QuiltCon Fashionistas!

I go to a fair number of quilt shows, and most of them are attended by women (and a few men) in casual but unspectacular fashions.  At QuiltCon, however, I saw so many women dressed in fancy outfits.  Here are just a few:

Fashion at QuiltCon

Miriam, from the Modern Quilt Guild of Asheville

Miriam and her sister, who collaborate on most of their projects, had a great quilt in the show.  (Her sister wasn’t this much of a fashion statement though–sorry Emily!)

Since QuiltCon was in Austin, lots of people brought out their boots.  I love the look of boots with dresses:

QuiltCon Fashionista

Linda, an independent member of the MQG (Modern Quilt Guild)

Many of the women had dresses in prints that looked like modern quilts, including this one:

Fashion at QuiltCon

Emily of the Ann Arbor MQG

And a number of women had dresses and skirts they had made themselves.  This woman had a dress to match her hair!

QuiltCon Fashionista

Julia of the Houston MQG

Check out how she even matched the pattern where she put in the zipper!  If you’ve ever sewn garments, you know that’s an accomplishment.  And the pockets were made from a cute safety pin print.

My friend and I loved this blouse, worn by Kelly of the Ventura MQG:

And finally, here is a different type of fashion statement–I’m riding a giant sewing machine! Why do you suppose my friend wouldn’t let me take a picture of HER riding it???Riding Sewing Machine at QuiltCon

Pictures of my favorite quilts next week!

2015 Donation Quilt #1

A couple of my quilty friends try to make a quilt a month for various charities, so I thought I’d try that this year.  The group with which I make donation quilts sends them to a Ronald McDonald House to be given to sick children.  The House wants all quilts to be 40″ x 40″, which doesn’t seem too big to do one a month.  Here goes….

For January I took some of my orphan blocks and related fabrics and made this quilt.  The blocks also happen to be on my UFO list for 2015, so there’s TWO projects accomplished at once :-)

Donation quilt

February finish and January donation quilt

The blocks finish 12″ square, which means that with a 2″ border the quilt comes out 40″ x 40″ as planned. The 9-patch blocks were made using the stack and shuffle method I learned years ago from Karla Alexander’s books.  It’s easy and fun.  To end up with blocks this size, I started with 15″ x 15″ squares of fabric (since they’re cut wonky on purpose it takes a bigger starting square than you might think).

The center block has little inset strips using a technique I modified from one of Judy Niemeyer’s ideas.  To make a quarter inch inset that doesn’t “wobble”, do this:

block tutorial

Block pieces, including yellow insert

Cut a 1″ strip of fabric and lay one edge along the raw edge of the piece where you want a narrow inset. Stitch through both the strip and the quilt piece 1/2″ away from the edge, either by using the 1/2″ mark on your machine’s throat plate or by marking the center of the strip.

Quilt tutorial

The center pieces of the block have been jointed and the insert laid along the side

Fold and press along the seam-line so that you now have 3 raw edges, all lined up.

quilt tutorial

Strips have been added to all sides of the center pieces and pressed along the seam

I don’t usually trim away the extra fabric because I like the stability, but it DOES make for some weighty intersections if you choose not to trim away the bottom 1 or 2 layers.  Then assemble the block as you normally would, using 1/4″ seams.  The strip you added will show up as a 1/4″ inset.

Let me know if you try either of these blocks.  I thought they were fun!


Tessellations! By Jean Larson

As promised, my friend Jean Larson has written a tutorial on tessellation quilts.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  –MJP

Tessellating designs make me happy.  Tweaking those designs is even more fun.   I want to share the joy of starting with a very, very simple design and watching it blossom.  My inspiration comes from this web site:  http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/tess/

Start with a simple gridded block and create a light/dark design.  Here, I’ve started with a 3 x 3 grid.  Then re-color the same block with the lights and darks reversed

.The grid lines are only for design purposes, and each block can be constructed with a single square block with 2 corner triangles attached using any method you prefer.

Here are some design possibilities…Quilt_1A simple “cat head” quilt using only 2 colors.

