Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spring Quilt Market 2013 video by Creativebug

My super talented friends at Creativebug put together this short little video about stories that inspired new fabric collections, after talking with some designers at Spring Quilt Market in Portland a couple of weeks ago. It features Amy Butler, David Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Heather Ross, and Liesl Gibson and I think it's so fun to get a bit of a glimpse of what inspires designers and how they go about creating their work.

So great, right? They really are the best, and if you haven't had a chance to check out Creativebug yet, they are offering a great incentive to do so. If you join by May 31, your first month is only $9.99 with the code MAYSPECIAL, which gives you unlimited access to all of the online workshops that they offer. You can take my new Mod Stripes quilt class, or my Diamonds in the Sky quilt class, or any of the other amazing workshops, anytime you'd like, from the comfort of your home.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


You may have noticed the photo in my header up there that I changed a few weeks ago. It's a detail from my quilt, Gelassenheit, and I'm excited to finally be sharing more of it with you now.

I took these photos of it in front of the barn at our new house, using the ladder to the tree house.

I really love the contrast of the modern quilt with the rustic wood of the ladder and barn. 

But, I wasn't able to get a full shot of the quilt, so I had a bit of a photo shoot last night.

Gelassenheit is my modern take on a traditional Dresden Plate quilt design, and it measures approximately 53" square. I made it as a design exercise while I was working on my Diamonds in the Sky quilt for Creativebug. I was playing with the idea of strip piecing, specifically how large pieced sections could be cut up and and put back together in a completely different arrangement. I used three different shades of solid cream cotton, a pale blue solid, and a light gray solid for the border and binding. Those colors feel really soothing and tranquil to me, and those are the thoughts that kept popping in my head while I was constructing the quilt. So, as I was thinking of a name for the quilt, I started to look up the word tranquility in different languages and I found Gelassenheit,  a German word, which I thought was quite fitting for a Dresden Plate quilt. But it has an additional meaning in the Amish culture, which I found equally as fascinating. It is an important part of Amish life in which one humbly yields to the will of God, which derives from the Biblical passage, Luke 22:42, in which Jesus says, "not my will, but thine be done."

I was also on a deadline to complete a quilt for an exhibition at the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild had been invited to participate in a special exhibition of quilts that were a modern take on the Dresden Plate, so I decided to applique one large Dresden on top of the pieced section. The printed fabric is Amy Butler's Alchemy Organic Paisley in Sky Blue, which is so gorgeous, and I love how its design is also changed when it's been cut and pieced back together. 

I turned down the edges of my Dresden Plate and topstitched it to hold it in place.

And I used a chartreuse green solid as the center of the plate, which I also appliqued, although I used a fusible webbing to hold it in place, coupled with zig zag stitches around the perimeter of the circle.  


I quilted Gelassenheit it with straight lines, my absolute favorite, spaced about 3/8" apart. I just love the result of all those line of quilting.

While I do love the result, it's really tough to quilt so densely on my domestic sewing machine. There is a lot of straining of my neck, back, and arms that occasionally happens as a result of spending so much time in front of my machine, so I'm hoping my friend Jill will be able to help me out with her new machine.

Here's a better shot of the border and binding. I used the same fabric for both of these areas because I didn't want the binding to be a distraction from the rest of the quit design.

And for the back I used a lime green solid cotton, with a bit of the gray solid pieced in. I really love the unexpected pop of color that happens as a result of incorporating a new shade that isn't on the front of the quilt. 

I took a few photos of the quilt in progress too, and I thought it would be fun to share those with you as well. Here it is as I was getting ready to stitch the Dresden plate section down to the front of the quilt. 

And here it is, all basted and ready to quilt.

Here a shot of the quilt about midway through my straight line quilting.

My constant companion didn't help make things any easier during the quilting process, but he seemed to really enjoy the quilt. 

And here's a shot where you can see just how much the added texture of the dense straight line quilting adds to the finished look of the quilt. It's really amazing how much it changes everything; although at the same time I feel it doesn't compete with the design of the quilt top, just enhances it.

My son Aidan loves the quilt too, and in fact, he actually claimed it before I was finished making it. I explained to him that it would be a while before he could use it, knowing that it had to be on display at the Festival in April, and I finished it back in November. That didn't matter to him, and he even made a drawing of himself in front of the quilt, so of course, I had to take a photo of him, holding that picture, in front of the actual quilt. The cool kids call that meta, right?? 

