Wednesday, October 31, 2012

blogger's quilt festival fall 2012

Just in before the deadline, here is my entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side. This is my Silo quilt, and it's one of my favorite quilts that I've made to date. You may remember that this quilt was inspired by a large, metal silo that sits on a farm about ten miles from my house.

I've probably driven past that farm hundreds of times before, but one day last year I saw that silo in a new light, and I grabbed my sketchbook and pencil and began drawing.

I created the quilt for the fourth part of the Modern Quilt Guild's Project Modern, where the theme was to find your own voice as a modern quilter. That project was judged by none other than Denyse Schmidt, whose work I so greatly admire. I was incredibly honored when Denyse chose my quilt as a winner, and said, "This quilt is beautiful and striking in it's clear simplicity and strong execution. The translation of the idea/inspiration into a quilted medium feel spot on, and every choice the quilter has made--from palette, to structure, and quilting--supports this clear vision and intention. I'd love to see the back!"

I'm still amazed, and honestly a bit in awe, every time I read those words from Denyse. That was the real prize for me, and was well worth more to me than any of the other physical prizes that accompanied the win. And here's a shot of the back, for her and for you all to see.

The back of the quilt is very improvised, and I used leftover pieces from the blocks on the front and a lot of cream as well. My Silo quilt measures 64" x 67" and was designed, pieced, and quilted by me on my domestic sewing machine. I used only solid fabrics in the quilt: a creamy white, a pale blue, and a taupey gray. I quilted it with heavy straight line quilting, with the lines of stitches running horizontally across the quilt roughly a quarter inch apart, to echo the linear repetition of the grooves of steel on the silo.

My Silo quilt is also featured in the upcoming book, Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe, published by Martingale, and even made it to the cover! I'm so excited about this book, which will be available in December. 

Per Amy's request, we're supposed to categorize our quilts into a theme listed in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, but I honestly don't know where this one would fit. Although I don't consider it an art quilt at all, perhaps that would be the best category for it, considering its inspiration. But since this quilt is completely functional, and I don't typically think of art quilts as being functional, I'm not quite sure. I suppose it could also be in the favorite quilt photographer category, because I'm really quite pleased with the photograph of the front of the quilt that I shot, which is shown above. Any suggestions on where you think it may belong?

Thank you again to Amy for all of her hard work on the Blogger's Quilt Festival. Please be sure to check out more of the amazing quilts and be prepared to be incredibly inspired by them all.

a visit with Lisa Lam and a giveaway!

I'm so excited to be sharing a fun interview with Lisa Lam today. Lisa is one of the most talented designers I know, not to mention one of the kindest as well,  and she has written two amazing books on making bags, The Bag Making Bible and her new book A Bag for All Reasons.  I seriously think both belong in the library of any crafter because they are full of information on everything you'll ever need to know to make any kind of bag. Lisa's instructions are well written and easy to follow and her bag patterns are simply amazing. She is also the genius behind the U-Handbag shop and blog. I don't know how she does it all!!

 A Bag for All Reasons includes 12 new projects with full pull-out patterns and full-color, step-by -step images for each technique and each project. There are also great tips and techniques including how to choose fabric for bag making, attaching zippers and snaps, and much more. 

So, with out further adieu, let's get started with my interview with Lisa. My questions to her are italicized. 

When did you start sewing? Did you start making bags right away or did you begin by making other things?

I started sewing at a very tender age. I began with a child's cross stitch kit, when I was a very little one. I finished the kit in record time (mistakes and all) and an addiction to craft was born...   It was a little while longer before my mum let me loose on her grown sewing machine.  In the meantime I had fun trying my hand at all sorts of other crafts like: knitting, crotchet, making jewellery, playing with clay, making pasta pictures etc.  I was never any good at drawing though, it's still pretty bad to this day! 

Who taught you how to sew? When did you decide to turn your passion for making bags into your profession?

