Friday, October 24, 2014

Not landing at IAH? At least you found BQF at QHH

Welcome to another of my entries in Blogger's Quilt Festival, the answer to the "I decided to stay home from Market and now I'm a little bit sad about it" doldrums. Thank you to Amy's Creative Side for always giving those of us who stayed home a reason to live.

Fall 2014 BQF Button
Click to head on over to the Festival. But maybe finish reading my entry first. You're already here and all.
This year I decided to enter the mini category. Who doesn't love mini stuff? Mini chocolate chips are good. Mini Coopers, while not spacious and comfy for a cross country roadtrip, are quite cute. Mini marshmallows are always a fun surprise in the day. Min(n)i(e) Mouse epitomizes womanly mousedom. Mini quilts can't be bad either.

I don't tend to make true mini quilts, but this week I actually was all hopped up to make a new sample and shape of quilt for my "Mod-ified Trees" pattern, which itself is just a table runner and therefore pretty mini itself. A fellow designer suggested a one-tree version based on comments she was getting in her booth, so armed with a challenge and knowing a one-tree version would take me two hours tops, I whipped one up. And I love it enough to show it off. The whole thing measures 16" x 16", so well under the 80" total mini limit.

Mod-ified Trees 2.0
I love a Christmas quilt that is anything but red and green. Pink and teal and a touch of lime? That works for me, and always reminds me of Charlie Brown wandering the tree lot being all disgusted by the pink aluminum trees. Deal with it, Chuck. I like this tree.

The quilt is made by first sandwiching the background with backing and batting and "pre-quilting" it, if you will. Or even if you won't. Because like it or not, that's what I do. I quilt the entire background before doing anything else, with the possible exception of eating a cookie or something if I am needing a snack. This time I decided to use two different variegated threads in teals and pinks in a stipple pattern. Next time I'd separate the two threads a little more, but I still like the effect.

"There's always next time" - one of my many mottos.
The tree and border shapes are cut using the Leaves Galore TM "petite" size template by Sue Pelland Designs. I chose some cool fabrics out of my stash and my scrap bins, because you really don't need much for this project. They were fused in place and machine applique threads carefully chosen (read: a pink and a teal
It's just a bit of squiggly wonderment.
were grabbed off the rack because they looked like they had enough thread on the spool to make it around all these shapes without running out) and a few iron-on jewels thrown in between the fronds of the tree for added glitzy fun.

I'd like to make this project sound amazingly artsy, but come on, let's be real. I quilted a background, and I machine appliqued some waves onto it and because I had them in the embellishment closet, I added some sparkle. (Yes. I have an embellishment closet. I feel your jealousy. If it makes you feel better, I found the actual cabinet on the side of the road for free. True story. It was also empty at the time, which was very sad.) That's really about it. I do absolutely adore the self bordering situation I have going on, though, so am willing to pat my own back over that part. I love borders, but hey, one less thing, right?
Here's the thing - a quilt doesn't have to be a project that took you seven years start to finish and is worthy of a special glass case in a museum in order to be considered art. Maybe this is more along the lines of "a cute little piece of art" than "a masterpiece" but I love it, and that is what matters. I hope you enjoyed it, too. If not, well, there are lots more minis in the BQF, so go enjoy!

Thank you so much for stopping by. Happy festival to all!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I don't want to brag, but I'm pretty much a Hot Mess

It's time to admit something: I can be a complete idiot.

Like most creative people, I can often be a tad disorganized. While I abhor general household clutter and regularly admonish Mr QH about saving every piece of mail that comes through the door, piling it all up on a counter to make me completely insane every time I walk by the kitchen peninsula, and regularly take a trash bag to my daughters' rooms while they are at school to toss random crap they won't even notice is gone, I'm actually okay with a certain amount of clutter in the studio. I think most quilters are. Call it "a studio in creative mode." At least that's what I call it. Whatever makes us feel normal.

Unfortunately, my creative mode has gotten a little out of hand this year. Since I have to blame something and obviously the problem couldn't possibly be me, I blame my year of Scrap Squad and the need to always be delving into my scrap bins and throwing them about the room to find the right one and the lack of elves to come along and put the bins back.

In further unfortunate news, this organizational chaos has resulted in a six week search for some photos I know I took, but cannot find, of the three blocks I submitted to Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 10. I'm thrilled that they accepted one of them to be included in the issue, which comes out in just a few weeks. I'm thrilled to be participating again in the blog tour, during which I'll regale you with the process of creating my block which will be included, called "Puddle Jumper."