So, I added this dedication to the label on the back of the quilt. Looks like Aidan might have to wait a bit longer for the quilt because it may be traveling to a few more places. Our Dresden Plate exhibition was really popular at festival and there has been talk of it being shown in a few more venues around the world. More on the show soon!

Monday, May 20, 2013

to help Otilija and Orlando

photograph from

You may have heard about the horrendous tragedy that happened off the coast of Australia last week which left Kathreen Rickeston, the founder of Whip Up, and her husband Rob dead, and their two children, daughter Otilija and son Orlando, without their parents . Kathreen and her family were spending a year on their dream trip, camping around Australia and going on all sorts of adventures, which would culminate in a book. That trip was cut short last week when Kathreen and Rob accidentally drowned in Coral Bay, while their two children and other campers watched in horror.

Kathreen was very supportive of my work, and we had worked together recently when she asked to feature me in an article that she wrote for Australian Quilters Companion. She was so kind and incredibly talented and it was clear that her children meant the world to her. Kathreen was hugely responsible for helping to form the online craft community through Whip Up, which will no doubt feel a void with her absence.

photograph from

A trust fund has been set up for Otilija and Orlando and you can donate to it through Paypal at You can also read more about the fund here and other ways to donate, especially if you are in Europe or Australia.

Rest in peace, Kathreen and Rob, and Godspeed to Otilija and Orlando. Sending you all lots of love.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bijoux winner!

 Thank you for all of your kind words about my patchwork dress and for entering my giveaway of Bari J.'s new Bijoux line. The winner is

lucky number 21, who just happens to be.....

Jean!!! My friend and former member of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, who (unfortunately) had to move away to the west coast last year. Congratulations, Jean!!! I'm off to get your mailing address so I can pass it along to Bari for your goodies!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bijoux by Bari J. launch party + giveaway!

I'm so excited to be taking part in Bari J.'s launch party for Bijoux, her new collection for Art Gallery Fabrics. It's so gorgeous, with inspiration drawn from the imagined life of a traveling free spirit and her elegant caravans full of beautiful textiles and treasures she has acquired throughout her wanderings. You can read more about Bari's inspiration on her blog, and find some great free patterns there as well.

When I was thinking of a project to make with my bundle of Bijoux, my friend Cal posted a photo on Instagram of a woman from the Herero tribe in Namibia wearing a traditional patchwork dress, like the one above. I was immediately drawn to the stunning costume, and after a little google research, I found that there is a newly published book of these images by photographer Jim Naughten.

So, I decided to make my own version of a dress inspired by the traditional costumes of the Herero women. This pattern is one that I designed about five years ago and used to sell in my etsy shop, although I modified this version by adding scrappy log cabin patchwork blocks for the skirt section.

Oliva loves it! I finished it yesterday and she would not take it off after our little photo shoot. She's a big fan of Bijoux, too.

And she wouldn't stop twirling in the dress.

I love the mix of colors in this line, from the dark rich pink to the mustard yellow, chocolate brown, and even the bits of green. It all works so well together.

Bijoux has just shipped to your local independent fabric retailers, so you'll be able to get your hands on some very soon. But, Bari has generously set aside 10 fat quarters to give away to one of my readers. Please leave a comment below telling me what you'd like to make with Bijoux, and I'll choose a winner randomly tomorrow,  May 17th at noon ET. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment if it's not a part of your profile so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner!

And don't forget to check out the entire launch party to see lots of amazing inspiration and gorgeous projects featuring Bijoux:

May 6:  Imagine Gnats

May 7: Jona G.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winner!

I'm sorry for the delay in sharing the winner of the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day! I was at a retreat this weekend (more on that to come soon) and I didn't have access to my computer while I was out of town. But, without further adieu, the winner of my giveaway is....

lucky number six, who was....

Congratulations, Sarah!!! I'm off to email you now for your mailing address and I'll get your goodies in the mail ASAP!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mod Stripes Quilt for Creativebug

I'm so excited to share with you my latest workshop for Creativebug, my Mod Stripes Quilt Top! This design was inspired by my Silo quilt, but it's a bit more complex and I used a much brighter color palette for this project.