My mum was the first person to teach me to sew, and at one of my schools I had a slightly scary, but also inspiring textiles teacher and for the rest, I'm self taught.  To solve my sewing conundrums I like to experiment before looking up solutions in books or on the internet (I guess this does make more work for me sometimes, but I've found it a good way of expanding my skills and it helps keep me (reasonably) relaxed when I make mistakes.  I decided that my future lay in bag making in 2004.  I was successfully selling my hand made bags in my own craft market stall.  I couldn't keep up with demand (and that began to affect my income) so I thought that selling bag making supplies would be a good way to supplement my income and give me a little respite from the constant sewing.  I haven't look back since!

All of your projects in "A Bag for All Reasons" are great, and I'd seriously like to make each one of them. Do you have a favorite project from the book?

Thanks! I do actually have 2 faves: the Too Cool for School satchel and the Fashionista Baby Bag.  If forced to choose between the 2 I'd say it's the Baby bag.  The reason it's my fave is because, the bag was totally designed around feedback from my facebook pals.  I asked them what a baby bag should feature and they told me (in very exacting detail too!).  Now that I'm a mum myself I do find the bag is very, very useful indeed :)

You recently had an addition to your family, your sweet little Mabel! How has having a child changed the way you craft or sew, or your day to day work on U-Handbag?  

Thanks!  Oh yes, I now have no time to sew at all!  I feel that because a baby is a baby for such a short amount of time, I want to enjoy and experience that time as fully as I can, whilst it lasts. I do think about craft daily and I still check out crafty goings on the web, so I don't feel totally divorced from craft.  I do get pangs of jealously that I can't simply have a whole afternoon to eat a bar of choccy and craft to my hearts content, but hey, I'm a mum, Mabel is awesome and my sewing skills and sewing machine will still be there when Mabel is a little older.

I saw that you taught a workshop at  Liberty  this summer. Do you have any plans for more workshops in the future? 

Yep, it was great fun too, in very luxurious surroundings.  Heather, I bet if you were based in the UK you could definitely teach a workshop in  Liberty, they'd love you!   Yes, as it happens I am teaching the same workshop (cos the first one was super oversubscribed) next summer.  

Thank you so much, Lisa! I just love hearing how people got their start and how they work, don't you? And as I said, Lisa is seriously one of the most kind and generous people I've met, and I was so lucky to spend a day with her when she was visiting Cincinnati last year. I hope she comes back soon! Or, I'll just have to make my way to the UK to visit her one of these days.

And now on to the giveaway!!! F&W is generously providing a copy of Lisa's newest book A Bag for All Reasons, to give away to one of my readers. To enter, please leave a comment below, between now and Nov. 8, 2012. One winner will be chosen randomly; the contest is only open to residents of the US, Canada, the UK, or Europe, please. 

If you just can't wait to see if you'll be the winner, F&W is sharing some discounts and previews with my readers as well, in their Martha Pullen store.

  • Save 33% off of A Bag for All Reasons and more on all Lisa Lam products in the Martha Pullen shop with coupon code: “BAGS2012”

Pretty perfect since the holidays are right around the corner, right? Good luck and happy shopping! And thank you again to Lisa Lam and everyone at F&W.

Monday, October 29, 2012

cathedral windows QAL :: mod cathedral window

Hello! Today I'm sharing my design for the Cathedral Windows Quilt Along for Pellon Projects and Free Quilt Patterns. When I was sketching ideas for the block, I wanted to come up with a new way to create a block that had a similar look to the traditional cathedral window block, but without the layers and layers of folded fabric. I also wanted to design something that would be easier to quilt than the traditional cathedral window, as most of those are not quilted at all (at least the ones I've seen before) because of all of the fabric bulk. 

So, I came up with the Mod Cathedral Window block. This block is really easy to construct but has a strong visual impact. My design uses raw edge appliqué and fusible webbing, instead of folded layers of fabric found in traditional cathedral window quilt blocks. Each appliqué piece was hand drawn by me to give the design a bit of irregularity in the finished block. If you'd like, you can download the instructions in pdf form from Pellon Projects and be sure to visit Free Quilt Patterns for more information about the other cathedral window block designs in series. 

