Fresh Fruits and Veggies

 

 

 

 

It is harvest season and gardens and full of bounty.  Bring some of that wonderful summertime bounty indoors with these great fruit and veggie patterns!

Use eight mouth-watering fruit and veggie fabrics to make this easy apron pattern by Rochelle Martin.  Simple piecing and great instructions make this project easy enough for a beginner.  A wonderful accessory to wear while you can tomatoes and freeze green beans.

Market Fresh Apron Pattern CTG-085

Finished Size: 29 1/2″ Long
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: CTG – Cottage Quilt Designs – Rochelle Martin.

 

Market Fresh Apron300(2)

 

Add some great Fruit Stitch Mitts to your kitchen ensemble.

Fruit Stitched Mitts Pattern IJ-989

Two appliqued & embroidered mitts bring fresh style to your kitchen. Vintage apple (8”) & orange (7”) shapes are included. Slide hand into mitt-style potholder with fruit design and quilted back with insulated batting for protection.

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: IJ – Indygo Junction – Amy Barickman.ij-989

These Woolie Fruit Cushion patterns are another great addition to your kitchen, sewing room, or office.  Wouldn’t they may adorable pin cushions?

Wooly Fruit Cushions Pattern TRA-125

These sweet apples, pears, plums and limes also make up into a sweet needle and scissor case.  Designed by: TRA – Tracy Trevethan Designs – Tracy Trevethantra-125

 

If you love to do hand embroidery here is an adorable set of Vintage Fruit patterns to embroider on hot pad, dish towels, or even quilt blocks.   They are just so fresh and sweet!

Vintage Fruit Pattern BAR-108

Product ID : BAR-108
Designer: BAR – Bareroots – Barri Sue Gaudet
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How about a bowl full of fruit to set on your table?  The fresh fruits may fade but this fresh table topper or wall quilt will be yummy all year long.

Batik Fruit Checkerboard Pattern BS2-289

Barb just loves the look of fruit in the home. It feels so soothing. Let nature’s bounty bring tranquility to you too!  This wall hanging features a basket full of fruit and a checkerboard border.

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Finished Size: 22″ x 22″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Pattern designed by Barb Sackel of Rose Cottage Quilting.

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Designs to Share with You by Ursula Riegel

The head, the hands and the heart behind “Designs to Share with You” is Ursula Riegel, a Canadian designer located in beautiful Victoria, BC. She started quilting in 1991 and over the years has extensively taught quilt making classes which were all based on her own original ideas.pic 1

Her professional background in teaching helped her to write concise class handouts with clear step-by-step instructions. Repeatedly thankful students made positive comments on these handouts which in turn encouraged Ursula to publish her designs in pattern form. “Designs to Share with You” was born. As teaching classes was Ursula’s priority for some time she added only about one or two patterns per year. But once the first distributor had taken on her line there was no stopping.

Currently there are 127 versatile patterns with focus on traditional and contemporary styles and techniques and projects for every skill level and interest. You can find patterns for quilts with multiple sizes like Easy-Does-It and Ribbonworks as well as quilts that showcase specialty techniques like Waves and Flying High.piic 2

Over time it became apparent that Ursula’s placemat and table runner patterns had become especially popular. There are now 46 different designs in this category.  Spirals became the first of a series in circular placemats and table toppers in three sizes. The newest in this series is On a Roll. The more traditional A Handful of Runners and Pieced Placemats complement each other as the blocks can be interchanged to give endless possibilities.pic 3

Ursula also developed a technique which she calls “Press & Stitch”. This is a quilt-as-you-go method for curves and odd angles where self made bias strips cover the raw edges and the process of sewing down these strips at the same time takes care of the quilting. Examples for this technique are Clamshell Placemats, Easy Curves and Easy Elegance.pic 4

Other “Designs to Share with You” include art quilts like October Sky and Tree of Life.

Lovers of Christmas projects will find a tree skirt called Star Ribbons and fabulous no-sew Coiled Fabric Ornaments and Coiled Fabric Snowflakes which are ideal to use up scraps of fabric.pic 5

These 16 patterns give you a taste of Ursula’s designs. Of course there is plenty more to find on the designers page for “Designs to Share with You” on our easy to navigate website at www.quiltwoman.com.

