Starts with an “S”…

One of the things I always find so interesting at a quilt show is the response that people have to what they see.  Spend thirty minutes in front of a single quilt and you’ll see people glance at the quilt, smile briefly and continue walking while others will stand there for a very long time examining every possible detail with a look of awe.  Much of the difference is surely about personal taste, and perhaps some of it is about preference or bias – hand-quilted vs. machine-quilted.

It always makes me think of the nature of inspiration.  More specifically, to the meaning of “inspire” as being “to animate” – to bring life to, to make alive.  Just as it is with any kind of art, something in the work shows a vision… of color, of possibility, of an emotion.


Fabric.  Wool.  Thread.


Stitching.  Sumptuous stitching.  Stunning stitches.  (You knew I was going to get to the “s” thing at some point, right?)

Stitches to Savor.  Sue Spargo.


You had probably already guessed that… you’re sychic.  (Spell-check didn’t like that one either.)

When it comes to Sue Spargo… I might also need to add “stalker”.  Super-fan.  Slavish devotee.


While some of this might be a bit silly, one thing is true – I love Sue Spargo’s work.  LOVE.  (I might have mentioned it before but a workshop with Sue Spargo is on my “stitch-y bucket list.”)

I first heard her name at Quilt Market in 2002.  She was one of the “Missouri girls” doing amazing work with wool, stitching and quilting in the Primitive and Folk Art style – a group that included Jan Patek, Alma Allen, Renee Nanneman, Lyn Hosford and others.  You might even have some of their collaborative books, Fat Quarter Foursome, Simple Stitches and the early Threads titles from Need’Love.  (While she currently resides in Ohio, Sue isn’t originally from Missouri – and no, she’s not Australian.)

I don’t know if it was simply an evolution of style or access to more variety with materials but Sue’s work became so much more vibrantly colorful, mixing a wide variety of fabrics, threads, stitches and motifs.  It seemed like every time I’d see her work at Quilt Market, on blogs – they were the new thing back then, or in magazines, she’d invented some new stitch or thread.


And where did she find that rick-rack?

(Just so you know, almost all of these pictures were found on Pinterest or Sue Spargo’s Instagram.)

So when I learned earlier this year that Martingale would be publishing a purely-eye-candy book of Sue Spargo’s work, I made sure that “folks I know” were aware of my extreme interest in obtaining a copy of the book.

This is it.  Stitches to Savor.


There is also a calendar – Stitches to Savor.  It’s gorgeous.  (It’s in the back in my “Sue Stash” picture.)

This isn’t a project book or a stitch book – there aren’t any diagrams.  What you’ll find are beautiful pictures of stunning stitches – eye-candy for your stitch-y soul.  Inspirational – aspirational.


Some of the quilts are travel journals for the places stitching has taken Sue…


Other pieces are studies in color and texture.


Some might just be showing off… can you believe those knots?


Me?  I’d just have a knotted mess of thread to untangle.

Every time I get a new book, a sweet friend asks “do I need this book?”  While I like to think that everyone is going to want the same books I do, I know that isn’t really true.

Except with this one.

It’s for people like us – people who like playing with needle and thread, who love color, who love variety and texture and whimsy.

People who just like looking at pretty pictures of truly spectacular work.

I know that doesn’t describe just me.

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Market-inspired English Paper Piecing

Carrie’s shared with you so much of the amazing-ness of Quilt Market. It’s a sight for sore eyes (and it creates sore feet, unless you’re like me and refuse to wear anything but comfortable shoes).

Moda celebrating 40 yearsWhile it’s mostly delightful, it also creates frustration. And that’s because, no matter how much we wish it weren’t true, we can’t do it all. Seeing myriad fabrics, gadgets, and techniques, taking in all that color, texture, and design, provides endless inspiration. If only there was a Quilt Market vendor who offered special deals on endless hours of sewing time!

Since I have yet to stumble across that booth at Market, I’ve decided to take a new tack. I’m going to focus on just a couple of new things I want to learn.

Diane Gileland sharing EPP

Author Diane Gilleland sharing EPP

The first is English paper piecing, or EPP as those-in-the-know call it. I realize I’m late to this party but it’s something I’ve been dying to try, and a Schoolhouse presentation further whetted my appetite. Jess Finn of Paper Pieces teamed up with author Diane Gilleland to share Diane’s new book, All Points Patchwork. The book is filled with great tips about paper piecing in general, as well as what she calls “project inspiration”—ideas for ways to use paper piecing that won’t take years to complete. That’s my kind of sewing!

Different shapes that work together are labeled by package color. These (yellow) 1" diamonds will work with the (yellow) 1" hexagons.

