Michael Miller Donation Blocks Round 2

Michael Miller Donation Blocks Round 2
Michael Miller Donation Blocks Round 2

This covers my second post of blocks for Quilts for a Cure. I forgot to post these before I sent them off about a month ago.

I like these better than the first group.

Michael Miller Donation Blocks Round 2
Michael Miller Donation Blocks Round 2

I have to admit my error. I don’t know if they will be able to use these blocks. I found the information about size, etc after I mailed them and I made the wrong sized blocks. Perhaps they will get someone to sash them? I don’t know. All I know is I did my best when I had a lot going on.


QuiltCon Day 5 -Last Day

Well, as you read this, I will be getting back to real life.

Yesterday was class day. A lot of people were done with the conference – tired, ready to go home, out of money, etc. I was ready to sew, so a class was just what I needed.

We got up at, what felt like, the crack of dawn and hustled over to the classroom. We wanted to get there a little early because we wanted seats that we wanted. There were two different Janome machines to use. We both chose the 6700 models (I think there were letters after them, but I forget what they were.

Libs Elliott is a lovely person and a great teacher. The content was sufficient to complete in the class and she was available and supportive during the entire class. The class was Dynamic Stripes. If you want more than that, take the class. 🙂

We made stripes from solids and semi solids and then cut them up. There were several options. The strip sets I made were two of the options. One was the regular set and the other Libs called Biggie Smalls. I decided to go with the easiest options so I could get the jist of the technique.

Dynamic Stripes, first version
Dynamic Stripes, first version

Once I cut up the strip sets, I was able to put the blocks on the design wall and look at them. The triangles don’t all go together, because the fabrics were slightly different. Still, I was pretty happy with my first version.

Finished Dynamic Stripes top
Finished Dynamic Stripes top

I moved the units around and then started sewing. I came away from the class with a small finished quilt top and I am pleased. I need to press it a lot better, but I am happy with it.

I added in the solid HSTs to fill in where I was two blocks short. I think this is an ok piece. I think the technique is interesting, but my piece is definitely a practice piece. I’d like to try the technique with actual striped fabric (smaller blocks) to see what I could make. I am not sure I will use this technique in general, but I am glad to know it and I am really glad I took the class.


QuiltCon 2018 Day 4

We are starting to get tired. walking on concrete all day for several days is difficult. The show and the ancillary events are super fun, but also tiring. We went to the main hall to finish looking at the quilts and finish looking at the vendors. Today was also class day for both of us.

Other people are also getting tired, I think because even though people were friendly, they were not as gregarious.

Sarah Fielke demoing Big Stitch
Sarah Fielke demoing Big Stitch

Probably the most important event of the day was the Sarah Fielke class I took. This was a fabulous class on Big Stitch. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be what I needed. I started to obsess about the class being a hand quilting class when I wanted to learn any special techniques to use Perle Cotton. My fears were unfounded. It was a great class. It was, basically a hand quilting class, but Sarah built on my existing store of hand quilting knowledge and refined it so I could wield a needle with Perle Cotton like a pro.

Big Stitch sample piece
Big Stitch sample piece

The instruction lasted about 10 minutes, once the introduction was finished and a lot of techniques and information came together in my mind. I finally understand the rocking motion that is so critical to good hand quilting.  Not only do I understand it, but I can do it with confidence. YAY! As an added bonus, I got to try out the many spools of Aurifil and Sue Spargo Perle Cotton I have been collecting. But wait! There’s more! It was fun. I enjoyed sitting there and practicing the stitching. The class was totally worth the time and money.

Julie took an Angela Walters class while I was in Big Stitch. We have another class tomorrow with Libs Elliott.

Waves by Etsuko Takahashi, 1998
Waves by Etsuko Takahashi, 1998

I was pleased to see a SAQA exhibit, Modern Inspirations; Art Quilts From the 1970s through Today, in the back of the hall near the demo station. It was filled with ‘modern’ quilts made over the past 30 years. Some looked like they would fit right in with the quilts in QuiltCon’s 2018 exhibit.

Waves by Etsuko Takahashi, 1998 was one of my favorites in this exhibit. It is made from Pointillist Palette fabric and is such a fantastic use of the fabric that it takes my breath away. Though the fabric is already ombre, the gradation between fabrics is incredible. All of the quilts fit right into the QuiltCon exhibition.

Carolyn Friedlander keynote
Carolyn Friedlander keynote

Early in the day, we heard the Keynote Carolyn Friedlander. She spoke about her inspiration, her various fabric lines and a book. One thing she does is make quilts over and over exploring different options in each iteration. I was interested in her talk and thought she did a great job. Many people walked out, grumbling that the keynote wasn’t what they expected. ??? I was confused about that, because I got what I thought I was going to get and thought Carolyn did a great job. People are weird.

The keynote was right at noon, which made lunching difficult, so, perhaps, people were cranky?

Template Handle
Template Handle

I think the vendors were tired as well. They were perfectly friendly and helpful, but not as perky. Early in the day we walked around the hall a little. I bought an interesting template handle. It is much smaller than others I have seen, but I thought it might be useful for my smaller rulers as well.

Daylight Clip-on Lamp
Daylight Clip-on Lamp

I also bought a Daylight lamp. It is a small, portable clip on lamp that I hope will illuminate my work surface even more.

We skipped the QuiltCon Happy Hour. Julie went back to the hotel and I went to dinner with Tim and Cyndi at an Italian restaurant. The waiter was fabulous and my pizza was delicious. The restaurant was far away so it took me awhile to get my food. 😉 It was worth the wait.

One more day then back to real life.

QuiltCon 2018 Day 3

Day 3 was just as good as Days 1 & 2, but I don’t feel like I saw as much. We stayed mostly in the vendor hall, which also has quilts. All of the winners are in the hall with the vendors and we decided it was time to look at them. I saw so many of them posted on social media that I didn’t think it would be worthwhile to see them in person, but it is such a different experience. Social media is awesome if you can’t be there in person, but I see the quilts differently in person.

We spent the first part of the day looking at the quilts. The winners were pretty amazing in some manner. The secondary winners (challenges, etc) were interesting as well. Once quilt I really liked was Clambake by Heather Black. I liked it when I saw it, but liked it even more after reviewing photos on my phone.

