Like so many of us in the craft community, I was shocked and heartbroken to hear the terrible news that Kathreen Ricketson, founder of whip-up, and her husband and creative collaborator Robert Shugg suddenly passed away last week, on a beautiful adventure with their two children – who are safe with family. At a wrenching time like this, there just aren’t any words to reach for. My heart has been heavy and I have found myself in tears over and over and over again, unable to imagine such a wrong thing.
I first met Kathreen in 2005 or 2006 when she contacted us asking to review Super Crafty, which we were all thrilled about. We stayed in touch over the years and especially before I had my own two young children, I contributed a bit to her marvelous whip-up blog and was always happy to hear and spread the word about what Kathreen was up to, in so many directions. Over the last five whirlwind years of new motherhood and freelance work, I haven’t had the free time for leisurely, inspiring craft blog reading (or writing!) that I used to… but Kathreen and I also shared a wonderful editor and publicist at Chronicle Books, and our parallel link there was a special one to me. Her kind words of excitement when my little boy Everett was born are especially precious to remember. I just thought so much of her.
In the aftermath of tragedy we can only try to help as best we can, and hold our friends and loved ones tight. I spent the last weekend at Quilt Market here in Portland and it was a joy to be with friends from the craft and quilting community, seeing their new projects and fabrics and books, even as my heart was heavy with the terrible news of Kathreen’s sudden death. The chance to cry with my friend Monica for a few minutes and be overcome with sadness at her loss – but together – was a gift. This community feels like – is – a family so often, and I am thankful for the warmth and love that we share. In that spirit of generosity and support, Julie of Procrasticraft and other devoted friends and family have established a fund for Kathreen and Rob’s children Otilija and Orlando.
Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting are organizing an online tribute to Kathreen beginning May 24 which is open to all of us, and I look forward to participating in it. I am also (quickly) working on a special article for the winter issue of Stitch magazine honoring her, and I am reaching out to her friends and collaborators this week asking for the chance to share their favorite photographs, projects or memories of her work. If you would like to be part of the article, or have other people to suggest contacting, please email me – I would appreciate it so much. Kathreen collaborated with hundreds of us and reached thousands and thousands more, so by necessity this will be a small sampling, but I hope a colorful and beautiful tribute… and of course I am donating all of my writing fee to her children’s fund.
I was so happy to review her second book with Chronicle, Little Bits Quilting Bee, and would like to end with an excerpt of that post here. Getting to write about this lovely book and her work was such a nice chance to (try to) explain how special our world is, and how thankful I am to be part of it. I’m very sad and struggling with my words today, but I would like to share the ones that came more easily, in happier times.
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from Little Bits Quilting Bee – November 15, 2011
My PMQG guildmate and friend Monica Solorio-Snow gave me and Daniela each a jelly roll set of her Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric line, and I have been saving this amazing gift for a special project. The fabric makes me happy (the name couldn’t be more perfect!) and I’m picturing such a gorgeous HMYY Rhombus, bordered in a bright solid. Lovely.
Which brings me to my favorite part of Little Bits Quilting Bee – the bee. I love craft books that offer more than great projects – that tell a story or share history or resources we can all enjoy. Kathreen includes an engaging section at the front on the history and culture of community quilting, from traditional bees to online swaps and groups – I loved reading this part.
Of course Kathreen’s whip-up site has been a huge pillar of our craft community, and my whole life has been shaped so beautifully, and I have met so many people I treasure, through craft.
From my earliest days of learning to sew and getting a million ideas on getcrafty… to hosting naked lady parties and swapping tons of clothes and craft supplies… to our beloved Portland Church of Craft meetings, led by Sister Diane… to my partners in Portland Super Crafty… to Maker Faire… and now the amazing Portland Modern Quilt Guild I’m proud to be a member of, I am very fortunate to be part of our huge, beautiful craft community.
One of my favorite blog entries I’ve ever written, originally as a column for getcrafty in March 2006, was Start Your Own Craft Circle! – half fun details about a weekly knitting circle in North Carolina, and half tips on starting your own craft group. Except for a few links that could be switched out for their 2011 counterparts, it feels as fresh now as it did when I was interviewing the organizers five years ago! Thank you to my friends, everyone who inspires me with your crafts and projects, and to everyone who reads my books and stops by this little corner of the world, too.