Last but not least we should mention that “Designs to Share with You” is also the source for our Cutting Mat Cleaner. This is a small gadget that removes all kinds of lint from the crevasses of your rotary cutting mat and therefore prolongs its life considerably. It has been tested by 500 members of “Today’s Creative Home Arts Club” and has received an approval rate of 92%.

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Why I Love Scraps! by Deanne Eisenman

I love scraps because …. I always have a lot of them! I don’t think many quilters are actually without scraps. When I cut out a project, I usually end up with the side of my cutting table looking like this:

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 Quite a mess! I can put these to good use. Here is what I do when I am left with a piece of fabric that is smaller than 1/8 of a yard. I cut strips! Either 2 1/2″ or 1 1/2″ strips. I store them in bags, usually separated by light and dark colors and tans. Here’s one of my bags:


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 And with strips, there are endless possibilities! You can make my favorite block, the Log Cabin …


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… Or you can use the strips to add a scrappy pieced border to a quilt!

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Another great use for leftovers is to use them for a scrappy binding!

If it does not work to cut a leftover piece of fabric into strips, I separate those pieces by color and put them into bins to use in appliqué projects. Instead of having to cut into a larger piece of fabric for a small flower, I just dig into my appliqué bin of the appropriate color!

Here’s some of those bins:

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Another way I put scraps to use is to use them to make test blocks. I make these when I am trying out color ideas for a block. Instead of cutting into “fresh” fabric, I dig through my scraps for colors I want to audition and make the block. I can even make two or three different variations. Once I have chosen the color combo I want, I can purchase the fabric and make the quilt with no worries.

When you are done with the test blocks, you can add a few scrappy borders to it and have an instant mini quilt! They make great gifts! 

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So do you want to try a scrap quilt and are not sure how to get started? Try a “planned” scrap quilt. Take a quilt pattern for a quilt made with one block make each block separately using different colors (but still coordinating). Another way to get scrappier is to do it while buying fabric. If a pattern calls for 1 yard of blue, consider buying 4 fat quarters in different blues or other colors in that color family. Do the same for the other colors in the pattern. You’ve instantly made it scrappier!

The key to enjoying scrap quilting is to let go and have fun! Buy smaller cuts of fabric in many colors from your local quilt shop instead of larger cuts of just one color. Once you build up a stash, it’s fun to go “shopping”  there and experiment.

Happy Quilting!

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Bag Adventure

I am a bag lover.  Tote bags, hand bags, shopping bags.  And there has never been a better time to indulge in a new bag than the summer season when I can’t leave the house without a bag on my arm.  To save you time, I am featuring a few of the MANY bag patterns available for summer sewing.

This is just so summery looking!

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This is Still Waving by Susan Rooney Patterns (SRP 1015).  I love the smaller accessory bags included in this pattern.  A dramatic piped, wave edge, a cell phone pocket, key fob, inside pocket and 3 pouches to organize money, makeup and change. All full size templates provided in pattern. Designed by Ruthann Stilwell.

Finished Size: 14″ x 10″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: SRP – Susan Rooney Patterns – Susan Rooney & Ruthann Stilwell.

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The Breezy Blooms Bag by Susan Rooney Patterns (SRP 303) is another great summer selection. Don’t you love the bright flowers on these sunny bags?
Rounded shape with lots of pockets are great features of this small purse pattern. Unique expanding pocket on back, two zippered pouches and a wristlet strap are also included. Feature applique or embroidery on the flap to show your creativity.

Skill Level: Intermediate
Designed by: SRP – Susan Rooney Patterns – Susan Rooney & Ruthann Stilwell.

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The Emma Shoulder Purse Pattern is a great messenger style bag.  And I love having a project where I can use some of those big buttons I have collected.  Emma is a very versatile shoulder bag. It’s traditional design fits any occasion. The narrow strap lends a youthful appearance. There is plenty of room inside, owing to the side and bottom gusset. Pockets are all around inside, including a pen pocket. The flap closes with a magnetic snap and provides security for your things. Options for this pattern include length of strap and depth of purse. Perfect for everyday or evening wear.