It is a simple design, but not boring.The background red is an interesting shade.

I also really liked the Heart of Gold quilt by Beth Chinderie.

I like it that the pieces that make up the heart are not pieced or appliqued, that they are fused (possibly), then quilted down.

This endeavor migrated to looking at vendors after about 5 rows of quilts.

Michael Miller Charity Charm Pack
Michael Miller Charity Charm Pack

Michael Miller is collecting charity blocks to make quilts. We got some free charm packs to make blocks for the quilts. After QuiltCon 2017, they made 9 quilts out of donated blocks to donate to kids with cancer. I have a charm pack of 12 charms and I am thinking about how I can use it to make the most 6.5×6.5 blocks possible. I might make some checkerboard blocks just to maximize the number of quilts I can make.

In the Michael Miller booth, as an added bonus, I got to meet HollyAnne, a Twilter, who is the CEO of Quilts for a Cure. She is a lovely person, which made the meeting fabulous. She turned us on to a little giveaway game. We went around to different booths and got punches, chatting with people as we went. In the course of getting punches, I found out that my rotary cutter, which broke recently, has a lifetime warranty! I have to call the customer service number and see what they can do for me.

We also checked out the Daylight Lighting company and I am sorely tempted to buy multiple products. We’ll see what I actually do buy. I plan to to at least buy one of the clip on, portable lights, but may buy a larger one as well.

QuiltCon Day 3 Purchases
QuiltCon Day 3 Purchases

I did buy some things .There is so much available and I have my limits in terms of space and time. Some of the things shown in the photo (right) were freebies as well.

Tool Tote by Quilts Illustrated
Tool Tote by Quilts Illustrated

I found a bag pattern that I had to buy. It is a tool tote with an interesting design and a super cute look. I have a the Oslo Tote by Sew Sweetness, which I think is similar.  Of course, the fabric helps to make it appealing. It is a tester for a project on which I might be working (far left, top) and it is called the Tool Tote. It has a frame to keep it wide open (see photos below). I have tried a pattern with a frame, though I have another pattern that calls for one. I am kind of excited about trying out a pattern with a frame. To go with that pattern, I bought Bosall and a zipper. The Bosall is like Soft & Stable, but is fusible. My Organizer Club by Crafy Gemini calls for this product. I thought it was a Soft & Stable knockoff until I talked to the lady at the Elkhorn Quilts booth (great company, fab bag patterns and supplies, BTW). I didn’t realize the Bosall was fusible. Not only does the Organizer Club call for this, but this tool tote does as well. I am not sure *I* would use a bag like this, but I might and the design is so fabulous.

Tool Tote, open, by Quilts Illustrated
Tool Tote, open, by Quilts Illustrated

Gretchen has been talking about the Jelly Roll Rug. I saw a pattern and bought it on impulse. I got a brief lesson on the making of it in the Moda booth and can visualize how it is done in my mind now. I am not sure where I would put one, but may make one anyway.

I bought a few pieces of fabric. I couldn’t find any Northcott charm packs in white, but I did find some by Paintbrush Studios, so I bought those to have on hand when I need to make more donation blocks. These were the one thing I planned on buying. I bought a great red and a text fabric. I am still trying to be restrained.

Moda Quilts made with Confetti Ombre by Vanessa Christesen
Moda Quilts made with Confetti Ombre by Vanessa Christesen

Not all of the booths were there to sell things. Some were promotional only. I stopped by the Moda booth while Julie was ont he phone and talked with Vanessa Christensen about her new Confetti (metallic dots) Ombre Line. It is Moda, but I love the designs.

Vanessa Christensen was in the booth showing the ins and outs of her ombre/metallic dot fabric. I am particularly fond of the heart quilt. I am not much of a heart person, but this quilt is really great.

We spent time in another lecture today. Today’s lecture was with Pamela Wiley. If you haven’t seen her quilting, it is amazing. She talked about finding your own stitch identity/style. Her talk was about getting inspiration from her surroundings and using the inspiration for her work – what she sees, how she thinking about it, how she tries to translate into something I could read.

Happy was spent at Porto Alegro. We started out there with Tim and Cyndi. When we left, Anna L, Mary C, Amy M, Christina T and Christy were all there as well. We had some drinks, talked about whate we liked and disliked about quiltmaking and the world and generally had a rowdy time.

I am starting to itch to stitch.

QuiltCon 2018 Day 2

No, I won't hem your pants
No, I won’t hem your pants

ColorPlay and the Creative Spark will return soon!

Day 2 of QuiltCon 2018 started out slowly. We didn’t have any classes and our lecture wasn’t until late, so we lazed around a little bit in the hotel. It may not have been the wisest move, because I poured hot water all over my hand and had to stand letting cold water run over it for several minutes. It was painful all day, but after many applications of cream and some Argan oil, I don’t have a blister and it doesn’t hurt anymore.


Once we got to the show, we went straight into the hall that just had quilts. (The other hall has vendors and quilts). It was a nice viewing experience. There was good light and it wasn’t super crowded.

Overall impressions: solids, improv

Singularity by Jenn Nevitt
Singularity by Jenn Nevitt

My favorite quilt, Singularity by Jenn Nevitt of Fort Worth, TX, was almost the first one we saw it was made up of half square triangles. This quilt does not have any improv, which is an added bonus for me. I like the precision, the distribution of color and the varied sizes of blocks. It shows the power of a single block and the impact that one block can have if a design is executed thoughtfully

I thought I would feel resentful at all of the solids, but I didn’t. Some quilts I didn’t care for, but the ones I liked I thought were really well done – good fabric choices, interesting designs. I do know why the Carpenter’s Wheel didn’t get in this year. It wasn’t made of solids.


Canvas Fabric, Day 2 QuiltCon
Canvas Fabric, Day 2 QuiltCon

Canvas Fabric, Day 1 QuiltCon

We haven’t gone through the entire vendor hall, but there seem to be more vendors that last time. We have gone through about a row and a half of vendors and I bought one yard of fabric. It is canvas and I plan to use it for a bag, perhaps the Rockstar bag by Sew Sweetness. Perhaps something else. We will see. I am determined to make something out of it soon and now allow it to lay around.

