Takeover bid…

We went.  We walked.  We listened.  We ate.  We walked.  We were inspired.  We learned.  We laughed.

We had a really good time at the Quilter’s Take Manhattan, the annual event presented by the Quilt Alliance.

Moda is the Presenting Sponsor and after Mr. Dunn couldn’t attend this year’s event… a couple of us got to go instead.  (And we got to hear some great stories about Mr. Dunn from folks who adore him.  Big surprise, right?)

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I wrote about the event last week but after having gone, it was a bit different experience than I expected.  From what I’d heard and seen online, I thought it would be a little bit more like a quilt show – lots of quilts, vendors, happy quilters, etc.  There is that but the focus isn’t on seeing pretty quilts and buying cool quilty stuff, it’s about so much more.

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Ricky Tims and Victoria Findlay Wolfe in front of one of the Double Wedding Ring Quilts from Victoria’s wonderful book – Double Wedding Ring Quilts: Traditions Made Modern.  (Ricky is so cool he saw the Pope.) (Victoria is so cool, she can rock a jacket made of double-knit polyester from the 1970s.)

Inspiration.  The day started with presentations by Ricky Tims and Victoria Findlay Wolfe who – it turns out – are a whole lot more like the rest of us than you’d guess.  They’re funny and they’re not quite sure how they wound up as quilters… truth be told, it’s the last thing both expected to be doing.  But they’re driven to create and “make stuff”.  Sound familiar?

Both spoke about how being true to yourself is the first, last and middle step to being a better quilter.  “Better”, not in the sense of perfect points and stitches, or winning ribbons but “better” in the sense of finding and creating joy in the doing.

Celebration.  This event was about celebrating quilting and quilters.  Okay, so that sometimes means “stuff” that makes us happy.

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Top left corner – That’s a label from Pat Yamin’s Come Quilt With Me.

Top right corner – Rock. Paper. Scissors.  They’re a wonderful little shop in Montclair, New Jersey.

Lower left corner – the Quilt Basket of Pawling, New York.

Lower right corner – Sunrise Scraps from Handfuls of Scraps by Edyta Sitar.

Preservation.  The Quilt Alliance was created to build a body of knowledge about quilting – not just the how-to but the stories behind quilts.  Every quilt has a story.  Some are short and some rival “War & Peace” in length.  Funny or sad, interesting or not, there is a reason why a quilt was made.  And every one of those stories matters.

The original audio recordings and photographs from the recorded interviews done for the Quilters’ Save Our Stories are archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  While the majority of interviews are done one-on-one, often in someone’s home, the Alliance will often record interviews in a public setting to increase awareness of the pr0gram and encourage others to participate.  At this year’s event, Meg Cox interviewed Edyta Sitar about her glorious quilt, Common Bride.

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(Please forgive the poor lighting – it was a dark auditorium and there were spotlights.)

This is much better.

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There were also quilt stories shared, recorded and preserved for four talented ladies from New York – members of the Riverbend Quilters.

Celebration Part 2.  And a little competition.  Quilt Match Manhattan – an all-in-good-fun design challenge to determine the Quilting Weight Champion of the World.  This is the prize…

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(Just look at Edyta’s determination… )

The three contestants this year were:

  • Edyta Sitar – no wonder she’s eyeing that awesome belt created by Frances Holliday Alford – of Laundry Basket Quilts.
  • Karla Overland of Cherrywood Fabrics – those gorgeous hand-dyed that feel like velvet.
  • Laurie Russman of NeonKitty and a Board Member of the Quilt Alliance.

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What?  You expected “trash-talking”?

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The stage is set.  The fabrics are ready.

We provided 11 half-yard cuts that the three challengers could use.  They didn’t have to use each fabric but these fabrics had to comprise the majority of the finished project.  Challengers could add a fabric to the mix but not knowing what they were getting until a few minutes before the match started… it was hard to know what to bring.

