Thursday, March 18, 2021

Confessions of a Sassy Stripper

 I love doing trunk shows for guilds. It was so sad last year that so many trunk shows and workshops were cancelled due to Covid-19. I've done a couple of virtual trunk shows but I love being back in person with guild members (all masked-up).

This week I got to do an in-person trunk show with the Silver Needles Quilt Guild in Salina, Kansas. It was so good to be back in the guild environment. Upcoming activities, community outreach, show and tell. It was all so familiar and wonderful.

My trunk show was called Confessions of a Sassy Stripper and was all about Jelly Rolls and projects with other strips.

While I was working at Mea Bernina, the owner came to me and asked me about hosting a jelly roll club - we decided to call it the Sassy Strippers. My mission was to come up with project and techniques that used jelly rolls and other types of strips.

Best place to start? The Jelly Roll Race, of course!

Years ago, the jelly roll race was really the thing. Its still a thing! within an hour (more or less), you have a cute quilt top ready for quilting for a baby, charity quilt, or lap quilt.  There is really a lot you can do with the Jelly Race quilt - leave it as is, insert a vertical strip, add appliques, and much more. The one I did was in black and white and I added a vertical strip with some red accents. I love it. It was simple, the colors are striking, and I could make it again and again.


So, we were off - now to dig deeper into Jelly Rolls and JR patterns. 

It used to be the Jelly Rolls were made from a single collection.
Collections tended to be larger and could more easily include 40 unique fabrics. Today, there are usually 2 or 3 of each fabric in a Jelly Roll because collections are smaller. My favorite Jelly Rolls are the ones curated by individual or shops - 40 fabrics that coordinate well, even if they are from different collections. I had the fun task of curating several Jelly Rolls while working at Mea Bernina.  

There are several (ok, millions maybe) patterns that feature Jelly Rolls. My mission was to develop original or locate free patterns that challenged the Stripper Club members. 

One of the early challenges I took on was a bargello quilt. I loved bargellos but never quite got the idea of sewing strips together, cuttings them into substrips, and then UNSEWING. It was the unsewing that really confused me. But after I did it, it was crystal clear. After experimenting with the size of the substrips and whether they go "up" or "down", I developed a pattern that used 3 exactly the same Jelly Rolls in rainbow solids. The resulting quilt I named Iz's Rainbow to pay tribute to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and his version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I teach this technique in one of my workshops - its one of my favorites.

Continuing to look for challenges, I found a block and redrafted it to work with 2.5 inch strips. I call it Stop and Go because it requires the technique of partial seams. For this quilt I used a half Jelly Roll curated from a collection we carried at the time with the addition of some coordinating solids (don't ask, I forget the name of the collection, and its not available any more anyway. So sorry). The addition of a plus sign sashing really makes this quilt unique. 




These are just three of the quilts I've made with Jelly Rolls. I'm still experimenting with different techniques and projects - not just quilts, but bags, baskets, rugs, table runners, and art wall hangings. So many fabrics and projects to do! If you are intrigued by these patterns, you can download them from my Etsy Shop.

Curious about Jelly Rolls? Get one and get to work! It took me 98 minutes to sew and press my Jelly Roll race. 

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!



 


Friday, March 5, 2021

The Curious Quilter is a Camping Quilter!

 I have always brought handwork along whenever I travel. But then I discovered the RV Quilters group on FaceBook and saw pictures and read stories of people piecing and quilting in their RVs. A whole new world opened up for me.

I began to develop this fantasy about driving around the country in an RV, pulling into a quilt shop parking lot, setting up my machine and starting to sew away.  Well, I'm almost there. I've become a Quilting Camper! 

I bought my little TearDrop in July. I named her Trudy and began taking her on trips - for a few days to a week. After the first trip I started bringing my sewing machine and quilting set up. I've fine tuned my set up over the months and now I have something that works well for me.



On most (ALL) of my trips, I look for new local quilt shops to visit. I have found that visiting a quilt shop makes it possible for me to feel like I already have a friend in the area. When I tell the shop ladies that I'm camping near by, it really gives us something to talk about. 

There are so many quilting inspirations to see while camping. Nature, colors, patterns, art, and architecture. In Manatee Springs, the park building had this great Barn Quilt -  Inspiration is all around!

I'm a bit hamstrung by the weather. I used to be a fair-weather snow skier. Now I'm a fair-weather Quilting Camper. No rain, of course. not too windy. Neither too hot nor too cold. But just right!

Most campgrounds have picnic tables. I have a selection of cute, seasonal vinyl tablecloths that I immediately put on the picnic table. First comes my smallest Bernina machine - the B325. Its great for traveling, workshops, and retreats. It has enough of the stitches I use on a regular basis. I always laugh a bit when I look down at my foot pedal and see it sitting on the grass, gravel, or sand. Next comes my cutting mat and ironing mat, usually to the left of my machine. My tool box sits on the bench on my right. I use rulers, my phone, my solar lanterns, and the occasional glass of wine to hold down my fabric and paper pieces that threaten to blow away in the breeze. I even have a little bleacher pillow to sit on to cushion my rear from the hard bench.