The FreeSpirit fabrics are flying off the shelves. I saw bolts that had just been cut in almost all of the booths we visited. I am sure the designers, if not FreeSpirit itself, will be snapped up quickly and things will continue, mostly, as before. Still, I guess the smart move is to get your fabrics while the getting is good. 😉

I saw a lot of fabric and supplies I liked, but didn’t want to commit to buying yet. Beyond the Reef had a lot of great fabrics, but I restrained myself from buying the Palm Country Layer Cake and random other yards of fabric from them for the moment. I did want a few of them, but don’t have an immediate use. I may go back and buy some things later, but want to see if I am still thinking about them tomorrow or the next day.

Brooklyn Haberdashery Knitting Needle Case
Brooklyn Haberdashery Knitting Needle Case

Brooklyn Haberdashery was there and they had a knitting needle case that I covet. It was $95, however, and that is just not happening, especially since I just bought needlecases with some Christmas money.

Binding Buddy
Binding Buddy

One thing I may buy is a binding buddy. They are about $17 and slightly too cutesy for me, but they seem really useful. Shari Butler was showing how they work. You roll your binding around the body of the binding buddy, When you are ready to bind a quilt, you put the Binding Buddy on the thread holder, which allows the binding to roll of the buddy either from the back or the front depending on the way it is originally rolled on to the binding buddy. The nice part is that you have somewhere to store your binding while finishing the quilt.


Christopher Tomlinson: The Fashion of Prints
Christopher Tomlinson: The Fashion of Prints

As mentioned we had a lecture yesterday. The speaker was Christopher Tomlinson (IG: the_tattooed_quilter). He spoke about using prints in quilts.

He comes from the fashion industry so is influenced by the work they do when creating fashion lines and color ranges that support those lines. Surprisingly, he uses the focus fabric method (that I describe in one of my tutorials)! Chris, like me, also considers scale while selecting colors. In the process, he uses terms that are more fun than mine. Instead of focus fabric he calls it a Hero print. Large Marge is a large scale print, Tiny Dancer is a small scale print, etc. Perhaps I’ll be up there presenting if I had better terms and was more entertaining. 😉

He admitted to not knowing the technical terms for color theory, so there was some confusion when he was talking about shades and tones, but I ended up getting the jist.

The lecture wasn’t a revelation to me but it also wasn’t boring and was definitely entertaining. The slides were really well done.


Jaye, Luana and Julie
Jaye, Luana and Julie

Today was also a day of visiting with friends. We ran into a number people from the guild, had dinner with Tim while Cyndi took a class. We ran into Annie Smith in the vendor hall as well.

We were also able to have some coffee with Luana, the owner of eQuilter. We had about 45 minutes to chat and the location was pleasant since we were surrounded by charity quilts.

We chatted briefly with Zina (IG: zanymouse) about dinner.

At one point, Julie wanted to sit down , so I went into the vendor hall. Almost immediately ran into the fabulous Christa Watson (IG: christaquilts). I chatted with her for 10 minutes or so until I had to leave to meet up with Julie. We talked about her new line of fabric and I helped her rearrange her display of quilt samples and books. She told me about her fabric and that she will be coming out with a new line as well. It was great to catch up with her. She is just as positive in person as she is online.

Tokyo Wako Dinner Show
Tokyo Wako Dinner Show

We went to Tokyo Wako, a restaurant across from the convention center for dinner with Tim (IG: timnrwc). It is. The food was really good and the whole experience was fun!! They were very attentive to my #glutenfree needs, which was great.

The chef came over and put on a little show while he cooked on the grill in front of us. He was nice and was able to cook the food exactly to our liking.

It was a great day, though tiring. I look forward to a good day today as well.

QuiltCon 2018 Day 1

We are already having a good time. I drove down to Julie’s house Tuesday and spent the night. I had dinner with her family and looked at all of her quilt stuff before we left. We set off for SoCal on Wednesday.

The drive was not bad. I mean we were in the car for several hours, which isn’t that great, but there was limited traffic. Julie was able to drive the whole way, probably because we needed to stop every two hours or so.

We made it to Pasadena by 3 or so. We checked into our hotel room and got settled a little bit. Sadly, my ladies maid was sick, so I had to do most of the settling myself.

Checkin line
Checkin line

At about 4:40 we headed over the Convention Center to get our badges and enjoy happy hour sponsored by Culcita Fabrics. The line was LONG.

QuiltCon 2018 Goodie Bag
QuiltCon 2018 Goodie Bag

It was fine. We saw some people we knew so we could chat while we waited. They started checking people in a few minutes after 5pm. Julie and I both received goodie bags, which were moderate this time, but had some useful stuff.  We met Tim and Cyndi as well as Kathleen and Sarah. The drinks for the happy hour were really expensive, so popped over to the Sheraton and took advantage of their happy hour prices.

We checked out the Culcita Fabrics booth, which was right outside the registration area. They have a modern fabric subscription. They send out bundles of fabric every month or two months. They have specials for QuiltCon. The fat quarter bundles seem reasonably priced, but I thought the half yard options were a little on the pricey side. Of course I am tempted, but 1) space in my fabric closet is at a premium, 2) I have plenty of fabric. They have bundles from past months for sale and I might buy one of those. We’ll see.

Brazlillian meat skewer
Brazlillian meat skewer

Kathleen rushed us off to dinner and it turned out to be a group of 7 – Julie and me, Kathleen, two Canadians, Marianne and Susan, and two ladies from Sacramento, Angelina and Judy. It was great to chat with them. It was a very intelligent group of women.

We gorged ourselves on Brazillian style skewered meat served at the table by cutting off slices. There was also a buffet of a variety of salads. I ate a really nice beet salad, some rice, fruit and cheese.

We had a lot to talk about so the conversation was free flowing the whole time. There were definite opinions about a lot of things (me and improv!).

Brazillian Skewer Dinner Group
Brazillian Skewer Dinner Group

All this and guess what? The actual show doesn’t start until tomorrow!

Random QuiltCon

I can’t seem to stop writing about QuiltCon. Different aspects of the event are in my mind often.