Finished Size: 11 1/4″ Wide x 7 1/2″ Tall x 2″ Deep
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: JB2 – Jeanne’s Bags – Jeanne Nivard.

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The Ursula & Emily Purse pattern by The Creative Thimble is another roomy and functional purse pattern.  Leave your bulky bags behind and take these small wonders with you. Ursula and Emily are small sized purse patterns with all the pockets you could ask for. Open the magnetic flap on the front to reveal 6 credit card slots and one ID window. Also up front is a zip pocket large enough to hold paper money. On the back there is a slash pocket the full width of the purse to hold coupons and receipts and on the sides are pouch pockets for sunglasses, phone or water bottle. The lining includes another zip pocket and two patch pockets. The purse closes across the top with a zipper. Ursula has an adjustable handle that can be worn across the body or on the shoulder and Emily (Ursula’s alter ego) has dual shorter handles.

Finished Size: Approximately 10″ Wide x 7 1/2″ Tall x 4″ Deep
Skill Level:Intermediate
Designed by: TCT – The Creative Thimble – Laura Martell.

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Meet Penelope. She is a charming purse with twin pockets on both exterior sides for quick access to keys, cell phone or grocery lists. She has just a touch of rick rack to accent the front of the purse. She has a unique shape that expands with snap magnets on the sides to open up for more interior room. She is zipper free but has an interior pleated pocket that is designed to hold your cell phone (fits an Iphone perfectly) or your lipstick and compact. Her handles are adorned with an accent strip to make them unique and pop. She is designed to be a sturdy purse that doesn’t slouch.
She is easy to construct. Approximate completion time for an intermediate sewer is about 2 1/2 hours. Completed size is 14″ wide, 11″ tall, 4 1/2″ deep. She would look adorable with any color combination. Let your creativity flow and sew one for yourself. The “paper” version of this product is a CD.

Finished Size: 14″ Wide, 11″ Tall, 4 1/2″ Deep
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: SM2 – Sew Michelle – Michelle Dorsey.

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Julia is a satchel purse that can be worn cross-body or on the shoulder because of its adjustable strap. The pattern offers a fixed length strap option as well. This purse offers lots of security in its zippered exterior pocket and zippered closure. Inside, pockets and a key fob helps to keep you organized. Lots of room, security and hands-free use makes Julia very versatile.

Finished Size: 12.5″ x 10.5″ x 2.5″
Skill Level: Intermediate
Pattern designed by Jeanne Nivard of Jeanne’s Bags.

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The Flapper Purse is one in a series of patterns by ReannaLily Designs that feature military uniforms repurposed into contemporary, fashionable designs. Special instructions for working with the uniform are included. Thank you for supporting our troops!

Finished Size: 17″ x 7″ x 4″
Skill Level: Intermediate
Pattern designed by Jen Eskridge – ReannaLily Designs.

Click HERE to see more great bag patterns!  Which one will you be making???

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Blog Hop is Hopping

quiltwoman banner

 

Hello Quilters!

The Blog Hop has begun! For the next week we will be hopping around seven QuiltWoman.com designer blogs. Each day…starting today…there will be a new blog post by one of our designers featuring a new technique, project, or tutorial. There will also be a free giveaway!

blog hop

Here’s a list of all our participants:

8/4/2015 Tammy Silvers http://www.tamarinis.typepad.com/

8/5/2015 Carol Steely funthreads.blogspot.com
8/6/2015 Heidi Pridemore www.TheWhimsicalWorkshop.com

8/7/2015 Kathie Donahue http://www.prairiecottagecorner.blogspot.com

8/8/2015 Toby Lischko gatewayquiltsnstuff.blogspot.com
8/9/2015 Jessica J.E. Smith www.quiltHacks.com

8/10/2015 Diane McGregor http://www.castillejacotton.net/blog

Have Fun and Happy Hopping!

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The Quilter’s Toolbox: Thread

There is nothing a quilter likes more than a new gadget! We love our tools and care for them with a reverence akin to a good friend. I broke my favorite acrylic ruler a few years ago and mourned its loss for weeks. Of course I still have the two halves and use them when I need a shorter ruler!

