Moda designers and a giveaway

On the right-hand side of this page you can see a number of the places I’m privileged to write for. But one that’s missing (and I’d better do something about that) is Moda Fabrics. For the past year-and-a-half I’ve worked with Lissa Alexander, Moda’s Director of Marketing and one of the most talented people around. She’s the big-picture thinker for Moda’s advertising campaigns, Market booths, etc., etc., and a quilter extraordinaire, to boot. I’ve worked with Lissa to write designer profiles and copy for their Market catalogs, and I continue to write for Moda’s blog The Cutting Table.

I’ve had the opportunity to chat with some very visual, interesting, and fun designers while doing this work. One of them is Lucie Summers, whose new line for Moda is Summersville. Before I knew she’d be designing for Moda and met her at Market, I’d admired Etsy shop, where she sells screen-printed fabrics of her own design and lovely bone china mugs (which I’d been not-so-secretly coveting). A high point of October Market (that’s her picture at the top of the blog post) then, was meeting Lucie and getting my hands on one of those lovelies. I drank my tea from that mug yesterday as I wrote this piece about her, hoping to channel some Lucie spirit into the profile. Such a funny, friendly gal!

The other person I wanted to mention is Jenn Ski. Jenn lives on the East Coast and and is a fanatic about mid-century design. She is also a fanatic thrift-shopper (as is Lucie…hmm…is there some connection between rummage and talent?) Jenn is featuring a giveaway on her blog of fabrics from her Moda line, Ten Little Things. She’s accepting entries until Monday, March 19, so get on it!

And remember to check out The Cutting Table periodically. In addition to profiles, there’s lots of good information about fabrics, notions, finding time to sew, and even software and app recommendations. Well worth a visit!

Blue ribbon winners

It’s time to announce the winners of Pearl’s giveaway. Congratulations to Sondra, Anne, and cliner1004. Please send me your snail mail address and I’ll have a cool ToadUSew pattern in the mail to you. Thanks so much to all who responded. Hope to have another giveaway soon, so keep reading and keep commenting!

We’re back from a week away. We spent the first day at the Iowa State Fair. Nearly every year I work in the University of Iowa booth for four hours and then wander around the fair for the rest of the day.

There is so much to see and I never get tired of it—it’s incomprehensible to me that many folks have lived in Iowa for years and have never been to the fair—if nothing else, it’s an incredible cultural experience.

We never go on the rides, but instead enjoy just wandering around, taking it all in. Some of my favorite sights this year included the butter cow and a butter Neil Armstrong landing on the moon—there was even a butter television replaying the actual moon landing footage; the prize-winning vegetables; the biggest bull, pig, sheep, and rabbit; the kids who casually hang out in the pens with their 4-H animals—we even saw some high school-aged girls bathing and blow-drying a fancy chicken; the girls dancing to Michael Jackson, followed by the amazing boy who sang Ol’ Man River, as part of the Bill Riley talent search; and of course the plethora of quilts, knitted and sewn clothing, tatting, and weaving.


I’ve attached a few of my “food-on-a-stick” photos for your enjoyment (including the one I ate and thoroughly enjoyed—pork chop on a stick). If you scroll to the end you’ll even see a nod to healthy fair eating: salad on a stick.

I’d recommend checking out Garrison Keillor’s “Top Ten State Fair Joys” from the National Geographic web site—some great photos, too.

In Pearl the Squirrel’s next installment, I’ll get back to the business of making things, because I definitely did that on my week away, too.

Color, color, color (and a contest)!

The new issue (October 2009) of American Patchwork and Quilting is out, and although I’ll admit to some bias for the publication in general (and not just because I write for them, I swear), this one is a special favorite of mine. It’s all about color and the projects are so enticing. There’s also a great profile of Sue Spargo, whose work I adore: folk-arty, but with a graphic twist, and her use of color gives it contemporary feel. It’s an issue worth checking out.

I had the pleasure for this issue of interviewing three great designers/design teams for the Contributors Page. I loved Miriam Kujac’s story of starting her antique quilt collection by going to farm auctions as her family took their summer vacations: she’s now got more than 400 quilts and rotates them through her house—it must be a constantly changing visual treat. I’ve long been awed by Flavin Glover’s quilted scenes using tiny log cabin blocks: her sheep are special favorites of mine. And I was introduced to Colleen Reale and Chloe Anderson of Toadusew: their quilts are colorful and graphic and just a little bit different. They’re also triple-tested by quilters of all skill levels.