The thing about this conference was that it was more than a quilt show. It was like a conference I have attended for my professional organization. People knew each other; there were opportunities for learning aside from just quilt classes. Everyone was very focused on a shared set of …values or perceived values. [Actually, I am not sure if that is the right term, but it sort of gets at what I am trying to say.]  It was an event with aspects of a quilt show. I wonder if the AQS shows are the same way?

I know I have said before that there was an excited buzz in and around the whole conference. I really liked being in a place where everyone was excited about quiltmaking.

Yes, there were people walking around who looked miserable. Yes, there were people there who were so absorbed by their phones and tablets that they couldn’t talk with anyone. Yes, there were people who only wanted the free stuff. Beyond all that were those who were taking advantage of opportunities. I tried to be one of those people.

Northcott Solids Booth
Northcott Solids Booth

I was thrilled to see all the different solids in one place. I didn’t even know Northcott had solids until this show. It was wonderful to see vendors, albeit a small group, with the freshest, newest fabrics rather than the old junk that vendors feel ok with bringing to PIQF. I was thrilled to meet people I follow on Instagram. It was great to see manufacturers there! I was excited to talk with them, see what they brought and, on occasion, play their games. It was great that a few of the vendors brought donation quilt activities with them. It provided a good opportunity to sit and rest our feet while doing some good.

The quilt above was the Viewer’s Choice, Mr. Swirl E. Bones by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I voted for another quilt, but there was a lot that I liked about this quilt. It is a very interesting use of a panel. I also liked the kaleidoscopic effect she created by putting the different parts of the panels together. I also like the diamonds and the way the piece looks like a flower from far away (upper right photo). You also can’t tell that it is a skeleton panel with just one glance.

Windham gave away pamphlets showcasing their newest fabric designers. The snippets were about half a small page (8.5″x11″ folded in half) and had a few of the forthcoming prints with a headshot of the designer. It was nice to be able to look at a few pieces of fabric that won’t be out for months.

Quilter’s Dream had a very boring looking booth. It looked like they had just curtains up and stack of samples. Samples are always nice. Somehow I ended up in the booth and found out that those boring looking curtains were batting samples! They had unrolled some batting and had hung it up so potential buyers could feel it. What a great idea!!! I liked the thinness of that batting and also the different content they had: silk, bamboo, polyester made from soda bottles and many more. I want to get some to try in a quilt.

I dropped my card off a Schiffer Publishing. I have been wanting to send publishers letters telling them that I write book reviews and post them here. As you may remember, I donate 90% of the books I receive to my local library. My library is part of consortium, so those books are available to people in other local libraries as well. I haven’t heard anything, but my fingers are crossed. Schiffer does a lot of interesting books.

I loved working with the Sizzix in Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s class. I have been looking through their catalog of designs over and over thinking of what I can make.

Ideas, etc from QuiltCon (QuiltCon post #6)

Below is a random collection of ideas and inspiration I got from QuiltCon. What would you do with them? If you do a drawing or sample, post a link to your work in the comments.

  1. Start with different sized squares. Add one border and trim all the blocks to the same size.
  2. Teal thread on eggplant colored fabric – quilting thread or Perle cotton
  3. Liberated Round and Round block
  4.  Pointy Triangles inspired by shaped trees on a building

    Building Inspiration
    Building Inspiration
  5. Try Eleganza Perle cotton. I have never heard of it much less seen it sold. I didn’t buy any, but would like to try some.
  6. Libs Elliott Liberty pattern
  7. Libs Elliott Out of Step pattern
  8. Strip quilt idea
    Strip quilt idea

    Rug in the convention center. Great strip type quilt.

Books and Quotes

  • Women’s Work: The first 20,000 years by Elizabeth Barber- this was mentioned in Gwen Marston’s Keynote
  • Andrew Vucko has extreme thoughts on creativity
  • Steve Jobs 1996 Wired magazine article


Lectures (QuiltCon post #5b)

As I said the other day, we attended lectures almost almost all day on Saturday. I am not sure why I signed up for such a marathon, but with one exception they were all very good.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe

My new hero. Have I said I want to be her new BFF? Actually I want to be her: tall, gorgeous, funny, kind and makes 14-20 quilt tops a week.

VFW’s lecture was called Creativity & Play/Process. This was a new lecture for her, so we were getting the unpracticed version. It wasn’t that she didn’t do a  good job; she did. She just wasn’t as familiar with the flow of the words. Any of you who speak frequently in front of a crowd know how it is to work out the kinks on a new lecture.

To her, process and play are the same. Process should not stifle your creativity or imagination. We are often trained out of using our intuition, which means that we don’t know how to use intuition in our work. She encouraged us to think about and document how we work, think about the colors we always buy then rip the process apart and see what comes from changing it up.

She encouraged the audience to put a story into the quilt in order to make a connection with the quilt.

Having an idea in our heads doesn’t mean that the quilt will end up that way, which means we have to be open minded in our quiltmaking. You can always make them into something else by cutting them up or appliqueing on top or….?

Making creative decisions means you are an artist (NO arguing with me or her about that!), which, further, means we are all artists.

The next section of the talk was interesting. She discussed types of creative people. Her types were:

  • Creative Self Doubter
  • The Creative Starter Junkie
  • The Creative Rule Abider
  • The Creative Free Spirit

One of the things she asked after describing these creative types was which one we thought we were. As she described the types I kept thinking I was this one or that one, then I realized I had elements of all of them in me. I panicked a little until she said she had elements of all in her, too.

Some of the overarching themes I gleaned when she described the types were:

  • let go, there is always more fabric
  • If you aren’t having fun, find a new passion. Life is too short and we are all just doing our best.
  • Making mistakes is a learning experience.
  • We are all perfect in our imperfections.
  • Stand up and show your quilt at your guild meeting. That is the only way to find your tribe
  • Play like children play. They don’t know where the story is going, but they start playing anyway
  • Chaos and creating go together
  • Not all great ideas are great, but why not explore them?
  • Quilts don’t always happen on your timetable.
  • The more you work on a project and come back to it, the more it tightens up
  • Surround yourself with creative people
  • consider the following strategy for people who give unsolicited opinions:
    • You hear it
    • You decide if its accurate
    • Let it go
  • The more quilts you make the better you get at making them
  • Slow down. Sit with the pattern or your sketchbook awhile longer. Sitting in the process awhile longer helps you make more connections
  • Look for opportunities to learn
  • Repeat techniques you learn so you can really master it
  • think about what else you can do with a technique – something different than the teacher taught
  • Make time; break it down into little morsels of time
  • Every quilt is awesome. Your life will not end if the quilt isn’t awesome. Cut it up, change it, add something to it

I liked her advice and thinking about what she was saying. I realized that I did cut up a quilt once: the Renewed Jelly Roll Race. It was horrible and now it is actually a quilt I am not embarrassed to show people.