But a quilter’s tools can also be serious business. In this video, Barb Sackel presents a great list of the basic tools all quilters should have.

In the video Barb briefly discusses thread.  I would like to share some important information about selecting a good thread.  Polyester, Poly-Cotton, and Cotton threads which are used in quilt piecing and garment sewing comes in a variety of thicknesses, or weights. This can be confusing and choosing the right thread becomes easier when you know some of the qualities of thread.

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Thread is made of a series of filaments, twisted together and wound on a spool.  The number of filaments and the tightness of the twist all affect thread performance.  Typically quilters choose a medium 50 weight three-ply thread for most sewing tasks.  Here is what that means.

The most common weight system specifies the length of the thread in kilometres required to weigh 1 kilogram. Therefore, a greater weight number indicates a thinner thread. For example 100 weight thread is very fine. (100 kilometres of this thread is required to equal 1 kilogram) 50 weight thread is common for sewing and quilting. 30 weight thread is heavier and thicker.

Sometimes you will also see the work TEX is sometimes used to refer to thread weight. According to Wikipedia, “Tex is the mass in grams of 1,000 meters of thread. If 1,000 meters weighs 25 grams, it is a tex 25. Larger tex numbers are heavier threads. Tex is used more commonly in Europe and Canada.”

So which thread should I use? Many quilters prefer 50 weight 3ply cotton or poly/cotton thread for piecing. If you are paper piecing you may want to use a slightly heavier thread (40 weight) and a 14/90 needle to perforate the paper better and stand up to the tugging of paper removal. If you are doing a miniature quilt with tiny pieces, consider using 60 weight thread (and a size 10/70 needle) to reduce bulk in your seams.

Polyester thread is a synthetic fiber with great strength and durability.  Because it can be dyed easily it comes in a huge range of colors and is generally less expensive than cotton thread.  It tends to have a sheen, because the synthetic fibers catch the light and are slightly reflective.  It is the go-to thread for machine embroidery for this reason.

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Both cotton and poly thread can be variegated or striped to create a multicolor effect.  The better variegated threads have a shorter color repeat (from an inch to several inches).  Cheap variegated threads will have a longer repeat of 12″ or more and don’t blend in quite as well in projects.

silk

Silk thread is fine, expensive and lovely to work with.  It is great for hand applique and and machine applique.  It comes in a variety of weights as well.  50 weight silk is great for machine applique.  100 weight silk is very fine and is used for heirloom hand stitching or hand applique. Silk dyes beautifully so there are lots of colors to choose from, but the cost of silk often puts quilters off.

Each spool of thread is marked with the color, fiber, number of plys or filaments, and weight or TEX of the thread.  Next time you are shopping for thread read the label.  You will be amazed what you can learn from such a tiny circle!

Happy Quilting from QuiltWoman.com.

 

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Trends from Spring Market

What a feast for the eyes!  Spring Quilt Market is in the books but the sights and sounds will be coming to your local quilt shop any day.  What was cool, new and memorable?  Where to begin?!

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Brights are back!  Of course they never really left but they are back in force in vibrant batiks, bold prints, and shimmering textures.  You will be delighted at the sheer breadth of designs available this summer.

cotton and steel by anka

Neutrals and grays were still in attendance, and some delightful modern looks were looking resplendent in muted yellows and edgy greens, but they were less prevalent than at Fall Market.

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I think the long cold winter had everyone battling back to life with vibrant, fun, and furry new trends.

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Speaking of furry– owls and foxes were there in abundance this spring, from whimsical to menacing these woodland cuties were donning every color and texture from dots to stripes.  Look for great patterns and fabrics featuring these and more woodland beasties this summer and fall. Add bunnies, deer and bears to the mix as well.  Critter lovers will have a great selection.  And check out this lion!!!

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Solid fabrics were a significant presence at Market with most of the big manufacturers showing off a line of saturated colors and coordinating pastels.  Lots of gray on the side, but not the main dish.  Other neutral players were stepping up to snag the spotlight, including pale peach, muted teal and lots of purples.

Other trends I spotted?

You couldn’t miss Nancy and the Ditsy Quilters showing off artwork from Nancy’s new fabric line in the booth.