It’s been a busy (sunny!!) spring but I’ve gotten to sew some good things lately and I wanted to share a couple of them. I have two big spring birthdays in my life – my mom’s and Pearl’s. They both love pretty handmade things and share a VERY favorite color, purple… which is not really my first pick, but it’s been fun working with some fabrics I don’t always reach for!
If you happen to remember the first quilt I ever made (also a birthday present for my mom!), this year I made her a pillow to go with it! I really like how it turned out. I also got her to open it while she was on the phone with me and the kids, and that was fun!
I’ve recently gotten addicted to sewing Pearl half-yard a-line kid skirts (full tutorial here) and when Ellen Luckett Baker was kind enough to send me some beautiful FQs from her Stamped line with Kokka, the gorgeous purple ladybugs and gingko leaves told me they wanted to be a skirt too. I joined the two FQs with French seams on both short edges and then made a hem and waistband the same way as with a single-fabric half-yard. She LOVES her two-sided skirt! It’s really awesome on. She’ll start out with the ladybugs on the front and then switch to gingkos later in the day. Why not?? Anyway, I highly recommend the 2-FQ approach to kids’ skirt-making! A huge thank-you to Ellen – I love Stamped, her beautiful new collection Folk Modern, 1-2-3 Sew, and now 1-2-3 Quilt!
So now, speaking of sewing awesome things that are purple, I have a yard and a half of Pearl Bracelet in Grape Jelly pre-washing for Pearl’s special fifth birthday dress! I can’t believe she’s going to be five – she is very, very excited and I picked up the big giant 5 candle today for her chocolate cake. I’m also making myself a new Barcelona skirt in Pearl Bracelet Pond (love that color – this will be the seventh Barcelona I’ve sewn!) so we will be sort of matchy. (PS – if you want a cool full-line PB color chart PDF courtesy of Ms. Lizzy House, you can download it here!)
I’ll be writing more about this on the PMQG blog soon, but as guild historian this year I got to help organize our first Documentation Day! Bill Volckening, who has a fabulous quilt collection and appraises quilts professionally as well as working with the wonderful Oregon Quilt Project, photographed each quilt and worked with us to carefully document each one for the Quilt Index. It was a very cool afternoon! We documented ten quilts, including PMQG’s collective Graphic which I love so much, and my Modern Crosses. That made me very happy. We’re planning our second Documentation Day, so stay tuned over there for lots of details coming soon!
I’m so happy to be today’s stop on the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool blog tour!
I was invited to try out their fabulous Quilt Design Tool recently, which has been super fun. I have never used any kind of design software before – I always sketch my ideas on paper, then use graph paper to formalize things and get my numbers organized, then start cutting and sewing. The QDT was a very cool departure from my usual analog approach! You can create simple or intricate shapes, maneuver them around very easily, switch colors or fabrics with a single click, set a block, and transform your initial idea into an overall quilt design with tons of flexibility. The program even adds borders and gives fabric requirements, and you can export the design onto your desktop to look at as a whole and get a sense of how it will live as a quilt. At only $10 a month, it’s a wonderful resource and I think it really transforms the design process into something special.
When I was at Quiltcon, I got a beautiful charm pack of Lizzy House’s 26 new Pearl Bracelet colors from the Andover booth, and immediately knew I wanted to make a quilt for my almost-five-year-old daughter, Pearl. She loves rainbows and color, and I pictured a bright, happy design that would grow up with her. The charm squares were such a cool gift, and I wanted to use every bit of the precious 5″ squares, rather than cut them up into secondary shapes, as pops of color on a twin-size quilt she could use on her bed.
So once I had a chance to work with the Quilt Design Tool, I thought I’d try some different ideas out and see what worked. My first thought was a basic 12″ two-tier log cabin block (I love log cabin!) with a larger, asymmetrical center charm square (that I filled in with yellow Pearl Bracelet from their fabric archives). I used the workspace software to make a simple block layout, then tiled that into a 6 x 4 grid and rotated some of the 24 blocks to create movement throughout the design.
I stitched up three real blocks using these dimensions, mixed in a little off-white in the logs for color interest, then set them out in that rotation to see how I liked it. And it just didn’t do a whole lot! I liked it but I didn’t love it, and I felt like this cool chance to use a design tool, just for quilting, deserved more. So – back to the drawing board, and opening a new workspace.
