for more.

And then we ended the day—yes, ended rather than started—with a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts. Everyone raved, but I for one was not going to be taken in by doughnuts that featured bacon or cereal…seemed gimmicky. But I was so wrong. The plain ol’ chocolate glazed doughnut and blueberry cake doughnut I managed to eat were amazing. Plus, we got a great trip phrase out of our visit. When Greta was contemplating trying the maple bacon doughnut, the cheery server offered “Zero reasons not to!”which quickly became our Portland motto.