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Lots of embroidery—both hand and machine, but especially machine embroidery and applique.

Many traditional designs and fabrics—lush florals in subtle colors and soft palates

Primitives and wool still have a strong showing, with wool applique making a very strong appearance.  Primitives are making a resurgence along with darker colored fabric lines and 19th century reproductions.  Several very nice 1930’s  lines were back in the line-up as well. Check out Robert Kauffman, Maywood Studios, Moda and Lecian Fabrics.

Hand dyes never go out of style and were shown in many booths and applications.   And organic cotton was featured in a number of booths.

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Gizmos and Gadgets—so many I will only mention a few but will give a much more in-depth discussion of new tools in my next post.  Gotta haves include our own Easy Binding Winder, demonstrated by inventor Rex Moreland and quilter and shop owner Peggy Benjamin. This was a huge hit at market and the first really useful new tool (that is not electric) in this shade of pink to come along since the lawn flamingo.

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And check out the new Add-A-Quarter ruler.  It is going to be a big hit.  Yup, its new and you won’t need an index card any more to fold your fabric and paper.  Watch for a tutorial in a future post.

Wait. . . There’s more!  Ok, it can wait till next time.  Till then, keep stitchin’!

Reeze Hanson at Morning Glory Designs

Posted in Fabric, Quilt Market, Trends | 1 Comment

What I learned at Quilt Market

What I Learned at Quilt Market

nancy in booth

So….this spring I decided NOT to have a booth at Quilt Market, and kismet – an opportunity to work in QuiltWoman.com’s booth at market sprang up!  It was meant to be, right?  Of course!

As a (ahem) veteran vendor of Market, I didn’t necessarily think I knew it all, but I thought I had everything fairly figured out.  Life Lesson #1: You can ALWAYS learn something new.  And I did.  And in the spirit of paying it forward, dear fellow designers, aspiring designers, and the “maybe someday I’ll do that” folks, here’s a brief summary of what I learned this time around from working in Nancy’s booth (BTW – she is wonderful to work with – in the booth and as a distributor – just so you know).

  1.  Images

Your images, in catalogs, in posters, on covers, need to be clear, crisp and bright.  They are your shelf space and represent your pattern.  So showcase that gorgeous quilt that took up so much of your life to create!  Take the time to have a quality picture that highlights the quilt (i.e. most prefer a flat image of the quilt rather than a staged shot), and please, please, please – high res.

  1. Catalogs

If you are offered an opportunity to present patterns – new, old, a mix – in a catalog, say yes.  And do it!  Create your page (or pages) to the best of your ability and highlight your patterns.  Think outside yourself – if I were a shop owner, how would this page look to me?  Are the patterns attractively laid out?  Is the information easy to read?

Insider tip:  At market, most shops gather catalogs and brochures the first day, then go back to the hotel room the first night and peruse them to make decisions.  So being in the catalog is a definite plus!  Well worth the money.  Oops – did I not discuss costs?

You’ve heard the expression “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  True.  True.  True.  No free advertising.  No free exposure.  Everything, let me repeat, everything is a trade off.  So exposure – catalog, wall space, floor space – costs.  Exposure for money – there’s your trade off.  So back to catalogs – that would be Exposure #1.

But……not all shops/owners want to pick up and carry around catalogs.  That gets heavy.  So….on to Samples and Covers.

  1. Samples

It’s no different than your local quilt shops – samples sell patterns.  I saw it time after time at market.  Now, obviously you can’t have your entire line on display at market (space = $$), so choose your best sellers, or your newest designs, or maybe go with a theme.  That decision is up to you, and there isn’t really a right or wrong answer here, because what a shop owner is looking for at one show can be completely different at the next show.  (Sorry – my crystal ball broke at this point, and the repair shop is not optimistic on a quick repair time.)

Nancy uniquely offers two options – and I saw shop owners respond to both.  She offers digital images (blown up to poster size), or actual sample display.  And she offers reasonable rates for the display space.  Even more exciting, she will be offering up a very unique and innovative option this fall – so check out the recent email about the community of designers at Fall Market and read every line – really.  Read it all – carefully – so you can take advantage of the options that will work best for you.   So choose your option; refer back to #1 for digital images – or go with actual samples.  This is part of the individual “learn by trial and error” journey.  Either option – Exposure #2.