Toadusew offered to share some three of their patterns with Pearl the Squirrel readers. So it’s not really contest (I just liked the alliteration in my headline) but a giveaway. Readers who are brave enough to leave a comment (come on you guys, you can do it!) about what draws them first to fabric: the colors, the patterns, or something else all together, will have the opportunity to win one of three Toadusew patterns: Pot Luck, Harmony, or Just Like Sunshine. I’ll choose the three winners from comments left by August 21.

Third time’s the charm…

I’ve made my third Birdie Sling and I’m very happy with this one. I used all Amy Butler’s fabrics and I think the scale of the fabrics suits the size of the bag quite nicely. I hope the person for whom it’s intended will enjoy it—it’s destined to be a gift later this month. (A shout out to Anne K. of Pearvana for the bags-on-trees photo idea!)

I also made this little bag from Terry Atkinson’s Tag Along Tote pattern. I’ve sewn a few quilts using Terry’s patterns and always been pleased by how well-thought out they are and the clever ways she puts blocks together. In particular I made a star quilt that she designed so that it was impossible to sew over the star tips—perfect for someone who’s not a perfectionist…like me!

I bought the fabric and pattern at River City Quilts, a great shop in Mankato, Minnesota. It’s a little hard to find, tucked away in a strip mall, but the shop is a delight, as are the women who work there. I’ve stopped in when I visit a relative who lives in town and always been pleased by the number of patterns, the range of fabrics, and the different takes they have on kits. I was very tempted by a quilt that featured purple, orange, and yellow batiks. Sounds fairly wild, and it was, in the best possible way.

Also, congratulations to Anne R. She’ll be receiving a copy of Diana Rupp’s book. I admit to being a little disappointed in the number of comments I received, considering that the give-away prize was really quite exceptional. But thanks to those who entered. Wish I could send you each a copy!

Line dancing

Okay, so call me sick, but I love hanging out my clothes to dry. When I found out we were leaving California and moving to the Midwest, I told my husband there were three requirements: a screened porch, air conditioning, and a clothesline. I hung clothes out on Memorial Day and there must be something wrong with me, I took so much pleasure from it. Nothing like textiles waving in the wind. This photo is actually of the quilts I sewed in 2004, my first year of quilting. I thought it was more pleasant to share than a shot of underwear fluttering in the breeze.

And don’t forget! There’s still time to enter the give-away and win a copy of Diana Rupp’s truly wonderful book, Sew Everything Workshop. It’s got tips, how-tos, and ten patterns included. Just go to the last post and tell me why you love fabric. (And if you have a chance, hang a textile on the line and think of me.)

Yellow in the garden and a yellow give-away!

I’m afraid of late it’s been the garden vs. Pearl the Squirrel, and the garden’s winning. If you live, as I do, where winter is relentless, the opportunity to be outside is too tantalizing. (These are very tiny, late-blooming jonquils—each flower is literally the size of a dime.) The garden wins because it’s finally possible to put things in the ground and anticipate lush hosta foliage, deep pink and purple petunias, and fresh sprigs of basil and mint. And being outside just feels so good.

That is, until the last couple of days, when gnats started their dive-bombing mission. I’ve swallowed more than one, and when I let Pearl (the dog, not the blog) outside I’ve taken to carrying a hat. I spend the entire time swatting gnats off my ears, neck, and face.


Work projects have also made time for blogging scarce. But you can help me with one of them. I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship to fabric and why I’ve chosen to express myself through textiles. What is it that draws you to fabric or yarn, that makes you long to caress it, use it, and yes, buy more of it? Is there some memory of learning to sew or knit as a child, perhaps, or the colors or textures of fabric, or the way it allows you to produce something unique? Leave me a comment that tells me about your passion for fabric, what it means to you, and why. (It needn’t be long, or even a complete sentence!)

On May 31 I’ll choose a winner. And that lucky winner will get something written by someone else who is totally smitten with fabric: the talented Diana Rupp (the subject of my profile for Stitch). She’s the proprietor of Make Workshop in NY and the author of Sew Everything Workshop, a fabulous, sprial-bound volume with how-to tips on everything from choosing the right fabric to what to look for in a sewing machine. Although the book bills itself as a beginner’s guide, there are wonderful projects included for those with a range of skills. Leave me a comment and this fabulous book just might be yours!