Still.  All three ladies created spectacular projects that “fit” their style.

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Laurie Russman’s project – glued, fused and painted in place.  Laurie is a mixed-media artist so she knew her way around the paint bottle.

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An upside down view of Karla’s project.  By the time she’d finished, she’d included the Pope and the building had the QTM logo.  Karla was probably also the furthest along as her project was glued and fused into place.  That gorgeous royal-purple background is one of her beautiful hand-dyed fabrics.

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Eydta.  To think “someone” picked fabrics thinking they’d be throwing Edyta a heavy-duty “curve ball”.

Voting was done by applause – noise.  There were three judges – two with their backs turned to the audience to enhance the auditory-aspect of the response.  The third judge had a noise-meter.

And the winner was…

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It was a very close contest but Edyta was the noise-meter-documented winner.

The three projects are then sold at “silent auction” as a fundraiser for the Alliance.  We – Lissa and me – wanted it.  Lissa went “big” with the first bid and was outbid.  She bid again and yes, was outbid again.  I was going to place the next bid and that’s when we realized that it was just one person bidding against us – the really nice woman giving us the “evil eye”. It didn’t help that Edyta had announced to the audience that as part of the winning bid, she would take the project home to fuse and quilt it to complete it.

So we let Dee Dee buy the project.  (We cut more fabric and we’ll get Edyta to make us another one.  :::snort:::)

The event concluded Sunday with a presentation by Alex Veronelli of Aurifil Threads at The City Quilter.  I’ll have more on that later but let it suffice to say that if you ever have the opportunity to attend an Aurifil presentation – run, don’t walk!  Go!  It was fascinating, educational and entertaining.  Seriously – you’ll have a much greater appreciation for thread.

As for the Pope… while he was in New York City, he couldn’t break away from his busy schedule to attend the events.  But he sent his regards.

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That’s Amy Milne, the Executive Director of the Quilt Alliance.  A huge, huge thank you to Amy, and to Debby Josephs, the Office Manager, who arranged everything for us in New York, for making this such a terrific event.

I am crossing my fingers that I get to go again because I love the stories of quilts and quilters.

And New York City in September… I love that part too.

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Two men and two women…

Do you ever see those titles and think “where is she going with this?”

I do!

I hope it all makes sense by the end.

When the idea for doing a blog post about men who make quilts came up, the final touches were being put on Luke Haynes’ (Man No. 1.) debut collection for Moda.  Having recently pestered my boss with questions about his new hobby, I decided to pester the newest member of the Moda family with the same “men in quilting” questions.

This is Luke.

Luke Haynes

(FYI – these pictures were shamelessly borrowed from his website and blog.)

What is it about making quilts that appeals to you – working with fiber?

I love the collision between utility and aesthetic.  I come from an architecture background and really appreciate the conversation that comes from a functional object and projects based in material manipulation, though in this case, I mean fabric rather than concrete.  I love that at the end of a quilt project, I’m left with something that has a use rooted in the human experience.  I also love the history of art and the concepts that come with sculpture, and the precedence of cerebral object making.Luke Haynes 1

I can see that the basic structure of a quilt would be somewhat related to architecture but I’m curious – why fabric?

Fabric is a material that I can control from start to finish, whereas with concrete or steel, I need an entire team and a budget with several more decimal points to try my ideas.  The rest is the same, it’s layering and human scale.

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Most famous artists are men but not as many men make quilts or do fiber arts.  Why don’t more men – and male artists – make quilts?

Quilts came historically out of the domestic side of the home.  Women who weren’t allowed to do manual labor or hold public jobs worked on quilts as a means of employment or as social meetings, so historically quilts were the work of women.  Whereas painting was the opposite, it was a job held by men and learned by men so there will be more male painters and more women quilters.  There’s also a lot of conversation in the values implicit in the objects that relate to the workplace and the avocation of creating quilts versus creating art.