Different looks can be achieved with variations in the color placement.

Blocks can be inverted and turned for even more quilt designs.

Just imagine all the possibilities with color in these!!!!!

It’s even more complex when you design with a 6×6 grid.  Here are the positive and negative versions of another block.

These blocks can be constructed using half-square triangles integrated with larger fabric pieces.  If these blocks were to finish at 6 inches by 6 inches.  The center column on each block would be a single 3.5 inch wide by 6.5 in long piece of fabric.  The side strips would include some half-square triangles.

A couple of the quilts that can be made:

Looks like spools, some gray, some white, all standing up.  Same quilt with alternate blocks turned a quarter turn yields a different  clearly recognizable tessellation.  Reminds me of tessellating doggie rawhide chews ;-)

Now back to the spool quilt from above.  The “thread” areas have been colored in.  No blocks have been turned.

Jean spool 5This shows the power of color and value (lightness and darkness).   The colored part, being next to the gray and being closer in value to the gray, unites those parts of the block, and gives the illusion that we have all gray spools on a white background, some standing up, some lying down.

I hope these examples can be the seeds to sprout some design experimentation with tessellating shapes.

  1. Start with 2 square grids
  2. Create a positive design, and its negative design
  3. Alternate them in a quilt layout
  4. PLAY!
  5. And play more with color!

Happy Quilting (and Designing)!!   –Jean Larson











“Found” Designs

I took several pictures on a recent trip to illustrate “patterns and palates” I found along the way–or “designs and color schemes” if that has more meaning (though less alliteration).

The first thing I noticed is that, although I think of the Southwestern U.S. in terms of bright colors–turquoise, orange, bright blue–it really is pretty monochromatic, at least in midwinter.  And a lot of the man-made colors that started out vibrant have bleached considerably in the bright sunlight.  So here are a few patterns and color schemes I found interesting. Whether they ever make it into quilts remains to be seen!

These patterns found around the hotel definitely have some possibilities for both piecing and quilting.  And they have so much grey they must be modern ;-)

These color schemes were more what I was expecting. But the colors were found more in man-made things than in nature except for the bright sky.  In that picture of the blue building, that IS the sky you see in the top right corner!

There were some beautiful patterns in nature.  The colors were lovely, but were subtle rather than bright except for that SKY!

I especially liked the strips of waterproof nylon cloth, all finished like flags, that were used to screen a construction site we passed.

Lots of great things to see, and this was just a single walk!

What have you seen lately?


A Blunt Question to Ponder


Today I’m “re-blogging” a post by friend Melanie because I think it’s relevant not just to quilters but to anyone with a hobby–which is most of us.  So click through to her site and see what you think.

Originally posted on Catbird Quilt Studio:

Do you have a plan for your stash? Not for while you’re using it, but for when you are not?

I’ve heard the old joke, “She who dies with the mosts stash wins!” But it’s not really true, is it? At some point, all of us will be done quilting, whether that comes because of a loss of interest or ability, or due to death. Be prepared for that day.

Will your family look hopelessly at your shelves, cupboards, closets, bins, and tubs, full of fabric and kits and unquilted tops, wondering what to do with it all? I have read too many stories of people whose stashes were discarded because family members were not interested and had no idea of the value. Sewing machines are expensive. Here again, family members may have no idea of value. Would you like your $1,000 sewing machine sold for $75? It might be able…

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Meet Lee Monroe of May Chappell Patterns

Images for this post are the property of Lee Chappell Monroe, May Chappell and used with permission.

Lee Monroe

Lee Chappell Monroe

Lee is a North Carolina quilter, designer, and teacher who came to my attention through her blog, which is titled May Chappell. Like a lot of other people, I initially thought May Chappell must be her name. Here’s her explanation of where the name of the blog actually came from:

Why May Chappell? There are always loads of questions about why the company is May Chappell and not Lee Chappell Monroe. You can read all about it here. The short version is that it is named for an awesome lady, my great grandmother.
Lee designs quilt patterns and sells them through quilt shops.  She went to quilt market for the first time last year, hoping to give her patterns a wider audience.  In addition to quilts, she designs pouches and “loves all things fabric”.  Like many modern quilt designers, she is trained as a graphic artist.  Here’s one of her quilt patterns:

May Chappell quilt

All Strung Up, a May Chappell design

And here are a few questions Lee was kind enough to answer for me, as well as pictures of more of her patterns:
tote bag pattern

Here’s a tote bag Lee designed to use mini-charm squares

Q:  Where do you think the quilting field is going?