I kept thinking of roundness, and somehow arranging an array of the small charm squares to create that feeling of a bracelet of color – a beautiful, simple circular design instead of a regular old grid. I could shape the 12″ blocks into a tight, tall oval with some major maneuvering, but they were just too big to make a circle on a twin quilt.
So a couple of math problems later, I reduced my block size and widened my quilt a little bit, and came up with a 10″ one-tier block that offered a lot more flexibility – and even could be coaxed into a symmetrical 16-block circle!
We narrowed the 26 colors of Pearl Bracelet down to 16, and arranged them in a joyful ROYGBIV circle on the dining room floor. Pearl loved this part!
I chain-pieced, pressed, and squared up the blocks. I love how quilt blocks look in a neat stack.
Here’s how the top mini-row of three will look in the bracelet. It’s very similar to my first idea, but the fact that it’s the top section of a circle instead of the heart of a grid just really gives it a lot more life, I think.
I used the Threadbias design tool to fill in the other parts of the quilt (inside and outside of the circle), and get the measurements for cutting and piecing each section into a whole. This was really handy and made the math and other arrangements very quick.
With such a generous circle design, a huge section of the center was a completely blank slate. I love improvisational piecing and writing messages in my quilts (like the “good night” quilt back I worked on for the PMQG Quiltcon charity quilt) so I pieced a subtle, large-scale “pearl” in white-on-white Pearl Bracelet, against Michael Miller Bright White Cotton Couture. For reference, this section measures 51″ wide by 30″ tall.
Pearl loves that her name is in the quilt. She is just learning to read and it made her super happy to see it there.
I had hoped to have the top all done for today, but here’s where I’m at:
so I’ll be sharing the finished Rainbow Charm Bracelet top at our April 18 PMQG meeting, and I’m super excited to hand it off to Nancy to quilt! Speaking of PMQG, Threadbias has generously offered a prize of a free month of the Quilt Design Tool (!) to a lucky winner… and instead of giving it away through comments here, we’ll draw a name at the meeting! They’re also offering a nice bonus to PMQG members, which you’ll hear more about then too.
Monday, March 25 – Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 – Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 – The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 – Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 – Swim, Bike, Quilt
Tuesday, April 2 – Fresh Lemons Quilts
Wednesday, April 3 – West Coast Crafty
+ Portland Modern Quilt Guild (me!)
Thursday, April 4 – Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 – Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 – Pink Castle Fabrics
Sunday, April 7 – Ellison Lane Quilts
Thank you to Andover for the gift of the Pearl Bracelet charm pack and to Threadbias for the chance to review the Quilt Design Tool! (I bought my Bright White Cotton Couture and the additional white Pearl Bracelet at Fabric Depot here in Portland.) If you’re interested in more detail on my cutting, chain-piecing, and row assembly methods, you can check out my book, Modern Log Cabin Quilting. Thanks, and happy Wednesday!
I got back from Quiltcon over a week ago with a crummy cold/sinus thing and have been pretty wiped out… I guess abrupt withdrawal from beautiful 60-degree weather and being around stunning quilts, colorful fabric, and nice people all day can be a little tough on the immune system. Sigh. Anyway, I really want to write up a personal post here about it, but I am so pleased that I got to cover the show for the Coats & Clark Sewing Secrets blog if you’d like to read those posts! Here’s my favorite things from the first two days, and the last two days, over there. Thank you so much to Coats for the chance to write about it for their blog!
In the meantime, here are some photos of pretty things that are making me happy this week… I finished my hand-quilting project from Anna Maria Horner‘s lovely class, a pillow for Pearl! I’m not drawn to purple that much in my sewing or crafts but I thought her gorgeous fabric from Field Study was a dream to hand-stitch with, and Pearl LOVES it, so I am very happy.
I got to visit Oliver and Madeleine in their natural habitat at the Woolen Mill Store after they got back from their trip to Sew Expo. Sounds like people shopping in the Pendleton booth liked them a lot, which made me happy!
I picked up these super gorgeous Pendleton wool swatches from the WMS too. I can’t wait to go back and buy some yardage soon – they are having a sale in March so you should head over there too. So hard to choose which one (ok, ones)…
And this morning I got to have coffee with Diane downtown, which was so great. It has been way too long and it was such a treat to get to hang out (and get a look at her beautiful upcoming book!). Afterwards we walked over to the magnificent Button Emporium and I fell in love with these ribbons so of course they all had to come home with me. We are lucky to have such awesome shops here in Portland!