What is it about making quilts that appeals to you – as opposed to other “art forms” or designing buildings?

I can do the entire project myself from the basic materials.  I like to experiment solo and to experience my successes and failures before I turn my works to public scrutiny.  Also, the making of quilts is out of fabrics which I personally enjoy using since I start with a material with a history and a life of its own prior to adding it to my pieces.

If you went to a show where every style of quilt was represented, which style would draw your attention the most?  E.g., Modern, heavily pieced, applique, etc.

I love the quilts that take the understood and push the boundaries.  I love each kind of work but I’m especially drawn to those that push the usage of material or imagery.

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One of the biggest challenges for every quilter is finding time to sew.  How do you find the time?

I work a lot.  I have a team that helps me create the pieces that I can use in my work, and yet there is still not enough time.  I struggle with this all the time.  It is my job to be constantly better than myself so that once my time of creation catches up to my designing, I am ready to create something better than before.  

There will be more coming from and about Luke Haynes in the next couple of months but if you’re curious, you might find these interesting:

The other thing I’d like to share today is from Mr. Dunn.  (Man No. 2.)

Quilts hang throughout the offices in Dallas, many are antiques from Mr. Dunn’s personal collection.  The styles are varied, as is the quality and condition, and they weren’t acquired because they were examples of exceptional museum-quality quilts.  Rather, they were bought because he liked them.  So I had asked him the same question I asked Luke – what sort of quilt draws your attention?

 

I have collected quilts for many years and I have what I would consider to be an eclectic collection that includes antique, modern, and art quilts.  My favorites today are art quilts, they’re the ones hanging in my home.  I have been to many quilt exhibits around the world and modern and art quilts have always captured my attention the most.  I recently added quilts by Noriko Endo and Genevieve Attinger to my collection.

Of course I had to look up both women to see their work.

Noriko Endo is an award-winning Japanese Master quilter who created a quilting technique called “Confetti Naturescapes” that involves layering “colorful bits of fabric on batting, adding a covering of tulle, and then machine-quilting the entire piece.”  She is inspired by nature and her quilts have the look of Impressionist paintings.

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Cherry Blossoms.

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A close-up of the Noriko Endo’s Confetti Naturescape technique.

Genevieve Attinger is a French fiber artist with a background in agricultural engineering.  She describes her work as “a mixture between expression and form using fabrics – handling and motion-machine drawing; I work very freely with my sewing machine using it as a pencil; the use of colour is important when drawing with threads, but the handling of fabrics to create my quilts is essential, it is a very sensual work. Bending, folding textiles, pulling threads, provide tactile sensations and approach the sculpture.”

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La Rumeur – 2012.

This quilt has been shown around the world, including at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England.  It is currently part of the Through Our Hands exhibition.

Formed in 2012, Through Our Hands provides a showcase for artists working in a variety of media, primarily stitched textiles including quiltmaking and embroidery, and also drawing, painting and print. The selected artists are among the foremost in their respective fields and their work demonstrates originality and quality both in execution and design.

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Two men.  Two women.  All four love quilts.  All four are quiltmakers.

One just got a little bit later start.

Happy Friday!

 

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The Sartorial Splendor of Moda’s President

dp_howard-marcusThis year marks Moda’s 40th anniversary and Mark Dunn, president of Moda Fabrics and United Notions, has been at the helm of the company since its very beginning in 1975. Though much has changed in the decades since, there’s been one thing that’s held constant—Mark’s love of fashion.

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You may remember that when I asked Sandy Gervais what she remembered about being asked to design fabric at her first Quilt Market, it was Mark’s wardrobe that stuck in her memory: ““…I was so enamored of Mark’s clothing. He had on a linen sport coat with a black Aztec print shirt and black linen pants. It was rare to notice what a man had on in those days.”