I can hardly wait. Because like you, when I get my issue, what this block looks like will be revealed for what will feel like the first time. That is because I somehow lost all the photos I had taken of the creation process of all three blocks, and I named them all on a whim, filling out the form moments before I shipped them all off. So this is the only remaining photo of my blocks.

That's helpful.
 So what can we surmise from this photo?

1. Batiks were heavily involved in my creative process.
2. I remembered to sign at least one of the blocks.
3. I like a light background.
4. Folding and stacking blocks makes for a pretentiously artsy and stupid photo.
5. My handwriting really does look a bit like knitting.

What it does not help me surmise is which of these blocks actually made the cut, and WTH the winning block looks like. A block I need to not only recreate since I apparently have no photos of the original, and which I also have to play with in EQ to come up with some more stunning items for my blog post during the tour. 

You may have guessed I am too embarrassed to ask. Here's hoping someone at QM takes pity on me after this post goes viral.

It's pretty much my motto.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop Reaches Baja New Hampshire

Have you heard of this "Around the World Blog Hop" thing? I have no idea how long it has been going on, but basically quilty bloggy people are writing posts answering the same few questions and tagging their friends to do the same. I was tagged by Marie Joerger (Marie's Creative Space) and was told to write a post by 10/6 answering the same questions she did.

Marie did not see my To Do list when giving me that deadline. I'm feeling quite fortunate that I am only two days late and there is a very large part of me writing this post right now just so I can have something to cross off of it today and because a hot cup of tea was calling and I can't just sit around drinking it, I must act like I am also accomplishing something. Brutal honesty - that's me.

So here we go:

1. What are you working on?

Gee, what portion of my To Do list do you want to see? The part where I have swear words encircling the word "Verizon"? The part where I realize I am crazy for having agreed to be the BOM chair for my guild this year? The part where I left my husband's absentee ballot on the kitchen counter for three weeks and missed the cutoff for paper ballots for those living abroad?


Okay, I'll show you the fun stuff.

 I've been part of the Modern Instabee since last spring. While many months have been more of a challenge than necessary due to the bizarre construction methods used in the book (sorry, but wow), September was a particular doozy because I kept thinking I had all the materials I needed and would go to complete a step and didn't have them. Strip piece using low volumes (oh how I loathe that phrase) and some red stripes - easy enough, except if you have no appropriate reds that aren't covered with Santas. Find red, now we're ready to inset the strip pieced part into a circle - actually not that bad when you use This Tutorial from step 12 on, but it would help if you had an actual navy rather than bright blue. Blue procured, now WHERE THE HELL IS MY FREEZER PAPER??? Seriously, this is NOT a hard block to make, and I could have done it in 20 minutes if I had all my supplies. I'm thrilled it is done as of this morning and will be on it's way to the recipient.

Also on the design wall and with a deadline fast approaching: Scrap Squad #5. Never have I enjoyed Halloween or made a Halloween colored quilt, but I am flinging the lid off the box and trying something new. I actually think it is going to be adorable.

Ghosts not included
Can't really show you the designs, now, can I?
I also whipped up a couple of blocks to submit to QM's 100 Blocks Volume 11. If you haven't done so yet, there are a few days left to submit your 12 1/2" block idea.

It is fun when thread loves fabric.
The one on the left. In purple satin. Jesus save me.

And from the department of  "I should have just said No," I'm working frantically to make this Mary Lincoln/Nellie Oleson/Laura Ingalls in her fancy church clothes Halloween costume for my eight year old history geek. Normal children want to be a vampire bride, I had to talk her into this costume rather than Sybil Luddington simply out of hope someone might know who she is in this one.

This is all in addition to the two new designs I am working on plus a new sample of Mod-ified Trees that isn't going to sew itself. So it's been fun.

2. How does my work differ from others?

My design attitude is a lot like my life attitude. I like relaxation, fun, and keeping things real. I don't like labels, boxes, policing (well, okay, in actual life police officers are a good thing, but they don't belong in quilting), pretension, or boring and I am okay with calling it out when I see it (hence my issue with "low volume" - it just sound pretentious to me, and my affinity for quilts made with scraps for more color excitement rather than a single fabric line). My patterns aren't meant for those who want a challenging long term project; they are meant to get you creating, playing, de-stressing, and loving the art of quilting without throwing the pattern against the wall in frustration because you've taken out the same seam twelve times and your points still don't match.

Granted, I'm not the only one with this attitude out there. But I always think we can use some more and I love bringing everyone I can over to the dark side with me.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Because it makes me happy. I don't think there is much more to say than that.