So, stay tuned for a Quiltcon post (a mere two or three weeks after the event, hopefully when this dumb sinus thing has left me alone finally). I also plan to write up my tips and tricks for sewing the incomparable Barcelona skirt with lots of photos, if anyone else is interested. I have sewed five of them, have fabric pre-washed for three more, and am wearing one right now actually, so I’m a huge fan! Along the way, I figured out a few little things for sewing it that make me love it even more and I’m excited to share those.
I got my copy of the spring Stitch magazine this week and was so excited to see my article on Japanese fabrics, right there in real life on the page! It’s so colorful, perfect for a February day like today. I love Japanese fabric and it was a dream to get to write about it. The whole issue is so pretty!
I got to interview some of my fabric industry and sewing heroes for this article – thanks to Mariko of Super Eggplant, Marie of Cool Cottons, Cynthia of Fabricworm, Patricia of Okan Arts, Kim of True Up, and Naomi of Patchwork Quilt Tsushin for their contributions.
Rashida’s new Tsuru line with Cloud 9 and Melody’s Ruby Star collections for Kokka are both spectacular. They are both American, but their work is gorgeously inspired by Japanese design and culture, and (I think) perfectly reflects what Kim Kight calls the “inventive, cute, oddball and beautiful” qualities of Japanese fabric.
And Stitch excerpted and shared my Block Pocket Apron project from Modern Log Cabin Quilting – plus I got to re-make the pocket using three different combinations of Japanese prints to put a new spin on things! Thank you to Rashida for sending me prints from Tsuru, Fabricworm for sending me Kei and Kokka, and Cool Cottons for helping me with the Echino. I loved working with these fabrics and I hope it inspires lots of small-scale projects like these little pockets. A little goes a long way with these gorgeous prints.
Speaking of, I had a little dream project in mind for Quiltcon and was so happy to pull it off this week. I needed a neat little bag to hold my MLCQ book postcards, PMQG business cards, and the new moo cards I ordered (yay!) while I’m at the convention. I knew I wanted to use Melody’s Viewmaster cotton/linen print from Ruby Star Rising, and Rashida’s aqua Tsuru prints were the perfect complement. I found a vintage Coats and Clark zipper in my stash (“Bermuda Sea” blue) to go with it. I signed up for Kristin Link’s free Craftsy class on zip bags and totes, and used her stellar instructions. Her blog post on alternate sizes was also very inspiring. (And check out Amber’s cute version with typewriters!) After a little math to adjust the finished size upwards, I had this pretty little bag all stitched up!
I am so happy with it!! I wrote about my size adjustments on my Craftsy project page if you’re interested, and added a D ring (as Kristin suggested on her blog) to the tab loop. My friend AnnMarie Cowley of PMQG made the other loop with the Denyse Schmidt dots for another pouch she gave me, but I borrowed it for this one – I love it! Makes it a perfect little clutch purse.
And Rashida’s cranes make me happy every time I see them! I have to be honest, I’ve had this Viewmaster print for ages (along with a few others of Melody’s – I love her prints) and have hesitated to cut into it, thinking it was too precious. This little project was the perfect way to use both of these treasures. Now every time I reach for a card at Quiltcon, or want to tuck in someone else’s card to keep it handy, I will enjoy these pretty prints.
Speaking of Quiltcon, I wanted to mention that I’m on a panel on Friday at 2:00 on writing for magazines and would love to say hello if you can come to that! Latifah Saafir is moderating, the other panelists are fantastic magazine editors and publishers, and I think it will be a great hour. Thank you to the Modern Quilt Guild for including me! I fly to Austin in a week (!!!) and I am so excited. See you then!
The kids and I got our valentines for relatives across the country made and in the mail this morning, so that was a relief! These holidays always sneak up on me, and the next thing I know we’re rushing to finish something in time for USPS to get them to all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I wanted to share two Valentine’s Day project tutorials I wrote up a few years ago that you might like to make between now and Thursday. They’re both quick and easy and pretty fun!
The first one is felt fortune cookies with a tiny heart on the “fortune” – I love this little project. You can either make one the size of a real cookie, or a teeny-tiny version to wear on a ring. I got a great surprise this week… my little project won second place in a DIY Valentines contest courtesy of Sybille, so I won a prize: a set of washi tape and packaging supplies! Very exciting.