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Brian Dunn and Mark Dunn

Marianne Fons of Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting describes him as snappy dresser.“I look forward to Market time to see what cool ensembles Mark might be sporting,” says Marianne. “I remember in particular a pair of awesome black-and-white spectator shoes he wore with a black-and-white outfit.”

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Jamie Chupik, Mark Dunn, Holly Hickman, and Steve Morris

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Karey Bresnahan and Mark Dunn

Cheryl Freydberg, Moda’s vice president of design and development, says: “Before I came here, Mark had a reputation for being THE most flamboyant dresser in the industry. He had a suit with painted flames and shoes to match. [Sadly, we have no photos of that.] Everyone would wait to go to these shows to see what Mark Dunn was wearing. To some extent they still do, but now he’s into Armani and Gaultier.”HMD-6

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Lissa Alexander says the first time she came to Moda, Mark was dressed in fatigues and wearing cowboy boots with spurs on the back.

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Jen Kingwell and Mark Dunn

While Mark admits that he loves clothes and probably spends too much money on them, it makes perfect sense that the president of a fabric company would appreciate elegant ensembles stitched from fine fabrics. And we’re all grateful. Not only does his keen eye mean that he cares about high quality textiles and designs, but it gives us all something to look forward to. What will Mark be wearing next month at Quilt Market? Stay tuned—we’ll share it with you here!

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Gender neutral…

Today is about a special event, a passion, a new hobby and men.

The special event is Quilters Take Manhattan – the annual event held in New York City by the Quilt Alliance.  Established in 1993 to centralize information about quilts and quiltmaking, Shelly Zegart and Eunice Ray of The Kentucky Quilt Project, and Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant, corporate officers of Quilts, Inc. and founders of the non-profit Texas Quilt Search, established the Quilt Alliance with the mission of documenting, preserving and sharing the history of American quilts and quiltmakers.  (Read the history of the Alliance here.)

The Quilters Take Manhattan event is a relatively new thing – this is the fifth year it’s been held.

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The various events and happenings sound like a lot of fun – Pope Francis will be there!  (Okay, maybe not at the quilting event but that’s only because the events he really wanted to attend were sold out.)

(And yes, Pope Francis will be in New York City the weekend of Quilters Take Manhattan.)

Moda/United Notions is a long-time sponsor of the Alliance because of Mark Dunn’s passion for documenting history, particularly the history of quilts and quilters.

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One of the highlights of last year’s event was a presentation featuring some of Mr. Dunn’s antique quilts, a few of which have been reproduced as Collection for a Cause quilts.

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That’s Mr. Dunn on the left, speaking with Amy Butler before the attendees arrived and the fun started.

One of the missions of the Quilt Alliance is creating a body of information about quilt-making by capturing the voices and stories of quiltmakers for the Quilter’s S.O.S. – Save Our Stories.  A highlight of the event is the recording of an interview with a notable, acclaimed quilter.  This Saturday, Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts will be interviewed by Meg Cox, a journalist and author, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Quilt Alliance.

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Seabreeze by Edyta Sitar – using her upcoming (and awesome) Silver Lining Shirtings.

The keynote speaker this year is Ricky Tims

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(Collage brazenly borrowed from Mr. Tims.)

That got me thinking about men in the “quilting industry”.

At first, it doesn’t seem like there are a lot.  But just a minute into thinking about it, I’d come up with several names.  Two of my favorite quilt books right now are by men who are well-known quilt collectors – New York Beauty by Bill Volkening and Unconventional & Unexpected by Roderick Kiracofe,

Then I thought of Jeffrey Gutcheon of Gutcheon Patchworks.  He was a “famous quilter” when I first started quilting in the early 1980s and while I did once own the Perfect Patchwork Primer, I remember the name primarily because of his fabric – called American Classic.  It was cool and different and amazing – definitely not my grandma’s calico.

And there’s Michael James – a renowned artist, quilter, author and teacher.

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Michael James’ Rhythm Color Spanish Dance.