4. What is my creative process?
I often joke with my lecture audiences that it's important to spend some time just rolling around naked in your stash for inspiration. I am definitely one to immerse myself in the fabric, pull out a bunch of it and just see what happens when I start cutting. I CAN use EQ, and I DO use it sometimes, but I find it very limiting when it comes to design. I'd rather start with a pile of fabric and see where it takes me.

I'm supposed to tag a few people, but being the rebel that I am, I'm just going to invite anyone who blogs to join the Around the World Blog Hop. Just tag me as your inspiration and I will be thrilled!

To finish, my awesome new design wall, covered in some of my current projects.

I cannot WAIT to get my new fabric storage shelving!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Design Wall Lust

Most people get all hopped up about spring cleaning. I think we all know by now that I am not most people. I wait until fall. Fall for me has an energy to it that no other season has, and it is in the midst of the crisper air and the smell of pumpkin- or apple-something-or-other baking in the oven that I get all tingly and excited about purging crap from the house. It's the first week of October, so you can bet I'm currently surrounded by piles of said crap, and that at the conclusion of this post, I will be off to the dump. I can barely contain myself just thinking about it.

A small pile of his papers, most of which are junk mail.
This year's purge has become even more successful than usual, as Mr. Quilting Hottie, aka Mr I Will Keep Every Last Piece of Paper, Every Item of Clothing, and Every Random Thing I Pick Up Off the Street Just to Annoy My Wife When I Bring it Home is away. Very away. He's taken a job at NATO headquarters in Brussels for a bit, and while we are missing him terribly, I am also choosing to grasp the opportunity to throw away anything that isn't nailed down and without worth without having to have a family meeting about the pros and cons of throwing out a broken spatula.

That part of our NATO adventure? A little bit delightful, honestly.  

So anyway, part of my cleanout a couple of weeks ago was getting rid of my monstrosity, nightmare, useless after the first few months, and taking up way too much space mid arm quilting machine with table. If you'd like proof as to why I was not a complete moron for giving it away on Craigslist for free, feel free to review this post. And this one.  And this one. And this one.

I'd been dreaming of turning the wall the machine was taking up into a giant design wall for months, as evidenced by my mention of it in at least two of those linked posts, and once the offending nightmare was gone, I had to dream no more. This week I built and installed one 6 feet tall by 8 feet long, and I share my secrets here so that you too can have the giant design wall of your dreams.

How to Become the Envy of Your Friends: Building and Installing a Ginormous and Awesome Design Wall

1. Head to Home Depot or Lowes or wherever they sell giant sheets of foam insulation. Wander the aisles aimlessly looking for a size they don't make (4 x 6, to put next to the one you already have of that size). Explain to the guy who trepidatiously offers help that you are looking to build a giant quilt design wall. Watch his face go blank as he tries to escape from the crazy quilt lady.

2. Glance up as you are about to leave the store, crestfallen that your dreams are about to be shattered, and see the sheets of foam insulation that are 2' x 8', with tongue and groove sides.

3. Do a happy dance because you are brilliant even if the Home Depot guy keeps looking at you like you are weird.

4. Load three sheets into your car. Note: Make sure you do not have any children in the car with you as they'd have to lie down in the backseat or risk head trauma.

5. Listen to the sheets rub against each other and make the most God awful annoying squeaking sounds while you drive. Remind yourself this is going to be a wall your friends will covet for decades and it is all worth it.

6. Head to Joann's or similar and purchase a queen sized batting. It does not have to be expensive batting, just batting.

7. Discover, upon pulling up a mobile coupon on your phone, that Joann's is no longer giving 40% off coupons, but is now down to 30%. Bemoan the days, not so long ago, that the regular coupon discount was 60% and you wondered how they stayed in business, but didn't really care.

So annoying.

8. Debate whether to build wall in living room, outside, or in studio. Decide studio is best as this will be huge and awkward enough without having to move it.

So excited!
9. Stack the sheets and attach them together via the tongue and groove feature. Realize the tongues and grooves are almost useless as they are too shallow, and get the duct tape to stabilize each seam.

You can tell the seams are too floppy without duct tape.
 10. Cover the entire wall with the batting and staple it to the back. My wall is 72" x 96" and the batting I used was 90" x 108", which was just about perfect. (Sorry no photo of this process. I tried so hard, and had such a cute model helping me, but my phone was not behaving.)

11. Locate a bunch of nails, call down your kids to hold it up (bonus! It's light enough for an eight year old to help out!) and smack that puppy onto the wall.

So big it won't fit in one photo!