Projects? As you probably already know I love to work on lots of projects simultaneously. That method doesn't lend itself to camping where space is usually limited. But I get bored fairly easily when working on one project.  So, how to provide diversity of projects while limit the space required for lots of projects? So far, the answer to my dilemma is a complex Quiltworx project  - in this case Dinner Plate Dahlia. It's got lots of varied shapes, fabrics, and techniques to keep me on my toes. And it all fits into one double Art Bin tote. 

So my set up works well, but I don't usually sew for more than a few hours at a time. I have knitting and hand work along if the weather is iffy, or after dark (in my tent by lantern light).

I love being a Quilting Camper! Campfires, sight seeing, visiting quilt shops, and sewing. It doesn't get much better than this.

Curious about campsite quilting? Come join me for a day or 2. Either locally or on one of my adventures further away. It's so fun!




Sunday, January 24, 2021

Color and Form Converge in Convergence

 As many of you know, Ricky Tims is one of my favorite humans and quilt makers. One of my favorite Ricky quilt designs is Convergence. I made my first Convergence quilt back probably about 8 years ago (I really need to be better about my quilt documentation). It was so fun to see the magic happen when those strips came together. That magic happens every time! 



Last weekend I taught Convergence at Quilting Bits and Pieces in Eudora. The class was really fun and all the students made magic with their fabric choices.





Of course I made another Convergence for class sample. 
Totally difference fabric vibes. Different magic.



During class, I used a third set of fabrics as a demonstration. These were Kaffe fabrics I found in my stash. Since you only need a FQ of each fabric, it was easy to find 4 Kaffe Collective fabrics that worked well together.

The Convergence Quilt is really simple to make. Without giving away all of Ricky's secrets (You really should get this book!), Convergence is made by slicing, converging,  and resewing. Twice. The process is simple and what gives each one a unique look is: 1. fabric choices, and 2. border creativity.

My first Convergence featured simple stripes in the borders. Number 3 (with the blue, green, and purple) is going to have some of the blue butterfly print cut on the diagonal with a complementing (maybe the blue) fabric. Sort of like this one I found on Pinterest.

I could make a million of these. And I just might!

Curious about Convergence? Check out Ricky's Convergence book. You'll love it.







 

Friday, January 15, 2021


This BOM, the first by Quiltworx, is Candy Coated Snowflakes. And its really KEWWWWELLLL!

I started this lovely BOM in 2019 or maybe the beginning of 2020. I'm a little  confused because I started making it in 2019 for Mea Bernina in bright batiks, and then started it again in my colorway in 2020. In any case, I have finished the seventh snowflake (I think my favorite) so I can see the end in sight - except for about a million flying geese.


This has been a really fun project, filled with fabrics I don't normally use like sparkly metallics, white tone on tone, and light grey geometrics. I guess mine don't have candy - I wanted them to look more like Snowflakes.  I'm using a rich dark blue from Stof Fabrics for the background. And I added some of the blue background into the snowflake so they look more like flakes than inset circles.


Like all (most?) of the Quiltworx patterns, Candy Coated Snowflake is foundation paper pieced.  The snowflakes look like they are inset circles, but Judy and company (her family) cleverly designed the snowflakes with 6 templates that attach to the 6 flake points, so it all goes together so easy. Then a small-ish circle is appliqued to the center. My seventh snowflake doesn't have the center circle yet. What color should I use? Opinions?


So the next time this comes up on my project rotation, in about a month, I'll start the flying geese border. Fun, Fun, Fun!

Curious about Candy Coated Snowflake (with or without the candy)?  Check out the Quiltworx website. I hope they do another BOM this year,


 


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Merrily We Quilt A Long

 Ahhhh, The Quilt A Long or QAL as we aficionados like to call it. Lots of teachers and designers lead these QAL (also CAL and KAL for crocheters and knitters), but so far, my favorite is Gudrun Erla of GE Designs.  I've participated in 2 so far and am about to start my third this week.

What is a QAL? The details vary a bit, but basically a group of people work on the same quilt at the same time. Sometimes its on one day, other times it progresses over several weeks. The quilter usually buys the pattern (or already has it) but uses their own fabric (and sometimes buys new fabric for the QAL - any excuse, right?). The last aspect of a QAL is that the designer or leader shares tips and techniques during the process, these days via Facebooks Live or some other virtual platform.

Wait, isn't that kind of like a Block of the Month? When I think about it, it is. But a QAL usually takes place over a much shorter time span, and except for the pattern, there is usually no charge. Somehow they just feel different. Maybe it is the togetherness feeling of participating in an activity together.


My favorite QAL leader is Gudrun Erla, of GE Designs. She is the force behind the Stripology Rulers and Patterns. She is creative, fun, a great mixologist (a special feature of her QAL and Friday live events), and a great pattern designer.


 The Stripology Rulers come in different sizes and have different markings, but their common characteristic are the slots in which your rotary blade sits to cut straight strips. 