And I hadn’t even thought of “current quilters”.  So I started making a list of all the male quilters I could think of.  In no particular order…

While looking for the links of the men on my list, I found a better list compiled by Raymond K. Houston –  Nacho Grandma Quilts,  Raymond lists more than 117 male quilters.  I also learned that AQS had published a book in 2010 – Men and the Art of Quiltmaking by Joe Cunningham – featuring the work of thirty men.

I could only think of seventeen.  (I really have to get out more.)

If you’re wondering where this is all going… at the United Notions Open House last month, Mr. Dunn talked about his new hobby – he’s started quilting.

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So of  course I had to ask for more details… specifics.

After 40 years in business, I have recently taken an interest in quilting and find it to be relaxing and therapeutic.  I had someone sit down with me and teach me how to operate a sewing machine.  For a man, that’s the fun of it, learning to operate the machinery.  Then how to piece the fabric together becomes the challenge.  But once I pieced together some pre-cut mini charms I was hooked.  I feel men would enjoy quilting because it is challenging, relaxing, and fun.  I appreciate the challenge of the geometry and the art of the craft.

I was recently at the National Quilt Museum and they had a class that included both male and female students.  About 30% of the classroom was men and they were all enjoying it.  Perhaps there are more men out there that want to quilt, but we aren’t catering to them.  Educating new quilters and teaching greater skills to experienced quilters will ultimately lead to a stronger, more viable and diverse quilting community.

(I admit it, I’m wondering how fast he sews… there is a similarity between the foot-pedal of a sewing machine and the gas-pedal of a car.)

I also wanted to ask what he thought about the stereotype of quilting being a “woman’s interest” or woman’s craft.  While there are more men in quilting, the quilting population and the quilting population are still a little skewed.

So I asked – most famous artists are men but not many men make quilts or do fiber arts.  Why don’t more men – and male artists – make quilts?

I believe that quilting is perceived as a woman’s craft so therefore men typically stay out of creating quilts.  Although I do feel that this stereotype is changing with the inclusion of more male artists in our industry.

And because there isn’t a single quilter – male or female – who ever has enough time to sew…

Finding time to sew is like any other hobby – if it interests you, you will make the time.  Moda’s Marketing Manager raised five children, worked a full-time job, and still found time to be a prolific quilter.  Perhaps it was the therapy she needed to handle all of that responsibility.

(Or if could just be that ModaLissa has super-powers.)

That’s it for today.  I’ll be back Friday with a little bit more from the y-side of quilting.

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Electric needles…

“You are not machine quilting.  It’s hand-quilting with an electric needle.”  Harriet Hargrave

I’m here today to chat about a new book – Christa Watson‘s Machine Quilting With Style.  But a little history is in order.

Harriet wrote that as the opening line of her landmark book, Heirloom Machine Quilting, first published in 1987.  If you weren’t quilting back then, it’s hard to describe the extent to which it changed how quilters viewed machine-quilted quilts.  While it took a little longer for some quilters to come around, without Harriet, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today.

Through all the books I’ve read on the subject in the years since, it’s notable how many acclaimed machine-quilters cite Harriet’s book – or one of its many editions – as their starting point.

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I was already machine-quilting when this book came out but it helped.  (Though where was Harriet when I needed her to tell me not to baste a quilt on a shag carpet?)

With bigger quilts, starting a business and the invention of long-arm quilt machines, I wasn’t doing as much quilting.  I would occasionally quilt a small project or two… usually just enough to be reminded that this wasn’t exactly like riding a bike, that regular practice was – is – a necessary thing.

Flash forward to today.  I find myself doing a lot more machine-quilting with my small projects.

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Most of what I quilt is straight line – sometimes with a wavy stitch.  I like straight-line quilting – especially what is often called “organic wavy lines”.  I’m not really big on marking lines so I mark my first line – usually with a Hera marker, chalk or masking tape – and then use my presser-foot as a guide.  If it’s not perfectly accurate… whatever.