The Mod Stripes Quilt is a lap sized quilt, measuring at 64" x 70", and is made using the technique of strip piecing, which is one of my favorite ways to work. It makes piecing and constructing a quilt much faster, and this project is no exception. The Mod Stripes Quilt comes together very quickly, and is a great project for a beginner quilter or sewist, and an even quicker project for someone who is more experienced.

My original design for the Mod Stripes quilt features bold bright colors (I used FreeSpirit Designer Solids in Aqua, Kiwi, and Arctic White), but I think this would look really great in a wide range of color palettes. I've got plans to make another version using a pale green, cream, and light gray for the new house. I'm thinking Chamois, Chartreuse, and Pale Gray would be fun.

So, join me over at Creativebug where I'll walk you through this entire project, step by step, and we'll make one together! We'll cover everything from cutting fabric to constructing the strips, building the quilt blocks and then sashing them. We'll also talk about constructing the backing for your quilt and finishing techniques as well. You can purchase the class for the Mod Stripes Quilt a la carte, or you can take it, and all of the other 130+ workshops that Creativebug offers, by taking advantage of their amazing subscription offer

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

my patterns on Oliver + S

I'm so excited to share with you that my quilt patterns are available to purchase through the Oliver + S website. My friends Liesl and Todd asked me a couple of months if I'd be interested in them offering my patterns for sale on their website, and of course I said yes. What an honor! I'm a huge fan of both Liesl and Todd, both for their impeccable work ethic and their impeccable designs. They are both amazingly kind, generous, and encouraging, too.

I'm sharing more information about my patterns on their blog today, and you can check it out here. Thank you again, Liesl and Todd!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

the makerie sewing 2013

I can't believe it's been over two weeks since my time in Boulder for the Makerie Sewing retreat. I had an amazing time with friends, both old and new, and came home feeling totally inspired and more excited than ever to be on this creative path that I'm on. 

I flew in a day early to do a little sight seeing, and Boulder just happened to get hit with a huge snow storm that day as well. So, while I left 70 degree weather in Ohio, I arrived to winter weather in Colorado. But in all honesty, the fresh snow was pretty magical. The Makerie Sewing retreat took place at Chatauqua, which is an amazing park with quaint cottages and beautiful community buildings that is on the National Historic Register. That's our sweet little cottage in the snow in the photo above.

And here's a little tour of the inside. Our cottage was built in 1932 and it has amazing Craftsman-style throughout. It was really quite large and was full of beautiful woodwork and great attention to detail.

I loved the built-in bookshelves in the dining room.

Ali, the creative genius behind the Makerie retreats, is so thoughtful and kind, and she left a sweet card and fresh flowers for me and my roommates,  the incredibly adorable and talented women Cal Patch and Tamar Mogendorff.

These were our bedrooms, and each bed was decorated with a vintage inspired quilt.

I especially loved the red and white quilts! 

My friend Denise, who lives outside of Boulder, picked me up and took me to the lovely Fabricate, an adorable fabric boutique and sewing studio. I picked up some lovely Essex linen and Denise and I listened in on a sewing class full of little boys who were about ten years old. It was a riot, and the boys were really excited to be learning how to sew backpacks. And I must say that they had the most patient instructor ever.

Denise and I had originally planned on heading down to Denver to see Amy Butler at Fancy Tiger Crafts that evening, but the weather was too bad and we didn't want to risk the roads.

So, we had an amazing Indian dinner in Boulder instead. I've been dreaming of those black lentils ever since...

The next day was the the first day of the Makerie Sewing Retreat. As I said above, Ali and her team are  so incredibly creative and they made sure every detail was just right, from the adorable handmade signs that were posted throughout Chautauqua... the handmade name tags and pinecone souvenirs at the registration table, and everything in between. 

The fresh snow was so beautiful, so after I registered I spent some time walking along one of the trails of the Flatirons. It was really one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and these photos just don't do it justice.


And then I explored Chatauqua park. This is the dining hall where we ate many of our meals.

All of the historic cottages throughout the park have been lovingly restored and are really quite adorable.

That evening, all of the teachers took part in a welcome panel discussion that was led by Amy, where we were all able to introduce ourselves to the participants of the Makerie.