Gwen Marston


If you haven’t seen her speak, get there NOW! If you haven’t taken a workshop from her, do whatever it takes to get into her class. She is awesome.

You might remember that I took a 2 day workshop from her around 2003. I made the Women’s Work quilt, which is still part of a series that I haven’t worked on any further. I will do it; I just haven’t yet.

Gwen Marston is a funny, confident speaker. She engages with the audience very well. I felt mesmerized and riveted by her talk.

She will have a book out in August, A Common Thread, which will be retrospective of her work. [Pre-order now and support the blog by clicking on the title.]

She started making quilts when she saw a quilt show at a Mennonite church in Oregon.  After that she went to the quilt group every week the whole year her family spent in Oregon. She only stopped going after er husband;s sabbatical was over and they returned to Michigan. She left with the knowledge to make quilts.

After that she got together with Mary Schafer. They both liked the irregularity of antique quilts and thought newer quilts seemed too coordinated and matchy-matchy. Antique quilts seemed spontaneous. She decided to model her quilts after vintage quilts.

Gwen wants spontaneity in her quilts. She embraced possibilities. She thinks good technique is important, but that an overabundance of concern about precision stifles creativity. She wants her quilts to be square with no ruffly edges.

When she makes a new quilt, she thinks about it as making up a new recipe – she gives herself parameters. She works a lot in solids, but also works with prints.

Gwen also talked about ghost blocks. These are blocks, or pieces of fabric that have no value change, so they disappear. Also, this concept is related to fabrics running together. When fabrics in different blocks run together, because they are the same or have the similar colors and values,they can merge into a block or piece next to them, changing the shape. Add bits and pieces to add interest and create new shapes

She kind of rocked my world about bindings. First, Gwen talked about Amish bindings. Amish bindings are on the straight of the grain. They put the sides on first and then the top and bottom. They do not miter the corners. I have never heard of this and have not checked it out. I also can’t imagine how they would finish the ends of the top and bottoms. Something to contemplate.

Then, she talked about how she uses single fold straight of the grain binding. I have always used a double fold bias binding. That was how I learned and I was always told they wear better. I was justified because I have never had a binding wear out. Gwen’s point was that if the binding wears out aren’t you going to replace the whole binding anyway? <—- Hhmmm

Gwen’s words of wisdom:

  • Do your own work and don’t worry about what other people are doing
  • Different sized blocks in one quilt add interest
  • If you try stuff, some of it will not work. That is part of the game/process. Take a chance!
  • Think about the practical or smart way to do something not the ‘right’ way.

I think I have a couple of more posts in me about random QuiltCon things, so stay tuned for those.

Lectures (QuiltCon post #5)

On Saturday, I think, we attended lectures almost all day. I am not sure why I signed up for such a marathon, but with one exception they were all very good.

Mary Fons

Mary Fons
Mary Fons

First off, we were 5 minutes late for Mary Fons. The lecture started at 9am and I could have used a lie in that morning. They started, apparently, right on time, thus we were late. I thought she did a good job talking about quilt history. It wasn’t a perfect lecture, but she did a good job discussing most of the history of the modern quilt revival such as the Whitney exhibit and the effect of the Bicentennial. Included was mention of a variety of cultural issues/discussion that are relevant to quiltmaking such as gender in quiltmaking (do men get more attention in a female dominated environment), how feminism relates to quiltmaking (it’s ok to put a casserole in the freezer and go to a retreat) while giving a brief overview of the resurgence of quiltmaking. The late 1980s and the 1990s, a huge time for art quiltmaking, rise of shows, guilds and tools was not discussed as much.  There was a discussion of the increase in TV shows, especially on PBS such as the groundbreaking Georgia Bonesteel show, Sewing with Nancy and, of course Fons & Porter.

She threw out some statistics,w hich I have heard before, but continue to floor me:

  • 78% of US quiltmakers have at least a college education
  • 21 million quiltmakers in the US
  • $4 billion industry. FOUR BILLION!!!
  • The major companies in the industry are dominated by men

In general, throughout the lectures, there was a repeated suggestion for modern quiltmakers to look to the traditional quiltmakers (who are finding their way to modern guilds) and to learn from them. There was a constant reminder that the fabric used doesn’t impact the skill set. I heard it at this lecture first, but then throughout the conference as well. I thought that was very nice and speaks to some of my concerns about the exclusionary nature of the modern quilt movement.

Libs Elliot

Libs Elliott was not on my radar until I heard about her from Kathleen and found out that LE is teaching at the Make It Modern Event in Reno in June. I didn’t know what to make of her. I am really excited about her now.

Libs Elliot is an excellent speaker. She started off her talk with some comments about her family, telling us she is Canadian and grew up outside of Toronto. I got the impression she still lives near there. Her parents are antique dealers which provided a nice segue into her thoughts about objects, including quilts, having secret lives, they all have stories. She also said that when we make something, we are leaving our own marks and should feel a sense of pride.

As an aside, thinking about the ‘lives’ of objects is an interesting concept to me. I like thinking about what the objects have seen and whether they absorb the history of where they have been. Kind of like Ashakic Records, but for objects.

For her the past is calm and the future is exciting. Ms. Elliott likes clear simple lines. She enjoys using new tools and thinking about ways to use technology. She is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and traditional craft.

Creating designs using a computer code generator is an interesting concept to me. Some might think it takes all the work of the artist out of it, but there are still a lot of decisions to make: color, design modifications, size, fabrics.

Elliott explained the process very well, incorporating that into the trajectory of her quilt career. Her lecture clearly showed how she was moving forward within the space of creating quilt designs with code.

The message I got was “never be afraid to ask”.