So when Christa’s new book came across my desk, I was excited to read it.  I was familiar with Christa’s terrific quilts and her machine-quilting from Instagram and her blog, and whenever someone is that good, I know there is plenty to learn.  Even if it’s something small – like finding out that we like the same kind of Aurifil 50 wt. thread – it gives me confidence that I’m heading in the right direction.

The book is divided into four sections:

Introduction & You Can Be The Quilter.  After a short introduction from Christa, the second chapter is a short overview on batting, thread, pressing, feeding the quilt through the machine and other things that are important to know before you actually start quilting.  What I like best is that Christa takes the approach of “this is what works for me” – and “this is why I think this will work for you”.  I was thrilled that she doesn’t roll or fold the quilt neatly while stitching, preferring to “scrunch and smoosh” it out of the way as needed.  (Me too.)

Finishing Touches.  This is at the end of the book but I put it here because the middle two sections are the most important – and the most fun.  The subjects covered in this last section are piecing quilt backs, layering the “quilt sandwich” and bindings.

Walking Foot Wonders.  There are seven wonderfully original quilt projects in this section, each quilted with a wonderfully original quilt design that is done with a walking foot.

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This is Square In A Square and this is the terrific design Christa used for the quilting.

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(Both photographs of Square In A Square are the work of Brent Kane.)

Throughout the book, there are boxes with tips – Line Guides, Avoid Quilting On Empty, Triangle Tip Placement and Bobbin Along.  The tips are for both piecing and quilting – and they’re placed to be relevant to the project and technique used in that particular quilt project.

Free-Motion Favorites. The five quilts in this section build on the skills learned in the first section – or you can jump right into free-motion since Christa’s instructions are so good.  There are ten different free-motion quilt motifs presented, starting with basic stippling – which I’ve always found to be much harder than it looks – and moving into waves, pebbles and loops.

So do you need this book?  Even if you’re a machine-quilting dynamo, I’d bet there is something in this book that you don’t know.  It’s got that much terrific information – and twelve really good quilt projects.  If you’re like me and you’re looking to pick up a few tips to improve your skills, then yes, I think Christa’s book is a worthy addition to your library.

Trust me – it’s a really good book.  (That’s why I’m keeping the copy I have!)

Since this is a blog hop, there are other “stops” to hop to – Christa’s got the complete schedule listed on her blog.

A hop without a giveaway isn’t any fun at all so we’ve got you covered there too.

Just leave a comment by midnight on Sunday – September 20th –  telling us if you do any machine quilting – and if you do, what’s the biggest project you quilted? (My biggest machine-quilting project was 88″ x 88″.  Never again.  Just saying.)

If you don’t machine-quilt, that’s okay too.  Maybe you’d like to learn.

Someone will win a copy of Christa’s book, Machine Quilting with Style, and a Fat Quarter Bundle of Basic Mixologie by Studio M.  (It’s even better in person.)

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There’s enough to make a big quilt!  And after reading Christa’s book, you can quilt it yourself!

While I love quilting my little projects, I’m inspired and energized by the quilts and quilting in the book to consider taking on a bigger project sometime soon.  (After Quilt Market, of course.)

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So go say Hi to Christa – check out the blog schedule, see what you’ve missed and then go have a look-see at her book.  And if you’re on Instagram, be sure to say Hi to Christa at @christaquilts and see the projects at #machinequiltingwithstyle.

And be sure to vote for which quilt you’d like to see Christa make in January!  She’s planning a quilt-along and can’t decide which quilt from the book to make – re-make – so she wants you to decide. You can see each of the quilts on a blog listed on Christa’s blog hop schedule, and then you can vote for your favorite here.

Happy Saturday!

(P.S. Don’t worry if you don’t see your comment appear – it’s there.  Wordpress is being a little persnickety right now.)

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