  1.  Pattern Covers

You can send Nancy up to 25 pattern covers and she will put them on a ring (grouping them to make it clear they are by a single designer).  Please note the word “covers.”  Yeah – I didn’t read carefully either…..but covers only.  Oh – and this was new to me.  You want to have the crystal clear pattern bags.  I thought mine were.  Nope.  So my next order will be for the crystal clear bags.  They really do make a difference in how crisp the cover looks through the bag (Nancy recommends G.T. Bag – crystal clear 6 x 9).  Exposure #3.

Now you may be thinking – well, if I take advantage of the catalog or the samples, then I don’t need to do the pattern covers.  Well, dear reader, here’s the hard cold truth.  You don’t HAVE to do any of it.  But the more you DO, the more exposure you’ll have.  I saw some shop owners “shopping” from the catalog primarily.  Others made decisions based on the samples in the booth.  Some looked through the pattern covers that were on display.  And still others combined all three to make purchase decisions.  So is one option “the” answer?  No.  Ultimately you have to decide what is important to you AND how much you are willing to spend.

What I hope I have shared with you in this brief summary is that exposure is everything! If you haven’t been to Quilt Market, it is difficult to adequately explain the magnitude of it.  There are 27 to 28 rows of booths, perhaps 20 to 30 vendors per row, sometimes more, sometimes less – and many small designers will rent a half booth.

So…..how many vendors?  Hundreds.  Maybe a thousand?  Possibly.  It is sensory overload.  So your job is to grab some of that attention in that mad crush of fabulous eye candy and options, which is why exposure is everything!  Gosh, I feel like I’ve said that before…….

Please note – these statements are my opinion and based on my observations alone, and again, are based on my experiences in QuiltWoman.com’s booth.  Other veterans of Quilt Market will have different insights, and it would be worth talking with them and getting their input as well.  The more information you have, the easier it is to make an informed decision.

I wish you the best of luck at your next Market!

Tammy Silvers

Tamarinis

www.tamarinis.com

www.typepad.com/tamarinis

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Quilting Fears – Do you defeat them or do they defeat you?

Today’s guest post is from Jessica J.E. Smith of The Quilt and Needle. A talented designer with a love of mystery quilts, Jessica hosts Mystery Weekends online and Mystery Retreats onsite, teaching at Lonestar Quiltworks in College Station. Her patterns are distributed by QuiltWoman.com. She’s here talking about overcoming quilting fears and how she helps her students do so.

Here’s Jess!

What is your quilting passion? Never mind, that’s an easy question. What is your quilting fear? You know, that quilt pattern you’d love to try but your inner voice keeps holding you back with:

“I am not good enough to make that!”
“I love that quilt! But I could never do that.”
“That’s just too much for me, I’ll stick with squares!”
“I’d never have time to do something like that!”
We all have one… that quilting technique or pattern that causes us to come up with any number of excuses to NOT try it because we are certain it will defeat us. Many quilters fail at a pattern or technique because they never give themselves a chance to try it. For me, once upon a time, that unclimbable mountain of a pattern was a Feathered Star. Determined to defeat my own self-imposed quilting obstacle, I set out to create a pattern that would help myself and others afflicted with the irrational Feathered-Star-a-phobia.

 

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Because I had postponed trying to make a Feathered Star for many years, I looked for a way to get other hesitant quilters to try my pattern. It finally came to me: create a mystery pattern! A well written mystery pattern is a great way to help quilters overcome their fears. Led through the process one simple step at a time, quilters don’t have a chance to feel overwhelmed or question their ability to complete the quilt.
For instance, it’s easy to make a few Half Square Triangles (HSTs).

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Scared yet? Nah! The next step is to to sew groups of HSTs together with simple shapes.

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Easy peasy. A few partial and several regular seams later…

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And BOOM! A Feathered Star is born.