Scrap Management Panel

The good thing about this lecture was that it was a panel and we got to hear about the different ways people deal with their scraps. I wasn’t able to appreciate the people who have one bookshelf full of fabric. I may have too much fabric, but they don’t have enough. JMO, of course. The members of the panel were Mary Fons, Christa Watson and Judy Gauthier. It was moderated by Rossie Hutchinson.

You can see a picture of the panel on Christa’s site.

Another good thing about this lecture was that I found Bungalow Quilting and Yarn. The owner, Judy Gauthier,  was a fireball, a great marketer and an inveterate scrap quilt maker. She has a new book, Quilts for Scrap Lovers out by C&T. She has written a number of quilt books and guides. I was only able to take a quick peek at the new book. Go and buy it anyway. She was awesome.

As you can imagine, methods of dealing with scraps run the gamut. Mary does not usually use whole lines. She stores in scraps by color in an old, but refurbished dry goods cabinet and a large rattan basket. She also advises not to buy what you think you should buy, She encouraged the audience to love what you buy.

Mary also talked about the ‘precious fabric problem’. If you have fabrics that you love and pet and don’t want to cut into, put them on the back of a quilt for you. You will be able to enjoy them more. She encouraged the audience to enjoy your fabrics by using them.

Christa is a minimalist. Her philosophy is Know It, Use It, Love It. I can appreciate that sentiment since I buy fabric to use. She cleared out her fabric sometime in the recent past and has one large cabinet for fabric storage. Christa buys and uses a lot of tone-on-tones. She also buys pre-cuts because she can use them up quickly and get a scrappy look easily.

Judy’s philosophy is buy as much as you can and keep as much as you can. She stores her scraps by color. She does believe that the fabric should move you.

Rossie put her two cents in as well and says she destashes scraps. She encouraged people to let go of fabric with which you are finished. She said to buy what you use and don’t be influenced by trends and formulas. Her theme was ‘admire don’t acquire’.

There was a discussion of pre-washing with a mini poll during the lecture. Pre-washers like me are definitely in the minority. Mary led this short segment and said she now pre-washes everything. She reminded us that there are good reasons for pre-washing and also for not pre-washing. We were also reminded that pre-washing=pre-shrinking and if you wash some fabrics for a quilt you should wash them all so they don’t shrink differently.

Christa pre-washes, though she doesn’t pre-wash her pre-cuts. She loves to iron yardage and enjoys touching her fabric.

The panel also discussed caring for your fabric:

  • keep fabric out of the sun. Sun is the enemy
  • wood ‘leaks’ oils and will discolor/damage your fabric
  • use acid free paper to protect fabric from sun and wood

There was also a discussing of building a stash. Judy reminded people to buy colors that make you feel good and makes you happy. Be selfish and buy fabric that speaks to you physically. Also, buy the best fabric you can afford. One great tip was to figure out what YOUR basics are and keep those in stock. As part of this discussion there was a thread about using fabric.

  • Take a photo in black and white to check contrast
  • Offset prints with solids (or tone-on-tones)
  • Contrast is relative: white makes buttercream yellow look dark.
  • Contrast can be a problem even when colors and patterns are great.

The panel left us with the admonition to USE OUR FABRIC!!

See part 2 of my report on the lectures.

Fun and Games (QuiltCon Post #4)

I can’t really say that this post is about Day 4 of QuiltCon, because we spent day 4 driving home. We spent little pockets of time having some fun in the vendor hall and the various rooms full of quilts, however. Some of the fun was discussed in a previous post.

A Winner from Timeless Treasures
A Winner from Timeless Treasures

I won a fat quarter pack from Timeless Treasures. The ladies at the booth were very sweet and I was sad not to be able to spend time making a donation block with them. I may see if I can make one and send it along now that I am home.

Avoid a UFO sign
Avoid a UFO sign

We got soft tacos at the convention center for lunch one day. They were very good. While waiting in line, I saw this hilarious sign. Do you think it means you will start weird projects if you drink and sew? Or that injuries might be involved?

BAM Donation Quilt with others
BAM Donation Quilt with others

I mentioned that we saw the BAM donation quilt. Michelle, the BAM organizer, wanted to see how it looked with some of the other donation quilts.

Going for a walk with an exercise bike
Going for a walk with an exercise bike

Do you know that song about how nobody walks in LA? Julie pointed out a number of these young men walking exercise bikes down the street.

Annie Smith (& Jaye)
Annie Smith (& Jaye)

I was finally able to meet up with the fabulous and unbelievably kind Annie Smith (Frances’ best friend).

Quintessential So Cal
Quintessential So Cal

I am still on the fence about some of the quilts on exhibit, but I have to say that looking at them made me look at things a little differently. I am looking at scenes and shapes and scenery with an eye towards incorporating some of the lines into future quilts. With my newfound bias binding skills, lines are easier to contemplate.

Big Star Quilt (upper left)
Big Star Quilt (upper left)

I really liked the big star quilt at the Northcott booth. One of the things I like about it is that it is a big block on a field of negative space,b ut the negative space is softened a bit by the smaller stars sprinkled around the negative space. Those smaller stars are concentrated more heavily around the large block. This whole layout is much more interesting than it would be with just that big block.

Enjoying the end of a lovely dinner
Enjoying the end of a lovely dinner

Food was a little bit of an issue for me during the conference. One of the last days, I demanded Mexican food and there was a mexican place across the street from the convention center that appeared on my GF app. We were able to spend some time with Susan, the History Quilter, and Zina, @zanymouse, who were stuffed and only wanted a drink (not food). Regardless, we were able to catch up and I was able to get to know Zina better.

Northcott Booth
Northcott Booth

I also was a little bit ridiculous at the Northcott booth.

I was sad that my dress didn’t cause a sensation in the Free Spirit booth. I think the print was a few years old and the girls at the booth were glued to their phones. Oh well, it caused a sensation everywhere else. 😉


My friend Charlotte wrote “Judges and juries can be pretty different in their ideas too.  Juries are often more concerned with what will make a good show and fitting quilts in and then judges get to choose from what the jury has given them.”