The second is a hand-stitched beaded heart card. This one is very sweet and elementary-school age kids could probably pull it off with a little help, especially if they like hand-sewing.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all and happy 154th birthday to Oregon! I’m deep in some pre-Quiltcon sewing but hoping to share some new projects I’m working on soon – especially skirts and zip bags. Also, plaid puppies, curtains, tablecloths, and pillows. Sewing has been a lot of fun lately, and I’ve been excited to make some new things here and there in between deadlines and kid illnesses (sigh). Hope you have had a chance to make some things you like lately too!
I’m super excited to be visiting Austin (for the first time!) to go to Quiltcon this month! I wanted to join the linky party The Modern Quilt Guild is hosting on their blog, so here is a photo and five things about me for fun. I’m proud to be the historian for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and I’m also a craft writer and the mama of Pearl (who’s 4.5) and Everett (who’s 2). So… hello!
1. I’m a Capricorn (the photo of me was taken by my lovely friend Nancy right after we toured beautiful Heath Ceramics on my birthday a couple weeks ago!) but really never liked it, it seemed like a boring and chilly astrological sign. However, now that I’m in my thirties, I’m starting to get right with it and embracing the parts of life as an earth sign that do resonate. I love my home, and I am definitely a bit of a workaholic when it comes to writing and sewing and crafting. Also, I love my Enid Collins zodiac bag (see #5)…
2. My husband Andrew and I got to be in a Bright Eyes video our friend Cat Solen directed a few years ago, which was super fun! I got to make out with Andrew, share a toast with Evan Rachel Wood and Terence Stamp (who were both very nice), and hand my Bloody Mary to the sweet guy in headphones sitting across the aisle from us. I love Bright Eyes, and Cat’s animation and design are beautiful, so being an extra for her was completely awesome all the way around.
3. After nearly fifteen years of trying, I have to admit that I’m a pretty crummy knitter. I can make rectangles and triangles, and not very fast ones at that. Give me a sewing machine or a needle and thread and I’m much happier!
4. My two favorite places in the world (besides my house in Southeast Portland) are Mt. Hood here in Oregon, and San Francisco.
5. I love mid-century and vintage clothes, furniture, and fabric, and my favorite designers are Enid Collins (my two favorite handbags are below), Vera Neumann, Lilly Pulitzer, Maija Isola (of Marimekko), and Tammis Keefe. As seen above, I wear a fabric headband or a scarf in my hair and a vintage cardigan just about every day. 80s revival, skinny jeans, and neon kind of scare me fashion-wise, so I’m not very on-trend (though I am really excited for the 80s dance party!).
I hope to say hello at Quiltcon! I am westcoastcrafty on instagram and infrequently on twitter. I’m taking Anna Maria Horner’s Every Last Stitch class Thursday afternoon and Lotta Jansdotter’s Textile Printing class on Friday morning. I’m also on a panel on writing for magazines on Friday at
1:00 2:00, right before Kathy Miller lectures on Tammis Keefe… my dream topic! Yes!
I’ve spent the last week cleaning and organizing my craft room and wow, it has been a ton of work! Last year was so busy and it felt like every minute of my childcare time was spoken for twice over. So I sewed until the last minute and rushed to pick my kids up from school instead of having time to put things away, and my stuff got cluttered, crowded, and disorganized. I couldn’t see a lot of my fabric or find a lot of my supplies without moving things around… and we all know it’s not fun when you have an idea in your head and you JUST WANT THE RIGHT FABRIC NOW.
So, three or four long days later, I am so much happier and inspired working in there, and I’ve gotten to sew some new things for the house! My favorite project so far is my beautiful new ironing board cover – made from a Vera vintage sheet using this tutorial from Sew Much Good. My old plain-blue cover looked awful and crummy (I couldn’t bring myself to take a before photo, ugh) and this one is so pretty and simple and feels so right in my sewing room. It makes me happy every time I look over at it. Yay!
This is my 2013 craft sketchbook/journal from Ex Libris Anonymous. I LOVE it. I staple fabric swatches or pin paper patterns right to the pages and record all my notes and measurements and extras in there. It’s really nice for projects like this – when I used a great tutorial but made some of my own tweaks that I want to remember.