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Obviously this is a simplification. A ton of color graphics and simple instructions demonstrate this technique for quilters who might need the extra information to stay in their comfort zone. The point is, if you don’t know the end product, you aren’t able to keep yourself from trying a fabulous design because of self-doubt. The above pattern is Bella Cosa. There are no ‘y’ seams or similarly intermediate level piecing involved, which is why this made a wonderful mystery pattern.

Over the years I’ve often experienced the power of mystery patterns helping other quilters achieve their own “unachievable.” During one of my first gigs as a mystery quilt teacher, I met “Square Girl.” It was a six hour class. The students came in with their fabrics cut, ready to sew and complete a small top in a day. The mystery I was teaching was Phire’s Radiance, which is my take on a Lone Star. While Square Girl was sewing, I overheard her murmuring “I like squares… I like squares… I like squares…” as she pieced together this quilt full of strips, and diamonds, and triangles (maybe four squares in the entire thing!). I was still pretty new at teaching and I remember telling my husband when I got home that I blew it… I would never see this girl again! I have to give her props though; she persevered and completed her small table topper in class.

This was her third quilt ever! Pretty amazing I think. Anyway, my next mystery program rolled around a few weeks later, and you wouldn’t believe who showed up to that class. Yep. Square Girl. And she was smiling. And she was motivated. She’d made a Lone Star and now she was ready to conquer the quilting world! She has signed up for every one of my mystery programs since then. She’s hooked. She’s a fabric addict. Now Square Girl is selling commissioned quilts to support her habit. She was recently commissioned to make the King size version of Phire’s Radiance.

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Whoa. Just WHOA.

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After all, you never know what you don’t know until you try something that you don’t know you are trying. (I’ll understand if you pause here to read that sentence one more time.) So that is why I design and teach mystery quilts. I don’t get that massive surge of teaching inspiration from a new quilter who just had a lightbulb moment like many teachers do. I’ve never really been passionate about taking intermediate quilters to advanced levels with highly skilled training and precision piecing. But I love, I mean I totally go spider-monkey crazy when, at the end of one of my mysteries, an established quilter exclaims, “I’ve always wanted to make that, but I was too scared!”

The important takeaway is that when we come upon a quilty mountain that intimidates us, we must find a way to make that climb. With a friend, with a mystery, or with a nice glass of wine and a box of chocolates – the reward is in making the journey and never looking back.

How do you overcome your own quilting fears? Is there one quilt-a-phobia that is holding you back? Today is the day; don’t wait any longer. Go climb your quilty mountain!

 

Piece out,

Jessica J.E. Smith

The Quilt and Needle

 

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Featured Designer: Meet Cary Flanagan

“Jack of all trades” is a fairly apt description for quilt designer Cary Flanagan. From jewelry to music to dance, to pottery, plus a stint raising pigs, (not to mention renovating a 140-year-old house and barn and a 20-year career in social services) she has tried it all! As quilters and quilt lovers, we’re thrilled that Cary has found a home in the quilt world, creating beautiful designs that we all can use. Keep reading to learn more about Cary and Something Sew Fine.

Cary

Cary with her “Moon Dance” quilt in the background; it’s the cover quilt for her “Moon Dance” book featuring 12 patterns for using large-scale prints.

 

QW.com: You came into quilting after dabbling in many different artistic pursuits. Can you tell us a bit about your diverse journey?
CF: Yes – VERY diverse! I sometimes feel like I have lived a number of different lives, but that’s what keeps things interesting.
I have been designing and making things since I was little, and I have tried about every craft imaginable. In my early teens, I designed enamel, copper and silver jewelry. My dream was to become a famous professional jewelry designer and have my own shop. I began college as a music major and thought I wanted to become a professional musician. Then I was introduced to pottery making and continued my work in silver in the college art department. I joined an International Dance group on campus. I ended up majoring in Sociology and Anthropology and spent the summer before graduation working at an archeological dig in northern California. I spent the summer after graduation at the School for American Craftsmen in Rochester NY, focusing on silver-smithing and pottery. Whew – that was all before I turned 22!
I married a year after college, and worked as a secretary (ugh) at MIT for several years until we decided to join the “Back to the Land” movement of the early 1970’s, as well as working as full-time professional potters. We raised most of our own food, including raising pigs for several years. We did that for almost twelve years.
Eventually, the business began to take its toll on us physically and we decided it was time to grow up and get “real” jobs. I received a Master’s degree in Counseling in 1987 and spent almost seventeen years on the staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Manchester. I loved the work but became thoroughly burnt out by the time I left in 2004. I have been running my own quilt design business ever since.