The first QAL I participated in was actually a Strip A Long - Strip to Shore. I was really taken with this pattern and I immediately envisioned a sand and water palette. 


The blocks were easy to make and really lent themselves to the contrast between the "sand" and the "water". I only got a few rows worth of blocks done before another interesting QAL piqued my interest. This quilt is on my UFO list and I'm excited to get it done. 





I hadn't finished Strip to Shore when another GE QAL was offered - Hope. My sweet husband Saul was ill and I saw this as a sign to have hope. Unfortunately, no amount of hope could stop the ravages of Parkinson's Disease and he passed away on the 16th of May. The quilting process was and continues to be a solace for me and my healing. 


For Hope I used a couple of Layer Cakes that I already had. I loved the bold colors. They look really cool with this dark charcoal as the center strip.







There are 2 Hope blocks and they go together so that there is a minimal amount of matching needed.  In the FB group - Gundrun's Quilt Crew, other quilters posted all the different layouts possible with these blocks. I'm still not sure which layout I'm going to use, but I'm leaning towards this one. 



Next week on Gundrun's Tipsy Tuesday, we start Wanda, a wonky 9 patch. The feature that attracted me to this quilt is the use of an interesting strip or plaid in the sashing. I don't know yet about my fabric choices. I plan to dig into my stash of Charm packs (5 inch squares) tomorrow. I'm also considering black and white 9 patches with some red thrown in. Who knows? We'll see what the fabric fairies whisper to me.


There's lots to be curious about in Gundrun's world. Check out her Website and FB groups - it'll be well worth it!







Sunday, January 3, 2021

50 Quilts from 50 States - Oklahoma

 I didn't finish as many of my 50/50 quilts as I had planned - life really took a turn in 2020. But I did finish OKIE DOKIE my Oklahoma quilt.

In the past, Oklahoma has been a state I drove through to get somewhere else, or the place I met my kids' Dad for a handoff so that they could visit him in Texas. But as I started to explore different parts of the state I learned there's so much more. I really love the red dirt peaking through the rolling hills. 

Route 66 runs right through the state, so that was the inspiration for the quilt. It was established in 1926 and was one of the original highways in the US Highway system.  I like to imagine a young family driving Route 66 in the 1930's on a little adventure from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

The centerpiece of the quilt is a colorful tea towel I got at an Oklahoma rest stop and information center on Interstate 40 on my way to Arizona a couple of years ago. It lent itself perfectly to a quilt with 30s reproduction fabric. OK, an idea was starting to coalesce.


Traditional quilt blocks, a Route 66 sign, and a sillouette of the End of the Trail statute found in the National Cowboy museum, combined with the Oklahoma tea towel  - this is going to be a cute quilt. 

My friend Patti Pearce makes a lot of quilts with vintage linens, so she was the perfect person to quilt this. She did a fantastic job.

I've written a pattern for OKIE DOKIE and its available in my Etsy Shop. I love that my adventure is continuing state by state. 

Curious about Oklahoma? Check it Out!









Saturday, December 26, 2020

Hello 2021 - Quilting and Camping

 I'm Back!

I haven't written a blog post since August 2019. Holy Cow, what a year its been. 2020 is the year of the awful "P" - Politics, Pandemic, and the Passing of my sweet husband Saul.

Quilting was one of the main activities that helped me survive. It has been my life line - creating, making, and friendship with my quilting buddies (virtually in most cases).

So, now like most of my quilty friends, I shop for fabric on-line, attend quilt guild meetings by Zoom, and have plenty of time to finish up quilts and even start a few new ones.

About this time of year, I usually contemplate the past year and develop some quilting goals for the next year. Actually much of this year is a fog. A fog made up of Saul's illness and temporary entry into an assisted living facility, our separation due to Covid, his passing and my grief and loneliness. I'm beginning to emerge from that fog.  

I guess if I had to sum up 2020 in terms of quilting it would be "Finish It Up" and "What do I do now?" What am I going to do now that I have lost the person I most wanted to show my quilts to.  I also lost my part time teaching job at Mea Bernina, which closed its orange doors for good due to tough economic times experienced by many small businesses during the shutdowns caused by Covid.  The country has lost over 300,000 people as of now and a vaccine has just been released. 

The country and I have lost a lot, but we've also gained some things - time with the people who are in our bubble, a slower pace of life, an appreciation of the things we are missing and may have taken for granted.  Personally I have gained an amount of freedom that I have never had in my life before. So with this new freedom, I've been concentrating on finishing up some quilts.

So now my future is basically open to me and my question is "What do I do now?"

I'm going to take some time to figure that out, but I know it will involve quilting, designing quilts, teaching quilting, taking quilting
workshops and going on retreats. 

I've also experimented with camping in my new little trailer Trudy. My sewing machine comes with me and I sew on picnic tables in campgrounds - so far in Kansas, Indiana, and Texas.

So 2021 will be filled with Quilting and Camping. Specifics to be determined.

Curious about my life without Saul . . .