Supplies for one 12 ½” block:

12 ½” square of background fabric
4 ½” square of fabric 1
7 ½” square of fabric 2
10 ½ square of fabric 3
½ yard of Pellon Wonder Under fusible web
rotary cutter, plastic ruler, cutting mat, scissors, iron,
pdf of the appliqué templates (available as a downloadable pdf on google docs)


1. Print the pdf of the appliqué templates and cut out each of the three shapes with a pair of scissors. Tape the two sections of Piece 3 together to complete that shape. Note: to make the templates more sturdy, print them out on cardstock instead of paper.

2. With a rotary cutter, straight edge, and a cutting mat, cut the fabric needed for one block: 12 ½” background square, 4 ½” square of fabric 1, 7 ½” square of fabric 2, and a 10 ½” square of fabric 3. 

I used an aqua print with circles for fabric 1, and orange print with small flowers for fabric 2, and an aqua solid for fabric 3.

I used a creamy white for my background square.

3. Trace each template, Piece 1, 2, and 3, onto the paper side of the Wonder Under. Cut each shape out with a pair of scissors; do not cut exactly on the lines, but leave a little space around each of the Pieces.

4. Following the manufacturer’s directions, press the Wonder Under, shiny side down, to the wrong side of the fabric squares. Piece 1 goes on the 4 ½” fabric square, Piece 2 goes on the 7 ½” fabric square, and Piece 3 goes on the 10 ½” fabric square.

5. Cut out each of the shapes with a pair of scissors to finish the three appliqué pieces.

6. Peel off the paper backing of Piece 3 and lay it on top of the background square so that it is in the center of it. Press with an iron to adhere Piece 3 to the square, following the manufacturers instructions for the webbing.

7. Peel off the paper backing of Piece 2 and lay it on top of Piece 3 so that it is in the center of it. Press with an iron to adhere Piece 2 to the block.

8. Peel off the paper backing of Piece 1 and lay it on top of Piece 2 so that it is in the center of it. Press with an iron to adhere Piece 1 to the block.

 And with that, the block is finished! I hope you enjoy making your Mod Cathedral Window blocks as much as I did. I definitely want to make a full quilt out of this block design one day. And be sure to share photos of all of your completed blocks on our Flickr group for your chance to enter to win some  amazing prizes. For more information on the Cathedral Windows Quilt Along and the giveaway, please  visit the QAL on Pellon's site. Good luck!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

some works in progress

I'm working on about a dozen mini quilts for an upcoming project, and I thought it would be fun to share some of them with you. Six of them will be improvisational and I'm having a great time constructing them. It is seriously my favorite way to work because it's so much fun to me to see how the finished block will turn out. Since I'm not following any pattern when I make them, it's kind of a surprise to see how it looks when everything is put together. I'm working on the one above today, with a bunch of leftover scraps in a variety of solid colors. 

And here's a look at some more of them on my design walls. The block hanging just near the split in the  panels of the design wall was one that I started probably six months, or more, ago. I really didn't like how it turned out so I put it away in a basket of scraps. Yesterday I pulled it out and just started cutting it up and then re-pieced it back together. And I'm kind of loving it now. Here's a closer look at it so you can see how all of those pieces were once strips from the original block.

Isn't it funny how sometimes that's all you need to do?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the 2012 makerie sewing scholarship

You all know how excited I am to join the Makerie Sewing retreat next April in Boulder. And I would love for as many as you can to join us there for the amazing experience! To help get one of you there, the incredibly generous folks at The Old Glory Antiques Fair are offering a scholarship for one full Makerie Sewing package (complete with a travel stipend of up to $500). That is really pretty phenomenal! And I love that the application process is consists of, in part, creating a quilt block out of paper. I sure hope that we'll be able to see some of the entries!

For complete information on the scholarship, including eligibility and the application process, please visit the Makerie blog here. But hurry, you only have until November 5th to submit your application, so get to it. Good luck!