On Friday morning I had my first class. I taught three workshops on Improv Patchwork and my students had the choice to make either a bolster pillow or a mini quilt.

I asked everyone to bring a bag full of their favorite scraps and a yard of coordinating solid fabric and then we started cutting and constructing.

I provided written instructions for both projects so my students could make the other project later at home,  and the generous folks at Bernina and The Presser Foot provided sewing machines as well as technical help for all of my students. Check out the amazing work that they produced in my first class!

Everybody really did an amazing job, and I'm so proud of the work that they created. It was so much fun for me to watch them design their improvisational patchwork blocks and incorporate them into their projects.

Friday afternoon I taught my second workshop. Again, it was so fun to see everyone work and design their patchwork blocks using just their scraps and their intuition. 

Such stunning work, right? It was really amazing.

That evening we had a creative panel after dinner, and Ali asked each of the teachers a series of questions about living a creative life.

One of the many great things about the Makerie Sewing retreat was that each teacher was allowed to take one class that was taught by another teacher. All of the classes looked really amazing, but I chose to take Amy Butler's workshop on Creating Your Own Color Story on Saturday morning. Amy is such an incredibly talented colorist and a dear friend,  it's always great to spend time with her.

She brought us some goodies and asked us to bring a stack of inspiration materials and paint color chips from the hardware store. 

I brought a few older Country Living and Martha Stewart Living magazines and a wide range of colors to work with. And then I started cutting out photos of all sorts of things that caught my eye.

Aren't those glasses great? Then,  I pasted the paper down to a sheet of poster board. 

And here's how far I got on my inspiration board in class. I really love it and I can't wait to finish it now that I'm home! It was so much fun to develop a color palette this way, and I definitely plan on doing more of this type of designing in the future.

As I said, the teachers at the Makerie were allowed to take one class, but Amy and I were lucky enough to have the chance to dye some fabrics using a shibori techniques and natural indigo with Kaari Meng of French General during our lunch break on Saturday.

Kaari gave us a long strip of a hemp fabric and a silk scarf and taught Amy and I how to create areas that would resist the dyes, using simple things like corks and marbles. 

And even thin pieces of wood, clothes pins, and popsicle sticks.

We worked quickly to prepare our fabrics for the indigo dye bath, 

which was the most amazing color. 

We quickly dyed our goodies and hung them to dry, along with the work by more of Kaari's students.

Saturday afternoon was my last class, and it was completely full! You might recognize the student to the left in the front row. Amy took my class and it was so great to have her take part in my workshop.

And here's a photo of my students and their completed work! As I said before, it was really an incredible experience to be with so many creative people. Some of my students had done some work with improvisational patchwork, but many of them had not, and I hope I was able to teach them a lot of sewing and quilting skills that can be used in all sorts of projects. It was really amazing to see their confidence in designing, and in relying on their own creative intuition, grow as they worked on their improvisational blocks.  

And I'm truly grateful that I was part of the Makerie Sewing retreat.  

On the morning of our last day, Ali gave us all a heartfelt goodbye, although I think most of us didn't want to leave.

Here are Cal Patch (in the center) and Jaime and Amber from Fancy Tiger, all wearing the cutest handmade clothing. Check out Cal's fun leggings!!

Here they are with Liesl and I. I miss these girls like crazy.

Before I left our cottage, I took another brief walk along the trail by the Flatirons and I was amazed at how quickly the 8+ inches of snow had melted.

There was barely any left from the storm which was just a few days earlier. Amazing!

I left the Makerie feeling incredibly inspired. Day to day life, especially with two young children and all that that entails, can sometimes be draining, especially to one's creativity. But I really feel filled up and recharged as a result of spending the weekend with so many kind, generous, creative, encouraging, and inspiring women in such a beautiful setting. It was really magical, and a much needed mini escape from the outside world, at least for a couple of days, where we could all focus on friendship, creativity, and community. And I can honestly say that was an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you so much to Ali, Emily, Liesl, and everyone else who made the Makerie Sewing retreat possible. And thank you to all of my students who spent time with me in class. I am so proud of you all and I can't wait to see what else you all create. 

If you have the opportunity to participate in a future Makerie retreat, do it. You won't be sorry! Ali is planning some amazing things this summer and I wish I could join her for those too! 

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