12. Writhe on the floor in ecstatic joy. Maybe vacuum first.

13. Optional - Skype with husband and show him the wall-o-joy and your evolving studio redo. Act innocent when he asks "Where did the computer table go?" It would only upset him to know you didn't give it a proper sendoff when you listed it on Freecycle.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Setting Another Hottie Afire - Welcome to the Hotseat, Gina Reddin

Gina Reddin,

After a brief summer hiatus, the Hottie Hotseat series continues today with Gina Reddin, Machine Embroidery Designer, Online-Shop Owner, and Quilt Designer.

Name:  Gina Reddin
 Business Name/Title: Splinters & Threads
 Location: Live in TX but you can find me on the net:
 # Years in Business:  13
 Current Quilt project: I'm currently working on digitizing embroidery designs that match fabric from the ADORNit lines.

I had to share her logo because it may be the cutest ever. Click to head to her shop!
I'm particularly excited to introduce Gina today as the "Two for Teal" swap has been heavy with machine embroiderers and is inspiring many quilters to give it a try, so how fun that Gina might be able to provide some cool patterns to some newbies!
If I came to your house unannounced, could you give me a tour of your 
studio, or would it be such a disaster you would make up an excuse as to 
why we couldn’t go in?  
Good luck getting in the door ;)  There is a reason in my signature line it says:  "Remember me not for the condition of my home but by the love contained in its walls."
What was the worst job you ever had? 
When I was in the Navy I worked in transient barracks (much like a hotel).  For 3 months I had to count the sheets in 5 of the (male) barracks to send to the cleaner.  ICK!  Boys can sure be disgusting.
What is your favorite meal to feed your family when you are desperately 
trying to meet a deadline?  
That's what I call "Fender" nights.  Because they have to fend for themselves.

Are you more likely to sing or to dance while quilting?
  Sing.  I love to sing!!  I play the keyboard for our church but like singing best.  I'm not great but can definitely make a joyful noise ;)

 What is the nerdiest thing about you?  I LOVE my computer.  My kids & hubby come to me when they need computer advice.

Favorite places you ever lived  Japan and Hawaii (2 years at each)

Something she didn't tell you - Gina has five kids. I'm always a little bit in awe of women who keep it all together with more than three!

I love that Gina's designs are so bright and fun, and also that she doesn't seem to have just one style. If you need cute, she's got it. If you need sophisticated, she's got it. If you need inspirational or funny, those are there too. I hope you'll head on over to Splinters and Threads and consider trying some machine embroidery, especially if you already own the machine but don't know what to do with it. You know I'm talking to at least a few of you!

Thank you, Gina, for agreeing to be my latest hotseater!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bring on the Crazy

You know how sometimes it takes you just a few days to make a quilt from start to finish? Sure you do. This usually is because you've either lost your mind and agreed to a new project with a ridiculously tight deadline or you've misjudged your own awesomeness but midway through the project that you know is about to be the death of you you get your awesome on instead and decide you are woman, and you will finish it on time if it is the last thing you do. Both scenarios were my life last week.

This is the year of the Scrap Squad crazy, as no doubt you have noticed, but as part of said crazy I am developing a new lecture to discuss the fun I have had turning other designers' brainchildren into a quilt with my own spin, and then using the results of the spin to come up with a completely new pattern inspired by the fun. I'm calling it "Give it a Scrap Slap" as I believe the most striking quilts out there are those that contain a wide variety of tones, values, textures, saturation, and for the love of God, more than one fabric line. You may not agree, and I respect that. However I can't help but hope my future lecture is insightful and scrappy-inspiring and has audiences going home to dig in their scrap bins for just that most perfect shade of hot pink.

I had exactly seven days last week to bring an "inspired by the fun" design to fruition so I could announce and advertise my new lecture at the New England Quilt Museum's "Meet the Teacher" event last Friday. Normally, that would have been challenging enough, but oh no. This time I had to combine my self-imposed crunch to the deadline with the last week that my husband was in the states for possibly up to a year due to a job thing, and as men are wont to do when faced with planning for something so major, he took up some of what might have been my sewing time with an urgent need for me to help him go buy pants. Or search the attic for his college degree. Or whatever. 

It was fun.

In good news, though, we both found him some pants (I drew the line at shoes. If he can't buy his own shoes, he has no business living on his own.) and I finished the baby-sized version of my inspired-by quilt with hours to spare. So you recall my version of the latest Scrap Squad project:

The quilt that almost killed me, but I do love it so.
In creating an "inspired-by" version, I wanted to simplify and modernize the design a little but still include the basic round shapes as they were my favorite part of the quilt. I quickly decided, though, possibly based on my lack of time, to flatten my round shapes by leaving off the top and bottom of the blocks, saving time and creating a little more modern spin. I also knew that the circle "blocks" were ALL I wanted to be inspired by from the original design, as while it was cool to do once, I'm not really a huge fan of fussy blocks with 139 pieces, so the rest was going to fade into the background.