QW.com: What got you started in quilt design?
CF: I began making quilts around 1990 and joined the Amoskeag
Quilters Guild in Manchester, NH. I became involved with making charity quilts as part of the guild’s programs. Soon after leaving full-time work, I designed a technique that made it possible to cut all the blocks for a quilt in very little time, which was ideal for charity quilts. It is what I now call a “stack, cut and shuffle” design. That block became the basis for my very first commercial pattern, “Rule of Thirds.” I enjoyed the design process so much I just kept designing! For me, designing is a form of play. However, turning those designs into a finished quilt and salable pattern is hard work.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds” table runner

QW.com: What do you wish someone had told you before you started quilting as a pastime?
CF: Let me broaden that question. What I wish someone had told my husband and me before we became full time potters, was how to separate our business lives from our personal lives. With the pottery studio covering most of the second floor of our house (and a morning commute of “just down the hall”), it was too easy to allow our professional and personal lives to become all one. That turned out to be a serious mistake.
Because of that experience, when I established my quilt design business I knew the importance of keeping my business and private lives separate as much as possible. You have to set some boundaries and priorities so that the business does not suck you in to the point of neglecting home and family.

QW.com: Who taught you to quilt?
CF: I am primarily self-taught but have read many quilt books and taken many classes/workshops over the past 20+ YEARS. I learned to sew very early from my mother and have made clothes, curtains, slip-covers and so on before I discovered quilt-making.

 

QW.com: Could you share one of your favorite quilting tips?
CF: I would urge anyone who does not already belong to a quilt guild, to join one. I have learned so much from my fellow quilters, not to mention making many really good friends. For the past three years I have joined other guild members in making brightly colored and cheerful pillowcases for seriously ill children in several local and regional hospitals. Last year, as a group, we produced about 2500 pillowcases. Our goal for this year is 5,000 and we are well on our way, thanks to many individuals and quilt shops who donate fabric for the cause.
Being part of an active guild is one of the best things I ever did as a quilter. If you live in an area where there are no conveniently located guilds, start one yourself or join one or more online groups, of which there are dozens.

 

Moon Glow

Moon Glow

QW.com: A lot of our readers tell us they have trouble finding more time to quilt. What advice would you give them?
CF: This is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” responses. I am not nearly as organized or as disciplined as I would like to be. I have way too many interests and I become easily distracted. (True confessions).
So my advice is to get and stay as organized as possible (this is not to say you can’t have a messy studio – just don’t let the mess take over). Learn to stay focused. Make spending time in your studio (or wherever you sew/create) a priority, every day if possible. In my case I am either sewing, or designing, or writing most of the day, but I also make time for my husband and mother-in-law, (who turned 100 years old in March), and, of course, my friends and family. We have two dogs that we love and both of us enjoy going on long walks or playing with them every day. I also love gardening, reading for pleasure and for research, and so much more!
I am currently working on my first novel and hope to get that published in June or July of this year (2015), so that has been my primary focus for the last few months. The story is about a quilt maker growing up in the last half of the 19th and early 20th century in a small village in NH. Not coincidentally, the protagonist, Hannah, becomes possibly the first quilt pattern designer in New England and develops a successful mail order pattern business.
I am already planning a companion book which will showcase a variety of quilts that might have been made by Hannah and members of her Quilting Bee, along with diagrams and instructions for making these quilts.
One other tip – allow yourself time to do nothing, if that is what you feel like doing. Or do something for the sheer fun of it. I highly recommend it. As I get older I am letting go of the need to “do it all.”

QW.com: One more fun fact about Cary: Her “Take Four” Placemat Set is the top-selling Quiltwoman.com pattern of all time. Congratulations, Cary!

cf-224

“Take Four” Placemat Set

 

Want to learn more about Cary? Find her patterns here. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook.

NancySignature

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