Here’s what I did differently: I cut my Vera sheet using my ironing board as a pattern the same way that Sew Much Good recommends, but then backed it with fusible batting for padding and sturdiness. The sheet was very filmy and needed some structure. That worked perfectly. Then, instead of 1/4″, I used 3/8″ flat elastic (which is what I had on hand) and instead of cutting and folding my own bias tape, I used hem facing (the flat 2″ wide bias tape you can buy at the fabric store). I needed about a package and a half. This was super easy to thread through, and a very sturdy casing.
The only other thing I did differently was to stitch the bias channel on about 1/3 of the way around, then backstitch and take it off the machine entirely (instead of pulling the elastic while it was still on the sewing machine). I pulled the elastic so it gathered nicely, then double-pinned it in place there. I sewed to the 2/3 point, repeated the same gathering method and double-pinned, and finished with a third round at the end point. Then I eased the cover over the ironing board, took out all the pins, adjusted the elastic gathering so it was nice and even all the way around, and tied a good knot to secure it. Done!
This was a super fun, fast project and I’m especially happy I could make it all with things I already had (the vintage sheet, fusible batting, hem facing, and elastic). I love the sheet, but it cost $3 at a thrift store and was a full size, measuring something like 80″ by 90″ – so when the cover inevitably gets spilled on or fused to, I can let it go without grieving that I ruined something precious or expensive. Plus, I still have a ton left, even after finishing this large-scale project and lining the reversible rainbow dress I made for Pearl for Halloween. I’m glad that these blue flowers can live on in some other sewing projects.
I hope your 2013 crafts have been fun so far! This has been a good stretch of house projects for me and I’m so grateful to have the time to work on them. I just finished sewing a couple of super simple tablecloths and cloth napkins, worked my way through most of my mending pile (FINALLY), and I’m working on some new Pendleton curtains, too.
I have a babysitter for a few hours today, and it’s been fun to read lots of the Local Quilt Shop Day blog tour posts, so I figured I’d jump in with my own! What the heck, I hardly ever had time to post over here last year so it’s nice to write about things I like and love when I do get the chance.
Local Quilt Shop Day is January 24 and there are some prizes and other fun things going on if you visit your favorite independent fabric shop. Thursday is a school day for my kids (you may notice a pattern here?) so hopefully I will be over at my dear Cool Cottons finding some new favorites, and chatting with Marie and Linda! Cool Cottons is a beautifully curated shop that’s nearly all patterned quilting cottons, arranged by color in the most inviting and fun way, with some marvelous Japanese fabrics, shot cottons, solids, and other treasures mixed in. Post update! Michelle reminded me in her super comment just now that Cool Cottons offers an amazing punch card, and as she put it, “The day mine filled up for the first time felt like Christmas!” Here is my current one, I’m getting closer…
In the meantime, I thought I would post some of my favorite fabrics I’ve found there over the years. This stack of marvelous Lotta Jansdotter prints has turned into lots of things I like, to say the least.
I got nearly all these solids (a few from home, but most on the lovely solids stairwell at Cool Cottons) for my Denyse Schmidt class #2 (2011).
And these prints and solids for my Denyse Schmidt class #3 (2012). Marie is a color magician and greens are her personal favorite, so you can imagine how fun it is to trail her around the shop when you’re looking for good things in that spectrum.
Here are some of my blocks I made in class with those greens.
Marie also offered to host some of our Quilts for Quake Survivors bees in 2011 and those were wonderful, amazing craft nights! She even gave us a whole bunch of their blocks of the month to turn into the sweetest charity quilts. So awesome.
And I haven’t had time to post about this here yet, but look for it soon… neatly folding my vast amounts of zillions of fabrics around comic book backing cardboards has changed my life. I did a little demo at our November PMQG meeting, based on this great tutorial from Cut To Pieces (with a few of my own variations). Anyway, Excalibur Comics and their stacks of 100 acid-free cardboards are right across the street from Cool Cottons so, car traffic on Hawthorne permitting, this is the most awesome, convenient happy pairing pretty much ever in the world. Buy beautiful fabric on one side of the street, change your life with efficient, life-altering folding techniques on the other. (Then you can get coffee, pizza, or look at vintage. Yeah, Portland is pretty great.)
Of course there are many, many wonderful fabric stores in Portland – I also love and SUPER recommend Bolt*, Sew Po*, Sew Mama Sew*, the Woolen Mill Store*, Mill End, and Fabric Depot. But Cool Cottons is definitely my local (walking distance – I still can’t believe I can walk to a fabric store, even after five years!) quilting cottons shop, so that will be my Thursday LQSD destination for sure!