Different shapes that work together are labeled by package color. These (yellow) 1″ diamonds will work with the (yellow) 1″ hexagons.

I was also really intrigued by the way she combined different shapes of EPP. And this is where Jess Finn comes in. Paper Pieces offers packs of paper templates in shapes from the tried-and-true hexagons to kites, pentagons, clamshells, and Dresdens. And to make putting them together simple, the pieces that match are packaged in color-coded packages: yellow for 1” pieces, purple for 2” pieces, and so on. It’s ingenious and takes the guesswork out of making sure selected templates work together. That kind of coordination reduces stress for newbies (like me). I also like that the 1″ pieces work with Moda candy—like these new lines by Leila Boutique and April Rosenthal.



If I decide to try fussy cutting, which creates so many fantastic secondary patterns, PaperPieces offers acrylic templates. And since last year I’ve been intrigued by these Kathy Doughty Hex Essentials. But one thing at a time…I’m trying to avoid Market overload!

The back of this EPP is almost as pretty as the front.

The back of Diane’s EPP is almost as pretty as the front.

If you enjoy English paper piecing, I’d love it if you’d share any tips to get me started successfully in the comment section. I need all the help I can get!

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Quilt Market: A Different View


I introduced myself last May, just as I was on my way to spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis. Now I’m prepping to head to Houston, (on a jet plane, just like Moda’s crates, though I’m coming from Iowa).

My visit to Market this time around will be a bit different, as I’m going to be the sole representative of the shop where I work—Home Ec Workshop in Iowa City. Our shop owner had a baby in September, a baby who wasn’t due until Christmas. Little Leola Elizabeth (isn’t that a great name?) weighed in at only a pound and a half, but she’s doing quite well and has gained nearly a pound. Naturally her mom doesn’t want to leave her, so I will be winging my way to Texas alone and looking for goodies for the shop.

Little Leola's tiny hands.

Little Leola’s tiny hands.

I’ve been instructed to take lots of pictures and collect armloads of catalogs, brochures, and samples so that orders can be placed after I return. We live in a university town—the University of Iowa is here—and we have lots of students who come into our shop looking for a little stress relief and a break from the books. So I’m always interested in projects that can be completed in an evening or weekend afternoon class, like patchwork pillows or tote bags, and I’ll be on the lookout for those kinds of patterns and projects.


Aprons, skirts, and pillows in Joanna Figureroa’s Fig Tree Quilts fall 2014 booth provide great ideas for class projects.


Another great class project—Vanessa Christensen’s Honeycomb Pouches, featured in her Fall 2014 booth.

Along with stitching quilts, bags, and home dec items, our customers love garment sewing, so I’m especially excited to check out new clothing patterns. (The Everyday Skirt is a perennial favorite at our shop.)LC005ES-Dv2-570x800


Embroidery is hot in our shop—I’ll be on the lookout for new patterns and projects with stitching accents. (I love French General’s patterns, like Joyeux Noel, and embroidery floss.)


We’ve also had some great projects, including Madeline Oberg’s Budapest rucksack, made with Kraft Tex and I’m hoping to find more ways to use it, too.


This cute pattern uses Craftex, which looks like leather.

And did I mention that I can’t wait to see all the new fabric? Well, I can’t.

While I’m looking forward to the eye candy, I also can’t wait to see old friends (I hope Sandy Gervais and Jan Patek will still speak to me after I called them Moda’s “oldest” designers) and meet some of those folks who I’ve talked with on the phone (or via email, like QuiltJane). I always sneak a peek at attendee’s name tags, in hopes of saying hi to shop owners I’ve “met” through interviews. If you’re at Market and see me, say hi—I’d love to meet you, too.

Finally, I look forward to touching base with Carrie and making plans for The Cutting Table. Speaking of which, are there things you’d be interested in reading about? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll put them on the “agenda” when Carrie and I touch base.

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Think Pink!  Think Market!

Think Something – Anything – But Market!


This is an antique Drunkard’s Path quilt I found on Pinterest.  It’s pink.  It’s pretty.  It’s in!

I think you can guess that given a choice of subjects for today, I’ll go with the first one.  It’s October and since 1985, it’s been celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  But did you know that the pink ribbon symbol didn’t come until several years later?

In the fall of 1991, The Susan G. Komen Foundation had given out pink ribbons to participants in it’s New York City Race for the Cure.  Two years later, Evelyn Lauder of Estee Lauder Companies founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as it’s symbol.  If you watched any National Football Games over the weekend, you probably saw lots and lots of pink.

We were laughing about that this morning and that led us to asking how much “pink” we had in the office – meaning in the sample room and notions building.  There is some pink fabric – but pictures of pink Bella Solids didn’t seem as interesting as notions.