Friday, October 19, 2012

improv log cabin :: a work in progress

If you follow me on twitter or instagram (my handle is oliveandollie), you may have seen some images of my latest quilt in progress. It's an improv log cabin for an upcoming project, and I'm using some of my favorite fabrics from Denyse Schmidt's DS Quilts collection lines. I've been holding on to some of them for almost a year so I thought it was fine time to start cutting them up. I've added a solid teal, which is Light Jade by FreeSpirit as well as Kona Snow by Robert Kaufman.

This is one of my favorite blocks. And I know that I won't be keeping this quilt, but I'm having a hard time thinking about giving it up. I rarely make the same quilt twice, but I may have to make an exception for this one. 

While I was pressing the blocks yesterday, I was really struck with how much I liked them from the back too. I love seeing how all the little pieces fit just right, even if there are some wonky angles in there. Everything just all comes together. 

As you can see, I press my seams open. I think it really makes the blocks lay better in the end, although it does take more time than pressing to the side.

This one is almost finished and then it's off to Jill's for quilting. I can't wait to see what she does with it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

a sneak peek of my latest quilt

I can't wait to be able to share this one with you! This is my latest quilt which was a bit of a collaboration with Kaari Meng of French General and Jill Montgomery of Darling Jill Quilts. Kaari had approached me at spring quilt market about working together on an idea that she had for a quilt, inspired by an exhibition of photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher that she had recently seen. The Bechers were German artists, husband and wife, that worked collaboratively. They are best known for their extensive series of photographs of industrial buildings and other structures, known as architectural typologies.

I used four of Kaari's gorgeous solids from her latest collection with Moda. These photos were taken with my phone because I was in such a rush to get this finished, and they certainly don't do them justice. The colors are so rich and the fabrics have a really great hand, plus they look almost like a cross weave and have a bit of a printed texture, so they are not completely flat like a lot of other solids. They were really great to work with too. 

And the quilting is awesome. Not only did Jill finish this for me in record time, she came up with an amazing design for the quilting. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how this one should be quilted, I'm so excited about what Jill did. I love that it is so heavily quilted, but the design does not distract from the design of the quilt at all. In fact, I think it really compliments it and Jill's stitching sort of reminds me of wood grain, which works perfectly with the concept and my Becher-inspired design. 

I wasn't familiar with the Bechers until Kaari introduced me to their work, but I have to say I love their photographs. I was especially taken by their photos of these wood and stucco buildings, which I used as the basis for my quilt pattern. If you'll be at fall market, you can see my finished quilt on display in the Moda booth, and the pattern will be available free on the French General site very soon. I'll share photos of the entire quilt as soon as I can, too. Thank you again to Kaari and Jill--this was such a fun project to work on with you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

fall on the farm

Fall is really magical, isn't it? I love the change in color of everything, from the leaves to the light, and I love the crisp air and the first crystals of frost. Last week I took Aidan and Olivia to the farm where my dad keeps his horse, which is about 15 minutes away from our house, in Maineville, Ohio. I might be biased, but I think Warren County is one of the most beautiful parts of the world. 

These kids are getting so big. Aidan turned six in August and is loving Kindergarten. Olivia is four and a half, going on fourteen, and prefers to wear pink all the time. Especially while horseback riding in her helmet, complete with a sparkly tiara.

Farmer Eddie has lots of chickens, and we often get our eggs from him. 

See, all pink, with a bit of lavender, and snow boots for good measure. She really is quite the little fashionista.

I love this barn that houses Alex, Dad's horse, and the others on the farm. It's old and weathered and has a great tin roof.

And the best texture.

I inadvertently had my 55-250 mm lens on my camera that day (I usually shoot with my 18-55 mm one) and in hindsight, I'm glad I did because I got some really nice images of the farm.

Even though I grew up in the city, I think I'll always be a bit of a country girl at heart. I always leave the farm feeling very inspired and I'm really thankful that our family can get away to such a great place so often.
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