If you go:
2417 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97214
Local Quilt Shop Day – Thursday, January 24, 2013
The Modern Quilt Guild recently organized a special drive to make quilts for the Austin’s Children’s Shelter. They sent many of the MQGs packages of Quiltcon blocks to work with and asked each of us to make one twin-sized quilt to donate. The 2012 and 2013 PMQG boards teamed up to work on this project collaboratively, which was fantastic! Our blocks we got for the front are wonky stars, which Heather offered to piece into a twin-sized top. So Anne and I volunteered to work on the back together – I actually love working on quilt backs, I got to make one for our Graphic quilt last year which was really fun! And I love Anne’s quilts so it was really fun to collaborate with her.
Kristin of Sew, Mama, Sew! graciously cut and gave away four bolts of a Kona gray for charity quilting at our November PMQG meeting, and that gift came in very handy for this project. I also pulled some yardage of serene, beautiful Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Aqua, and a Japanese elephant print I bought a FQ of last year seemed like it might find its way in, too.
I adore improvisational piecing and had a lot of fun making a LOVE “bumper sticker” quilt block for Michelle’s Design Camp bee last year. For this project, my idea was to design and stitch a quiet, comforting message for the child who sleeps under it, in an unfamiliar place, so he or she felt a bit more at home… and mix stars of some kind around my words. I chose the simplest little phrase, good night.
Anne offered to piece some stars, big and small, and ended up making 32 of the super easy, slightly wonky log cabin mini-blocks I used for my Starry Night pillow in Modern Log Cabin Quilting for her tiny “twinkling” yellow stars! She emailed me a photo while I was still on the east coast, and I was really excited!
And then, finally home from our Christmas trip and so ready to get started, cutting lots of strips for improv letter-piecing, and waiting and waiting for my trusty iron to heat up… I noticed something. Surprise! My iron had a gnarly injury on its side and was stone-cold and broken. My friend Mary lent me hers – but I couldn’t get it for a couple of hours. So with precious childcare time ticking, my first two un-pressed letters, “go,” were a wrinkly, puffy mish-mash that should clearly illustrate to anyone why ironing is way, way important in our craft. I can’t believe I’m posting this horrible photo, but there you go. Wow, was I happy to get the borrowed iron later that night and press these guys!
So, using simple strips and improv piecing (and a working iron), I stitched up g-o-o-d and n-i-g-h-t and joined them together to form a simple heart of the back to pass along for Anne to work her star magic on. I truly loved this process – meditative and simple and intuitive. No pattern, no tutorial to write. Just good night. On an impulse I fussy-cut a little elephant in the same width as the body of my “i” and dotted it with that. It’s one perfect elephant and one little section of another one floating above it peeking down, reminding me of a mother watching over her child. My children loved the elephants. They both gave the tiny little dot over the i a kiss, and I hope that some of that warmth stays in that quilt when it covers another little one.
The next morning, along with last-second packing for our San Francisco trip, I snapped some quick photos of my little good night block. I loved how the reflection of the blocks’ back – full of seams and stitching – read so clearly in the mirror. Kind of cool!
Then we zipped over to meet Anne for a coffee, handed the blocks and some last bits of fabric to her, and headed out for our trip! Imagine my happiness when she sent me a preview picture of her stars. So awesome!
And here is another snap of the back with extra gray sashing, right before she brought it to Nancy for its beautiful quilting (thank you, Nancy, for your unfailingly generous gifts!!). It’s coming to the PMQG meeting so we can all see it! Then, Petra and Anne will bind it, Michelle will label it, and we’ll ship it to Austin for Quiltcon.
I feel deeply drawn to charity craft projects, and as the mother of two young children, I am especially grateful to contribute to families in need. Quilts for Quake Survivors was a huge gift to be part of with Daniela, and donating to our own Bradley-Angle House through QfQ was a beautiful end to our project.
And I can’t wait to see our collaborative quilt at the PMQG meeting tonight!!! Room 205 at PNCA, 7 pm.
PS – Thank you, THANK YOU for the iron rec comments on my last post! I’m going with a Black & Decker from Fred Meyer for now. Unfortunately they’re currently out of the one I want (this one) but yay, Michelle lent me her back-up iron for this week!