A: This is a toughie. I usually see trends in the questions that I get from my students. I’ve had a lot of students lately that are self taught and they’re interested in learning more about precision. I’m a big believer that there is more than one right way to do things in quilting, but there sure are some wrong ways!
Q: What about your personal quilting future?
A: I have new patterns coming for Spring Market that I’m really excited about. I’m a terrible secret keeper so I usually want to put out the design right as I draw it!
Q: I know you took your patterns to quilt market, but where could I buy them?  I don’t see them on your website [Note: They ARE on her website, at least now.  Silly me ;-) ]

Eye Candy quilt

Eye Candy, one of Lee’s quilt patterns

Designer star quilt

Lee’s Designer Star Quilt. If you go to her website/shop you can see a picture of the whole thing.

A:  I love designing patterns and the printed patterns are available through local quilt shops. Because I also teach quilting at local shops, I’m a huge advocate for supporting local! Quilt shops are a huge resource for the sewing and quilting community. If your shop doesn’t have my patterns, they’re available through the distributors. You can also purchase PDF patterns through my website here. I teach all over North Carolina and I’m starting to expand out across the country. Teaching is my favorite part of my job; I’m passionate about quilting and I love sharing that. You can see my teaching schedule on my website, too.

Q: Show us something pretty you’ve made lately!
A: This is a table runner I made for my brother using my Blue Ridge pattern.
table runner quilt

Table runner by Lee Monroe

This post ran longer than usual, but that’s because I just HAD to explain a little about why Lee Monroe has a blog named May Chappell :-)

A Toddler Quilt and a “Finish”

One of the things I like about Aunt Marti’s UFO challenge is that I get to decide what constitutes a “finish”.  With that in mind, my January “finish” consisted of sending my Charley Harper quilt off to the longarm quilter.  Lest you think that just means handing it over, I had to select backing and make binding so that when it comes back I’ll be all ready to bind it.  So here it is ready to go:

Turning Twenty Again, Charley Harper fabric

Binding is ready for when the Charley Harper quilt is returned to me

I started making the binding when I finish the quilt top for two reasons:  I already have the fabric right there, so it saves time later.  And I don’t accidentally use that binding fabric for something else before the quilt is ready for it ;-)

My other finish this week (and this one is really, really finished) is a toddler quilt.  It is 42″ x 52″ and is backed with Minkee Dot fabric.  It has no batting. (Yeah, I know, that means it’s “not a quilt”.  Right.)  This makes it both soft and light, so a toddler can carry it around with him.  He can use it to make a fort, take a nap, have a picnic, or whatever else.  Here it is, from start to finish:

Toddler Quilt

Toddler Quilt

I think this simple design would be good for a donation quilt, as well.  It was quick and easy to make, and I think it shows the cute fabric to advantage.

2015 UFO Challenge

Last year I participated in Aunt Marti’s UFO (Unfinished Object) challenge over at 52 Quilts and found it helpful. I did NOT succeed in finishing a UFO every month, but there were several months when I wouldn’t have gotten even one done if it weren’t for the challenge.
So this year I’m not only taking the challenge, I’m (gasp!) publishing my list here so it’s public! And I’ll post about the finishes as I do them. Here’s the list, some of it in picture form:  If you hover over the picture you can see its caption.



There are two more to be done, but no pictures yet:

11.  Rework the Under the Sea top

12.  Quilt a practice piece I made for a magazine project.

Aunt Marti’s UFO challenge goes like this:  You gather up 12 of your (many) UFOs and number them. Then, each month Aunt Marti posts the number of the UFO to be done for that month.  (By the way, the project for January is #2).