Charlotte’s comment made me feel a little better about my Fabric of the Year quilts not getting into QuiltCon. I knew the function of juries, but their job wasn’t on my radar and I was just thinking about *my* quilts not getting in. I wasn’t thinking about the overall look of the show. Thinking about the overall look of the show, I think that the jury did their job. She show was well coordinated and had good visual impact.

The question is: do I make a quilt I think will get into the show or do I continue doing what I am doing? The latter of course. I don’t want to make quilts I don’t like or quilts that use colors and fabrics that don’t appeal to me. That is a recipe for instant UFOs.

I think one idea of a show is to make a quiltmaker think. I am definitely thinking about what I saw. I have definitely been influenced by attending the show. I don’t know if what I saw will show up in some way in my work, but I think influences will.

One thing that won’t probably change is my love of complicated quilts. I have never been moved by minimalist art and translating that movement into quilts has not changed that. I don’t hate that style and will look at those pieces in a museum. I will always look at complexity and visual interest for longer.

Check out some of the QuiltCon 2016 rejects:

Checked Out Quilts & Vendors (Quiltcon Day 3)

Another quick post to keep you in the QuiltCon loop.

Skyline Pasadena
Skyline Pasadena

Today was our day to look at the rest of the quilts and vendors. There weren’t a ton of vendors (PIQF has more), but the vendors did have interesting stuff and there was lots of free stuff – fat quarters and charm squares. It was kind of fun, but also somewhat overwhelming.

First, we looked at quilts. As usual there was a lack of understanding of what the judges were thinking.

hoenix by Anne Sullivan of Gaithersburg, Maryland (@playcrafts)
hoenix by Anne Sullivan of Gaithersburg, Maryland (@playcrafts)

One I liked was Phoenix by Anne Sullivan of Gaithersburg, Maryland (@playcrafts). Anne gave a lecture to BAMQG at some point in the not too distant past about color.

Colorfall by Timna Tarr of South Hadley, MA (@timnatarr) was very interesting. I really liked the quilting on this piece. It did not distract from the overall design and fit in very well.

Drip by Suzy Williams, Chicago, IL, (@suzyquilts)
Drip by Suzy Williams, Chicago, IL, (@suzyquilts)

Drip by Suzy Williams, Chicago, IL, (@suzyquilts) was one of my favorites. I think it was because of the colors. I saw it from across the room and it caught my attention. I am dying to make a quilt that invokes such a sense of calm.

Falling by Kathy York of Austin, TX and the Austin Modern Quilt Guild (@kakiyark) was another favorite. The balance is good. The colors work well together. The design isn’t too fussy or complicated. There is also repetition with variety. That little bit of handwork adds something, but not a lot. I love it and am inspired to make something just as fantastic.

I also really liked Cog by Emily Cier (@cpatchwork). I have always wanted to make a Jack’s Chain quilt. This is the same pattern except in Jack’s Chain the squares are replaced by 9 patches.

Putting on the Glitz by Tami Levin of Sunnyvale, Calif. (@lemontreetami)
Putting on the Glitz by Tami Levin of Sunnyvale, Calif. (@lemontreetami)

I love the addition of the trees in Putting on the Glitz by Tami Levin of Sunnyvale, Calif. (@lemontreetami). The colors used to imply the trees are perfect on top of the Michael Miller challenge quilts.

There were some quilts I wondered about, but there were many, many more quilts that wee really interesting in some way. I did wonder about the size of some of the quilts. I thought modern quilts were supposed to be utilitarian? The small quilts, unless they were large mug rugs, did not seem to be utilitarian to me.

One of the good things about the show is that it wasn’t just about looking at quilts and buying stuff. There were manufacturers there who were not there to sell, but to market their newest lines and concepts. A couple of the manufacturers were also working with attendees to make donation quilts.

Kona’s new Color of the Year, Highlight, was the theme of the booth. In addition to all the Highlight quilts being shown, they had a color activity where you could design your own palette around Kona’s new Color of the Year. Julie created her own palette and we both received FQs for her trouble. 😉 It might be interesting to work with.

Dear Stella Selfie
Dear Stella Selfie

Timeless Treasures was making a donation quilt in their Dear Stella booth. We didn’t have a chance to stop and make a block, but we did take some time to post a selfie so we could possibly win a pack of FQs. I posted the goofy selfie above!

ALS Donation Blocks
ALS Donation Blocks

Victoria Findlay Wolfe told us about the donation quilt that Marcus Fabrics was making to provide additional funds for ALS research. We needed to sit down for a minute, so we stopped there and made some blocks. We met a fellow class member from yesterday and chatted with her about her guild, the Omaha Modern Quilt Guild.

I made two blocks and we have some pieces from the class that we can use to make more. The blocks are hand pieced and I have stuff to make more with me. I hope to find the time to do it. You know how much I support efforts make donation quilts. The fabric is the new Victoria Findlay Wolfe Manor House line. Julie and I bought a layer cake and will share it.

Jaye & Julie with donation blocks
Jaye & Julie with donation blocks

Finally we took some time to look at the vendors. There weren’t as many vendors as I expected, though others have said that there are twice as many vendors as last year. I loved seeing new and interesting fabrics (not the old stuff vendors bring to PIQF) and fun prints. I was also pleased to see Sizzix, Accuquilt, several machine manufacturers and small fabric stores like Crimson Tate.

I was thrilled when Coral messaged me asking to meet up. We met at the Marcus booth, because we were still working on our donation blocks. She was a sport in that she was willing to meet us there so we could finish. Coral is a lovely person who is a Bay Area native, but now lives in Canberra. We chatted for a few minutes, then she needed coffee and we needed to get back to our vendors.

Coral & Jaye
Coral & Jaye

It is fun to meet people I know from Instagram and Twitter.

I decided to look for some fabrics that I could mix in with my Timeless Treasures background for the VFW quilt. I won’t have enough of the original background and I want to make the design more interesting and the quilt larger. I took a piece of my fabric with me and compared it to various solids that were available. The above were some of the good choices. I also want to take a look at Moda Bella Seafoam and Moda Bella Big Chill. They look like they will work. I want the solids to blend, though, and not to stick out too much. It is a difficult problem because the TT fabric I used has a lighter fabric overlaid with a darker fabric.