Sewline.  They’re easy – everything they do comes in pink packaging.  Thank you, Sewline!

That’s the Sewline Gift Set, it comes in a pretty pink case.  Do you use marking pencils?  Someone asked me recently if I did and I have to confess that I don’t.  I use the Micron fine markers for drawing lines and unfortunately, they don’t come in pink.  Red, but not pink.  (Who do I see about correcting that?)

I do like glue pens and Sewline’s is my favorite.  I’ve been using them to hold zippers in place while making zippered-bags, and for turning under edges for machine-applique.  (I’ll show you the circle quilt I just finished this weekend when it’s back from the quilter.)


There were a lot – more than I would have thought.

In no particular order:

Just so you know, the Peels, Tulips and Bobbinis only come in packages with blue, green, orange and pink.  I just pulled out the pink ones.

Do you know what this is?


I know.  It says it’s a Simple Seam Wheel.  They used to be pretty common in quilt shops… back in the day when templates were used for piecing a lot.  They’re not so easily found now but Jen Kingwell uses them all the time so she found a source and now sells them.  They’re very nice – heavy, thick and with a big enough hole for most pencils to fit into easily.

What’s it for?  It’s used to mark a 1/4″ seam allowance with templates – the sort used to make quilts like these…


These are from Millefiori Quilts  by Willyne Hammerstein.  The quilt in the upper left corner is the La Passacaglia quilt – fussy cutting required, templates required.  There’s also a gorgeous Millefiori Quilts 2 book… that Willyne is a busy girl.

That’s enough fun for me… I’ve got a binding to finish for Karen and some log cabin strips to cut.  And a backing to piece.

Pink is good but I need to think about that middle thing now.

Which reminds me… in addition to pictures of new things from Market, is there anything I should put on my list as a “look for”, “must see”, “get a picture of”?  (I need lists these days of I forget things.)

Happy Tuesday!

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Three weeks…

Twenty-two days.  That’s how much time there is between now – today – and Fall Quilt Market in Houston.

That means new fabric to fondle and ogle, catalogs to prepare, write-ups to write, quilts to make and patterns to write – basically, there’s plenty of “stuff” to do.

So I’m trying to catch up on a few things I’ve meant to share and keep forgetting about.


After deciding she needed a Halloween quilt too, Lissa pulled these fabrics a few months ago.  I knew I was going to make “something”, I just didn’t know what.  When trying to decide what to use for a quilt I’m contributing to a book, I remembered this stack and presto!  I know someone will ask so…

On the left, from top to bottom:

On the right, from top to bottom:

As for the quilt, that will have to wait until next year.

Have you seen the sew-along for the Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt?  I decided to sew-along and I’m happy to say that most of the ladies in the office are doing the same.  Some have pulled out the first Farmer’s Wife blocks they started several years ago with the goal of finishing – making progress – on that.  No matter… we’re awash in a sea of templates, little blocks and “big plans”.


Week No. 1 and so far, I’m caught up.  I think it’s all downhill from here.  But at least “I look good” with my spiral-bound book, don’t you think?  (FedEx Office or any office supply store can do this for a couple of dollars.  It helps a lot.)

I also took the plunge with one of the Zakka Workshop patterns-kits for a little coin purse.  I don’t know that I’ll ever really use the little purse but I was intrigued to see if I could manage to actually get one made.


This is the Simple Coin Purse and guess what?  It’s actually fairly easy to make.  One suggestion though – they recommend a toothpick for putting the glue in the clasp part.  Uh, no.  I found that a fine-tip for the glue bottle or a thin paint brush worked much – MUCH – better.  I want to make another one because it really was fun to make.  I might try the  Classic Coin Purse or the Vintage Clasp Wallet… though it has a pocket.  (After Market.)

A highlight this past week was the arrival of the first batch of Moda Match Maker for Bella Solids.

They’re.  Gorgeous.  Perfection!


The swatches measure 2 1/2″ x 5″ and the backing has the Bella Solid color number and name, as well as the number of the swatch.  It’s like a page number so putting it can be put back in order if you’re the sort who wants to take it apart.  (That would be me.)  The swatches are threaded onto a long metal tube that will allow for the swatches to be fanned easily.  When new colors are added to the Bella Solids, “swatch packs” will be available and they’ll still fit within the outer cover.  At least for the next hundred colors or so.


This is going to be so much better than my old method for color-matching…


If there was a prize for the “most trashed Bella color card” in the office… I’m a contender.  And in just eight months.

One last thing, something else I forgot – did you know that six years ago, Moda made a time-elapse video of the Fall Market 2009 booth being built?

It’s pretty cool.  If only it really happened in just a few minutes.

Happy Friday!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

I’ll be sewing.  Really, really fast.

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