Off I got to work, and it is amazing how much faster these blocks went when I changed them just enough to make little football-y blocks.

Plus look at the cuteness. Fast and fun. It's my thang.
I even fussy cut some of the middles. Admire.
It didn't occur to me until midway through the process that this was the second pink and green quilt I've made in the last few months. My reference to it being my year to pretend to be a Delta Zeta was lost on most of my Facebook community, but shout out to any DZ chicks out there.

I showed a sneak peek of this photo:

This one here
to my friend Kelli and said "one more pink block and I'm done! Woo hoo!" She was all "Um, I think you mean one more pink and two more greens," but I fooled her.
Hee hee. Fooled her.
 I really kind of liked the off-kilter look. Plus it saved me time. I had pants shopping to do, don't you know?

Weirdly enough, not only was this the second pink/green quilt I've made this year, but in both I used light and dark tones of the fabrics to create part of the pattern. See how the green ones go dark/light/dark/light from the middle out and the pinks are light/dark/light/dark? Apparently that is my new thing. 

Simple quilting was all I had time for.

I clearly also didn't have time to make it perfectly straight. Whatevs.
I did decide to jazz up the quilting by changing the thread every five lines from green to pink. I'm just a crazy nut, huh?

I do love fabric.

Attempt at an artsy photo.
 Am I the best, most accurate straight-line quilter ever? Bwah ha ha. But you know what I love? You trim the quilt up after quilting, you cut all those thread tails right off. Bonus!

Always use your ruler in the upside down position.
I bound it all with a lovely hot pink, because everything is happier with hot pink, don't you think?

And voila! Done with seconds to spare. And I am thrilled to say very well received at the museum event, with two bookings of the new lecture already! Woo hoo!

My Vannas are at school, but you get the idea.
Would love to come give a scrap slap (gently, of course) to your guild, too. You know where I am!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mugging for the Camera

Did I hear you say you are sick of hearing about Two for Teal 2014? No? Good. This may well be because you are too polite to tell me, which I appreciate.

I am so very proud of my Two for Tealers (Two-fers? Teal Heads? We really do need a catchy name.) this year. Not only did they help raise $880 for Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, but the group is so cool that they gave me some pretty cool stats to share here, too:

  •  15% of the 88 participants are survivors of some form of cancer. While this is on the one hand a little sobering when you think about how prevalent that means cancer is, it's on the other hand inspiring, so we are going to focus on the other hand.
  • 4 of those survivors are ovarian cancer survivors, ranging from just a year or two to 21 years. I can't love that more. 
  • Over 30 states are represented, from small (Delaware) to big (Texas); from north (Montana) to south (Georgia) and east (Virginia) to west (California). Next year I am shaming the rest into it, starting with Rhode Island and Vermont, the only two New England states not to ante up a participant.
  • 20% of the participants have the name Donna, Diane, Diana, Debra, Charlotte, or Barbara. Which was a big old nightmare when organizing the actual swap, but I made it through and I love every one of them.
But much more exciting than all this is just the insane enthusiasm this group is showing on the Two for Teal FB page, from sharing the joys of already spending their Cherrywood gift codes to a spirited discussion of best mailing procedures for the completed mug rugs. One even decided to show us how cool she is to have painted her toes to match her focus fabric.

I covet Lisa's lack of bunions. Just saying.
 The favorite posts, though, are those photos depicting fabric pulls and completed mug rugs which have been showing up with reckless abandon over the last few days, spinning everyone up into a fervor of joyous sewing merriment.

Time to play Can You Spot the Focus Fabrics? We've got cool modern hexi mug rugs:
Made by Amy Marohn, daughter of Cherrywood founder and our resident famous participant because of it.
  We've got mug rugs with a little extra surprise:
Made by Christine Orlando; pocket a happy afterthought that was loved by all who saw it.
 We've got the cutest sand castle ever:
Made by Camille Vlasak for her beach-loving partner.
 And then there are the inspiring fabric pulls that have us all salivating. Forget the dogs, Pavlov should have used quilters and fabric, don't you think?
Michelle Banton's fabric pull. Yum.

Ruth Wasmuth's delicious choices.

Neva Ansinari-Post's delightful choices make me wish I'd given her the honor of being my partner.
 Didn't get a chance to be part of the fun this year? I'm already working on ways to make next year bigger and better. Be sure to join my EvaPaige Quilt Designs facebook page or newsletter signup so you can stay on top of the latest; I don't want you to miss out!

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