Visiting QuiltCon
Visiting QuiltCon

All in all we had a fun time, met some nice people, saw some great products and quilts.


I Took a Class (QuiltCon Day 2)

This will be another quick post about my adventures at QuiltCon.

Quintessential Pasadena
Quintessential Pasadena

Today I was in class with Julie and Kathleen all day. We were pleased Leona was there as well. We took a class called Pies & Points from Victoria Findlay Wolfe.

Short version: she is a great teacher, I learned a lot want to buy a Sizzix Big Shot Pro. 🙂

Longer version

The class was called Pies & Points and is an updated version of a variation on the Drunkard’s Path. This pattern was popular several years ago and was called Snails Trails or something like that. I’ll look it up when I get home (if I remember). I have always wanted to make a quilt like this, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe is a great teacher and if you have the opportunity take a class from her. She was very clear. She was supportive and didn’t try to have us accomplish too much in one day. She was available, was walking around the room offering assistance and seam ripping services. VFW was also accessible and made the project accessible. She was pleasant and funny and very human. I liked her very much and want to be her BFF. She also wore leather capri pants, which were super cool.

I am not a project class person. This class kind of bordered on that type of class, but was full enough of technique that I could apply to other projects that the class worked for me. I could work within certain boundaries, but still spread my wings.

She gave a little bit of information and the Sizzix people passed out the Pies and Points die to us. We each got our own!!! I didn’t know that was going to happen and it was useful as well as exciting.

About this time, one of the QuiltCon people came in and announced that Victoria’s quilt, Mr. Swirly Bones, won Judge’s choice! We all clapped and she was very excited.

VFW showed us how to cut using the Sizzix and then how to sew the curved seams and then we got busy cutting and sewing. You can cut a lot of pieces at once, but there is still prep time for using the Sizzix. Without my normal setup, it took time to get the pieces cut.

I had a bunch of pieces cut and ready to sew, but wasn’t able to sew much before lunch. Right before lunch, I was able to sew one seam and that made me feel better.

Lunch was two hours. Very civilized IMO. We brought our lunch so wolfed it down and then went to check out the vendors and some of the quilts. There were not as many vendors as I expected, but there were manufacturers at the show giving away prizes and showing off stuff, but not selling.

The whole feeling of the show area is so light and airy. Everyone seems cheerful and there is very good energy. People seem excited to be there. I love that.

We looked at the vendors – more getting the lay of the land than shopping – and started to look at the quilts. After 1.75 hours it was time to head back to class and to sewing.

Sewing Pie Points
Sewing Pie Points

I got right down to business and started sewing. I had a lot of little pieces to sew together, but the first seams to get the middle arc were all straight seams. Once I got a few of the arcs done, I started making quarter blocks.

The class was supplied with Sizzix machines, rotary mats, rulers and cutters, irons and sewing machines. The sewing machine I was using was a Juki electronic machine. I wrote down the model, but am too lazy to go look for it. I’ll post about it later. It is a little disconcerting to use a different machine. This one kept lifting the presser foot every time I stopped the machine. It made it really hard to line up the edges of the curved seams. There was a Juki lady, Chris, who was there to help with machines and she changed a setting so I didn’t have to deal with that. I could probably learn to use that feature, but for one day I didn’t want to deal with it.

Without too much pain and suffering I made a whole block. I planned to put them together in her Snail Trails arrangement.

Whole block
Whole block

After working on the one block and looking at the options I had chosen for myself, I decided to make some of the other parts and mix it up a bit. No photos of that to share yet, but soon.

I want to work some more on this piece. I may add some different backgrounds to add interest (my idea turned out to be more boring than cool looking) and because I only have about a yard left and I’d like to make a larger quilt than a wall hanging. I also have the Sizzix problem. I do not have a Sizzix. There a few reasons I am not buying one, but the most important is that I have no place to put it. It is a desktop model and it stays out on a table (desk, worktop, etc). This is problematic since I have to cut more pieces for the quilt. I hope one of the local shops has one to rent and, perhaps, I will buy one at some point. I can also make templates and cut the pieces that way, though …. bleah.

Julie rested after the class and I walked around the show a little bit more. we went to a Brazilian steakhouse for dinner. They bring all different kinds of meat around and you can take what you want. It was a little bit on the pricey side, but extremely tasty. I was a little protein deficient, so it was just what the doctor ordered.

One of the projects was posted on Instagram. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of other students work 🙁 , but I did take a few.

Stacy's pieces
Stacy’s pieces

You can see some of the options available in the above blocks. My latest block has the pieced center like Stacy’s bottom block.

Quick QuiltCon Day 1

This will be a super quick post, because I wasn’t planning on writing anything else today, but I feel inspired.

This is the first really big quilt trip I have made since we went to Houston in 2014.

Julie and I drove down to Pasadena and it was amazing to see the green-green hills. We arrived at about 4 at our hotel. We didn’t have to drive through the whole of LA, which was nice, but the traffic on the 210 was bad enough so we were both done with it by the time we got to the hotel. We checked in and sprawled on the beds for awhile until it was time to go and register. By this time it was raining (yes, raining!) and it was dark, so it was a challenging drive: rain, dark, unfamiliar territory. Julie was a champ and got us to the convention center in one piece.

We ran through the rain (my feet got soaked) to the entrance and there were more than a few people milling around.

QuiltCon bag
QuiltCon bag

We registered and I was told to get a bag. I went and got a huge bag filled with stuff: mini charms, batting samples, a Soak sample, a magazine and other stuff. I was surprised and pleased. It turned out that the first 1,000 registrants got a gift bag. Nice!

We also saw Kathleen right by the registration desk!

After chatting with Kathleen and a couple of people she was talking with (one-Jennifer Moore- has a new blog sewingreport.com ), we went to look at the donation quilts. They were great and we did see the BAM quilt!

The top left is my favorite, but they were all awesome.

I was also really excited by this quilt, which has great quilting.

I was able to find the BAM donation quilt and was excited about that.

BAM Donation Quilt
BAM Donation Quilt

The exhibit hall, etc is not yet open and these quilts were just a little teaser.

We went to Trader Joe’s and got some stuff for dinner and lunch tomorrow. It is pouring rain outside and I need to get some sleep. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s class.

Have a great day!!!