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. If you want to play along, here’s the link to the “rules” at Aunt Marti’s site.

Hope you have a good week at get at least one UFO finished even if you aren’t doing the challenge!

First Finish

Metro Hoops Quilt

Metro Hoops quilt made by Allison at Cluck, Cluck, Sew

Inspired by the beautiful Metro Hoops quilt Allison showed over at Cluck, Cluck, Sew, I mentioned the Quick Curve Ruler as something I wanted to try in a recent post.  Here’s a picture of her quilt so you can see what inspired me.

My clever son-in-law gave me the ruler for Christmas, and as soon as we got home I tried it out.  As always, I learned a lot. Certainly the Metro Hoops pattern is a nice modern alternative to the traditional wedding ring quilt.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the fudge factor required to make it work.

modern quilt block

My first Metro Hoops block

It made a really cute block, but then my inner perfectionist kicked in :(   The block required a lot of “easing in” along the seams to make the points match up. *(You can skip to the reason why at the end of this post, if you like.)

Luckily, I almost never cut out a new quilt completely before making a test block.  After making one block for this quilt, I decided 5 hoop blocks was my limit.  The blocks really are quicker and easier to make than they look, so I got the 5 done in a few hours. They are nice big blocks (finish 15″) so I had a good start on a baby quilt.

I drew an approximation of the block with my EQ7 program and came up with this layout:

My EQ7 layout for the Metro Hoops blocks

My EQ7 layout for the Metro Hoops blocks

Another half day to make the alternate blocks, then a day to put it together, make a back, and quilt it–and voila!  The first finish of 2015!Metrol Hoops baby quilt

About the Quick Curve ruler:  the women who designed it have lots of cute quilt patterns on their site, so it’s worth checking out.

*BUT, if I make metro hoops again, I’ll modify the directions to make it more to my liking.  I think the basic issue here is that the single curve provided by this ruler is used for both the concave and convex curves in the quilt.  That means there is no seam allowance to make the curves match nicely.  The project is “saved” by the fact that the curve is less than a quarter circle, so it’s possible to fudge the sewing to make it go together without adding seam allowances.  It does work, but don’t think it’s going to fit the way pieces cut from most curved templates do.  If you decide to do it, be forewarned to relax and get rid of the inner perfectionist!

Quick Curve Ruler quilt

Happy new year!


Year End Review

For better or worse, I published goals at the beginning of the year, so here’s the review of my progress:
I met all the goals! (Does that mean I didn’t set them high enough?) I retreated with my buddies THREE times instead of just two! I attended 3 big national shows as well as 2 local ones (all were excellent). I took a couple of fun and useful classes, one of which I still need to write up here so you’ll know about it. I submitted several quilts to shows/contests and 3 were accepted. The one I donated to the Quilt Alliance even won something, and sold for $300 to benefit the Quilt Alliance!  And I had lots of fun, which was really the point of it all.

Here are pictures of a few of my projects from the second half of the year. The pix of projects from the first half of the year are in this post.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!  It took about 2 years, but it’s now DONE.

quilt photo

Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds, done for the Michael Miller spring challenge

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September.  This was my “practice piece” for the MQU quilt shown above.

Improvisational quilt

Donation quilt for Ronald McDonald House.  I’m going to work more on using up orphan blocks next year.

And, despite the risk, here’s what I plan for the coming year:

1.  I’ll retreat with my buddies at least twice, probably 3 times again!

2.  I’ll attend one big national quilt show, maybe two.  I’ll attend at least one local show.

3.  I will limit much more strictly the shows and challenges I enter.  It takes too much time and effort that could be spent on making what I want to make :-)

4.  I’ll continue to make donation quilts, including one for the Quilt Alliance.  Please consider making one for the Quilt Alliance yourself.  You can read about their mission here.  Click on “2015 Quilt Contest” to learn about this year’s challenge.

5.  I’ll continue my blog, and I think I’ll put up instructions for a few easy donation quilts just in case somebody is looking for ideas.

What’s coming up for you?